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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 20, Issue 2, Autumn 2015

Sharing in the Logos

Douglas A. Shepardson
Pages 171-182

Maximus and Socrates on Trial
A Historic-Literary Consanguinity of Rebellion

Although the similarities between the trial of Socrates and the trial of Jesus have been discussed since the age of the Apologists, the same cannot be said about the anonymously written Trial of Maximus the Confessor and Plato’s Apology. My paper seeks to start this discussion. First I look at the historical context of each trial, finding that each was preceded by a rebellion that the accused was suspected of inciting (the Thirty Tyrants’ in one, the Exarch Gregory’s in the other). Then I summarize the Trial, noting numerous similarities between it and the Apology. After this, I examine some of these similarities in detail. In particular, I show that the defense speeches of both Socrates and Maximus reveal a layer of duplicity endemic to the text: while both Socrates and Maximus appear to exonerate themselves, their defense speeches actually contain harsh mockeries of their accusers. Next, I elucidate the consanguinity between the defendants’ opposition to their cities’ god(s), whom they feel compelled to reject, and their introduction of new gods into their cities (the god of reason and the Christ of Dyothelitism)—a charge for which both defendants were tragically convicted. Finally, I examine the manner in which both figures play gadfly to their city.