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Speech III: After the Trial

(14) To the Jurors Who Acquitted Him
40a-42a

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Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to

Jowett's Notes

talk with you about the thing which has come to pass, while  

Odysseus and Others Heroes Will Be
Waiting for Socrates in Hades
The Vatican Exhibit

the magistrates are  
busy, and before I go  
40a to the place at which  
I must die. Stay then  
a little, for we may as  
well talk with one  
another while there is  
time. You are my friends,  
and I should like to show  
you the meaning of this  
event which has happened to me. O my judges - for you I may  
truly call judges - I should like to tell you of a wonderful  
circumstance. Hitherto the divine faculty of which the internal oracle He believes that what is happening to him will be good, because the internal oracle gives no sign of opposition.
is the source has constantly been in the habit of opposing me even 
about trifles, I was going to make a slip or error in any matter; and
now as you see there has come upon me that which may be
40b thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and worst evil. But  
the oracle made no sign of opposition, either when I was leaving  
my house in the morning, or when I was on my way to the  
court, or while I was speaking, at anything which I was going  
to say; and yet I have often been stopped in the middle of a  
speech, but now in nothing I either said or did touching the  
matter in hand has the oracle opposed me. What do I take to  
40c be the explanation of this silence? I will tell you. It is an  
intimation that what has happened to me is a good, and that  
those of us who think that death is an evil are in error. For the  
customary sign would surely have opposed me had I been  
going to evil and not to good.  

 
Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is Death either a good or nothing: - a profound sleep.
great reason to hope that death is a good; for one of two
things - either death is a state of nothingness and utter  
40d unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and  
migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you  
suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the  
sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be  
an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in  
which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to  
compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then  
were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the  
course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I  
think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the  
40e great king will not find many such days or nights, when  
compared with the others. Now if death be of such a nature, I  
say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night.  
But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men  
say, all the dead abide, what good, O my friends and judges, How blessed to have a just judgment passed on us; to converse with Homer and Hesiod; to see the heroes of Troy, and to continue the search after knowledge in another world!
can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in
41a the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice
in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give no
judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and
Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in
their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What  
would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and  
Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me  
die again and again. I myself, too, shall have a wonderful  
41b interest in there meeting and conversing with Palamedes, and  
Ajax the son of Telamon, and any other ancient hero who has  
suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there will be  
small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with  
theirs. Above all, I shall then be able to continue my search  
into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in the  
next; and I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be  
wise, and is not. What would not a m an give, O judges , to be  
able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or  
41c Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women  
too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with  
them and asking them questions! In another world they do not  
put a man to death for asking questions: assuredly not. For  
besides being happier than we are, they will be immortal, if  
what is said is true.  

 
Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and  
know of a certainty, that no evil can happen to a good man,  
41d either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the  
gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere  
chance. But I see clearly that the time had arrived when it was  
better for me to die and be released from trouble, wherefore  
the oracle gave no sign. For which reason, also, I am not  
angry with my condemners, or with my accusers; they have  
done me no harm, although they did not mean to do me any  
good; and for this I may gently blame them.  

 

41e
Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are grown Do to my sons and I have done to you.
up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I
would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they  
seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about  
virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are  
really nothing, - then reprove them, as I have reproved you,  
for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and  
thinking that they are something when they are really.  
42a nothing. And if you do this, both I and my sons will have  
received justice at your hands.  

 
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to  
die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.  
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