[27a] as it were, by composing a puzzle to be making a test: “Will Socrates, the wise man, recognize that I am joking and contradicting myself, or shall I deceive him and the others who hear me?” For he appears to me to contradict himself in his speech, as if he were to say, “Socrates is a wrongdoer, because he does not believe in gods, but does believe in gods.” And yet this is the conduct of a jester.Join me, then, gentlemen, in examining how he appears to me to say this; and do you, Meletus, answer; [27b] and you, gentlemen, as I asked you in the beginning, please bear in mind not to make a disturbance if I conduct my argument in my accustomed manner.Is there any human being who believes that there are things pertaining to human beings, but no human beings? Let him answer, gentlemen, and not make a disturbance in one way or another. Is there anyone who does not believe in horses, but does believe in things pertaining to horses? or who does not believe that flute-players exist, but that things pertaining to flute-players do? There is not, best of men; if you do not wish to answer, I say it to you and these others here. But answer at least [27c] the next question. Is there anyone who believes spiritual things exist, but does not believe in spirits? “There is not.” Thank you for replying reluctantly when forced by these gentlemen. Then you say that I believe in spiritual beings, whether new or old, and teach that belief; but then I believe in spiritual beings at any rate, according to your statement, and you swore to that in your indictment. But if I believe in spiritual beings, it is quite inevitable that I believe also in spirits; is it not so? It is; for I assume that you agree, since you do not answer. But do we not think the spirits are [27d] gods or children of gods? Yes, or no? “Certainly.” Then if I believe in spirits, as you say, if spirits are a kind of gods, that would be the puzzle and joke which I say you are uttering in saying that I, while I do not believe in gods, do believe In gods again, since I believe in spirits; but if, on the other hand, spirits are a kind of bastard children of gods, by nymphs or by any others, whoever their mothers are said to be, what man would believe that there are children of gods, but no gods? It would be just as absurd [27e] as if one were to believe that there are children of horses and asses, namely mules, but no horses and asses. But, Meletus, you certainly must have brought this suit either to make a test of us or because you were loss as to what true wrongdoing you could accuse me of; but there is no way for you to persuade any man who has even a little sense that it is possible for the same person to believe in spiritual and divine existences and again for the same person not to believe in spirits or gods or
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