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Themes and Colors
Wisdom, Piety, and Belief Theme Icon
Moral Integrity Theme Icon
Rhetoric, Persuasion, and the Truth Theme Icon
Democracy, Judgment, and Justice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Apology, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Wisdom, Piety, and Belief

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates upholds that true wisdom involves acknowledging one’s own ignorance. Although his detractors have brought him to court because they believe he’s using his aptitude for critical inquiry to destabilize the city’s conventional structures of belief, he argues that “the god at Delphi” has shown him that “human wisdom is worthless,” a message he is now trying to spread throughout the community. Unfortunately, though, when Socrates tries to…

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Moral Integrity

Socrates believes so strongly in preserving his moral standards that he’s willing to sacrifice his own safety and wellbeing on their behalf. Although the jury threatens him with the death penalty, he refuses to betray his values, instead using his unfortunate situation as an opportunity to teach others the importance of moral integrity. In turn, he demonstrates his unfailing confidence in the way he lives his life. After all, he has been brought to court…

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Rhetoric, Persuasion, and the Truth

Although Socrates is quite convincing in his apologia, he insists that he is not using rhetorical trickery to deceive the jury. Rather, he simply follows each accusation to its logical conclusion, which often contradicts some previously established assertion. By questioning Meletus and forcing him to grapple with the incongruities that exist within his arguments, Socrates uses a simple form of dialectical rhetoric that ultimately advocates for the unadorned pursuit of honesty and truth. Indeed…

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Democracy, Judgment, and Justice

In his apologia, Socrates suggests that the truth—along with the Athenian judicial system—ought not to be denigrated by deceit and frivolity. However, he also suggests that “a man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public life.” This is because he believes it’s nearly impossible to “survive” as an honest person while participating in public affairs, thereby hinting at the fact that, though he respects the importance of the surrounding…

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