24 pages 48 minutes read



Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.


Individuals Versus Institutions

Throughout Crito, there is much discussion of wrongdoing and harm. These issues are pertinent to the dialogue both because of Socrates’s trial and death sentence and because of the question of whether Socrates would be doing harm by escaping. When it comes to the idea of harm, there is always the harmer (the entity who does wrong) and the harmed (the entity to whom wrong is done). Socrates argues, “Neither to do wrong nor to return a wrong is ever correct, nor is doing harm in return for harm done” (49d). Doing harm is bad even when the harmer has been harmed. However, these entities (harmer and harmed) are not always of the same type—in Crito there are individuals, such as Socrates and the jurors who convicted him, and there are institutions, such as the laws of Athens and the city itself. Socrates shows how Crito conflates individual and institutional harm when he tries to convince Socrates to escape.

Crito attempts to differentiate between individuals and non-individuals when he starts the dialogue by discussing reputation. He tells Socrates, “One must also pay attention to the opinion of the majority. Your present situation makes clear that the majority can inflict not the least but pretty well the greatest evils if one is slandered among them” (44d).