This week Socrates got the Mary Todd Lincoln treatment. Back in 399 B.C. Socrates found himself in hot water. Accused of religious impiety and corrupting Athens’ youth, the 70-year old Socrates had his day in court which ended with a sizable gulp of hemlock. The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago decided that this week would be a good time to see whether or not that verdict would hold up.
The new trial had a panel of three judges, including the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Richard Posner. Former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, and Patrick M. Collins made up the prosecution. Dan K. Webb (who was coincidentally a U.S. attorney for Chicago before Fitzgerald) and Robert A. Clifford defended the septuagenarian philosopher. The jury was made up of almost 1,000 people who ultimately vote—by a narrow margin—that Socrates was guilty. Much like the ancient Greeks, the jury cast their votes via disks—white for acquittal and blue for guilty—which were then weighed on the scales of justice. The judges decided against hemlock and instead talked about a fine.
Clearly these judges must have had a very positive law school experience, because I can’t think of many who suffered due to Socrates’ method that would be willing to let the old boy off so easily.Tags: Retrial, Socrates