In Plato's dialogue, Crito, Socrates is in prison with only a short time to live before he is put to death by the city of Athens. He is visited by his dear friend, Crito, who tries to persuade Socrates to flee from prison while he has the chance. What we have in this dialogue is another wonderful illustration of the Socratic method in action. Socrates is willing to escape, provided that Crito can present him with solid arguments in support of such behavior. After Crito's "arguments" are demonstrated to be inadequate, Socrates comes up with his own series of arguments supporting the idea that he should remain in prison and await his fate.
As you read, be sure that you are able to answer the following questions:
Where does the dialogue open? What is Socrates waiting for? Why does Crito come to visit him? (§ 1)
What "arguments" does Crito give to support the idea that Socrates should escape from prison? (§ 2)
What does Socrates means when he says that the opinions of the many are irrevent to how one ought to behave? Whose opinions does he think are, in fact, relevant? (§ 3a)
What is Socrates' convictions concerning doing wrong to others or returning one wrong for another? (§ 3b)
What specific arguments does Socrates give in justifying his position to obey the law that has sentenced him to death? (§ 4)
How does the dialogue end? What does Socrates decide to do? (§ 5)
If you think that you understand the basic ideas in the text, take the quiz for this unit. Note: this quiz includes questions from the Introduction to Socrates in the text as well as from the Euthyphro, so be sure that you've read both selections carefully before you begin.