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Actions Speak Louder Than Words; A Discussion of Martyrdom


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

A martyr is something that becomes of a person who is so invested in their beliefs that they are killed because of them. You may think that this happening is tragic to that person, but that is indeed not the case. These people are so proud of the philosophies that they preach about that their life doesn’t have nearly as much worth as their thoughts upon certain subjects do. Not only does this affect the martyr’s ended existence, but it also proves to all the people following them that they sincerely live by what they speak. Actions speak louder than words.

In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates is executed after finally spending his last day in prison for directly ‘corrupting the youth’ with his beliefs about life and death. Socrates questioned if souls were real. He believed that your soul was equal to your psyche. Does it survive after death? Socrates trusted to speak words of wisdom by explaining that death is actually good because you’re finally taking the step in separating your soul from the imprisonment of your body. Your body is the difficult obstacle that stands in the way to the soul’s understanding of true wisdom. If you are at all spiritual, you would take ease in trusting Socrates as he gracefully dances with the idea of death while being as light hearted as a cloud.

You may ask, if death is good, then why live? Socrates spoke to that by describing how important it is to have time to philosophize before you can be ready for death. You need time to learn and think about the way that life actually works and which things you should value. You only live to service the Gods, who are just and good masters in his eye. However, your soul is immortal because in order for it to exist in the first place, you had to have died first because all knowledge comes from recollection.

In Socrates’ arguments from opposites, he tells that everything has an opposite; light comes from dark and dark comes from light. Things become living out of death and things become dead out of life. This must mean that your soul must exist before and after death. Life is a constant cycle where you retain all intelligence and experiences. Conclusively, you may die, but that only brings a fresh life to live. So don’t be afraid to end your life because where there is an end, there is always a beginning.

In Socrates’ argument from recollection, he speaks deeply about knowledge and how it is all recalled because ‘true equality cannot be grasped since no two things are exactly equal.’ In order to be able compare something and say they are equal, we must have learned about these things before existing on earth while being in the form of our soul. How do we know to trust what our senses are telling us to feel? How do they know to sensibly judge our different and unique experiences? Our soul is the holder of all that we know. It is our psyche.

Lastly, in Socrates’ Argument from nature of the soul, he explains the two different kinds of existence: the visible and the invisible. The visible existences are the obvious things that you physically see, and the invisible things are said to be divine, immortal, and pure, which is similarly compared to your soul. Your souls nature is supposed to be wholly good.

Socrates has some very strong points here in his arguments, but over all, the only thought that was appreciated was the immortality of your soul. He used this realization to his advantage and told a story about where your souls go when they’re waiting to be born again. He says that ‘the earth is balanced at the center of the universe and that the heavens above are pure and glorious.’ Souls can be purified and rewarded by philosophy, which in return will allow you to live in the future without even needing a body. Your selfless soul will dwell in a magical, lush place where being ‘trapped’ in a body is unnecessary. Now, what kind of person doesn’t want to believe in the idea that there could be a paradise to exist in. Even if you’re existing ‘invisibly.’

Basically, who you were in life still matters when you’re dead so you have to be who you are wherever you are because it will impact your soul that will carry on and on. Socrates was very persuasive in glorifying death as he made it seem like the circle of life never truly ended just because your body may expire. As a martyr, he was very influential to those who were afraid of death or those who didn’t know what to believe altogether. He made a sense of paradise seem so close to you. Could your soul really live in a place that only your imagination can currently live in?

Socrates’ life ended when he was ultimately sentenced to drink a liquid involving hemlock. He was voted, convicted and then willingly drank the poisonous drink with ease. His friends were near an couldn’t bear to watch him commit this act of ending his life, but with Socrates’ beliefs, he knew his soul would last.

In the Theban Plays, Antigone is another martyr for completely different reasons, yet still incredibly valid. She strongly believes in high respect and loyalty to her family and will even go as far as disobeying the kings orders if it means she is staying true to her blood. Antigone is a citizen of Thebes, and was even the daughter of deceased King Oedipus, yet she still kills herself in despite of the rules of her city. She couldn’t stand the fact that her own King didn’t respect the realm of the dead.

Her brother, Polynices, becomes a traitor as he fights against his own brother, and most importantly, the city of Thebes under Creon’s rule. After Antigone’s two brothers end up killing each other, King Creon acknowledges Polynices as a traitor and orders his dead body to rot outside of the city and to be eaten by animals. She realizes that her other brother, Eteocles, is having a traditional burial because he was fighting for the city and concludes that as completely unjust and immoral. Although she knows it’s against the law to bury her brother herself, she does it anyway. She is punished to jail and rots there until she eventually hangs herself.

Antigone didn’t kill herself with trouble and tears in agony. She believed that you are dead longer than you are alive. She says, “Life is short, death is forever,” and, “Laws of Gods are unwritten.” Instead of focusing on her current life, which is short anyway, she focuses on what is forever; death. She explains how important her family is to her, and specifically her brothers and sisters. She interprets things like this: When your husband dies, you can get another. When your child dies, you can get another. When your mom and dad die, you can get another, but when your siblings die, they are irreplaceable.

Antigone becomes a martyr because she wants to make a point that she will stick by her family no matter what, even if it means she ends her life as a young adult. Her strategy of attempting to do good deeds before ending her life is something that is incredibly respectable to the eyes of the Gods. The divine believe in an honorable burial to put the deceased to sleep and Antigone wanted to do just that. Not only did she want to please the God’s, but also she was also ready to start her supposed ‘long’ journey that death had to offer her.

Socrates tried to better the earth by verbally influencing people to understand that your soul is really all you need. Not only do you come back as another form, you also allow your knowledge inside your soul to grow more and more wisdom. Antigone tried to demonstrate a loyal act to her family as well as to the Gods by taking care of her brother until he was in the ground after being killed. Both Socrates and Antigone became martyrs, but with completely different strategies that were equally influential.

In both scenarios between Socrates and Antigone, there was a strong positivity in an ongoing existence after living on earth. Whether it may be a paradise, or simply a longer time for you to carry on, they both strongly believed that ending your life was acceptable. They stood incredibly persuasive in their words and even more in their actions, which is what people will always remember.

Comparatively, Socrates death has a much larger social significance. Many people heard what he ethically believed in and he tried to influence as many people as would listen. This left an impact on everyone that he left behind, which is why he was sentenced to death when the city heard what he was about. Antigone, on the other hand, had a large political impact, as she decided to hang herself because of the Kings poor decisions. The King was disrespectful in her eyes, so instead of standing up to him, she dramatically ended her life, which to her, wasn’t dramatic at all. She, as well as Socrates, viewed death after life as a positive sensation and almost looked forward to leaving the unfair and brutal earth.

All in all, martyrs have many valid reasons to kill themselves because they simply stand for what they believe in. Saying words against those who they differ from isn’t enough. They believe in a positive after life and an ongoing journey for their soul, so ending their life on this earth is just the beginning to their adventure and understanding of being. They try to heavily influence their peers while doing so, which conclusively points them in the direction of their own death.. or new life!

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