Socrates was 70 years old and familiarto most Athenians. His anti-democratic views had turned many in the city against him. Two of his students, Alcibiades and Critias, had twice briefly overthrown the democratic government of thecity, instituting a reign of terror in which thousands of citizens were deprived of their property and either banished from the city or executed.
After hearing the arguments of both Socrates andhis accusers, the jury was asked to vote on his guilt. Under Athenian law the jurors did not deliberate the point. Instead, each juror registered his judgment by placing a small disk into an urnmarked either "guilty" or "not guilty." Socrates was found guilty by a vote of 280 to 220.
The jurors were next asked to determine Socrates' penalty. His accusers argued for the death penalty.Socrates was given the opportunity to suggest his own punishment and could probably have avoided death by recommending exile. Instead, the philosopher initially offered the sarcasticrecommendation that he be rewarded for his actions. When pressed for a realistic punishment, he proposed that he be fined a modest sum of money. Faced with the two choices, the jury selected death forSocrates.
The philosopher was taken to the near-by jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by drinking a cup of poison hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.