The ideas and character of Socrates, with particular reference toEuthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo (57a–69e; 116a–118a), fromPlato, The Last Days of Socrates (London: Penguin, 1993) (trans. H. Tredennick and H. Tarrant), including: – the reasons for Socrates’ trial and conviction – the citizen’s duty to the state – the nature and purpose of the Socratic method, and – Socrates’ attitude to death.
Common essay topics: • Historical causes of Socrates’ trial and execution • The manner in which Socrates conducted his defense and to what extent he provoked the jury into convicting/executing him• Socrates’ philosophical beliefs ideas and to what extent he was true to these in how he lived • Socrates’ views and ideas on death and suicide • Socrates’ ideas about law, authority and a citizen’s duty to his state • The steps and purpose of the Socratic method • The overall character of Socrates and why he inspired Plato and later philosophers to enquire into questions of morality
What the examiners expect: The StandardAS90513 - Explain in essay format an aspect of the classical world – 6 credits
What the examiners expect:The Examiners’ Report and Marking Schedule
What the examiners expect: The Examiners’ Report and Marking ScheduleCandidates who achieved this standard most commonlydemonstrated the following skills and / or knowledge: • ability to answer in essay format: they used the planning page and provided a structured response, although sometimes expression was stilted or weak • had sufficient understanding of the topic chosen to respond to most points adequately, particularly the bullet points, although often an aspect of the question was overlooked or omitted • ability to recall sufficient topic knowledge to back up general statements to some extent • some familiarity with secondary texts and either a basic knowledge of primary sources or at least an awareness of source material.Candidates who did not achieve this standard lacked some or all ofthe skills and knowledge required for Achievement. They alsocommonly: answered less than half the question, providing little appropriate detail failed to structure their essay and had poor language skills misunderstood or did not read the question carefully or wrote off the topic to fill out their essay with irrelevant detail lacked sufficient knowledge of topic content to sustain an essay response were unfamiliar with primary source material or unable to integrate primary source evidence into their answer.
The Examiners’ Report and Marking Schedule In addition to the skills and knowledge required for Achievement, candidates who achieved the standard with Merit or Excellence commonly:• wrote a well organised essay and expressed themselves fluently and clearly• addressed all aspects of the question and showed a comprehensive knowledge of the topic content• integrated clear, pertinent references to primary and often secondary source material into their argument• explained events and processes, but also went on to analyse the material they were addressing.
Some tips...Underline dialogue titles so it isclear you are talking about the dialogue not a character in it. Know what I said on main themes such as my defence,religion, philosophy, death andthe law in each dialogue. Don’tget them mixed up!!! Try some flash cards, perhaps. Use Greek terms such as elenchus, aporia, sophia…
• We use a collection of 4 dialogues set around Socrates’ death, all by Plato, BUT we need to be aware of other sources as well• The main PRIMARY/FIRST HAND sources are Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes – but we must treat Aristophanes with caution!• The main ancient secondary source is Aristotle• Plato and Xenophon are apologetic – they seek to defend Socrates• There were many polemic sources (that attacked Socrates), such as Polycrates, but they have mostly been lost. Aristophanes can be classed as polemic.• Aristophanes’ Clouds (whether intentionally or not) did a lot of damage by showing Socrates as: a sophist who corrupted a boy to the point where he beat up his parents, and a natural philosopher who didn’t believe in the state gods but invented his own – the clouds)
• Set outside the King Archon’s Court where Socrates’ trial is about to take place. Socrates encounters and questions Euthyphro, who is there• Excellent dialogue to demonstrate the Socratic Method• Unclear when it was written.• Why it was written is more obvious – it seeks to posthumously defend Socrates against existing popular prejudices and the actual charges laid against him. Tries to show the strengths of Socratic enquiry and to show Socrates as holy/pious/interested in the will of the gods/a respecter of the authority of parents (not a corrupter of youth) TIP FOR M/E – Read Harold Tarrant’s intro to the dialogue! It is useful in understanding the whole work.
INTROSocrates tells Euthyphro that he’s being charged byMeletus with manufacturing gods and corrupting the youth. He asks Euthyphro why he’s outside the King Archon’scourt. Euthyphro explains that he’s prosecuting his fatherfor murder for the death of a hired worker. His fatherarrested this worker for the stabbing of a servant and lefthim in a ditch while he sent for word from the Interpreter.This took too long and the hired hand died from exposure.Socrates is shocked that Euthyphro would be confidentenough in his knowledge of what is holy/morally right toprosecute his own father and, after flattering the man a bit,seeks to become Euthyphro’s pupil. “I don’t think it’s an action to be taken by the man on the street, but only by somebody already far advanced along the path of wisdom…” “In this case it would be best for me to become your pupil…”
THE FIRST DEFINITIONSocrates asks Euthyphro to define holiness, but his firstattempt is in fact an example, not a definition. “So for heaven’s sake tell me now what you were just then affirming you knew: what do you say piety and impiety are…?” “…holiness is what I am doing now, prosecuting a criminal…” “Zeus is the best and most just of all the gods…he imprisoned his own father…” “...whenever somebody talks like this about the gods, I find it very difficult to accept.” “…you do say there are many other things too which are holy?...this isn’t what I was asking you to give me – one or two examples…”
THE SECOND DEFINITION/ FIRST TRUE DEFINITIONFaced with Socrates’ prompting and questions,Euthyphro comes up with another definition –but thishas a fundamental flaw. “For you were in agreement, surely, that it was by virtue of a single standard that all unholy things are unholy and all holy things holy…So explain to me what this standard itself is…” “Right, then: what is agreeable to the gods is holy, and what is not agreeable is unholy.” “What of the gods, Euthyphro? If they disagree at all, won’t they disagree for just these reasons [over what is just/good/etc]?...But according to your claim, the same things are considered just by some, unjust by others…Then the same things...are both disapproved of and approved of by the gods...Then the same things would be both holy and unholy according to this account.”
THE AMMENDED SECOND DEFINITIONThe wording of the definition is easily fixed – but thereis still a fundamental ‘which came first?’ problem. “what all the gods disapprove of is unholy, what all approve of is holy…is this how you would like our definition to run…?” “What is there to prevent it…?” “…Consider the following point: is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?...” [Example – something is ‘carried’ because someone carries it and something is ‘seen’ because someone sees it. Something is ‘approved’ because someone approves of it BUT that doesn’t tell us what made them approve of it in the first place]
THE AMMENDED SECOND DEFINITION continued “Then something gets “Presumably.” approved because it’s holy: it’s not holy by reason of getting approved?” “...So if you don’t mind, don’t keep me in the dark, but tell me again from the beginning what on earth the holy is, whether it gets approved of by the gods or whatever..” The interlude – “But Socrates, I have no way of telling you what I mean; whatever explanation we set down, it seems to always go round in circles somehow…” “It’s as if your explanations, Euthyphro, were the work of my predecessor Daedalus…”
THE THIRD DEFINITIONSocrates introduces the idea of categorising, but Euthyphro has difficulty giving a keydifference between holiness and other just things. Euthyphro is being thoroughly led aroundby Socrates now. “And don’t you withdraw exhausted before the finish!...[Socrates establishes with examples (shame is a type of fear, odd is a type of number) that holiness is a type of justice]…Try to give me the same explanation of the kind of division of justice what’s holy is…” “Well, I believe that this is the part of the just that is pious and holy, the one concerned with looking after the gods…” “..we say that not everybody knows how to look after horses, only the groom, right?” Plus other examples – dogs and kennel master, cows and cattle-farmer - “Surely any case of ‘looking after’ has the same effect…it’s for the improvement of the thing looked after, just as you can see that horses are benefited and improved by “I do grooming. Or don’t you think so?” indeed.”
THE THIRD DEFINITION continued “No indeed, I “…is holiness too…‘looking after’ wouldn’t the gods, of benefit to the ” gods?...Would you agree…that whenever you do something holy you’re improving one of the gods?” “Let’s get to the point: what kind of ‘looking after’ the gods could holiness be?” “It’s like slaves looking after their masters.” Agrees that this is a kind of service to the gods. Uses examples – slaves help doctors make people healthy, Umm… shipwrights build ships, builders make houses. “Whatever is that marvellous work which the gods accomplish using us as their servants?”
THE FOURTH DEFINITIONVery problematic. “So now…what is it again that you are calling ‘holy’ and ‘holiness’? A kind of science of sacrifice and prayer, isn’t it?” “That’s my view.” “Surely sacrifice is making a donation to the gods, while prayer is requesting something from them…and again, the correct kind of giving would be to bestow upon them in return what they happen to need from us?” “Quite true, Socrates.” “…but how are they benefited by what they receive from us?” “Do you really suppose, Socrates, that the gods are benefited as a result of what they get from us?”
THE FIFTH (OR FIRST?) DEFINITION “Well, whatever “What else...but… could these gifts of gratification? ours to the gods be, Euthyphro?” ‘So it is something the gods have found gratifying…Then the holy is again, it seems, what’s approved by the gods.” SAME PROBLEMS AS FIRST DEFINITION!!!! “Another time, “Then we Socrates; right now must inquire I have an urgent again from engagement the somewhere, and it’s beginning…” time for me to go.” “Look what you’re doing…dashing me from that great hope…that I could learn from you what was holy…and that I could live a better life for the rest of my days.”
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:• The Socratic method has three steps – – eironeia – pretending ignorance to get someone to teach you – elenchus – questioning and dispproving ideas – aporia – A sense of waylessness that leaves the interlocutor open to new knowledge• This dialogue shows how Socrates managed to alienate and embarrass many people• Socrates and Euthyphro DO discover something – holiness is related to the gods – the gods do like holy things, but that’s not what makes them holy. They are CLOSER. The pursuit of knowledge and virtue is lifelong – not solved in one chat. The discussion wasn’t pointless.• Socrates’ last line reminds us of the Socratic method’s multiple purposes: – To test ideas – To show the interlocutor that they don’t know what they think they know – To bring Socrates AND the interlocutor closer to true knowledge so that they may lead virtuous lives. – KNOWLEDGE IS VIRTUE
ESSAY QUESTION(c) Plato was a friend and follower of Socrates and wrote an account of the philosopher’s experiences and ideas in the form of dialogues. Discuss, with reference to the dialogues Apology, Euthyphro, and Crito: • the character of Socrates as portrayed by Plato • the importance placed by Socrates on the philosophic life. Why is Plato’s account of Socrates’ experiences and ideas still worth studying today?
• Set in the King Archon’s Court in the second half of Socrates’ trial – after the prosecution’s speech.• Apologia = DEFENSE in Greek, not saying sorry.• Because there were 501 jurors plus an audience, plus other accounts of Socrates’ speech (e.g. Xenophon’s Apology) Plato must be giving a reasonably accurate account of what Socrates said – “it is sometimes thought that in this work we have the most faithful picture of the real Socrates we possess.” (Harold Tarrant)• This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a word for word transcription or that Plato would refrain from trying to show Socrates in a good light• Probably (but not for certain!) produced within 10 years of Socrates’ death TIP FOR M/E – Read Harold Tarrant’s intro to the dialogue! It is useful in understanding the whole work.
HOW THE COURT SYSTEM WORKED:• Potential jurors showed up in the morning each day and were chosen at random to prevent bribery/bias• However because they were only paid 3 or 4 obols per day they tended to be elderly men, conservative and looking to the court for entertainment. The younger men were out fighting or doing more lucrative work.• An archon administered cases but he wasn’t really a judge – he just made sure people kept to set time limits• Cases never took longer than a day• Men prosecuted their own cases and had a set time to speak. They could call witnesses.• The accused defended themselves, had the same set time and could also call witnesses.• Speeches were timed with a klepsydra/ water clock• Jurors voted by dropping bronze ballots into boxes – hollow centre was for guilty, solid for innocent• If the defendant lost, they and the prosecution each proposed a penalty (the epitimesis). The jurors scratched lines in wax – long for prosecution, short for defendant
• Socrates starts off mocking the style of the prosecution speakers and then spends a LARGE chunk of the work addressing the rumours that he believes have biased the jury against him, ignoring the real accusers• He puts forward ‘charges’ that these earlier accusers (rumour, gossip) have laid against him: “There is a clever man called Socrates who has theories about the heavens and has investigated everything below the earth, and can make the weaker argument defeat the stronger” – essentially, that he is a natural philosopher and a sophist.• BE AWARE – Socrates explains the bias against him but does leave out some important details – think about why.
What Socrates says…• Linked with the Sophists (blames Aristophanes’ Clouds: “You have seen it yourselves in the play by Aristophanes, where Socrates is lifted around, proclaiming that he is walking on air, and uttering a great deal of nonsense…”)• He also blames the link between him and sophists in people’s minds on “a kind of wisdom” he possesses which he discovered after questioning people – “I do not think that I know what I do not know”• He describes how his “mission from God” (resulting from Chaerephon’s visit to the Oracle at Delphi) caused him to go around questioning people in an attempt to disprove the idea that he is the wisest man, and how this has antagonised people. He states that he questioned the politicians, poets and skilled craftsmen and found them to “think they knew something when they knew nothing”. He says “the effect of these investigations of mine, gentlemen, has been to arouse against me a great deal of hostility”. NOTE: Socrates’ accusers represented these groups.
SOCRATES: “Zeus! What Zeus! Are you mad? There is no Zeus.” Aristophanes, The Clouds
• Socrates also states that his young friends have copied him and offended people with their questioning (hence the charge of corrupting the youth), and he is blamed for this although he did not teach them to do it. “Furthermore the young men – those with wealthy fathers and plenty of leisure – have of their own accord attached themselves to me because they enjoy hearing other people cross-questioned… and go on to try to question other persons… consequently their victims become annoyed, not with themselves but with me;”• Later Socrates mentions his daimonion – the idea of a divine spirit speaking to him – which would have seemed decidedly weird to the average Athenian, making them wary of him. “It began in my early childhood – a sort of voice which comes to me; and when it comes it always dissuades me from what I am proposing to do, and never urges me on…”• Socrates mentions his refusal to try the Generals en bloc after Arginusae and the unpopularity that this brought on him (people wanted to forget this dark point in Athens’ history, and Socrates was a living reminder) “On this occasion I was the only member of the executive who opposed your acting in any way unconstitutionally… and although the public speakers were all ready to denounce and arrest me, and you were all urging them on… I thought that it was my duty to face it out on the side of law and justice…”
WHAT SOCRATES DOESN’T SAY• He neglects to mention his dodgy mates: – Alcibiades, who was suspected of desecrating the hermai AND betrayed Athens to Sparta, an oligarch not a democrat – Critias – an oligarch not a democrat, one of the 30 Tyrants• Many people saw Socrates’ friendship with Critias as condoning the Tyranny – many democrats left the city when the Tyrants were in power, but Socrates stayed and remained friends with Critias. Perhaps Socrates did influence his friends to be undemocratic.
How Socrates Conducted His Defense…• Did Socrates deliberately provoke the jury into convicting and then executing him? – Xenophon suggests he was ready to die rather than suffer the loss of his faculties as he aged – He certainly deliberately provokes the jurors – On the other hand, if you look closely at what he says he does effectively refute the charges and 221 did vote to acquit him• Socrates defends himself against the actual charges by: – Earlier charges – • Asks jurors to tell each other if they have ever heard him discussing natural philosophy • Points out he does not charge fees like sophists - points out how wealthy sophists like Evenus become (yet he is poor)
HOW SOCRATES DEFENDS HIMSELF AGAINST THE MAIN CHARGES– CHARGE: Corrupting the youth – • Says young men hung around him by choice – he never encouraged it • In questioning of Meletus, shows that – Meletus has not looked into who benefits/corrupts youth (Meletus says all men in Athens bar Socrates are good for the youth!!!) and has no evidence against him • Shows that having bad people around you brings you harm, so he would not deliberately make those around him bad (and if he’s doing it accidentally he should be taught what to do not charged with a crime) • Says he only asks questions, doesn’t ever teach - “I have never promised or imparted any teaching to anybody…” • Points out parents/brothers of youthful friends in court to support him – Crito, father of Critobulus, Adimantus, Plato’s brother, etc…why would they be there if he’d harmed their brothers/sons? • Points out Meletus never called any of them as witnesses!!!
– CHARGE: Believing in gods of his own invention instead of those of the state and teaching others to do the same • Talks regularly of following Apollo’s Oracle • Claims to be in “service to God” • Shows Meletus has him confused with natural philosophers such as Anaxagoras (because Meletus claims Socrates thinks the sun is a stone) whose writings are easily available. If such teachings corrupt people, why can they be bought from street vendors for a few obols? • Again shows he is not a paid teacher: “The witness that I can offer...is good enough, I think – my poverty”) • Gets Meletus to say he believes in no gods, but he is charged with believing in supernatural things. Shows you can’t believe in supernatural things (e.g. children of gods) without believing in supernatural beings (e.g. gods). THIS ISN’T THAT CONVINCING AS HE WASN’T REALLY CHARGED WITH ATHEISM • Tells jury he won’t try to persuade them to judge in his favour with tricks, as that would be making them break their oath to the gods to judge fairly, and that would be impious
Provoking the Jury• Refusal to use emotive arguments, bring in weeping wife and kids, etc., angers jury. Also he implies those who use such tactics disgrace themselves and are “no better than women”• Attack on Meletus (a popular man) offends jury AND probably not wise to demonstrate the technique of elenchus in court, since this had already made him unpopular – Socrates is particularly nasty in his questioning of Meletus, seeking to twist his words rather than discover a moral truth• Socrates puts forward idea that no-one does wrong willingly and therefore no-one should be punished – they should be educated instead. This idea invalidates the whole jury system, since it is there to punish wrongdoers. Since some jurors relied on the pay they got from jury duty, suggesting the jury system is all wrong would not have won him any friends• Complains about aspects of the court system – length of trials, jury bias, etc• Tells them to be quiet and not interrupt Grrrr… This arrogant old twit needs to go!!!
• Compares himself to Heracles – his questioning is like the demigod’s 12 Labours• Compares himself to Achilles in choosing to do the right thing and die rather than give up his principles and live• Socrates says he will disobey the jury if they order him to stop philosophising – gives jury little options• Socrates talks about his ‘divine mission’, which could seem conceited to jury Bzzz…I am a gift from God!!!• He also refers to his daimonion, which Haha! Bzzz… Athenians thought was a bit odd• Socrates says he is the ‘stinging fly’ to the ‘lazy horse’ that is Athens, says that Athenians need him to stop their concerns for wealth and reputation distracting them from the care of their souls.• Socrates suggests the Athenian democracy is corrupt – he says he stayed out of politics because as a honest man if he had participated he would have ended up dead (uses trial of Generals as an example)
“I want you to think of myjourney as a cycle of labours…” “I am really pleading onyour [behalf], to save youfrom misusing the gift of God by condemning me…” “God has assigned me to this city, as if to a large, thoroughbred horse which because of its great size isinclined to be lazy and needs the stimulation of some stinging fly…”
Philosophical Beliefs in the ApologyViews on death:• Fear of death should not stop a person from doing the right thing: as a soldier in the Peloponnesian War he faced death bravely – why stop now?• It is foolish to fear what you don’t know – why fear death when it may be a blessing?• Chose to oppose the mass trial and to not arrest Leon of Salamis even though both actions nearly got him killed “I thought that it was my duty to face it out on the side of law and justice rather than support you, through fear of prison or death…” and “the attention that I paid to death was zero…”Attitude to Law/Authority:• Tells jury he owes a greater duty to god than to them “I owe a greater obedience to God than to you”• Says he will disobey them if ordered to stop philosophising (condoning civil disobedience)• Tells how he went against the Boule concerning the trial of the Generals and how he went against the Thirty Tyrants by not arresting Leon of Salamis “The Thirty Commissioners in their turn summoned me… and instructed us to go forth and fetch Leon of Salamis from his home for execution… Powerful as it was, that government did not terrify me into doing a wrong action; when we came out of the Round Chamber the other four went off to Salamis and arrested Leon, and I went home.”
The Penalty Proposal• Socrates is surprised how many did not vote guilty – he would only have had to gain 30 more votes to be found innocent (therefore 280 guilty, 221 innocent)• NOTE –In this speech Socrates managed to anger the jury so much that a number (80) of those who had found him innocent voted to execute him!• Ridiculous mathematical argument suggesting Meletus should have to pay a fine for winning less than one-fifth of votes – Meletus was popular, this would have annoyed them, and it made no real sense• His suggestions of alternative punishments seem calculated to offend the jury – – Proposes free meals in the Prytaneum for life, like a victorious athlete – since he has served Athens better than any athlete – Proposes 100 drachmae fine, BUT makes it clear that money means nothing to him – Accepts his friends’ offer of cash, proposes fine of 3,000 drachma BUT makes it clear that since it is not his $ the jury would not really be punishing him• Does not propose banishment, which the jury might have acceptedNOTE – WON’T GIVE UP MISSION FROM GOD
RESPONSE TO THE DEATH PENALTYMost important for what it says of his philosophical beliefs• View of death: – He’s “well on in life” so dying is no great punishment – As a result of the way he conducted his defense, he will now be executed BUT his daimonion never warned him against what he was doing, and it would not allow him to come to harm, THERFORE death can’t be a bad thing – Death is either annihilation (no consciousness/ a dreamless sleep) OR migration of the soul from one place to another place, to meet wise men such as Orpheus, Hesiod and Homer. Both would be good.• Philosophical beliefs: – The gods do not allow good men to be harmed by worse men – Even in face of death, a man must try to behave virtuously• How true was Socrates to these beliefs? – Very – he refused to compromise his principles and pander to the jury, even though it could have saved his life.
• Set inside Socrates’ prison cell• Socrates is in prison waiting for his execution, which has been delayed because of the annual mission to Delos which celebrated Theseus’ slaying of the Minotaur. The Athenians had previously been forced to send 7 youths and 7 maidens to Crete each year to be eaten by it. While the ship was away, no executions could take place as it would pollute the city.• “The Crito is a short but highly controversial work…The basic question is quite simple: can one reconcile the relations between the individual and the state recommended here with what we hear elsewhere from Plato’s Socrates?” Harold Tarrant
• May have been written quite a while after Socrates’ death. Makes reference to charges laid against Socrates in Polycrates’ lost Accusation of Socrates which was probably written in the mid 380s BC (a decade after Socrates’ death)• Some people even think it was by Plato’s nephew, not Plato himself!• Has some weird stuff – e.g. no eironeia• The Laws are introduced as a character – a strange move. Why do this? – For most Greeks to see something as unjust, it had to harm somebody. You can’t harm an abstract concept. – For Socrates to argue he has an obligation to the Laws and would be harming them by disobeying them, he has to personify them. – Socrates’ enemies would argue that if he was innocent, he actually harmed Athens by allowing them to execute him. Plato had to show it would do greater harm to escape than to stay and die. – Because Socrates shows the Laws are like his parents and therefore he must respect them, it also helps refute the idea that he undermined the authority of parents over their children in The Clouds. For Scholarship – read Tarrant’s intro and consider what the problems are with saying he must stay and be executed because the Laws are like his parents – there’s a few holes in this…
The Argument• Crito has come to try to persuade Socrates to escape. It’s clear he’s tried before – the jailer is used to him and his regular bribes, Socrates makes comments that they have been through this discussion before• The work shows something of Socrates’ character – Crito can’t sleep and is deeply depressed at the execution to come. His affection for his friend is very clear. Socrates is sleeping soundly and is not at all upset when Crito tells him the boat is coming back from Delos. Death doesn’t bother him.• Crito tries again to get Socrates to escape, saying: – If he doesn’t his friends will get a bad rep for being too stingy to help him escape – It won’t cost much for the escape and there are foreign philosophers (including Simmias of Thebes) happy to help with $ – Lots of people (esp Crito’s friends in Thessaly) would welcome him – Socrates would be doing his enemies a favour by dying – If he dies his children will be orphans – it’s Socrates’ duty to stay and raise them – His friends will look like cowards if he doesn’t escape
The Argument With Crito• Socrates won’t change his mind out of fear, but only if Crito can persuade him it is just to escape• Socrates establishes through examples (the physical trainer and the body) that people are better off when they listen to experts and that listening to public opinion does them harm. Crito should not listen to public opinion about morality as their bad advice could lead to unjust acts and harm his soul, and life with a ruined soul is not worth living. BUT - who is an expert on the soul?• Socrates now argues that committing an injustice/doing wrong is harmful to the soul. A person can’t do wrong even if they have been wronged – two wrongs don’t make a right (“one ought not to return an injustice or an injury to any person, whatever the provocation”) Very different from normal Greek ‘eye for an eye’ ideas on justice• So that Socrates can argue that escaping would be harming/doing an injustice to the Laws, he personifies them
The Argument With The Laws• Socrates has the Laws interrogate him using the following arguments: – If no one obeyed the Laws they and the polis would be destroyed (anarchy) “Can you deny that by this act…you intend, so far as you have the power, to destroy us, the Laws, and the whole State as well?” – The Laws have raised him and are like his parents and masters (because they allowed his parents to marry and compelled them to educate him), and parents should be obeyed without question. “Was it not through us that your father married your mother and brought you into this world?...can you deny…that you were our child and slave…?” – Children do NOT have equal rights with their parents or their government. Violence against a parent or one’s country is an UNHOLY act. “…violence against a mother or a father is an unholy act, and it is a far greater sin against your country.”
– He has agreed to obey the Laws by staying in Athens, when he could have left. He has even chosen to have children there. He has entered into an implicit agreement to obey them. “You had seventy years in which you could have left the country, if you were not satisfied with us…”– He could have tried to change the Laws (through the Assembly) but chose to avoid politics. It would be hypocritical to suddenly object to them now.– It would be hypocritical for Socrates to escape now, when he did not propose banishment at his trial since he claimed dying would be better than exile.
• The Laws also offer more practical reasons: – If Socrates escapes he will look like the criminal his enemies said he was – If his friends help him escape they’ll be punished – No good city (e.g. Thebes) will want him – No one will take him seriously if he tries to talk to them about justice and morality if he’s an escaped criminal – Even people in a dodgy city like Thessaly will make fun of him – If he takes his children with him they’ll be foreigners in some unfriendly city – If he leaves them in Athens his friends will raise them - it’ll be the same as if he was dead – If he is executed as an innocent man he will be fine in the underworld. If he leaves this world dishonorably (by running away/harming the Laws) he will be punished by the Laws of Hades when he eventually dies.
CONTRADICTION OR NOT…?• In the Crito, Socrates appears to argue that it is never okay to disobey the Laws or the State/government• BUT in the Apology he gave examples of times when he had disobeyed authorities – trial of generals and failing to arrest Leon of Salamis. He also said he would disobey the jury if they ordered him to stop philosophising.Is this really a contradiction?
Not really.A. He was only obliged to obey governments in which he could have a say. The Thirty Tyrants were a tyrrany – they did not give citizens a say in making the LawsB. In most cases when he previously disobeyed the government it was to uphold the Laws: – In the trial of the generals he was upholding the law – a mass trial was illegal – The Thirty Tyrants who ordered him to arrest Leon of Salamis were not a legal government. Leon’s arrest and execution was an illegal act.A. The Laws of the gods come before the Laws of men. If the jury had ordered him to stop philosophising, their orders would have gone against Apollo’s orders and he would obey the God first – in other words, human laws/ judgments must be obeyed unless they conflict with divine laws/ judgments. In the Crito, Apollo didn’t tell him to escape so he had no excuse for breaking Athens’ Laws then.
Introduction:– We only read the Phaedo (57a–69e; 116a–118a) because the middle of the work is very Platonic, not Socratic– It is one of Plato’s later works– Main aim = show the soul is immortal– Still a “compelling drama” of Socrates’ death (Tarrant)– Named after the narrator/ a minor character – why? Because Phaedo escaped prostitution and slavery – Socrates’ soul will similarly be freed from being enslaved by its bodily needs– Setting – Phaedo is in a remote township, telling Ecechrates of Socrates’ last day– It is in a way a second ‘apologia’ – it defends Socrates against allegations from men such as Polycrates he harmed Athens by allowing the city to execute him, just because he wanted to die
Setting the scene…– Phaedo tells Echecrates why Socrates’ execution was delayed – tells the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and the sacred Mission to Delos each year– Explains that he did not feel sorry for Socrates because “he met his death so fearlessly and nobly.”– When Phaedo arrived on the day of the execution he found Xanthippe and her youngest son with Socrtaes. She burst into tears and Socrates sent he home, crying hysterically.– Socrates had just had the chains taken off his leg and commented on how pain and pleasure are connected to each other – he felt pleasure at the chains being taken off because the pain stopped. Pain leads to pleasure which leads to pain. A Platonic idea?– Cebes (a philosopher) tells Socrates that Evenus (a sophist) was asking about his poetry. Socrates says he has been writing poems of Aesop’s fables because a dream told him to pursue the arts. He thought this was philosophy but is now hedging his bets in case it meant the creative arts – music, poetry, etc– Socrates makes a joke that Evenus should aim to follow him (into death!!) as quickly as he can.
Discussion of Death 57a-69eSimmias (another philosopher) says Evenus will not be eager to die. Socrates sayshe should be, but he should not do himself violence. Cebes and Simmias useelenchus on Socrates – Cebes asks how Socrates can say a philosopher shouldwant to die but that suicide is wrong. Socrates turns this around by asking Cebesquestions. Tell me then, Socrates, what are the grounds for saying suicide is not legitimate? …I believe this much is true: that we men are in the care of these gods, one of their possessions. Don’t you think so? Yes, I do. …if one of your possessions were to destroy itself… wouldn’t you be angry with it and punish it?
CertainlySo if you look at it in this way… we must not put an end toourselves until God sends some necessary circumstance… If our service here is directed by the gods, who are the very best of directors, it is inexplicable that the very wisest of men should not be grieved at quitting it…a stupid man might get the idea that it would be to his advantage to escape from his master… You know, Cebes is always tracking down arguments, and he is not at all willing to accept every statement at first hearing…
Why should a really wise man want to desert masters who are better than himself…? You make light of leaving not just us, but the gods too… You mean, I suppose, that I must make a court-style defence against this charge. Exactly. If I did not expect to enter the company, first, of other wise and good gods, and secondly of men now dead who are better than those who are in this world now…it would be unjust for me not to grieve at death…Crito interrupts, saying that the executioner has been askingSocrates not to talk too much/get exited as it will affect thepoison. Socrates tells Crito to ignore the man. If he has toadminister the poison twice or three times, who cares?
Now for you, my jury…those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death. …you have made me laugh, though I was not at all in the mood for it… most people would think…it was a very good hit at the philosophers to say that they are half dead already… …they are not at all aware in what sensetrue philosophers are half dead…is [death] simply the release of the soul from thebody? [Simmias agrees] Do you think it’s aphilosopher’s business to concern himself with what people call pleasures? [food, I think the drink sex]...what about the other ways in true which we devote our attention to our philosopher bodies? Do you think that a philosopher despises attaches any importance to them? [gives them. examples – clothes, shoes, etc]
So it is clear first of all in the case of physicalpleasures that the true philosopher frees his soul from association with the body…Now take theacquisition of wisdom: is the body a hindrance or not…? [Gives examples of sight/hearing being inaccurate. Only through reasoning/argument does the soul get a clear view of truth/reality]Surely the soul can reason best when it is free ofall distractions such as hearing or sight or pain or pleasure of any kind…the philosopher’s soul is most disdainful of the body, shunning it and seeking to isolate itself. It seems so. [Establishes with argument that there are things such as justice and goodness that can’t be seen with the eyes. The person who will best understand these things is someone who just thinks about them, while] “cutting himself off as much as possible from his eyes and ears and virtually all the rest of his body, as an impediment which, if present, prevents the soul from attaining to the truth…”
[Bodies distract philosophers with illness, desire, fears, etc.Their desires/needs cause greed which causes wars.]…if we are ever to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get rid of the body…the wisdom which we desire…will be attainable only when we are dead… [The philosopher must ‘purify’ his soul by ignoring his body as much as possible. If a man has done this] would it not be ridiculous for him to be distressed when death comes to him? It would, of course. Then it is a fact, Simmias, that true philosophers make dying their profession… [Only philosophers can be brave as others are just brave out of fear (e.g. of a bad reputation). Only philosophers are truly self-controlled as others only control themselves through fear of losing other pleasures (e.g. a fit body)].
[Mystery religions are right when they say that] he who enters the next world uninitiated andunenlightened shall lie in the mire, but he who arrives there purified and enlightened shall dwell among the gods…thesedevotees are those who havelived the philosophical life…
Socrates’ Last Moments 116a-118a This dialogue tells us a lot about Socrates’ character and how he was regarded by his followers. – Crito asks Socrates how he wants to be buried and Socrates makes a joke that Crito can do what he likes if he can catch Socrates. Socrates clearly does not believe that the body, once the soul has left it, has anything to do with the person. – Socrates tells his friends to ease Crito’s grief by reminding him it will not be Socrates he is burying, just his body. He will have gone “to a world of happiness that belongs to the blessed”. – Socrates went away to bath and his friends, including Phaedo, said “we felt just as though we were losing a father and should be orphans for the rest of our lives…”.
– After his bath, Socrates saw his sons and “the women of his household”, said goodbye then sent them home.– The executioner/prison guard came in and said it was time to take the poison but he knew Socrates would not abuse him as some other had because “I have come to know during this time that you are the noblest and gentlest and bravest of all the men that have ever come here…”, and then burst into tears– Socrates told Crito to bring in the poison – Crito objected, saying Socrates could wait until quite late at night to take the poison if he wanted– Socrates said he would not wait as it would only make him “ridiculous in [his] own eyes” for clinging on to life
– Socrates took the poison and then cheerfully asked if it was permitted for him to pour a libation. The executioner said no. Instead, Socrates prayed to the gods to make his journey to the next world prosperous and drained the cup.– After Socrates drank the poison, first Crito burst into tears, then Phaedo. Apollodorus was already weeping. Socrates told them off, saying he had sent the women home to avoid such a scene.– Socrates walked about, then when his legs felt heavy lay on his back. Gradually he lost feeling in his body.– When the paralysis got to his waist Socrates said: “Crito, we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. See to it, and don’t forget.”– He said no more. Crito closed his mouth and he was gone. Phaedo: “This, Echecrates, was the end of our comrade, who was, we may fairly say, of all those we knew in our time the bravest and also the wisest and the most just.”–
SUMMARY OF VIEWS IN THE PHAEDOViews on death:– Suicide is wrong – gods will be angry if their possessions destroy themselves.– Simmias and Cebes say that surely if God is our master while we live, we should want to remain alive, and not accept death, since who wants to leave a good master? Socrates says that he expects to have good masters (the underworld Gods) in the afterlife as well and to have conversations with many good men.– Socrates says a philosopher spends his whole life preparing for death and should not fear it when it comes. He says a philosopher is concerned with the soul, not the body, and since death is just the separation of the soul and the body the philosopher should welcome it.– It is a good thing to be rid of the body because A) its needs distract the philosopher from seeking knowledge and B) the body’s senses are unreliable (sight, hearing, etc.) – only the soul can perceive truth, but the body pollutes and blinds it.– Only those who have achieved some enlightenment reach his ideal afterlife – Socrates compares the philosophical life to initiation into a mystery cult. In mystery cults only the initiated reached Elysium – Socrates suggests only philosophers reach it.
Religious beliefs– The soul is immortal– There are benevolent gods in the afterlife who reward those who have lived well and sought virtue with eternal happiness (very Christian!)Philosophical beliefs – how true was Socrates to them?– Pleasure and pain are closely connected – two extremes of the same thing (a very Platonic idea)– Philosopher should show courage and self-control– Philosopher should seek wisdom so that he can act in a virtuous way– Philosopher should seek to free his soul from the distractions of the body– Was Socrates true to these beliefs in the way he lived his life? Give examples to support your conclusion.– Socrates was true to his beliefs. Socrates showed courage and self- control when he did not weep or lament his death, but rather embraced it. He refused to delay taking the hemlock until the last minute (as his friends wanted him to), and spent his last day seeking wisdom through philosophical enquiry (being questioned by Simmias and Cebes over the nature of death) rather than feasting and drinking as others might. His last words were a joke suggesting that death is a cure for life (he asked Crito to sacrifice a cock to Asclepius, god of healing, a sacrifice usually offered as thanks for being cured of some illness).