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Interactive Curriculum Resource: HomeThemesAuthorsTexts • Sample Series

Crito - Plato

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Themes: Conscience, DutyJusticeLawPunishment


In the early morning following the trail of Socrates, Crito comes to his cell. Crito’s purpose is to free Socrates from his coming execution, and he has a plan to carry this out. His plan includes bribing the guards and bringing Socrates to Thessaly. Crito makes several arguments about why Socrates should come with him, including sparing the loss the sons of Socrates would endure, and also the poor reputation Crito would have if he could not free his friend. 


In response to Crito’s arguments, Socrates makes several responses, including whose beliefs we should consider, damage to the soul in the form of injustice making life worthless, and that one should strive to live a virtuous life and not a long life. 


Further, Socrates brings up our commitment to the city and to law generally, and when we choose to stay within our city, were are obliged when the city calls upon us. This dialogue brings of themes of social contract and obligation, and supports a wonderful series of conversations on duty when combined with Antigone by Sophocles and Letter from Birmingham Jail by King.


Opening questions:


At (47c) Crito says "Socrates, I do not think that what you are doing is just, to give up your life when you can save it, and to hasten your fate as your enemies would hasten it..." Is Crito right? Is Socrates being just?  


At (48b) Socrates says "...that the most important thing is not life, but the good life." What are his arguments for that? 


What does Socrates think our relationship to the city is, and to its laws? 

Download the September 14, 2019 seminar:

Suggested Pairing:


Law and Conscience - Sophocles, Antigone; Plato, Apology and Crito;
Lincoln / Douglas Debates; King, Letter from Birmingham Jail



We welcome your comments. How did your seminar go? What can we add or modify to the resource to be more helpful to you?