Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Plato's Phaedo. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Phaedo: Plot Summary
Phaedo: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Phaedo: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Plato
Historical Context of Phaedo
Other Books Related to Phaedo
- Full Title: Phaedo
- When Written: Sometime in the 4th Century BCE
- Literary Period: Ancient Greek Philosophy
- Genre: Philosophy, Philosophical Dialogue, Fiction
- Setting: Athens, Greece, where Socrates waits in prison for his execution.
- Climax: Having successfully argued for the immortality of the soul, Socrates drinks poison hemlock as his friends and fellow philosophers weep at his side.
- Antagonist: None of Socrates’s detractors appear in Phaedo, and even the jailer who watches over him expresses a fondness for him. Consequently, the only antagonist in the dialogue is lazy or complacent thinking, which Socrates urges his listeners to avoid.
- Point of View: Dialogue
Extra Credit for Phaedo
The Socratic Problem. Socrates was a prolific thinker and well-known philosopher in Ancient Greece, but none of his writing—if indeed he ever wrote anything at all—has survived. For this reason, philosophers and historians must sift through secondary accounts of his scholarship to understand his ideas, studying the works of thinkers like Plato and Xenophon, both of whom wrote about Socrates. The fact that these accounts often contradict one another is known as The Socratic Problem.
Dust in the Wind. In the 1989 film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter), teenagers Bill and Ted travel back in time to Ancient Greece, where they encounter Socrates and, in an attempt to “philosophize” with him, say, “All we are is dust in the wind, dude.” This statement deeply impresses the fictionalized Socrates, even if its message of impermanence clashes with the philosopher’s belief in the indestructibility of the soul.