NovelGuide: Crito: Novel Summary: Chapter 3

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In this part of the dialogue, Socrates gets to the core of his argument. He asserts that when he agreed to citizenship, he agreed to an unofficial contract with the city of Athens. Socrates says that Athens has married his parents, raised him, and educated him and his children. In return, Socrates has agreed to abide by the city's laws and constitution. In this way, Socrates believes that if he were to escape death, as Crito recommends, he would be breaking the sacred covenant he holds with Athens. The philosopher believes that since he was unable to persuade the jurors in his trial, he now must accept their sentence. Violence, he says, will undermine the very laws that gave him life.
Speaking in the voice of the law, Socrates supports his premise, saying, "And we maintain that anyone who disobeys is guilty of doing wrong on three separate counts: first because we are his parent. And secondly because we are his guardians, and thirdly because, after promising obedience, he is neither obeying us nor persuading us to change our decision if we are at fault in any way."
Socrates asserts, "integrity, institutions and laws, are the most precious possessions of mankind." His last point concerns the jury's decision to condemn him. Socrates believes that though his fellow citizens, the jurors, came to the wrong decision in his trial, it is not his place to avenge their flawed logic. Though people make mistakes, Socrates thinks, the system works. In this way, Socrates dies as a martyr, not for himself, but for his city and its system of justice.

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