CREDOS: Euthyphro — I

The Euthyphro is assumed to be one of Plato’s earliest Socratic dialogues. It is situated at a time right before the trial of Socrates which is depicted in another dialogue, the Apology. The dialogue occurs outside the Athenian courts of justice where Socrates upon finding that he is being indicted on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth, meets Euthyphro.

Euthyphro has come to indict his father on the charges of manslaughter. He claims his father had allowed a worker, who killed one of their slaves, to die bound and gagged in a pit. Socrates expresses astonishment at Euthyphro’s confidence and understanding of piety and justice. Like in most societies, the family unit is the most basic unit of Greek religion and society. Thus, to turn against ones father is like turning against ones religion, a major act of impiety, much like Arjun’s grief in having to kill his brothers and teacher in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Since Socrates himself is facing charges of impiety, in classical Socratic irony, he sets himself up as Euthyphro’s student so that he may learn what piety or holiness is from Euthyphro. To the question, “What is Piety?”

Euthyphro states it is what he is doing right at the moment, namely prosecuting his father for manslaughter. Socrates, however, rejects this as a definition as it is only an example of piety, and does not define or state its underlying principle or character.