The Crito Essay, Research Paper
The dialogue of The Crito, by Plato, recounts the last days of Socrates, immediately before his execution was going to take place in Athens. In the dialogue, Socrates friend, Crito, proposes that Socrates escape from prison. Socrates considers this proposal, trying to decide if escaping would be just and morally justified. Socrates argues against his escape by relating the regulations of the state to the duties of citizens within the state. Socrates sees his execution as a justified because he thinks that he will be performing an unjust action to the state, himself, as well as his followers by escaping. Crito sees Socrates execution as unjust because of a few reasons, but most of all because Socrates has been imprisoned unjustly thus making his escape seem just. In this essay I will compare both arguments as well as give my beliefs as to why I think Socrates decision was the best decision.
Crito begins by giving 3 main reasons as to why Socrates should not escape. First both Socrates and his friends will be severly criticized if he does escape. He thinks that they will be looked down upon for not helping Socrates escape. Socrates feels that the opinion of some should be regarded and the opinion of the others should not. Next Crito points out that Socrates would be hypocritical in that he had preached his entire life about human excellence and that by not escaping was cowardly and showed an extreme lack of bravery. Thirdly, he points out that it would should an extreme lack of character to let his children grow up without the guidance that Socrates has to offer.
Socrates on the other hand feels that by escaping from prison it would be a violation of the law of the land and would clearly imply that Socrates is an enemy to that which makes an orderly society. Socrates feels that the Athenian society has given him so much and because of that fact he has a moral responsibility to accept the penalty of the law. He has dedicated his life and service to the Athenian society. He thinks it is his duty to obey his punishment whether his death sentence is a just or unjust penalty. Socrates beleives that if he escapes the outcome of his actions will somehow modify the people s loyalty to the laws and how they are adhered to now and in the future. I think that it all comes down to the fact that Socrates does not want to be a hypocrite. He has based the way he lives is life around his virtues and opinions and escaping would ultimately contradict everything he has come to stand for. He will stand before the state, society and Gods as a martyr to the injustice not of the law, but those who have abused the law in order to bring on his sentence of death.
I see Socrates decision as a demonstration of his true character. I admire his decision in many ways. He believes that what he stands for and what he believes is more important than his life itself. Of course this could be due to the fact that he is 80 years old and he knows he is going to die soon anyways; but in this case I ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Socrates thinks that a just man is that of who has a just soul, and because of his decision I think that he does have a just soul and feels like he will die a just man. I believe that Socrates made the right decision because all of Crito s arguments for Socrates escape would make Socrates look like a selfish man. Thus he lived his life as a testament to his belief of justice eventhough he died unjustly.
Socrates demonstrated his true character in The Crito. He calmly and logically offered his own moral point of view into his decision to remain in custody, and await his execution. The Crito illustrates the importance of the individual within the state, and despite Crito s pleas the words of Crito began to fall on deaf ears as Socrates is content to follow the paths in which he feels God has intended for him.