What if Socrates Didn’t Drink the Hemlock?


Socrates did not drink the hemlock:

1. He had been sentenced to death, yes, and hemlock was the way of things, but when the guard brought it to him, he sipped and found the taste unpleasant. Being a polite sort of man, he explained that he would prefer something less biting. He requested alternative poisons and the guard acquiesced – it was Athens, after all, and very civilized. His students were eager to be involved and suggested various options, which the guard acquired and brought on a tray. Socrates tasted each. Then he died.

2. He just refused. Socrates looked those jokers up and down and said, “Hell, no.”

3. The Athenian government never wished Socrates’ death. However, they saw the trial as an ideal opportunity to silence his criticism and gain control of his mind. They sent a guard to Socrates with a goblet of very strong sleeping tea. It was presumed hemlock, and he drank, believing his death imminent. The affair was entirely tragic. In the wee hours of the morning, though, authorities came to Socrates in his cell and carried him away. He was taken then to advise the government in secret. Unfortunately, he refused and so they removed his brain and created a Socrabot to emulate his thinking and aid them in their quest for world domination.

4. Socrates did not show up for the trial. He hid above the chambers and when they called his named he laughed loudly, disrobed and streaked his 70-year-old self through one door and out another.

5. When the guard arrived to deliver the hemlock, a fellow guard who was actually Socrates’ lover in disguise beheaded him. She dashed into the cell and scooped the old man into her arms, rushing out before it was possible to intervene. Then they escaped to live on an island.

6. Rather than attend the trial, Socrates sent Plato to appear on his behalf. He wrote a note, explaining that he would come back if they really needed to punish him for his non-crimes against the Athenian state, but that otherwise, he was going on holiday to Crete and would really appreciate it if the jury would be understanding and leave him to support the Greek tourism economy in peace.

7. If Socrates did not drink the hemlock, it would be because the world was a different place. It would have set a different example – that we do not execute one another for disagreeing with the powerful majority. It might have demonstrated how we can tolerate one another, that we can appreciate originality of thought. It might have been a significant moment, which would ultimately have allowed us to circumvent the creation of McDonald’s.

Also, what if…

  • Gandhi never turned the other cheek?
  • Bill Clinton had said “I did have sexual relations with that woman?”
  • Hitler loved black people?
  • it actually is butter?
  • Zeus didn’t exist?
  • Texas quit threatening and just got on with the whole secession thing? (Rick Perry for Lone Star President)
  • Angelina Jolie’s lips were even bigger?
  • the Catholic Church had not forbidden Spinoza’s writings?
  • Porky Pig didn’t stutter?
  • everyone had really liked Jesus?
  • Margaret Thatcher had been awesome?
  • Africa were actually just a massive, united country?
  • Joan of Arc had been a pacifist?
  • a corporation actually were a person?
  • my milkshake could bring all the boys to the yard?

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kelly Garriott Waite challenged me with “What if Socrates didn’t drink the hemlock?” and I challenged trencher with “Write a post between 100 and 200 words long that includes the words “pepper,” “boomerang,” “stockings,” and “bling.””


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