Monday, July 29, 2013

Socrates:
A victim
of an ancient Greek law
against proselytism /

Σωκράτης:
Θύμα
ενός αρχαιοελληνικού νόμου
κατά του προσηλυτισμού






   [1.1.1] Πολλάκις ἐθαύμασα τίσι ποτὲ λόγοις Ἀθηναίους ἔπεισαν οἱ γραψάμενοι Σωκράτην ὡς ἄξιος εἴη θανάτου τῇ πόλει. ἡ μὲν γὰρ γραφὴ κατ’ αὐτοῦ τοιάδε τις ἦν· ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης οὓς μὲν ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων· ἀδικεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὺς νέους διαφθείρων.

    [1.1.2] Πρῶτον μὲν οὖν, ὡς οὐκ ἐνόμιζεν οὓς ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεούς, ποίῳ ποτ’ ἐχρήσαντο τεκμηρίῳ; θύων τε γὰρ φανερὸς ἦν πολλάκις μὲν οἴκοι, πολλάκις δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν κοινῶν τῆς πόλεως βωμῶν, καὶ μαντικῇ χρώμενος οὐκ ἀφανὴς ἦν. διετεθρύλητο γὰρ ὡς φαίη Σωκράτης τὸ δαιμόνιον ἑαυτῷ σημαίνειν· ὅθεν δὴ καὶ μάλιστά μοι δοκοῦσιν αὐτὸν αἰτιάσασθαι καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρειν. [1.1.3] ὁ δ’ οὐδὲν καινότερον εἰσέφερε τῶν ἄλλων, ὅσοι μαντικὴν νομίζοντες οἰωνοῖς τε χρῶνται καὶ φήμαις καὶ συμβόλοις καὶ θυσίαις. οὗτοί τε γὰρ ὑπολαμβάνουσιν οὐ τοὺς ὄρνιθας οὐδὲ τοὺς ἀπαντῶντας εἰδέναι τὰ συμφέροντα τοῖς μαντευομένοις, ἀλλὰ τοὺς θεοὺς διὰ τούτων αὐτὰ σημαίνειν, κἀκεῖνος δὲ οὕτως ἐνόμιζεν. [1.1.4] ἀλλ’ οἱ μὲν πλεῖστοί φασιν ὑπό τε τῶν ὀρνίθων καὶ τῶν ἀπαντώντων ἀποτρέπεσθαί τε καὶ προτρέπεσθαι· Σωκράτης δ’ ὥσπερ ἐγίγνωσκεν, οὕτως ἔλεγε· τὸ δαιμόνιον γὰρ ἔφη σημαίνειν. καὶ πολλοῖς τῶν συνόντων προηγόρευε τὰ μὲν ποιεῖν, τὰ δὲ μὴ ποιεῖν, ὡς τοῦ δαιμονίου προσημαίνοντος· καὶ τοῖς μὲν πειθομένοις αὐτῷ συνέφερε, τοῖς δὲ μὴ πειθομένοις μετέμελε. [1.1.5] καίτοι τίς οὐκ ἂν ὁμολογήσειεν αὐτὸν βούλεσθαι μήτ’ ἠλίθιον μήτ’ ἀλαζόνα φαίνεσθαι τοῖς συνοῦσιν; ἐδόκει δ’ ἂν ἀμφότερα ταῦτα, εἰ προαγορεύων ὡς ὑπὸ θεοῦ φαινόμενα καὶ ψευδόμενος ἐφαίνετο. δῆλον οὖν ὅτι οὐκ ἂν προέλεγεν, εἰ μὴ ἐπίστευεν ἀληθεύσειν. ταῦτα δὲ τίς ἂν ἄλλῳ πιστεύσειεν ἢ θεῷ; πιστεύων δὲ θεοῖς πῶς οὐκ εἶναι θεοὺς ἐνόμιζεν;


* Ξενοφών, Απομνημονεύματα, Βιβλίο Α'.

1.1.1 I have often wondered by what arguments those who drew up the indictment against Socrates could persuade the Athenians that his life was forfeit to the state. The indictment against him was to this effect: Socrates is guilty of rejecting the gods acknowledged by the state and of bringing in strange deities: he is also guilty of corrupting the youth.

1.1.2
First then, that he rejected the gods acknowledged by the state — what evidence did they produce of that? He offered sacrifices constantly, and made no secret of it, now in his home, now at the altars of the state temples, and he made use of divination with as little secrecy. Indeed it had become notorious that Socrates claimed to be guided by ‘the deity:’ it was out of this claim, I think, that the charge of bringing in strange deities arose. 1.1.3 He was no more bringing in anything strange than are other believers in divination, who rely on augury, oracles, coincidences and sacrifices. For these men's belief is not that the birds or the folk met by accident know what profits the inquirer, but that they are the instruments by which the gods make this known; and that was Socrates' belief too. 1.1.4 Only, whereas most men say that the birds or the folk they meet dissuade or encourage them, Socrates said what he meant: for he said that the deity gave him a sign. Many of his companions were counselled by him to do this or not to do that in accordance with the warnings of the deity: and those who followed his advice prospered, and those who rejected it had cause for regret. 1.1.5
And yet who would not admit that he wished to appear neither a knave nor a fool to his companions? but he would have been thought both, had he proved to be mistaken when he alleged that his counsel was in accordance with divine revelation. Obviously, then, he would not have given the counsel if he had not been confident that what he said would come true. And who could have inspired him with that confidence but a god? And since he had confidence in the gods, how can he have disbelieved in the existence of the gods?

* Xenophon, Memorabilia, Book 1.


No comments: