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According to Plato's version of Socrates's Apology, he was present at the trial. However, I could not find any other historical source which says he either was or wasn't at the trial.

Are there such sources? Is there an agreement among researchers today as to whether he was there or not?

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    There are effectively two primary sources, Plato and Xenophon. Neither mentions the other as each concentrates on Socrates – Henry Jun 18 '17 at 20:12
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    Why not post an answer @Henry? – yannis Jun 19 '17 at 7:56
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    @yannis I have no idea what researchers today think – Henry Jun 19 '17 at 8:07
  • Can't prove a negative, but if there are definitely only two primary sources.... – Aaron Brick Jun 19 '17 at 15:36
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You are correct that there are no extant sources that corroborate Plato's claim to have been present at Socrates' trial. However, we also have nothing that contradicts it.

As others have already mentioned in the comments, our two main sources of information for Socrates' later life are Plato and Xenophon. Both were disciples of Socrates, although neither mentions the other.

Other significant sources for details about the life of Socrates are Aristophanes and Aristotle (although Aristotle was not a contemporary of Socrates). In addition, we have some surviving fragmentary works by Aeschines, Antisthenes, Euclid of Megara, Phaedo of Elis and Timon of Phlius. Sadly, none of these explicitly state whether Plato was present at the trial or not.

Of course, it is possible that there were further contemporary sources that do not survive, but in the absence of any evidence to the contrary I think most researchers accept that Plato was present at the trial. This is a particular aspect of the wider "Socratic Problem", and like many aspects of the historical Socrates corroborative evidence is hard to come by.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains an excellent article by Debra Nails on Socrates which includes an examination of the main sources for Socrates' life and also of his trial and execution.

  • I see. Thank you. Although in my opinion it is very odd to just assume he was there because there is no source to contradict it (especially when you consider the fact Plato had an interest in claiming he was there). – Xeno Jul 25 '17 at 23:53

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