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  • TheProjectGutenbergEBookofEuthyphro,byPlato

    ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwithalmostnorestrictionswhatsoever.Youmaycopyit,giveitawayorre-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincludedwiththiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org

    Title:Euthyphro

    Author:Plato

    Translator:BenjaminJowett

    ReleaseDate:November23,2008[EBook#1642]LastUpdated:January15,2013

    Language:English

    ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKEUTHYPHRO***

    ProducedbySueAsscher,andDavidWidger

    EUTHYPHRO

  • ByPlato

    TranslatedbyBenjaminJowett

    Contents

    INTRODUCTION.

    EUTHYPHRO

  • INTRODUCTION.

    In theMeno,Anytus had parted fromSocrateswith the significantwords: 'That in any city, andparticularlyinthecityofAthens,itiseasiertodomenharmthantodothemgood;'andSocrateswasanticipatinganotheropportunityoftalkingwithhim.IntheEuthyphro,Socratesisawaitinghistrialforimpiety.Butbeforethetrialbegins,Platowouldliketoputtheworldontheirtrial,andconvincethemof ignorance in that verymatter touchingwhichSocrates is accused.An incidentwhichmayperhapsreallyhaveoccurredinthefamilyofEuthyphro,alearnedAtheniandivinerandsoothsayer,furnishestheoccasionofthediscussion.This Euthyphro and Socrates are represented as meeting in the porch of the King Archon.

    (CompareTheaet.)Bothhavelegalbusinessinhand.SocratesisdefendantinasuitforimpietywhichMeletushasbroughtagainsthim(itisremarkedbythewaythatheisnotalikelymanhimselftohavebroughtasuitagainstanother);andEuthyphrotooisplaintiffinanactionformurder,whichhehasbroughtagainsthisownfather.Thelatterhasoriginatedinthefollowingmanner:Apoordependantof the family had slain one of their domestic slaves in Naxos. The guilty person was bound andthrownintoaditchbythecommandofEuthyphro'sfather,whosenttotheinterpretersofreligionatAthenstoaskwhatshouldbedonewithhim.Beforethemessengercamebackthecriminalhaddiedfromhungerandexposure.ThisistheoriginofthechargeofmurderwhichEuthyphrobringsagainsthisfather.Socratesis

    confidentthatbeforehecouldhaveundertakentheresponsibilityofsuchaprosecution,hemusthavebeenperfectlyinformedofthenatureofpietyandimpiety;andasheisgoingtobetriedforimpietyhimself, he thinks that he cannot do better than learn of Euthyphro (who will be admitted byeverybody,includingthejudges,tobeanunimpeachableauthority)whatpietyis,andwhatisimpiety.Whatthenispiety?Euthyphro, who, in the abundance of his knowledge, is very willing to undertake all the

    responsibility,replies:ThatpietyisdoingasIdo,prosecutingyourfather(ifheisguilty)onachargeofmurder;doingasthegodsdoasZeusdidtoCronos,andCronostoUranus.Socrateshasadisliketothesetalesofmythology,andhefanciesthatthisdislikeofhismaybethe

    reasonwhy he is chargedwith impiety. 'Are they really true?' 'Yes, they are;' and Euthyphrowillgladly tell Socrates some more of them. But Socrates would like first of all to have a moresatisfactoryanswer to thequestion, 'What ispiety?' 'Doingas Ido,charginga fatherwithmurder,'maybeasingleinstanceofpiety,butcanhardlyberegardedasageneraldefinition.Euthyphroreplies,that 'Pietyiswhatisdeartothegods,andimpietyiswhatisnotdeartothem.'

    Butmay there not be differences of opinion, as amongmen, so also among the gods?Especially,aboutgoodandevil,whichhavenofixedrule;andthesearepreciselythesortofdifferenceswhichgiverisetoquarrels.Andthereforewhatmaybedeartoonegodmaynotbedeartoanother,andthesameactionmaybebothpiousandimpious;e.g.yourchastisementofyourfather,Euthyphro,maybedear or pleasing toZeus (who inflicted a similar chastisement on his own father), but not equallypleasingtoCronosorUranus(whosufferedatthehandsoftheirsons).Euthyphro answers that there is no difference of opinion, either among gods ormen, as to the

    proprietyofpunishingamurderer.Yes,rejoinsSocrates,whentheyknowhimtobeamurderer;butyouareassumingthepointatissue.Ifallthecircumstancesofthecaseareconsidered,areyouabletoshow that your father was guilty of murder, or that all the gods are agreed in approving of ourprosecutionofhim?Andmustyounotallowthatwhatishatedbyonegodmaybelikedbyanother?

  • Waivingthislast,however,Socratesproposestoamendthedefinition,andsaythat'whatallthegodsloveispious,andwhattheyallhateisimpious.'TothisEuthyphroagrees.Socratesproceeds toanalyze thenewformof thedefinition.Heshowsthat inothercases theact

    precedesthestate;e.g.theactofbeingcarried,loved,etc.precedesthestateofbeingcarried,loved,etc.,andthereforethatwhichisdeartothegodsisdeartothegodsbecauseitisfirstlovedofthem,notlovedofthembecauseitisdeartothem.Butthepiousorholyislovedbythegodsbecauseitispiousorholy,whichisequivalenttosaying,thatitislovedbythembecauseitisdeartothem.Herethenappearstobeacontradiction,Euthyphrohasbeengivinganattributeoraccidentofpietyonly,andnottheessence.Euthyphroacknowledgeshimselfthathisexplanationsseemtowalkawayorgoround in a circle, like the moving figures of Daedalus, the ancestor of Socrates, who hascommunicatedhisarttohisdescendants.Socrates,whoisdesirousofstimulatingtheindolentintelligenceofEuthyphro,raisesthequestion

    inanothermanner:'Isallthepiousjust?''Yes.''Isallthejustpious?''No.''Thenwhatpartofjusticeispiety?'Euthyphrorepliesthatpietyisthatpartofjusticewhich'attends'tothegods,asthereisanotherpartof justicewhich 'attends' tomen.Butwhat is themeaningof 'attending' to thegods?Theword'attending,'whenappliedtodogs,horses,andmen,impliesthatinsomewaytheyaremadebetter.Buthowdopiousorholyactsmakethegodsanybetter?Euthyphroexplainsthathemeansbypiousacts,actsofserviceorministration.Yes;but theministrationsof thehusbandman, thephysician,and thebuilderhaveanend.Towhatenddoweserve thegods,andwhatdowehelp themtoaccomplish?Euthyphroreplies,thatallthesedifficultquestionscannotberesolvedinashorttime;andhewouldrather say simply that piety is knowing how to please the gods inword and deed, by prayers andsacrifices. Inotherwords, saysSocrates,piety is 'a scienceofaskingandgiving'askingwhatwewant and giving what they want; in short, a mode of doing business between gods and men. Butalthoughtheyarethegiversofallgood,howcanwegivethemanygoodinreturn?'Nay,butwegivethemhonour.'Thenwegivethemnotwhatisbeneficial,butwhatispleasingordeartothem;andthisisthepointwhichhasbeenalreadydisproved.Socrates,althoughwearyof thesubterfugesandevasionsofEuthyphro, remainsunshaken inhis

    convictionthathemustknowthenatureofpiety,orhewouldneverhaveprosecutedhisoldfather.Heisstillhoping thathewillcondescend to instructhim.ButEuthyphro is inahurryandcannotstay.And Socrates' last hope of knowing the nature of piety before he is prosecuted for impiety hasdisappeared.AsintheEuthydemustheironyiscarriedontotheend.The Euthyphro is manifestly designed to contrast the real nature of piety and impiety with the

    popular conceptions of them. But when the popular conceptions of them have been overthrown,Socratesdoesnotofferanydefinitionofhisown:asintheLachesandLysis,hepreparesthewayforan answer to the question which he has raised; but true to his own character, refuses to answerhimself.Euthyphroisareligionist,andiselsewherespokenof,ifhebethesameperson,astheauthorofa

    philosophyofnames,bywhose'prancingsteeds'SocratesintheCratylusiscarriedaway.Hehastheconceitandself-confidenceofaSophist;nodoubtthatheisrightinprosecutinghisfatherhaseverenteredintohismind.LikeaSophisttoo,heisincapableeitherofframingageneraldefinitionoroffollowing the course of an argument. His wrong-headedness, one-sidedness, narrowness,positiveness, are characteristicofhispriestlyoffice.His failure to apprehendanargumentmaybecomparedtoasimilardefectwhichisobservableintherhapsodeIon.Butheisnotabadman,andheisfriendlytoSocrates,whosefamiliarsignherecognizeswithinterest.Thoughunabletofollowhimheisverywillingtobeledbyhim,andeagerlycatchesatanysuggestionwhichsaveshimfromthetroubleofthinking.MoreoverheistheenemyofMeletus,who,ashesays,isavailinghimselfofthe

  • popular dislike to innovations in religion in order to injure Socrates; at the same time he isamusinglyconfidentthathehasweaponsinhisownarmourywhichwouldbemorethanamatchforhim.Heisquitesincereinhisprosecutionofhisfather,whohasaccidentallybeenguiltyofhomicide,and isnotwholly free fromblame.Topurgeaway thecrimeappears tohimin the lightofaduty,whoevermaybethecriminal.Thus begins the contrast between the religion of the letter, or of the narrow and unenlightened

    conscience,and thehighernotionofreligionwhichSocratesvainlyendeavours toelicit fromhim.'PietyisdoingasIdo'istheideaofreligionwhichfirstoccurstohim,andtomanyotherswhodonotsaywhattheythinkwithequalfrankness.Formenarenoteasilypersuadedthatanyotherreligionisbetter than their own; or that other nations, e.g. the Greeks in the time of Socrates, were equallyserious in their religiousbeliefs anddifficulties.The chief differencebetweenus and them is, thattheywereslowlylearningwhatweareinprocessofforgetting.Greekmythologyhardlyadmittedofthedistinctionbetweenaccidentalhomicideandmurder:thatthepollutionofbloodwasthesameinboth cases is also the feeling of theAthenian diviner.He had not as yet learned the lesson,whichphilosophywasteaching,thatHomerandHesiod,ifnotbanishedfromthestate,orwhippedoutoftheassembly,asHeracleitusmorerudelyproposed,atanyratewerenottobeappealedtoasauthoritiesinreligion;andheisreadytodefendhisconductbytheexamplesofthegods.Thesearetheverytaleswhich Socrates cannot abide; and his dislike of them, as he suspects, has branded him with thereputationofimpiety.Hereisoneanswertothequestion,'WhySocrateswasputtodeath,'suggestedby the way. Another is conveyed in the words, 'The Athenians do not care about any man beingthoughtwise until he begins tomakeothermenwise; and then for some reasonor other they areangry:'whichmay be said to be the rule of popular toleration inmost other countries, and not atAthensonly.InthecourseoftheargumentSocratesremarksthatthecontroversialnatureofmoralsandreligionarisesoutofthedifficultyofverifyingthem.Thereisnomeasureorstandardtowhichtheycanbereferred.Thenextdefinit