THE LAST DAYS OF SOCRATES
"Xena: Warrior Princess"
1. Xena and Gabrielle arrive in the vast metropolis of Athens: elevated roads stretch five miles from the port of Piraeus on the Saronic Gulf (an inlet of the Aegean) to the city itself, with the mighty Parthenon looming over everything, high atop the flat-topped Acropolis. This is the capitol of the ancient world with a population of a quarter of a million people.
Xena wants to buy a new sword; her old sword won't keep its edge. Gabrielle, on the other hand, wants to hear the great philosopher Socrates speak. Xena wants to know why? What could this guy possibly say that's of any real value, like, say, a good sword? Gaby explains the Oracle of Delphi proclaimed Socrates the wisest man in Athens, and he replied that if he was in fact the wisest man it was because he knew how little he really knew. Xena rolls her eyes at this ridiculous concept. Gaby assures Xena that some of Socrates' ideas are much more powerful than a sword. Xena responds that she hopes Socrates doesn't charge for his lectures.
Meanwhile, a gang of ruffians chase a helpless girl down an alley, directly past Xena and Gaby. Xena asks Gaby if she thinks she can talk these ruffians out of whatever they may have in mind? Gaby gives it a try, but, sadly, the ruffians don't listen. Xena is finally forced to kick their asses and save the thankful girl. Xena looks at Gaby, her point proven.
2. In a large chamber the senate of Athens is in session: twenty serious-looking, robed men. Suddenly, the big doors burst open and armed soldiers rush in, seizing control. They are followed by three armored, burly, swaggering army generals: MELETUS, ANYTUS, and LYCON, the Triumvirate. They inform the senate that they have taken control of the military, and thus the government, and the senate is hereby abolished. ARISTON, one of the senators is outraged beyond speech as he is manhandled out of the senate chamber. The Triumvirate takes three chairs at the end of the long table, then shake each other's hands triumphantly -- they've succeeded; Athens is theirs at last.
1. Soldiers march through the streets, shutting down schools, businesses, and temples, posting notices that "By order of the Triumvirate" each of these places has been closed down. Soldiers post notices throughout Athens stating that: "ALL TEACHERS IN ATHENS MUST HEREBY CEASE AND DESIST TEACHING BY ORDER OF THE TRIUMVIRATE." Plato and many others look at the notice in horror and outrage.
2. Xena and Gaby make their way through the cramped, bustling streets of Athens. Xena asks passersby for the name of a good swordmaker; Gaby is trying to locate the Sophists. A swordmaker is found who also knows where the Sophists reside. There is a crowd building up in the street outside the swordmaker's shop, several of whom are former senators, including Ariston, and his handsome, twenty-five year old son, PLATO. The swordmaker points out Plato as one of the Sophists. Xena is not pleased with the selection of swords and decides to keep looking.
3. Xena and Gaby step outside and watch the meeting in the street. Ariston predicts that with the Triumvirate in control one evil will follow another until Athens is destroyed. Everyone agrees, but has no idea what to do? Xena steps up and suggests that they try fighting back. Someone points out that the Triumvirate has the army behind it. Xena says that they could also just give up, but those are the choices.
A wise-looking, elderly man steps up. He is SOCRATES. He says that there is yet a third choice: reason with them; talk to them; find out why they're doing this thing? Xena laughs, saying that when that plan fails, look her up.
4. Just then ten soldiers come marching into the center of the gathering. They grab Socrates, push him to the ground and chain his hands and feet. As the grumbling crowd moves in on the soldiers, the Officer reads the charges: Socrates, head teacher of the school known as the Sophists, is under arrest for sedition, blasphemy, and corrupting the morals of minors. Xena and Gaby rush forward, ready to do battle. Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, the Triumvirate, step up with ten more soldiers. Meletus knows who Xena is. He tells Xena to mind her own business, this is an internal affair of the city of Athens. Ariston steps between Xena and the Triumvirate, telling Xena this isn't the time or place. Socrates is taken away in chains. Plato and the Sophists all look bereaved. Xena and Gaby feel helpless. The Triumvirate exits looking pleased with themselves.
END ACT ONE
1. Socrates is thrown in a dingy cell with the rest of Athens' criminals.
2. The Triumvirate recruits thirty high-ranking citizens as jurors -- "The Thirty Tyrants" -- as they come to be called, but they're really just scared citizens with soldiers breathing down their necks.
3. Ariston and Plato form the resistance. Xena offers her help, but is turned down. Ariston and Plato come up with a complicated plan to bring down the Triumvirate.
4. The trial of Socrates. The charges are read against him. Socrates says his piece, then turns and asks the crowd, will anyone stand up and speak for him? There is a hushed silence. There are also quite a few soldiers present. Nevertheless, Gabrielle stands up and speaks for Socrates. The verdict comes back and not only is Socrates condemned to death, but so is Gabrielle. The prisoners are taken away. Xena looks horrified.
END ACT TWO
1. The resistance, sans Xena, makes it's elaborate attempt to otherthrow the government, which fails miserably (see Hitler's beerhall putsch).
2. The survivors of this failed overthrow, including Plato, now come to Xena, asking for assistance, but she can't be found.
3. Xena breaks into the prison to help Gabrielle and Socrates escape. Socrates doesn't want to escape. He's going to obey the law just to illustrate that it's a bad law, then people will see how foolish the Triumvirate is, and all people that think they know better for everyone else. Gabrielle watches as Xena is convinced by Socrates that it's a far, far better thing he does, etc. Xena and Gabrielle leave knowing that Socrates will be executed at dawn.
END ACT THREE
1. Xena and Gaby reason that if the government is brought down, then the law Socrates broke is null and void and he need not die. Xena takes on each of the Triumvirate, who are each like the Masters of Death from Shogn Assassin, with some weapon as a specialty.
2. Meanwhile, the Hemlock cocktail is concocted: the bark is peeled from a Hemlock tree; the bark is boiled in a cauldron until it's an appetizing black; the black liquid is transferred to a goblet and carried away . . .
3. Xena finishes off Meletus in a spectacular battle. She then realizes that it's mere moments before dawn. Xena and Gaby rush back to the prison.
4. However, when Xena and Gaby get to the prison, Socrates has already drunk the Hemlock. He lies down on his palette, Xena, Gaby, and Plato are present. Socrates feels his feet go numb, then his calves, then his knees, his thighs, up until it reaches his heart and kills him. They have all seen a great man die and solemnly bow their heads.
5. Xena and Gaby prepare to leave Athens. Plato shows up saying he's coming with them, at least for a ways. They agree. Ariston arrives for a final farewell with his son. As Xena, Gaby, and Plato leave Athens, the word spreads of Socrates' death. Everyone that hears the news looks stricken with grief. Xena sees this and tells Gabrielle that Socrates made ideas more powerful than swords, and he died proving it.
Just then they pass the swordmaker's shop. The swordmaker comes running out and offers Xena an unbeatable deal on a new sword. She shakes her head, her old sword will do just fine, thank you very much.
END ACT FOUR