Meletus (Greek: Μέλητος; fl. 5th–4th century BCE) was an ancient Athenian Greek from the Pithus deme known for his prosecuting role in the trial and eventual execution of the philosopher Socrates.
Little is known of Meletus' life beyond what is portrayed in the Socratic literature, particularly Plato's dialogues, where he is named as the chief accuser of Socrates. In the Euthyphro, Plato describes Meletus as the youngest of the three prosecutors, having "a beak, and long straight hair, and a beard which is ill grown," and being unknown to Socrates prior to the prosecution. Meletus is also mentioned briefly in the Theaetetus. In Xenophon's Hellenica, he is reported as one of the envoys that were sent to negotiate a truce with the Lacedaemonians during the war between the democratic rebels and the Thirty Tyrants.
The later Greek historian Diogenes Laërtius dubiously reported that after the execution of Socrates "Athenians felt such remorse" that they executed Meletus and banished his associates from the city. He also argues that it was Antisthenes, the disciple of Socrates and founder of Cynicism, who was largely thought responsible for the execution of Meletus.
Trial of SocratesEdit
During the first three hours of trial, Meletus and the other two accusers each stood in the law court in the center of Athens to deliver previously crafted speeches to the jury against Socrates. No record of Meletus' speech survives.
- ^ Plato, Euthyphro, 2b
- ^ "Hellenica". Perseus Digital Library. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
- ^ Diogenes Laërtius, 2.43
- ^ Diogenes Laërtius, 6.9