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(4) Euthyphro's Second Definition


7a Euthyphro. Piety, then, is that which is dear to the gods, and
impiety is that which is not dear to them.

Socrates. Very good, Euthyphro; you have now given me the
sort of answer which I wanted. But whether what you say is
true or not I cannot as yet tell, although I make no doubt that
you will prove the truth of your words.

Battle Between Gods and Titans - Treasury of Siphonos, Delphi
Photo: Steven S. Tigner

Euth. Of course. A more correct definition: -Piety is that which is dear to the gods.

Soc. Come, then, and let us examine what we are saying. That
thing or person which is dear to the gods is pious, and that
thing or person which is hateful to the gods is impious, these
two being the extreme opposites of one another. Was not that

Euth. It was.

Soc. And well said?

7b Euth. Yes, Socrates, I thought so; it was certainly said.

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

Euth. Yes, that was also said.

Soc. And what sort of difference creates enmity and anger? Differences about numbers and figures create no ill-will because they can be settled by a sum or by weighing machine, but enmities about the just and unjust are the occasions of quarrels, both among gods and men.
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
7c once to arithmetic, and put an end to them by a sum?

Euth. True.

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

Euth. Very true.

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

Euth. To be sure.

Soc. But what differences are there which cannot be thus to
decided, and which therefore make us angry and set us at
enmity with one another? I dare say the answer does not occur
7d you at the moment, and therefore I will suggest that these
enmities arise when the matters of difference are the just and
unjust, good and evil, honourable and dishonourable. Are not
these the points about which men 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, the nature of the differences about which
we quarrel is such as you describe.

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

Euth. Certainly they are.

7e Soc. They have differences of opinion, as you say, about good
and evil, just and unjust, honourable and dishonourable: there
would have been no quarrels among them, if there had been
no such differences -- would there now?

Euth. You are quite right.

Soc. Does not every man love that which he deems noble and Men and gods alike love the things which they deem noble and just, but they are not agreed what these are.
just and good, and hate the opposite of them?

Euth. Very true.

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

Euth. Very true.

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

Euth. True.

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

Euth. So I should suppose.

Battle Between Zeus and Cronos
Obtained from Mythology and Western Art
Soc. Then, my friend, I remark with surprise that you have not
answered the question which I asked. For I certainly did not
ask you to tell me what action is both pious and impious: but
now it would seem that what is loved by the gods is also hated
8b by them. And therefore, Euthyphro, in thus chastising your
father you may very likely be doing what is agreeable to Zeus
but disagreeable to Cronos or Uranus, and what is acceptable
to Hephaestus but unacceptable to Here, and there may be
other gods who have similar differences of opinion