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The Similarities Between Socrates and Jesus Christ

Updated on February 26, 2014
A statue of Socrates.
A statue of Socrates. | Source

In “Phaedo Death Scene” in The Trials of Socrates, Plato depicts Socrates’ last moments before his death. This scene is strikingly similar to the Last Supper and crucifixion of Jesus Christ in The Bible. This is especially significant because Plato lived and wrote before the time of Christianity and Jesus. One explanation for the similarities is that disciples of both men write about the death of their heroes in similar ways, depicting ideal characteristics, regardless of reality.

Jesus and Socrates share several traits during their last living moments. Both men are calm, confident, and accepting of their fate: “‘I’ll no longer stay put, but will take my leave of you and depart for certain happy conditions of the blessed’” (Plato 79). Socrates seems certain of a heaven, and even says a prayer to the gods after drinking the poison: “‘One is, I suppose, permitted to utter a prayer to the gods – and one should do so – that one’s journey from this world to the next will prove fortunate’” (Plato 82). In the Gospel passages concerning Jesus’ crucifixion, he is obviously certain of a heaven and refers to God as his father. In addition, Socrates urges his followers to continue his work:

“If you don’t take care of your own selves and are unwilling to live following the tracks, as it were, of our present and past discussions, then however much you may agree to do at this moment, and however earnestly, you’ll accomplish nothing.” (Plato 79)

This is similar to the Gospels about Jesus, whom encourages his disciples to live out the life he has taught them in many of the passages. Lastly, Socrates takes a bath so that he is clean and the women do not have to tend to him. During the Last Supper, Jesus washes the feet of his guests. This act of cleansing may be symbolic of a cleansing of the soul. Clearly, there are many parallels between Plato’s account of Socrates’ death and the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death.

Such uncanny similarities beg the question of whether the writers of the Gospel had read the work of Plato before writing their accounts of Jesus’ death. Otherwise, it seems extraordinary that such comparable styles and details would be found in both accounts of their respective hero’s death. Perhaps there are certain qualities one looks for, and therefore finds, as a comfort in their mentor’s last hours. Such traits would include composure, faith in a happy afterlife, confidence in their teachings, and cleansing of the soul. Regardless of whether either account is factual, they serve as the method by which the heroes are remembered. For this reason, it would make sense to boost the image of the hero, therefore glorifying him to future followers and increasing the likelihood that his teachings will be passed on to a large group of supporters.

Your Turn

How would you explain the similarities between Socrates and Jesus Christ?

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    • profile image

      shawn 8 months ago

      Socrates was sentimental.

    • profile image

      Not buying Jesus 3 years ago

      Could you do a poll to see how many people think a government would kill a guy for teaching people how to think for them self rather than kill a guy for preaching to love one another. Still today people are tortured and killed for trying to open peoples mind's mean while corporations push products that make love, an ideal, seem like it's a cure all. I would say Jesus is the k mart version of Socrates.

    • Bernadette Harris profile image

      Book Bug 3 years ago

      I've actually seen this parallel myself. Interesting, isn't it? I think they both showed similar traits simply because most great leaders display a series of traits that we all naturally admire--calm in the face of adversity, a strong sense of justice, etc. I do think it's unlikely that the Gospel writers would have read Plato's account, though, just because I don't think most people at the time would have had access to such books on a wide scale. Granted, some of the Gospel writers clearly knew Greek, but heavy books like that just weren't so readily available as they are to us today. Still, it's interesting. Thanks for the post!

    • ReverieMarie profile image

      ReverieMarie 3 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

      gh - Thank you for reading and commenting! I think that is definitely a possibility -- I would love to discuss it further with you!

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      gh 3 years ago

      I believe both the accounts of Socrates and Christ are correct.