Study Guide

Plato Files

Plato's Personal Diary: "Dialogue With Myself"

Monday

It's nice to finally write something that's meant for my eyes alone. But is this really me who's writing it? Who gives titles to his personal diary, anyway? Maybe this is, in fact, pseudo-Plato. After all, there are 13 letters that I supposedly wrote and there's debate about the authenticity of every single one of them. Well, why not give them one more piece of writing to worry about? That's always fun.

Wednesday

Saw Socrates yesterday. Wow is he smart! He reduced his interlocutor to tears. I pretended to be sympathetic, but I was secretly smirking inside. Good times!

Saturday

There's a rumor going around Athens that Socrates is going to be put on trial. I say let them try it. Ha! He'll talk circles around all of them and by the end, his accusers will be begging his forgiveness and wanting to become his students. The truth will win out, as it always does. This will be fun to watch.

Tuesday

Well, things didn't turn out at the trial exactly the way I anticipated. (Note for future writing: there seems to be a difference between our ideals and actual reality. Reflect on this.) It turns out that rather than being impressed and swayed by a good argument, some people respond by wanting to kill the arguer. Weird. The ways of the hoi polloi are such a mystery to me.

Wednesday

I'm so angry at those jurors, but I must remember what Socrates always says. What was it? Oh yes, no one does wrong willingly. People who do bad things do so always believing them to be good things. They are acting out of ignorance, so it doesn't make sense to blame them or be angry.

Instead, the proper response here is to educate those jury members, to allow them to see what is truly good. Yes, I can feel these wise words beginning to calm the agitation in my soul. Right? Maybe a little? Oh, who am I kidding? I'm going to strangle those creeps with my bare hands!

Sunday

Our last hope for Socrates is gone! Crito went to his prison with an offer to help him escape. But of course, Socrates rejected the offer, as I knew he would. Instead of saving himself, he made some grand argument establishing the basis for civil disobedience. He said he has always benefitted by being a citizen of Athens and so he is obligated to follow its laws. Therefore, if he is not able to legally persuade the state to spare his life, he should abide by its judgment. Must he always be so high-minded?

Tuesday

The worst has happened! Socrates has drunk the hemlock and is now dead! I couldn't bring myself to be there on his final day, but I heard they had a great discussion about death, the immortality of the soul, and the pursuit of philosophy. What else would you talk about when you're about to be unjustly executed? I think I'll write a dialogue about it. It's always easiest to write historical accounts when they're not clouded by the actual facts.

Friday

Got drunk again last night. It's not helping. All I kept thinking about was how much more fun it was to drink when he was around. We'd talk and talk and then maybe Alcibiades would come by and say some crazy stuff. And we'd talk some more. But this was just…depressing.

Wednesday

All right, I've had it. I'm splitting this dump. Goodbye, Athens! You'll be sorry one day for what you did. But I won't be around to hear your apology. And I wouldn't accept it anyway.

Monday

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written anything here. Just too busy traveling and churning out those dialogues. What's it been—10 years or so? How time keeps slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future! …Wait, that's the wrong quote (I still have trouble mimicking the words of the people.) I think the appropriate cliché here is, how time flies! (What does that even mean anyway? I didn't realize time had wings.)

Well, I've been pretty much everywhere since I left—Cyrene, Italy, Egypt. But it's nice to be back in good old Athens. And it's fun reading my earlier diary entries and seeing how young and naïve I was then. "Socrates will convince them with arguments." "The truth will always win out." Ha! Far from trying to convince the hoi polloi with arguments, I know now that the wise man never even speaks his true thoughts in public. But do I even believe that? Hard to say. At this point, I'm so crafty I've even got myself fooled.