Books: Gadfly's Guilt THE TRIAL OF SOCRATES

by I.F. Stone Little, Brown; 282 pages; $18.95

In its impact on the minds and emotions of Western man, it is an event that can be compared only to the Passion and death of Jesus. After a lifetime devoted to the pursuit of truth and virtue, Socrates, at age 70, is put on trial, charged with dishonoring the gods and corrupting the youth of Athens. The sage makes an eloquent plea in self-defense but is nonetheless found guilty and condemned to die. His disciples urge him to escape into exile, but Socrates refuses and carries out the court's decree by drinking a cup of poison hemlock.

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