By drinking the hemlock, Socrates stood for what he stated. Socrates states, "No one knows weather death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils." He is simply saying here that we're afraid of death but meanwhile we don't know what it holds for us. He drinks the hemlock because he's not afraid of death. He could have fled Athens after the trial but he didn't. Instead he carried out his sentence because if he didn't he would be going against what he stated. If he fled he would have set a bad example for his followers. Now by drinking the hemlock his works will be carried through generations because he died for what he believed.
I feel that by drinking the Hemlock Socrates is giving up on everything and everyone that felt his beliefs were right. Socrates new from the get go that the state was teaching things that were false and were trying to convict him based simply off his beliefs. If all his beliefs and teachings eventually just led to "lets commit suicide because hey theirs no real point to existence." Why then did he not tell all his followers in his letter to the state to just kill themselves. Furthermore simply by writing his final letter he is showing that there is more to existence then just simply being here because if he was truly as apathetic as he said he was he would have just commit suicide and let everyone wonder why he did it and not written a letter at all.
Socrates drank the hemlock because it was his sentence after the jury considered him guilty. Drinking the hemlock was supporting his claims and his followers probably understood that because he could've fleed from Athens instead. He could have just said," screw this I'm not dying for my claims and what I feel is right, instead I'm leaving and never coming back". How do you think his followers would have felt if he just left? They would probably feel mislead because they followed him for so long and now when it comes to life or death on his beliefs he isn't going to follow through with his sentence. I wouldn't appreciate that if I followed him for a long time and he fled for his beliefs.
Socrates saw himself as a tool brought down by the gods to open peoples eyes as to what the true meaning of life was on this planet. The main reason he believed this was because he was told that by an oracle and back then people believed every word the oracle said no matter heinous it was. That being said I do not believe his followers would have been upset if he fled because they would probably assume that he fled to continue spreading his ideas as the tool of the gods.