It is 300 BC. You are a Platonist. Your friend, also a student, has just been condemned to death by the Athenian Court. Write a letter preparing him for his last hours.

Essay by CrustyJonesUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, March 2004

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My dear Aias,

For the first time in a long time I am lost for words, so there is some good news for you at least. I wonder is it will do any good to ask how you are feeling. I think it is probably obvious that you have many negative feelings. I propose then that we spend the duration of this letter meditating on what your execution implies so that you me be better prepared for the inevitable. I can not think of a greater gift to give you than that of a peaceful death.

I am almost drawn to a case I have read and heard about it my studies. You will undoubtedly know about the wisest Greek in history, Socrates. There are parallels between you case and his, one which occurred almost exactly a hundred years ago, so this is no unlikely candidate for the beginning of our rationalising.

Socrates had many chances to avoid his execution, he could have advised against it, but he did not, he could have escaped, but he did not. I hear you say 'some wisest man, he walked head strong to his own death!' but the reasons I have heard he gave are substantial enough to help you feel more at ease about your own execution.

Firstly he recognised the authority of the City. It was not so much a case of a judgement as it was an order, and an agreement. As a citizen of Athens it was his duty to accept this agreement once it was made. He argued that to go against this agreement would be to go against the city and go against his own virtues. It was then a reason of honour that saw him die.

Let us think about this a little more closely,