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Plato: Apology

2. The First Speech: The Informal Charges

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Socrates opens his defence by dividing his accusers into two groups: the 'first false accusations brought against me, and the first accusers' (ta prōta mou pseudē katēgorēmena kai tous prōtous katēgorous) and the 'later accusations and accusers' (ta husteron kai husterous). In this module, we explore how Socrates addresses the first of these groups, including his famous (but irritating!) claim that he is the wisest man in Athens because he 'knows that he knows nothing'.


In this course, Professor Angie Hobbs (University of Sheffield) explores Plato's Apology, his account of Socrates' trial for 'corrupting the youth' and 'not believing in the gods the state believes in' in Athens in 399 BC. The course begins by considering the political climate in Athens in the early fourth century, before going through the speech section by section over the next four modules. In the sixth module, we think about the Apology as history, asking whether we can trust Plato's version of events, before moving on in the seventh module to think about the Apology as philosophy, thinking about what value the Apology holds for contemporary philosophers today. Finally, we think about the position of the Apology in Plato's overall output, particularly in relation to the other dialogues that detail the final weeks and days of Socrates' life.


Angie Hobbs gained a First Class Honours Degree in Classics and a PhD in Ancient Philosophy at New Hall (now Murray Edwards College), University of Cambridge. After a Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, she moved to the Philosophy Department at the University of Warwick; in 2012 she was appointed Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, a position created for her and the first of its kind in the UK (and, as far as can be ascertained, the world). Her chief interests are in ancient philosophy and literature, ethics (both theoretical and applied) and political theory, and she has published widely in these areas, including Plato and the Hero (Cambridge University Press).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hobbs, A. (2018, August 15). Plato: Apology - The First Speech: The Informal Charges [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hobbs, A. "Plato: Apology – The First Speech: The Informal Charges." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,