Outline for Plato’s Apology of Socrates
First section: “Prologue” – from paragraph 17a to paragraph 19a
Socrates explains who he is and mentions that the accusations against him have provoked him to make this explanation. He says that he is giving his defense speech at an old age. He also describes his accusers in a satirical way and remarks that no one knows their names because they have always spread their false claims without any proof and therefore did not want their names to be identified.
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Second section: “Defense against old recriminations” – from paragraph 19b to paragraph 24a
The earliest charges against Socrates resulted from people’s prejudices that he was a sophist (he made the weaker argument look stronger) and a physicalist (he investigated things in the skies and beneath the earth). He mentions the words of an oracle from Delphi who said that Socrates was the wisest man of all.
Third section: “The accusations made by Meletus and Anytus” – from paragraph 24b to paragraph 28a
The specific accusations made by these two men are that Socrates is guilty of irreverence and the corruption of youth. In his defense, Socrates says that he would never corrupt youth voluntarily, and if he did so involuntarily, he does not deserve punishment. As far as impiety is concerned, Socrates says that since he believes in a divine thing, he also believes in divinity.
Fourth section: “Answering the accusations” – from paragraph 28b to paragraph 34b
Socrates provides his own explanation for his art. He says that he is not a sophist or physicalist, he is not irreverent, and he does not corrupt the youth. In fact, he goes around the city and shares his wisdom with the people in order to prevent them from being ignorant.
Fifth section: “The sentence, the alternative punishment, and final pleas” – from paragraph 34c to paragraph 42a
Socrates mentions that he is quite old, and he would have died soon anyway. However, when he is accused and is allowed to suggest an alternative punishment, he says that since he has been offering help to the city through his wisdom, he deserves to be fed for free for the rest of his life. In the end, he says that only God knows what life is better: the present one or the one after death.
West, Thomas G. Plato’s Apology of Socrates: An Interpretation, with a New Translation. Cornell University Press, 1979.