CRITO by Plato, Part 01
Written 360 B.C.E
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
Persons of the Dialogue
The Prison of Socrates.
Socrates. WHY have you come at this hour, Crito? it must be quite early.
Crito. Yes, certainly.
Soc. What is the exact time?
Cr. The dawn is breaking.
Soc. I wonder the keeper of the prison would let you in.
Cr. He knows me because I often come, Socrates; moreover. I have done him a kindness.
Soc. And are you only just come?
Cr. No, I came some time ago.
Soc. Then why did you sit and say nothing, instead of awakening me at once?
Cr. Why, indeed, Socrates, I myself would rather not have all this sleeplessness and sorrow. But I have been wondering at your peaceful slumbers, and that was the reason why I did not awaken you, because I wanted you to be out of pain. I have always thought you happy in the calmness of your temperament; but never did I see the like of the easy, cheerful way in which you bear this calamity.
Soc. Why, Crito, when a man has reached my age he ought not to be repining at the prospect of death.
Cr. And yet other old men find themselves in similar misfortunes, and age does not prevent them from repining.
Soc. That may be. But you have not told me why you come at this early hour.
Cr. I come to bring you a message which is sad and painful; not, as I believe, to yourself but to all of us who are your friends, and saddest of all to me.
Soc. What! I suppose that the ship has come from Delos, on the arrival of which I am to die?
Cr. No, the ship has not actually arrived, but she will probably be here to-day, as persons who have come from Sunium tell me that they have left her there; and therefore to-morrow, Socrates, will be the last day of your life.
Soc. Very well, Crito; if such is the will of God, I am willing; but my belief is that there will be a delay of a day.
Cr. Why do you say this?
Soc. I will tell you. I am to die on the day after the arrival of the ship?
Cr. Yes; that is what the authorities say.
Soc. But I do not think that the ship will be here until to-morrow; this I gather from a vision which I had last night, or rather only just now, when you fortunately allowed me to sleep.
Cr. And what was the nature of the vision?
Soc. There came to me the likeness of a woman, fair and comely, clothed in white raiment, who called to me and said: O Socrates-
"The third day hence, to Phthia shalt thou go."
Cr. What a singular dream, Socrates!
Soc. There can be no doubt about the meaning Crito, I think.
Cr. Yes: the meaning is only too clear. But, O! my beloved Socrates, let me entreat you once more to take my advice and escape. For if you die I shall not only lose a friend who can never be replaced, but there is another evil: people who do not know you and me will believe that I might have saved you if I had been willing to give money, but that I did not care. Now, can there be a worse disgrace than this- that I should be thought to value money more than the life of a friend? For the many will not be persuaded that I wanted you to escape, and that you refused.
Soc. But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the opinion of the many? Good men, and they are the only persons who are worth considering, will think of these things truly as they happened.
Cr. But do you see. Socrates, that the opinion of the many must be regarded, as is evident in your own case, because they can do the very greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion?
Soc. I only wish, Crito, that they could; for then they could also do the greatest good, and that would be well. But the truth is, that they can do neither good nor evil: they cannot make a man wise or make him foolish; and whatever they do is the result of chance.
Cr. Well, I will not dispute about that; but please to tell me, Socrates, whether you are not acting out of regard to me and your other friends: are you not afraid that if you escape hence we may get into trouble with the informers for having stolen you away, and lose either the whole or a great part of our property; or that even a worse evil may happen to us? Now, if this is your fear, be at ease; for in order to save you, we ought surely to run this or even a greater risk; be persuaded, then, and do as I say.
Soc. Yes, Crito, that is one fear which you mention, but by no means the only one.