reading comprehension

The passage given below is followed by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

In what relation The Apology of Plato stands to the real defence of Socrates, there are no means of determining. It certainly agrees in tone and character with the description of Xenophon, who says in the Memorabilia that Socrates might have been acquitted ‘if in any moderate degree he would have conciliated the favour of the dicasts;’ and who informs us in another passage, on the testimony of Hermogenes, the friend of Socrates, that he had no wish to live; and that the divine sign refused to allow him to prepare a defence, and also that Socrates himself declared this to be unnecessary, on the ground that all his life long he had been preparing against that hour. For the speech breathes throughout a spirit of defiance; and the loose and desultory style is an imitation of the ‘accustomed manner’ in which Socrates spoke in ‘the agora and among the tables of the money-changers.’ The allusion in the Crito may, perhaps, be adduced as a further evidence of the literal accuracy of some parts. But in the main it must be regarded as the ideal of Socrates, according to Plato’s conception of him, appearing in the greatest and most public scene of his life, and in the height of his triumph, when he is weakest, and yet his mastery over mankind is greatest, and his habitual irony acquires a new meaning and a sort of tragic pathos in the face of death. The facts of his life are summed up, and the features of his character are brought out as if by accident in the course of the defence. The conversational manner, the seeming want of arrangement, the ironical simplicity, are found to result in a perfect work of art, which is the portrait of Socrates – the man and his pedagogy.

Yet some of the topics may have been actually used by Socrates; and the recollection of his very words may have rung in the ears of his disciple. The Apology of Plato may be compared generally with those speeches of Thucydides in which he has embodied his conception of the lofty character and policy of the great Pericles, and which at the same time furnish a commentary on the situation of affairs from the point of view of the historian. So in the Apology there is an ideal rather than a literal truth; much is said which was not said, and is only Plato’s view of the situation. The Apology of Plato is not the report of what Socrates said, but an elaborate composition, quite as much so in fact as one of the Dialogues. And we may perhaps even indulge in the fancy that the actual defence of Socrates was as much greater than the Platonic defence as the master was greater than the disciple. But in any case, some of the words used by him must have been remembered, and some of the facts recorded must have actually occurred. It is significant that Plato is said to have been present at the defence (Apol.), as he is also said to have been absent at the last scene in the Phaedo. Is it fanciful to suppose that he meant to give the stamp of authenticity to the one and not to the other? — especially when we consider that these two passages are the only ones in which Plato makes mention of himself. The circumstance that Plato was to be one of his sureties for the payment of the fine which he proposed has the appearance of truth. More suspicious is the statement that Socrates received the first impulse to his favourite calling of cross-examining the world from the Oracle of Delphi; for he must already have been famous before Chaerephon went to consult the Oracle (Riddell), and the story is of a kind which is very likely to have been invented. On the whole we arrive at the conclusion that the Apology is true to the character of Socrates, but we cannot show that any single sentence in it was actually spoken by him. It breathes the spirit of Socrates, but has been cast anew in the mould of Plato.

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. show how The Apology of Plato can be compared with certain speeches of Thucydides.

B. explore how The Apology captures the essence of Socrates though it does not necessarily throw light on the real defence of Socrates.

C. criticize certain aspects of The Apology, especially the fact that it does not give an accurate portrayal of Socrates.

D. draw parallels between the defence put forward by Socrates in actuality and the depiction of the defence by Plato in The Apology.

2. It can be inferred from the passage that

A. Socrates’ style of discourse was conversational and simple.

B. Socrates effected some measures of reconciliation with the dicasts.

C. Socrates’ ideal was Plato’s conception of him, as is evident in The Apology.

D. the dicasts were prejudiced and overtly harsh in their treatment of Socrates.

3. The word “desultory” as used in the passage is closest in meaning to

A. rigid.

B. unchanging.

C. scathing.

D. random.

4. The author is most likely to agree with which of the following statements?

I. The actual defence of Socrates was much superior to the defence depicted in the The Apology.

II. The Apology may not give an accurate depiction of the arguments that Socrates put forward in his defence.

III. The presence of Plato at the defence of Socrates establishes the exactness of certain parts of The Apology.

A. I only.

B. II only.

C. I and II.

D. II and III.




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