The Dialogues of Plato Summary



(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Apology, Crito, and Phaedo depict the dialogues of Socrates, beginning with his trial in 399 B.C. and ending with his death. They illustrate both the thought and the integrity of Socrates.

In the fourth century b.c.e., it was no secret in Athens that the elderly Socrates doubted the wisdom of the city-state’s leaders. So they brought him to trial in order to banish or at least to gag him. Formal charges: atheism and corruption of the city’s youth.

The Apology recreates Socrates’ defense at the trial. Socrates argued that he did believe in God and therefore was no atheist, and that he acted as a corrective to the corruption that permeated Athens. He said that God had given him the duty of questioning the beliefs, values, and behaviors he witnessed in Athens. Rather than punish him, Socrates said, the city should house and feed him because he performed a public service.

However, the court demanded unquestioning allegiance. So, because Socrates refused to be silenced, he was sentenced to death by poisoning.

Socrates accepted his punishment because he believed it was better to do right than to protect one’s self-interest. His life on earth would be extinguished, but he would live nobly throughout eternity.

Socrates’ only fault was his critical stance towards the powers that be in Athens. The oracle at Delphi had said that Socrates was unparalleled in wisdom, and Socrates confirmed this, he...

(The entire section is 546 words.)