Socrates. WHY have you come at this hour,
must be quite early.
Crito. Yes, certainly.
Soc. What is the exact time?
Cr. The dawn is breaking.
Soc. I wonder the keeper of the prison would let you
Cr. He knows me because I often come, Socrates;
moreover. I have
done him a kindness.
Soc. And are you only just come?
Cr. No, I came some time ago.
Soc. Then why did you sit and say nothing, instead of
me at once?
Cr. Why, indeed, Socrates, I myself would rather not
this sleeplessness and sorrow. But I have been wondering at your
slumbers, and that was the reason why I did not awaken you, because I
you to be out of pain. I have always thought you happy in the calmness
of your temperament; but never did I see the like of the easy, cheerful
way in which you bear this calamity.
Soc. Why, Crito, when a man has reached my age he
ought not to
be repining at the prospect of death.
Cr. And yet other old men find themselves in similar
and age does not prevent them from repining.
Soc. That may be. But you have not told me why you
come at this
Cr. I come to bring you a message which is sad and
as I believe, to yourself but to all of us who are your friends, and
of all to me.
Soc. What! I suppose that the ship has come from
Delos, on the
arrival of which I am to die?
Cr. No, the ship has not actually arrived, but she
be here to-day, as persons who have come from Sunium tell me that they
have left her there; and therefore to-morrow, Socrates, will be the
day of your life.
Soc. Very well, Crito; if such is the will of God, I
but my belief is that there will be a delay of a day.
Cr. Why do you say this?
Soc. I will tell you. I am to die on the day after
of the ship?
Cr. Yes; that is what the authorities say.
Soc. But I do not think that the ship will be here
this I gather from a vision which I had last night, or rather only just
now, when you fortunately allowed me to sleep.
Cr. And what was the nature of the vision?
Soc. There came to me the likeness of a woman, fair
clothed in white raiment, who called to me and said: O Socrates-
"The third day hence, to Phthia shalt thou go."
Cr. What a singular dream, Socrates!
Soc. There can be no doubt about the meaning Crito, I
Cr. Yes: the meaning is only too clear. But, O! my
let me entreat you once more to take my advice and escape. For if you
I shall not only lose a friend who can never be replaced, but there is
another evil: people who do not know you and me will believe that I
have saved you if I had been willing to give money, but that I did not
care. Now, can there be a worse disgrace than this- that I should be
to value money more than the life of a friend? For the many will not be
persuaded that I wanted you to escape, and that you refused.
Soc. But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the
of the many? Good men, and they are the only persons who are worth
will think of these things truly as they happened.
Cr. But do you see. Socrates, that the opinion of the
be regarded, as is evident in your own case, because they can do
greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion?
Soc. I only wish, Crito, that they could; for then
also do the greatest good, and that would be well. But the truth is,
that they can do neither good nor evil: they cannot make a man
make him foolish; and whatever they do is the result of chance.
Cr. Well, I will not dispute about that; but please
to tell me,
Socrates, whether you are not acting out of regard to me and your
are you not afraid that if you escape hence we may get into
the informers for having stolen you away, and lose either the
a great part of our property; or that even a worse evil may happen
Now, if this is your fear, be at ease; for in order to save you,
surely to run this or even a greater risk; be persuaded, then, and do
as I say.
Soc. Yes, Crito, that is one fear which you mention,
no means the only one.
Cr. Fear not. There are persons who at no great cost
to save you and bring you out of prison; and as for the informers, you
may observe that they are far from being exorbitant in their
little money will satisfy them. My means, which, as I am sure, are
at your service, and if you have a scruple about spending all
are strangers who will give you the use of theirs; and one of
the Theban, has brought a sum of money for this very purpose; and Cebes
and many others are willing to spend their money too. I say,
not on that account hesitate about making your escape, and do not
you did in the court, that you will have a difficulty in knowing
do with yourself if you escape. For men will love you in other
which you may go, and not in Athens only; there are friends of
Thessaly, if you like to go to them, who will value and protect
no Thessalian will give you any trouble. Nor can I think that you
Socrates, in betraying your own life when you might be saved; this
is playing into the hands of your enemies and destroyers; and
should say that you were betraying your children; for you might
up and educate them; instead of which you go away and leave them, and
they will have to take their chance; and if they do not meet with
fate of orphans, there will be small thanks to you. No man should bring
children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in
their nurture and education. But you are choosing the easier part,
think, not the better and manlier, which would rather have become
professes virtue in all his actions, like yourself. And, indeed, I am
ashamed not only of you, but of us who are your friends, when I
this entire business of yours will be attributed to our want of
trial need never have come on, or might have been brought to
and the end of all, which is the crowning absurdity, will seem to have
been permitted by us, through cowardice and baseness, who might
you, as you might have saved yourself, if we had been good for
there was no difficulty in escaping); and we did not see how
and also miserable all this will be to us as well as to you. Make
your mind up then, or rather have your mind already made up, for
of deliberation is over, and there is only one thing to be done,
be done, if at all, this very night, and which any delay will
but impossible; I beseech you therefore, Socrates, to be persuaded by
me, and to do as I say.
Soc. Dear Crito, your zeal is invaluable, if a right
if wrong, the greater the zeal the greater the evil; and therefore we
ought to consider whether these things shall be done or not. For I
always have been one of those natures who must be guided by
the reason may be which upon reflection appears to me to be the best;
and now that this fortune has come upon me, I cannot put away the reasons
which I have before given: the principles which I have hitherto honored
and revered I still honor, and unless we can find other and better principles
on the instant, I am certain not to agree with you; no, not even
if the power of the multitude could inflict many more
deaths, frightening us like children with hobgoblin terrors. But
what will be the fairest way of considering the question? Shall I
your old argument about the opinions of men, some of which are to
and others, as we were saying, are not to be regarded? Now were we
right in maintaining this before I was condemned? And has the
was once good now proved to be talk for the sake of talking; in
amusement only, and altogether vanity? That is what I want to
your help, Crito: whether, under my present circumstances, the
to be in any way different or not; and is to be allowed by me or disallowed.
That argument, which, as I believe, is maintained by many who assume
to be authorities, was to the effect, as I was saying, that the opinions
of some men are to be regarded, and of other men not to be
you, Crito, are a disinterested person who are not going to die
least, there is no human probability of this, and you are
liable to be deceived by the circumstances in which you are
me, then, whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the opinions
of some men only, are to be valued, and other opinions, and the opinions
of other men, are not to be valued. I ask you whether I was right in
Soc. The good are to be regarded, and not the
Soc. And the opinions of the wise are good, and the
of the unwise are evil?
Soc. And what was said about another matter? Was the
in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise and blame and opinion of
every man, or of one man only- his physician or trainer, whoever that
Cr. Of one man only.
Soc. And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the
of that one only, and not of the many?
Cr. That is clear.
Soc. And he ought to live and train, and eat and
drink in the
way which seems good to his single master who has understanding,
according to the opinion of all other men put together?
Soc. And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion
and approval of
the one, and regards the opinion of the many who have no
he not suffer evil?
Cr. Certainly he will.
Soc. And what will the evil be, whither tending and
in the disobedient person?
Cr. Clearly, affecting the body; that is what is
Soc. Very good; and is not this true, Crito, of other
we need not separately enumerate? In the matter of just and
and foul, good and evil, which are the subjects of our present
we to follow the opinion of the many and to fear them; or the
the one man who has understanding, and whom we ought to fear and
than all the rest of the world: and whom deserting we shall
injure that principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by justice
and deteriorated by injustice; is there not such a principle?
Cr. Certainly there is, Socrates.
Soc. Take a parallel instance; if, acting under the
men who have no understanding, we destroy that which is improvable
and deteriorated by disease- when that has been destroyed, I say, would
life be worth having? And that is- the body?
Soc. Could we live, having an evil and corrupted body?
Cr. Certainly not.
Soc. And will life be worth having, if that higher
man be depraved, which is improved by justice and deteriorated by
we suppose that principle, whatever it may be in man, which has to do
justice and injustice, to be inferior to the body?
Cr. Certainly not.
Soc. More honored, then?
Cr. Far more honored.
Soc. Then, my friend, we must not regard what the
many say of
us: but what he, the one man who has understanding of just and
say, and what the truth will say. And therefore you begin in error when
you suggest that we should regard the opinion of the many about
unjust, good and evil, honorable and dishonorable. Well, someone
"But the many can kill us."
Cr. Yes, Socrates; that will clearly be the answer.
Soc. That is true; but still I find with surprise
that the old
argument is, as I conceive, unshaken as ever. And I should like to know
Whether I may say the same of another proposition- that not life, but
a good life, is to be chiefly valued?
Cr. Yes, that also remains.
Soc. And a good life is equivalent to a just and
that holds also?
Cr. Yes, that holds.
Soc. From these premises I proceed to argue the
I ought or ought not to try to escape without the consent of the Athenians:
and if I am clearly right in escaping, then I will make the attempt;
but if not, I will abstain. The other considerations which you mention,
of money and loss of character, and the duty of educating
I fear, only the doctrines of the multitude, who would be as ready to
call people to life, if they were able, as they are to put them to
with as little reason. But now, since the argument has thus far
only question which remains to be considered is, whether we shall
either in escaping or in suffering others to aid in our escape and
paying them in money and thanks, or whether we shan not do
if the latter, then death or any other calamity which may ensue on my
remaining here must not be allowed to enter into the calculation.
Cr. I think that you are right, Socrates; how then
Soc. Let us consider the matter together, and do you
me if you can, and I will be convinced; or else cease, my dear
repeating to me that I ought to escape against the wishes of the
I am extremely desirous to be persuaded by you, but not against my own
better judgment. And now please to consider my first position, and do
your best to answer me.
Cr. I will do my best.
Soc. Are we to say that we are never intentionally to
or that in one way we ought and in another way we ought not to do wrong,
or is doing wrong always evil and dishonorable, as I was just now saying,
and as has been already acknowledged by us? Are all our former admissions
which were made within a few days to be thrown away? And have we,
at our age, been earnestly discoursing with one another all our
only to discover that we are no better than children? Or are we to rest
assured, in spite of the opinion of the many, and in spite of
better or worse, of the truth of what was then said, that
always an evil and dishonor to him who acts unjustly? Shall we
Soc. Then we must do no wrong?
Cr. Certainly not.
Soc. Nor when injured injure in return, as the many
we must injure no one at all?
Cr. Clearly not.
Soc. Again, Crito, may we do evil?
Cr. Surely not, Socrates.
Soc. And what of doing evil in return for evil, which
morality of the many-is that just or not?
Cr. Not just.
Soc. For doing evil to another is the same as
Cr. Very true.
Soc. Then we ought not to retaliate or render evil
for evil to
anyone, whatever evil we may have suffered from him. But I would
consider, Crito, whether you really mean what you are saying. For
has never been held, and never will be held, by any considerable number
of persons; and those who are agreed and those who are not agreed upon
this point have no common ground, and can only despise one
they see how widely they differ. Tell me, then, whether you agree with
and assent to my first principle, that neither injury nor
warding off evil by evil is ever right. And shall that be the
our agreement? Or do you decline and dissent from this? For this
of old and is still my opinion; but, if you are of another
me hear what you have to say. If, however, you remain of the same
formerly, I will proceed to the next step.
Cr. You may proceed, for I have not changed my mind.
Soc. Then I will proceed to the next step, which may
in the form of a question: Ought a man to do what he admits to be
ought he to betray the right?
Cr. He ought to do what he thinks right.
Soc. But if this is true, what is the application? In
prison against the will of the Athenians, do I wrong any? or
I not wrong those whom I ought least to wrong? Do I not desert the
were acknowledged by us to be just? What do you say?
Cr. I cannot tell, Socrates, for I do not know.
Soc. Then consider the matter in this way: Imagine
am about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by any name
like), and the laws and the government come and interrogate me:
Socrates," they say; "what are you about? Are you going by an act
to overturn us- the laws and the whole State, as far as in you
you imagine that a State can subsist and not be overthrown, in
decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown
What will be our answer, Crito, to these and the like words? Anyone,
and especially a clever rhetorician, will have a good deal to urge about
the evil of setting aside the law which requires a sentence to be carried
out; and we might reply, "Yes; but the State has injured us and given
an unjust sentence." Suppose I say that?
Cr. Very good, Socrates.
Soc. "And was that
our agreement with you?" the law would say, "or were
you to abide by the sentence of the State?" And if I were to express
at their saying this, the law would probably add: "Answer, Socrates,
instead of opening your eyes: you are in the habit of asking and
answering questions. Tell us what complaint you have to make
which justifies you in attempting to destroy us and the State? In
place did we not bring you into existence? Your father married
by our aid and begat you. Say whether you have any objection to urge
against those of us who regulate marriage?" None, I should reply. "Or
against those of us who regulate the system of nurture and
children in which you were trained? Were not the laws, who have
of this, right in commanding your father to train you in music and gymnastic?"
Right, I should reply. "Well, then, since you were brought into
the world and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in the
that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before you? And
if this is true you are not on equal terms with us; nor can you
you have a right to do to us what we are doing to you. Would you
right to strike or revile or do any other evil to a father or to
if you had one, when you have been struck or reviled by him, or received
some other evil at his hands?- you would not say this? And because we
think right to destroy you, do you think that you have any right
us in return, and your country as far as in you lies? And will you,
O professor of true virtue, say that you are justified in this?
philosopher like you failed to discover that our country is more to
and higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, and
more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of
to be soothed, and gently and reverently entreated when angry,
than a father, and if not persuaded, obeyed? And when we are
her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment is to be
silence; and if she leads us to wounds or death in battle, thither
as is right; neither may anyone yield or retreat or leave his
whether in battle or in a court of law, or in any other place, he
what his city and his country order him; or he must change their
what is just: and if he may do no violence to his father or
less may he do violence to his country." What answer shall we make to
this, Crito? Do the laws speak truly, or do they not?
Cr. I think that they do.
Soc. Then the laws will say: "Consider, Socrates, if
true, that in your present attempt you are going to do us wrong. For,
having brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated you, and
you and every other citizen a share in every good that we had to give,
we further proclaim and give the right to every Athenian, that if
he does not like us when he has come of age and has seen the ways
city, and made our acquaintance, he may go where he pleases and
goods with him; and none of us laws will forbid him or interfere
Any of you who does not like us and the city, and who wants to go to
a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, and take his
him. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order
administer the State, and still remains, has entered into an
that he will do as we command him. And he who disobeys us is, as
we maintain, thrice wrong: first, because in disobeying us he is
parents; secondly, because we are the authors of his education;
he has made an agreement with us that he will duly obey our
he neither obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are
we do not rudely impose them, but give him the alternative of
convincing us; that is what we offer and he does neither. These
sort of accusations to which, as we were saying, you, Socrates,
exposed if you accomplish your intentions; you, above all other
I ask, why is this? They will justly retort upon me that I above all
other men have acknowledged the agreement. "There is clear proof," they
will say, "Socrates, that we and the city were not displeasing to you.
Of all Athenians you have been the most constant resident in the
as you never leave, you may be supposed to love. For you never
of the city either to see the games, except once when you went to
or to any other place unless when you were on military service; nor
did you travel as other men do. Nor had you any curiosity to know
or their laws: your affections did not go beyond us and our State; we
were your especial favorites, and you acquiesced in our government
and this is the State in which you begat your children, which is a proof
of your satisfaction. Moreover, you might, if you had liked, have fixed
the penalty at banishment in the course of the trial-the State
to let you go now would have let you go then. But you pretended that
you preferred death to exile, and that you were not grieved at
now you have forgotten these fine sentiments, and pay no respect
the laws, of whom you are the destroyer; and are doing what only a miserable
slave would do, running away and turning your back upon the
agreements which you made as a citizen. And first of all answer
question: Are we right in saying that you agreed to be governed
us in deed, and not in word only? Is that true or not?" How shall
that, Crito? Must we not agree?
Cr. There is no help, Socrates.
Soc. Then will they not say: "You, Socrates, are
covenants and agreements which you made with us at your leisure, not in
any haste or under any compulsion or deception, but having had seventy
years to think of them, during which time you were at liberty to leave
the city, if we were not to your mind, or if our covenants appeared to
you to be unfair. You had your choice, and might have gone either to
or Crete, which you often praise for their good government, or to some
other Hellenic or foreign State. Whereas you, above all other
seemed to be so fond of the State, or, in other words, of us her laws
who would like a State that has no laws?), that you never stirred out
her: the halt, the blind, the maimed, were not more stationary in her
you were. And now you run away and forsake your agreements. Not so,
if you will take our advice; do not make yourself ridiculous by
out of the city.
"For just consider, if you transgress and err in this sort
of way, what
good will you do, either to yourself or to your friends? That your
will be driven into exile and deprived of citizenship, or will lose
property, is tolerably certain; and you yourself, if you fly to one of
the neighboring cities, as, for example, Thebes or Megara, both of
are well-governed cities, will come to them as an enemy, Socrates, and
their government will be against you, and all patriotic citizens will
an evil eye upon you as a subverter of the laws, and you will confirm
the minds of the judges the justice of their own condemnation of you.
he who is a corrupter of the laws is more than likely to be corrupter
the young and foolish portion of mankind. Will you then flee from
cities and virtuous men? And is existence worth having on these terms?
Or will you go to them without shame, and talk to them, Socrates? And
will you say to them? What you say here about virtue and justice and
and laws being the best things among men? Would that be decent of you?
Surely not. But if you go away from well-governed States to Crito's
in Thessaly, where there is great disorder and license, they will be
to have the tale of your escape from prison, set off with ludicrous
of the manner in which you were wrapped in a goatskin or some other
and metamorphosed as the fashion of runaways is- that is very likely;
will there be no one to remind you that in your old age you violated
most sacred laws from a miserable desire of a little more life? Perhaps
not, if you keep them in a good temper; but if they are out of temper
will hear many degrading things; you will live, but how?- as the
of all men, and the servant of all men; and doing what?- eating and
in Thessaly, having gone abroad in order that you may get a dinner. And
where will be your fine sentiments about justice and virtue then? Say
you wish to live for the sake of your children, that you may bring them
up and educate them- will you take them into Thessaly and deprive them
of Athenian citizenship? Is that the benefit which you would confer
them? Or are you under the impression that they will be better cared
and educated here if you are still alive, although absent from them;
that your friends will take care of them? Do you fancy that if you are
an inhabitant of Thessaly they will take care of them, and if you are
inhabitant of the other world they will not take care of them? Nay; but
if they who call themselves friends are truly friends, they surely
"Listen, then, Socrates, to us who have brought you up.
Think not of
life and children first, and of justice afterwards, but of justice
that you may be justified before the princes of the world below. For
will you nor any that belong to you be happier or holier or juster in
life, or happier in another, if you do as Crito bids. Now you depart in
innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; a victim, not of the
but of men. But if you go forth, returning evil for evil, and injury
injury, breaking the covenants and agreements which you have made with
us, and wronging those whom you ought least to wrong, that is to say,
your friends, your country, and us, we shall be angry with you while
live, and our brethren, the laws in the world below, will receive you
an enemy; for they will know that you have done your best to destroy
Listen, then, to us and not to Crito."
This is the voice which I seem to hear murmuring in my ears,
sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic; that voice, I say, is
in my ears, and prevents me from hearing any other. And I know that
more which you will say will be in vain. Yet speak, if you have
Cr. I have nothing to say, Socrates.
Soc. Then let me follow the intimations of the will