A Pology

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Trial of Socrates


. . . You think that I was convicted because I had no words of the sort that would have procured my acquittal — I mean, if I had thought fit to leave nothing undone or unsaid. . . . But I had not the boldness or impudence or inclination to address you as you would have liked me to address you, weeping and wailing and lamenting, and saying and doing many things which you have been accustomed to hear from others, and which, as I maintain, are unworthy of me. I thought at the time that I ought not to do anything common or mean when in danger; or do I now repent of the manner of my defense. I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet at law ought I or any man to use every way of escaping death. . . . The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. I am old,2 and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken them. . . .

Let us reflect, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good. For one of two things is true — either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness; or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with it all the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man would find them easy to count, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then but a single night.

But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Æacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. . . . Above all, I shall then be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that; and I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. . . . In another world they do not put a man to death for asking questions; assuredly not. For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know of a certainty that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason, also, I am not angry with my accusers, or with those who have condemned me to death. They have done me no harm, although they did not mean to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them. . . .

1 Plato, , 29, 32–33.

2 Socrates at this time was seventy years of age.

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Chicago: A Pology in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 124–125. Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y358GPEG78838NM.

MLA: . A Pology, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 124–125. Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y358GPEG78838NM.

Harvard: , A Pology. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.124–125. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Y358GPEG78838NM.