Written by Plato, the book “The last days of Socrates” narrates the events following the trial of Socrates. It is a follow up of Plato’s ‘The Apology’ and provides a description of the conversations between Socrates, and his disciples, Crito and the jailer.
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Plato, the author of the book, was one of Socrates’ best friends and students. Plato’s other works ‘The Apology’, ‘Euthyphro’, ‘Crito’ and ‘Phaedo’ depict the philosophical views of Socrates, especially before the trial, during the trial and after death.
In this book, however, Plato concentrates on Socrates’ view of life and death, society and family. In addition, it provides the reader with information about the ancient Greek culture and beliefs. Hugh Tredennick and Harold Tarrant translated the book into English. Published by Penguin Books in England, the English version was released in 1993.
In this book, Plato’s main character is Socrates. As Socrates waits for his death, he talks to his students such as Plato as well as Crito, an elderly man who had been Socrates’ friend throughout his philosophical career. The conversations reveal Socrates’ thinking about life and death.
In addition, they reveal his thinking about the society, family and humanity. Arguably, Socrates believes in a better life after death, which he thinks is a solution to the social and family problems he undergoes during his life on earth.
Socrates view of family and children is depicted in his conversation with Crito. The conversation is in an Agoran prison room, where Socrates is held before execution. He is waiting orders from the jailer, and several people, including Crito, have come to visit and bid him farewell.
Despite the normal philosophical conversation, there is a sad mood in the room because his friends cannot believe that their teacher is on his way towards death. Nevertheless, Socrates does not show signs of fear or remorse.
Aspects of the family are portrayed when Crito asks Socrates to let them know what they should do to his children and family after his dead. However, Socrates tells them that they should not do anything to the family, but they should look after themselves instead.
According to Socrates, this is the best way of honoring him after his death. It appears that Socrates values individuals than the family. He thinks that his wife and children have a life to live and should work to support themselves.
The reader would expect Socrates to give Crito and other friends in the room some instructions on how to treat his family, considering that he had two small sons and an older one. However, he tells his friends to “make professions” according to his teachings. Nevertheless, Socrates valued his family, as did other people in the Greek society.
For example, his three sons, wife and other women from his larger family were brought to the prison cell to see him before his death. He appreciated them and gave them some instructions in the presence of Crito, but the author does not disclose the instructions. Nevertheless, it is clear that Socrates wanted them to live by themselves.
In addition, he did not want his family to endure the pain of witnessing his death. Therefore, he dismisses all the members of his family, including his wife and three sons. He was aware that they would offend him by mourning his death.
For instance, after taking the poison, Socrates becomes irritated by his followers because they started weeping. He asks them “what is the strange outcry?” (Tredennick and Tarrant 32). He tells them that he had dismissed his family, especially women, because they would offend him rather than let him die in peace.
The social aspect of Greek life, as well as Socrates’ view of social life, is depicted in the book. For instance, Socrates believes that the social life in Greece is full of desperations and that there is no happiness. He believes that death is a sure way of getting a better life.
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For instance, when Crito asks him how they should bury his body after death, he told them to treat the body in any way they would like. According to him, they will only be burying the body and not the soul.
He tells Crito that his soul will leave the world and join the next world that has “the joys of the blessed” (Tredennick and Tarrant 26). This is an indication that he views life as full of sadness and not worth.
Socrates also views social life as the poison to the soul. He believes that the soul is naturally pure, but falsehood infect it with evil. For instance, he tells Crito not to consider how they should treat the body, but concentrate on the belief that his soul will remain alive in the next world.
He believes that Crito would be telling lies if he promised to treat Socrates’ body in a decent manner, yet he was aware that he was only dealing with the body and not the person himself.
Perhaps one of the evils of social life that Socrates refers to is the cruelty of gaining wealth. While other people were busy accumulating wealth, Socrates had been busy teaching philosophy. In fact, the book depicts the possibility that he died before clearing his debts.
For instance, when the impact of the poison was almost reaching his heart, he realized that he was about to die. Therefore, he requests Crito to pay a cock to Asclepius. Evidently, this is one example of the debts Socrates left behind.
Therefore, it is quite evident that Socrates view of life was negative as indicated in the book. It reflects his view of family and social life and the belief in a better life after death.
Tredennick, Hugh and Harold Tarrant. The last days of Socrates. London, UK: Penguin Books, 1993. Print.