Now Online! | Plato’s Phaedo, translated by Gwenda-lin Grewal

“You yourself, Phaedo, were you present with Socrates on that day on which he drank the poison in the prison, or did you hear from someone else?” Thus begins the account of the final day in the life of Socrates, as portrayed by Plato in the Phaedo, which the CHS is pleased to offer in a new translation by Gwenda-lin Grewal, Visiting Assistant Professor at Vassar College and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University:

[…] As it is, therefore, Simmias,” he said, “those who rightly philosophize are training to die, and being dead is fearful to them least of all of human beings. But examine it from the following: if they’ve been set at odds with the body in every place, but they desire (epithumein) to have the soul (psukhē) herself by herself, but after this comes to be, if they are afraid and are vexed, wouldn’t it be very irrational (alogia), if {68a} they were not to go to that place pleased, where there is a hope for the those who have arrived to hit upon what they were in love with throughout life—and they were in love with thoughtfulness (phronēsis)—released from the company of this with which they had been set at odds? Or, as to their human beloveds, on the one hand, both women and sons who have died, surely many are willing to go to Hades with them, being led by the hope of this, of both seeing and being with in that place the ones whom they were desiring (epithumein). But, as it is, will anyone who is in love with thoughtfulness (phronēsis), and who has seized to an extreme degree this same hope, when he will hit upon it in no other place in a way worthy of speech than in {b} Hades, be vexed and not pleased to go to that very place? It is necessary to suppose it at least, comrade, if at least he is, in reality, a philosopher. Since these things will seem so to him in the extreme—nowhere else except in that place will he hit upon thoughtfulness (phronēsis) purely. And if this is so, namely the very thing which I was presently saying, wouldn’t there be a lot of irrationality (alogia) if he is afraid of such a death?”

Featured image: “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.