Socates V. Perpetua Essay

1793 Words Mar 31st, 2014 8 Pages
The Death of Socrates vs. The Death of Perpetua
Civil disobedience has been a common element in human behavior. From the time of antiquity to the present, people lash out in various ways against standards that society has placed upon citizens. Two ancient examples of disobedient actions come from different ages revered for standards that hold today and provide a basis for modern law; the Greek and ancient Roman empires. From the Greeks, we have come to know the story of Socrates as memorialized by Plato, and the Roman age was the time of Perpetua, an early Christian woman. The fate of those individuals is the same – a death sentence handed down by the society they lived in. Although the conclusion of their respective lives is the same,
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As the anecdote preceding Crito implies, no death sentence can be carried out during the religious mission to Delos. Essentially, the state religion provided a moment in which Socrates could have fled imprisonment, potentially saving his life. However, escape meant compromising and demeaning the laws that protects the society Socrates greatly admired and respected. The state provided the foundation upon which his convictions were built.
More importantly, Socrates’s relationship to the state is made clear during the dialogue with his friend Crito, when speaking as if Socrates is the state himself. When asking how important the state is, the law asks; “Is your…country to be honored more than…all your ancestors…that it counts for more among the gods and sensible men, that you must worship it…?” Rather than a statement, Socrates makes his point that the law must be upheld, even in his case of a death sentence. It is important to note that Socrates accepted his fate, even though he felt the accusations against him were false. Yet, as if speaking on behalf of the law, recognized that escaping would only turn those untruthful indictments into the truth, and as a destroyer of laws; “You will strengthen the conviction of the jury that they passed the right sentence on you.” By the definition of the word martyr, as one who dies for a cause, in this instance the laws of the state,