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Ancient Greek Philosophers – Plato's Crito II – Socrates' Response
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  4/30/12
By: Yona Williams

In Plato's "Crito," Socrates answers his questions by telling him that he is the kind of person that must make decisions that are guided by reason. He claims that he was being truthful when he said at his trial that he did not fear death. He expressed contempt for the opinions that many held regarding the situation, as he did not like when people made decisions in an irrational way. In this article, you will learn how Socrates viewed his impending execution and how he chose to approach the situation.  

To counter Crito's plea of not leaving behind his children, using money to seek their own kind of justice, or valuing his reputation, Socrates called these desires the values of thoughtless men. He believed that the question at hand would be 'is it unjust for Socrates to escape' and not what people will think of him if he did or didn’t do it.

His argument stands that if it is never good to do injustice, then it couldn’t possibly be good to do injustice in response to injustice. He believes this statement to be true as they discuss his unwillingness to escape execution. With this point, Crito is in agreement with Socrates. The answer of whether it is just or unjust for Socrates to escape from jail has not been addressed. Socrates poses the question of what the Laws would say about his departure. He compares the relationship of the citizen and the law with that of a parent to child or slave to master.

The Laws would state that Socrates entered into a contract by remaining within the city.  He benefited from living in the region and cannot justly attack the city just because he was unjustly convicted. Remaining in Athens meant that Socrates agreed to obey the laws of the city. He knew how the structure of the law worked and he knew how it functioned. He chose to stay and make a life where he would raise his children in the city.

In the end, Socrates does not admit whether he is satisfied with the argument of the Laws. By the end of the dialogue, he asks Crito whether they shouldn’t accept it, but Crito says they must. This is the conclusion of their conversation.

Socrates was given poison to drink as part of his execution. He was told to walk around until his legs were overtaken by numbness. He lay down and the man who gave him the poison pinched his foot to which Socrates could no longer feel his legs. The numbness slowly traveled throughout his body until it reached his heart. Shortly before he died, he spoke his last words to Crito. He told him that a rooster was owed to Asclepius, and that he did not want him to forget to pay that debt.


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