Plato's "Euthyphro"


Plato links


" Phaedo"

Written c. 380 B.C.
Benjamin Jowett translation, modernized by Dr. G.

Persons of the Dialogue

Scene: The Porch of the King Archon
 [outside the offices of the high priest of Athens]

Euthyphro. I'd expect to find you hanging out at the gym, Socrates! What brings you to the Porch of the King Archon? You're not involved in a suit before the King, like myself? 

Socrates. No suit, Euthyphro. "Prosecution" is the word that the Athenians use.

Euth. What! Is somebody prosecuting you? I can't imagine that you would prosecute anybody. 

Soc. Of course not. 

Euth. So, someone is prosecuting you?

Soc. Right.

Euth. Who?

Soc. A young man who's not well known, Euthyphro. I hardly know him. His name's Meletus, from the district of Pitthis. You might remember his face. He's got a beaked nose, long straight hair, and a beard that's poorly grown.

Euth. No, I don't remember him, Socrates. But what's the charge that he makes against you?

Soc. The charge!?! A very serious charge, for sure, and it shows great insight for such a young man! He says that he knows how the young people of our city have been corrupted. He knows who corrupts them. It's me! He's figured me out, you see. He sees right through me, so he knows that I'm no wise man. And this is his complaint that our mother the state is to judge. But what a wise man he is, Euthyphro! [2d] He's the only politician in Athens who understands the importance of education. Like a good gardener, he makes the tender young crops his first care, and he weeds out all of us who destroy them. I'm only his first target, no doubt. After me, he'll eliminate others who are even more dangerous to young folks than I am. [3a] If he continues his work as he has begun, he'll do enormous good for our city, I'm sure. 

Euth. I hope so, Socrates, but I'm afraid that the truth will be otherwise. It seems to me that, in attacking you, he's striking a blow at the foundation of the city. How does he say that you corrupt the young? 

Soc. Oh, he makes a wonderful case against me! You may be surprised when you hear it. He says that I am a poet or maker of gods, and that I invent new gods and deny the existence of old ones. That's the basis of his claim, I think.

Euth. Ah, I see, Socrates. He's attacking you for the familiar spirit that, as you say, speaks to you sometimes. He's calling you a heretic! He knows that charges like those are easily accepted by the world, as I myself know too well, [3c] for when I speak in the assembly about divine things, and foretell the future to them, they laugh at me and call me a madman. But every word that I say is true! They are jealous of our spiritual knowledge! Well, we have to be brave and go at them!

Soc. Their laughter, friend Euthyphro, matters very little. A man may be thought wise, but the Athenians don't pay any attention to him until he begins to impart his wisdom to others. Then, for some reason or other, maybe, as you say, from jealousy, [3d] they hate him.

Euth. I'm not likely to anger them so much. . .

Soc. No, for you're reserved and seldom impart your wisdom. But I have this friendly habit of pouring out myself to everybody, almost paying people to listen to me, so I'm afraid that the Athenians think that I talk too much. If they would only laugh at me, as you say that they laugh at you, I might have a happy day in court, [3e] but I'm afraid they'll be in earnest, and then the result will be as you soothsayers alone can predict.

Euth. I predict that the whole matter will come to nothing, Socrates, and you'll win your case. I think that I'll win mine, too.

Soc. So what's your lawsuit, Euthyphro? Are you the plaintiff or the defendant? 

Euth. I am the pursuer.

Soc. Of whom?

Euth. You'll think I'm a bird, if I tell you.

Soc. Why, has your fugitive from justice taken wing?

Euth. No, he's not that mobile, especially at his age.

Soc. Who is he?

Euth. My father.

Soc. Your father!

Euth. Yes.

Soc. What's the complaint?

Euth. Murder, Socrates.

Soc. Murder!?! By the powers, Euthyphro! How little the common herd knows of the nature of right and truth! A man must be an extraordinary man, and he must have made great strides in wisdom, in order to see his way to bring such a lawsuit.

Euth. So he must, Socrates.

Soc. I guess that the victim must have been one of your relatives? You would not prosecute your father for killing a stranger.

Euth. I'm amazed, Socrates, that you make any distinction between relatives and others. Surely the evil is the same in either case, and it is wrong to associate with a murderer when you should purify both yourself and him by proceeding against him. The only real question is whether the murder victim was killed justifiably. [4c] If the killing was not justified, then your duty must be to proceed against the murderer, even if he happens to live under the same roof with you, and to eat at the same table. In my father's case, the victim was a poor helper of ours who worked as a field laborer on our farm in Naxos. One day he got drunk and fell into a brawl with one of our household slaves and killed him. My father bound him hand and foot and threw him into a ditch, and then sent to Athens to ask a diviner what should be done with him. [4d] Meanwhile he never looked after the prisoner, for he regarded him as a murderer, and he didn't much care if he happened to die. Well, that's what happened. He died with the cold and hunger and the chains on him, before the messenger came back from the diviner. And now my father and family are angry at me for taking the part of the dead murderer by bringing this prosecution. They claim that my father did not kill the man, or even if he did, the dead man was only a murderer, and that I shouldn't care about the matter at all. They say that it's impious for a son to prosecute his father. [4e] Socrates, it all shows how little they know what the gods think about piety and impiety.

Soc. Good heavens, Euthyphro! Do you know what the gods think? Is your knowledge of religion and of things pious and impious so exact? 

Euth. The best of Euthyphro, and that which distinguishes him from other men, Socrates, is his exact knowledge of all such matters. [5a] What should I be good for without it?

Soc. Rare friend! Let me become your disciple. Then before my trial comes on I will challenge Meletus, and tell him that I am no innovator in religion; I am only your student. "Meletus," I will say to him, "You acknowledge Euthyphro to be a great theologian, and sound in his spiritual opinions; [5b] and if you approve of him then you ought to approve of me, and not drag me into court, for I am his student; but if you disapprove of Euthyphro, then you should begin by indicting him, for he is my teacher, and he will be the ruin, not only of the young, but of the old; that is to say, of old Socrates whom he instructs, and of his old father whom he sues." And if Meletus refuses to listen to me, and will not shift the indictment from me to you, then I'll repeat this defense in open court.

Euth. Good, Socrates. Let him try to sue me! I'll prove such wickedness in him [5c] that the court will have much more to say to him than to me.

Soc. And so, my dear friend, let me become your disciple. For I see that no one really objects to your ideas--not even this Meletus--but his sharp eyes have found me out at once, and he indicts me for impiety. So please, I beg you, tell me about piety and impiety, which you claim to know so well. And tell me about murder and the other offences against the gods. What are they? [5d] Surely piety must be the same thing in every case? And impiety, also--the opposite of piety--surely it must be a single idea that includes every act that is impious?

Euth. Surely, Socrates.

Soc. Well, then, what is piety, and what is impiety?

Euth. Piety is doing what I'm doing. . . I mean, prosecuting any one who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of any similar crime--whether the evil doer is your father or mother, or whoever--it makes no difference. And not to prosecute such people is impiety. [5e] And here's the proof of the truth of my words, Socrates. [6a] Don't people regard Zeus as the best and most righteous of the gods? Yet they admit that Zeus imprisoned his father Kronos because Kronos wickedly devoured his sons. And they admit that Kronos too had punished his own father Uranus for a similar reason. And yet when I proceed against my father, they are angry with me. So you see how inconsistent people are when they talk about the gods and when they talk about me.

Soc. Now I'm beginning to see why I'm charged with impiety, Euthyphro. It must be because I can't swallow these old stories about the gods, and so people think that I'm an unbeliever. [6b]  But you know all about the gods, so I'll have to accept what you say; if you believe the stories, I'll have to believe, too. What else can I do? For my own part, I'm totally ignorant about these things. Yet tell me, for the love of Zeus, whether you really believe that such stores of the gods are true.

Euth. Yes, Socrates, I do. And I believe things even more wonderful besides, things of which the world remains in ignorance.

Soc. And do you really believe that the gods fought with one another, and had quarrels, battles, and the like, as the poets say, [6c] and as you see depicted in the works of great artists? The temples are full of this stuff; and even Athena's robe is embroidered with it, too, as it is paraded up to the Acropolis at the Panathenaea. Are all these tales of the gods true, Euthyphro?

Euth. Yes, Socrates, and as I was saying, I can tell you, if you'd like to hear them, lots of other things about the gods that would completely amaze you.

Soc. Yes, but you must tell me about them later, when there's more time. Just now, I need you to tell me, what is "piety"?  [6d] So far you haven't answered my question. You have said only that charging your father with murder is piety.

Euth. And what I said was true, Socrates!

Soc. O.K., Euthyphro, but you'll have to admit that there are other acts that are pious? 

Euth. Sure there are.

Soc. Remember that I didn't ask you to give me one or two or three examples of piety, but to explain the general idea which makes pious things pious. Isn't there an overall idea that makes impious actions impious, [6e] and pious actions pious?

Euth. Of course.

Soc. Well, what is it? If you tell me, then I'll have a standard to which I can look, by which I can measure actions, whether yours or those of any one else. Then I'll be able to say that such and such an action is pious, such another one is impious.

Euth. I can tell you, if you like.

Soc. I would like.

Euth. Piety, then, is that which is dear to the gods, and impiety is that which is not dear to them.

Soc. Very good, Euthyphro. You have now given me the sort of answer that I wanted. But whether your answer is or not true, I can't yet say. No doubt you will prove the truth of your words?

Euth. Sure.

Soc. Come on, then, and let's examine what we are saying. A thing or person that's dear to the gods is pious, and a thing or person that's hateful to the gods is impious, these two being the extreme opposites of one another. Was that what you said?

Euth. It was.

Soc. And well said? 

Euth. Yes, Socrates, I thought so. It certainly was said.

Soc. And further, Euthyphro, the gods were admitted to have wars and hatreds and differences?

Euth. Yes, that was said, too.

Soc. And what sort of difference creates war and anger? Suppose for example that you and I, my good friend, differ about a number. Do differences of this sort make us enemies and set us at variance with one another? Do we not go at once to arithmetic, and put an end to them by a sum?

Euth. Of course.

Soc. Or suppose that we differ about magnitudes, do we not quickly end the differences by measuring? 

Euth. Sure.

Soc. And we end a controversy about heavy and light by resorting to a weighing machine? 

Euth. Obviously.

Soc. But what differences are there which cannot be decided in this simple way, and which therefore make us angry and set us at enmity with one another? [7d] Perhaps the answer does not occur to you at the moment, and so let me suggest that these battles arise when the matters of difference are the just and unjust, good and evil, honorable and dishonorable. Are not these the points about which people differ, and about which when we are unable satisfactorily to decide our differences, you and I and all of us quarrel, when we do quarrel? 

Euth. Yes, Socrates, differences like these make us quarrel, as you say.

Soc. And the quarrels of the gods, noble Euthyphro, when they occur, are of a like nature?

Euth. Certainly they are.

Soc. They have differences of opinion, as you say, about good and evil, just and unjust, honorable and dishonorable. There would have been no quarrels among them, if there had been no such differences, right?

Euth. Right.

Soc. Doesn't every man love that which he deems noble and just and good, and hate the opposite of them?

Euth. Very true.

Soc. But, as you say, people regard the same things, some as just and others as unjust--[8a] about these they dispute, so that wars and fighting arise among them.

Euth. Yes.

Soc. Then the same things are hated by the gods and loved by the gods, and are both hateful and dear to them?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And upon this view the same things, Euthyphro, will be both pious and also impious?

Euth. Well, I suppose so.

Soc. Then, my friend, you still have not answered the question that I asked. I did not ask you to tell me what action is both pious and impious, what is both loved by the gods and also hated by them. [8b] In prosecuting your father, Euthyphro, you may be doing what is agreeable to Zeus but disagreeable to Kronos, or what is acceptable to Hephaistos but unacceptable to Hera, and there may be other gods who have similar differences of opinion about what you are doing.

Euth. But I believe, Socrates, that all the gods would agree that it's right to punish a murderer. There would be no difference of opinion about that.

Soc. But, Euthyphro, didn't you ever hear any one arguing that a murderer or any sort of alleged criminal is innocent? 

Euth. Criminals are always claiming their innocence, especially in courts of law. [8c] They commit all sorts of crimes, and there is nothing that they won't do or say in their own defense.

Soc. But do they ever admit their guilt, Euthyphro, and yet say that they ought not to be punished?

Euth. No, they don't.

Soc. No. They never argue that the guilty should go unpunished. [8d] Instead, they deny their guilt, don't they?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. They argue over who the evil-doer is, and what he did and when?

Euth. That's right.

Soc. And the gods are in the same case, if as you say they quarrel about who's just and unjust. [8e] For surely neither God nor man will ever say that an evil-doer should go unpunished? 

Euth. That is true, Socrates, for the most part.

Soc. But they argue about the particulars--gods and men alike. When they disagree, they argue over some particular act that some say is just and others say is unjust. Correct?

Euth. Correct.

Soc. Well then, my good friend, tell me what proof you have in your own lawsuit. What's the opinion of all the gods? When a servant who is guilty of murder is put in chains by the master of the dead man, and this murderer dies because he is left in chains until the interpreters of the gods can say what ought to be done, is this an unjust murder? And is it pious for a son to proceed against his father for this deed and accuse him of murder? How can you show that all the gods absolutely agree in approving of your prosecution? [9b] Prove to me that they agree with you, and I will treasure your wisdom as long as I live.

Euth. It will be a difficult task, but I could make the matter very clear to you, if I had time.

Soc. I understand. You mean that I am not so quick witted as the judges. They will quickly agree with you that your father's act was unjust and hateful to the gods?

Euth. Yes indeed, Socrates. They'll agree if they will listen to me.

Soc. And I'm sure they'll listen because you will make such a good speech. Still, while you were speaking just now a notion came into my head, and I said to myself: "Well, and what if Euthyphro does prove to me that all the gods regarded the death of this serf as unjust, what does this tell me about piety and impiety in general? even if this particular killing may be hateful to the gods, still we haven't said what piety and impiety are, in and of themselves." So, Euthyphro, I won't ask you to prove your particular case; I'll suppose, if you like, that all the gods condemn and hate what your father did. [9d] But I will amend your idea of piety so far as to say that what all the gods hate is impious, and what they love pious or holy; and what some of them love and others hate is both or neither. Is this your idea of piety and impiety?

Euth. Why not, Socrates?

Soc. Why not! As far as I am concerned, Euthyphro, there is no reason why not. You're the instructor. But are you sure that this idea is right?

Euth. Yes, I say that what all the gods love is pious and holy, and the opposite which they all hate, impious.

Soc. Should we inquire into the truth of this idea, Euthyphro, or simply accept the mere statement on our own authority and that of others? What do you say? 

Euth. We should inquire. I believe that the statement will stand the test of inquiry.

Soc. We will know better in a little while, my good friend. My first question is this: is a pious deed beloved by the gods because it is pious, or is a deed pious simply because it is beloved of the gods.

Euth. I don't follow you, Socrates.

Soc. All right, I'll try to explain. We speak of carrying and we speak of being carried, of leading and being led, seeing and being seen. You know that in all such cases there is a difference, and you know also in what the difference lies?

Euth. I think so.

Soc. That which is beloved is distinct from that which loves?

Euth. Sure.

Soc. Well, now tell me: is that which is carried in this state of carrying because it is carried, or for some other reason?

Euth. No, that's the reason.

Soc. OK, and the same is true of what is led and of what is seen?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And now I think, Euthyphro, that my meaning may be obvious. [10c] The state of things arises from their actions. Something does not become because it is becoming, but it is in a state of becoming because it becomes. Something does not suffer because it is in a state of suffering, but it is in a state of suffering because it suffers. Do you see? 

Euth. I guess so.

Soc. Is not that which is loved in some state either of becoming or suffering?

Euth. O.K. 

Soc. And the same holds as in the previous instances; the state of being loved follows the act of being loved, and not the act the state.

Euth. All right. 

Soc. Then what do you say of piety, Euthyphro? Is not piety, according to your definition, loved by all the gods? 

Euth. Yes. 

Soc. Because it is pious, or for some other reason? 

Euth. No, that is the reason.

Soc. It is loved because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved?

Euth. It is pious because it is loved.

Soc. That which is pious is loved by the gods; it is in a state of piety because they love it? 

Euth. Certainly. 

Soc. Then that which is dear to the gods, Euthyphro, is not pious in itself.

Euth. How do you mean, Socrates?

Soc. I mean that things are pious when the gods love them; they are not loved by the gods because they are in themselves pious things.

Euth. True. 

Soc. But, friend Euthyphro, if this is true, then you still haven't told me about the essence of piety. [11a] What is piety in itself? You seem to have described only one of the qualities of piety--the quality of being loved by all the gods--and you haven't yet said what the essence or nature of piety is. [11b] Please, I ask you not to hide your treasure from me, but tell me what piety really is. I won't quarrel with you about whether it is dear to the gods.

Euth. Socrates, I don't know how to say what I mean. Somehow or other, our arguments always seem to turn around and slip away from us, no matter how we try to ground them.

Soc. Your arguments, Euthyphro, are like the art of my ancestor Daedalus[11c] If I had spoken them, you might say that they walk away because I am a descendant of his. But we're speaking about your arguments, so you will have to find some other explanation for why they move and won't stay put. 

Euth. No, Socrates, you're the Daedalus who sets arguments in motion and makes them move around. [11d] They never would have stirred at all, as far as I am concerned.

Soc. Then I must be a greater than Daedalus. He made his own inventions to move, but I move those of other people as well. And the strangeness of it is, that I would rather not. For I would give the wisdom of Daedalus, and the wealth of Tantalus, to be able to hold them still and keep them fixed. [11e] But enough of this joking. You can take a rest, if you don't mind, while I work to instruct myself in the nature of piety. Tell me, then--Is not that which is pious necessarily just?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And is, then, all which is just pious? [12a] Or is all which is just only in part pious and in part not pious?

Euth. I don't understand you, Socrates.

Soc. You are wiser than I am, as you are younger, good friend. Don't be lazy. Exert yourself a little to understand me. I'll explain what I mean through an illustration of what I don't mean. The poet Stasinus sings-- 

Of Zeus, the author and creator of all these things,
You will not tell: for where there is fear there is also reverence.

Now I disagree with this poet. Shall I tell you how?

Euth. All right.

Soc. I would not say that where there is fear there is also reverence. People fear poverty, disease, and similar evils, but they don't have reverence for these things.

Euth. Very true.

Soc. But where there's reverence, there is fear. The person who feels reverence also fears a bad reputation.

Euth. No doubt.

Soc. Where there is reverence there is also fear, but there is not always reverence where there is fear. Fear is the larger notion, and reverence is a part of fear, just as the even is a part of number, because number is a larger notion than the even. Do you follow me?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. That was the sort of question which I meant to raise when I asked whether the just is always the pious, or the pious always the just. [12d] Justice is the greater notion, and piety is only a part of it. Do you disagree?

Euth. No, I think that you are right.

Soc. If piety is a part of justice, then I suppose that we should ask, what part? If we had asked this question about an even number, and what part of number the even is, we would have had no trouble answering: the even is number that can be divided equally in two. Right?

Euth. Yes, I agree.

Soc. OK, so tell me what part of justice is piety.  I need to know so that I can tell Meletus not to do me injustice, or accuse me of impiety, since you have taught me the nature of piety and its opposite.

Euth. Piety, Socrates, appears to me to be that part of justice which attends to the gods, as there is the other part of justice which attends to human beings. 

Soc. Good answer, Euthyphro! I have only one small question about it. [13a] What do you mean by "attend"? For attention can hardly be used in the same sense when applied to the gods as when it is applied to other things. For instance, horses are said to need attention, and not every person is able to attend to them, but only a person skilled in horsemanship. Is it not so?

Euth. Certainly.

Soc. I should suppose that the art of horsemanship is the art of attending to horses?

Euth. Yes. 

Soc. And not every one is qualified to attend to dogs, but only the huntsmen? 

Euth. True. 

Soc. So the art of the huntsman is the art of attending to dogs?

Euth. Yes.

Soc. As the art of the ox herd is the art of attending to oxen?

Euth. Very true.

Soc. And piety is the art of attending to the gods? Is that your meaning, Euthyphro? 

Euth. Yes. 

Soc. All right. Attention always is designed for the good or benefit of that to which the attention is given, isn't it? For instances, horse are benefited and improved when the horsemen attend to them. Right? 

Euth. True. 

Soc. And dogs are benefited by the huntsman's art, and the oxen are benefited by the art of the ox herd, and all other things are tended or attended for their good and not for their harm?

Euth. Certainly, not for their harm.

Soc. For their good?

Euth. Of course.

Soc. Now you say that piety is the art of attending to the gods. In what way does piety benefit or improve them? [13d] You're not saying that our holy deeds make the gods better?

Euth. No, no, that's not what I meant.

Soc. No, Euthyphro, I never supposed that you meant such a thing.

Euth. You do me justice, Socrates.

Soc. Good. But still I must ask: what is this attention to the gods which is called piety?

Euth. It is such, Socrates, as servants show to their masters.

Soc. I see--a sort of service to the gods?

Euth. Exactly.

Soc. Medicine is also a sort service. It's purpose is the attainment of health. Do you agree? 

Euth. Yes. 

Soc. There's also the service of the ship-builder?

Euth. Yes, Socrates, and its purpose is to build ships.

Soc. And there's the service of a homebuilder in building homes? 

Euth. Yes.

Soc. So, my good friend, tell me about the service of the gods. What work does it accomplish? You must know if, as you say, you are of all living people the one who is best instructed in religion.

Euth. And I speak the truth, Socrates. 

Soc. Tell me then, what is that fair work which the gods do because of our service to them?

Euth. The works that they do are many and fair, Socrates.

Soc. Why, my friend, so are the works of army commanders. But the biggest of these works is easily told. They bring leadership in war, right?

Euth. Certainly.

Soc. Many and fair, too, are the works of the farmer, if I am not mistaken. But, chiefly, the farmer produces food from the earth?

Euth. Sure.

Soc. And of the many and fair things done by the gods, which is the chief or principal one?

Euth. I have told you already, Socrates, that to learn all these things accurately will be very tiresome. To sum it all up, let me simply say that piety is pleasing the gods in word and deed, by prayers and sacrifices. Such piety, is the salvation of families and states, just as the impious, which is unpleasing to the gods, is their ruin and destruction. 

Soc. You could have answered my question in fewer words, Euthyphro. [14c] But I see that you do not want me to know what piety is. Otherwise you would have told me by now. But the questioner must depend on the answerer, so I must follow you, wherever you lead me. Do you mean that piety is a sort of science of praying and sacrificing? 

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. And sacrificing is giving to the gods, and prayer is asking of the gods?

Euth. Yes, Socrates.

Soc. Then, piety is a science of asking and giving?

Euth. You've got it, Socrates.

Soc. Yes, my friend; the reason is that I am devoted to  your science, and give my mind to it, and therefore nothing that you say will be thrown away upon me. But tell me, what is the nature of this service to the gods? Do you mean that we make requests and give gifts to them?

Euth. Yes, I do.

Soc. We ask of them what we want?

Euth. Certainly.

Soc. And in return we give them what they want? [14e]  Surely there would be no use in giving anyone anything that's not wanted.

Euth. Very true, Socrates.

Soc. Then piety, Euthyphro, is the art by which gods and men do business with one another? 

Euth. You can put it that way, if you like.

Soc. I like nothing but the truth. Now tell me, what benefit accrues to the gods from our gifts? [15a] There is no doubt about what they give to us, for there is no good thing that they do not give us. But how we can give any good thing to them in return? If they give everything and we give nothing, we must be superb business people. We take terrible advantage of them.

Euth. Don't you imagine, Socrates, that any benefit accrues to the gods from our gifts?

Soc. If not, Euthyphro, what's the meaning of gifts that they confer on us?

Euth. Don't we give them tributes of honor and, as I was just now saying, don't we try to do what pleases them?

Soc. Piety, then, is pleasing to the gods, but not beneficial to them? 

Euth. I would say that it is dear to them.

Soc. Then once more you are repeating yourself, that piety is dear to the gods

Euth. Yes.

Soc. And when you say this, can you wonder at your words not standing firm, but walking away? Will you accuse me of being the Daedalus who makes them walk away, not perceiving that there is another and far greater artist than Daedalus who makes them go round in a circle, and he is yourself. Your argument runs around in a circle and returns to the same point where it started. [15c] Didn't we already reject the notion that piety is that which pleasing to the gods? Have you forgotten? 

Euth. I remember.

Soc. What is pleasing to the gods is the same as what is dear to them--do you see? You're saying the same thing either way.

Euth. True.

Soc. Then either we were wrong before, or else we are wrong now.

Euth. One of the two must be true.

Soc. Then we must start all over again and ask, What is piety? [15d] I'll never tire of pursing this question, as far as I can, but please, I must ask you, apply your mind to the question, and tell me the truth. For you must know, if anybody does. So I'll  pin you here, like Proteus, until you tell me. If you had not known what piety is, you never would have taken the part of that dead serf. You never would have charged your old father with murder. You never would have risked doing wrong in the sight of the gods. You would have done what ordinary people do, and maintained your reputation in public opinion. So, I'm sure that you know the nature of piety. [15e] Just tell me, my dear Euthyphro. Don't hide your knowledge from me.

Euth. I will another time, Socrates, but I'm in a hurry just now, and I'll have to go.

Soc. Alas! my companion, will you leave me in despair? If you had taught me about piety and impiety, I might have cleared myself of Meletus' charges. At least I could have told him that you had enlightened me, and that I had given up rash innovations and ignorant speculations, [16a], and that now I lead a better life.


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