Crito follows the events of Apology where Socrates is sentenced to execution for his crimes. Crito, a friend of Socrates, bribes guards to allow him entrance into Socrates’ cell. He has enough money and knows enough people in high places to help Socrates escape. The catch is that Socrates’ day of execution will come the following day, and so they must escape now. Yet, Socrates seems unwilling – he is inclined towards death, not because of depression or fear of being caught, but due to a loyalty he has to his city, Athens. Crito is the Socratic dialogue in which Socrates convinces Crito it is braver, juster, and more meaningful to die for one’s country than to keep on living.
Socrates argues a few main points to convince Crito that dying is the correct course, despite his “crime” truly being non-existent. He argues that in a country which has given him the glory of life, of the ability to think and speak, which has harbored him and which he has loved and never left but to defend it, that it would be the ultimate betrayal to shatter its will. Neither would his survival provide any benefit to himself, his friends, or his children – he would be self-exiled to some other land and in turn, nothing would change in Athens. His children, whether he survives or dies, would be raised by those who loved Socrates, his family would never see him, and his friends would be stuck with Athen’s hatred of helping the man who was condemned to die.
Socrates manages to convince Crito that death is not only the bravest option, but the only option. And does he convince me? In some ways yes, but most ways no. I knew the thesis of this work was the duty and love one should have for one’s country, something I wholeheartedly disagree with and even actively dislike as a philosophy. Yet, Socrates managed to convince why he himself may believe this, why it would work best for him or those like him. Despite him convincing me that it may not be worth saving himself, what he failed to convince me of is the duty one owes to a country or government. I don’t believe that nationalistic pride and loyalty should be held simply because of where one was born. It is because of this that, of the first three works of Plato’s The Trial and Death of Socrates, this is my least favorite one yet. However, I do still think the work is worth reading to understand where this mindset may come from and to realize how convincing an argument may be despite wholly disagreeing with it.
Recommended? – Yes, for anyone interested in philosophy or debate.
Why? – It is a perfect example of how a debate can be made to convince someone of an argument no matter how much you disagree with their thesis.
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