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Encyclopedia > Crito
Part of the series on:
The Dialogues of Plato
Early dialogues:
EuthyphroFirst Alcibiades
Hippias MajorHippias Minor
Transitional & middle dialogues:
Later middle dialogues:
The RepublicPhaedrus
Late dialogues:
The SophistThe Statesman
Of doubtful authenticity:
MinosRival Lovers
Second AlcibiadesTheages
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The Crito (IPA [kriːtɔːn]; in English usually [ˈkɹiːtɘʊː]) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. It is a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito regarding justice (dikē), injustice (adikia), and the appropriate response to injustice. Socrates thinks that injustice may not be answered with injustice, and refuses Crito's offer to finance his escape from prison. This dialogue contains an ancient statement of the social contract theory of government. Image File history File links Plato-raphael. ... (The) Apology (of Socrates) is Platos version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of being a man who corrupted the young, did not believe in the gods, and created new deities. Apology here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the... The Charmides (Greek: ) is a dialogue of Plato, discussing the nature and utility of temperance. ... Euthyphro is one of Platos known early dialogues. ... The First Alcibiades or Alcibiades I is a dialogue featuring Alcibiades in conversation with Socrates, ascribed to Plato, but his authorship is doubtful, though probably written by someone within a century or two of Platos other works. ... Hippias Major (or What is Beauty) is one of the dialogues of Plato. ... Hippias Minor (or On Lying) is one of Platos early dialogues, written while the author was still young, although the exact date has not been established. ... Platos Ion aims to give an account of poetry in dialogue form. ... Laches, also known as Courage, is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato, and concerns the topic of courage. ... Lysis is one of the socratic dialogues written by Plato and discusses the nature of friendship. ... Cratylus (Κρατυλος) is the name of a dialogue by Plato, written in approximately 360 BC. In the dialogue, Socrates is asked by two men, Cratylus and Hermogenes, to advise them whether names are conventional or natural, that is, whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an... Euthydemus (Euthydemos), written 380 BCE, is dialogue by Plato which satirizes the logical fallacies of the Sophists. ... Gorgias is an important dialogue in which Plato sets the rhetorician, whose specialty is persuasion, in opposition to the philosopher, whose specialty is dissuasion, or refutation. ... The Menexenus is a Socratic dialogue of Plato, traditionally included in the seventh tetralogy along with the Greater and Lesser Hippias and the Ion. ... Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. ... It has been suggested that Phaidon be merged into this article or section. ... Protagoras is the title of one of Platos dialogues. ... The Symposium is a dialogue by Plato, written soon after 385 BCE. It is a philosophical discussion on the nature of love, taking the form of a series of speeches, both satirical and serious, given by a group of men at a symposion or drinking party at the house of... The Republic (Greek: ) is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written approximately 360 BC. It is an influential work of philosophy and political theory, and perhaps Platos best known work. ... The Phaedrus, written by Plato, is a dialogue between Platos main protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. ... Parmenides is one of the dialogues of Plato. ... The Theætetus (Θεαίτητος) is one of Platos dialogues concerning the nature of knowledge. ... Timaeus is a theoretical treatise of Plato in the form of a Socratic dialogue, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world. ... Critias, a dialogue of Platos, speaks about a variety of subjects. ... The Sophist (Greek: Σοφιστής) is one of the late Dialogues of Plato, which was written much more lately than the Parmenides and the Theaetetus, probably in 360 BC.After he criticized his own Theory of Forms in the Parmenides, Plato proceeds in the Sophist with a new conception of the Forms... The Statesman, or Politikos in Greek and Politicus in Latin, is a four part dialogue contained within the work of Plato. ... Philebus is among the last of the late Socratic dialogues of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. ... The Laws is Platos last and longest dialogue. ... The Clitophon, a dialogue generally ascribed to Plato, is significant for focusing on Socrates role as an exhorter of other people to engage in philosophic inquiry. ... The Epinomis is a dialogue in the style of Plato, but today considered spurious by most scholars. ... The Epistles of Plato are a series of thirteen letters traditionally included in the Platonic corpus. ... The Hipparchus is a dialogue attributed to the classical Greek philosopher and writer Plato. ... Minos is one of the dialogues of Plato, featuring Socrates and a Companion. ... Rival Lovers (Greek: ) is a Socratic dialogue included in the traditional corpus of Platos works, though its authenticity has been doubted. ... The Second Alcibiades or Alcibiades II is a dialogue ascribed to Plato, featring Alcibiades conversing with Socrates, but there is a general consensus amongst scholars that this text is spurious, though again probably written by someone within a century or two of Platos other works. ... Theages is one of the dialogues of Plato, featuring Demodocus, Socrates and Theages. ... A dialogue (sometimes spelt dialog[1]) is a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities. ... The Temple of Athena, the Parthenon Ancient Greece is a period in Greek history that lasted for around nine hundred years. ... This page lists some links to ancient philosophy, although for Western thinkers prior to Socrates, see Pre-Socratic philosophy. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Social contract is a phrase used in philosophy, political science, and sociology to denote a real or hypothetical agreement within a state regarding the rights and responsibilities of the state and its citizens, or more generally a similar concord between a group and its members. ...



The dialogue begins with Socrates waking up to the presence of Crito in his prison cell. When Socrates expresses surprise that the guard has let him in, Crito informs Socrates that he is a frequent visitor at the place. Because Socrates did not know this, the reader can only infer that Crito either has numerous friends in jail, or else visits one or two close friends often. Crito adds that he has "done (the guard) a good deed", i.e., bribed him.

Crito has bad news for Socrates. He tells him that there are eyewitness reports that the ship has come in from Delos, and that tomorrow Socrates will be executed. Socrates rebuffs the report, saying he has had a dream, a vision of a woman in a white cloak, telling him that on the third day hence, he will go to Phthia, which is a reference to the Iliad. Socrates says that the meaning of this is perfectly clear--it will be three days until he dies.

While Crito agrees that the meaning of the dream cannot be mistaken, he is concerned about losing a friend. Crito tells Socrates that if he follows through with the execution, people will assume his friends were too cheap to finance an escape. Crito's worries suggest that buying one's way out of prison was so routine that people not only did not frown on it, but perfectly well expected it.

More preludes

Socrates refuses Crito's initial offer to pay off potential snitches, and Crito protests that the informers ("sychophants") are cheaply bought. He adds that if Socrates is afraid of depleting Crito's account, there are foreigners (xenoi), Simmias and Cebes, who have come to town with money. Xenos (Greek ξένος, xénos, plural xenoi) is a word used in ancient Greek from Homer onwards that has a wide gradient of meaning, signifying such divergent concepts as “enemy stranger” as well as “ritual friend”. Xenos can be translated to both foreigner (in the sense of a person from another... Simmias (in Greek Σιμμιας; lived 4th century BC) was a Macedonian, son of Andromenes, and brother of Attalus and Amyntas, the officers of Alexander the Great (336–323 BC). ... Cebes was the name of two Greek philosophers. ...

Crito then presents the moral view of the common man; a father has an obligation to nurture and educate his children, and should avoid orphaning them if at all possible. He tells Socrates that if his sons do not meet with the usual fate of orphans, it will be no thanks to him. Crito does not offer to see personally to the children's care, however. Crito adds that the trial should never haven taken place and might have been managed differently. He says that the failure to escape will be a ridiculous climax to the whole affair, and caused by shameful cowardice of Socrates' friends (45d,e).

Socrates tells Crito that he is one of those people who must be guided by reason. He expresses contempt for the opinions of the masses of mankind who think irrationally and act randomly. Socrates says that the only person whose opinion is of value is the one who understands justice (47c,d). Money, reputation and feeding children are values of thoughtless men (48c). Socrates then invites Crito to consider the definition of justice, and whether it is ever right to do wrong intentionally.

The argument by analogy

Socrates takes the position that requiting injustice by retaliation or warding off evil by evil is always wrong, and is just as wrong as committing injustice in the first place. Socrates tells Crito that this opinion, that it is wrong not to resist evil, never has been, and never will be held by the vast majority of mankind. He thinks it is an important moral yardstick, adding that people who do not agree on this point have no common ground and must necessarily despise (kataphronein) each other. He says that this premise will be taken as true for the purpose of their discussion (49d).

Crito says he agrees with Socrates, that warding off evil by evil is as wrong as injustice (adikia), but in fact, neither seems to trouble him. Crito has no more qualms about bribing a friend's way out of prison than he had bribing his own way in for a morning visit. Neither man seems to notice that, according to Socrates, they should not even be friends because they are so far apart morally.

Socrates' claim that "resisting evil by any means other than persuasion is evil" is an ancient statement of moral pacificism. Socrates rests its logical defense entirely upon an analogy. He says that a citizen stands in relation to the state as the child does to the parent, as the slave does to his master. He says that the state has brought him into the world (by regulating marriage), nurtured and educated him. Socrates says that he is the offspring ("ek-gonos") and slave ("doulos") of the state and has no right to "destroy" the state by failing to obey it (50e) after it has been so beneficient to him. A monument celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, erected in Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, Westminster, London Look up Slavery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Slavery can mean one or more related conditions which involve control of a person against his or her will, enforced by...

Summary of Crito's arguments for escape

  1. Socrates is endangering the good reputation of his friends. If Socrates is executed, Crito will appear to honor money over friends. Crito considers this reputation shameful and damaging even though it will be the opinion of those who do not know Socrates and Crito adequately, namely, the many. One must respect the opinions of the many because they can bring about great evils.
  2. Socrates should not worry about Crito's reputation or money. Escape from death is more honorable.
  3. Socrates has support in other cities, including Thessaly and exile would not be a bad option, although Socrates said in his defense that he would rather die than be exiled.
  4. Socrates would be acting unjustly by not fulfilling his parental obligations.
  5. Socrates would be acting cowardly by not resisting injustices (implying that the court decision and Socrates' subsequent execution are unjust). He would be joining his enemies. He is choosing the "easiest path" instead of the courageous, honorable and virtuous path, which Crito feels is to flee from certain, unjust death.

Map showing Thessaly periphery in Greece Thessaly (Θεσσαλια; modern Greek Thessalía; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is one of the 13 peripheries of Greece, and is further sub-divided into 4 prefectures. ...

Socrates' responses

  1. Public opinion is not important to the decision; the many's ignorance does not allow them to have true choice, and therefore their opinions are of no value to the one who strives after the truth and the good.
  2. The essential concern is whether to escape would be just.
  3. One should never do injustice; doing evil to humans/human evil leads to injustice.
  4. Men, especially one so old as Socrates, should not fear death.

The Laws' arguments

  1. The Laws are more honorable than one's parents, for they too beget, educate, and nurture their citizens. Just as one should respect the decisions of one's parents, so should one respect the decisions of the Laws, but to an even greater degree. There is confusion as to whether this respect is due to the Laws or due to the fatherland.
  2. Socrates tacitly agreed to obey the Laws by remaining in Athens after reaching maturity, witnessing how the Laws are structured and how they work and by having raised his children in Athens too. (This is an early statement of Social Contract Theory.)
  3. Socrates would be seen as a corrupting force wherever he went.
  4. If one has the ability to choose whether to obey a law, then he is destroying the power of the law. Destroying law is unjust, for men require a community and a community requires law.
  5. It would put him in a precarious position in the afterlife.

John Lockes writings on the Social Contract were particularly influential among the American Founding Fathers. ...

See also

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (1787) The trial of Socrates refers to the trial and the subsequent execution of the Athenian philosopher Socrates in 399 BC. Socrates was tried and convicted by the courts of democratic Athens on a charge of corrupting the youth and disbelieving in...

External links

  • Text of Crito at the Internet Classics Archive

  Results from FactBites:
Plato -- The Crito, trans. by Jowett (3686 words)
Crito: 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.
Crito: 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.
Now you, Crito, are a disinterested person who are not going to die to-morrow- at least, there is no human probability of this, and you are therefore not liable to be de-ceived by the circumstances in which you are placed.
  More results at FactBites »



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