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A Brief Introduction of Euthyphro

Euthyphro is the dialogue of Plato relating to the discussion that had taken place between Euthyphro and Socrates concerning to the piety meaning. The discussion relates that virtue gets regarded as the method of living which fulfills the duty of a person towards humanity and the Gods. The dialogue is of specific interest relating to the Socrates’ fate as he had been charged recently with impiety and has also been tried in front of the Athenian court so that his innocence or guilt of the crime can get attributed to him. This was because he felt that the people in the Athenian never understood the actual nature of impiety and piety. The question of Socrates towards Euthyphro was that what actually piety is in his own perception and thinking. He does this as he knows that Euthyphro being wise in this regard can offer the correct answer to the question while on the other hand, Socrates is quite ignorant about the fact. He wanted to see from this question whether Euthyphro was actually as wise as he always claims to be and in case is not, then Socrates would expose the shallowness of the claim in front of all.

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History of Euthyphro

Euthyphro has always had the reputation of remaining a wise man and also a soothsayer. Being a teacher, he gave the instructions on political and moral facts and also described the practical issues relating to the daily lives of the people. The discussion that takes place between Euthyphro and Socrates are seen happening on the King Archon’s porch. Euthyphro and Socrates have both got involved in legal matters. Socrates is the accuser of impiety and is already facing a trial in the court. On the other hand, Euthyphro is the plaintiff in the forthcoming murder trial. Socrates is very much surprised to know that Euthyphro has brought the charges of murder against his own farther. However, the circumstances are such that Euthyphro has been bound to do such things. It has been known that a poor dependent of the family of the Euthyphro had killed a domestic servant. The father of Euthyphro had commanded the guilty person to be thrown inside a ditch. The criminal had died of exposure and hunger and this was caused owing to the instructions given by the father of Euthyphro. Therefore, it has been said that his father was responsible for the death of the offender in the case attracting the case of murder towards him.


Socrates feels very much impressed with the fact that Euthyphro is carrying out his duty even when his family member is involved in the case. He is performing his duties without being biased in any manner. Thereafter, Socrates dropped this discussion of the father of Euthyphro and is eager is know what piety is which relates to his case directly. To the question of Socrates, Euthyphro promptly replies that piety is a similar thing that he himself is doing against his father. He is judging the wrong deed of his father correctly without thinking about the fact that he has blood relation with the person at fault. However, Socrates is not satisfied with the answer even after appreciating the deeds of Euthyphro.


Socrates is of the opinion that Euthyphro has given just a single statement of virtue in defining what piety is while there must be every case of virtue highlighted in the fact to explain the matter in details. Therefore, to gain a more satisfactory answer, he once again urges to Euthyphro to define piety in the proper and in-depth terms. To this question, Euthyphro gave the answer that piety is something which the Gods like and impiety is something that the Gods do not prefer. This statement even more confuses Socrates and he fails to understand what things are dear to the Gods and what are not. Euthyphro clearly states that as killing is not at all accepted by the Gods, the act is impiety. On the other hand, Socrates is of the opinion that the circumstances in which a person gets compelled to kill another person must also get judged before declaring the act to be impiety.


After getting several unsatisfactory answers from Euthyphro, Socrates decide to change is question and asks him whether people who are pious are all just. The answer of Euthyphro to this is yes but he also says that not all people who are just can be said as pious. The argument between the two continues as Socrates does not get a satisfactory answer from Euthyphro and urges him to find further and better definition of being piety. Therefore, it can be said that the people who are looking for the correct meaning of piety will not a complete answer from the dialogue, Euthyphro but precisely it can be said that it relates to some kind of virtue. Many of the scholars are of the opinion that the real purpose of a philosophy is not getting answer to the questions but questioning the answers that have already been derived.


The method that Socrates has adopted in order to get the correct answer of piety from Euthyphro is best known as the dialectic. The process involves pointing out of the self-contradictions and inconsistencies that get involved in the statements that are popular without thinking much about their practical implications. Socrates had been charged of teaching the incorrect doctrines to the people and thereby corrupting the young people of Athens. However, such charges are not at all correct against him. Socrates had never said that the doctrines are wrong. Rather, he had tried to preach the fact that people must use their own intellect and thinking power to judge the worthiness of the doctrines.


The discussion held between the two clear reflects the fact that both Euthyphro and Socrates had different views about religion. While Euthyphro was quite orthodox in his beliefs, Socrates was of the opinion that service to God can be attained by bringing about spiritual and moral development in human beings. However, the discussion also proves the fact that Euthyphro is a good person and believes in serving God over every other human being in this society.

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