Manual Athens: Till Death Do Us Part

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Pretty wise words for a squinty-eyed sailor. What did you expect in an opera? Substitute the word "drama" in our current vernacular drama queen, too much drama and then you realize that we are creating our own despair and unhappiness because we have cast our lives as a drama, an opera I am what I am, and that's all that I am.

Now throw in the wonderful Zen mind and realize that I am what I am for this moment. Next moment, I can choose to be something else, and that's what I'll be--for that moment. Endless choices, endless chances to become Never mind the minor details of pain, incapacity, bedridden; these are just the stage upon which you play out the story of your life.

And you always have that choice to either be what you are, or be in an opera, waiting for someone else to bring you happiness, to change your life for you. What are you? The scientific revolution began when people abandoned and questioned the work of the Greeks, just a bunch of pseudoscientific guessing, good riddance. I think the majority of Western men and women agree that it's true that women are defective by nature! Hearing the result of the Brexit poles today, the first thing that came to mind is that Roman history is repeating.

Not that the Greeks and Romans were the corner stone of all great quotes, but they never cease to amaze me how authentically simple yet wise they were. It's refreshing to reflect on that wisdom. Curiously, I'd like to know how they would respond to the comments made by today's career-politicians and those Hollywood celebrities we hold in high esteem.

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The Paradox of Expertise. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. The city, after all, nurtured Western civilization thousands of years ago. Athens remains on the world stage to this day. Notably, in the world came to the city for the Olympic Games , which spurred a dramatic makeover for Athens. In addition to building a raft of new sports venues and facilities including a stadium designed by Santiago Calatrava , Athens undertook massive transportation infrastructure improvements that included dramatic expansion of public transportation and the construction of a new international airport.

Some three centuries after the death of Pericles bce , Athenians entered upon a period of bondage that lasted almost 2, years. The city was freed in , and in the following years it was the scene of more than a dozen revolutions, another brutal foreign occupation, and a civil war of especial savagery. This long history of passion and suffering has had considerable effect on the Athenian character. The core of that character is an implacable will to survive, buttressed by a profound sense of loyalty especially to the family and patriotism.

The Greek Orthodox Church , which is directed by a synod sitting in Athens, was a main force in keeping alive the Greek language , tradition, and literature when such things were forbidden, and most people still support it.

The millennia of oppression, instead of driving the Athenians into obtuse moroseness, have honed their wit and rendered them tough but supple, while centuries of privation have only preserved their warmth and generosity. The long oral tradition, alive even under the invader, has reflected and stimulated a taste for rich talk. One point that has frequently been overlooked is the distinction between what is moral and what is legal. It is this point that the dialog is intended to clarify. It is simply not true that all laws should be obeyed under any and all conditions.

This is indicated when Socrates admits that on two occasions he violated the laws of the city, and he makes no apology for doing so in either instance. He has stated on different occasions that he will obey God rather than man, which means that he will not violate the demands of his own conscience in order to do what the state has ordered him to do.

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Why then should he refuse to escape prison just because the law requires him to remain there? Although one may violate the laws of the land in order to satisfy the demands of his conscience, he has the moral obligation to accept the penalty for the violation of those laws that is imposed by the state.

To do otherwise would mean a repudiation of the system of law and order that makes living in a civilized society possible. The conversation between Crito and Socrates takes place in the early hours of the morning. Socrates has been sleeping soundly in spite of the fact that he knows the time for his execution is close at hand. The calm and quiet manner with which Socrates accepts his fate astonishes his visitor, but it is only one more illustration of the extent to which Socrates has achieved control of his feelings and emotions. He has always insisted that the good life is one in which the individual's activities are governed by reason and not by the feelings of the moment.

His teaching in this respect is imparted as much by his example as by anything he says.

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The date for Socrates' execution has been delayed for about a month, pending the return of the ship from the island of Delos. The brief reference to his dream is an example of the popular belief that events may be foretold in that manner. In this instance, it proved to be correct. Crito explained that his coming at so early an hour was due to his belief that the time was short and if any action was to be taken it must be done at once.

Socrates informs him that it will require one more day for the ship to reach Athens, and they will have plenty of time to discuss whatever it is that Crito has in mind. Crito has come for the purpose of pleading with Socrates to escape from prison. He has a number of reasons for believing this is what Socrates should do, and he hopes that by setting forth these reasons he can convince Socrates that it is not only morally right but the part of wisdom for him to act as Crito is urging him to do.

One reason that Crito advances is based chiefly on what he anticipates people will say in the event that Socrates remains in prison and is put to death. They will say that his friend Crito might have saved him if he had been willing to furnish the money to purchase his freedom. Such accusations could only add to the grief that Crito would already have experienced in the loss of a friend who could never be replaced. Crito has stated that he would gladly give all the money he has if by so doing he could secure Socrates' freedom, and if that should prove to be not enough, he knows of several friends who would likewise contribute whatever was necessary to accomplish this purpose.

But there are other reasons, too, why Crito believes that Socrates should escape.

The court that had condemned him was not a competent court. Their understanding was not sufficient to enable them to determine if Socrates was really a corrupter of the youth. Their judgment was not a correct one, and, therefore, Socrates is under no obligation to see that it is carried out. Again, Crito maintains that it is proper and right to return evil for evil.

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Because Socrates has been treated in an evil manner, it will be only a matter of justice for him to treat the state in a like manner. To support his position still further, Crito points out that by refusing to escape from prison, Socrates will be inflicting a great hardship on the members of his own family. He has no right to bring children into the world and then fail to provide them with the nurture and education to which they are entitled.

Finally, Crito mentions that in case Socrates should leave Athens and go into exile, there are good prospects for his being well received. Crito has friends in Thessaly, and Socrates could live among them in peace, with no fears that the inhabitants of that place would ever cause him any trouble. If Socrates is hesitant about making his escape because he fears that such an action on his part would get his friends into trouble, Crito reminds him that he need have no such fear, for with a small amount of money that his friends would be happy to contribute, they could buy off the informers who would report to the authorities concerning his escape.

In reply to what Crito has been saying, Socrates expresses his appreciation for the friendship and goodwill that have been displayed and for the zeal that has been manifested in their presentation. Still, Socrates is not convinced that he should escape from prison or that it would be morally right for him to attempt any such action.

He has listened carefully to Crito's arguments and will state his reasons for objecting to each of them. Crito is wrong in allowing the opinion of the many to influence his judgment. Socrates tells him that it is not the opinion of the majority that is most important but rather the opinion of the ones who have an adequate understanding of the issue that is involved. It is true that in a democracy, it is the will of the majority that is supposed to prevail, but neither Socrates nor Plato believe in democracy so long as it is interpreted to mean that the opinion of ignorant persons is to be given equal weight with the opinion of those who are well informed.

They do, however, believe in the democratic principle that in the administration of the laws all persons should be treated alike. No discrimination based on wealth or social position should be permitted. With regard to the rightness of an escape from prison, the situation is analogous to that of one who is being trained in gymnastics or one who is physically ill.

It is not the opinion of the majority that should be consulted but rather the opinion of the trainer in one case and that of the qualified physician in the other. Crito should be reminded that it is only the opinion of those who have a clear understanding of what is right and wrong that should influence his decision. Socrates does not deny that he has been treated unjustly by the court, and neither does he think that the judges who condemned him were competent to determine the correctness of his religious views or to decide whether he had really been a corrupter of the youth.

He does not agree with Crito that these facts are sufficient to make it right for him to escape prison by violating the law that has been prescribed. The issue that is raised in this connection has been a controversial one, and it is by no means clear that the intellectual Greeks of Socrates' day would have agreed with him. We do know that after the death of Socrates, Plato did leave Athens because he did not think it would be safe for him to remain there. At a later date, Plato's pupil Aristotle left Athens to escape death at the hands of the anti-Macedonians, saying that he wanted to spare the city from another crime against philosophy.

It has been suggested by some Greek scholars that Plato might have escaped from prison if he had been in Socrates' position. We cannot be certain about what he would have done under these circumstances, but there is one important difference between Plato and Socrates at the time when the conversation with Crito took place: Socrates was seventy years old, while Plato was only a young man in his early thirties.

Socrates had spent his entire life in Athens. During all of those years, he had been the recipient of the many benefits that the city bestowed and had often acknowledged his indebtedness to its system of government and social order.

Athens:Till Death Do Us Part

If he had chosen to do so, he could have left the city at any time, but his very presence and participation in the life of the city was evidence of his approval of the way in which its activities had been maintained. Plato was at this time too young to have been under the same or equal obligation to the state inasmuch as he had not received as much from it.