The Last Days of Socrates: Euthyphro; The Apology; Crito; Phaedo (Penguin Classics)

ISBN: 014044582X
ISBN 13: 9780140445824
By: Plato Harold Tarrant Hugh Tredennick

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About this book

The third edition of The Trial and Death of Socrates presents G. M. A. Grube's distinguished translations, as revised by John Cooper for Plato, Complete Works. A number of new or expanded footnotes are also included along with a Select Bibliography.

Reader's Thoughts


When he was tried, convicted and ordered to death in 399 B.C.E., Socrates was already seventy years old: he had lived through the imperialistic spread of Athenian democracy and culture under Pericles, twenty-five years of first cold and then heated war with Sparta, the defeat of Athens in 404 B.C.E., the short-lived oligarchy imposed on that city by the Spartans, and finally the reestablishment of democracy in his homeland. During all of that time, the former bricklayer was known for practicing philosophy in the public spaces of Athens using his inimitable style of questioning those in authority who feigned virtue and wisdom while in reality lacking it. This technique gradually garnered him many powerful enemies who did their best to poison public opinion against him. Socrates was often confused with the Sophists, traveling teachers who sought to satisfy the public need for higher education generated by a democracy in which any male citizen could be called upon to serve in courts or assemblies. But Socrates was ostensibly not interested in teaching per se: his aim was to uncover the lack of virtue, honesty and wisdom in those around him and to encourage them to learn, as virtue is knowledge, and once one knows what is right, truly knows it, one is no longer capable of doing wrong. He often obliquely criticized democratic systems, and indeed, the power consolidation democracy afford the majority was exactly what did him in.While Plato has only reported Socrates’ words (and a few said by Meletus, one of his accusers), we do get a filtered idea of the sort of argument the prosecution was making: democracy had only recently been restored in Athens, and certain elements of the population, probably motivated, as Socrates claims, by years of resentment toward the philosopher, wanted to brand his sort of “teaching” (for despite his claims to the contrary, he was indeed teaching by example, at the very least) as destructive to the democratic institutions that Socrates himself often seemed to oppose (as evidenced in his Dialogues, which Plato also transcribed). But the prosecution is largely silent, and we can more clearly analyze what Socrates does. Throughout his defense he employs a disingenuousness that likely irked his opponents: he begins by assuming a humble excuse-my-illiteracy sort of stance, and gradually abdicates all responsibility for the message he is putting across (i.e., authority figures are hypocritical boobs), by appealing to a deus ex machina device (the oracle’s decree and god’s voice in his ear). However, there is considerable nobility and courage in his refusal to kowtow to the Assembly’s expectations that he’ll beg for mercy, and his dissection of the trumped-up charges is perfectly executed. The shift in tone after he’s been found guilty is interesting: no longer is the prosecution the brunt of his surgical, nearly sarcastic grandstanding: those voting against him catch it full on as he with great guts demands to be rewarded for “corrupting” the youth of Athens the way winners in the Olympics were. His withering prophecies to all of Athens after he’s been sentenced to death indicate a third tone shift, short-lived as it is. He finally becomes introspective with his friends as the document closes, and his inspiring advice and requests serve as telling indicators of his real personality (as opposed to his philosopher persona): someone who loved his family and neighbors so much that he was willing to risk his life to make them good people.

Anom Astika

Aku sedang membaca buku ini dan sedang menerjemahkannya. Ada empat teks Plato di sana yaitu Euthyphro, Apology, Crito dan Phaedo. Semuanya teks teks yang luar biasa, dan jika direnung-renungkan ada banyak hal yang tetap relevan hingga saat ini. Lebih lebih jika kita kini sedang sibuk sibuk punya perhatian terhadap kekerasan berbasis agama, maka teks Euthyphro sangat menarik untuk dibaca. Pada teks ini Socrates berdebat dengan Euthyphro, salah seorang jaksa pemeriksa untuk Pengadilan Socrates. Inti debatnya cuma berpangkal pada satu frasa/kata, yaitu tentang yang suci. "Apakah yang suci adalah yang benar benar disetujui oleh dewa dewa, ataukah ia dibuat untuk menjadi disetujui oleh dewa dewa?" Itu satu pertanyaan yang penting diperhatikan, baik secara gramatik (is holly being approved of or gets approved by gods), maupun dalam kerangka hubungan sebab akibat. Baru satu hal ini yang menarik bagiku yang bisa kusampaikan. Aku masih terus menerjemahkannya.

Fernando Álvarez

Dialogos I de Platón comprende la Apología de Sócrates y Fedón. La Apología de Sócrates narra el juicio de muerte que se le imputa al mencionado personaje por "penetrar en los misterios del cielo y de la tierra", y enseñarlos públicamente. Sócrates es acusado de corrupción de menores y de creer en los demonios, siendo condenando a muerte. Pero para él, morir así era la suprema sanción a su doctrina y el último acto necesario de su destino. Sócrates pensaba una de dos cosas: o la muerte es un anonadamiento absoluto y entonces es una ventaja escapar por la insensibilidad a todos los males de la vida, o es el tránsito de un lugar a otro, y en este caso, ¿no es la mayor felicidad verse transportado a la mansión de los justos?.Fedón es un relato vivaz del último día de vida y de la muerte de Sócrates. El libro narra la conversación que Sócrates tiene con sus discípulos, en su mayor parte Simmias y Cebes, y expone su argumento de dedicar la vida a la filosofía hasta el último momento, inició una conversación hasta el momento que debía beber la cicuta. En esta conversación, Sócrates habla de la esperanza de encontrar una vida mejor. El filósofo aspira a bienes invisibles como el alma misma e imposibles en este mundo, espera la muerte con alegría, como término del tiempo de prueba que le separa de esos mismos bienes,que han sido para él objeto de meditación durante toda su vida.


I absolutely love this little booklet. It is the third time I've read it and each time I find something new to contemplate. I whole heartedly agree with Socrates, "I say that it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living" (39)

David Haley

I just finished my second read of this book, (including the Euthyphro, Apology, etc--the whole shebang), and while the style seemed a bit loquacious for my taste at first, I feel like I am beginning to appreciate Plato. I will say though, I do have a hard time accepting how easily Plato, as author, could have (and probably did) manipulate the various arguments.One facet I particularly enjoyed was the manner in which Socrates vehemently antagonizes his accusers. With little effort, he could have escaped the utterly anemic charges presented against him, yet he proves (purposely) his guilt beyond any doubt, and then asks to be rewarded as a hero! During the last bit of the Apology I found myself frequently bursting out in laughter. Socrates truly comes across as the gat-fly he purports to be. And in the end, his role is quite inspirational.


This book was a fantastic example of owning up to your beliefs, values, and standards. I really should give it a re-visit... I wish I could remember where I put it... =PFurther- people who read about Socrates' death will be either of these two types: (a) those who believe Socrates accepted the death penalty to ease the pain of his old age; a "quick and painless death" so to speak... or (b) those who believe he saw a life of exile to be insignificant and cowardly; and agreeing to the false charges in exchange for his life would be dishonerable... I believe that the latter person has actually grasped the power of Plato's words, and has transgressed the pessimistic mindset of most Americans.

Patrick Neylan

Tredennick's translation is getting a little old-fashioned now (it was published in 1954 and last revised in 1969), but this remains one of the more accessible of Plato's works for the non-academic reader. It comprises four short works: Socrates' discussion with a friend before his trial; his speeches at the trial itself; a conversation after his conviction; and his last conversation and death. What surprises the modern reader is the depth of humour and humanity on show. We expect classical texts to be dry, complicated and formal, but Socrates comes across as a real human being, mixing razor-sharp logic with gentle humour and even teasing. This is largely because his talent was not thinking but forcing others to think. He can also be frustratingly tactless, especially in the Apology (his speeches at the trial), almost goading the jury to condemn him. After his death sentence, he spurns the chance to escape, arguing with infuriating logic that he is innocent because he has always been a loyal subject of Athens. If he ran away he would become guilty of subverting the laws of Athens and would thereby earn the death sentence he has already been given. His argument falls somewhere between Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative. Phaedo: the final piece and longer than all the others combined; is the report of his final conversations with his followers and ends with him taking the prescribed poison and dying. It's also the least satisfactory. Partly this is because Socrates' arguments seem too formally structured, giving the impression that this is really Plato's philosophy, and partly because the 'unassailable' logic about the soul and the afterlife is so obviously flawed. Several times he asks his audience whether they have any objections to his reasoning. "None, Socrates," they reply, while I'm jumping up and down saying, "Me, me! I've got one! Your theory is based on a huge assumption that you've said nothing to justify."Still, if Socrates had all the answers then the next 2,500 years of philosophy would have been pointless. But the genesis of Western thought and critical reasoning is here.


روایتی از محاکمه «سقراط» است در سه بخش: «اوتیفرن یا در باره ی تقدس»، «دفاعیه ی سقراط»، و «کریتون یا وظیفه ی شهروندی». بانوی مترجم، نسخه فرانسه کتاب «محاکمه سقراط» نوشته «افلاطون» را ترجمه کرده اند. ا. شربیانی


There are some books that are beyond "liking" or "not liking." They exist on a completely different plain than the rest of literature. This is one of those books. You don't read "The Trial and Death of Socrates" to be entertained; whether you like it or not is completely immaterial. By reading it, you gain an appreciation for one of the greatest thinkers of all time, and a valuable window into the soul of humankind.How can one possibly quanitfy and encapsulate that into three, four, or five stars?

Regina Lindsey

The Last Days of Socrates by Plato4 StarsLittle historical evidence survives regarding Socrates. The most well-known source is from his pupil, Plato. Through four dialogues, Plato describes the circumstances surrounding Socrates’ indictment, his trial, his imprisonment, and his death. At the age of seventy, Socrates was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on two charges – encouraging the worship of gods not recognized by the state and corrupting the youth of Athens. Socrates argued his own case, pleading for intellectual freedom and the promotion of ethics. When he is convicted he is allowed visits by his friend, Crito. Crito has prepared plans for Socrates’ escape; however, Socrates argues the ultimate responsibility of a citizen is to the State and its laws. On the day the poison arrives for Socrates to drink he is surrounded by students and friends, and Plato records that day’s events. I read this on my Nook and, while the translations seemed to be a good one, the formatting was awkward. But, I’m really glad I read it. As Socrates defends himself the reader gets a first hand glimpse at his use of logic and use of questioning to break down an issue. Socrates asserts that the crux of the charges comes down him offending the people in power when he questioned their wisdom. In the portrayal of Socrates, Plato does bring Socrates across as arrogant. I can see how he would easily make enemies. But, for me the most fascinating part of the book was Socrates use of logic and physical examples to argue in favor of man’s immortal soul. It is a fascinating read, a nice translation, and a fascinating look at Athens during a pivotal moment of transition in its history.


Euthyphro: Tricky. May need to reread this one a couple times. Apology: Here we get an impassioned plea for intellectual freedom plus the promotion of ethical and civil disobedience. Great stuff.Crito: A little too much law and authority worship. Phaedo: This is the ultimate existential dialogue. Plato's Socrates makes death seem even more enticing than do the monotheists (who seem to have taken a good deal from Plato). I find it easy to like a work that relates such optimism about immortality.

Steve Hemmeke

It was very jarring to read Plato, after 10 years or so of self-consciously affirming the goodness of God's physical world. The material and sensory is not something to flee as a hindrance to the soul, though it can be that.For all his careful argumentation, Socrates asserts some whoppers. How do you get from the essence of the soul being life, to the soul must be immortally alive? Faced with his own death, one would think it's possible to believe that a thing can be alive now, yet not be everlastingly so. Do all animals also have immortal souls, since they are alive and their bodies expire? I think they would by Socrates' logic.His is a stoic worldview. Send the family away and let's discuss philosophy for the last hour of my life. I don't want a nice dinner, just give me the poison and don't cry. Total detachment from the material world is the goal. It's almost Buddhist.There are some big questions put out for consideration, of course. Is something right because the gods like it, or do the gods like it because it is right? This dilemma from Euthyphro is false, and Socrates seems to do this a lot. Leading questions and false choices can lead you to some strange conclusions.

Erik Simon

(It seems odd to be allowed to give Plato a star rating.)I'm not a scholar. I don't say that derisively. I have the highest admiration for scholars, their tireless and dogged pursuit, and any criticism I would level would be at their penchant to become rather narrow in their focus. But again, I'm not a scholar, I'm just a reader, and I have to say that as just a reader, I tend to surprise myself by the books I'll go ahead and read. To wit, this one. Why, at the age of forty-four, with no real reason to read Plato, do I pick this book up? Who knows, but I'm a better chap for it.Not a classicist, I can offer no worthwhile comments on these books or the translation, but I will say this: I love, LOVE, that Socrates claimed he was only doing the gods a favor by running around and pointing out to people just how ignorant they were. And I was moved, quite moved, by his death in PHAEDO, his stoic greeting of it, and the actual event after the long discussion on the immortality of the soul.


I wish I had read these 4 dialogues before they made us work through The Republic back in school. Plato can seem so distant and archiac so much of the time, but here there is an actual sense of human urgency: Socrates is about to die. A lot of times the dialogues feel completely neutered from any real world concern, you just see these people walking around, having their abstract little discussions as Socrates schools them all. But here you see those discussions finally grounded by a frank acknowledgement and confrontation with mortality. This is the last chance he will ever have to say anything, and everyone knows it. Plenty of subsequent works of philosophy offer more compelling, accesible arguements, but few can match the pathos and immediacy of a condemned man having a few last words with his friends before he carries out the death sentance against himself. I don't know if this is the best place to start reading Plato, but it's certianly one of the most humane.


This should be mandatory reading for all in the Western World. This is Plato's account of Socrates' trial and subsequent death. I thought the courtroom drama was fantastic; however, after the death sentence was pronounced on Socrates, his dialogue with his followers regarding death got too philosophic at points for my taste. Socrates seems to be at peace with death and the destination of his soul. One thing I found to be humorous and profound was that after Socrates gave his dissertation on death and the soul, one of his followers asked what should they do with "him" after his death. In true Socratic form, Socrates says, "Do what you may, if you can catch me."Socrates seems to see death as a welcome exchange for a life well lived.I always thought that Socrates drank the hemlock before the authorities forced it upon him; however, this book cleared up that misconception. He did drink the poison, but only after the Greek authorities gave it to him and explained the procedures for his ensuing death.Great Book. I would have given it 5-stars if it were not for the philosophic minutia I had to wade through after the trial. It is definitely worth a read.

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