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Location Of Socrates' Prison & Cell Athens Greece

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I've rewritten and added to this past post to e-mail it to someone. I just thought that someone heading to Athens soon might be interested. Regards, Walter <<<This Agora site is unmarked, often overlooked and alittle off the beaten track. But it is *very* likely that this is the location of the prison and the famous cell where Socrates committed his state-ordered suicide by drinking Hemlock.
  Three travel guidebooks that have info on this site are the "Blue Guide Athens", Oxford Archaeological Guides-Greece" and "The Traveler's Key To Ancient Greece" by Richard G. Geldard.  But there is also a tourist fake prison/cell that's listed on maps (Streetwise Athens) and in some guidebooks. This site was probably just a legend/myth passed down over the years and definitely not Socrates' Cell. It's located between the Acropolis and Monument of Filopappou.   So if you'd like to (IMO) stand in the exact spot where Socrates was imprisoned and died 2400yrs ago, I wrote a trip report on it's location. For modern photos of the sites (Tholos, Prison etc) listed below go to this website http://home.arcor.de/atheneus/photo11.html Go to http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~loxias/agora.htm The yellow box in the bottom left corner is the Prison. The yellow arrow next to it is the ditch/drain and actually the Prison should be more to the left "right along side" the ditch and the White path just above the Prison going right-to-left is the path mentioned below in the directions. Click-on the Prison then click-on "See Plan"; on the blueprint notice how a white (square) area projects into the blueprint at the top. Just to the left of this projection is Socrates' Cell. Notice the *only* entrance is thru the adjoining cell below it. You can see that all the cells *but* Socrates' open into the hallway that runs thru the middle top-to-bottom. To the right of the "projection" is the prison admin/warden office (quad-4 rooms). And at the bottom is the prison courtyard. <Go back to the Agora map>:  Now follow the ditch/drain up to the yellow triangle and click-on it, this is "Simon the Cobblers" shop. Also click-on the small yellow dot at the top corner of the triangle, this is the "Boundary Stone". And the yellow circle above the triangle is the Tholos where my directions below start. The Hephaisteion (click-on the square in the green area) is the temple on a hill that overlooks the Agora, you can't miss it:). and at the base of this hill is the Tholos.

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    [On-Site Directions] The Tholos (70M SE of the Hephaisteion and marked) is just a circular foundation (photo in above website under "The Prytanelon"). With your back to the Tholos looking E to the Agora Museum there is a small ditch (Great Drain) 15M in front of you. This Drain runs N-S, now look towards the Acropolis (45deg to the right) and you'll see the ditch turns 45deg and heads SW, walk over to *this* spot and stand in the ditch looking SW. In front of you is a Boundary Stone (marked & in the ditch), now the wall that it is against (left side) belongs to a row of houses/shops and 1 of them belonged to "Simon the Cobbler" (his inscribed cup & hobnails were found there***), this was a Socrates´ hang-out:). Now follow this ditch SW (walk along the left side) for 120M and you will come to a small path which crosses the ditch (you will have to climb up ~1m to the path so you´ll know when you get to it:). Now in front (5m) of you is the Prison (it´s on the left side (like you) of the ditch and it´s right wall runs *right* alongside the ditch). Just *past* it you´ll see marble fragments that have been recently stacked up in a large *neat* rectangle (*excellent landmark*), this was the courtyard of the prison. The Prison is just foundation stones but you´ll see the corridor thru the center. On the left the 1st room is the quad, this was the prison administration (possibly was 2 stories high) followed by 3 cells. Now on the right (along side the ditch/drain) there are 5 cells, you´ll notice that the 1st one unlike all the others has no access from the corridor and can only be entered by the 2nd cell which has a corridor entrance. This fits the historical account of the 2-room prison cell setting of Socrates´ cell, also small flasks*** were found around the prison which could have been used for Hemlock.   
      ***In the Agora Museum check-out Case #20 which contains Simon´s cup and cobbler's hopnails. Also the small flasks & a plate found around the prison and a modern picture of the prison excavation area.

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    I've recently found this website that explains the two rooms that were in his prison cell. http://www.wesleyan.edu/~mkatz/grk201/GRK201.Prison.html The 1st room was a bathing room and the 2nd room was the actual cell where he lived. I guess it's safe to assume that he drank the hemlock and died in his living quarters (2nd room), alot more dignified than dying in the w.c.:). Regards, Walter

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    Inspired by these directions, I went to the ancient agora in Athens and followed the ditch looking for the prison. It was quite exciting, sort of a treasure hunt. We had to stay on the right side of the ditch after it turned, as the path on the left disappeared, and there was water in the ditch which prevented us from standing in it. However, you could easily walk on the right side of the ditch. We never saw a neat pile of stacked marble fragments.

    The path jogs to the left and then right at a newish marker saying "Road to Piraeus". Follow it after the jog and there is a marker immediately on the left saying "Street of the Marble Workers". If you look into the area behind the sign, which is roped off, there is a sign saying "State Prison". This appears to be in the room that you describe as the washroom to Socrates' cell. Unfortunately, you can not walk into the area and stand in the cell.

    As you look into the prison, there is a reconstruction behind you, on the other side of the Street of the Marble Workers, with a sign saying "South Roman House".

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    Nikki, I searched for this thread and just now found your reply.
    Thanks for the update on the changes, I wrote that in 2000 and things do change in 5yrs :).

    I'm certain it's for the best, those fountain stones are so low that over the years they would suffer damage from all the foot traffic.
    That neat pile of marble fragments must have just be stored there temporarily, so so much for that landmark :).
    And I'm glad they finally placed signs in that area, there was nothing there before. I guess the 2004 Olympics got the ball rolling at alot of sites :).
    Thanks Again...Regards, Walter

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    Walter, I am glad you found this thread. I hope I actually found the right place. I have two pictures of it posted with my Greece photos, which I just managed to get on line last week; you can see if it looks familiar. Actually my daughter took a more identifiable shot than I did, but I don't have her photos on line.

    The link to my Greece photos:

    http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=he0tnm3.a26xzjgr&x=0&y=-b9k6sz

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    I plan to look for the jail next week in Athens. I'll post back for any new direction pointers and many thanks to both Walter and Nikki for all of their detailed directions!

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    Thank you for posting any helpful information. I will be in Athens the beginning of June with my daughter and we are staying at the Acropolis Select off of the Plaka. This is one of my must see sites. Any up-to-date specific direction and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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    I wanted to add some info by John Camp and fix those broken links as Fodors doesn't accept a '~' in a URL (btw what is that ~ called), so I just rewrote the directions to add everything.
    Regards, Walter
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    [My directions are from 2000 but as Nikki wrote above the Prison is now signposted and roped-off]
    This Athens' Agora site is unmarked, often overlooked and alittle off the beaten track. But it's very likely the location of the prison and the famous cell where Socrates committed his state-ordered suicide by drinking Hemlock.

     Three travel guidebooks that have info on this site are the 'Blue Guide Athens', 'Oxford Archaeological Guides-Greece' and 'The Traveler's Key To Ancient Greece' by Richard G. Geldard.

    There is also a tourist fake prison/cell that's listed on maps (Streetwise Athens) and in some guidebooks.
     This site was probably just a legend/myth passed down over the years and definitely not Socrates' Prison Cell.
    It's located between the Acropolis and Monument of Filopappou.

    So if you'd like to (IMO) stand in the exact spot where Socrates was imprisoned and died 2400yrs ago, I wrote a trip report on its location.

    For modern photos of the sites (Tholos, Prison, etc) listed below go to this website http://home.arcor.de/atheneus/photo11.html

    [AGORA MAP] Go to http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~loxias/agora.htm *OR* http://tinyurl.com/2qpgub
    The 'Yellow Box' in the bottom left corner is the Prison.

    The 'Yellow Arrow' next to it is the Ditch/Drain and actually the Prison should be more to the left 'directly alongside' the Ditch and the 'White Path' just above the Prison going right-to-left is the path you cross-over in the directions.

    Click-on the Prison then click-on 'See Plan'. It's a blueprint of the Prison.
     Notice on the left there are 5 square areas, one above the other. Those are prison cells and each cell has an opening (doorway) on the right except the 5th (top) one which only opens into the 4th cell.
    Across the hallway from the bottom 3 cells are 3 more cells and above those was a small 4 room building.

     But this website is alot better with photos and diagrams www.wesleyan.edu/~mkatz/grk201/GRK201.Prison.html *OR* http://tinyurl.com/ypfy4w
     The 'Inner Room' was a bathing facility which connected to a single prison cell.
     So what you have in this prison are 6 individual cells and 1 double roomed cell.
     I wonder, was this double cell for VIPs only? Or possibly for anyone ordered to commit suicide?

    <Go back to the Agora map>:
     Now follow the 'Great Drain/Ditch' up to the 'Yellow Triangle' and click-on it, that is 'Simon the Cobbler's Shop'.

    Also click-on the 'Small Yellow Dot' at the top corner of the triangle, that is the 'Boundary Stone'.

     And the 'Yellow Circle' above the triangle is the Tholos where my directions begin.

      The Hephaisteion (click-on the square in the green area) is the Temple on a hill that overlooks the Agora, you can't miss it so I'm using it as a landmark.

     At the base of this hill is the Tholos.

    [ON-SITE DIRECTIONS]
     The Tholos (70M SE of the Hephaisteion and marked) is just a circular foundation (photo in above website under 'The Prytanelon').

     Now with your back to the Tholos looking East to the Agora Museum there is a small ditch called the 'Great Drain' 15M in front of you [North is left & South is right of you here].

    This 'Great Drain'/ditch runs N-S, now look towards the Acropolis (45deg to the right) and you'll see the Ditch turns 45deg and heads SW, walk over to *this* spot and stand in the Ditch looking SW.

    In front of you in the Ditch is a 'Boundary Stone' (signposted) and the Wall that it is against (left side) belongs to a row of houses/shops and 1 of them belonged to 'Simon the Cobbler' (his inscribed cup & hobnails were found there***).
     This cobbler shop was a well known hang-out of Socrates.

     Now follow this Ditch SW (walk along the left side) for 120M and you will come to a small path which crosses the Ditch (you will have to climb up ~1m to the path so you´ll know when you get to it.

     Now in front (5m) of you is the Prison (it´s on the left side {like you} of the Ditch and its right wall runs *right* alongside the Ditch).
    Just *past* it you´ll see marble fragments that have been recently stacked up in a large *neat* rectangle (excellent landmark but possibly only temporary) this was the courtyard of the prison.

     The Prison is just foundation stones but you´ll see the corridor thru the center.

    On the left the 1st room is a quad, this was the prison administration (possibly was 2 stories high) followed by 3 cells.

     Now on the right (alongside the Ditch) there are 5 cells, you´ll notice that the 1st cell unlike all the others has no access from the corridor and can only be entered by the 2nd cell which has a corridor entrance.
     This fits the historical account of Socrates´ cell having 2 rooms.

     So with the 1st cell a bathing area, the 2nd cell would be his actual prison cell where he slept, talked with his friends, drank his poison and laid down on his bed to die.

     Also small flasks*** were found around the prison which some claim could have been used for State ordered poisonings?   

     ***In the Agora Museum check-out Case #20 which contains Simon´s cup and cobbler's hopnails.
    Also in that case; Small flasks and a plate found around the prison. And a photo of the prison excavation area. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    John M. Camp (Professor, Lead Archaeologist in Agora excavations and now Director of Agora Excavations) author of 'The Athenian Agora' (London: Thames & Hudson) wrote this in his book.
     
    "The identification [of this building] as the prison is strengthened by the discovery within the building of thirteen little clay medicine bottles, thrown down an abandoned cistern. In all the years of excavating in the Agora only twenty-one such bottles have come to light; thirteen in one place is a suspicious concentration. ... It has been suggested that the bottles were used to hold the hemlock with which the prisoners were dispatched, since we know that the doses of poison were individually mixed and carefully measured out. A small statuette of Sokrates himself found in the ruins of the building perhaps indicates a small memorial to the philosopher, set up in the building by the Athenians, who soon realized their mistake in executing one of the great thinkers of Classical Athens." (p.116)

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    I guess it's ok to post this as I doubt Plato is copyrighted :). Regards, Walter

    PLATO'S ACCOUNT OF SOCRATES' DEATH
    (FROM THE PHAEDO)
     
    Nothing new, Crito, said Socrates, just what I am always telling you.
    If you look after yourselves, whatever you do will please me and mine and you too, even if you don't agree with me now.  On the other hand, if you neglect yourselves and fail to follow the line of life as I have laid it down both now and in the past, however fervently you agree with me now, it will do no good at all.

    We shall try our best to do as you say, said Crito.  But how shall we bury you?

    Any way you like, replied Socrates, that is, if you can catch me and I don't slip through your fingers.

    He laughed gently as he spoke, and turning to us went on, I can't persuade Crito that I am this Socrates here who is talking to you now and marshaling all the arguments.  He thinks that I am the one whom he will see presently lying dead, and he asks how he is to bury me! As for my long and elaborate explanation that when I have drunk the poison I shall remain with you no longer, but depart to a state of heavenly happiness, this attempt to console both you and myself seems to be wasted on him.
    You must give an assurance to Crito for me--the opposite of the one which he gave to the court which tried me.
    He undertook that I should stay, but you must assure him that when I am dead I shall not stay, but depart and be gone. 

    That will help Crito to bear it more easily, and keep him from being distressed on my account when he sees my body being burned or buried, as if something dreadful were happening to me, or from saying at the funeral that it is Socrates whom he is laying out or carrying to the grave or burying.
    Believe me, my dear friend Crito, misstatements are not merely jarring in their immediate context; they also have a bad effect upon the soul. No, you must keep up your spirits and say that it is only my body that you are burying, and you can bury it as you please, in whatever way you think is most proper.

    With these words he got up and went into another room to bathe, and Crito went after him, but told us to wait. 
    So we waited, discussing and reviewing what had been said, or else dwelling upon the greatness of the calamity which had befallen us, for we felt just as though we were losing a father and should be orphans for the rest of our lives. 

    Meanwhile, when Socrates had taken his bath, his children were brought to see him--he had two little sons and one big boy--and the women of his household, you know, arrived.
    He talked to them in Crito's presence and gave them directions about carrying out his wishes.
    Then he told the women and children to go away, and came back himself to join us.

    It was now nearly sunset, because he had spent a long time inside.  He came and sat down, fresh from the bath, and he had only been talking for a few minutes when the prison officer came in, and walked up to him.

    Socrates, he said, at any rate I shall not have to find fault with you, as I do with others, for getting angry with me and cursing when I tell them to drink the poison--carrying out government orders.  I have come to know during this time that you are the noblest and the gentlest and the bravest of all the men that have ever come here, and now especially I am sure that you are not angry with me, but with them, because you know who are responsible.
    So now--you know what I have come to say--good-by, and try to bear what must be as easily as you can.

    As he spoke he burst into tears, and turning round, went away.

    Socrates looked up at him and said, Good-by to you, too.  We will do as you say.

    Then addressing us he went on, What a charming person! All the time I have been here he has visited me, and sometimes had discussions with me, and shown me the greatest kindness--and how generous of him now to shed tears for me at parting! But come, Crito, let us do as he says.  Someone had better bring in the poison, if it is ready-prepared; if not, tell the man to prepare it.

    But surely, Socrates, said Crito, the sun is still upon the mountains; it has not gone down yet.  Besides, I know that in other cases people have dinner and enjoy their wine, and sometimes the company of those whom they love, long after they receive the warning, and only drink the poison quite late at night.  No need to hurry.  There is still plenty of time.

     It is natural that these people whom you speak of should act in that way, Crito, said Socrates, because they think that they gain by it.  And it is also natural that I should not, because I believe that I should gain nothing by drinking the poison a little later--I should only make myself ridiculous in my own eyes if I clung to life and hugged it when it has no more to offer.  Come, do as I say and don't make difficulties.

    At this Crito made a sign to his servant, who was standing near by.  The servant went out and after spending a considerable time returned with the man who was to administer the poison.  He was carrying it ready-prepared in a cup.

    When Socrates saw him he said, Well, my good fellow, you understand these things.  What ought I to do?

    Just drink it, he said, and then walk about until you feel a weight in your legs, and then lie down.  Then it will act of its own accord.

    As he spoke he handed the cup to Socrates, who received it quite cheerfully, Echecrates, without a tremor, without any change of color or expression, and said, looking up under his brows with his usual steady gaze, What do you say about pouring a libation from this drink? Is it permitted, or not?

    We only prepare what we regard as the normal dose, Socrates, he replied.

    I see, said Socrates.  But I suppose I am allowed, or rather bound, to pray the gods that my removal from this world to the other may be prosperous.  This is my prayer, then, and I hope that it may be granted.

    With these words, quite calmly and with no sign of distaste, he drained the cup in one breath.

    Up till this time most of us had been fairly successful in keeping back our tears, but when we saw that he was drinking, that he had actually drunk it, we could do so no longer.
    In spite of myself the tears came pouring out, so that I covered my face and wept brokenheartedly--not for him, but for my own calamity in losing such a friend.
    Crito had given up even before me, and had gone out when he could not restrain his tears.  But Apollodorus, who had never stopped crying even before, now broke out into such a storm of passionate weeping that he made everyone in the room break down, except Socrates himself, who said, Really, my friends, what a way to behave!  Why, that was my main reason for sending away the women, to prevent this sort of disturbance, because I am told that one should make one's end in a tranquil frame of mind.
     Calm yourselves and try to be brave.

     This made us feel ashamed, and we controlled our tears.  Socrates walked about, and presently, saying that his legs were heavy, lay down on his back--that was what the man recommended.  The man--he was the same one who had administered the poison--kept his hand upon Socrates, and after a little while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it.  Socrates said no.  Then he did the same to his legs, and moving gradually upward in this way let us see that he was getting cold and numb.
    Presently he felt him again and said that when it reached the heart, Socrates would be gone.

    The coldness was spreading about as far as his waist when Socrates uncovered his face, for he had covered it up, and said--they were his last words--Crito, we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius.  See to it, and don't forget.

    No, it shall be done, said Crito.  Are you sure that there is nothing else?

     Socrates made no reply to this question, but after a little while he stirred, and when the man uncovered him, his eyes were fixed.  When Crito saw this, he closed the mouth and eyes.

    Such, Echecrates, was the end of our comrade, who was, we may fairly say, of all those whom we knew in our time, the bravest and also the wisest and most upright man

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    Interesting, Walter. Who knows if it really happened the way Plato described but if it did, the man was an ardent philosopher till the very end.

    By the way, I always notice unusual, off-beat articles from you. Thanks.

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    This has stirred memories of the detailed article from Walter (Paradise Lost??) many years ago. My wife and I followed the detailed instructions of getting to the prison. We were thrilled to locate it. Thomas

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