THE WILLING PRISONER
HE trial of Socrates took place early in May. It would
have been followed almost immediately by his execution
but for a happy ordering of events, to which we owe
what may well be called the most significant and
beautiful of his utterances. On the day before that of
his condemnation, the priest of Apollo had put the
sacred garland on the stern of the ship which was to
sail to Delos, carrying the embassy which Athens sent
year by year to take part in the festival of the Delian
Apollo. In the interval between the departure and the
return of this vessel, commonly a period of thirty
days, no condemned person could be put to death. The
time was spent by the philosopher in converse with his
friends, who seem to have been permitted to have free
access to his cell. Two of these conversations have
been recorded by Plato. It is impossible to say how far
we have the actual words of Socrates. It is
pro-  bable that the arguments have received considerable
accessions from the mind of the reporter, but that the
narrative is a fairly exact representation of the
FROM A BUST IN THE VILLA ALBANI (NEAR NAPLES).
The Dialogue to which the name of Crito has been given,
took place in the prison before the return of the
Sacred Ship. Crito was one of the wealthiest men in
Athens. He had been accustomed to contribute liberally
to the master's support; he was among the friends who
volunteered to find the money for the fine which
Socrates proposed as the alternative punishment to
death; and he had now been using his money to smooth
the way for the prisoner's escape. The conversation was
something to this effect.
Socrates. "Why so early, Crito? It is not
Crito. "No, it isn't."
Socrates. "What is the time then?"
Crito. "Just before dawn."
Socrates. "I am surprised that the jailor let
Crito. "He knows me well, because I have been
here so often to see you, and he has had something from
Socrates. "Have you been here a long time?"
Crito. "Fairly long."
Socrates. "Why did you not wake me then?"
Crito. "Well, Socrates, to tell the truth, I
 not have cared to be awake in such a plight as this. I
was astonished to see how quietly you were sleeping,
and it was on purpose that I forbore to wake you, for I
want your time to go as pleasantly as it may. Often
before have I admired the easy way in which you took
things, but never so much as I do at present, so
easily, so gently do you take your trouble."
Socrates. "Surely, Crito, it would be absurd for
a man at my age to make any trouble about dying."
Crito. "Well, Socrates, others just as old as
you, for all their age, are greatly troubled when they
find themselves in such a plight as yours."
Socrates. "May be. But what made you come so
Crito. "I have brought some news, not bad news
for you, Socrates, I can easily understand, but to me
and to your other friends as bad as could be."
Socrates. "What do you mean? Has the ship come
Crito. "It has not actually come, but it will
come to-day. So I understand from some people who have
come from Sunium and left it there. Their news means that it will come
to-day, and that to-morrow will be the last day of your
Socrates. "Let us hope it is all for the best.
 order it as He thinks fit: still I do not think that
the ship will come to-day."
Crito. "What makes you think so?"
Socrates. "I will tell you; you say I must die
the day after it returns."
Crito. "So I am told by the authorities."
Socrates. "Then I think that it won't come the
day that is now dawning, but on the day after. My
reason is a certain dream that I have had to-night, and
just a little while ago. It seems very likely that you
did quite right not to wake me."
Crito. "What was the dream?"
Socrates. "I saw in my sleep a fair woman
dressed in white apparel, coming up to me. She called
me by my name and said, 'O Socrates, on the third day
hence thou shalt win unto deep-foamed Phthias' strand.'
Crito. "What an absurd dream, Socrates!"
Socrates. "But quite plain, I think."
Crito. "Very plain indeed. But, my dear
Socrates, do listen to me and consent to save your
Crito then proceeds to urge various arguments upon the
philosopher. People will think very badly of him and
his friends if they don't save their
 master's life, seeing that this could be done at no
very great expenditure of money, by bribing jailors and
such people. Of course they would be running a certain
risk in doing so; but this they were prepared for; it
was only their duty to encounter it, and, after all it
would be no great matter to buy the silence of the
informers, as they had bought the connivance of the
prison officials. Besides, there were foreigners,
Simmias for instance, who was a Theban, quite ready to
undertake this part of the business, and these would
not be exposed to any of the danger that an Athenian
citizen would incur. As for Socrates himself, he would
be doing wrong if he neglected the opportunity of
saving his life. He was doing just what his enemies
wished. Then he must consider his children. Was he
right in leaving them desolate? A father owed a duty to
those who owed their life to him. And he must decide at
once. He must escape that very night. If he did not, it
would be too late.
Socrates is ready with his answer to these arguments,
and the sum of it was this: Is it right or is it wrong
for me to make my escape if I can? By a bold image he
personifies the laws of his country, and imagines them
as addressing him. "What are you thinking of doing,
Socrates?" they are supposed to say to him. "What
complaint have you against us, that you go about to
 for the man who ventures on the strength of his own
private opinion to upset a solemn decision of the
courts, is destroying the laws by which the state
subsists? You owe to us your existence, your father,
your mother; have you any fault to find with the
marriage laws which brought them together?" He could
but answer, "No." "Have you any," they continued, "with
the laws about the rearing and education of children,
to which you owe your teaching in liberal arts, and
your bodily training?" These, too, he could but
acknowledge to be good. "Then again, a child must not
return evil for evil to father or mother, if he is
struck he must not strike back, but must put up with
what he has to endure. Now your country is infinitely
more worthy of reverence than your parents. How much
more, then, you must yield to her if she is angry with
you, failing to persuade her, you must yield to her, do
what she bids you, and suffer what she puts upon you;
if she bids you go to battle, you must obey, and suffer
wounds and even death, sooner than leave your place in
the ranks. And the court of justice must be as the
battle-field to you. You must submit to what your
country puts upon you." This it must be allowed, is a
very cogent argument; and we cannot doubt, so
thoroughly is it in accord with his usual teaching,
that Socrates was perfectly sincere in using it. But it
is no less clear that the
deter-  mination to remain and submit to his, sentence
was, we may even say, as much a matter of inclination
as of duty. The safe and comfortable home which Crito
offered him in Thessaly, did not attract him. If he did
not live in Athens he would not live anywhere. This is
brought out very clearly in what the Laws are
represented as saying by way of enforcing their
"And you, Socrates, would be more to blame, if you were
to do what we are thinking of than any other Athenian
would be. For we have abundant proofs that we and this
city of ours have always been very much to your mind.
Surely you would not have tarried in Athens so much
more than anyone else, if you had not taken more
pleasure than anyone else in it. You never left the
city for any festival or games except it was once to
the festival of the Isthmus; you never went anywhither,
except it might be on military service; for no other
kind of cause were you ever absent, such as takes most
men abroad; you never had a desire to see any other
city than this, or make acquaintance with any other
laws. We and our city were always sufficient for you.
Remember, too, that at your trial you might, if you had
so wished, have proposed the penalty of banishment.
What you now think of doing against the will of your
country, you might then have done with her consent. But
you made fine professions then that
 you did not refuse to die, if so it must be, and that
you preferred death to banishment. Of these
professions you are not now ashamed, you take no
account of us, but you want to do what the most
worthless slave might do, you want to run away."
All this no doubt expresses the very inmost heart of
Socrates. It was not only the dishonour of a life
purchased at the cost of all his professions and
principles that he refused to submit to, it was also
the intolerable ennui of an existence that was to be
passed anywhere but in the intellectual atmosphere of
Athens. Mr. Grote thinks, as has been said, that no
other city would have endured him so long; we may
perhaps, add the converse, and say that he could have
endured no other.