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Synopsis

Among the reminiscences of Socrates, none, as it seems to me, is more deserving of record than the counsel he took with himself 2 (after being cited to appear before the court), not only with regard to his defence, but also as to the ending of his life. Others have written on this theme, and all without exception have touched upon 3 the lofty style of the philosopher, 4 which may be taken as a proof that the language used by Socrates was really of that type. But none of these writers has brought out clearly the fact that Socrates had come to regard death as for himself preferable to life; and consequently there is just a suspicion of foolhardiness in the arrogancy of his address. 5 We have, however, from the lips of one of his intimate acquaintances, Hermogenes, 6 the son of Hipponicus, an account of him which shows the high demeanour in question to have been altogether in keeping with the master's rational purpose. 7 Hermogenes says that, seeing Socrates discoursing on every topic rather than that of his impending trial, he roundly put it to him whether he ought not to be debating the line of his defence, to which Socrates in the first instance answered: “What! do I not seem to you to have spent my whole life in meditating my defence? ” And when Hermogenes asked him, “How? ” he added: “By a lifelong persistence in doing nothing wrong, and that I take to be the finest practice for his defence which a man could devise

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