Plato’s “Apology” and “Crito” are nearly always assigned to be read together, which makes perfect sense because they are so closely related. In “Apology,” Socrates gets sentenced to death; and in “Crito,” Socrates’ buddy, Crito, tries to convince Socrates to fly the coop before the sentence can be carried out. There is no time to lose, since the ship from Delos has arrived, signaling that Socrates will be put to death very soon.
Socrates is reluctant to flee his own doom, but he agrees to listen to Crito, and to put to the test his arguments in favor of escape. Crito loves Socrates, and he fears that others will believe the disgraceful idea that he would not spare the money to save Socrates’ life. He points out that Socrates is deserting his own children, and appears to be taking the easy way out. Crito is also concerned that Socrates fears that anyone who helps him to escape will get into trouble with the authorities, which they both agree is a possibility.
Socrates argues that the fear of what others will think should not be a consideration because the “doctrines of the multitude” are invalid, and only the opinion of the one person with complete understanding should actually be consulted.
Crito further argues that the law that condemns Socrates is unjust and should not be upheld; however, Socrates is concerned that in leaving the prison he is doing wrong against the state. Socrates contends that he should value and obey the state which “nurtured and educated” him above even his mother and father. He rightly points out that he had every opportunity to leave the state during his lifetime, and was even offered exile as a possible punishment during the trial, but categorically refused. Furthermore, why would any decent state welcome a known felon such as himself?
In the end, Socrates decides that he would prefer to “depart (the world) in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; a victim, not of the laws but of men.” He tells Crito, “Think not of life and children first, and of justice afterwards, but of justice first, that you may be justified before the princes of the world below.”