In The Phaedo, Socrates states that the soul is immortal and he, who lives a life of knowledge and good, will be reborn to live out life in upper Earth. Socrates does not fear death because he knows in his heart that he has lived a good life and will be reborn to live out life in upper Earth. Socrates believed that dying was not final, that because our souls are immortal, we will continue to live for eternity. The things we do, say, and feel along with our actions and beliefs ultimately dictate how our soul will be judged once it enters the underworld.
Socrates’ beliefs in the afterlife involved a multi-level system based on deeds committed, while on Earth, and it was this belief that ultimately cleared him of any wrong doing, which is why he was not afraid of death, but rather, ready for it. Socrates describes afterlife as a system based on levels. Which level the soul winds up in completely depends upon how pure the soul remains during its time on Earth. Socrates also explains that depending on the crime that is committed, there is a possibility that the soul can move up through the levels to reach a better final resting place.
Those who commit heinous crimes are immediately tossed into the deepest and darkest level known as Tartarus and there they will remain for all eternity. Souls that have committed severe crimes will start in Tartarus and have a chance to plea to those that they have harmed, and may have a chance to be forgiven, and if that is so, then they can live out eternity in the middle levels of the underworld, probably something similar to the Fields of Asphodel.
However, if they are not forgiven, they are tossed back into Tartarus and must remain there for eternity. Socrates’ belief system is not that dissimilar from that heard in Greek Mythology. While Socrates’ beliefs are very clear as to what happens to the soul in the afterlife, it almost seems like he was comforting himself into believing that he had done no wrong, which may have been his way of preparing for death.
The whole multi-level system seems a little far-fetched and honestly also seems like a way for Socrates to convince himself that if judgment of his soul went in the opposite direction he believed it would, that there was a way to make it back to a better place. If that is case, one might ask Socrates; is creating a better existence the same thing as a better existence? If that is true, could we not all create an alternate existence in which we all come out on top in the end? Sure we could, but that would mean that we are not at all held responsible for our actions. References The Phaedo pgs. 437 – 444