Crito Revisited

Prompt: As Crito, return to Socrates’s cell to convince him not to accept his death penalty and drink hemlock.

Crito Revisited
CRITO: Socrates, I told you earlier that I had nothing left to say, but I spoke too soon. The gods have resurrected hope and reason within me, and I wish to continue our discussion.
SOCRATES: You are not yet satisfied? Very well; we shall continue. I have spent seventy years searching for the truth, and I am compelled to continue this mission to the very end.
CRITO: I am glad. First, I would like to investigate the dream you had last night in which the beautiful woman said you would reach the shores of Phthia on the third day. Did she mention your imminent death at any time?
SOCRATES: No, she did not.
CRITO: In that case, the woman may have spoken literally, not figuratively. Your homeland, Phthia, is in the southeastern part of Thessaly, and in good weather, a trireme can arrive there in a day. I already wished to send you to Thessaly because I have many friends there who would protect you; therefore, the dream fits our schemes perfectly.
SOCRATES: But what if we do not arrive on the third day?
CRITO: Socrates, you earlier assumed that the gods would delay the ship from Delos so it could fulfill the woman’s prophecy. If they would alter reality in that case, they also would in this one.
SOCRATES: This is true. Yet, I am afraid to break my contract with Athens. To do so would be wrong, and I must not do wrong under any circumstances.
CRITO: Socrates, do you think the Athenians truly want to kill you?
SOCRATES: This is the sentence they have chosen. It must be so.
CRITO: I disagree. They prefer your death to a fine of thirty minas, but they desire your exile most of all. Note how easily I have bribed the guards and how little the state cares about whether or not you escape! They do not want your blood on their hands; it might make them reviled throughout history. Though they prepare for your death, they desire your departure even now. The only impediment to this course of action is you.
SOCRATES: For good reason! I will never find a city as accommodating as Athens. I must pursue the truth and test other men wherever I go; if Athens hates this vocation, then every other city will, as well. Doubtless, I will spend the rest of my life being evicted from towns who hate me. This is not good for me; I am old. I would rather die.
CRITO: Truly, such a life would be difficult. Nevertheless, it is your only morally viable choice. You must accept it.
SOCRATES: Why so?
CRITO: You provided the first reason yourself. You have a divine calling to help others find the truth, and you must continue to pursue it regardless of the discomfort it causes you.
SOCRATES: My escape would work against this goal, not towards it. If I flout the laws, I will obtain a bad reputation, and the people will not listen to me.
CRITO: This is not true. When your students learn that your escape was what Athens truly wanted and was the most pious choice, they will understand you acted justly.
SOCRATES: You speak wisely.
CRITO: Also, you must raise your children.
SOCRATES: Crito! We already agreed that this is a matter of public opinion and not of morality.
CRITO: I have put further thought into the matter and decided this is not true. You have an implicit contract with your family which you must fulfill to the full extent of piety. When you married your wife and begat children, you agreed to provide masculine and paternal support to them in exchange for the love and care which they would give you. You can fulfill this contract in beautiful Phthia where Peleus raised Achilles. You cannot fulfill it if you are dead. By escaping, you will fulfill your duty to Athens by leaving, your duty to yourself by teaching, and your duty to your family by supporting them. This is what you must do.
SOCRATES: Crito, your words cement my will. I thank the gods that you have shown me the path to righteousness. We will leave presently.

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