Context

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)
Crito cover image

Crito is a relatively short dialogue that should be read in conjunction with and between Apologia Skratous (early period, 399-390 b.c.e.; Apology, 1675) and Phaedn (middle period, 388-368 b.c.e.; Phaedo, 1675). Apology gives an account of Socrates’ trial and condemnation; Phaedo describes his last conversations and death; Crito recounts a friend’s urgent plea for Socrates to avail himself of the ample opportunity to escape and the latter’s justification on moral grounds for remaining in prison voluntarily, although the execution will occur two days later. The dialogue is probably meant to explain Socrates’ personal reasons for taking this course of inaction, rather than to prescribe a universally applicable norm for the individual unjustly condemned by the state, and some writers have suggested that Plato himself would probably have chosen to escape rather than to accept the sentence. Yet profound political, social, and moral issues are raised to which there are no easy solutions; their complications are such that readers may find their own judgments falling on either side of an exceedingly fine line.