​​​​​​​Socrates : The Suicide Of Socrates (Essay Sample)


“ Suicide is death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die ” (Centres of Disease Control and Prevention CDC). Many argue that the death of Socrates was more than a death sentence but a suicide. It was Socrates’ intent to take his own life. His intent to sabotage his own life is valid through the evaluation of his willingness to drink the hemlock, his negligent attitude to death, and how his philosophical views drove him to be ignorant.   

Socrates had pure intentions to drink the hemlock. He was prepared to drink the hemlock and understood the repercussions, death, that had come with it. “ Even granted that he had to die, Socrates had a choice between drinking the hemlock willingly and having it, so to speak, force-fed; only by choosing to be force-fed would Socrates have been forced to drink the hemlock, that is, compelled to die against his will…” (Frey, R. G. pg 2). Socrates had the choice to drink the hemlock willingly and did just that. He also did not even have to get force-fed like many others. Since no one forced him to drink the hemlock, it signifies him wanting to die. There is further confirmation of Socrates willing to drink the hemlock.  “Most condemned men resisted drinking the hemlock until late into the evening, getting drunk and putting off the inevitable for as long as they could, but Socrates asked that the hemlock be prepared and brought to him. Socrates’ jailer noted how different Socrates was” (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg 118.). At the end of his life, Socrates did not resist he was willing to take the repercussions. He appeared hurried and impatient to drink the hemlock to die. Most condemned men were fearful of death. Socrates' jailer also noted how odd his acts were. In Socrates’ last remarks before death, he further shows his desire to drink hemlock. “It is apparent from Plato’s narrative of Socrates’ last hours with Phaedo and his friends that Socrates indents to drink the hemlock” (Frey, R. G. pg 1). Plato, a witness to the death of Socrates, also claimed that he was willing to consume the hemlock that reinforced his willingness to die. Without someone manipulating or pushing the fluid down his throat, he decides to drink the poison on his own. It was clear, by examining these points of reality, Socrates was ready and chose to injure himself to end his life, the definition of suicide. 

Demise is a sensitive and horrifying topic to discuss. Socrates' negligent approach to this topic, however, leads us to think he thought otherwise. Cheerfully and unbothered, Socrates drank the hemlock. “Then raising the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he drank of the poison” (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg118). He did not take death seriously as most rational people would. Socrates did not seem troubled, especially in the moments before his demise. His response to finally drinking the hemlock confirms he wanted to die, he was pleased with the choice he made. Socrates’ trial had lasted longer than usual and extended into the beginning of the holy period (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg117). He is allowed to escape the mess he has brought upon himself. “He was offered the opportunity to escape, the officials going so far as to make it clear they would not stop him. He refused, and finally, the holy period ended and the word came that Socrates must die before sundown” (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg117). It denotes his callous attitude to his sentence of death. Most rational people, particularly during the Holy Time, will indeed escape. However, Socrates chose otherwise and encouraged himself to commit suicide. Socrates finds sadness in the room unsettling. “Socrates alone retained his calmness: What is this strange outcry?” (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg119). Even moments after he drank the hemlock, it is clear that he was confident and cheerful about what he had done, about dying. Socrates did not want a tear shed for him, he had a careless attitude towards his death. He did this to himself and therefore committed suicide. 

On many different subjects, Socrates had many different perspectives. His observations into philosophy have led him to be ignorant. Socrates believed that the soul is immortal. “Socrates believed the soul is immortal. He also argued that death is not the end of existence. It is merely a separation of the soul from the body” (The Immortal Soul: Ideas of Socrates, Plato & Augustine). His belief links with reality. Since he believed in an immoral soul, he did not fear death. His ignorance led him to remain to stay faithful to his convictions and to die. These actions fit the description of suicide, injuring oneself with the intent to die. Plato also noted how living without fear of death is something Socrates followed. “To evade and fear death would have made a mockery out of his entire life, for [he] had long taught that death was not an evil” (Archetypes of Wisdom 1991 pg118). This idea that Socrates preached that he would live without fear of death reveals his ignorance of this trial. He wanted to prove his point that without fearing death, he could live life. When Socrates stood on the jury, his philosophical observations have led him to ignorance. “He remained true to himself throughout the trial and refused to apologize” (Pericles, Athens and Socrates Film Notes pg 3). Socrates refused to give an apology out of an act of ignorance. He decided to show that until the very end, he was going to follow his convictions. This effort, however, ended in Socrates sabotaging his own life. The theory of Socrates leads to indifference, which was a strong influence in his death and drinking of the hemlock decision. Socrates is responsible for his death. 

While the government of Athens convicted Socrates, this does not outweigh the fact that suicide is the act of purposely killing oneself. He drank the hemlock knowingly, not unknowingly and intentionally. Not advertently or mistakenly; he died as a result of drinking the hemlock (Frey, R. G. pg 1). The following evidence supports Socrates' suicide relativism. His suicide is evident by his propensity to drink poison, his negligent attitude to death, and his philosophical beliefs that contributed to foolish decisions. "There is only one good, knowledge and one evil ignorance" (Socrates).

 

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