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Characters in Plato's "Phaedo"
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  5/2/12
By: Yona Williams

In 'Phaedo,' there are a handful of characters that tell of the final moments of Socrates. They include a family member as well as several close companions who hold a conversation with the philosopher. Their discussion is captured in the dialogue, which touches about subjects, such as death, the afterlife, and the soul. In this article, you will learn about the characters that appear in Plato's 'Phaedo.'

Of course, Socrates is the protagonist of the dialogue – a figure that appears in most of Plato's writings. He is one of the most significant thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Socrates is 70 years old in the dialogue as he faces death for charges of corrupting the youths of the city with his theories and thoughts. As the time of his execution nears, he is calm and content. He believes that after death, only good things wait for him. Other characters in the dialogue include:

•    Simmias – Along with Cebes, a Pythagorean philosopher hailing from Thebes named Simmias is a main speaker in the dialogue. He has traveled to the jail cell of Socrates to speak with him before his death.

•    Cebes – From Phaedondas, Cebes is a Pythagorean philosopher that is heavily represented in the dialogue.

•    Phaedo – The dialogue is named after Phaedo, who serves as the narrator for the piece. He is described as an attractive young man from Elis. Drawn to the teachings of Socrates, he is dedicated to philosophy. However, none of Phaedo's writings have survived.

•    Echecrates – Echecrates comes from the Peloponnesian town of Phlius. He is a Pythagorean philosopher that sees Phaedo in Phlius. He asks him to share the last moments of Socrates' life with him. It is conversation between Echecrates and Phaedo that occasionally interrupts the narrative of Phaedo.

•    Crito – Similar in age to Socrates, Crito is present. He is an old friend of the philosopher, who appears in a dialogue named after him where he meets with Socrates in his prison cell and tried to persuade him to flee execution with his help. He does not speak much in the dialogue.

•    Xanthippe – Socrates' wife is mentioned in the dialogue. With a reputation for being an unpleasant woman, it is most likely the nonchalant manner in which Socrates treats his wife and children. The philosopher seemed to not only separate himself from the material world, but also from his family life.

•    Prison Guard – While Socrates spent a month in prison, a guard stood watch over the philosopher. Over time, he has grown quite fond of the old man. The two have exchanged many conversations with one another. When it comes time for Socrates to be executed, the guard tells the philosopher that he is the finest man that he has ever had the privilege of knowing before melting into tears.


 

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