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6. The Principle of Implied Consent


Socrates. Then the laws will say: "Consider, Socrates, if this is
true, that in your present attempt you are going to do us
wrong. For, after having brought you into the world, and
51d nurtured and educated you, and given you and every other
citizen a share in every good that we had to give, we further
proclaim and give the right to every Athenian, that if he does
not like us when he has come of age and has seen the ways of
the city, and made our acquaintance, he may go where he
pleases and take his goods with him; and none of us laws will
forbid him or interfere with him. Any of you who does not
like us and the city, and who wants to go to a colony or to any
other city, may go where he likes, and take his goods with
51e him . But he who has experience of the manner in which we
order justice and administer the State, and still remains, has
entered into an implied contract that he will do as we
command him. And he who disobeys us is, as we maintain,
thrice wrong: first, because in disobeying us he is disobeying
his parents; secondly, because we are the authors of his
education; thirdly, because he has made an agreement with us
that he will duly obey our commands; and he neither obeys
them nor convinces us that our commands are wrong; and we
do not rudely impose them, but give him the alternative of
obeying or convincing us; that is what we offer, and he does
52a neither. These are the sort of accusations to which, as we
were saying, you, Socrates, will be exposed if you accomplish
your intentions; you, above all other Athenians." Suppose I
ask, why is this? They will justly retort upon me that I above
all other men have acknowledged the agreement. "There is
52b clear proof," they will say, "Socrates, that we and the city
were not displeasing to you. Of all Athenians you have been
the most constant resident in the city, which, as you never
leave, you may be supposed to love. For you never went out
of the city either to see the games, except once when you went
to the Isthmus, or to any other place unless when you were on
military service; nor did you travel as other men do. Nor had

Socrates Served as a Hoplite
Artist: Ru Dien-Jen
you any curiosity to know other States or their laws: your
affections did not go beyond us and our State; we were your
special favorites, and you acquiesced in our government of
52c you; and this is the State in which you begat your children,
which is a proof of your satisfaction Moreover, you might, if
you had liked, have fixed the penalty at banishment in the
course of the trial -- the State which refuses to let you go now
would have let you go then. But you pretended that you
preferred death to exile, and that you were not grieved at
death. And now you have forgotten these fine sentiments, and
pay no respect to us, the laws, of whom you are the destroyer;
52d and are doing what only a miserable slave would do, running
away and turning your back upon the compacts and
agreements which you made as a citizen. And first of all
answer this very question: Are we right in saying that you
agreed to be governed according to us in deed, and not in
word only? Is that true or not?" How shall we answer that,
Crito? Must we not agree?

Crito. There is no help, Socrates.

Soc. Then will they not say: "You, Socrates, are breaking the
52e covenants and agreements which you made with us at your
leisure, not in any haste or under any compulsion or
deception, but having had seventy years to think of them,
during which time you were at liberty to leave the city, if we
were not to your mind, or if our covenants appeared to you to
be unfair. You had your choice, and might have gone either to
Lacedaemon or Crete, which you often praise for their good
53a government, or to some other Hellenic or foreign State.
Whereas you, above all other Athenians, seemed to be so fond
of the State, or, in other words, of us her laws (for who
would like a State that has no laws), that you never stirred
out of her: the halt, the blind, the maimed, were not more
stationary in her than you were. And now you run away and
forsake your agreements. Not so, Socrates, if you will take
our advice; do not make yourself ridiculous by escaping out of
the city.