Trial and Death of Socrates (1939) - full transcript


but he did nothing wrong.
It's not a crime.

for what reason...

I don't know, Athenians,

what impressions you've made

of the speeches of my accusers.

They were so persuasive

that I didn't even recognize myself.


they didn't say a single truth.

Of all the lies they told you,

I admired just one:

when they exhorted you

to not let yourselves be deceived by me,

because I am a good speaker.

They knew that
with my immediate reply

I would have contradicted them,

not being at all a good speaker,

so their lie

seemed to me the biggest
and the most shameless.


they call "good speaker"

the one who speaks the truth.

Then, of course,

I am a great speaker

and they are poor stutterers.

At the age of 70,

it's my first time in a court of law.

So I am a stranger

to the way they talk here.

Don't pay any attention

to the form of my way of speaking,

but only if I tell the truth.

The first duty

of a citizen who speaks to the judges,

is to tell the truth.

Just as the first duty of the judges

is to understand it.

Before, O Athenians,

that they accused me in front of you,

other people accused me,

and for many years.

Now, it's right

that I start by defending myself

from those first accusers.

And then, from these.

But, I must defend myself

because the law said so.

I must try to remove from your souls

the calumny ingrained in them,

because that was repeated for years.

But now, for my defence,

I have just a few moments.

Well, let it happen as God wishes.

What was the accusation of the first ones?

Here it is.

Socrates is guilty

of looking into the things in heaven
and under earth,

and of making stronger

the weakest arguments.

That's the accusation.

And you, of course,

heard it many times.

And you saw it in the theatre,

in Aristophanes' play,

who describes a poor Socrates

rolling over the clouds,

and blathering about things

that I don't even understand.

And I've never spoken of them.

And I call you as witnesses,
you yourselves,

who've heard me so often

speaking in squares, in streets.

And I want that
you tell each other

if I ever discussed these matters.

Someone could say, "Well, Socrates,

what's the origin of this calumny?"

"Tell us the truth,

so that we don't judge blindly".

I'll do it.

Pay attention.

You all know Chaerephon.

We were childhood friends.

One day Chaerephon, went to Delphi,

wanted to question the oracle
about me.

So he asked God whether in Athens

there was someone wiser than me.

Well, the Phythia answered

that there was no man wiser than Socrates.

Mind you, I'm saying this

to explain to you
the origin of the calumny.

In view of this reply,
I started thinking

about what the God meant.

About what he was referring to.

Because, of course, I'm not conscious

of being a wise man,
not much nor little.

So, what did God mean?

I started inquiring.

I went to a man who had
a reputation for wisdom...

There's no need to mention his name.

He was one of the wise politicians.

Discussing with him

and examining him,

I thought

he seemed, yes, wise to most people,

and especially to himself,

but he wasn't.

Then I tried to explain to him

that, poor man, he was living an illusion,

thinking himself a wise man,
but he really wasn't.

Due to this explanation

I had his hatred

and the dislike of all his relatives
and friends...

And he had plenty of them,
even present there.

Going away, I thought:

this man believes he knows

and he doesn't know.

On the contrary, I don't know,

nor do I believe I know.

So, at least in that,
I am wiser than him.

I went to another man,

they said was wiser than the former.

My conclusion was the same.

I kept inquiring

because I thought my duty
was to explain myself

and understand the meaning
of the words of God.

And I kept searching, inquiring,

from those who were considered most wise.

And by the dog, Athenians,

those with greater reputation
as wise man,

they knew the least.

While other men, with no reputation,

had greater wisdom.

I left the politicians
and went to the poets.

The tragic ones,
the dithyrambics.

I analyzed their verses,

but when I asked

their meaning,

I realized...

I'm ashamed to tell you this truth.

I realized that everything they wrote

was better understood by other people.

These men wrote poetry
thanks to their rich imagination.

Because this is their nature.

Because of their skill in making verses,

they believed themselves
very wise in all matters.

At last I went to the artisans.

Yes, these men knew what I didn't know.

At least as far as their art is,

they were wiser than me.

But I realized

that even artisans had
the same sin as the poets.

As they were good at working
in their art,

they were sure to be very wise
in all matters,

even the most important.

Due to this research

and consideration, Athenians,

many enmities have arisen against me,

so harsh and cruel

to then generate

the calumny on my shoulders,

growing worse with the appellation
of being wise.

From all my research

the result is this:

that only God is wise.

In his answer

he meant,

using my name as an example,

that in Athens, the wisest man

is the one who, like Socrates,

knows that, with respect to wisdom,
he is worth nothing.

Due to this investigation,

to fulfill this duty

to God,

I didn't have time or place

to take care of other things
for myself

and for my house.

So I live

in extreme poverty.

The young men who follow me

since they are rich men's children,
they can do it,

enjoy in hearing me
when I examine

people's souls.

They try to imitate me

and themselves examine other souls.

And the examined people,
tormented by the investigation,

who think to know

and are forced to admit
that they know nothing,

they get mad at me

and they say that I'm a corruptor
of the young.

On the basis of these calumnies,

here are Anytus, Meletus

and Lycon lashing out against me.

This, Athenians, is the truth.

These are the causes of the calumny

and you cannot find another.

And now I'll try
to defend myself

against Meletus' accusations.

An honest man and loyal to the city...

he says.

Here is the accusation:

Socrates is guilty

of corrupting the young people,

of not believing in the gods

venerated in Athens,

but in other demonic gods

whom he's trying to bring
into the city.

Let's examine point by point.

But first let me denounce him.

The guilty one is him.

Guilty of joking with justice

and considering the law like a game.

I'll prove it to you now.

Tell me, Meletus,

don't you want the young people

to get better as closely as possible?

- I do.
- Well,

tell these people
who can make them better.

You have to know it,
if this concerns you so much.

If you found out that I corrupt them,

you must be able to say
who makes them better.

Ah, you're silent.
You don't know what to say.

This proves that
you never cared about young people.

Go on, say it.

- Who makes them better?
- The laws.

Oh! That's not what I'm asking,
most excellent man.

But who, in the first place,
knows the laws?

These, Socrates, the judges.

So these are able

to educate young people
and make them better.


But all of them,
or only some and not others?

- All.
- You give me good news.

And these listeners,

- do they make them better, too?
- They too.

- And the councilors?
- The councilors too.

And all the citizens who are members
of the Assembly,

are they corruptors
or do they make them better too?

Yes, they too.

So all Athenians make young people better

and I alone corrupt them.

I strongly affirm that!

And tell me, young man,

does the same happen for horses too?

Do all men who use them,
make them better,

and only the instructor,

who knows a lot about horse riding,
spoils them?

Or isn't it the exact opposite?

Come on, Meletus,

admit that about education and
the improvement of young people,

you don't know anything.

You say, good man,

in your accusation,

that I teach to not believe
in the gods

in whom Athens believes,

but in other demonic gods

whom I'm trying to bring into the city.

By teaching that, I corrupt the youth?

Yes, I stoutly affirm that!

Then try to speak clearly,

by the gods!

I still don't understand
if you accuse me

of not believing in the gods
whom Athens believes

and of teaching others
to not believe in them,

but to believe that there are
other demonic gods

whom I'm trying to bring into the city.

Or are you even accusing me

of not believing at all
that there are gods?

Yes, I affirm that!
You don't believe at all in any gods!

O wonderful man!

So I don't believe in the godhead

not even of the sun and the moon?

No, by Zeus! O judges!

For he says the sun is a stone
and the moon a bit of earth.

Eh! So you're accusing Anaxagoras!

citizens, he's a juggler.

He composes a riddle for us

to test mine and your intelligence.

His accusation is
a hilarious contradiction.

That's like he's saying:

Socrates is guilty

of not believing that there are gods

because he believes that there are gods.

He's making fun of us.

Answer me, Meletus.


Don't make noise, citizens!

Is it possible that human facts exist

but men don't exist?

No, no. Answer me, now!

Don't wriggle, don't scratch yourself!

Could someone believe

that there are bridles
and saddles for horses,

but not horses?

Or that there are flautists,

but not flutes?

Why does he not answer?
Answer me, great gentleman!

Is it possible that someone believes

in the existence of demonic facts,

- but not in the existence of demons?
- It's not possible.

You assert that I want to bring
into Athens

new demonic gods,

so I have to admit
that there are demons.

Aren't the demons children of the gods?

Or gods themselves?

- Answer, yes or no?
- Yes, of course.

So here is your hilarious riddle.

You assert that when I believe

that gods don't exist at all,

I believe at the same time
in the existence

of demons, who are children of gods.

That's like saying

that there are neither donkeys nor horses,

but there are mules,

who are the offspring
of horses and donkeys.

About this accusation, Athenians,

I think I have nothing else to say.

Come on,
if I have corrupted some young man,

now, that he is grown up,

he should come forward.

To accuse me and take his revenge!

And there are many people here

who listened and followed me.

This one, for example.

Crito, of my own age.

And Lisanius, father of this Aeschines.

And Demodocus,

whose brother was Theages.

And Adeimantus son of Ariston,

whose brother is this one, Plato.

And many, many others

who could come here to say

that Meletus is lying

and I'm telling the truth.

Let us conclude.

Many people who have fought

an even less serious battle
than mine,

have prayed and begged the judges.

They cried

and brought here their children

to have some compassion.

Their relatives and friends

made for you, judges,

great spectacles

of tears, agony and despair.

I will not do any of this.

Even if I'm in danger of death

and despite also having relatives.

Because, as Homer says,

I wasn't born from an oak
or from a rock.

But, over here,

I'm not going to bring anyone.

I won't do it, Athenians,

not for disregard of you,

nor for my pride,

but because I think it's against

human dignity.

And also for my reputation,

whether true or not.

People say that Socrates

is not like everybody else,

and this obliges me

to set the right example.

If I'm afraid of death or not,

is unimportant.

I have often seen
people lose their mind

from this fear.

As if you did not put them to death,

some men were sure to live forever.

They do amazing

and ridiculous things
in order to save themselves.

This is shameful

because foreigners are entitled
to think

that those men chosen
by the Athenians for magistracies,

are worth less than women.

Such deplorable farces

to soften the judges up,

are not appropriate for us,

men of reputation,

and nor for you, judges,
to allow them.

You have to be more strict

with people who play

pathetic dramas,

making a mockery

of justice, first of all,

and then, of the country.

If I try

to move, to mislead with pity

you, judges,

who have sworn an oath,

I should teach you
in not believing in gods

and I would clearly show

that I don't myself believe in them.

On the contrary, the truth,

Athenians, is this,

that I believe,

like none of my accusers do.

And I leave to you

and to God

to judge as will be best

for me and for you.

By a majority of 30 votes

Socrates, son of Sophroniscus,

is condemned.

The conviction for such crimes
is the death penalty.

But the culprit can propose
a penalty commutation.

Exile or a fine,

if the judges wish to accept it.

If I don't become angry

that you've declared me


it's due to many reasons.

First of which,

this possibility was not unexpected.

And I didn't even think

that the difference in votes

would be so slight.

If 30 votes were switched,

I should have been acquitted.

So this man

awards me the death penalty.

But I,

what am I going to award myself?

What I deserve

for wanting to do some good

for the souls of my fellow citizens,

being indifferent
to what all men seek?

And I mean, profit, domestic concerns,

military command, magistracies...

What do I deserve?

What can you offer

to a poor and worthy man?

Daily food in Prytaneion

at State expense.

I think it would be more deserved

than to give this to one of you

who won at the Olympic Games

a two and four horse chariot race.

So I award this to myself:

free meals in Prytaneion.

Maybe this

sounds ironic to you,

but it isn't.

I am sure,

and therefore also persuaded,

that I never did anything wrong

nor against anyone.

But it's not easy to persuade you of this.

Having never wronged anyone,

I will not do it now to myself,

awarding myself a punishment

as if I were really guilty.

To save me from what?

From death!


of which I still say to not know

whether it's good or evil.

Instead of this I should
award myself

one of those punishments
that I know to be evil?

And which one?


And being a slave

forever under the orders of "the Eleven"?


A fine?

And stay in prison

until I have paid that.

I have no means to pay.

Well, at most

I could fine myself
a silver mina.


Plato, over here,

and Crito,

and Critobulus, and Apollodorus

are insisting that I fine myself

30 minae.

And they're willing to secure the payment.

Well, I fine myself 30 minae,

and for this sum
they will be the sureties.

And you may consider them.

By a majority of 80 votes,
the submitted commutation is rejected.

And Socrates, son of Sophroniscus,
is sentenced to death,

by drinking hemlock.

For not waiting for

a few years,

you, Athenians,

will have the reputation
and the blame

of having put Socrates to death.

I am not even angry

at those who accused me

and condemned me.

I address to them a plea.

When my children will be adults,

if they seem to care more
about riches

than virtue,

and they will think to know,

knowing nothing,

you must punish them!

Citizens, punish them by inflicting

the same pains that I inflicted upon you.

If you'll do this,

you would be fair to me
and to my children.

But it's already time to go.

Let's go...

I... to die,

you... to live.

Which of us has the better prospect,

is unknown to anyone,

but God.

The ship sacred to the myth of Theseus
sails towards the temple of Apollo at Delos.

It is custom that until the ship returns

no death sentence
can be executed in Athens.

Socrates is awaiting that tragic landing
and the last hour of his life

while he is in chains
in an underground prison of the Acropolis.

How come, Crito,
you're here at this hour?

Isn't it too early?

What is the exact time?

It's only dawn.

I am surprised the guardian
opened the door to you.

He knows me
because he sees me often

and gains some money.

Did you just get here?

I've been here a while.

Why didn't you awaken me before?

Because, by Zeus, it would be sad
for me too

to be awakened from a good sleep
in such tragedy.

I was astonished
seeing you sleeping so peacefully.

I've always envied
this characteristic of yours.

And even more now.

Seeing you so calm and quiet
in such misfortune.

Why? Does it seem
to you more dignified

to get angry at my age,

even if it's a matter of life and death?

How many people of your age,
having to die,

would lose their dignity
against adversity.


But why do you come here
so early in the morning?

For some sad news, Socrates.

Sad, apparently not for you,

but for me and for all your friends.

A sad and painful thing,
more than any other.

What is it, then?

Has the ship arrived from Delos,

upon the return of which

it was decided that I must die?

No, it hasn't arrived yet.

But some men, coming from Sounion,

say they saw it there,

and that it will be here today.

And if it arrives today, Socrates...

tomorrow your life will have to end.

It's all for the best, my friend.

If this pleases the gods,

let it go that way.

But I don't think it will arrive today.

What makes you say that?

Because I had a dream
at the end of the night.

And it was good that you did not
wake me up.

What was the dream?

I dreamt a woman coming close to me.

Young, beautiful and pretty,

dressed in white.

And she said to me, "Socrates,

in three days you will see
the fertile Phtia."

What a strange dream.

- But clear, I think.
- Too clear.

But please, Socrates,

let me persuade you
to save yourself.

Your death will be a big sorrow
for me,

not only because

I'll never find
a friend like you,

but I will also be ashamed of myself.

Because those people who don't know us
they will say that I,

even if I could have saved you
with my money, I didn't do so.

What will people think of me?

Someone who values money
more than a friend.

Because no one will believe

that it was you
who doesn't want to get out of here.

Oh, good Crito,

should we care about
the opinion of the many?

But you see from this case

that you must be concerned
about the opinion of the many,

which can produce great evils
to anyone who is discredited.

I wish the opinion of the many

could do the greatest evil.

For then it would also be able
to do the greatest good.

But in reality, it can do neither.

Because it cannot make a man's soul

be honest or not honest.

It might be true.

Maybe you are afraid that if you escape,

the sykophantes will bother me
and all your friends,

and that we could lose
all our money

and a worse evil may happen to us?

If that's it, don't worry, my friend.

It's right that we risk this
and things far more serious.

Trust me and do what I suggest,

if it's only the thought
of our future harm that stops you.

Yes, I fear that

and many other things.

Fear not, it will not take
too much money.

The sykophantes are on the take

and my money will be enough.

And if you are worried about me,

well, there are many foreigners

willing to spend their money for this.

That Theban, Simmias,

has brought a large sum of money
for this.

And then there is Cebes and many others.

Don't worry about that.

Nor do you really think
what you said in court,

that outside Athens, you would not know
what to do, nor where to go.

Socrates, wherever you go,
you will be welcomed.

And if you want to move to Thessaly,

where I have a lot of dear friends,

you could be happy and safe there.

It is wrong, believe me,

it is wrong to give up
and be obstinately harming yourself

more than your enemies did.

It's your loss.

And I tell you

I have the feeling
that you're betraying your children,

leaving them alone
instead of educating

and protecting them
from the usual fate of orphans.

Children, Socrates,

either we must not have them,
or we must educate and support them.

You should know these duties.

You, having professed virtue
throughout your life.

Actually, I feel ashamed of you
and of myself.

Of you, first, for that entrance in court,
when you could avoid it.

Then, for your carelessness
on how the trial proceeded.

And now, for your stubborn refusal,

that we may call

the ridiculous catastrophe
of your tragedy.

I feel sorry for myself
and for your friends,

who will be considered
lazy and selfish,

because we could have saved you,
but we didn't do so.

Think about it, Socrates.

Well, no. Don't think about it.
Make up your mind!

We still have time

and everything must be done very quickly.

Do you hear me?

- Socrates, do you hear me?!
- Yes, I do.

I hear you, my friend,

and I appreciate your concern,

but as long as it is in accordance
with righteousness.

But when it's not anymore,

your concern becomes severe
and hostile to me.

Let's consider together
whether your proposal

can be done or not.

You see, I've always followed
the path of reason,

which, after appropriate considerations,

always guides me to choose the best way.

And now I think:

the arguments that I found good before,

I certainly can't repudiate them now,

only because this misfortune
has befallen me.

Now, let's study it,

let's calmly consider this thing,

following the speech a few moments ago

about men's opinions.

As I was saying,

some of these are to be regarded,
some aren't.

- Do you think it's right, Crito?
- Absolutely right.

Good opinions are to be regarded,

- not the bad ones.
- Certainly.

Aren't they wise men
who have good opinions,

rather than the foolish men?

- I can't deny that.
- Yes, for example,

let's assume that someone
devotes himself to gymnastic exercises.

If he has to value praise and criticism,

does he have to take account
of the opinions of every man

or of that man only
who is a master in this area?

Of that man only.

So he ought to act,
to train, to eat and drink

according to the dictates of that one

- and not of others.
- Certainly.

And if he disobeys that one

to follow the advice of foolish
and ignorant men,

- doesn't he suffer evil?
- Sure.

And this evil where does it affect him
first of all?

- But, in the body, which begins to suffer.
- Well said, Crito!

Well said.

And in our case,

since the point is not the gymnastic,

but to judge the good and the evil,

the just and the unjust,

must we take account

the opinion of ignorant people

and fear it,

rather than the opinion
of that one

- who could be a master?
- Of that one.

Of that one who knows
the just and the unjust.

- Of that one who is the truth.
- Yes.

Well, if we agree that,

let's see whether it's right or not

that I try to escape from here

against the will of the Athenians.

If it's right,

we'll try to escape.

If it's not right,

- we'll stay here.
- Yes.

Let's see, Socrates,
what we have to do.


Imagine now, while

we try to escape from here,

the laws appear in front of us.

Our laws.

The laws of Athens.

Our country.

Those laws that we have always respected

and which I have always
exhorted to respect.

And they ask me

questions and things like that.

"Tell us, Socrates,

what are you planning to do?"

The laws are speaking.

"What are you doing, or thinking,

by this act of yours,

other than offend, make useless

and destroy us,

the laws of your town?

How could it not be overturned

a city where the judgements,

once pronounced,

didn't have the power to be carried out,

but were violated

and ridiculed by citizens themselves?"

What could we answer

about this violation of the laws

which aims to destroy

their necessary and austere entirety

and to cover with a ridiculous shame
our country?

We may say the town
offended them

because this lawsuit against me

has given an unjust sentence.

That's sure, Socrates. Yes.

And the laws would answer:


didn't we agree that in any case

you should have respected
our judgement?"

"Since you, Socrates,

are in the habit of asking
and answering questions,

answer us."

"What are your accusations against the city

and us, its laws,

for attempting to overturn

and lose us?"

"Wasn't it with us and thanks to us

that your father married your mother
and gave birth to you?"

"Have you any reason to blame

the law that regulates marriage?"

I should say no.
No reason.

"And to those laws

imposing the education of children,

through which

you, Socrates,

were raised, nourished and educated

in music, in grammar,

have you anything to blame them for?"

"Now they don't seem fair to you anymore?"

I'm supposed to say yes.

"Well, since thanks to us
you were

birthed, raised, educated,

you can't deny that you are our subject."

"And pupil and servant of us, the laws."

"If so,

do you think it right
to consider yourself equal to us

and wanting to do to us

what we had to do to you?"

"If it's not possible to have equal rights

even between father and son,

how can you believe

in equality of rights and revenges

between you
and the laws of your country?"

"And when you will have trampled
and reviled them,

can you still believe

that you are a righteous man,

true lover of urban virtues?"

"And you, wise man, ignore

that the first of every affection
is our country,

that must be honoured

because it is more noble,

more venerable and holier

not just for little men,

but even for the gods."

"And it must be honoured,

and placated, if it's outraged,

and persuaded,

if you think that it fell into error."

"Do what it orders you

with submission and patience."

"Even to just make fetters
or threshing wheat

or going to the wars

with risk of death."

"And you must not waver,

nor abandon the rank assigned to you,

in war as in a court of law
and at home."

"If it would be a sacrilege

to use violence against
your father or mother,

a bigger sacrilege would be to use it

against your country

and the laws which constitute it."

"Obey, Socrates."

"Obey the sacred majesty of the law!"

"And don't place your life, children,

or anything else,

above justice."

"Instead, if you escape
from here as a coward,

returning evil for evil,

insult for insult,

breaking the pact between us,

you will hurt yourself,

your children, your friends,

and you will bring dishonor
to your country and its laws."

These, my good Crito,

are the words that I already

seem to hear murmuring
in my ears,

as the Corybantes seem to hear

the buckles and flutes.

And the echo of these words

is affecting my entire being,

forgive me, my friend,

but I can't listen to other words.

Well, now you know my thoughts

and you can be sure that your every
argument against it, will be in vain.

But, if you still think

that it will help,

talk, I'm listening to you.

No, Socrates,

I have nothing...

I have nothing to say.

Then, my friend, never mind

and let each of us stay in his place,

because this is the will of God.


this is the last time
your friends will speak to you,

and you to them.

Please, Crito,

let someone bring her home.

How marvellous is, my friends,

this thing called pleasure.

Marvellous, compared to the other,

which is the opposite of it, pain.

Two things

that never come to a man together.

But if anybody is taken
by one of them,

the other follows shortly after.

As these things were joined together.

I believe that if Aesop
had thought about it,

he would have made a fable.

Namely, while pleasure and pain

were at war with each other,

God, wishing their reconciliation

and failing to get that,

he fastened their ends together.

So, when one of them
comes to anyone,

it's impossible to avoid receiving
also the other.

That's happening to me now.

Where, on account of fetter,

there was pain,

pleasure has now arrived.

By Jupiter, this reminds me of one thing.

After you came here,
you put into verse Aesop's fables

and the prelude for Apollo.

You never made verses before.

Everybody, and especially Evenus,
asked me why.

What must I say in return?

You will say to Evenus the truth.

I mean, I didn't make those verses

to compete with his poems,

because I couldn't do it,

but to obey some dreams

that I've always had

and discharge my conscience.

Several times, in the previous years,

I had a dream,

sometimes in one form,
sometimes in another form,

but it kept telling me:

Socrates, compose music!

Compose music!

I thought the dream exhorted me to do

what I was doing,

since philosophy is the greatest music.

When I was condemned,

and the festival of the God
retarded my death,

I thought to obey

that dream and do what I was ordered.

Then I composed
some verses to honour Apollo,

to whom this festival is dedicated,

but then, considering

that a poet ought to make fables
and not discourses,

and since I'm not skilled
in making fables,

I put into verse

the first of Aesop's fables
that I remembered.

Well, tell this to Evenus.

And tell him goodbye from me

and to follow me as soon as he can,

if he is wise.

Because I depart, as it seems, today,

that's what the Athenians want.

What's the meaning
of your exhortation to Evenus?

I don't think he's willing to follow you.

What, then, is not Evenus a philosopher?

- I guess so.
- Well,

then he will be willing,

like any philosopher.

Tell us,
what is your certainty based on?

I will try to explain to you
how and why

a man who has devoted
his entire life to philosophy,

must be happy, on the verge of dying,

because he's confident

to get more wealth in the afterlife.

But first let's hear
what our Crito has to say.

He seems to have something to tell me.

Nothing, Socrates, but this man,
who must give you the poison,

asks me to tell you
to not speak too much.

A quarrel might get you heated and this
would work against the poison's effect

and so there is the risk
of having to drink it two

or even three times.

Tell him to cheer up

and to prepare what he has to do

as if he had to give me
two or three doses.

I knew it, but he insists.

And you send him away.

Here I am.

What is death,

if not the separation

of the soul from the body.

On one side there is only the body,

separated from the soul.

On the other, only the soul,

free from the body.

Is this death?

- It is.
- It is.

Do you think it's worthy
for a philosopher

to run after the pleasures of food?

- Eating, drinking...
- No, Socrates.

- And the sensual pleasures?
- Not at all.

And be pleased to have
ornaments, rich garments,

nice sandals...

Or should a philosopher

despise these things?

If he is a true philosopher,
he should despise them.

So do you think
that he must separate himself

as much as possible from the body

- to take care of the soul?
- Exactly.

And in order to get wisdom...
just saying...

In order to get wisdom,
is the body an impediment?

Do sight and the hearing
say any truth,

or, as the poets say,

all senses are misleading?

Don't you think the soul

has a better look into things

when it can study them

only by reasoning

and curled up in itself

it can get away from
the smallness of the body

to elevate itself with purity

to the contemplation of being?


So, through reason,

we could reach

the right understanding of things.

But as long as this sick body

tightens our soul,

it could never taste

the truths which it yearns for.

Every obstacle, comes from the body.

Diseases, foolish love,

These are all for the body.

So it's clear,

to elevate yourself with purity

to contemplate the truth,

you have to get rid of the body.

That is, to be dead.

So, if I'm not angry, nor grieved,

to leave you, my friends,

and the dear gods
that are now protecting me,

it's because I'm very hopeful

to find over there...

where I'm going to,

good friends as you,

and excellent gods.

Your reasoning is right,

but what gives you the certainty
that the soul survives?

Most men believe

that as soon as it is separated
from the body, it vanishes

and disappears like fog or smoke.

That's true, Cebes.

Most men think so.


are you willing to discuss
among ourselves

whether this is true or not?

I'd rather like to hear your thought
on these matters.

Then let's discuss it.

And let's put the subject this way:

If the souls of the dead

still live in another place.

In what way they are generated,

if by similar or opposite things.

Everything seems to have its opposite.

Evil is the opposite of good,
the just of the unjust.

First we must see

if everything that has an opposite

is produced from nothing else

- than its opposite.
- Exactly.

But, isn't there a break

in the generation of an opposite
from its opposite?

Let me explain.

From the lesser to the greater
there is growth in the middle.

And from the greater to the lesser,
the reduction.

These are processes of generation.

In the first case,
we say "to increase".

In the second, "to decrease".

And so for composition and division,
heating or cooling.

- Is that it?
- It is.

Now tell me.
Is there the opposite of living?

- Well, there is, unfortunately?
- And what is that?


Life and death

generate themselves, one from the other,
because they are opposites.

And they have two processes of generation.

Keep it in mind.

Now I mention a pair of things
and their processes.

Then you go on, doing the same.

Waking and sleeping.

They generate themselves,
one from the other,

because they are opposites.

And their processes of generation are:

from waking, sleeping is generated.

From sleeping, re-waking.

Go on.

Didn't you say that death
is the opposite of living?

Then, what is generated from living?

- Death.
- And from death?

Why can death not have its process?

Or is nature walking on one leg
only in this case?

I say,

from waking, sleeping.

From sleeping, re-waking.

And you say,
from life, death,

And from death, r...

- Relive.
- Here it is.


So we have reason to believe

that our souls continue to live

in another place,

from which they then come back to us.

Based on our assumptions,
it seems so.

Also according to what you often said.

Namely, that our learning
is nothing but remembering.

It is necessary that in a previous time

we have learned
what we now remember.

This is also why the soul

would have immortal properties.

Cebes, give me a proof,

- because I don't know this.
- What?

Don't you think
that what we believe we learn

is nothing but remembering?

I'd gladly listen
in which way you can prove it.

To remember something,

you must have known it before.

- Do you agree?
- I do.

If someone, learning one thing,

not only he remembers it,

but he immediately
thinks of another thing,

even not equal, different,

don't we say that this
reminded him of that?

- What do you mean?
- Let me explain.

The knowledge of a woman is one thing,

and the knowledge of a harp,
is another thing.

- Of course.
- Now for a young man it happens

that the sight of the harp

or the garment, or the sandals of a girl,

reminds him quickly

of the vague shapes of his beloved.

- This is recollection.
- Certainly.

Doesn't it happen
that when we see a horse,

we remember its owner?

Or seeing a portrait of Simmias,

we remember Simmias himself?

Or when we meet Simmias,

we remember Cebes?

The recollection can be originated

- by things either like or unlike.
- Absolutely.

But we learn the knowledge
of material things

through the eyes, touch, the senses,

after we are born.

- Isn't it so?
- True.

It was necessary to have
knowledge of them before.

And if a boy,

who is learning a material thing,

is assailed by the thought
of an immaterial thing,

that means he knew both things before,

to have them back after.

It is necessary to have knowledge
of all things,

material and immaterial, before,

to remember them after.

Now, tell me,

when did our souls

learn all these things?

In the exact moment of our birth?

- Of course not.
- Of course not.

- So, before that?
- Yes.

So our souls existed

before taking these human forms,

and they had an understanding.

Since it's impossible to learn while
we are being born, there is no other time.

Socrates, your reasoning
ends triumphantly,

and for my part,
your explanation is complete.

And what does Cebes think?

I think he is convinced as much as I am

that our souls existed before our birth.

But that they will continue to live
after our death,

this is not proven.

And there is always people's fear,

that by the body dying,
the soul too is dispersed and dissipated.

Exactly, Simmias.

It's not proven that our soul
will live after us.

It seems that you desire
to get to the bottom of this matter,

and that you fear the dispersion

of your poor souls.

Well, relieve us from this fear

that distresses everyone.

What order of things

does the dissipation belong to?

And which souls have to fear it?

Let's see.

We must admit that

the good, the just,

virtue, the affections

are things that exist,

or are they nothing?

They exist.

And have you, these things,

ever seen them with your eyes
or touched them with your hands?

- No, it's not possible.
- And why?

- They are invisible.
- Exactly.

Invisible essences.

Compound things

are destined to be decomposed,

to dissolve.

On the contrary, uncompounded ones,

the essences,

cannot fear dissipation.

Compound things

may vary, change, transform themselves,

but uncompounded ones

will be always the same, unchangeable.

- Yes, it's true.
- It's all true.

We can see compound things
with our eyes,

touch them with our hands,

but uncompounded ones,

pure essences,

can only be grasped by the mind

and analysed with our reason,

- because they are invisible.
- That's right.


that our being

is composed of body and soul,

now, to which sort of things

does the body belong?

The composed and visible.

- And the soul?
- To the invisible one.

In our being

is it the body or the soul

that commands and directs?

The soul,
because it's the only one which has will.

But commanding and dominating

with the sole will

- isn't it a godly quality?
- Yes.

So to God, immutable,

incorruptible, invisible,

belongs the soul.

To the human, visible, corruptible,

belongs the body.

When a man dies,

his visible and corruptible part,

the body, I mean,

inevitably starts to deteriorate
and dissolves.

But the soul, invisible essence,

going to places
compatible with its nature,

towards the pure, unchangeable

incorruptible, immortal,

which is God,

good and wise,

the soul will feel free and safe,

without any lies and illusions.

But if the soul will depart
corrupted from the body

for having been too faithful to it,

in its unbounded lust,

if the soul has suffered
the contamination of the body,

it will come out loaded with such a weight
of filthy things

to remain burdened,

and it will go wandering
through dark places

with other shadows of unclean souls.

Is there anything missing
in what I've said?

I'll tell you the truth, Socrates.

It's a while that each of us

pushes the other to encourage him
to let you talk again,

having a great desire to hear you.

But we are afraid to bother you
in this present misfortune.

Oh, how can I persuade other men

that I don't consider
this event a misfortune,

if I can't persuade you?

You can ask me anything you want,

as long as the eleven magistrates of Athens
allow it.

I think that not subjecting to every proof
such arguments,

and stopping any investigation before
we spend in it all our mind's efforts,

is a huge fault.

That's why Cebes and I
are still uncertain.

What you said
appears to us not sufficient.

Perhaps, my friend,
what you think

is the truth.

Could one compare the soul

to the harmony of a lyre?

Which is something invisible and divine.

But the lyre and its strings

are compound and bodily things.

And when someone breaks the lyre,
or cuts the strings,

the harmony ceases,

which, despite being divine,

is the result of material
and perishable things.

As the soul,

being pure and divine essence,

could be the result of multiform and
compound materials of human body.

And when this is destroyed by death,

even the soul disappears.

Wise argument, Simmias.

And now you, Cebes.

My feeling is that we are
still in the same position.

Proven that the soul
lived before us,

it's not proven
that it cannot die with us.

And even assuming that a soul can live
in more bodies,

one after another,

we can't be sure that in the end,
tired and exhausted,

it cannot die.

Nobody, believe me,

can trust to not die entirely

until it's proven
that the soul is immortal.

Maybe tomorrow, my dear Phaedo,

you will cut your beautiful hair.

I will certainly cut it.

You will cut your hair tomorrow

as mourning for my death,

and I should cut mine now

as mourning for my argument.

I should cut it
and take an oath,

like the Argives,

not to let it grow again

until, fighting back,

I have defeated their arguments.

I will tell you first
what happened to me once.

When I was young,
I became passionate of a science

called history of nature.

And I became very eager

to know the reason of all things.

And I was always brooding,

why are we born and why do we die?

How was the human species born?

And the trees?

And if our sensations

come from the blood or the brain.

By dint of brooding,

everything began to be confused
in my mind.

And some things which
I was previously sure to know,

I ended up not knowing
them anymore.

But one day I heard Anaxagoras

teaching that our mind

is the source and the governor
of everything.

But when I asked why this happens,

they answered me that
it was better to believe

that things were this way,

because this way was better.

Strange reasoning.

That's like saying that Socrates
sat in this prison

because he has muscles
and bones in his legs.

Not because his mind

has commanded the bones and the muscles
to stay here.

So I decided to dedicate myself
to reasoning,

and only through it,

to find the truth.

So I return to my ancient questions.

From these and from your answers,

will arise... maybe,

the truth that you're looking for:

the immortality of the soul.

Let us ensure that too much reasoning

does not make us become misologists,

ending up hating arguments.

I don't want to persuade you,

but myself.

And you, do not follow Socrates,

but the truth.

If I say something unjust,

you have to contradict me with no mercy!

I don't want to go away like the bee,

leaving the sting in the wound.

Simmias, didn't you admit
that our souls

already existed before

- taking these human forms?
- Yes, of course.

Can exist the harmony of a lyre

before the instrument
is manufactured?

It's impossible.

So your comparison
between soul and harmony

may be poetic, but it's absurd,

because the harmony comes after
the material in which it has entered.

We agreed that there are
good souls and evil souls,

and the harmony cannot admit
evil in itself,

because that's disharmony.

And we also agreed,

that the soul can command the body,

even by opposing
the passions of the body,

as Homer sang in the Odyssey,

when, speaking of Ulysses, he says:

"And beating his breast,

he said to his soul:

suffer, my soul,

that you suffered more!"

Homer too considered the soul

a divine force

that can command the body
and itself,

and not a harmony
produced by some material

and slave to this material.

That's right.

I think I've finished
with Theban harmony.

Now you, Cebes.

You want

the certainty

of immortality of the soul,

and that the philosopher,

the just man,

when he dies,

must be sure to enter

the virtuous life.

- Is that what you ask?
- Yes.

You're not asking for little.

According to that law of opposites,

of which we spoke,

we agreed that nothing

can ever accept its opposite in itself.

- We agreed.
- And we also agreed

that no opposite

will ever be contrary to itself.

- No doubt.
- Tell me, now,

what gives life to the human body?

- The soul.
- Always?

- Always.
- So the soul gives life

to whatever body it occupies.

But is there the opposite of life?


The soul, that is life

and gives life,

will not ever accept in itself

its opposite.

It will not.

What do you call
what cannot accept the just?


- And what cannot accept death?
- Immortal.

The soul, which cannot accept death, is...

- Immortal.
- You said it.

Since the immortal is by nature

the soul cannot perish

when the body dies.

If cold is incorruptible,

the snow, as the fire approached,

would slip away undamaged

and wouldn't perish liquefied.

Shall we say that is proven?


- Sure.
- Proven.

The soul is immortal and incorruptible,

so it is necessary to take care of it,

not only in the time
that we call "life",

but also afterwards.

If the soul could perish with the body,

it would be a great advantage
to the wicked,

to pay at once for their sins.

But since the soul is immortal,

there is no other refuge or escape for it

except goodness,

wisdom, purity,

because the soul does not bring
anything to the other world,

except the education of the affections

that nourished it here.

And free of any earthly residue,

the soul, mild and safe,
will raise itself

towards clear and very pure lands,

where excellent and benevolent gods

will welcome it.

But the sun is setting.

A tragic poet would say now,

meanwhile the boat is calling me.

It seems to me time

to go and wash my body

before drinking the pois...

the medicine,

to prevent women

from having to wash my dead body.

Now, Socrates,

what can we do,
I and your other friends,

that can be well accepted by you?

For your children?

Nothing more than what I told you.

If you take care of your souls,

whatever you will do,

even not promising it,

you will do good to me.

- How do you want to be buried?
- As you please.

As long as it is not against the law...

and I cannot escape from there.

Sounds of dances and hymns
for God's festival.


I will not do you the wrong
to judge you like everyone else

who get angry and swear,

when I, forced by who is in charge,

order them to drink the poison.

Throughout this time,
I've found you

the most noble and gentle man

who has entered here.

I know you won't be angry with me.


it's not unknown to you
what I come to tell you.


and try to endure,

as much as possible,

this necessity.

Farewell to you too.

What a polite man.

He often came to see me

and spoke lengthily with me.

He's really a good man.

Come on, Crito,

let's follow what he said,

and someone bring me the poison...

the medicine, if pounded,

if not, let them do it.

Please, good man,

since you're an expert,

what shall I do?

Nothing but taking the beverage

and walking a little,

until your legs feel heavy,

and then you will lie down there.

What do you think,

if someone wants to dine

with this beverage,

- is it allowed?
- No.

We only pound what we think
is enough to drink,

and no more.

I understand.

making vows to the gods,

this can and must be done,

so that our passage

to the other life is happy.

So I pray,

and so be it.

My friends, my friends,

what are you doing?

For that I sent the women away,

so they wouldn't overreact.

Didn't we always say

that a man must die under glad auspices?

So, be strong

and be calm.

So it's vain

what I said for your consolation.


you have assured my judges

that I wouldn't escape from here.

But you'll see

that I'm leaving soon.

I run away.

Does it hurt?


And here?


And here?


let's not forget

to sacrifice a rooster

to Asclepius.

It shall be done, my friend.

Do you have another thing to ask?