Socrates Accepts His Fate Essay, Research Paper
Socrates Accepts His Fate Socrates was condemned to death for corrupting the youth of Athens. One of his students, Crito, visited Socrates in prison and tried to convince him to escape. Socrates refused, warranting that laws are meant to be obeyed. Socrates argued by stating that without the laws, he would not be the man he was. In other words, the laws had a sort of parental authority over him. He also stated that he had entered into an implied contract with the city-state of Athens. Finally, Socrates argued that he would be better off to stay in prison, as he would not easily find happiness elsewhere in Greece. Socrates decided that he must accept his punishment and not try to escape from prison. The first argument that Socrates should accept his punishment is the claim that the laws of Athens have a parental authority over all of the city s inhabitants. Without the laws, Socrates would not be the man he was. He would not have been born. “In the first place did we not bring you into existence? Your father married your mother by our aid and begat you” (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 633-634). Through the laws, Socrates was brought up and trained to be prepared for life in Greece. “Were not the laws, which have the charge of education, right in commanding your father to train you in music and gymnastics?” (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 634). Continuing this argument, Socrates establishes that the laws of Athens do indeed have a parental authority over the citizens. “Well then, since you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in the first place that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before you?” (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 634). If Socrates were to attempt escape, he would be committing an act as sinister as assaulting his own father. “Would you have any right to strike or revile or do any other evil to your father because you have been struck or reviled by him, or received some other evil at his hands?” (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 634). The second argument that Socrates should accept his punishment is that he has entered into a contract with the city-state of Athens. This is an implied contract that Socrates agreed to when he decided to remain in Athens, instead of leaving when he had reached a certain age. “Any one who does not like us and the city, and who wants to emigrate to a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, retaining his property” (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 634). Since Socrates chose to stay, he agreed to abide by the laws of the city. It seemed that Socrates agreed to the contract more than any of the other citizens of Athens, as he was “the most constant resident in the city,” and since he hardly ever left, he may have been “supposed to love” Athens (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 635). Socrates even chose to raise his own children in the city, thus proving that he was satisfied with Athens. During the trial, Socrates said he preferred death to exile, further demonstrating his contentment with Athens. Socrates even mentions the contract he entered into when he explains to Crito that by attempting escape, he would have been “turning his back on the compacts and agreements” he made as an Athenian (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 635). The final support for Socrates reasoning was that he would be better off to stay in prison. Even if he were to escape, he would surely not find happiness, and he may only hurt the ones who were close to him. If he tried to go to Thebes or Megara, they would look upon Socrates as “a subverter of the laws,” and thus as an enemy (Plato qtd in Rottenberg 636). If Socrates wanted to live in order that he could raise his children, he would have to do so elsewhere and deprive them of Athenian citizenship. Crito is forced to accept Socrates decision to remain in prison and be put to death. Although Crito wanted to see Socrates escape and live, Socrates changed Crito s mind by arguing that without the laws, he would not be the man he was; that the laws had a sort of parental authority over him. He also stated that he had entered into an implied contract with the city-state of Athens. Finally, Socrates argued that he would be better off to stay in prison, as he would not easily find happiness elsewhere in Greece. I agree and disagree with Socrates. I don t feel that the claim of the laws having a parental authority over the people of Athens is valid. Without the citizens, there would be no one to make the laws. Therefore, it can be argued that it is in fact the citizens of Athens who have a parental authority over the laws. I do agree with the claim that Socrates has entered into a contract with the state. By choosing to remain in Athens, I feel that he must abide by the laws. However, if the laws found Socrates guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens, exactly how did he corrupt them? In whose eyes did he corrupt them and what is their definition of corruption? Another thing I have trouble accepting is the existentialist nature of Socrates reasoning. He accepts his death sentence because it is the law. If I were in Socrates place, I would attempt to escape. I would refuse to accept my fate just because someone said I had to accept it. While I read Socrates arguments, I could not help but to picture Sisyphus pushing his rock up the mountain only to see it roll down the other side.