John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 25 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 25 of 29)
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escaping or in suffering others to aid in our escape and
paying them in money and thanks, or whether in real-
ity we shall not do rightly; and if the latter, then death
or any other calamity which may ensue on my remain-
ing here must not be allowed to enter into the calcu-

Crito. I think that you are right, Socrates ; how
then shall we proceed ?

Socrates. Let us consider the matter together, and
do you either refute me if you can, and I will be con-
vinced ; or else cease, my dear friend, from repeating
to me that I ought to escape against the wishes of the


Athenians : for I highly value your attempts to .per-
suade me to do so, but I may not be persuaded against
my own better judgment. And now please to consider
my first position, and try how you can best answer me.

Crito, I will.

Socrates. Are we to say that we are never inten-
tionally to do wrong, or that in one way we ought and
in another way we ought not to do wrong, or is doing
wrong always evil and dishonorable, as I was just
now saying, and as has been already acknowledged by
us ? Are all our former admissions which were made
within a few days to be thrown away ? And have we,
at our age, been earnestly discoursing with one an-
other all our life long only to discover that we are no
better than children ? Or, in spite of the opinion of
the many, and in spite of consequences, whether better
or worse, shall we insist on the truth of what was then
said, that injustice is always an evil and dishonor to
him who acts unjustly ? Shall we say so or not ?

Crito. Yes.

Socrates. Then we must do no wrong ?

Crito. Certainly not.

Socrates. Nor when injured injure in return, as the
many imagine ; for we must injure no one at all?

Crito. Clearly not.

Socrates. Again, Crito, may we do evil ?

Crito. Surely not, Socrates.

Socrates. And what of doing evil in return for
evil, which is the morality of the many — is that just
or not ?

Crito. Not just.

Socrates. For doing evil to another is the same as
injuring him?

Crito. Very true.





Socrates. Then we ought not to retaliate or render
evil for evil to any one, whatever evil we may have suf-
fered from him. But I would have you consider, Crito,
whether you really mean what you are saying. For
this opinion has never been held, and never will be
held, by any considerable number of persons ; and
those who are agreed and those who are not agreed
upon this point have no common ground, and can only
despise one another when they see how widely they
differ. Tell me, then, whether you agree with and
assent to my first principle, that neither injury, nor
retaliation, nor warding off evil by evil is ever right.
And shall that be the premises of our argument ? Or
do you decline and dissent from this ? For so I have
ever thought and continue to think ; but, if you are
of another opinion, let me hear what you have to say.
If, however, you remain of the same mind as formerly,
I will proceed to the next step.

Crito* You may proceed, for I have not changed
my mind.

Socrates. Then I will go on to the next point,
which may be put in the form of a question : Ought
a man to do what he admits to be right, or ought he
to betray the right ?

Crito, He ought to do what he thinks right.

Socrates. But if this is true, what is the applica-
tion ? In leaving the prison against the will of the
Athenians, do I wrong any ? or rather do I not wrong
those whom I ought least to wrong ? Do I not desert
the principles which were acknowledged by us to be
just — what do you say ?

Crito. I cannot tell, Socrates ; for I do not know,

Socrates. Then consider the matter in this way :
Imagine that I am about to pjay truant (you may call


the proceeding by any name which you like), and the
laws and the government come and interrogate me :
" Tell us, Socrates," they say, " what are you about ?
are you not going by an act of yours to overturn us —
the laws and the whole State, as far as in you lies ?
Do you imagine that a State can subsist and not be
overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no
power, but are set aside and trampled upon by indi-
viduals ? " What will be our answer, Crito, to these
and the like words ? Any one, and especially a rhet-
orician, will have a good deal to say on behalf of the
law which requires a sentence to be carried out. He
will argue that this law should not be set aside ; and
shall we reply, " Yes ; but the State has injured us and
given an unjust sentence." Suppose I say that ?

Crito. Yery good, Socrates.

Socrates. " And was that our agreement with you ? "
the law would answer ; " or were you to abide by the
sentence of the State ? " And if I were to express my
astonishment at their words, the law would probably
add : " Answer, Socrates, instead of opening your eyes
— you are in the habit of asking and answering ques-
tions. Tell us, — what complaint have you to make
against us which justifies you in attempting to destroy
us and the State ? In the first place did we not bring
you into existence? Your father married your mo-
ther by our aid and begat you. Say whether you have
any objection to urge against those of us who regulate
marriage ? " " None," I should reply. " Or against
those of us who after birth regulate the nurture and
education of children, in which you also were trained ?
Were not the laws, which have the charge of educa-
tion, right in commanding your father to train you
in music and gymnastic ? " " Right," I should reply.

CPdTO 389

" Well then, since you were brought into the world
and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in
the first place that you are our child and slave, as
your fathers were before you ? And if this is true
you are not on equal terms with us ; nor can you
think that you have a right to do to us what we are
doing to you. Would you have any right to strike or
revile or do any other evil to your father or your mas-
ter, if you had one, because you have been struck or
reviled by him, or received some other evil at his
hands ? — you would not say this ? And because we
think right to destroy you, do you think that you
have any right to destroy us in return, and your
country as far as in you lies ? Will you, O professor
of true virtue, pretend that you are justified in this?
Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that our
country is more to be valued and higher and holier
far than mother or father or any ancestor, and more
to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of
understanding ? Also to be soothed, and gently ana
reverently entreated when angry, even more than a
father, and either to be persuaded, or if not per-
suaded, to be obeyed? And when we are punished
by her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the
punishment is to be endured in silence ; and if she
lead us to wounds or death in battle, thither we follow,
as is right ; neither may any one yield or retreat or
leave his rank, but whether in battle or in a court of
law, or in any other place, he must do what his city
and his country order him ; or he must change their
view of what is just ; and if he may do no violence to
his father or mother, much less may he do violence to
his country." What answer shall we make to this,
Crito ? Do the laws speak truly, or do they not ?


Crito. I think that they do.

Soerates. Then the laws will say : " Consider, Soc-
rates, if we are speaking truly that in your present at-
tempt you are going to do us an injury. For, having
brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated
you, and given you and every other citizen a share in
every good which we had to give, we further proclaim
to any Athenian by the liberty which we allow him, that
if he does not like us when he has become of age and
has seen the ways of the city, and made our acquaint-
ance, he may go where he pleases and take his goods
with him. None of us laws will forbid him or inter-
fere with him. Any one who does not like us and
the city, and who wants to emigrate to a colony or to
any other city, may go where he likes, retaining his
property. But he who has experience of the manner
in which we order justice and administer the State,
and still remains, has entered into an implied contract
that he will do as we command him. And he who
disobeys us is, as we maintain, thrice wrong ; first,
because in disobeying us he is disobeying his parents ;
secondly, because we are the authors of his education ;
thirdly, because he has made an agreement with us
that he will duly obey our commands ; and he neither
obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are
unjust ; and we do not rudely impose them, but give
him the alternative of obeying or convincing us ; that
is what we offer, and he does neither.

" These are the sort of accusations to which, as we
were saying, you, Socrates, will be exposed if you ac-
complish your intentions ; you, above all other Atheni-
ans." Suppose now I ask, " Why I rather than anybody
else ? " they will justly retort upon me that I above all
other men have acknowledged the agreement. " There


is clear proof," they will say, " Socrates, that we and
the city were not displeasing to you. Of all Athe-
nians, you have been the most constant resident in
the city, which, as you never leave, you may be sup-
posed to love. For you never went out of the city
either to see the games, except once when you went to
the Isthmus, or to any other place unless when you
were on military service ; nor did you travel as other
men do. Nor had you any curiosity to know other
States or their laws : your affections did not go be-
yond us and our State ; we were your special favorites,
and you acquiesced in our government of you ; and
here in this city you begat your children, which is a
proof of your satisfaction. Moreover, you might in
the course of the trial, if you had liked, have fixed
the penalty at banishment ; the State which refuses
to let you go now would have let you go then. But
you pretended that you preferred death to exile, and
that you were not unwilling to die. And now you
have forgotten these fine sentiments, and pay no re-
spect to us the laws, of whom you are the destroyer ;
and are doing what only a miserable slave would do,
running away and turning your back upon the com-
pacts and agreements which you made as a citizen.
And first of all answer this very question : Are we
right in saying that you agreed to be governed accord-
ing to us in deed, and not in word only ? Is that true
or not ? " How shall we answer, Crito ? Must we
not assent ?

Crito. We cannot help it, Socrates.

Socrates. Then will they not say : " You, Socrates,
are breaking the covenants and agreements which you
made with us at your leisure, not in any haste or un-
der any compulsion or deception, but after you have


had seventy years to think of them, during which
time you were at liberty to leave the city, if we were
not to your mind, or if our covenants appeared to you
to be unfair. You had your choice, and might have
gone either to Lacedaemon or Crete, both which States
are often praised by you for their good government,
or to some other Hellenic or foreign State. Whereas
you, above all other Athenians, seemed to be so fond
of the state, or, in other words, of us her laws (and
who would care about a State which has no laws ?)
that you never stirred out of her ; the halt, the blind,
the maimed were not more stationary in her than you
were. And now you run away and forsake your
agreements. Not so, Socrates, if you will take our
advice ; do not make yourself ridiculous by escaping
out of the city.

" For just consider, if you transgress and err in this
sort of way, what good will you do either to yourself
or to your friends ? That your friends will be driven
into exile and deprived of citizenship, or will lose
their property, is tolerably certain ; and you yourself,
if you fly to one of the neighboring cities, as, for ex-
ample, Thebes or Megara, both of which are well gov-
erned, will come to them as an enemy, Socrates, and
their government will be against you, and all patriotic
citizens will cast an evil eye upon you as a subverter
of the laws, and you will confirm in the minds of the
judges the justice of their own condemnation of you.
For he who is a corrupter of the laws is more than
likely to be a corrupter of the young and foolish por-
tion of mankind. Will you then flee from well-or-
dered cities and virtuous men ? And is existence
worth having on these terms? Or will you go to
them without shame, and talk to them, Socrates?

C'RITO 393

And wliat will you say to them ? What you say here
about virtue and justice and institutions and laws be-
ing the best things among men ? Would that be
decent o£ you ? Surely not. But if you go away
from well-governed states to Crito's friends in Thes-
saly, where there is great disorder and license, they
will be charmed to hear the tale of your escape from
prison, set off with ludicrous particulars of the manner
in which you were wrapped up in a goatskin or some
other disguise, and metamorphosed as the manner is
of runaways ; but will there be no one to remind you
that in your old age you were not ashamed to violate
the most sacred laws from a miserable desire of a
little more life? Perhaps not, if you keep them in a
good tem^per ; but if they are out of temper you will
hear many degrading things. You will live, but how ?
— as the flatterer of all men, and the servant of all
men ; and doing what ? — eating and drinking in
Thessaly, having gone abroad in order that you may
get a dinner. And where will be your fine sentiments
about justice and virtue ? Say that you wish to live
for the sake of your children — you want to bring
them up and educate them — will you take them into
Thessaly and deprive them of Athenian citizenship ?
Is this the benefit which you will confer upon them ?
Or are you under the impression that they will be
better cared for and educated here if you are still
alive, although absent from them ; for your friends
will take care of them? Do you fancy that if you
are an inhabitant of Thessaly they will take care of
them, and if you are an inhabitant of the other world
that they will not take care of them ? Nay ; but if
they who call themselves friends are good for any-
thing, they will — to be sure they will.


" Listen, then, Socrates, to us who have brought
you up. Think not of life and children first, and of
justice afterwards, but of justice first, that you may be
justified before the princes of the world below. For
neither will you nor any that belong to you be happier
or holier or juster in this life, or happier in another,
if you do as Crito bids. Now you depart in inno-
cence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil ; a victim, not
of the laws, but of men. But if you go forth, return-
ing evil for evil, and injury for injury, breaking the
covenants and agreements which you have made with
us, and wronging those whom you ought least of all
to wrong, that is to say, yourself, your friends, your
country, and us, we shall be angry with you while you
live, and our brethren, the laws in the world below,
will receive you as an enemy; for they will know that
you have done your best to destroy us. Listen, then,
to us and not to Crito."

This, dear Crito, is the voice which I seem to hear
murmuring in my ears, like the sound of the flute in
the ears of the mystic ; that voice, I say, is humming
in my ears, and prevents me from hearing any other.
And I know that anything more which you may say
will be vain. Yet speak, if you have anything to

Crito. I have nothing to say, Socrates.

Socrates. Leave me, then, Crito, to fulfil the will
of God, and to follow whither he leads.



From the Phaedo, pp. 115-118.

Scene. — The Prison.

The story is supposed to be told by Socrates's young friend
Phaedo, his " beloved disciple," to Echecrates and a company of
philosophers in Phlius.

" Wherefore,^ Simmias, seeing all these things, what
ought not we to do that we may obtain virtue and
wisdom in this life ? Fair is the prize, and the hope
great !

" A man of sense ought not to say, nor will I be very
confident, that the description which I have given of
the soul and her mansions is exactly true. But I do
say that, inasmuch as the soul is shown to be immortal,
he may venture to think, not improperly or unworthily,
that something of the kind is true. The venture is a
glorious one, and he ought to comfort himself with
words like these, which is the reason why I lengthen
out the tale. Wherefore, I say, let a man be of good
cheer about his soul, who having cast away the plea-
sures and ornaments of the body as alien to him and
working harm rather than good, has sought after the
pleasures of knowledge ; and has arrayed the soul,
not in some foreign attire, but in her own proper
jewels, temperance, and justice, and courage, and no-
bility, and truth — in these adorned she is ready to
go on her journey to the world below, when her hour
comes. You, Simmias and Cebes, and all other men,
will depart at some time or other. Me already, as a

^ Socrates is just concluding his discussion of the immortality of
the soul.


tragic poet would say, the voice of fate calls. Soon
I must drink the poison ; and I think that I had
better repair to the bath first in order that the women
may not have the trouble of washing my body after I
am dead."

When he had done speaking, Crito ^ said : " And
have you any commands for us, Socrates — anything
to say about your children, or any other matter in
which we can serve you ? "

" Nothing particular, Crito," he replied ; " only, as
I have always told you, take care of yourselves ; that
is a service which you may be ever rendering to me
and mine and to all of us, whether you promise to do
so or not. But if you have no thought for yourselves,
and care not to walk according to the rule which I
have prescribed for you, not now for the first time,
however much you may profess or promise at the mo-
ment, it will be of no avail."

" We will do our best," said Crito ; " and in what
way shall we bury you ? " ^

" In any way that you like ; but you must get hold
of me, and take care that I do not run away from
you." Then he turned to us and added with a smile :
" I cannot make Crito believe that I am the same ^
Socrates who has been talking and conducting the
argument ; he fancies that I am the other Socrates
whom he will soon see, a dead body — and he asks,
How shall he bury me ? And though I have spoken
many words in the endeavor to show that when I have
drunk the poison I shall leave you and go to the joys
of the blessed, — these words of mine, with which I

1 Crito had been a friend of Socrates from boyhood. He was pre-
sent not as a philosophical follower but as his oldest friend.

2 I. e. Do you wish to be cremated or buried ?
* Rather, this Socrates.


was comforting you and myself, have had, as I per-
ceive, no effect upon Crito. And therefore I want
you to be surety for me to him now, as at the trial he
was surety to the judges for me ; but let the promise
be of another sort ; for he was surety for me to the
judges that I would remain, and you must be my
surety to him that I shall not remain, but go away
and depart ; and then he will suffer less at my death,
and not be grieved when he sees my body being
burned or buried. I would not have him sorrow at
my hard lot, or say at the burial, ' Thus we lay out
Socrates,' or, ' Thus we follow him to the grave,' or
' bury him ; ' for false words are not only evil in
themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. Be of
good cheer, then, my dear Crito, and say that you
are burying my body only, and do with that whatever
is usual, and what you think best."

When he had spoken these words, he arose and
went into a chamber to bathe ; Crito followed him,
and told us to wait. So we remained behind, talking
and thinking of the subjects of discourse, and also of
the greatness of our sorrow ; he was like a father of
whom we were being bereaved, and we were about to
pass the rest of our lives as orphans. When he had
taken the bath his children were brought to him
(he had two young sons and an elder one) ; and the
women of his family also came, and he talked to
them and gave them a few directions in the pre-
sence of Crito ; then he dismissed them and returned
to us.

Now the hour of sunset was near, for a good deal
of time had passed while he was within. When he
came out, he sat down with us again after his bath,
but not much was said. Soon the jailer, who was


the servant of the Eleven,^ entered and stood by him,
saying : " To you, Socrates, whom I know to be the
noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came to
this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of
other men, who rage and swear at me, when, in obedi-
ence to the authorities, I bid them drink the poison —
indeed, I am sure that you will not be angry with
me ; for others, as you are aware, and not I, are to
blame. And so fare you well, and try to bear lightly
what must needs be — you know my errand." Then
bursting into tears, he turned away and went out.

Socrates looked at him and said : " I return your
good wishes, and will do as you bid." Then turning
to us, he said, " How charming the man is ! since I
have been in prison he has always been coming to see
me, and at times he would talk to me, and was as
good to me as could be, and now see how generously
he sorrows on my account. We must do as he says,
Crito ; and therefore let the cup be brought, if the poi-
son is prepared; if not, let the attendant prepare some."

" Yet," said Crito, " the sun is still upon the hill-
tops,^ and I know that many a one has taken the
draught late, and after the announcement has been
made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and enjoyed
the society of his beloved ; do not hurry — there is
time enough."

Socrates said : " Yes, Crito, and they of whom you
speak are right in so acting, for they think that* they
will be gainers by the delay ; but I am right in not
following their example, for I do not think that I
should gain anything by drinking the poison a little

1 " The Eleven " at Athens were in charge of the prisons and of all

2 The sentence was that the prisoner should die on that day, and
the day ended with sunset.


later ; I should only be ridiculous in my own eyes for
sparing and saving a life which is already forfeit.
Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me."

Crito made a sign to the servant, who was standing
by; and he went out, and having been absent for
some time, returned with the jailer carrying the cup
of poison. Socrates said : '' You, my good friend,
who are experienced in these matters shall give me
directions how to proceed." The man answered : " You
have only to walk about until your legs are heavy,
and then to lie down, and the poison will act." At
the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in
the easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear
or change of color or feature, looking at the man with
all his eyes, Echecrates, as his manner was, took the
cup and said: "What do you say about making a
libation out of this cup to any god? May I, or
not ? " The man answered : " We only prepare, Soc-
rates, just so much as we deem enough." " I under-
stand," he said, " but I may and must ask the gods
to prosper my journey from this to the other world —
even so — and so be it according to my prayer." Then
raising the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheer-
fully he drank off the poison. And hitherto most of
us had been able to control our sorrow ; but now
when we saw him drinking, and saw too that he had
finished the draught, we could no longer forbear, and
in spite of myself my own tears were flowing fast ; so
that I covered my face and wept, not for him, but at
the thought of my own calamity in having to part
from such a friend. Nor was I the first ; for Crito,
when he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had
got up, and I followed ; and at that moment, Apol-
lodorus, who had been weeping all the time, broke


out in a loud and passionate cry which made cowards of
us all. Socrates alone retained his calmness. " What
is this strange outcry ? " he said. " I sent away the
women mainly in order that they might not misbe-
have in this way, for I have been told that a man

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 25 of 29)