Essay on Plato 's Views On The Trial And Death By Hemlock

Essay on Plato 's Views On The Trial And Death By Hemlock

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If we could not tell from his punishment, surely the fact that we are reading four separate texts about Socrates indicates that his trial and death by hemlock were both important and controversial. In all three of Plato’s texts (Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito), he looks to defend Socrates from the charges against him: namely corrupting the youth of Athens by disseminating his philosophical teachings in the agora. Interestingly enough, Plato does so through dialectics with Socrates as the main charatcer. While all three works do well to defend Socrates, it is Crito that serves as the best defense of Socrates, and, more importantly, his philosophy. In defending his philosophy, Plato does not simply walk us through it, rather he weaves into a narrative that we both invest ourselves in and truly learn from; Crito best defends Socrates and the activity of philosophy because it puts Socrates’ convictions into action and more effectively carries Plato’s message.
Before going into the specifics of exactly how Plato defends Socrates, we must first lay out the circumstances under which he does so. Crito takes place in a jail in the morning just days before Socrates is set to be executed. Crito, one of Socrates’ closer friends is able to bribe his way in to see Socrates and try to convince him to escape his punishment. Right away, we see Socrates in a vulnerable state having just woken up behind prison bars. We would expect him to be awash in emotion having been so unjustly convicted and sentenced, however Plato’s defense truly shines through as Plato addresses Crito’s pleas for him to escape.
Crito comes to Socrates confused as to how he could possibly be sleeping when such an unjust end awaits him. Socrates, calm as ever, believes that it...

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...Socrates, obey us, your nurturers, and do not regard children or living or anything else as more important that justice” (113). Socrates is using the voice of his accusers to explain his philosophy, a move that further intertwines justice and Socrates’ philosophy which in turn strengthens Plato’s defense. Socrates is defending himself within the framework of the law, a tactic that only helps him in his case.
What is perhaps most interesting is that Socrates is not fighting to escape death, rather he seeks to meet it. What Crito does is it lets Socrates (through Plato) put his money where his mouth is. Ultimately what we must ask ourselves is whether we believe Socrates. In facing death headstrong and in accordance with his philosophy, we are moved to believe in Socrates as well as his philosophy, something that Apology and Euthyphro do not do to the same extent.

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