Author: Hart St. John
“You’ve reached the dwelling of Socrates, if you’ve called hoping for a public apology, please hang up, and don’t call again. Hemlock suppliers, please leave me detailed instructions on where to procure your wares. Time is of the essence. Thanks for calling.”
“Socrates, it’s Plato, oh, I just heard the news. It’s terrible! Execution. I can’t believe they didn’t give you a hand-slap and make you pay a fine like the rest of the lawless. Did you really say you were the gods’ gift to Athens? Ugh, they probably twisted your words around to serve their own end. I told you last week to GET OUT. But nooo, you stubborn old fool, you had to stay. Exile was just too good for you.
“Course, I bet you knew this was coming. I mean, you always told us your daimonion—your inner spirit—had a gift of foresight. So no real surprise there. I just can’t believe with the way you could make someone’s head turn with all those damn questions that it was impiety against the gods in the end that got you. I would’ve thought it was the mob! Go figure. Now look at you. You’re headed for the block.
“And if that wasn’t bad enough, I just saw the evening tablet news, the chiseled headline mentions they also got you on charges for corrupting the youth—I think they meant one too many lovers if you ask me. By the gods, Socrates, what are you going to do?
“Well, look, at seventy, you’ve kind of built the rep of being a crazy ol’ coot, so no one will blame you if you flee. They’re kind of expecting it. I spoke to Critobulus and Apollodorus and they’re totally up for a midnight breakout and escapade to get you out of town. Maybe you could head on over to Potidaea for a festival to Apollo—my bad, I guess the whole god thing is out—oh, we might be able to get you on a boat headed to Olympus, maybe catch the games if you’re not too late. I hear Diodorus is a shoo-in on the discus throw.
“I got to tell you, friend, that I heard some rumors you’re going to take the sanctimonious high road and carry out your own execution. Please tell me otherwise. I can’t imagine Athens without your scruffy face.
“If you do go through with it, I’ll have my work cut out for me. (I was your favorite student, wasn’t I?) I’ll do my best to make sure you’re remembered as the most wise and just man in all of Greece. But I gotta tell you, as the man who is known for saying, “If I know one thing, it’s that I know nothing,” I’m thinking my job is gonna be pretty hard.
“The upside is that history, even without my help, should record you as a man who spoke up, expressed his views publically, and wasn’t afraid of what others thought of him. Now that’s virtue. And look, I’m clearly one of those youths you corrupted, and I still love you!
“Okay, buddy, I hope you get this message in time. Let’s plan your escape, or not. And if I can’t persuade you to reconsider the whole poison option, maybe we can at least plan a big party sendoff with lots of wine, and plenty of women—or men, your preference, you are the one heading to Hades after all.
“Knowledge is life, my friend.”