Crito of Alopece

Crito of Alopece

Crito[1] of Alopece[2] was a faithful, probably lifelong companion of Socrates. The two had evidently grown up together as friends, being from the same deme and of roughly the same age (Plato, Apology 33d-e). Plato portrays Crito as present at the trial and execution of Socrates, attending to the familial and practical matters having to do with the philosopher's death (Phaedo 60a, 63d-e, 115b-117a, 118a); so Crito survived Socrates, but for how long, we do not know. According to Plato, in addition to offering to help pay a proposed fine at Socrates' sentencing (Apology 38b), Crito swore before Socrates' judges that the philosopher would remain in prison until the execution rather than attempt to flee Athens (Phaedo 115d), even though he is portrayed in the dialogue named after him as urging Socrates, for the sake of his friends and family, to allow Crito and the Thebians Simmias and Cebes and others to bribe the prison guards so that Socrates might flee to Thessaly, where he could seek asylum with friends of Crito's who lived there (Crito 44b-46a). Crito appears to have been a wealthy businessman (Plato Euthydemus 304c) who evidently made his money from running a successful farm (Euthydemus 291e; Xenophon Memorabilia 2.9.2-4). Crito seems to have married a woman with impressive aristocratic pedigree (Euthydemus 306e), though we do not know her name.


Disciple or merely a friend?

Though Xenophon counts Crito in the small circle of genuine associates of Socrates (Memorabilia 1.2.48), neither Xenophon nor Plato portrays Crito as very philosophically inclined. The dialogue Crito makes it clear that he has participated in more than one philosophical conversation with Socrates (see 49a, 49b, 49e); but he is depicted in that dialogue, as well as in the Phaedo, as surprisingly forgetful and/or inattentive of fundamental Socratic tenets, and his concerns in the Phaedo are entirely practical in contrast to those of some of Socrates' other friends who are eager to share the philosopher's last hours in deep philosophical debate; also, in Plato's Euthydemus, Crito replies with an emphatic, "No, by Zeus!", to the question of whether he pays attention to the talk of "these wise men", among whom Socrates is the most prominent (304d). He is even portrayed in the Euthydemus as reluctant to provide his sons with an education in philosophy (306e-307a), even though he appears at the dialogue's end to be convinced that it would be "unjust" to not turn over his sons to any philosopher (307b); perhaps we are given to believe that Crito at least urged his sons to follow Socrates (cf. Xenophon Symposium 4.24 and see below). The overall impression, given the scant evidence, is that Crito was for the most part a fairly typical upperclass Athenian of fairly typical Athenian sentiments who devoted most of his attention to business and other practical affairs and who just happened to be a devoted friend - rather than a follower - of one of history's most famous philosophers. Neither Plato nor Xenophon - our earliest and best sources - give us any good reason to believe later accounts according to which Crito wrote Socratic dialogues. If he did, none of them survive and none are quoted by later writers of whom we know. (The earliest of such accounts is Diogenes Laertius Lives 2.121; Diogenes is often unreliable, especially when he does not cite a source.) [citation?]

Crito is described in Plato’s Dialogues (Crito) as the associate that attempts to convince Socrates to escape from jail, arguing on both on logical and emotional grounds that Socrates’ decision to remain in jail, despite his ability to leave, will only cause harm to Socrates and those close to him.[3] During Socrates last hours of life, Crito serves as a sort valet to Socrates’ final needs and is the last individual to whom Socrates speaks (he asks Crito to offer a sacrifice to the Greek god Asclepius).[4] After Socrates death, it is Crito that attends to Socrates’ body, closing Socrates’ eyes and mouth.[5]


Crito had some number of sons; we do not know how many, possibly only two (Euthydemus 306d). Among them was Critobulus (Κριτόβουλος), the eldest, who was one of Socrates' young followers, roughly Plato's age (Apology 33c-34a). Critobulus was old enough to offer - along with his father, Plato, and Apollodorus - to help Socrates pay if the court chose to fine Socrates (Apology 38b). Critobulus was also present at Socrates' execution (Phaedo 59b), though he does not speak in the dialogue. Xenophon depicts Socrates as chastising the supposedly otherwise moderate Critobulus for kissing "the beautiful son of Alcibiades" (Memorabilia 1.3.8-10; cf. his Symposium 4.23-26). In Xenophon's Memorabilia 2.6, there is a conversation on friendship between Socrates and Critobulus. In the Telauges of Aeschines Socraticus, Socrates appears to have criticized Critobulus for his ignorance and ostentatiousness, though only fragments of the dialogue survive.


  1. ^ Ancient Greek: Κρίτων, gen.: Κρίτωνος.
  2. ^ Alopece was a deme of Athens.
  3. ^ Plato. Euthyphro. Trans. G. M. A. Grube. In Five Dialogues. 2nd ed. Rev. John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2002.
  4. ^ Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers (1926) New York: Simon & Schuster, revised edition 1933.
  5. ^ Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers (1926) New York: Simon & Schuster, revised edition 1933.

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