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Dialogues of Plato | Crito | Summary

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Summary

Socrates awakens before dawn in jail, where he is awaiting his execution, to find his good friend Crito, who has been watching him sleep. Socrates asks why Crito did not wake him up, and Crito responds that he has wanted to watch Socrates sleep. He seems so undisturbed. Even as he awaits his death, Crito says, Socrates appears happy.

Socrates asks Crito why he has come so early. Perhaps the ship from Delos has arrived, announcing the day of his death. In fact, the ship has not arrived, Crito tells him, but it is thought to arrive today, which means Socrates will die tomorrow. But Socrates has had a dream in which a beautiful woman, dressed in white, tells him he will go to Phthia "on the third day." He infers from his dream that the ship will arrive not today, but tomorrow.

Analysis

Socrates has been imprisoned for a month because he could not be executed until the completion of a religious mission to the island of Delos. Delos is said to be the birthplace of the gods Artemis and Apollo.

The quote from the woman in Socrates's dreams comes from Homer's Iliad. Phthia is the home of Achilles, and the implication is that, in dying, Socrates will return home. This notion is in keeping with Socrates's expressed belief that death is not something to be feared, but very likely something to be welcomed. Indeed, as readers of Plato's Phaedo will know, Socrates thinks of death as a sort of cure for life.

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