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Socrates’ View on Death

In “Apology”, Socrates dedicated a significant part of his last speech to the topic of death, since he was in danger of being sentenced to death. The analysis of Socrates’ last speech indicates that he believed that doing good and following one’s convictions and a life’s calling was more important than trying to escape death. Moreover, death may be considered a joyful event in a person’s life if it is viewed as a transition into an eternity of a happy and fulfilling afterlife.

Some of Socrates’ most powerful messages about death take place after he received news about getting the death penalty. When analyzing his sayings about death, a reader may be surprised with Socrates’ rather calm reaction to approaching the end. There may be few reasons behind why Socrates did not become hysterical, begged for life, or lost courage to continue talking. First, he might have expected a death sentence and, thus, did his best to prepare himself spiritually and regain his inner strength for the sake of his friends. Second, he was already an old man who had a long life behind. Thus, he was not afraid to die. Third, knowing that he was right and suffered for the good cause gave him the courage to face upcoming death with dignity. Finally, Socrates’ personal beliefs about death helped him to view death as a relief and step into joyful eternity. Regardless of the reasons, his positive attitude, bravery, and refusal to compromise his convictions deserve respect.

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Some of the following passages demonstrate well that Socrates believes that staying true to one’s convictions and doing what is right help a person to overcome the fear of death. For example, Socrates said, “A man ought not to calculate a chance of living or dying…he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong”. He also said I would rather die having spoken after my manner than speak in your manner and live. These words show that Socrates valued the freedom to speak and the ability to do good more than his life. Finally, Socrates made statements that he was less concerned with the possibility of dying than with a determination to act righteously and live honorably. In addition, Socrates did not view death as the end of his life’s journey. He believed that the afterlife would be a fulfilling experience that allowed a person to increase further his knowledge and meet people, who went to the other world before him. For example, Socrates said, “Death is good…journey to another place…what can be greater than this…I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge”. Therefore, Socrates viewed his death as a relatively positive event and considered that it was worth dying for his beliefs.

The analysis of Socrates’ beliefs shows that he considered that staying true to one’s calling and convictions as well as leading righteous life was more important and noble than compromising to escape death. In addition, Socrates believed that those who saw death as a transition to the afterlife might view it as a positive event. Therefore, it may be argued that Socrates’ view on death can be considered a positive and healthy perspective since it empowers a person to face death courageously and motivates one to value dignity, personal freedom and freedom of speech more than life itself. Notably, Socrates’ views on death make death less important than the pursuit of virtuous life and opportunities to do good deeds.

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