Crito And the Lessons to be Learned from his Failed Attempt to Save Socrates

Essay by AngelusTVSUniversity, Master'sA, June 2005

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The dialogue of the Crito, is between Socrates and his friend Crito, on the eve of the day of Socrates' execution. Crito wishes to aide Socrates in escaping his death sentence and running away form Athens, but Socrates argues and succeeds in informing Crito that obedience to the death sentence is of supreme importance. Through this dialogue, Socrates' expounds on his views concerning justice as well as the symbiotic relationship between the individual and the state (more specifically the laws of the state). Crito presents arguments to try and persuade Socrates to escape. Most of Socrates' objections deal with the city-state and justice, but also the consequences of death in the afterlife.

Socrates presents three main arguments while refuting Crito's attempts and accepting the seemingly unjust death sentence that the citizens and legislation of Athens has placed upon him. First, Socrates is a human, not just an unfeeling philosopher, and although he is charged with impiety, his concern for the afterlife is still present.

Secondly, Socrates argues that he, by choosing to live in Athens, is bound to a social contract to obey its laws. And thirdly, as a virtuous person he realizes that he cannot go against the laws he has honestly agreed to obey. Furthermore, escaping Athens would only prove the opinion of his prosecutors, and possibly damage his position as a philosopher.

Crito seems to often bring up the opinions of the majority, or other people, when arguing with Socrates. Socrates is not swayed by the people's opinion, and as a philosopher is more concerned with making a rational choice. He states, at line 44c, "why should we care so much for what the majority think?" However, Socrates is concerned that his escape will harm the state of Athens itself.

Crito, and...