The Last Days of Socrates

“infobox Book “
name The Last Days of Socrates
original title Εὐθύφρων, Απολογία Σωκράτους, Κρίτων, Φαίδων
image caption Penguin Classics cover
author Plato
Translator Hugh Tedennick, Harold Tarrant
country Ancient Greece
language Ancient Greek (original)
English language (translated)
genre(s) Philosophy
publisher Penguin
release date <400 BC
media type Paperback
pages 256

The Last Days of Socrates is a series of four dialogues by Plato which describe the trial and death of Socrates at 403 B.C. The trial of Socrates for heresy and the corruption of youth gives Plato the opportunity to develop and present his own philosophy of the responsibility of the individual for his actions and their effect on their community as well as his belief in the immortality of the soul.

The Dialogues begin with the Euthyphro which takes place just before Socrate’s trial is about to begin. Euthyphro has accused his father of the murder of a servant. The servant had attacked and killed another servant. The circumstances of this death lead Socrates and Euthyphro to debate the nature of holiness. The debate gives the reader a vivid demonstation of Socrates’ use of questioning to poke holes in the assertions of others. The reader aslo gets a sense of Socrates’ arrogance of manner that makes him enemies.

In The Apology, Plato uses his dialogues to tell the story of the trial of Socrates as he energetically defends himself against the charges of heresy and corruption of youth. As Socrates tears into his accusers, he logically proves his point each man has responsibility for his own actions. However he also displays the arrogance that has made him enemies and, as a result, he is convicted and sentenced to death by drinking hemlock.

Socrates sentence is delayed so he remains imprisoned in Athens. In the Crito, Socrates friend, Crito, has come to help him escape and Socrates counters crito’s arguments choosing to stay in prison and accept his fate. He believes he would be going against his nature to escape and then he would actually be causing harm to the Athens that he loves.

In the Phaedo, Plato uses Socrates to espouse his belief of the immortality of the soul. Death should be welcome to the philosopher because it is then that he will attain true wisdon and get rid of the distraction of the body.