At the end of the "Apology", Socrates has been sentenced to death by the people of Athens. The "Phaedo" is Plato's account of Socrates' last days and of the discussion on death and the immortality of the soul that had with his favorite disciples before he died. As you may recall from your reading of the "Apology," Socrates himself was somewhat agnostic about what believed happens after death. In this text--which actually reflects more of Plato's own views on the nature of the soul than that of his teacher--Socrates gives some strong arguments to support the contention that his soul will live on after death.
As you read, be sure that you are able to answer the following questions:
How does the Phaedo open? Who is talking and what is the topic of discussion? (§ 1)
Describe the scene of Socrates' imprisonment as Phaedo describes it. Who is with Socrates in prison? What is Socrates' attitudes towards his family? What has Socrates been doing in captivity? What message does Socrates have for his friend Evenus? (§ 2)
Why does Socrates consider death a good, but suicide prohibited (§ 3)
How does Socrates define death in the dialogue? (§ 5)
How is the body a hindrance to the attainment of true knowledge (§ 6)
How is the study of philosophy related to death? (§ 7)
What objection does Cebes raise to Socrates' position? (§ 8)
Explain the cycle of opposites and affinity arguments as a proofs for the immortality of the soul. (§ 9-10)
What are Socrates' attitudes towards the body in the text (§ 12-14)
Describe the events surrounding the death of Socrates. What are his last words? (§ 15)
If you think that you understand the basic ideas in the text, click on the blue arrows to take the quiz for this unit.