Platonic dialogue that is set in the last hours of Socrates' life
Phaedo (Greek: Phaidon, IPA: [pʰaɪdɔːn]) is a dialogue written by Plato. It is also known to ancient readers as On The Soul, is one of the best-known dialogues of Plato's middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium (Plato). The philosophical subject of the dialogue is the immortality of the soul.
- Man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away... A man should wait, and not take his own life until God summons him.
- τίς μηχανὴ μὴ οὐχὶ πάντα καταναλωθῆναι εἰς τὸ τεθνάναι;
- Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?
- Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more lustily than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are going to the god they serve.
- ...but first there is a certain experience we must be careful to avoid...we must not become misologues, as people become misanthropes. There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse. Misology and misanthropy arise in the same way. Misanthropy comes when a man without knowledge or skill has placed great trust in someone and believes him to be altogether truthful, sound and trustworthy; then, a short time afterwards he finds him to be wicked and unreliable, and then this happens in another case; when one has frequently had that experience, especially with those whom one believed to be one's closest friends, then, in the end, after many blows, one comes to hate all men and to believe that no one is sound in any way at all...This is a shameful state of affairs... and obviously due to an attempt to have human relations without any skill in human affairs.
- Plato, Phaedo 89d–e
- His words made us ashamed, and we checked our tears. He walked around, and when he said his legs were heavy he lay on his back as he had been told to do, and the man who had given him the poison touched his body, and after a while tested his feet and legs, pressed hard upon his foot, and asked him if he felt this, and Socrates said no. Then he pressed his calves, and made his way up his body and showed us that it was cold and stiff. He felt it himself and said that when the cold reached his heart he would be gone. As his belly was getting cold Socrates uncovered his head—he had covered it—and said—these were his last words—“Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius; make this offering to him and do not forget.” — “It shall be done,” said Crito, “tell us if there is anything else.” But there was no answer. Shortly afterwards Socrates made a movement; the man uncovered him and his eyes were fixed. Seeing this Crito closed his mouth and his eyes.
Such was the end of our comrade, Echecrates, a man who, we would say, was of all those we have known the best, and also the wisest and the most upright.
- "Then is this not a sufficient indication," he said, "if you see a man who is troubled when about to die, that he was not a lover of wisdom but a lover of the body? And the same thus is likely to be both a lover of money and a lover of honor, one or the other of these or both."
- And Crito said, "But I think, Socrates, the sun is still on the mountains and has not yet set. And at the same time I know also others drank it quite late, when the word should be given to them, they have dined and drank quite well, and kept company with some whom they happened to desire. But do not hurry at all; for it is still permitted." And Socrates said, "Naturally, Crito, those do these things, which you say, for they think they gain by doing them, and I naturally shall not do these things; for I think I would not gain anything by drinking it a little later other than to bring on ridicule for myself, clinging to life and sparing it when there is nothing still in it.
- In Phaedo, Plato describes the soul, and explains its immortality. He teaches that man has a material body which is subject to constant change, and subject to death and disintegration; and also an immaterial soul, unchangeable and indestructible, and akin to the divine. At death this soul was severed from its physical companion, and rose, purified, to the higher regions, where it rendered an account of itself, and had its future allotted to it. If it was found sufficiently untainted and unsullied by the mire of material life, it was considered fit to be admitted to the State of Bliss, which was described as Union with the Supreme Being, which latter is described as Spirit, eternal and omniscient. The base and very guilty souls undergo a period of punishment, or purgation, to the end that they may be purged and purified of the guilt, before being allowed to make another trial for perfection. The souls which were not sufficiently pure for the State of Bliss, nor yet so impure that they need the purging process, were returned to earth-life, there to take up new bodies, and endeavor to work out their salvation anew, to the end that they might in the future attain the Blissful State.
- Plato taught that in the Rebirth, the soul was generally unconscious of its previous lives, although it may have flashes of recollection... Plato taught that the immaterial part of man—the soul—was a complex thing, being composed of a number of differing, though related, elements. Highest in the hierarchy of the soul elements he placed the Spirit, which, he taught, comprised consciousness, intelligence, will, choice between good and evil, etc., and which was absolutely indestructible and immortal, and which had its seat in the head. Then came two other parts of the soul, which survived the dissolution of the body, but which were only comparatively immortal, that is, they were subject to later dissolution and disintegration. Of these semi-material elements, one was the seat of the affections, passions, etc., and was located in the heart; while the other, which was the seat of the sensual and lower desires, passions, etc., was located in the liver. These two mentioned lower elements were regarded as not possessed of reason, but still having certain powers of sensation, perception, and will.
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