The Retrial Of Socrates: Verdict Reached

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On Thursday, the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago hosted a Re-trial of Socrates, hearkening back to the famous conviction in 399 B.C. that sentenced the philosopher to death by hemlock. Last week, Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon chatted with former U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who defended Athens. This week, Scott presents the final verdict.


Socrates can't get a break. Western civilization's founding philosopher was convicted by a Chicago jury this week, 2,400 years after one in Athens found him guilty of impiety and corrupting the youth. The mock trial was held to benefit the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, and featured an all-star cast of super lawyers.

PATRICK FITZGERALD: History got it wrong. History has been unfair to my client, Athens.

SIMON: Patrick Fitzgerald, who as U.S. Attorney gained convictions against governors, White House aides, and terrorists, argued that Athens was only trying to protect its young democracy from unelected skeptics like Socrates. The hemlock-quaffing philosopher, who didn't defend himself in his first trial, was represented at this one by Dan Webb, another noted prosecutor, who assailed the lack of evidence against Socrates. Where were the wiretaps? A jury of a thousand cast their votes, as they did in ancient Athens, placing disks on scale of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And the scale says: guilty.


SIMON: But Illinois has abolished its death penalty. So, this time, no hemlock aperitif for Socrates. Instead, the judges fined him 3,000 silver drachmas, with federal judge Richard Posner saying that he couldn't give the death sentence to, quote, "a 70-year-old loudmouth."

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