The Last Conversation Of Socrates

Prison Literature:

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (96e–97b)

Phaedo [96e] “By Zeus,” said he, “I am far from thinking that I know the cause of any of these things, I who do not even dare to say, when one is added to one, whether the one to which the addition was made has become two, or the one which was added, or the one which was added and (107) [97a] the one to which it was added became two by the addition of each to the other. I think it is wonderful that when each of them was separate from the other, each was one and they were not then two, and when they were brought near each other this juxtaposition was the cause of their becoming two. And I cannot yet believe that if one is divided, the division causes it to become two; for this is the opposite of (108) [97b] the cause which produced two in the former case; for then two arose because one was brought near and added to another one, and now because one is removed and separated from other. And I no longer believe that I know by this method even how one is generated or, in a word, how anything is generated or is destroyed or exists, and I no longer admit this method, but have another confused way of my own. (109)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (97b–97d)

“Then one day I heard a man reading from a book, as he said, by Anaxagoras (109) [97c] that it is the mind that arranges and causes all things. I was pleased with this theory of cause, and it seemed to me to be somehow right that the mind should be the cause of all things, and I thought, ‘If this is so, the mind in arranging things arranges everything and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be. So if anyone wishes to find the cause of the generation or destruction or existence of a particular thing, he must find out what sort of existence, or passive state of any kind, or activity is best for it. And therefore in respect to (110) [97d] that particular thing, and other things too, a man need examine nothing but what is best and most excellent; for then he will necessarily know also what is inferior, since the science of both is the same. (111)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (97d–98b)

As I considered these things I was delighted to think that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the cause of things quite to my mind, and I thought he would tell me whether the earth is flat or round, and when (111) [97e] he had told me that, would go on to explain the cause and the necessity of it, and would tell me the nature of the best and why it is best for the earth to be as it is; and if he said the earth was in the center, he would proceed to show that it is best for it to be in the center; and I had made up my mind that (112) [98a] if he made those things clear to me, I would no longer yearn for any other kind of cause. And I had determined that I would find out in the same way about the sun and the moon and the other stars, their relative speed, their revolutions, and their other changes, and why the active or passive condition of each of them is for the best. For I never imagined that, when he said they were ordered by intelligence, he would introduce any other cause for these things than that it is best for them to be as they are. (113) [98b] So I thought when he assigned the cause of each thing and of all things in common he would go on and explain what is best for each and what is good for all in common. I prized my hopes very highly, and I seized the books very eagerly and read them as fast as I could, that I might know as fast as I could about the best and the worst. (114)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (98b–98e)

“My glorious hope, my friend, was quickly snatched away from me. As I went on with my reading I saw that the man made no use of intelligence, (114) [98c] and did not assign any real causes for the ordering of things, but mentioned as causes air and ether and water and many other absurdities. And it seemed to me it was very much as if one should say that Socrates does with intelligence whatever he does, and then, in trying to give the causes of the particular thing I do, should say first that I am now sitting here because my body is composed of bones and sinews, and the bones are hard and have joints which divide them and the sinews (115) [98d] can be contracted and relaxed and, with the flesh and the skin which contains them all, are laid about the bones; and so, as the bones are hung loose in their ligaments, the sinews, by relaxing and contracting, make me able to bend my limbs now, and that is the cause of my sitting here with my legs bent. Or as if in the same way he should give voice and air and hearing and countless other things of the sort as causes for our talking with each other, (116) [98e] and should fail to mention the real causes, which are, that the Athenians decided that it was best to condemn me, and therefore I have decided that it was best for me to sit here and that it is right for me to stay and undergo whatever penalty they order.(117)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (99a–99b)

[99a] For, by Dog, I fancy these bones and sinews of mine would have been in Megara or Boeotia long ago, carried thither by an opinion of what was best, if I did not think it was better and nobler to endure any penalty the city may inflict rather than to escape and run away.But it is most absurd to call things of that sort causes. If anyone were to say that I could not have done what I thought proper if I had not bones and sinews and other things that I have, he would be right. But to say that those things are the cause of my doing what I do(118) [99b] and that I act with intelligence but not from the choice of what is best, would be an extremely careless way of talking. (119)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (99b–99d)

Whoever talks in that way is unable to make a distinction and to see that in reality a cause is one thing, and the thing without which the cause could never be a cause is quite another thing. And so it seems to me that most people, when they give the name of cause to the latter, are groping in the dark, as it were, and are giving it a name that does not belong to it. And so one man makes the earth stay below the heavens by putting a vortex about it, and another regards the earth as a flat trough supported on a foundation of air; but they do not look for (119) [99c] the power which causes things to be now placed as it is best for them to be placed, nor do they think it has any divine force, but they think they can find a new Atlas more powerful and more immortal and more all-embracing than this, and in truth they give no thought to the good, which must embrace and hold together all things. Now I would gladly be the pupil of anyone who would teach me the nature of such a cause; but since that was denied me and I was not able to discover it myself or to learn of it from anyone else, (120) [99d] do you wish me, Cebes,” said he, “to give you an account of the way in which I have conducted my second voyage in quest of the cause?” (121)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (99d–100a)

“I wish it with all my heart,” he replied.

“After this, then,” said he, “since I had given up investigating realities, I decided that I must be careful not to suffer the misfortune which happens to people who look at the sun and watch it during an eclipse. For some of them ruin their eyes unless they look at its image in water (121) [99e] or something of the sort. I thought of that danger, and I was afraid my soul would be blinded if I looked at things with my eyes and tried to grasp them with any of my senses. So I thought I must have recourse to conceptions and examine in them the truth of realities. Now perhaps my metaphor (122) [100a] is not quite accurate; for I do not grant in the least that he who studies realities by means of conceptions is looking at them in images any more than he who studies them in the facts of daily life. However, that is the way I began. I assume in each case some principle which I consider strongest, and whatever seems to me to agree with this, whether relating to cause or to anything else, I regard as true, and whatever disagrees with it, as untrue. But I want to tell you more clearly what I mean; for I think you do not understand now.”

“Not very well, certainly,” said Cebes. (123)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (100b–107d)

[100b] “Well,” said Socrates, “this is what I mean. It is nothing new, but the same thing I have always been saying, both in our previous conversation and elsewhere. I am going to try to explain to you the nature of that cause which I have been studying, and I will revert to those familiar subjects of ours as my point of departure and assume that there are such things as absolute beauty and good and greatness and the like. If you grant this and agree that these exist, I believe I shall explain cause to you and shall prove that the soul is immortal.”…

“But my friends,” he said, “we ought to bear in mind, (124) [107c] that, if the soul is immortal, we must care for it, not only in respect to this time, which we call life, but in respect to all time, and if we neglect it, the danger now appears to be terrible. For if death were an escape from everything, it would be a boon to the wicked, for when they die they would be freed from the body and from their wickedness together with their souls. But now, since the soul is seen to be immortal, it cannot escape (125) [107d] from evil or be saved in any other way than by becoming as good and wise as possible. (126)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (107d–108a)

For the soul takes with it to the other world nothing but its education and nurture, and these are said to benefit or injure the departed greatly from the very beginning of his journey thither. And so it is said that after death, the tutelary genius of each person, to whom he had been allotted in life, leads him to a place where the dead are gathered together; then they are judged and depart to the other world(126) [107e] with the guide whose task it is to conduct thither those who come from this world; and when they have there received their due and remained through the time appointed, another guide brings them back after many long periods of time. And the journey is not as Telephus says in the play of Aeschylus; (127) [108a] for he says a simple path leads to the lower world, but I think the path is neither simple nor single, for if it were, there would be no need of guides, since no one could miss the way to any place if there were only one road. But really there seem to be many forks of the road and many windings; this I infer from the rites and ceremonies practiced here on earth. (128)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (108a–108d)

Now the orderly and wise soul follows its guide and understands its circumstances; but the soul that is desirous of the body, as I said before, flits about it, and in the visible world for a long time, (128) [108b] and after much resistance and many sufferings is led away with violence and with difficulty by its appointed genius. And when it arrives at the place where the other souls are, the soul which is impure and has done wrong, by committing wicked murders or other deeds akin to those and the works of kindred souls, is avoided and shunned by all, and no one is willing to be its companion or its guide, (129) [108c] but it wanders about alone in utter bewilderment, during certain fixed times, after which it is carried by necessity to its fitting habitation. But the soul that has passed through life in purity and righteousness, finds gods for companions and guides, and goes to dwell in its proper dwelling. Now there are many wonderful regions of the earth, and the earth itself is neither in size nor in other respects such as it is supposed to be by those who habitually discourse about it, as I believe on someone’s authority.” (130) [108d] And Simmias said, “What do you mean, Socrates? I have heard a good deal about the earth myself, but not what you believe; so I should like to hear it.” (131)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (108d–109a)

“Well Simmias, I do not think I need the art of Glaucus to tell what it is. But to prove that it is true would, I think, be too hard for the art of Glaucus, and perhaps I should not be able to do it; besides, even if I had the skill, I think my life, Simmias, will end before the discussion could be finished. However, there is nothing to prevent my telling (131) [108e] what I believe the form of the earth to be, and the regions in it.”

“Well,” said Simmias, “that will be enough.”

“I am convinced, then,” said he, “that in the first place, if the earth is round and in the middle of the heavens, it needs neither the air (132)[109a] nor any other similar force to keep it from falling, but its own equipoise and the homogeneous nature of the heavens on all sides suffice to hold it in place; for a body which is in equipoise and is placed in the center of something which is homogeneous cannot change its inclination in any direction, but will remain always in the same position. This, then, is the first thing of which I am convinced.”

“And rightly,” said Simmias. (133)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (109a–109d)

“Secondly,” said he, “I believe that the earth is very large and that we who dwell between the pillars of Hercules (133) [109b] and the river Phasis live in a small part of it about the sea, like ants or frogs about a pond, and that many other people live in many other such regions. For I believe there are in all directions on the earth many hollows of very various forms and sizes, into which the water and mist and air have run together; but the earth itself is pure and is situated in the pure heaven in which the stars are, the heaven which (134)[109c] those who discourse about such matters call the ether; the water, mist and air are the sediment of this and flow together into the hollows of the earth. Now we do not perceive that we live in the hollows, but think we live on the upper surface of the earth, just as if someone who lives in the depth of the ocean should think he lived on the surface of the sea, and, seeing the sun and the stars through the water, should think the sea was the sky, and should, by reason of sluggishness or (135) [109d] feebleness, never have reached the surface of the sea, and should never have seen, by rising and lifting his head out of the sea into our upper world, and should never have heard from anyone who had seen, how much purer and fairer it is than the world he lived in. (136)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (109d–110b)

I believe this is just the case with us; for we dwell in a hollow of the earth and think we dwell on its upper surface; and the air we call the heaven, and think that is the heaven in which the stars move. But the fact is the same, (136) [109e] that by reason of feebleness and sluggishness, we are unable to attain to the upper surface of the air; for if anyone should come to the top of the air or should get wings and fly up, he could lift his head above it and see, as fishes lift their heads out of the water and see the things in our world, so he would see things in that upper world; and, if his nature were strong enough to bear the sight, he would recognize that that is the real heaven(137) [110a] and the real light and the real earth. For this earth of ours, and the stones and the whole region where we live, are injured and corroded, as in the sea things are injured by the brine, and nothing of any account grows in the sea, and there is, one might say, nothing perfect there, but caverns and sand and endless mud and mire, where there is earth also, and there is nothing at all worthy to be compared with the beautiful things of our world. But the things in that world above would be seen to be even more superior to those in this world of ours. (138) [110b] If I may tell a story, Simmias, about the things on the earth that is below the heaven, and what they are like, it is well worth hearing.” (139)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (110b–110e)

“By all means, Socrates,” said Simmias; “we should be glad to hear this story.”

“Well then, my friend,” said he, “to begin with, the earth when seen from above is said to look like those balls that are covered with twelve pieces of leather; it is divided into patches of various co (139) [110c] But there the whole earth is of such colors, and they are much brighter and purer than ours; for one part is purple of wonderful beauty, and one is golden, and one is white, whiter than chalk or snow, and the earth is made up of the other colors likewise, and they are more in number and more beautiful than those which we see here. For those very hollows of the earth which are full of water and air, present an appearancelors, of which the colors which we see here may be regarded as samples, such as painters use (140) [110d] of color as they glisten amid the variety of the other colors, so that the whole produces one continuous effect of variety. And in this fair earth the things that grow, the trees, and flowers and fruits, are correspondingly beautiful; and so too the mountains and the stones are smoother, and more transparent and more lovely in color than ours. In fact, our highly prized stones, sards and (141) [110e] jaspers, and emeralds, and other gems, are fragments of those there, but there everything is like these or still more beautiful. (142)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (110e–111c)

And the reason of this is that there the stones are pure, and not corroded or defiled, as ours are, with filth and brine by the vapors and liquids which flow together here and which cause ugliness and disease in earth and stones and animals and plants. And the earth there is adorned with all the jewels and also with gold and (142) [111a] silver and everything of the sort. For there they are in plain sight, abundant and large and in many places, so that the earth is a sight to make those blessed who look upon it. And there are many animals upon it, and men also, some dwelling inland, others on the coasts of the air, as we dwell about the sea, and others on islands, which the air flows around, near the mainland; and in short, what water and the sea are (143) [111b] in our lives, air is in theirs, and what the air is to us, ether is to them. And the seasons are so tempered that people there have no diseases and live much longer than we, and in sight and hearing and wisdom and all such things are as much superior to us as air is purer than water or the ether than air. And they have sacred groves and temples of the gods, in which the gods really dwell, and they have intercourse with the gods by speech and prophecies and visions, (144) [111c] and they see the sun and moon and stars as they really are, and in all other ways their blessedness is in accord with this. (145)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (111c–112a)

Such then is the nature of the earth as a whole, and of the things around it. But round about the whole earth, in the hollows of it, are many regions, some deeper and wider than that in which we live, (145) [111d] some deeper but with a narrower opening than ours, and some also less in depth and wider. Now all these are connected with one another by many subterranean channels, some larger and some smaller, which are bored in all of them, and there are passages through which much water flows from one to another as into mixing bowls; and there are everlasting rivers of huge size under the earth, flowing with hot and cold water; and there is much fire, and great rivers of fire, and many streams of mud, some thinner (146) [111e] and some thicker, like the rivers of mud that flow before the lava in Sicily, and the lava itself. These fill the various regions as they happen to flow to one or another at any time. Now a kind of oscillation within the earth moves all these up and down. And the nature of the oscillation is as follows: One of the chasms of the earth is greater than the rest, (147) [112a] and is bored right through the whole earth; this is the one which Homer means when he says: “Far off, the lowest abyss beneath the earth; 1and which elsewhere he and many other poets have called Tartarus.” (148)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (112a–112c)

For all the rivers flow together into this chasm and flow out of it again, and they have each the nature of the earth through which they flow. And the reason why all the streams flow in and out here (148) [112b] is that this liquid matter has no bottom or foundation. So it oscillates and waves up and down, and the air and wind about it do the same; for they follow the liquid both when it moves toward the other side of the earth and when it moves toward this side, and just as the breath of those who breathe blows in and out, so the wind there oscillates with the liquid and causes terrible and irresistible blasts as it rushes in and out. (149) [112c] And when the water retires to the region which we call the lower, it flows into the rivers there and fills them up, as if it were pumped into them; and when it leaves that region and comes back to this side, it fills the rivers here; and when the streams are filled they flow through the passages and through the earth and come to the various places to which their different paths lead, where they make seas and marshes, and rivers and springs. (150)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (112c–113a)

Thence they go down again under the earth, (150) [112d] some passing around many great regions and others around fewer and smaller places, and flow again into Tartarus, some much below the point where they were sucked out, and some only a little; but all flow in below their exit. Some flow in on the side from which they flowed out, others on the opposite side; and some pass completely around in a circle, coiling about the earth once or several times, like serpents, then descend to the lowest possible depth and fall again into the chasm. (151) [112e] Now it is possible to go down from each side to the center, but not beyond, for there the slope rises forward in front of the streams from either side of the earth. “Now these streams are many and great and of all sorts, but among the many are four streams, the greatest and outermost of which is that called Oceanus, which flows round in a circle, and opposite this, flowing in the opposite direction, is Acheron, which flows through (152) [113a] various desert places and, passing under the earth, comes to the Acherusian lake. To this lake the souls of most of the dead go and, after remaining there the appointed time, which is for some longer and for others shorter, are sent back to be born again into living beings. The third river flows out between these two, and near the place whence it issues it falls into a vast region burning with a great fire and makes a lake larger than our Mediterranean sea, boiling with water and mud. (153)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (113b–113c)

[113b] Thence it flows in a circle, turbid and muddy, and comes in its winding course, among other places, to the edge of the Acherusian lake, but does not mingle with its water. Then, after winding about many times underground, it flows into Tartarus at a lower level. This is the river, which is called Pyriphlegethon, and the streams of lava which spout up at various places on earth are offshoots from it. Opposite this the fourth river issues, it is said, first into a wild and awful place, which is all of a dark blue color, like lapis lazuli (154)[113c] This is called the Stygian river, and the lake which it forms by flowing in is the Styx. And when the river has flowed in here and has received fearful powers into its waters, it passes under the earth and, circling round in the direction opposed to that of Pyriphlegethon, it meets it coming from the other way in the Acherusian lake. And the water of this river also mingles with no other water, but this also passes round in a circle and falls into Tartarus opposite Pyriphlegethon. And the name of this river, as the Poets say, is Cocytus. (155)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (113d–114a)

[113d] “Such is the nature of these things. Now when the dead have come to the place where each is led by his genius, first they are judged and sentenced, as they have lived well and piously, or not. And those who are found to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the Acheron and, embarking upon vessels provided for them, arrive in them at the lake; there they dwell and are purified, and if they have done any wrong they are absolved by paying the penalty for their wrong doings (156) [113e] and for their good deeds they receive rewards, each according to his merits. But those who appear to be incurable, on account of the greatness of their wrongdoings, because they have committed many great deeds of sacrilege, or wicked and abominable murders, or any other such crimes, are cast by their fitting destiny into Tartarus, whence they never emerge. Those, however, who are curable, but are found to have committed great sins — who have, for example, in a moment of passion done some act of violence against father or mother and (157) [114a] have lived in repentance the rest of their lives, or who have slain some other person under similar conditions—these must needs be thrown into Tartarus, and when they have been there a year the wave casts them out, the homicides by way of Cocytus, those who have outraged their parents by way of Pyriphlegethon. (158)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (114a–114c)

And when they have been brought by the current to the Acherusian lake, they shout and cry out, calling to those whom they have slain or outraged, begging and beseeching them (158) [114b] to be gracious and to let them come out into the lake; and if they prevail they come out and cease from their ills, but if not, they are borne away again to Tartarus and thence back into the rivers, and this goes on until they prevail upon those whom they have wronged; for this is the penalty imposed upon them by the judges. But those who are found to have excelled in holy living are freed from these regions within the earth and are released as from prisons; (159) [114c] they mount upward into their pure abode and dwell upon the earth. And of these, all who have duly purified themselves by philosophy live henceforth altogether without bodies, and pass to still more beautiful abodes which it is not easy to describe, nor have we now time enough. (160)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (114c–114e)

“But, Simmias, because of all these things which we have recounted we ought to do our best to acquire virtue and wisdom in life. For the prize is fair and the hope great. (160) [114d] “Now it would not be fitting for a man of sense to maintain that all this is just as I have described it, but that this or something like it is true concerning our souls and their abodes, since the soul is shown to be immortal, I think he may properly and worthily venture to believe; for the venture is well worth while; and he ought to repeat such things to himself as if they were magic charms, which is the reason why I have been lengthening out the story so long. This then is why a man should be of good cheer about his soul, who in his life (161) [114e] has rejected the pleasures and ornaments of the body, thinking they are alien to him and more likely to do him harm than good, and has sought eagerly for those of learning, and after adorning his soul with no alien ornaments, but with its own proper adornment of self-restraint and justice and (162)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (115a–115c)

[115a] courage and freedom and truth, awaits his departure to the other world, ready to go when fate calls him. You, Simmias and Cebes and the rest,” he said, “will go hereafter, each in his own time; but I am now already, as a tragedian would say, called by fate, and it is about time for me to go to the bath; for I think it is better to bathe before drinking the poison, that the women may not have the trouble of bathing the corpse.”

When he had finished speaking, Crito said: (163)

[115b] “Well, Socrates, do you wish to leave any directions with us about your children or anything else — anything we can do to serve you?”

“What I always say, Crito,” he replied, “nothing new. If you take care of yourselves you will serve me and mine and yourselves, whatever you do, even if you make no promises now; but if you neglect yourselves and are not willing to live following step by step, as it were, in the path marked out by our present and past discussions, you will accomplish nothing, (164) [115c] no matter how much or how eagerly you promise at present.”

“We will certainly try hard to do as you say,” he replied. “But how shall we bury you?” (165)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (115c–115e)

“However you please,” he replied, “if you can catch me and I do not get away from you.” And he laughed gently, and looking towards us, said: “I cannot persuade Crito, my friends, that the Socrates who is now conversing and arranging the details of his argument is really I; he thinks I am the one whom he will presently see as a corpse, (165) [115d] and he asks how to bury me. And though I have been saying at great length that after I drink the poison I shall no longer be with you, but shall go away to the joys of the blessed you know of, he seems to think that was idle talk uttered to encourage you and myself. So,” he said, “give security for me to Crito, the opposite of that which he gave the judges at my trial; for he gave security that I would remain, but you must give security that I shall not remain when I die, (166) [115e] but shall go away, so that Crito may bear it more easily, and may not be troubled when he sees my body being burnt or buried, or think I am undergoing terrible treatment, and may not say at the funeral that he is laying out Socrates, or following him to the grave, or burying him. (167)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (115e–116c)

For, dear Crito, you may be sure that such wrong words are not only undesirable in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. No, you must be of good courage, and say that you bury my body — and bury it (167) [116a] as you think best and as seems to you most fitting.” When he had said this, he got up and went into another room to bathe; Crito followed him, but he told us to wait. So we waited, talking over with each other and discussing the discourse we had heard, and then speaking of the great misfortune that had befallen us, for we felt that he was like a father to us and that when bereft of him we should pass the rest of our lives as orphans. And when he had bathed (168) [116b] and his children had been brought to him — for he had two little sons and one big one — and the women of the family had come, he talked with them in Crito’s presence and gave them such directions as he wished; then he told the women to go away, and he came to us. And it was now nearly sunset; for he had spent a long time within. And he came and sat down fresh from the bath. After that not much was said, and the servant (169) [116c] of the eleven came and stood beside him and said: “Socrates, I shall not find fault with you, as I do with others, for being angry and cursing me, when at the behest of the authorities, I tell them to drink the poison. (170)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (116c–116d)

No, I have found you in all this time in every way the noblest and gentlest and best man who has ever come here, and now I know your anger is directed against others, not against me, for you know who are blame. Now, for you know the message I came to bring you, farewell and try to bear what you must (170) [116d] as easily as you can.” And he burst into tears and turned and went away. And Socrates looked up at him and said: “Fare you well, too; I will do as you say.” And then he said to us: “How charming the man is! Ever since I have been here he has been coming to see me and talking with me from time to time, and has been the best of men, and now how nobly he weeps for me! But come, Crito, let us obey him, and let someone bring the poison, if it is ready; and if not, let the man prepare it.” And Crito said: (171)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (116e–117b)

[116e] “But I think, Socrates, the sun is still upon the mountains and has not yet set; and I know that others have taken the poison very late, after the order has come to them, and in the meantime have eaten and drunk and some of them enjoyed the society of those whom they loved. Do not hurry; for there is still time.”

And Socrates said: “Crito, those whom you mention are right in doing as they do, for they think they gain by it; and I shall be right in not doing as they do; (172)

[117a] for I think I should gain nothing by taking the poison a little later. I should only make myself ridiculous in my own eyes if I clung to life and spared it, when there is no more profit in it. Come,” he said, “do as I ask and do not refuse.”

Thereupon Crito nodded to the boy who was standing near. The boy went out and stayed a long time, then came back with the man who was to administer the poison, which he brought with him in a cup ready for use. And when Socrates saw him, he said: “Well, my good man, you know about these things; what must I do?” “Nothing,” he replied, “except drink the poison and walk about (173) [117b] till your legs feel heavy; then lie down, and the poison will take effect of itself.” (174)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (117b–117e)

At the same time he held out the cup to Socrates. He took it, and very gently, Echecrates, without trembling or changing color or expression, but looking up at the man with wide open eyes, as was his custom, said: “What do you say about pouring a libation to some deity from this cup? May I, or not?” “Socrates,” said he, “we prepare only as much as we think is enough.” “I understand,” said Socrates(174) [117c] “but I may and must pray to the gods that my departure hence be a fortunate one; so I offer this prayer, and may it be granted.” With these words he raised the cup to his lips and very cheerfully and quietly drained it. Up to that time most of us had been able to restrain our tears fairly well, but when we watched him drinking and saw that he had drunk the poison, we could do so no longer, but in spite of myself my tears rolled down in floods, so that I wrapped my face in my cloak and wept for myself; for it was not for him that I wept, (175) [117d] but for my own misfortune in being deprived of such a friend. Crito had got up and gone away even before I did, because he could not restrain his tears. But Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time before, then wailed aloud in his grief and made us all break down, except Socrates himself. But he said, “What conduct is this, you strange men! I sent the women away chiefly for this very reason, that they might not behave in this absurd way; for I have heard that (176) [117e] it is best to die in silence. (177)

The Last Conversation Of Socrates (117e–118a)

Keep quiet and be brave.” Then we were ashamed and controlled our tears. He walked about and, when he said his legs were heavy, lay down on his back, for such was the advice of the attendant. The man who had administered the poison laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said “No”; then after that, (177) [118a] his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and these were his last words — “Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius. Pay it and do not neglect it.” “That,” said Crito, “shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.” To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.

Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend, who was, as we may say, of all those of his time whom we have known, the best and wisest and most righteous man. (178)