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not say a private man, but even the great king will not find many
such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if
death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only
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
41 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 Aeacus and
Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their
own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not
a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and
Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and
again. I, too, shall have a wonderful interest in a place where I can
converse with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of Telamon, and other
heroes of old, who have suffered death through an unjust judgment;
and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my
own sufferings with theirs. Above all, I shall be able to continue
my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also
in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise,
and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, to be able to
examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or Odysseus
or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What
infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking
them questions! For in that world they do not put a man to
death for this; certainly 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 this of a truth—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 my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.
Still I have a favour to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care
about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing,—then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will 42 have received justice at your hands.
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways—I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.
The Crito seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in one light only, not as the philosopher, fulfilling a divine mission and trusting in the will of heaven, but simply as the good citizen, who having been unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life in obedience to the laws of the state.
The days of Socrates are drawing to a close; the fatal ship has been seen off Sunium, as he is informed by his aged friend and contemporary Crito, who visits him before the dawn has broken; he himself has been warned in a dream that on the third day he must depart. Time is precious, and Crito has come early in order to gain his consent to a plan of escape. This can be easily accomplished by his friends, who will incur no danger in making the attempt to save him, but will be disgraced for ever if they allow him to perish. He should think of his duty to his children, and not play into the hands of his enemies. Money is already provided by Crito as well as by Simmias and others, and he will have no difficulty in finding friends in Thessaly and other places.
Socrates is afraid that Crito is but pressing upon him the opinions of the many: whereas, all his life long he has followed the dictates of reason only and the opinion of the one wise or skilled man. There was a time when Crito himself had allowed the propriety of this. And although some one will say 'the many can kill us,' that makes no difference; but a good life, that is to say a just and honourable life, is alone to be valued. All considerations of loss of reputation or injury to his children should be dismissed: the only question is whether he would bejight in attempting to escape. Crito, who is a disinterested person not having the fear of death before his eyes, shall answer this for him. Before he was condemned they had often held discussions,