Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crito, A Peter-Disciple of Socrates Part 2

It's no coincidence that we find shared characteristics between a philosopher's disciple and a messiah's apostle. While both masters endured physical pain, specifically the Agony in the Garden and the Death (suicide) of Socrates by poison, we find two disciples that act rashly on human impulse. Peter reacted violently when Jesus was arrested: "Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear." (Matthew 26:50-51.) We similarly find Crito pleading for Socrates to use his finances to escape from prison: "Simmias the Theban, has brought a sum of money for this very purpose; and Cebes and many others are willing to spend their money too. I say, therefore, do not on that account hesitate about making your escape..." (Crito.) Through both students' seemingly impulsive responses, we use hindsight to prove their humanity and therefore, their actions embody actions that any human being is bound to make. However, through this process in which we justify both disciples' humanity, we tend to overlook how their actions are selfish. I don't mean to deride either of their characters but it is important to signify each of their wrongs, especially the ones that their teachers have highlighted. After His Transfiguration, Jesus "gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves..." (Mark 9:9-10.)My interpretation of this, in addition to Christ's fulfillment of revealing Himself to Man, is that there is an initial limitation to what Jesus was able to share with Peter, (James, and John.) Eventually, however, Jesus gave Peter the "keys of the gates of Heaven," but before this significant turning point in his life's journey as an apostle, Peter was incapable of taking on the full revelation of the "mystery of Christ." (Matthew 16:19, Colossians 4:3.)
This inability that the human disciple embodies is seen ever more clearly in Crito's personality. Failing to live Socrates' teaching, Crito was only capable of regurgitating the words of his teacher, rather than devotedly converting his lifestyle to that of Socrates' doctrine. Consequently, Crito was only able to retain a minimal quantity of teaching and was not allowing his soul to undergo the dramatic changes that Socrates had intended for his followers. Spearheading Socrates' expectations for Crito is existentialism. In essence, Socrates believed in democracy. Condemned by democratic means accounted for in Plato's Apology, Socrates lives unchanged through his incarceration. Crito depicts Socrates in prison: "I wanted you to be out of pain. I have always thought you happy in the calmness of your temperament; but never did I see the like of the easy, cheerful way in which you bear this calamity." By doing so, he signifies living in the "now."    


  1. I'm not sure I would describe their behaviors as "selfish." Maybe compared to their "teachers" they were more human? Possibly being more human may be in itself be more selfish...

  2. I was going more for selfish being a human trait that would embody their short sighted desires. In the conversation between Crito and Socrates, Crito's motivations to free Socrates were for many reasons, including his opportunity to "flex his financial muscles" to loosely put it. Maybe a better Jesus/disciple instance would be found in Luke where the disciples argue. "Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest." (Luke 22:24.) Maybe self-centered or oriented might be the term I'm looking for, but still, the idea that their egocentric attitudes caused them to fall short of what their teachers wanted was what I was trying to get at.