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Posted on August 17th, 2012, by

The dialogue between Socrates and Crito takes place in prison cell, where Socrates is awaiting for his soon execution.

Socrates opens his eyes in the breaking of the dawn and sees his friend Crito near him. Crito proposes to Socrates to escape from the prison and says that he has already made certain arrangements for this event. But Socrates refuses to do this; he seems to be quite willingly awaiting to his imminent execution, so Crito has to put forward as many constructive arguments as he can in order to save the life of his old friend. One of the first arguments made by Crito is that Socrates’ death may mean to other people that his friends hadn’t wished to be bothered with his escape as well as they would probably suppose that the friends of Socrates valued money more than the life of their friend. Crito tells Socrates that he and other friends of Socrates are eager to run any kind of risk and that they have also arranged everything to find Socrates a pleasant life in exile. Socrates in his turn says that the only opinion he values is the opinion of good men, and he is sure that the latter ones are sure to take things truly as they are. Socrates also says that he worries about the financial and other risks his friends are eager to take, but underlines that this is not the only reason as for why he refuses to escape.

Then Crito tries to persuade Socrates on the more ethical level saying that he is betraying his own life when it might be saved and this plays in hands to his enemies. Moreover Crito says that Socrates betrays his children whom he have been so carefully educating. He says that no man brings his children to the world that is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature and education. Crito says that he, then, is ashamed both of Socrates and himself, as his friend, if Socrates’ life will end under such circumstances. Socrates answers that Crito’s zeal is invaluable if right and if it is wrong then the greater the zeal the greater the evil will be, so it is necessary to consider whether these things are right. If it appears just, Socrates says he will go with Crito and if not he will remain in prison and face death. He also says that he wants extremely to be persuaded by Crito to escape, but nevertheless he would value his own better judgment, as he doesn’t believe that “many”¯ people and their values should decide what good and evil is, and the circumstances and reasons about the betrayed children and pleased with his death enemies can be ever taken into consideration.

Crito tries to argue that nevertheless “many”¯ people can’t change true judgments, but they are able to kill. At this point Socrates tells about the voice of the Law of Athens, which he hears and then explains why exactly it would be unjust of him to escape from the prison. Socrates considers the Law as the one whole entity, therefore to break it means to break them all and that will obviously lead to great harm. The citizen in the phenomenon of Law is alike the child to his parents, thus doing anything against the Law is alike to betraying a parent. The only possible way out is not simply to break the Laws and escape, but to try to persuade the Laws to let him go. The citizen implies endorsing the Laws and is willing to abide by them through choosing to live in Athens.

Socrates says that he lived happily for seventy years in accord with his contrast in Athens, within the Athenian way of life. Breaking from prison, as for Socrates, would make him an outlaw who would not be accepted and greeted in any civilized state for the rest of his life. And when he dies he will be certainly strictly judged for behaving unjustly toward his native city’s laws. On hearing this words Crito has nothing to reply, he is absolutely convinced by Socrates.

The thing that struck me the most in this dialogue is the strong will of Socrates. Naturally it is very difficult to remain calm and just while awaiting for your soon death. Up to the end of his life Socrates had managed not to give up his principles and wisdom of his philosophy. I also believe that that was a right thing of him not to escape from the prison. Unless he acted differently he would have lost his own ego, his beliefs and his truth which were of the first consideration to him. Also this was a noble thing as for his “children”¯. He showed them how much own principles and judgments should be valued.

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