“The Phaedo” relates the manner in which Socrates spent the last day of his life and the circumstances attending his death. He is visited by a number of his friends, among whom are Phaedo, Simmias and Crito. When his friends arrive they find him sitting upon a bed rubbing his legs, which have just been released from bonds. He remarks upon the unaccountable connection between pleasure and pain, and from this the conversation gradually turns to a consideration of the question of the immortality of the soul. He convinces his listeners of the pre-existence of the soul; but they are still skeptical as to its immortality, urging that its pre-existence and the fact that it is more durable than the body does not preclude the possibility of its being mortal. Socrates, however, argues that contraries cannot exist in the same thing at the same time, as, for example, the same object cannot partake of both magnitude and littleness at the same time. In like manner, heat while it is heat can never admit the idea of cold. Life and death are contraries and can never coexist; but wherever there is life there is soul, so that the soul contains that which is contrary to death and can never admit death; consequently the soul is immortal.
Having convinced his listeners, Socrates bathes and takes leave of his children and the women of his family. Thereupon the officer appears and tells him it is time for him to drink the poison. At this his friends commence to weep and are rebuked by Socrates for their weakness. He drinks the poison calmly and without hesitation, and then begins to walk about, still conversing with his friends. His limbs soon grow stiff and heavy and he lays himself down upon his back. His last words are: “Crito, we owe a cock to AEsculapius; pay it, therefore, and do not neglect it.”
I know not, O Athenians! how far you have been influenced by my accusers for my part, in listening to them I almost forgot myself, so plausible were their arguments however, so to speak, they have said nothing true. But of the many falsehoods which they uttered I wondered at one of them especially, that in which they said that you ought to be on your guard lest you should be deceived by me, as being eloquent in speech. For that they are not ashamed of being forthwith convicted by me in fact, when I shall show that I am not by any means eloquent, this seemed to me the most shameless thing in them, unless indeed they call him eloquent who speaks the truth. For, if they mean this, then I would allow that I am an orator, but not after their fashion for they, as I affirm, have said nothing true, but from me you shall hear the whole truth. Not indeed, Athenians, arguments highly wrought, as theirs were, with choice phrases and expressions, nor adorned, but you shall hear a speech uttered without premeditation in such words as first present themselves.