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Crito (/ˈkrt/ KRY-toh or /ˈkrt/ KREE-toh; Ancient Greek: Κρίτων [krítɔːn]) is a dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It depicts a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito regarding justice (δικαιοσύνη), injustice (ἀδικία), and the appropriate response to injustice. Socrates thinks that injustice may not be answered with injustice, and refuses Crito's offer to finance his escape from prison. The dialogue contains an ancient statement of the social contract theory of government.

In contemporary discussions, debate over the meaning of Crito attempt to determine whether it is a plea for unconditional obedience to the laws of a society.



The conversation, which may be based on a true historical event, was published in 399 BC. Since his trial in Apology, Socrates has been imprisoned for four weeks, with his execution coming in a matter of days. Historians don't know the exact location of Socrates' cell, but according to excavations, it is about 100 meters southwest of the Heliaia court, just outside the site of the agora.[1]

Plato's representation of Socrates is very intimate, but as it is a literary work, the historical validity of what was said and how much of what Plato's interpretation of Socrates actually aligns with his real beliefs is uncertain.[1]

Other than Socrates, Crito is the only other character in the story. Crito himself is a rich Athenian, who like Socrates is from Demos Alopeke. Once charged with corrupting the youth and atheism, Crito unsuccessfully vouched to pay Socrates' bail.[2] Additionally, after Socrates was sentenced to death, Crito was ready to pledge to the court that Socrates would not flee in order to spare him the prison sentence. This plea was ultimately rejected.[3] Through both the trial and the execution, Crito was present.[4]

In other dialogues, Crito is a conventional Athenian, who cannot understand Socrates' philosophy, despite his attempts to do so.[4]


Crito's argumentsEdit

In the early hours of the morning, before visitors may arrive to meet with prisoners, Crito arrives at Socrates' cell, and bribes the guard for entry. Once inside, he sits beside Socrates until he wakes up.[5] When he woke up, Socrates made light of Crito's earliness, to which Crito expresses concern about how relaxed Socrates seems to be about his upcoming execution. To this, Socrates responds that he is almost 70 years old, and that to be scared of death now would be inappropriate.[6]

Crito has come to see Socrates because he has learned that his execution will take place the next day, and wishes to rescue his friend. He plans to bribe all of the guards that are part of the execution, and assures Socrates that if he feels badly about using his friend's money, that he himself has enough money to see the plan through, and even if that weren't true, he has additional friends that are just as willing to pay. After being rescued from prison, Crito said, he would be taken to a home in Thessaly, where Crito and his friends would be more than happy to house and feed Socrates.[7]

Crito also brings up the point that if Socrates were to be executed, his sons would be deprived of the privileges that the sons of a philosopher would be entitled to- namely a proper education and living conditions. Additionally, that if Socrates were not to come with them, it would reflect poorly upon Crito and his friends, as people would believe they didn't bother trying to spend money in order to save Socrates.[7]

Socrates' argumentsEdit

After hearing Crito's arguments, Socrates requests that he will be allowed to respond with a discussion of related, open-ended issues, to which Crito was not to respond. Having agreed, as Socrates goes on with his arguments, Crito only affirms what he says.[8]

Socrates first comments that only the opinions of the educated should be taken into consideration; the opinions of those with subjective biases or beliefs may be disregarded. Likewise, just because an opinion is popular doesn't give it validity. Socrates uses the analogy of an athlete listening to their physician instead of their fans since the physician's knowledge makes their opinions informed.[9]

Socrates also claims that similar to how life is pointless for one who has injured themselves out of incompetence, damage to the soul in the form of injustice makes life worthless for a philosopher. The goal should be to live a virtuous and just life, not a long one. Therefore, escape from the prison would rely on a discussion on justice.[10]

Socrates disregards Crito's fears of a damaged reputation and his children's futures, as those are irrelevant to him. He compares such motivations to someone who sentences someone to death and then proceeds to regret the action.[11]

Socrates claims that Crito and his friends should know better, as they have shared the same principles for a long time; that to abandon them at their age would be childish. To wrong the state would be an injustice even if in reaction to an injustice.[12]

Laws and JusticeEdit

As Socrates then points out, the question now is whether he would harm someone or ignore a just obligation. To solve this question, he creates a personification of the laws of Athens and speaks through its point of view, which would be to defend the state and its decision against Socrates.[13]

The laws, Socrates says, would argue that without respect for their rules, a state cannot exist. They would criticize Socrates for believing that he and every other citizen had the right to brush off court judgements, as only chaos could ensue.[14]

Crito - or Socrates, if he agreed with Crito - could reply that he does not oppose the entire law, but only a wrong judgement. But then it would be up to him to ask what right he has to critique his hometown, whose legal system he undermines with his behavior. Socrates would be reminded and have to refute of the basis of his existence: that the existence of the state allowed his father to marry his mother. Thanks to this order, he was born and educated. Like all Athenians, he owes all the good things that a lawful order can give to citizens. Anyone who disapproved of the conditions and laws in Athens could emigrate with all their possessions, but those who decide to remain automatically choose to follow the laws of the state. If they think something in the law is wrong, it is up to them to argue against it; if they were unable to do so, they would have to respect the applicable law. This is especially true for Socrates, as he spent his whole life in Athens, preferring it to anywhere else, even the states he used to boast. He also demonstrated his agreement with the Athenian living conditions by establishing a family in his hometown. In addition, he had rejected banishment as a possible alternative to execution and explicitly preferred death. If he had wanted to, he could have opted for exile during the trial and then leave Athens legally.[15] An afterthought to unilaterally undo a free and binding decision would be disgraceful.[16]

Furthermore, the laws claim that Socrates, if he accepted the offer, would expose his helpers to flee the risk of fleeing or losing their assets. In addition, as a fugitive in a well-established state, he would be suspicious of good citizens, because he would be suspected of violating the laws there as well. He would have to be content with a region like Thessaly, which was chaotic and disorganized. There he could entertain crowds with the story of his unjust escape. As a philosopher who has become unfaithful to his principles, however, he would be so discredited that he would have to give up his previous life content. Then his sense of life would only be in the food. If he did not want to abandon his children, he would have to take them to Thessaly, where they would be homeless. On the other hand, if he left them in Athens, their good education would be guaranteed by Socrates' friends, but his survival would be of no use to them.[17]

In conclusion, if Socrates were to accept his execution, he would die wronged by men rather than the law, remaining just. However, if he were to take Crito's advice and escape, he would wrong the laws and betray his life's pursuit of justice.[18]

After completing the imaginary plea of the laws, Socrates he is chained to the laws as a dancer to flute music, and requests that if Crito has any rebuttals, that he give them now. Crito has no objections, and before leaving, Socrates refers to the same divine guidance that he hopes to be helped by.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Alican, Necip Fikri. (2012). Rethinking Plato : a Cartesian quest for the real Plato. Editions Rodopi. ISBN 9789401208123. OCLC 809771242.
  2. ^ "Plato, Apology, section 38b". Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  3. ^ "Plato, Phaedo, section 114d". Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  4. ^ a b Provencal, Vernon; Nails, Debra (2004). "The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics". Phoenix. 58 (3/4): 365. doi:10.2307/4135181. ISSN 0031-8299.
  5. ^ Stokes, Michael Christopher, 1933- (cop. 2005). Dialectic in action : an examination of Plato's Crito. Classical Press of Wales. ISBN 0954384598. OCLC 955345366. Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 43a–b, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-07-30
  7. ^ a b Plato,. Crito. pp. 43c–45c. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  8. ^ Plato,. Crito. pp. 44b–46a. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  9. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 46b–47d, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-07-30
  10. ^ Plato,. Crito. pp. 47d–48c. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  11. ^ Plato,. Crito. pp. 48c–d. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  12. ^ Plato,. Crito. pp. 49a–e. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  13. ^ Plato,. Crito. pp. 49e–50a. ISBN 9781479418299. OCLC 1043756381.
  14. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 50a–c, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19
  15. ^ "Apology", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 37c–38a, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19
  16. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 50c–53a, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19
  17. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 53a–54b, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19
  18. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 54b–d, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19
  19. ^ "Crito", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, pp. 54d, 1924-01-01, ISBN 9780198140153, retrieved 2019-08-19

Texts and translationsEdit

  • Greek text at Perseus
  • Plato: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus. Greek with translation by Harold N. Fowler. Loeb Classical Library 36. Harvard Univ. Press (originally published 1914).
  • Fowler translation at Perseus
  • Plato: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo. Greek with translation by Chris Emlyn-Jones and William Preddy. Loeb Classical Library 36. Harvard Univ. Press, 2017. ISBN 9780674996878 HUP listing
  • Plato. Opera, volume I. Oxford Classical Texts. ISBN 978-0198145691
  • Plato. Complete Works. Hackett, 1997. ISBN 978-0872203495

Further readingEdit

  • Allen, R.E. (1980). Socrates and Legal Obligation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
  • Brickhouse, Thomas C.; Smith, Nicholas D. (2002). The Trial and Execution of Socrates: Sources and Controversies. New York: Oxford University.
  • Colaiaco, James A. (2001). Socrates Against Athens. New York: Routledge.
  • Kraut, Richard (1984). Socrates and the State. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University.
  • McNeal, Richard A. (1992). Law and Rhetoric in the Crito. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Stokes, Michael C. (2005). Dialectic in Action: An Examination of Plato's Crito. Swansea: Classical Press of Wales.
  • Stone, I.F. (1988). The Trial of Socrates. New York: Little, Brown.
  • Weiss, Roslyn (1998). Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato's Crito. New York: Oxford University.
  • Woozley, A.D. (1979). Law and Obedience: The Arguments of Plato's Crito. London: Duckworth.

External linksEdit