Death is an inevitable and strange event, doesn’t come when ones expects it to, more like a surprise to say. It cannot be outsmarted. Someday, if death were to give the exact day and time to cease an individual, many of us would have found some way around it until we were tired of running and finally ready to accept our fate. Death has no calendar and no one can escape it. We go through our daily lives fearing our unknown fate which always ends up one way or the other as death.
Why do we still decide to hide and find excuses when faced with death? The text in context “You see, whether in trial or in a war, neither I nor anyone else should contrive to escape death at all costs” (38e). If Socrates, a philosopher, was so open to dying for doing the work of the oracle, if so, why did he see it fit to take up the floor to defend himself from a situation in which he already knew his fate?
If you have lived a just life on the earth and haven’t wrong anyone, you should be able to stand firm when death knocks on your door during any kind of circumstance.
Since Socrates stood on the word that he was doing the works of the god, he had nothing to fear because in his eyes and in that of the gods he has lived a pleasing life. His life lived was not meaningless, he had played his part in shaping the younger generation in some way.
But the people of Athens did not see it from his perspective, all they saw was a man trying to prove them wrong at their specialty. It is more like Socrates was learning how to die than how to live with how he went around interrogating people. His fate was no longer in his hands from the moment he took on the task of solving the riddle. Socrates was not going to lower himself to begging the jury of the court to forgive him of the various charges leveled against him, because he knew of death penalty against him. He wasn’t going to be like all the others who have once been accused and had to bring in family members to make a scene to plead for a lesser punishment. Pleading with the court for a lesser punishment or not, death will eventually come when it’s time.
He was not a very calculated man when it came to his actions or how he came across to the people of Athens in the marketplace and his daily life, but his view on dying was calculated, for he had other plans in mind for an unknown journey he was yet to embark on when he died. More of an adventure to him. His name had made its mark, whether the people accepted it or not. Socrates was prepared to go, from the very beginning he embarked on the quest to understand the gods riddle. To show how ready he was to embrace death, Socrates concluded with “now it’s time to leave, I to die and you to live. Which of us goes to the better thing, however, is unclear to everyone except the god.” His old age was not stopping him from accepting his fate.
With old age comes death, so there was nothing to escape at this point. If he were young, then running from death would be understandable. Nobody thinks about death at their young age. it is a rumor to the young. But as they approach their old age, it seems much more like a reality and bound to happen. When one finally decides to accept the inevitable and let go, one sees that there are lot of possibilities in life and one tends to look for the truth in certain places he or she would not expect. Socrates did not see death as a bad thing, he had made a friend of death. For he did not know what was waiting for him on the other side when death comes. Like he said in 29b, “no one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all goods for people, but they fear it as if they knew for certain that it’s the worst thing of all”. You’ll never know until you experience it. If you haven’t been there “dead”, why judge what happens there?