Skip to main content

The Trial of Socrates

Socrates was widely recognized as the first martyr for free speech. Yesterday morning, 7th grade boys performed convincingly the 399 BC Trail of Socrates. In classical Greek form, the play reminds us of several important notions central to democracy.  Given the activity in North Africa and the Middle East, it's an apt play for the 7th grade and their audience.


Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum
In a great exchange between Lycon, one of Socrates' accusers, and a juror, early in the trial, Lycon says, "Socrates walks around Athens daily asking continual questions of its citizens. These are designed to tear down, but never build. He rejects every answer but gives none of his own. In fact, after being asked for an answer, Socrates offers another question! The result of all this is that he confuses and demoralizes Athenian citizens. After suffering wartime losses and the tyranny of the Council of Thirty, Athens cannot tolerate more destructive acts."


The juror then responds, "Wouldn’t the denial of free speech be more dangerous to democracy than Socrates’ questions?" Lycon's answer to this was not especially memorable, but the juror's question was exceptional.  The court then asked Socrates’ pupil, Plato, to speak in defense of Socrates.  In doing so, Plato speaks first of Socrates as teacher, describing him as one who leads his students to the discovery of truth through thoughtful questioning, and then says: "According to Socrates, knowledge is the highest virtue. Without knowledge, right action is impossible. Socrates’ work leads people to knowledge and right action, something Athens needs at this crucial time in her history."


Free speech, questions, knowledge, and right action--it's not hard to see from where Saint David's draws her mission.  In this brief exchange, we see the essence of not only the school's mission, but of an educated citizenry and democracy.


The boys performed the play beautifully.  Annunciation was clear and crisp and the lines were delivered with a certain zestful, playful confidence.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.



Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.


The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Saint David's Father and Son Dinner Featuring Mark Whitaker

Our annual Seventh Grade father and son dinner provides the opportunity for seventh graders and their fathers to share an evening exploring what it means to be a good man, the relationship between parent and son, and other mission-related themes.

The speaker at this year's event was author, journalist and media executive Mark Whitaker, who spoke about his memoir My Long Trip Home, in which he delves into the story of his family, in particular, his father. The son of a bi-racial couple who wed in 1956 (a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in some states), Mark spent many years estranged from his father, a brilliant African Studies scholar who struggled throughout his life with alcoholism.


Later, they would reconcile, but it was only after his father had passed away that Mark realized he wanted to write a book about this man who had had a groundbreaking career despite all his problems, and try to understand him better. Ultimately, the process deepened Mark'…