Don’t Drink the Hemlock: The Trial of Socrates

January 24, 2018

Freedom Project's Wintersession 2018 focused on freedom of speech and its limits, and presented prominent lecturers from both within Wellesley College and other academic institutions. One of them was Prof. Guy M. Rogers, Mildred Lane Kemper Professor of History and Classical Studies, and one of the Advisory Board members of the Freedom Project.

Guy Rogers
Guy Rogers
Professor History and Classical Studies

Guy MacLean Rogers holds a first-class honors degree in Ancient History from University College London and a Ph.D. in Classics from Princeton University.

In 399 BCE the Athenian democracy charged the philosopher Socrates with impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens. Socrates was found guilty by a jury of 501 Athenians and was forced to drink hemlock. Many scholars have argued that the charges against Socrates were politically motivated and have understood his trial and conviction as an attack upon freedom of speech and an indictment of democracy. Were the charges against Socrates politically motivated? Was the trial and execution of Socrates really a case about freedom of speech? In this presentation Prof. Rogers first contextualizes the trial and then explains how it fits into contemporary discussions about freedom of expression.