Crito

Crito

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Crito'
Start a new discussion about 'Crito'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Crito is a short but important dialogue
Dialogue
Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people....

 by the ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 philosopher
Ancient philosophy
This page lists some links to ancient philosophy. In Western philosophy, the spread of Christianity through the Roman Empire marked the ending of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, whereas in Eastern philosophy, the spread of Islam through the Arab Empire...

 Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

. It is a conversation between Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 and his wealthy friend Crito
Crito of Alopece
Crito of Alopece was a faithful, probably lifelong companion of Socrates. The two had evidently grown up together as friends, being from the same deme and of roughly the same age...

 regarding justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 (dikē), injustice
Injustice
Injustice is the lack of or opposition to justice, either in reference to a particular event or act, or as a larger status quo. The term generally refers to misuse, abuse, neglect, or malfeasance that is uncorrected or else sanctioned by a legal system. Misuse and abuse with regard to a particular...

 (adikia), and the appropriate response to injustice. Socrates thinks that injustice may not be answered with injustice, and refuses Crito's offer to finance his escape from prison. This dialogue contains an ancient statement of the social contract theory of government.

Crito's argument to Socrates


The dialogue begins with Socrates waking up to the presence of Crito in his prison cell and inquires whether it is early in the day (43a). Crito informs Socrates that it is indeed early and that he, Crito, chose to let Socrates sleep in peace, especially given Socrates' current distressful circumstance of awaiting his own execution. Crito explains that he admires the peaceful manner in which Socrates has heretofore lived and the level of calm that Socrates displays in the face of death. Socrates replies that it is only fitting that he react in such a manner given his age and expresses surprise that the guard has let Crito in to his cell at such an early hour. Crito informs Socrates that he is well-acquainted with the guard and has done him a certain benefaction.

Crito relays bad news to Socrates. He tells him that there are eyewitness reports that the ship has come in from Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

, and that tomorrow Socrates will be executed. Socrates rebuffs the report, saying he has had a dream - a vision of a woman in a white cloak telling him that on the third day hence he will go to Phthia
Phthia
Phthia , Phthíē ) in ancient Greece was the southernmost region of ancient Thessaly, on both sides of Othrys Mountain. It was the homeland of the Myrmidones tribe, who took part in the Trojan War under Achilles....

, which is a reference to Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

' threat in the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

that he—the mightiest of Greek warriors—might just leave for his home in "fertile" Phthia
Phthia
Phthia , Phthíē ) in ancient Greece was the southernmost region of ancient Thessaly, on both sides of Othrys Mountain. It was the homeland of the Myrmidones tribe, who took part in the Trojan War under Achilles....

 and be there in "just three days" if the Greeks fail to show him due respect. Socrates says that the meaning of this is perfectly clear - it will be three days until he dies.

Crito does not allow Socrates to elaborate the meaning of the dream, but only calls him daimonic
Daimonic
The idea of the daimonic typically means quite a few things: from befitting a demon and fiendish, to motivated by a spiritual force or genius and inspired. As a psychological term, it has come to represent an elemental force which contains an irrepressible drive towards individuation...

; Crito has arrived at this early hour to save Socrates from death. Crito tells Socrates that if he follows through with the execution, people will assume that Crito and friends were too cheap to finance an escape. Crito insists that he will not get into much trouble as a result of having helped Socrates escape, for those who would inform against him are cheaply bought. He adds that if Socrates is afraid of depleting Crito's account, there are foreigners (xenoi
Xenos (Greek)
Xenos is a word used in the Greek language from Homer onwards that has a wide gradient of meaning, signifying such divergent concepts as “enemy stranger” as well as “ritual friend”.- Meanings :...

), Simmias
Simmias of Thebes
Simmias of Thebes was a disciple of Socrates, and a friend of Cebes. In his Memorabilia, Xenophon includes him in the inner circle of Socrates' followers...

 and Cebes
Cebes
Cebes of Thebes was a disciple of Socrates in the late 5th-century BCE. One work, known as the Pinax or Tabula, attributed to Cebes still survives, but it is believed to be a composition by an anonymous author of the 1st or 2nd century....

, who have come to town with money. Moreover, Crito urges, Socrates has support in other cities, including Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, and to be exiled would not be entirely negative.

Crito continues with moral appeals. He says that Socrates would be unjustly joining the efforts of his enemies against him. He is choosing the "easiest path" as opposed to the courageous, honorable, and virtuous path, which Crito feels is to flee from certain, unjust death. Socrates would be acting with cowardice if he weren't to resist such injustices.

Crito further argues that a father (like Socrates) has an obligation to nurture and educate his children and should avoid orphaning them if at all possible. He tells Socrates that if his sons do not meet with the usual fate of orphans, it will be no thanks to him. Crito adds that the trial should never have taken place and might have been managed differently. He says that the failure to escape will be a ridiculous climax to the whole affair and would be attributed to the shameful cowardice of Socrates' friends (45d,e).

Socrates' responses


Socrates tells Crito that he is one of those people who must be guided by reason, while Crito has insisted that he be obeyed in this matter regardless of whether he has convinced Socrates. Socrates claims that he was serious at his trial about not fearing death. He expresses contempt for the opinions of the masses of mankind who think irrationally and act randomly. Socrates says that the only person whose opinion is of value is the one who understands justice (47c,d). Money, reputation and feeding children are values of thoughtless men (48c). The question is whether it would be unjust for Socrates to escape, not what people would think about him.

Socrates argues that if it is never good to do injustice, then certainly it is never good to do injustice in response to injustice. He says that this premise will be taken as true for the purpose of their discussion (49d). Crito says he agrees with Socrates.

This does not answer whether it is just or unjust for Socrates to escape from the prison, so Socrates asks what the Laws would say about his leaving. Socrates claims that the Laws would say that he destroys the city in leaving, and this unjustly. The Laws say that a citizen stands in relation to the city as the child does to the parent, as the slave does to his master.

The Laws would further say, Socrates says, that he entered into a contract with them by remaining within the city, benefiting from it, and so now cannot justly attack it on account of having been unjustly convicted. Socrates says the laws argue that he tacitly agreed to obey the law by remaining in Athens after having reached maturity, witnessing the structure of the law and how it functions, and raising children of his own in Athens.

Socrates does not declare that he is satisfied with the Laws' argument, instead asking Crito whether they mustn't accept it. Crito says they must, and so the dialogue comes to a conclusion.

External links