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Ancient Greek Philosophers – Plato's Phaedo III
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  5/3/12
By: Yona Williams

Socrates believes that his soul will leave his body and live on in an eternal state. He does not see the body left behind as his own since the soul will no longer inhabit it. If his body is buried or burned, he does not want people to fret since the body no longer is Socrates. These are some of the final thoughts he expresses in "Phaedo." In this article, you will learn some of the final actions of the philosopher before he drinks his execution sentence.

Socrates moves to the next room with Crito so that he may bathe. His three sons and wife meet with him. He says his last goodbyes and gives final instructions. He then sends his family away and returns to his companions. As the sun sets, the guard instructs Socrates to take the poison. This is the point in the dialogue where Socrates acknowledges that he must take the poison. Crito is still in objection, telling him that there is still time and he can wait until further into the night. However, Socrates notes that these men wait because they are clinging too desperately to hold onto life. He says there is no reason to fear death.

When the cup of hemlock is brought to Socrates, he is in good spirits to receive it. He sends a prayer to the gods – asking that his journey from this world onto the next will bring prosperous. He drinks the poison in one gulp. Phaedo and the others that are present start to cry. They are sad to see such a good friend go, but Socrates reprimands his companions – telling them that this is why he sent females out of his sight so that he did not see the tears. He wishes to die in silence and asks his friends that they show braveness.

With these words, his friends fall silent and ashamed at their actions. To help the poison spread around his body, Socrates rises and walks around. The poison causes his body to become numb and he lies down on his bed. His final words are spoken to Crito: "…we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. See to it, and don't forget."

This marks the end of Phaedo's narrative, as he states that Socrates was the" bravest, wisest, and most just of men."

"Phaedo" Passages

To get an idea of the dialogue expressed, below you will find a couple of quote examples from "Phaedo":

•    "I am afraid that other people do not realize that the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death." (Socrates)

•    "When men are interrogated in the right manner, they always give the right answer of their own accord, and they could not do this if they did not possess the knowledge and the right explanation inside them." (Cebes)
•    
"Then when death comes to man, the mortal part of him dies, it seems, but his deathless part goes away safe and indestructible, yielding the place to death." (Socrates)

•    "I believe, as perhaps you do, that precise knowledge on that subject is impossible or extremely difficult in our present life, but that it surely shows a very poor spirit not to examine thoroughly what is said about it, and to desist before one is exhausted by an all-round investigation." (Simmias)


 

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