Plato: Euthyphro (part 2)

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SOCRATES: Your statements, Euthyphro, [11c] are like works of my ancestor Daedalus, and if I were the one who made or advanced them, you might laugh at me and say that on account of my relationship to him my works in words run away and won't stay where they are put. But now -- well, the statements are yours; so some other jest is demanded; for they stay fixed, as you yourself see.

EUTHYPHRO: I think the jest does very well as it is; [11d] for I am not the one who makes these statements move about and not stay in the same place, but you are the Daedalus; for they would have stayed, so far as I am concerned.

SOCRATES: Apparently then, my friend, I am a more clever artist than Daedalus, inasmuch as he made only his own works move, whereas I, as it seems, give motion to the works of others as well as to my own. [11e] And the most exquisite thing about my art is that I am clever against my will; for I would rather have my words stay fixed and stable than possess the wisdom of Daedalus and the wealth of Tantalus besides. But enough of this. Since you seem to be indolent, I will aid you myself, so that you may instruct me about holiness. And do not give it up beforehand. Just see whether you do not think that everything that is holy is right.


SOCRATES: But is everything that is right also holy? [12a] Or is all which is holy right, and not all which is right holy, but part of it holy and part something else?

EUTHYPHRO: I can't follow you, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And yet you are as much younger than I as you are wiser; but, as I said, you are indolent on account of your wealth of wisdom. But exert yourself, my friend; for it is not hard to understand what I mean. What I mean is the opposite of what the poet said, who wrote: “Zeus the creator, him who made all things, [12b] thou wilt not name; for where fear is, there also is reverence.” Now I disagree with the poet. Shall I tell you how?

EUTHYPHRO: By all means.

SOCRATES: It does not seem to me true that where fear is, there also is reverence; for many who fear diseases and poverty and other such things seem to me to fear, but not to reverence at all these things which they fear. Don't you think so, too?

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: But I think that where reverence is, there also is fear; for does not everyone who has a feeling of reverence and shame about any act [12c] also dread and fear the reputation for wickedness?

EUTHYPHRO: Yes, he does fear.

SOCRATES: Then it is not correct to say "where fear is, there also is reverence." On the contrary, where reverence is, there also is fear; but reverence is not everywhere where fear is, since, as I think, fear is more comprehensive than reverence; for reverence is a part of fear, just as the odd is a part of number, so that it is not true that where number is, there also is the odd, but that where the odd is, there also is number. Perhaps you follow me now?

EUTHYPHRO: Perfectly.

SOCRATES: It was something of this sort that I meant before, when I asked whether where the right is, there also is holiness, or where holiness is, [12d] there also is the right; but holiness is not everywhere where the right is, for holiness is a part of the right. Do we agree to this, or do you dissent?

EUTHYPHRO: No, I agree; for I think the statement is correct.

SOCRATES: Now observe the next point. If holiness is a part of the right, we must, apparently, find out what part of the right holiness is. Now if you asked me about one of the things I just mentioned, as, for example, what part of number the even was, and what kind of a number it was I should say, "that which is not indivisible by two, but divisible by two"; or don't you agree?


[12e] SOCRATES: Now try in your turn to teach me what part of the right holiness is, that I may tell Meletus not to wrong me any more or bring suits against me for impiety, since I have now been duly instructed by you about what is, and what is not, pious and holy.

EUTHYPHRO: This then is my opinion, Socrates, that the part of the right which has to do with attention to the gods constitutes piety and holiness, and that the remaining part of the right is that which has to do with the service of men.

SOCRATES: I think you are correct, Euthyphro; [13a] but there is one little point about which I still want information, for I do not yet understand what you mean by "attention." I don't suppose you mean the same kind of attention to the gods which is paid to other things. We say, for example, that not everyone knows how to attend to horses, but only he who is skilled in horsemanship, do we not?

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then horsemanship is the art of attending to horses?


SOCRATES: And not everyone knows how to attend to dogs, but only the huntsman?

EUTHYPHRO: That is so.

SOCRATES: Then the huntsman's art is the art of attending to dogs?

[13b] EUTHYPHRO: Yes.

SOCRATES: And the oxherd's art is that of attending to oxen?

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And holiness and piety is the art of attending to the gods? Is that what you mean, Euthyphro?


SOCRATES: Now does attention always aim to accomplish the same end? I mean something like this: It aims at some good or benefit to the one to whom it is given, as you see that horses, when attended to by the horseman's art are benefited and made better; or don't you think so?


SOCRATES: And dogs are benefited by the huntsman's art[13c] and oxen by the oxherd's and everything else in the same way? Or do you think care and attention are ever meant for the injury of that which is cared for?

EUTHYPHRO: No, by Zeus, I do not.

SOCRATES: But for its benefit?

EUTHYPHRO: Of course.

SOCRATES: Then holiness, since it is the art of attending to the gods, is a benefit to the gods, and makes them better? And you would agree that when you do a holy or pious act you are making one of the gods better?

EUTHYPHRO: No, by Zeus, not I.

SOCRATES: Nor do I, Euthyphro, think that is what you meant. Far from it. But I asked what you meant by [13d] "attention to the gods" just because I did not think you meant anything like that.

EUTHYPHRO: You are right, Socrates; that is not what I mean.

SOCRATES: Well, what kind of attention to the gods is holiness?

EUTHYPHRO: The kind, Socrates, that servants pay to their masters.

SOCRATES: I understand. It is, you mean, a kind of service to the gods?


SOCRATES: Now can you tell me what result the art that serves the physician serves to produce? Is it not health?


SOCRATES: Well then; what is it which the art [13e] that serves shipbuilders serves to produce?

EUTHYPHRO: Evidently, Socrates, a ship.

SOCRATES: And that which serves housebuilders serves to build a house?


SOCRATES: Then tell me, my friend; what would the art which serves the gods serve to accomplish? For it is evident that you know, since you say you know more than any other man about matters which have to do with the gods.

EUTHYPHRO: And what I say is true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Then, in the name of Zeus, tell me, what is that glorious result which the gods accomplish by using us as servants?

EUTHYPHRO: They accomplish many fine results, Socrates.

[14a] SOCRATES: Yes, and so do generals, my friend; but nevertheless, you could easily tell the chief of them, namely, that they bring about victory in war. Is that not the case?

EUTHYPHRO: Of course.

SOCRATES: And farmers also, I think, accomplish many fine results; but still the chief result of their work is food from the land?

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: But how about the many fine results the gods accomplish? What is the chief result of their work?

EUTHYPHRO: I told you a while ago, Socrates, [14b] that it is a long task to learn accurately all about these things. However, I say simply that when one knows how to say and do what is gratifying to the gods, in praying and sacrificing, that is holiness, and such things bring salvation to individual families and to states; and the opposite of what is gratifying to the gods is impious, and that overturns and destroys everything.

SOCRATES: You might, if you wished, Euthyphro, have answered much more briefly the chief part of my question. But it is plain that you do not care to instruct me. [14c] For now, when you were close upon it you turned aside; and if you had answered it, I should already have obtained from you all the instruction I need about holiness. But, as things are, the questioner must follow the one questioned wherever he leads. What do you say the holy, or holiness, is? Do you not say that it is a kind of science of sacrificing and praying?


SOCRATES: And sacrificing is making gifts to the gods[14d] and praying is asking from them?

EUTHYPHRO: Exactly, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Then holiness, according to this definition, would be a science of giving and asking.

EUTHYPHRO: You understand perfectly what I said, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Yes, my friend, for I am eager for your wisdom, and give my mind to it, so that nothing you say shall fall to the ground. But tell me, what is this service of the gods? Do you say that it consists in asking from them and giving to them?


SOCRATES: Would not the right way of asking be to ask of them what we need from them?

EUTHYPHRO: What else?

SOCRATES: And the right way of giving, to present them with [14e] what they need from us? For it would not be scientific giving to give anyone what he does not need.

EUTHYPHRO: You are right, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Then holiness would be an art of barter between gods and men?

EUTHYPHRO: Yes, of barter, if you like to call it so.

SOCRATES: I don't like to call it so, if it is not true. But tell me, what advantage accrues to the gods from the gifts they get from us? For everybody knows what they give, [15a] since we have nothing good which they do not give. But what advantage do they derive from what they get from us? Or have we so much the better of them in our bartering that we get all good things from them and they nothing from us?

EUTHYPHRO: Why you don't suppose, Socrates, that the gods gain any advantage from what they get from us, do you?

SOCRATES: Well then, what would those gifts of ours to the gods be?

EUTHYPHRO: What else than honor and praise, and, as I said before, gratitude?

[15b] SOCRATES: Then, Euthyphro, holiness is grateful to the gods, but not advantageous or precious to the gods?

EUTHYPHRO: I think it is precious, above all things.

SOCRATES: Then again, it seems, holiness is that which is precious to the gods.

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then will you be surprised, since you say this, if your words do not remain fixed but walk about, and will you accuse me of being the Daedalus who makes them walk, when you are yourself much more skilful than Daedalus and make them go round in a circle? Or do you not see [15c] that our definition has come round to the point from which it started? For you remember, I suppose, that a while ago we found that holiness and what is dear to the gods were not the same, but different from each other; or do you not remember?

EUTHYPHRO: Yes, I remember.

SOCRATES: Then don't you see that now you say that what is precious to the gods is holy? And is not this what is dear to the gods?

EUTHYPHRO: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then either our agreement a while ago was wrong, or if that was right, we are wrong now.

EUTHYPHRO: So it seems.

SOCRATES: Then we must begin again at the beginning and ask what holiness is. Since I shall not willingly give up until I learn. [15d] And do not scorn me, but by all means apply your mind now to the utmost and tell me the truth; for you know, if anyone does, and like Proteus, you must be held until you speak. For if you had not clear knowledge of holiness and unholiness, you would surely not have undertaken to prosecute your aged father for murder for the sake of a servant. You would have been afraid to risk the anger of the gods, in case your conduct should be wrong, and would have been ashamed in the sight of men. But now I am sure[15e] you think you know what is holy and what is not. So tell me, most excellent Euthyphro, and do not conceal your thought.

EUTHYPHRO: Some other time, Socrates. Now I am in a hurry and it is time for me to go.

SOCRATES: Oh my friend, what are you doing? You go away and leave me cast down from the high hope I had that I should learn from you what is holy, and what is not, and should get rid of Meletus's indictment by showing him [16a] that I have been made wise by Euthyphro about divine matters and am no longer through ignorance acting carelessly and making innovations in respect to them, and that I shall live a better life henceforth.

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