'Socrates and Antigone: Two ways not to be martyred' a talk by Prof Sophie-Grace Chappell 8 September 2015 7.30 - 9pm

Not all martyrdoms[1] are worth it. Some martyrdoms are not worth it even in the martyr’s own terms. Here I argue first– very briefly– that Antigone’s martyrdom was worth it, at least in her own terms (§1). At greater length I argue next that, in contrast, Socrates’ martyrdom was not worth it, even in (what we might have expected to be) his own terms (§2). Then (§3) I examine their “terms”, their beliefs, as depicted in Plato’s Crito and Sophocles’ Antigone respectively. This examination will produce the surprise that Socrates’ terms are not what we might have expected them to be.

[1] I use “martyrdom” to mean “any choice to accept death which is made by an agent on the grounds that adherence to his or her principles makes death unavoidable, given the behaviour of others”. It is no objection to this definition that Antigone dies by her own hand, and might have been saved. For Antigone did “accept death”, and she did not know that her own death was not unavoidable, since she had no reason to expect that Creon was going to change his mind at the last minute.