Socrates has ingested the poison and he is there talking with his followers. Upon his death bed he gives instructions to Crito: “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?” As the poison took its toll Crito closed his eyes and mouth. And so passed a wise a thoughtful man, the originator of a great philosophy.

Phaedo sat beside Socrates on that fateful day of his execution.It was evening when the poison hemlock was administered to him. Crito was there, as well, to take final instructions and to close his eyes at the end. Both men were perplexed that Socrates preferred to face death rather than escape. But Socrates is armed with the belief that the soul lives on after death. The dramatic end of this great philosopher is probably one of the reasons why his story lives on.

Socrates must wait for the ship from Delos to arrive before his execution will take place. Forced to wait over a month since his condemnation, Crito, an old friend of Socrates offers to pay any fine that may set Socrates free. Crito is distressed about the ruling and the imminent demise of his friend and then encourages him to escape. His argument is that he will be criticize for not rescuing him when he had the resources to do so. Socrates argues that even though he has been unjustly charged he must respect the law of the land. He also instructs against returning evil for evil. Socrates’ acceptance of his conviction and punishment put him in position of renown.

Socrates claims that at the hour of death men are gifted with prophetic power. He stated that his teachings would live long after him and his accusers will be seen for what they are long into the future. How right he was because without his dramatic end his teachings might have been lost to the annals of time. He further states: “no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”…”The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.”

Socrates is not grieved by the conviction of guilt. He admits that he never intended to harm anyone, and had he more time for his defence, he might have been able to prove it. He states: “I cannot in a moment refute great slanders;” Meletus proposes death as the penalty. Socrates ponders about his fate. Should he be imprisoned or fined or exiled or receive the death penalty and concludes that death is preferable, especially at his age (70's). He has no money so is unable to pay a fine and imprisonment at this stage in his life is pointless. He refused to plead and bargain for his life for he for his was innocent.

At this point things were looking grave for Socrates. He had been falsely accused of corruting the youth when infact he had only allowing them to listen to his thoughts which encouraged enlightenment. He encouraged their questions. Yet he refused to beg for leniency. He is convicted by the judges.

In his defence of the second class: “Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and does not believe in the gods of the state…” he brings up the issue that Meletus, his accuser, really had no interest in the improvement of the youth. Meletus is the evil doer because he only pretends to care about this.” Further to his defence he states: “…if you kill such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me…I am a gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life.” Perhaps that is what has made this story so enduring.

To continue with Socrates’ defence, he went from one man to another because the prophecy of the oracle weighed heavily upon him. As he stated : “I found that men in most repute were all but the most foolish; and others less esteemed were really wiser and better.” He investigated the poets, then the artisans only to find them no better and he concluded that “ God only is wise…their pretense of knowledge has been detected… and this is why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, have set upon me….”

In the Apology Socrates speaks in his defence to his denouncer, Meletus …… “Athenians have been affected by my accusers….yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth….I will endeavor to explain to you the reason why I am called wise and have such and evil reputation….Chaerephon, (who is well…

Leslie Martel

Music and art that’s what makes the world go round.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store