Socr. Why have you come at this hour, Crito? Is it not very early?
Cri. It is.
Socr. About what time?
Cri. Scarce day-break.
Socr. I wonder how the keeper of the prison came to admit you.
Cri. He is familiar with me, Socrates, from my having frequently come hither; and he is under some obligations to me.
Socr. Have you just now come, or some time since?
Cri. A considerable time since.
Socr. Why, then, did you not wake me at once, instead of sitting down by me in silence?
Cri. By Zeus! Socrates, I should not myself like to be so long awake, and in such affliction. But I have been for some time wondering at you, perceiving how sweetly you slept; and I purposely did not awake you, that you might pass your time as pleasantly as possible. And, indeed, I have often before throughout your whole life considered you happy in your disposition, but far more so in the present calamity, seeing how easily and meekly you bear it.
Socr. However, Crito, it would be disconsonant for a man at my time of life to repine because he must needs die.
Cri. But others, Socrates, at your age have been involved in similar calamities, yet their age has not hindered their repining at their present fortune.
Socr. So it is. But why did you come so early?
Cri. Bringing sad tidings, Socrates, not sad to you, as it appears, but to me, and all your friends, sad and heavy, and which I, I think, shall bear worst of all.
Socr. What tidings? Has the ship arrived from Delos, on the arrival of which I must die?
Cri. It has not yet arrived, but it appears to me that it will come to-day, from what certain persons report who have come from Sunium, and left it there. It is clear, therefore, from these messengers, that it will come to day, and consequently it will be necessary, Socrates, for you to die to-morrow.
Socr. But with good fortune, Crito, and if so it please the gods, so be it. I do not think, however, that it will come to day.
Cri. Whence do you form this conjecture?
Socr. I will tell you. I must die on the day after that on which the ship arrives.
Cri. So they say who have the control of these things.
Socr. I do not think, then, that it will come to-day, but to-morrow. I conjecture this from a dream which I had this very night, not long ago, and you seem very opportunely to have refrained from waking me.
Cri. But what was this dream?
Socr. A beautiful and majestic woman, clad in white garments seemed to approach me, and to call to me and say, “Socrates, three days hence you will reach fertile Pythia.”
Cri. What a strange dream, Socrates!
Socr. Very clear, however, as it appears to me, Crito.
Cri. Very much so, as it seems. But, my dear Socrates, even now be persuaded by me, and save yourself. For if you die, not only a single calamity will befall me, but, besides being deprived of such a friend as I shall never meet with again, I shall also appear to many who do not know you and me well, when I might have saved you had I been willing to spend my money, to have neglected to do so. And what character can be more disgraceful than this—to appear to value one’s riches more than one’s friends? For the generality of men will not be persuaded that you were unwilling to depart hence, when we urged you to it.
Socr. But why, my dear Crito, should we care so much for the opinion of the many? For the most worthy men, whom we ought rather to regard, will think that matters have transpired as they really have.
Cri. Yet you see, Socrates, that it is necessary to attend to the opinion of the many. For the very circumstances of the present case show that the multitude are able to effect not only the smallest evils, but even the greatest, if any one is calumniated to them.
Socr. Would, O Crito that the multitude could effect the greatest evils, that they might also effect the greatest good, for then it would be well. But now they can do neither; for they can make a man neither wise nor foolish; but they do whatever chances.
Cri. So let it be, then. But answer me this, Socrates: are you not anxious for me and other friends, lest, if you should escape from hence, informers should give us trouble, as having secretly carried you off, and so we should be compelled either to lose all our property, or a very large sum, or to suffer something else besides this? For, if you fear any thing of the kind, dismiss your fears; for we are justified in running the risk to save you—and, if need be, even a greater risk than this. But be persuaded by me, and do not refuse.
Socr. I am anxious about this, Crito, and about many other things.
Cri. Do not fear this, however; for the sum is not large on receipt of which certain persons are willing to save you, and take you hence. In the next place, do you not see how cheap these informers are, so that there would be no need of a large sum for them? My fortune is at your service, sufficient, I think, for the purpose; then if, out of regard to me, you do not think right to spend my money, these strangers here are ready to spend theirs. One of them, Simmias the Theban, has brought with him a sufficient sum for the very purpose. Cebes, too, is ready, and very many others. So that, as I said, do not, through fears of this kind, hesitate to save yourself, nor let what you said in court give you any trouble, that if you went from hence you would not know what to do with yourself. For in many places, and wherever you go, men will love you; and if you are disposed to go to Thessaly, I have friends there who will esteem you very highly, and will insure your safety, so that no one in Thessaly will molest you.
Moreover, Socrates, you do not appear to me to pursue a just course in giving yourself up when you might be saved; and you press on the very results with respect to yourself which your enemies would press, and have pressed, in their anxiety to destroy you. Besides this, too, you appear to me to betray your own sons, whom, when it is in your power to rear and educate them, you will abandon, and, so far as you are concerned, they will meet with such a fate as chance brings them, and, as is probable, they will meet with such things as orphans are wont to experience in a state of orphanage. Surely one ought not to have children, or one should go through the toil of rearing and instructing them. But you appear to me to have chosen the most indolent course; though you ought to have chosen such a course as a good and brave man would have done, since you profess to have made virtue your study through the whole of your life; so that I am ashamed both for you and for us who are your friends, lest this whole affair of yours should seem to be the effect of cowardice on our part—your appearing to stand your trial in the court, since you appeared when it was in your power not to have done so, the very manner in which the trial was conducted, and this last circumstance, as it were, a ridiculous consummation of the whole business; your appearing to have escaped from us through our indolence and cowardice, who did not save you; nor did you save yourself, when it was practicable and possible, had we but exerted ourselves a little. Think of these things, therefore, Socrates, and beware, lest, besides the evil that will result, they be disgraceful both to you and to us; advise, then, with yourself; though, indeed, there is no longer time for advising—your resolve should be already made. And there is but one plan; for in the following night the whole must be accomplished. If we delay, it will be impossible and no longer practicable. By all means, therefore, Socrates, be persuaded by me, and on no account refuse.
Socr. My dear Crito, your zeal would be very commendable were it united with right principle; otherwise, by how much the more earnest it is, by so much is it the more sad. We must consider, therefore, whether this plan should be adopted or not. For I not now only, but always, am a person who will obey nothing within me but reason, according as it appears to me on mature deliberation to be best. And the reasons which I formerly professed I can not now reject, because this misfortune has befallen me; but they appear to me in much the same light, and I respect and honor them as before; so that if we are unable to adduce any better at the present time, be assured that I shall not give in to you, even though the power of the multitude should endeavor to terrify us like children, by threatening more than it does now, bonds and death, and confiscation of property. How, therefore, may we consider the matter most conveniently? First of all, if we recur to the argument which you used about opinions, whether on former occasions it was rightly resolved or not, that we ought to pay attention to some opinions, and to others not; or whether, before it was necessary that I should die, it was rightly resolved; but now it has become clear that it was said idly for argument’s sake, though in reality it was merely jest and trifling. I desire then, Crito, to consider, in common with you, whether it will appear to me in a different light, now that I am in this condition, or the same, and whether we shall give it up or yield to it. It was said, I think, on former occasions, by those who were thought to speak seriously, as I just now observed, that of the opinions which men entertain some should be very highly esteemed and others not. By the gods! Crito, does not this appear to you to be well said? For you, in all human probability, are out of all danger of dying to-morrow, and the present calamity will not lead your judgment astray. Consider, then; does it not appear to you to have been rightly settled that we ought not to respect all the opinions of men, but some we should, and others not? Nor yet the opinions of all men, but of some we should, and of others not? What say you? Is not this rightly resolved?
Cri. It is.
Socr. Therefore we should respect the good, but not the bad?
Socr. And are not the good those of the wise, and the bad those of the foolish?
Cri. How can it be otherwise?
Socr. Come, then: how, again, were the following points settled? Does a man who practices gymnastic exercises and applies himself to them, pay attention to the praise and censure and opinion of every one, or of that one man only who happens to be a physician, or teacher of the exercises?
Cri. Of that one only.
Socr. He ought, therefore, to fear the censures and covet the praises of that one, but not those of the multitude.
Socr. He ought, therefore, so to practice and exercise himself, and to eat and drink, as seems fitting to the one who presides and knows, rather than to all others together.
Cri. It is so.
Socr. Well, then, if he disobeys the one, and disregards his opinion and praise, but respects that of the multitude and of those who know nothing, will he not suffer some evil?
Cri. How should he not?
Socr. But what is this evil? Whither does it tend, and on what part of him that disobeys will it fall?
Cri. Clearly on his body, for this it ruins.
Socr. You say well. The case is the same, too, Crito, with all other things, not to go through them all. With respect then, to things just and unjust, base and honorable, good and evil, about which we are now consulting, ought we to follow the opinion of the multitude, and to respect it, or that of one, if there is any one who understands, whom we ought to reverence and respect rather than all others together? And if we do not obey him, shall we not corrupt and injure that part of ourselves which becomes better by justice, but is ruined by injustice? Or is this nothing?
Cri. I agree with you, Socrates.
Socr. Come, then, if we destroy that which becomes better by what is wholesome, but is impaired by what is unwholesome, through being persuaded by those who do not understand, can we enjoy life when that is impaired? And this is the body we are speaking of, is it not?
Socr. Can we, then, enjoy life with a diseased and impaired body?
Cri. By no means.
Socr. But can we enjoy life when that is impaired which injustice ruins but justice benefits? Or do we think that to be of less value than the body, whatever part of us it may be, about which injustice and justice are concerned’
Cri. By no means.
Socr. But of more value?
Cri. Much more.
Socr. We must not then, my excellent friend, so much regard what the multitude will say of us, but what he will say who understands the just and the unjust, the one, even truth itself. So that at first you did not set out with a right principle, when you laid it down that we ought to regard the opinion of the multitude with respect to things just and honorable and good, and their contraries. How ever, some one may say, are not the multitude able to put us to death?
Cri. This, too, is clear, Socrates, any one might say so.
Socr. You say truly. But, my admirable friend, this principle which we have just discussed appears to me to be the same as it was before. And consider this, moreover, whether it still holds good with us or not, that we are not to be anxious about living but about living well.
Cri. It does hold good.
Socr. And does this hold good or not, that to live well and Honorable and justly are the same thing?
Cri. It does.
Socr. From what has been admitted, then, this consideration arises, whether it is just or not that I should endeavor to leave this place without the permission of the Athenians. And should it appear to be just, we will make the attempt, but if not, we will give it up. But as to the considerations which you mention, of an outlay of money, reputation, and the education of children, beware, Crito, lest such considerations as these in reality belong to these multitudes, who rashly put one to death, and would restore one to life, if they could do so, without any reason at all. But we, since reason so requires, must consider nothing else than what we just now mentioned, whether we shall act justly in paying money and contracting obligations to those who will lead me hence, as well they who lead me as we who are led hence, or whether, in truth, we shall not act unjustly in doing all these things. And if we should appear in so doing to be acting unjustly, observe that we must not consider whether from remaining here and continuing quiet we must needs die, or suffer any thing else, rather than whether we shall be acting unjustly.
Cri. You appear to me to speak wisely, Socrates, but see what we are to do.
Socr. Let us consider the matter together, my friend, and if you have any thing to object to what I say, make good your objection, and I will yield to you, but if not, cease, my excellent friend, to urge upon me the same thing so often, that I ought to depart hence against the will of the Athenians. For I highly esteem your endeavors to persuade me thus to act, so long as it is not against my will Consider, then, the beginning of our inquiry, whether it is stated to your entire satisfaction, and endeavor to answer the question put to you exactly as you think right.
Cri. I will endeavor to do so.
Socr. Say we, then, that we should on no account deliberately commit injustice, or may we commit injustice under certain circumstances, under others not? Or is it on no account either good or honorable to commit injustice, as we have often agreed on former occasions, and as we just now said? Or have all those our former admissions been dissipated in these few days, and have we, Crito, old men as we are, been for a long time seriously conversing with each other without knowing that we in no respect differ from children? Or does the case, beyond all question, stand as we then determined? Whether the multitude allow it or not, and whether we must suffer a more severe or a milder punishment than this, still is injustice on every account both evil and disgraceful to him who commits it? Do we admit this, or not?
Cri. We do admit it.
Socr. On no account, therefore, ought we to act unjustly.
Cri. Surely not.
Socr. Neither ought one who is injured to return the injury, as the multitude think, since it is on no account right to act unjustly.
Cri. It appears not.
Socr. What, then? Is it right to do evil, Crito, or not?
Cri. Surely it is not right, Socrates.
Socr. But what? To do evil in return when one has been evil-entreated, is that right, or not?
Cri. By no means.
Socr. For to do evil to men differs in no respect from committing injustice.
Cri. You say truly.
Socr. It is not right, therefore, to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however one may have suffered from him. But take care, Crito, that in allowing these things you do not allow them contrary to your opinion, for I know that to some few only these things both do appear, and will appear, to be true. They, then, to whom these things appear true, and they to whom they do not, have no sentiment in common, and must needs despise each other, while they look to each other’s opinions. Consider well, then, whether you coincide and think with me, and whether we can begin our deliberations from this point—that it is never right either to do an injury or to return an injury, or when one has been evil-entreated, to revenge one’s self by doing evil in return, or do you dissent from, and not coincide in this principle? For so it appears to me, both long since and now, but if you in any respect think otherwise, say so and inform me. But if you persist in your former opinions, hear what follows.
Cri. I do persist in them, and think with you. Speak on, then.
Socr. I say next, then, or rather I ask; whether when a man has promised to do things that are just he ought to do them, or evade his promise?
Cri. He ought to do them.
Socr. Observe, then, what follows. By departing hence without the leave of the city, are we not doing evil to some, and that to those to whom we ought least of all to do it, or not? And do we abide by what we agreed on as being just, or do we not?
Cri. I am unable to answer your question, Socrates; for I do not understand it.
Socr. Then, consider it thus. If, while we were preparing to run away, or by whatever name we should call it, the laws and commonwealth should come, and, presenting themselves before us, should say, “Tell me, Socrates, what do you propose doing? Do you design any thing else by this proceeding in which you are engaged than to destroy us, the laws, and the whole city, so far as you are able? Or do you think it possible for that city any longer to subsist, and not be subverted, in which judgments that are passed have no force, but are set aside and destroyed by private persons?”—what should we say, Crito, to these and similar remonstrances? For any one, especially an orator, would have much to say on the violation of the law, which enjoins that judgments passed shall be enforced. Shall we say to them that the city has done us an injustice, and not passed a right sentence? Shall we say this, or what else?
Cri. This, by Zeus! Socrates.
Socr. What, then, if the laws should say, “Socrates, was it not agreed between us that you should abide by the judgments which the city should pronounce?” And if we should wonder at their speaking thus, perhaps they would say, “Wonder not, Socrates, at what we say, but answer, since you are accustomed to make use of questions and answers. For, come, what charge have you against us and the city, that you attempt to destroy us? Did we not first give you being? and did not your father, through us, take your mother to wife and beget you? Say, then, do you find fault with those laws among us that relate to marriage as being bad?” I should say, “I do not find fault with them.” “Do you with those that relate to your nurture when born, and the education with which you were instructed? Or did not the laws, ordained on this point, enjoin rightly, in requiring your father to instruct you in music and gymnastic exercises?” I should say, rightly. Well, then, since you were born, nurtured, and educated through our means, can you say, first of all, that you are not both our offspring and our slave, as well you as your ancestors? And if this be so, do you think that there are equal rights between us? and whatever we attempt to do to you, do you think you may justly do to us in turn? Or had you not equal rights with your father, or master, if you happened to have one, so as to return what you suffered, neither to retort when found fault with, nor, when stricken, to strike again, nor many other things of the kind; but that with your country and the laws you may do so; so that if we attempt to destroy you, thinking it to be just, you also should endeavor, so far as you are able, in return, to destroy us, the laws, and your country; and in doing this will you say that you act justly—you who, in reality, make virtue your chief object? Or are you so wise as not to know that one’s country is more honorable, venerable, and sacred, and more highly prized both by gods, and men possessed of understanding, than mother and father, and all other progenitors; and that one ought to reverence, submit to, and appease one’s country, when angry, rather than one’s father; and either persuade it or do what it orders, and to suffer quietly if it bids one suffer, whether to be beaten, or put in bonds; or if it sends one out to battle there to be wounded or slain, this must be done; for justice so requires, and one must not give way, or retreat, or leave one’s post; but that both in war and in a court of justice, and everywhere one must do what one’s city and country enjoin, or persuade it in such manner as justice allows; but that to offer violence either to one’s mother or father is not holy, much less to one’s country? What shall we say to these things, Crito? That the laws speak the truth, or not?
Cri. It seems so to me.
Socr. “Consider, then, Socrates,” the laws perhaps might say, “whether we say truly that in what you are now attempting you are attempting to do what is not just toward us. For we, having given you birth, nurtured, instructed you, and having imparted to you and all other citizens all the good in our power, still proclaim, by giving the power to every Athenian who pleases, when he has arrived at years of discretion, and become acquainted with the business of the state, and us, the laws, that any one who is not satisfied with us may take his property, and go wherever he pleases. And if any one of you wishes to go to a colony, if he is not satisfied with us and the city, or to migrate and settle in another country, none of us, the laws, hinder or forbid him going whithersoever he pleases, taking with him all his property. But whoever continues with us after he has seen the manner in which we administer justice, and in other respects govern the city, we now say that he has in fact entered into a compact with us to do what we order; and we affirm that he who does not obey is in three respects guilty of injustice—because he does not obey us who gave him being, and because he does not obey us who nurtured him, and because, having made a compact that he would obey us, he neither does so, nor does he persuade us if we do any thing wrongly; though we propose for his consideration, and do not rigidly command him to do what we order, but leave him the choice of one of two things, either to persuade us, or to do what we require, and yet he does neither of these.”
“And we say that you, O Socrates! will be subject to these charges if you accomplish your design, and that not least of the Athenians, but most so of all.” And if I should ask, “For what reason?” they would probably justly retort on me by saying that, among all the Athenians, I especially made this compact with them. For they would say, “Socrates, we have strong proof of this, that you were satisfied both with us and the city; for, of all the Athenians, you especially would never have dwelt in it if it had not been especially agreeable to you; for you never went out of the city to any of the public spectacles, except once to the Isthmian games, nor anywhere else, except on military service, nor have you ever gone abroad as other men do, nor had you ever had any desire to become acquainted with any other city or other laws, but we and our city were sufficient for you; so strongly were you attached to us, and so far did you consent to submit to our government, both in other respects and in begetting children in this city, in consequence of your being satisfied with it. Moreover, in your very trial, it was in your power to have imposed on yourself a sentence of exile, if you pleased, and might then have done, with the consent of the city, what you now attempt against its consent. Then, indeed, you boasted yourself as not being grieved if you must needs die; but you preferred, as you said, death to exile. Now, however, you are neither ashamed of those professions, nor do you revere us, the laws, since you endeavor to destroy us, and you act as the vilest slave would act, by endeavoring to make your escape contrary to the conventions and the compacts by which you engaged to submit to our government. First, then, therefore, answer us this, whether we speak the truth or not in affirming that you agreed to be governed by us in deed, though not in word?” What shall we say to this, Crito? Can we do otherwise than assent?
Cri. We must needs do so, Socrates.
Socr. “What else, then,” they will say, “are you doing but violating the conventions and compacts which you made with us, though you did not enter into them from compulsion or through deception, or from being compelled to determine in a short time but during the space of seventy years, in which you might have departed if you had been dissatisfied with us, and the compacts had not appeared to you to be just? You, however, preferred neither Lacedæmon nor Crete, which you several times said are governed by good laws, nor any other of the Grecian or barbarian cities; but you have been less out of Athens than the lame and the blind, and other maimed persons. So much, it is evident, were you satisfied with the city and us, the laws, beyond the rest of the Athenians; for who can be satisfied with a city without laws? But now will you not abide by your compacts? You will, if you are persuaded by us, Socrates, and will not make yourself ridiculous by leaving the city.”
“For consider, by violating these compacts and offending against any of them, what good you will do to yourself or your friends. For that your friends will run the risk of being themselves banished, and deprived of the rights of citizenship, or of forfeiting their property, is pretty clear. And as for yourself, if you should go to one of the neighboring cities, either Thebes or Megara, for both are governed by good laws, you will go there, Socrates, as an enemy to their polity; and such as have any regard for their country will look upon you with suspicion, regarding you as a corrupter of the laws; and you will confirm the opinion of the judges, so that they will appear to have condemned you rightly, for whose is a corrupter of the laws will appear in all likelihood to be a corrupter of youths and weak-minded men. Will you, then, avoid these well-governed cities, and the best-ordered men? And should you do so, will it be worth your while to live? Or will you approach them, and have the effrontery to converse with them, Socrates, on subjects the same as you did here—that virtue and justice, legal institutions and laws, should be most highly valued by men? And do you not think that this conduct of Socrates would be very indecorous? You must think so. But you will keep clear of these places, and go to Thessaly, to Crito’s friends, for there are the greatest disorder and licentiousness; and perhaps they will gladly hear you relating how drolly you escaped from prison, clad in some dress or covered with a skin, or in some other disguise such as fugitives are wont to dress themselves in, having so changed your usual appearance. And will no one say that you, though an old man, with but a short time to live, in all probability, have dared to have such a base desire of life as to violate the most sacred laws? Perhaps not, should you not offend any one. But if you should, you will hear, Socrates, many things utterly unworthy of you. You will live, too, in a state of abject dependence on all men, and as their slave. But what will you do in Thessaly besides feasting, as if you had gone to Thessaly to a banquet? And what will become of those discourses about justice and all other virtues? But do you wish to live for the sake of your children, that you may rear and educate them? What then? Will you take them to Thessaly, and there rear and educate them, making them aliens to their country, that they may owe you this obligation too? Or, if not so, being reared here, will they be better reared and educated while you are living, though not with them, for your friends will take care of them? Whether, if you go to Thessaly, will they take care of them, but if you go to Hades will they not take care of them? If, however, any advantage is to be derived from those that say they are your friends, we must think they will.”
“Then, O Socrates! be persuaded by us who have nurtured you, and do not set a higher value on your children, or on life, or on any thing else than justice, that, when you arrive in Hades, you may have all this to say in your defense before those who have dominion there. For neither here in this life, if you do what is proposed, does it appear to be better, or more just, or more holy to yourself, or any of your friends; nor will it be better for you when you arrive there. But now you depart, if you do depart, unjustly treated, not by us, the laws, but by men; but should you escape, having thus disgracefully returned injury for injury, and evil for evil, having violated your own compacts and conventions which you made with us, and having done evil to those to whom you least of all should have done it—namely, yourself, your friends, your country, and us—both we shall be indignant with you as long as you live, and there our brothers, the laws in Hades, will not receive you favorably knowing that you attempted, so far as you were able, to destroy us. Let not Crito, then, persuade you to do what he advises, rather than we.”
These things, my dear friend Crito, be assured, I seem to hear as the votaries of Cybele seem to hear the flutes. And the sound of these words booms in my ear, and makes me incapable of hearing any thing else. Be sure, then, so long as I retain my present opinions, if you should say any thing contrary to these, you will speak in vain. If, however, you think that you can prevail at all, say on.
Cri. But, Socrates, I have nothing to say.
Socr. Desist, then, Crito, and let us pursue this course, since this way the deity leads us.