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                CRITO

             by PLATO

        Translated by BENJAMIN JOWETT


INTRODUCTION TO CRITO (by Benjamin Jowett)

THE "Crito" seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in 
one light only, not as the philosopher, fulfilling a divine mission 
and trusting in the will of Heaven, but simply as the good citizen, 
who having been unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life 
in obedience to the laws of the State.

The days of Socrates are drawing to a close; the fatal ship [1] has 
been seen off Sunium, as he is informed by his aged friend and 
contemporary Crito, who visits him before the dawn has broken; he 
himself has been warned in a dream that on the third day he must 
depart. Time is precious and Crito has come early in order to gain 
his consent to a plan of escape. This can be easily accomplished by 
his friends, who will incur no danger in making the attempt to save 
him, but will be disgraced forever if they allow him to perish. He 
should think of his duty to his children, and not play  into the 
hands of his enemies. Money is already provided by Crito as well as 
by Simmias and others, and he will have no difficulty in finding 
friends in Thessaly and other places.

Socrates is afraid that Crito is but pressing upon him the opinions 
of the many: whereas, all his life long he has followed the dictates 
of reason only and the opinion of the one wise or skilled man. There 
was a time when Crito himself had allowed the propriety of this. And 
although someone will say "The many can kill us," that makes no 
difference; but a good life, that is to say a just and honorable life, 
is alone to be valued. All considerations of loss of reputation or 
injury to his children should be dismissed: the only question is 
whether he would be right in attempting to escape. Crito, who is a 
disinterested person, not having the fear of death before his eyes, 
shall answer this for him. Before he was condemned they had often 
held discussions, in which they agreed that no man should either 
do evil, or return evil for evil, or betray the right. Are these 
principles to be altered because the circumstances of Socrates are 
altered? Crito admits that they remain the same. Then is his escape 
consistent with the maintenance of them? To this Crito is unable or 
unwilling to reply.

Socrates proceeds: Suppose the laws of Athens to come and 
remonstrate with him: they will ask, "Why does he seek to overturn 
them?" and if he replies, "They have injured him," will not the 
laws answer, "Yes, but was that the agreement?  Has he any objection 
to make to them which would justify him in overturning them? Was he 
not brought into the world and educated by their help, and are they 
not his parents? He might have left Athens and gone where he pleased, 
but he has lived there for seventy years more constantly than any 
other citizen." Thus he has clearly shown that he acknowledged the 
agreement which he cannot now break without dishonor to himself and 
danger to his friends. Even in the course of the trial he might have 
proposed exile as the penalty, but then he declared that he preferred 
death to exile. And whither will he direct his footsteps? In any 
well-ordered State the laws will consider him as an enemy. Possibly 
in a land of misrule like Thessaly he may be welcomed at first, and 
the unseemly narrative of his escape regarded by the inhabitants as 
an amusing tale. But if he offends them he will have to learn another 
sort of lesson. Will he continue to give lectures in virtue? That 
would hardly be decent. And how will his children be the gainers if 
he takes them into Thessaly, and deprives them of Athenian 
citizenship? Or if he leaves them behind, does he expect that they 
will be better taken care of by his friends because he is in 
Thessaly? Will not true friends care for them equally whether he 
is alive or dead?

Finally, they exhort him to think of justice first, and of life 
and children afterwards. He may now depart in peace and innocence, 
a sufferer and not a doer of evil. But if he breaks agreements, 
and returns evil for evil, they will be angry with him while he 
lives; and their brethren, the laws of the world below, will 
receive him as an enemy. Such is the mystic voice which is always 
murmuring in his ears.

That Socrates was not a good citizen was a charge made against him 
during his lifetime, which has been often repeated in later ages. 
The crimes of Alcibiades, Critias, and Charmides, who had been his 
pupils, were still recent in the memory of the now restored democracy. 
The fact that he had been neutral in the death struggle of Athens 
was not likely to conciliate popular good-will. Plato, writing 
probably in the next generation, undertakes the defence of his 
friend and master in this particular, not to the Athenians of his 
day, but to posterity and the world at large.

Whether such an incident ever really occurred as the visit of Crito 
and the proposal of escape is uncertain: Plato could easily have 
invented far more than that; and in the selection of Crito, the 
aged friend, as the fittest person to make the proposal to Socrates, 
we seem to recognize the hand of the artist. Whether anyone who has 
been subjected by the laws of his country to an unjust judgment is 
right in attempting to escape is a thesis about which casuists might 
disagree. Shelley is of opinion that Socrates "did well to die," but 
not for the "sophistical" reasons which Plato has put into his mouth. 
And there would be no difficulty in arguing that Socrates should have 
lived and preferred to a glorious death the good which he might still 
be able to perform. "A skillful rhetorician would have had much to say 
about that" (50 C). It may be remarked, however, that Plato never 
intended to answer the question of casuistry, but only to exhibit the 
ideal of patient virtue which refuses to do the least evil in order 
to avoid the greatest, and to show Socrates, his master, maintaining 
in death the opinions which he had professed in his life. Not "the 
world," but the "one wise man," is still the philosopher's paradox 
in his last hours.

[1] The sacred ship, during whose thirty days' voyage to and from 
the oracle at Delos no Athenian citizen could be put to death.

『クリトン』本文 CRITO
From DIALOGUES OF PLATO, New York, P.F. Collier & Son. Copyright 1900 The Colonial Press. This was scanned from the 1900 edition and mechanically checked against a commercial copy of Crito from CDROM. Differences were corrected against the paper edition. The text itself is thus a highly accurate rendition. This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, released August 1993. ページのトップ 
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