The four books in this volume are foundational for anyone interested in Western philosophy. They touch on the "BIG" themes like the gods, Truth, Wisdom and Death...
Death is the ultimate bummer in the ancient Greek worldview. It is not a pretty picture. As seen in the Odyssey, death can be a very nasty place. Even for the best---heroes like Achilles, death is like an eternal waiting room with no eventual appointment. How unsurprising then, that Socrates, who loved to turn Greek convention on its ear, would envision death as the ultimate journey, the ultimate freedom.
Socrates sees the chief value of death as the soul's final separation from the horrid constraints of the body. According to him, the body holds back the soul. With it, man can never encounter the ultimate justice, beauty and truth. Without the body, all things seem possible to Socrates. As far as this line of thinking goes, I find Socrates' thought to be very similar to some forms of Buddhism and the more extreme kinds of Christian asceticism (largely influenced by Plato's Socrates).
However, Socrates goes beyond this. He claims that there is some kind of reward that awaits those who willingly come to death. A seat among the gods he calls it...
How ironic then that Socrates dies amidst the worldly concern of a debt that he owes.
How does that old line go? Something about folks trying to save their own life losing it?
The mirror text offered in this book is of the most importance to any serious philosophy student. However for the mirror text to have any use you must know some Greek. The Greek text is on one side with Fowler's english translation on the other. It serves as an excellent reference whether using the Fowler translation or another translation because at any point where a misunderstanding occurs which may be due to a word choice in translation, one can simply look at the greek. It serves as a great reference for a person who takes Plato seriously and knows some Greek.