He is visited before dawn by his old friend Crito, who has made arrangements to smuggle Socrates out of prison to the safety of exile. Socrates seems quite willing to await his imminent execution, and so Crito presents as many arguments as he can in order to persuade Socrates to escape.
It is in the form of a dialog between Socrates and Crito, an elderly Athenian who for many years has been a devoted friend of Socrates and a firm believer in his ethical teachings.
The conversation takes place at an early hour on what proved to be the next-to-the-last day that Socrates remained alive. Like both the Euthyphro and the Apology, this dialog reveals something of the character of Socrates by describing the manner in which he faced difficult circumstances without being overcome by them.
In the Crito, particular attention is given to the reasons advanced by Socrates for refusing to escape from prison as a means of saving his own life. The circumstances were such that he might easily have done so, and his friends were urging him to do it.
The dialog begins with Socrates asking Crito why he has arrived at so early an hour. The dawn is just beginning to break, and Socrates has been sleeping soundly throughout the night. He adds that he is astonished to find that Socrates has been able to sleep so well and to remain calm and peaceful when the time for his execution is so close at hand.
Socrates has been in prison for about a month, owing to the fact that no execution of a criminal would be allowed in the city until a certain ship has returned from the island of Delos. Crito reports that the ship is soon to arrive, for he has been told that it has left Sunium and is expected to be in Athens the next day.
For this reason, Crito tells Socrates that tomorrow will be his last day alive.
Socrates states that if such is the will of God, he is willing to die. However, he is convinced, because of a dream that he experienced that morning, that there will be a delay of one more day. At this point, Crito pleads with Socrates to take his advice and escape from prison.
He gives as his reason that if Socrates refuses to escape and is then put to death, Crito will not only have lost a true friend who can never be replaced, but he will also be censured by many persons who will accuse him of failure to do what he could in order to save the life of a friend.
It will be supposed by those who are not familiar with the facts that Crito could have purchased the freedom of his friend by paying a certain amount of money but that he refused to do so.
Hence, if Socrates cares about the reputation of his friend in the future, he will act in accordance with the request that that friend is now making of him.
Socrates must admit that the opinion of the majority is something that cannot be ignored, for they are capable of inflicting great harm on anyone who has incurred their disapproval.
Socrates is not concerned about the opinion of the majority, for it is capable of neither the greatest evil nor the greatest good. It cannot make a man wise and it cannot make one foolish.
Whatever it does is largely a matter of chance. Crito asks if Socrates does not fear that escaping from prison would cause his friends to get in trouble with the authorities of the land and that this might cause them to lose a portion of their property or possibly suffer something that might be even worse than that.
Socrates admits that he does have that fear, but it is by no means the only one that he has. Crito then tells him to have no such fear, for there are persons who at no great cost are willing to save him and bring him out of prison.
As for the informers, they are far from being exorbitant in their demands, and a little money will satisfy them. Crito explains that he has considerable means himself, all of which he would gladly use for any purpose that would aid in saving the life of Socrates.
Furthermore, if Socrates should feel hesitant about allowing Crito to spend so much in his behalf, there are many more of his friends who are ready and willing to supply whatever amount of money is needed for this purpose.
If these offers of assistance are not sufficient to persuade Socrates to attempt an escape from prison, Crito presents some additional reasons in support of what he has been urging him to do. He tells him that by remaining in prison and refusing to escape, he is playing into the hands of his enemies and giving aid to the ones who are disregarding the demands of justice.
Then, too, he is betraying the members of his own family, especially the children, who are entitled to the nurture, guidance, and education that he could provide by staying alive and doing what is within his power for their welfare.
If, Crito says, instead of fulfilling your obligations to them, you go away and leave them to take their chances amid all the unfortunate circumstances that may arise, you cannot be held blameless if they should fall into evil ways.
This is not the kind of action that is appropriate for one who professes, as you do, to be following the course of virtue.Crito is a dialogue written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.
In this case, a “dialogue” refers to an early form of drama, consisting of a staged conversation between two characters. In this case, a “dialogue” refers to an early form of drama, consisting of a staged conversation between two characters.
Video: Plato's 'Crito': Summary & Concepts In this lesson you will learn about the arguments presented in 'Crito,' a dialogue written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.
In the dialogue, Socrates debates issues of justice with his friend Crito. It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, "never to contradict anybody." If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts.
Notably it is difficult to distinguish between Socrates and Plato, however in the act of formulating his works, Plato effectively invented the subject of philosophy.5 This is because Socrates hardly wrote anything down and the only directly recorded dialogues concern his trial and the end of his life.
Early Socratic Dialogues (Penguin Classics) - Kindle edition by Plato, Emlyn-Jones Chris, Trevor Saunders, Trevor Saunders. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets.
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The dialogue is a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito on justice and injustice, as well as the appropriate response to injustice. During the conversation, Crito provides arguments in favor of Socrates' escape from prison.