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The Last Days of Socrates Summary

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Last Days of Socrates

Socrates was a Greek Athenian philosopher and is often credited as one of the founders of western philosophy. The Last Days of Socrates is a simple, but somewhat hard to read book. It is written by Plato, a student of Socrates. It consist of four dialogues that talk about Socrates activities before his trail and death. In these dialogues you get to know a few other characters and what their views are by the opinions expressed through conversation with Socrates. These series of conversations and speeches, confirm and deny each others statements and beliefs. To show this, I will explain the books with a bit more in depth.

The book of Euthyphro is set to the time of right before Socrates trial. It begins when Socrates ask Euthyphro why he is waiting near the court and Euthyphro replies saying that he is prosecuting his father for murder. Surprised by this Socrates says the he must have advanced knowledge on these matters and that his father must have murdered another family member. Euthyphro says that he is indeed an expert of these matters but the man his father murdered was not a family member. He also says that since his father committed an unholy deed and "polluted" his family, then his sins must be purged by means of prosecution. This is where Socrates and Euthyphro begin their (somewhat hard to follow) discussion about holiness and how it is recognized. In the discussion, one of Euthyphro's arguments is that what is holy is approved by the gods. Socrates cleverly combats this definition and points out that it is clearly insufficient. He does this by explaining by saying that if the gods approve of something because it is holy, then their approval cannot be what makes it holy. In the same way, if it is holy because the gods approve of it, then we still don't know why the gods approve of it. The discussion and book end, when Euthyphro storms off because Socrates cleverly turns all of his arguments against him.

The next book, Apology, is about Socrates trial in Athenian court. Socrates is being charged with inventing new gods and not recognizing the ones that exist. Meletus, the man responsible for bringing Socrates to the jury also says that he is corrupting the youth of Athens. Before speaking to the jury, he apologizes in advance for speaking in the manner he is used to. For he had no experience with law courts. During his trial, Socrates is very calm and maintains his posture even with knowing his life is possibly at stake. As time goes on, he logically deflects each accusation against him continually proves his point that each man has responsibility for his own actions. Near the end of his trial, Socrates gets a little arrogant and says that Athens is like a lazy horse, and he is a gadfly stinging the horse. In other words without him, Socrates claims that the Athenian state will fall into a deep sleep, but through his teachings it can be awakened into a productive and virtuous action. Sadly in the end he is found guilty and is sentenced to death by drinking hemlock.

The third book, Crito, takes place in Socrates prison cell. Crito (Socrates friend), waits outside Socrates cell till he wakes. Crito then urges Socrates to escape with him because Socrates day of execution is near. He then gives Socrates two reasons why he should come with him. First, if he stayed, he would be aiding his enemies in wronging him unjustly, and therefore be acting unjustly himself. Second, he would be abandoning his sons and leaving them without a father/teacher/mentor. Socrates first replies by saying that no one should worry about public opinion and



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