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the Complete Review
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To purchase Apology

Title: Apology
Author: Xenophon
Genre: Dialogue
Written: ca.385 BCE (Eng. 1923; rev. 2013)
Length: 26 pages
Original in: classical Greek
Availability: in: Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apology - US
in: Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apology - UK
in: Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apology - Canada
in: Le banquet / Apologie de Socrate - France
in: Xenophons Apologie des Sokrates - Deutschland
Tutti gli scritti socratici - Italia
in: Recuerdos de Sócrates - España
  • Greek title: Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους
  • Translated by E.C.Marchant and O.J.Todd
  • Revised by Jeffrey Henderson
  • There are numerous other translations of this work
  • This is a bilingual edition that includes the original Greek text

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Our Assessment:

B : solid -- if very small -- final piece

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Classical Philology . 21:3 (7/1926) Geneva Misener

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The complete review's Review:

       Xenophon's Apology is yet another work addressing Socrates' trial and death. Unlike Plato's account, Xenophon's is not a first-hand one; it is also very short -- just a brief discussion and presentation of some of what happened.
       Xenophon presents a man who, while denying the absurd charges against him, accepts his death: "he believed that the time had come for him to die". He's satisfied with what he's accomplished and with his legacy -- and confidently claims to have no regrets:

Don't you know that to this day I would never have conceded that any man has lived a better life than I have ? For I always knew that my whole life has been lived in piety and justice, a fact that affords the greatest pleasure; and so I have felt a deep self-respect and have discovered that my associates hold corresponding sentiments about me.
       Socrates also makes his peace with dying at this point, because, he rationalizes, after all, he's already an old man, and were he not sentenced to death he'd find himself facing: "a painful death from disease or old age, the sink into which all distresses flow, unrelieved by any joy". Given the easy out of an immediate death sentence to avoid such a fate -- he can live with that .....
       Xenophon does mentions some of Socrates' responses to his accusers -- including reminding Meletus:
"Well then," Socrates said, "doesn't it strike you as surprising that in other activities those who excel receive not merely equal honor but even superior honor, yet because I am judged by some to be supreme in humanity's greatest blessing, education, for that I'm being prosecuted by you on a capital charge ?"
       Xenophon's Apology is a short highlight reel, presented by someone who clearly believes it was a great injustice but respects Socrates for how he handled it. It's an adequate summary of Socrates' end, but is better seen as a (small) complement to other accounts of Socrates' trial (notably Plato's) rather than a substitute, as well as a final small chapter of Xenophon's Socratic works; a postscript of sorts.
       It's a fine little work, but very short.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 April 2020

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Apology: Xenophon:
  • Xenophon at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Xenophon books and writers
Other books by Xenophon under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Historian and philosopher Xenophon (Ξενοφῶν) lived ca. 430 to 354 B.C.E.

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