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(3) Euthyphro's First Definition


Euthyphro. Piety is doing as I am doing; that is to say, any Piety is doing as I am doing; -like Zeus, I am proceeding aginst my father.
prosecuting any one who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of
similar crime -- whether he be your father or mother, or
whoever he may be -- that makes no difference; and not to
5e prosecute them is impiety. And please to consider, Socrates,
what a notable proof I will give you of the truth of my words,
a proof which I have already given to others: -- of the
principle, I mean, that the impious, whoever he may be, ought
not to go unpunished. For do not men regard Zeus as the best

Cronos Eating his Children
Artist: Ru Dien-Jen
6a and most righteous of the gods? -- and yet they admit that he
bound his father (Cronos) because he wickedly devoured his
sons, and that he too had punished his own father (Uranus) for
a similar reason, in a nameless manner. And yet when I
proceed against my father, they are angry with me. So
inconsistent are they in their way of talking when the gods are
concerned, and when I am concerned.

Socrates. May not this be the reason, Euthyphro, why I am Does Euthyphro believe these amazing stories about the gods?
charged with impiety -- that I cannot away with these stories
about the gods? and therefore I suppose that people think me
6b wrong. But, as you who are well informed about them approve
of them, I cannot do better than assent to your superior
wisdom. What else can I say, confessing as I do, that I know
nothing about them? Tell me, for the love of Zeus, whether
you really believe that they are true.

Euth. Yes, Socrates; and things more wonderful still, of which
the world is in ignorance.

Soc. And do you really believe that the gods, fought with one
another, and had dire quarrels, battles, and the like, as the
poets say, and as you may see represented in the works of
6c great artists? The temples are full of them; and notably the
robe of Athene, which is carried up to the Acropolis at the
great Panathenaea, is embroidered with them. Are all these
tales of the gods true, Euthyphro?

Panathenic Procession
Photo: Corel Image Download

Euth. Yes, Socrates; and, as I was saying, I can tell you, if you Yes, and things more amazing still.
would like to hear them, many other things about the gods
which would quite amaze you.

Soc. I dare say; and you shall tell me them at some other time
when I have leisure. But just at present I would rather hear
from you a more precise answer, which you have not as yet
6d given, my friend, to the question, What is "piety"? When
asked, you only replied, Doing as you do, charging your
father with murder.

Euth. And what I said was true, Socrates.

Soc. No doubt, Euthyphro; but you would admit that there are
many other pious acts?

Euth. There are.

Soc. Remember that I did not ask you to give me two or three
examples of piety, but to explain the general idea which makes
all pious things to be pious. Do you not recollect that there
6e was one idea which made the impious impious, and the pious

Euth. I remember.

Soc. Tell me what is the nature of this idea, and then I shall
have a standard to which I may look, and by which I may
measure actions, whether yours or those of any one else, and
then I shall be able to say that such and such an action is
pious, such another impious.

Euth. I will tell you, if you like.

Soc. I should very much like.