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Axiochos – the Socratic dialogue of Plato on the death

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PlatoAxiochus (Greek Ἀξίοχος / Axiochus) is a pseudo-dialogue (Socratic dialogue) on the death, attributed to Plato. The dialogue dated first century BC, and it is of Neopythagoreanism inspiration.

The characters of dialogue

  • Socrates

  • Axiochus, uncle of the general Alcibiades


The Axiochus is one of short apocryphal Socratic dialogues, that the manuscripts associate it with the works of Plato. A dialog of Sphettos Eschine, near Socrates and author of philosophical dialogues, has the same title.


Socrates is walking along the river Ilissos in Athens towards the Palestra cynosarges, when Clinias, accompanied by the music master of Damon Oe, one of the masters of Plato, and by Charmides, comes to tell him that his father, the Athenian politician Axiochus, will die. Philosophizing, Socrates develops an argument not to fear death and narrates a myth told by the Persian magus Gobryas. Socrates’s arguments once developed, Axiochus is getting better, becomes serene, Socrates leaves him and resume its course.


  • First argument (365d-366b): The human body is source of pains, and the man exists only by his soul.

  • Second argument (366d-369b): Life is not worth that pain attaches it; moreover, the gods rush to deliver as quickly as possible to those they love the most. Socrates says this argument belongs to the sophist Prodicus of Ceos.

  • Third argument (369b-d): Death can not grieve nor the living, who do not know her, nor the dead, who do not feel it. Socrates says also this argument belongs to the sophist Prodicus of Ceos.

  • Fourth argument (370b-e): The human being is associated with the immortality of his soul by his achievements, not his possessions.

Even if the style is neat and the quality of argumentation, Axiochus is clearly inauthentic; the arguments are from different philosophical doctrines:

  • Cynic (366b-d)

  • Epicurean (365d-e, 370b-369B)

  • Stoic (370-b-d)

  • Platonic (371a-372a)

The dialogue falls on consolation, hybrid literary genre that reflects both the letter of condolences on the death of someone and the treaty of moral practice around the theme of death.


The Iliad of Homer is mentioned three times:

  • For the gods have spun the unfortunate mortals
    A life of pain.
  • The man is the most miserable of beings
    That breathe or move along the earth.
  • Whoever is dear to Zeus and Apollo
    Does not reach the threshold of old age.

A quote from Epicharmus: “One hand washes the other.

An approximate quote of Bias of Priene “The sailor through so many dangers, and is neither among the dead nor among the living.

An approximate quote of Prodicus of Ceos: “The death concerns neither the living nor the dead.

A verse of the dram Cresphontes of the poet Euripides is quoted: “Lets complain the newborn of aches where he will enter.

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