The Last Days of Socrates

Last week I read The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, published by Penguin Books in 1954.

Plato writes about the conflict between whether or not there is an afterlife. Socrates is convinced there is but his friends aren’t so sure. Most of this book is spent on proving that there is such a thing as an afterlife.

The main character of all four parts of this book is Socrates. He is the only character present in every section. He can be infuriating and long-winded at times, but persuasive.

Euthyphro is the other character in the first story. He is tricked by Socrates into thinking he’s wiser than Socrates. Socrates pretends to be his student asking Euthyphro to teach him. Euthyphro obliges at first but, when he sees that Socrates has just been using him to argue, he leaves.

Crito is an important character in the third story. He comes early to jail where Socrates is waiting to be executed. He tries to convince Socrates to escape.

In the last story Phaedo is the narrator. He is telling Echerates how Socrates died since Echerates wasn’t there. Phaedo doesn’t come into the story much, but reports what happened.

In the first story, Socrates is waiting to go into court. In the second, he is in the courtroom. The third and fourth parts are spent in prison.

The climax of this story is when Socrates takes the poison. All his friends break down crying. Socrates rebukes them saying that he sent the women away to avoid this kind of scene. Everyone abruptly stops crying.

This book was not my favorite but it was still good. Even though it had some funny parts Socrates could be a little boring and long-winded. It was also hard sometimes to understand what he was saying. This book is not for everyone.

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