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This review is from: The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
What have we got here? Plato gives us four glimpses of the last few days of the life of his friend Socrates, an old man (70) who is put on trial, condemned and dies at Athens in 399BC.
Socrates spends his last days in conversation with his friends (not including Plato):
On his way to his trial, he talks to Euthyphro. Appropriately, they discuss what might make an accurate definition of right and wrong. They fail to arrive at such a definition.
In his defence speech before a jury of Athenians, Socrates is more defiant than defensive, and far from apologetic. He stands accused of corrupting the youth of Athens, and of rejecting state religion in favour of his own ideas. Although he speaks honestly, he fails to win the hearts and minds of the jurymen. Socrates is condemned to death by hemlock.
Next, we find him visited in prison by his friend Crito, who tries to convince Socrates to take the opportunity to escape, flee Athens and live happily ever after in, say, Thessaly. Socrates refuses, on the grounds that he would thus be breaking the law, which can never be right. Besides, he's never liked Thessaly.
So, hemlock it is, then. In the final dialogue in the book, and of Socrates' life, Plato shows us the noble death of an original and radical thinker. We are left moved and improved by the example of a man who lived and died according to his principles and only his principles.
Good book, if a little short on laughs.