I’ve been working on a translation of Plato’s Phaedo for a few years now, but took a long break during my cross-country move. I plan on releasing the entire translation on Amazon. It is near complete, but I have go over it with a fine-toothed comb before then. I thought I’d publish just the quick introduction of the dialogue now, mostly because I was moved to.

Translating Plato has its challenges. Plato’s dialogues are light codes. They are highly energetic, and transmit information outside the obvious boundaries of the dialogue (the words/actions/etc). Some call this phenomenon esoteric writing. I am not going to go on and on about the academic definition and understanding of esoteric writing. It truly doesn’t interest me. I do want to point out that my translation has a copious number of footnotes that are very important. These footnotes are compensating for what cannot be expressed in the English language, either due to the passage of time since the dialogue was written, or due to the fact that Plato wrote in Greek and transmits meaning through the Greek forms. I do my best to point out the most important Greek expressions that Plato uses, to alert the reader to greater awareness of the light codes that are being communicated.

English is a very dark tongue, as it is such a mixture of so many different languages. As a result, it, by itself, is not grounded into the land in which it was born, and is truly a literary common tongue, intellectually generated and constructed, designed by and for mind without regard to etymological significance. The ancient Greek, on the other hand, holds words like a tree holds leaves, and within each leave, you can see the shape of the roots, and the quality of their nourishment, and the earth’s nourishment, her joy and her happiness, her pain and her suffering. English, on the other hand, is very uninterested in itself in this manner, and like Lucifer, thinks it can exist on its own. Enough though, for now, about Lucifer.

Plato and light codes. What is all this about light codes? Well, each and every one of Plato’s dialogues are an attempt to increase the reader’s experience of being. In a sense, it is the written version of the Mysteries of Eleusis, which were a ceremonial attempt to initiate all Athenians into a state of higher awareness, for the sake of the good of all humanity. The Mysteries, however, degraded into states of drug induced hysteria and orgies by the time of the Roman Empire. Plato saw this and attempted a different way to raise human awareness. Was he successful? Perhaps in some ways. Not in all. One thing he did know is that states of awareness, through phronesis (heart based thinking), can reach states of wisdom only through the effort of the Self, the reader, the lover of wisdom – the philo-sopher– the one who experiences the world in search of the beloved. Wisdom cannot be taught from the outside in and is truly only an act of higher self love. It is for this reason that Plato rejected those who were paid money for the wisdom, or claimed that they knew what is best for mankind, or confused knowledge for truth.

The Phaedo is a dialogue that, on the surface, appears to be about what Socrates said and did before the ending of his life. But the true nature of the dialogue is to reveal light codes relating to the soul as pure light (awareness), and as the true nature of who we are. Death is a function of the false world that we believe to be true, the seeming world, the world of the programmed matrix system, which Plato once calls the “beast”, and our fears around death are rooted in our false impressions regarding the nature of this life and the earth upon which we are living. This dialogue is the core of Plato’s philosophy, as it address the light of awareness directly, and instructs the the reader, through light codes, how to learn how to let go, that is to say, to die before the death of the body occurs, and to live on this earth as it truly is, joyful and blissful- eudaimonium!

It is my intention to translate as many dialogues as I can during this life. I believe that Plato’s light is brighter than almost any other philosopher on earth at this time. It is unfortunate that Greek and Latin has mostly removed from our educational matrix system. But such are the challenges we face. Perhaps the challenge just begs for a greater light to shine, more brilliant, undeniably powerful, indominable.

Below is the initial portion of the dialogue, which is setting us up for the story presented in the Phaedo, the story of what Socrates said and dead to complete his death.

Execrates
You, Phaedo[1]! Were you yourself near[2] Socrates on the day when he drank the potion[3] in the prison[4], or did you hear about it from someone else?

Phaedo
Myself, Execrates.

Execrates
What sort of things did he say before death[5]? How did he come to complete life[6]? I would enjoying listening!  A Phliasian these days doesn’t have the habit of visiting Athens[7] and it has been a long time since any foreigner has come from there who might be able to tell us[8] anything besides the fact that “He died by drinking potion”.

Phaedo
What? You all weren’t informed about how things turned out at the trial?

Execrates
Yes, we were. Someone sent word to us about it, yet we were amazed how he seemed to die so long after the trial ended. Why was this?

Phaedo
A bit of chance assisted him[9]. It just so happened that on the day before the trial, the Athenians placed the wreath on their ceremonial ship to Delos.

Execrates
What is that?

Phaedo
This is the very ship which, according to the Athenians, Theseus once helmed, in which he brought the fourteen[10] to Crete, and saved them and himself. As the story goes, they had made a deal with Apollo, that if he should save them, they would send a theōria[11] to Delos every single year.  So, ever since then, each year as always, they send the theōria back to Delos for the god.  But whenever they begin this theōria, it’s customary for them to purify[12] the city and that means no public executions during the time it takes for the ship to reach Delos and return. Now this can sometimes take a long time, especially when there are winds that take them off course. So, to make a long story short, the beginning of this theōria is when the priest of Apollo coronates the stern of the ship. And this is exactly what happened, as I was saying, on the day before the trial; and because of this, while Socrates was in prison, a long time passed between the hour of the trial and the hour of death.

Execrates
So what happened around the death itself, Phaedo? What was said and done, and which of companions were there for the man? Or did the archons not permit them to be present, and so he completed his life without friends?

Phaedo
Not at all! There were some present – a good number actually!

Execrates
Try, as best you can, to tell us everything and as clearly as possible, unless you have other business to attend to.

Phaedo

Well I’m quite free, and will attempt to tell you the story, for the most pleasing thing in the world to me is to remember[13] Socrates, whether it is myself speaking of him or hearing about him from another.

Execrates
And you certainly have others who are a similar sort here.  So as best as you are able, try to go through everything as accurately as possible.


[1] It’s not translatable in the English, but the first word of this dialogue and of the question is autos, which means self. The best I could do was emphasize “you”. Phaedo’s name is constructed of the Greek root phae- which means “shining, light”.  The English word, photon, is a synaeresis of phaoton. Light, in Gnosticism is, the nature of the divine, and is close to what we call awareness.

[2] paragenou. Were you on hand/near/present? Plato connects presence and being present with the light. The alternative to being present is to listen to what others say about Socrates.  Phaedo replies with a simple word: autos, the same word that begins the question that begins the dialogue.

[3] pharmakon. The Greek word generally means drug or medicine. It also can refer to a magical or enchanted potion and is associated with witches, sorceresses, and witchcraft. Another meaning, of course, is poison. I have chosen to keep the word neutral since the neutrality – or ambiguity – of Plato’s language is important, especially in this dialogue.

[4]In the Republic, Plato describes the human condition as being trapped in a cave as if in a prison. Our knowledge consists of false imitations, and puppet shows. See Republic, VII 514a – 517a. 

[5] pro thanatou. “before death” may also be translated as “pro death”, as if Socrates was making speeches in death’s defense and favor. Consider that Plato makes use of both senses, because in this dialogue, we find out that Socrates doesn’t see death as bad at all. In fact, he is sees it a possible improvement. Also, Execrates doesn’t specify how much time before the death. “Before death” can include Socrates’ entire life.

[6] eteleuta. In a dialogue that concerns itself with the nature of death, Plato uses a number of words to express death and dying.  Many of the words he uses contain the root, -tel-, which means to complete, finish, end. It’s important to note that initiates of the Eleusian Mysteries were called teleuteis.  During the ceremony, teleuteis would make a procession to the Telestrion. Once in the Telestrion, they would experience wonders that would remove all fear of death and the afterlife. To this day, we have no record of what they saw because it was forbidden by law to speak about it. This was a civic law that was bound by a divine law: it cannot be spoken at all. This notion, that the mysteries cannot be taught is in line with Plato’s notion that wisdom cannot be taught. As a result, it has been suggested that a mystical experience or an experience of deep presence was induced by using pharmaka.This experience would lead the initiates to experience the immortality of the soul, and so then lose their fear of death and find complete joy on earth in this lifetime.

[7] During the Peloponnesian war, Execrates’ native city-state Phlius, allied itself with the Spartan League against Athens. As a result, embassies between the two became non-existent. The conversation between Phaedo and Execrates is a conversation between officially declared enemies or opposites. What brings them together? A common pleasure: Socrates, the character of the philosopher or wise man.

[8] Execrates is with a group of others. We do not know how many or their names. They never speak in the dialogue. We are only made aware of their existence through Execrates’ mention of them. Although this seems unimportant, it is actually pointing out about something about the soul or souls, namely, that we cannot see them. The written word, which you are experiencing right now, can mention them, but they are invisible because no further information is given. So, as far as your physical senses are concerned, they don’t exist. However, as far as the light of consciousness is concerned, they are a presence as witnesses.

[9] assisted him. The Greek verb here can mean to happen to one, but it also implies assistance, the kind that would arrive from a god who was walking with Socrates. The verb literally means “to walk together (with someone)”. In this case, Phaedo is suggesting that Tyche (the goddess of chance) was walking with Socrates. Later, we’ll learn that Socrates didn’t interpret this chance as being luck, but rather saw it as being a sign that he hadn’t done his life correctly enough to complete it.

[10] Seven boys and seven girls to sacrifice to the Minotaur, a beast born of a goddess (Pasiphae, whose name means all shining, the daughter of Helios and Wife of Minos. She was considered a witch) and a bull (divine bull sent by Poseidon). Athens had made a deal with Minos, due to the death of his son by hand of the Athenians, to sacrifice fourteen young people to the Minotaur, once a year. Theseus was the Greek hero who freed Athens from this cannibalistic sacrifice.

[11] Theoria is an interesting word, comprised of the root, theō, which means “seeing, sight, light, gleaming”. It is similar to pha-. The Greek word for deity is theos.  Plato here is making a connection with the light and the god Apollo, who is known as the god of reason, the sun. However, things get a little complicated with Apollo’s name which means destruction. He was once the god both of life and death. This is why Theseus (also containing the root -the-) saw Apollo as a god who could let them die or let them live at will. A theoria is something sent to an oracle or for some form of consultation. Its purpose is to see what the god sees and to align oneself to what the god envisions.

[12] καtharsis. Purification. The Mysteries requires that all initiates must be free of all blood guilt before they can reach wholeness (teleusis). However, Plato is subtly showing us that Athens only feels it needs to be purified at specific times, during ceremony. The rest of the times, it can engage in quite a bit of murder. You can easily see that, as long as Athens purifies itself in ceremony, it feels perfectly free to return to its murderous habits.

[13] memnesis. This is the first time the dialogue mentions memory. It is important to remember that the entire dialogue is designed to be an account from memory, that is, from the past and from a particular perspective, namely, Phaedo’s perspective. However, keep in mind that Plato wrote the dialogue. Plato was a young man when Socrates died.

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