Socrates and Daodejing “The most important thing isn’t living, but living well” (Reeve, 69). Within the context of the Daodejing, a Chinese philosophical text, Socrates not only lives well, but dies well. Accused of impiety, Socrates must defend himself in court before the people of Athens. His peers fear him on account of his wisdom. However, preceding and during his trial, Socrates presents his humble nature, continuously denies the wisdom with which he is attributed. Unconvinced by Socrates’ claims of innocence and ignorance, the people decide to convict the intellectual, assigning him the death penalty. The non-contentious way in which Socrates handles this matter and the calmness with which he faces death support the Daoist ideas of non-contention and the acceptance of ignorance. Through his humbleness in life, skillful handling of his opponents, and fearlessness of death, Socrates’ both lives and dies in accordance with the edicts of the Daodejing. The humility of Socrates both in his conversations with Euthyphro and before the court aligns with the Daoist idea that one should places himself at a position below others. Preceding his trial, Socrates converses with his friend, Euthyphro, about the meaning of piety. Rather than declaring his thoughts on the definition, Socrates charges Euthyphro to “teach [him] too, that [he] may become wiser” (Reeve, 14). Socrates implies that he has something to learn from his friend and, in terms of wisdom, places himself below Euthyphro. The Daodejing refers to this maneuver as “placing [oneself] in the lower position” (Ivanhoe, 69). As “if you want to be above the people you must proclaim that you are below them,” (Ivanhoe, 69) Socrates presents himself as a man above by suggesting that he is less wise than his companion and asking for counsel. He continues to devalue his own wisdom when presenting his case in court. When recounting an oracle from God declaring him the wisest man of all, Socrates argues that, by this oracle, “he meant that human wisdom is worth little or nothing” (Reeve, 35). Eluding the glory afforded by God’s nomination, Socrates essentially declares himself to be worthless. Rather than accepting this role of superiority, Socrates flips the understood hierarchy of intellect, placing the wisest man at the bottom. By not “daring to put oneself first in the world” (Ivanhoe, 70), Socrates abides by the Daodejing’s edict of modesty. Despite his modest attempts to profess his innocence, Socrates earns the death penalty. While Socrates knows that the verdict is incorrect, he acts in accordance to the Daoist idea of non-contention and passively accepts his fate. Presenting himself in a dignified manner, Socrates accepts his penalty without contest, rather employing prophetic guilt to fight his battle. To the men who have condemned him, Socrates projects that “as soon as [he] is dead vengeance will come upon [them], and it will be much harsher, by Zeus, than the vengeance [they] take in killing [him]” (Reeve, 57). While Socrates does not implicitly confront his enemies, this prophecy of a troublesome future depicts “the power of using others” (Ivanhoe, 71). Rather than fighting his sentence through warlike means, Socrates uses the guilt of his opponents’ consciences as well as their reverence for God against them. Deemed “the Virtue of noncontention” by Daoist teachers, Socrates, through his verbal trickery, reflects the idea that those good at fighting are never warlike” (Ivanhoe, 71). At the end of his fight, Socrates rejects the typical urge to evade death, rather facing his mortality with a Daoist fearlessness of death. Before the court pronounces his ruling, Socrates mulls over the prospect of death. Fearing death. Socrates relays, “is nothing other than thinking one knows what one doesn’t know” (Reeve, 44). With this assertion, the accused man expresses that those fearful of death claim know for certain that death should be feared and thus, claim to be as wise as God. Socrates words on death echo the Daoist sentiment that “To know that one does not know is best” (Ivanhoe, 74). By not assuming to know whether or not death warrants fear, Socrates acknowledges the virtue of accepting ignorance. The convicted Socrates also demonstrates the Daoist teaching that “People look upon death lightly because those above are obsessed with their own lives” (Ivanhoe, 78). When Crito visits his friend in prison, he remarks that Socrates faces the misfortune of death “so easily and calmly” (Reeve, 62). This description of Socrates’ state of being assumes that he makes light of his situation. Socrates’ casual view of death paints him as a man in a lower position, more worthy in the eyes of a Daoist than someone obsessed with life. In accordance with the ideas presented in the Daodejing, Socrates dies a fulfilled man. The consistency of his behavior before, during, and after his trial suggest that Socrates is a man devoted to a strict moral code. While friends and onlookers regard Socrates’ reaction to be confounding, in the context of Daoist teachings, his behavior appears to be both rational and exemplary. Through a Daoist lens, Socrates proves himself, in the trials of life, to be a virtuous man.