Monday, August 29, 2016

Socrates in Plato’s Euthyphro, Gorgias and Cratylus, and in Aristophanes’ comedies

Euthyphro tells Socrates that he is pursuing his father for murder (phonou, Euth. 4a10). Socrates remarks: ‘I suppose that the man whom your father murdered was one of your family (Estin de dȇ tȏn oikeiȏn tis ho tethneȏs hupo tou sou patros) – clearly he was (ȇ dȇla dȇ); for if he had been a stranger you would never have thought of prosecuting him (ou gar an pou huper ge allotriou epexȇistha phonou autȏi, 4b4-6, tr. Jowett).’

Euthyphro finds it ridiculous (geloion, 4b7) that Socrates thinks it makes any difference whether the man who died was a member of a family or no. Geloion is a strong word, especially considering the given situation; prosecuting one’s own father for murder was no laughing matter. Can we find anywhere any ground or justification for Euthyphro’s qualification of Socrates’ remark as ‘ridiculous’?

In the Gorgias Socrates discusses rhetoric with Polus, a disciple of Gorgias, the most famous teacher of rhetoric. Socrates: ‘What is the great use of rhetoric, Polus (ȏ Pȏle, tis hȇ megalȇ chreia estin tȇs rȇtorikȇs)? For in fact from what has been agreed now a man should most of all take care for himself so that he doesn’t do injustice (dei men gar dȇ ek tȏn nun hȏmologȇmenȏn auton heauton malista phulattein hopȏs mȇ adikȇsei), knowing that he will have a great enough evil if he does (hȏs hikanon kakon hexonta) … And if he or whoever else he cares about does do injustice (Ean de ge adikȇsȇi ȇ autos ȇ allos tis hȏn an kȇdȇtai), he should go voluntarily (auton hekonta ienai) wherever (ekeise hopou) he will pay justice as quickly as possible (hȏs tachista dȏsei dikȇn), to the court of justice (para ton dikastȇn) as to the doctor (hȏsper para ton iatron), eager to prevent the disease of injustice from being chronic (speudonta hopȏs mȇ enchronisthen to nosȇma tȇs adikias) and making his soul festering (hupoulon tȇn psuchȇn poiȇsei) and incurable (kai aniaton). (480a1-b2) … Then for someone’s defence for his own injustice (Epi men ara to apologeisthai huper tȇs adikias tȇs hautou), or when his parents (ȇ goneȏn) or his friends (ȇ hetairȏn) or his children (ȇ paidȏn) or his native state do injustice (ȇ patridos adikousȇs), rhetoric is of no use at all to us (ou chrȇsimos ouden hȇ rȇtorikȇ hȇmin), Polus (ȏ Pȏle), unless someone supposes it is useful for the opposite purpose (ei mȇ ei tis hupolaboi epi tounantion) – that he should denounce most of all himself (katȇgorein dein malista men heautou), then his relatives (epeita de kai tȏn oikeiȏn), and whatever other friend does injustice (kai tȏn allȏn hos an aei tȏn philȏn tunchanȇi adikȏn); and should not conceal the unjust action, but bring it into the open (kai mȇ apokruptesthai all’ eis to phaneron agein to adikȇma), to pay justice (hina dȏi dikȇn) and to become healthy (kai hugiȇs genȇtai); and compel himself (anankazein te hauton) and others (kai tous allous) not to shrink in cowardice (mȇ apodeilian), but to close their eyes and offer themselves well and bravely (alla parechein musanta eu kai andreiȏs), as though to the doctor for cutting and burning (hȏsper temnein kai kaein iatrȏi); he should pursue the good and fine (to agathon kai kalon diȏkonta), not counting the pain (mȇ hupologizonta to algeinon), but offer oneself for flogging, if his unjust action deserves flogging (ean men ge plȇgȏn axia ȇdikȇkȏs ȇi, tuptein parechonta), for prison, if it deserves prison (ean desmou, dein), paying a fine, if it deserves a fine (ean de zȇmias, apotinonta), [for exile, if it deserves exile as punishment, J.T.] (ean de phugȇs, pheugonta), accepting death, if it deserves death (ean de thanatou, apothnȇiskonta); he should himself be the first denouncer (auton prȏton einai katȇgoron) of himself (kai hautou) and of the rest of his relatives (kai tȏn allȏn oikeiȏn), and use his rhetoric for this (kai epi touto chrȏmenon tȇi rȇtorikȇi), to have his [their, J.T.] unjust actions exposed and get rid of the greatest evil (hopȏs an katadȇlȏn tȏn adikȇmatȏn gignomenȏn apallattȏntai tou megistou kakou), injustice (adikias).’ (480b7-d7, tr. Terence Irwin)

If this view can be ascribed to the historical Socrates, then Euthyphro’s finding it ridiculous (geloion, 4b7) that Socrates thinks it makes any difference whether the man who died was a member of a family or no is fully understandable. But there are many Platonic scholars who find Socrates in all Plato’s dialogues just an invention of Plato – I believe I remember Gilbert Ryle in his Plato’s Progress arguing that even the trial in the Apology is in fact Plato’s trial poetically transformed, but I cannot vouch for it; I read it some thirty five years ago – and would therefore reject Euthyphro’s words as a relevant testimony concerning the question of the Socratic or Platonic provenance of the sentiments pronounced in the Gorgias, and  vice versa.

Callicles, one of Socrates’ main interlocutors in the Gorgias, complains: ‘Ah, you’re always saying the same (Hȏs aei t’auta legeis), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates)’. – Socrates replies: ‘Not only that (Ou monon ge), Callicles (ȏ Kallikleis), but about the same things too (alla kai peri tȏn autȏn).’ (490e9-11, tr. Irwin) For this exchange we can find a good parallel in Xenophon’s Memorabilia: ‘Hippias, who had not been in Athens for a considerable time (dia chronou gar aphikomenos ho Hippias Athȇnaze), found Socrates talking (paregeneto tȏi Sȏkratei legonti pros tinas) peri justice (peri tou dikaiou): ‘“How now?” he cried in a tone of raillery, ”still the same old sentiments, Socrates (hȏsper episkȏptȏn auton, Eti gar su, ephȇ, ȏ Sȏkrates, ekeina ta auta legeis), that I heard from you so long ago (ha egȏ palai pote sou ȇkousa)?” – Socrates: ‘Yes, Hippias, always the same, and – what is more astonishing – on the same topics too (Ho de ge toutou deinoteron, ȏ Hippia, ou monon ta auta legȏ, alla kai peri tȏn autȏn)!”’ (IV.iv. 5-6, tr. Marchant)

The problem with this striking parallel is that ‘the things’ about which Socrates ‘says the same things’ are not the same in these two instances. For in Xenophon’s Memorabilia ‘Hippias found Socrates saying (ho Hippias paregeneto tȏi Sȏkratei legonti pros tinas) that if you want to have a man taught cobbling or building or smithing or riding, you know where to send him to learn the craft. And yet, strangely enough (hȏs thaumaston eiȇ to ei men tis bouloito skutea didaxasthai tina ȇ tektona ȇ chalkea ȇ hippea, mȇ aporein, hopoi an pempsas toutou tuchoi) if you want to learn Justice yourself (ean de tis boulȇtai ȇ autos mathein to diakion), or to have your son (ȇ huion) or servant (ȇ oiketȇn) taught it (didaxasthai), you know not (mȇ eidenai) where to go for a teacher (hopoi an elthȏn tuchoi an toutou).’ (IV.iv. 5, tr. Marchant)

When Socrates in the Gorgias said to Polus the words quoted earlier, Callicles asked Chaerephon whether Socrates was in earnest about all this (spoudazei tauta Sȏkratȇs), or joking (ȇ paizei, 481b6-7); Chaerephon replied that to him he seemed to be remarkably in earnest (huperphuȏs spoudazein, 481b8-9).

Aristophanes can help us understand why Callicles turned to Chaerephon at that point, and why Chaerephon replied as he did.

In Aristophanes’ Clouds Chaerephon figures as Socrates’ model follower. When Strepsiades wants to send his son, Pheidippides to the ‘wise souls’s House-of-thinking’ (psuchȏn sophȏn phrontistȇrion, 94), his son asks: ‘Who are they (eisi de tines, 100)?’ His father does not know their names, the only thing he can tell his son is that they are ‘refined thinkers fine and good’ (merimnophrontistai kaloi te k’agathoi, 101). The moment he says it, Pheidippides knows: ‘you speak of those who go barefoot, those among whom are the miserable Socrates and Chaerephon’ (tous anupodȇtous legeis, hȏn ho kakodaimȏn Sȏkratȇs kai Chairephȏn, 103-4). The story concerning the measurement of a flies jump, which a disciple of Socrates tells Strepsiades as he is entering the Phrontistȇrion is about Socrates and Chaerephon: ‘Recently Socrates asked Chaerephon … (anȇret’ arti Chairephȏnta Sȏkratȇs, 144 ff.).’ Then Strepsiades asks Socrates: ‘If I am going to study hard and with diligence (ȇn epimelȇs ȏ kai prothumȏs manthanȏ, 501), to whom of the disciples I shall become similar (tȏi tȏn mathȇtȏn empherȇs genȇsomai, 502)?’ – Socrates: ‘In your nature you won’t differ from Chaerephon in any way’ (ouden dioiseis Chairephȏntos tȇn phusin, 503).

In the Wasps the drunken Philocleon blunders onto the market, hits a woman selling bread and destroys her bread worth 10 obols, and her other stuff worth four obols (1390-1). In addition to this damage, he laughs at her. The bread-seller woman: ‘And you laugh at me (kai katagelais mou)? I summon you, whoever you are (proskaloumai s’ hostis ei), to the clerks of the market (pros tous agoranomous), charging you with the damage to my goods (blabȇs tȏn phortiȏn); Chaerephon here will be my summoner (klȇtȇr’ echousa Chairephȏnta toutoni, 1404-7).’ Obviously, Chaerephon used to intercede in such cases and make sure that justice be done.

In the Birds Socrates guides the souls (psuchagȏgei Sȏkratȇs, 1555) to the underworld. Peisander comes to him, ‘wanting to see his soul (deomenos psuchȇn idein); while he stayed alive, his soul had left him’ (hȇ zȏnt’ ekeinon proulipe) – he was laughed at in comedy for his cowardice. Peisandrus made his offering like Odysseus (in the underworld, in the Odyssey) and towards the offering came up from the underworld ‘Chaerephon the bat’ (Chairephȏn hȇ nukteris, 1556-1564). In 415, a year before the Birds were staged, Peisander took a principal part in the investigation into the mutilation of the Hermae: under the influence of Socrates Peisander turned into Chaerephon. This does not necessarily mean that in Aristophanes’ view there was any special relationship between Socrates and Peisander, for at Birds 1282 the herald from Athens reports that prior to the building of the ‘City of birds in the clouds’ (Nephelokokkugia, 819) everybody imitated Socrates (hapantes esȏkratoun, 1281-2).

Socrates in Plato’s Gorgias and in Aristophanes helps us understand why Euthyphro finds it ‘ridiculous’ that Socrates thinks that it makes any difference whether the man who died was a member of a family or no; one’s duty is – as Euthyphro sees it, and as he has expected Socrates to see it – to prosecute for murder the man responsible for that man’s death, whoever he may be.

But what was it then about Socrates that made Euthyphro confident that Socrates did not come to the Porch of the King to prosecute anybody? Euthyphro: ‘Surely you cannot be concerned in a suit before the King, like myself (ou gar pou kai soi ge dikȇ tis ousa tunchanei pros ton basilea hȏsper emoi)?’ … I suppose that someone has been prosecuting you (graphȇn se tis, hȏs eoike, gegraptai), for I cannot believe that you are a prosecutor of another (ou gar ekeino ge katagnȏsomai, hȏs su heteron).’ (2a3-b2, tr. Jowett) In the Apology Socrates says: ‘I am more than seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time before a court of law (nun egȏ prȏton epi dikastȇrion anabebȇka, etȇ gegonȏs hebdomȇkonta), I am quite a stranger to the language of the place (atechnȏs oun xenȏs echȏ tȇs enthade lexeȏs)’. Socrates’ aversion to court proceedings were obviously well known. But how can this fact be squared with Socrates’ words in the Gorgias, quoted above? The answer lies, in my view, in Socrates’ philosophical ignorance, and the Euthyphro is a good dialogue in which we can get a notion of it.
When Euthyphro says that he is prosecuting his father (4a6) for murder (4a10), Socrates does not say that it is wrong for him to do so. Instead, he asks Euthyphro whether he thinks his knowledge of religion and of things pious and impious is so very exact, that under the circumstances as he has stated them, he is not afraid that he too may be doing an impious thing in bringing an action against his father. When Euthyphro replies that he is certain he has exact knowledge of such matters (4e4-5a1), Socrates says the best for himself would be to become his disciple (moi kratiston esti mathȇtȇi sȏi genesthai), for he was always eager to learn all he could about gods (kai en tȏi emprosthen chronȏi ta theia peri pollou epoioumȇn eidenai), and especially now, facing Meletus’ allegations (5a).
Socrates admits that he himself does not know what piety and impiety is, but he knows what questions to ask, which, if Euthyphro really knows all about religious duty as he claims, he must be able to answer: ‘And therefore, I adjure you to tell me (nun oun pros Dios lege moi) the nature of piety and impiety, which you said you know so well (ho nundȇ saphȏs eidenai diischurizou, poion ti to eusebes phȇis einai kai to asebes), in their bearing on murder (kai peri phonou) and generally on offences against the gods (kai peri tȏn allȏn). Is not piety in every action always the same (ȇ ou t’auton estin en pasȇi praxei to hosion auto hautȏi)? and impiety (kai to men anosion), again (au) – is it not always the opposite of piety (tou men hosiou pantos enantion), and also the same with itself (auto de hautȏi homoion), having, as impiety, one notion or form (kai echon mian tina idean kata tȇn anosiotȇta) which includes whatever is impious (pan hotiper an mellȇi anosion einai)?’ – Euthyphro: ‘To be sure (Pantȏs dȇpou), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ – Socrates: ‘And what is piety, and what is impiety?’ (Lege dȇ, ti phȇis einai to hosion kai ti to anosion, 5d6-7) – Euthyphro: ‘Piety is (to men hosion estin) doing what I am doing (hoper egȏ nun poiȏ); that is to say, prosecuting anyone who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of any similar crime (tȏi adikounti ȇ peri phonous ȇ peri hierȏn klopas ȇ ti allo tȏn toioutȏn examartanonti epexienai) – whether he be your father or mother, or whoever he may be – that makes no difference (eante patȇr ȏn tunchanȇi eante mȇtȇr eante allos hostisoun); and not to prosecute them is impiety (to de mȇ epexienai anosion).’ (5c8-e2, tr. Jowett) As a proof of this, he points to Zeus, ‘the best and most righteous of the gods’ (tȏn theȏn ariston kai dikaiotaton), who bound his father Cronus because he wickedly devoured his sons (5e-6a), and to Cronus who ‘castrated his father’ (ton hautou patera ektemein) Uranus ‘for similar reasons’ (di’ hetera toiauta, 6a2-3).

In response, Socrates does not say that such stories about the gods are wrong, he remarks that he ‘cannot away with such stories’, (as Jowett renders Socrates’ duscherȏs pȏs apodechomai (6a8), LSJ suggesting the Latin aegre ferre), yet at that point he bows to Euthyphro’s superior wisdom about gods – ‘What else can I say (ti gar kai phȇsomen), confessing as I do (hoi ge kai autoi homologoumen), that I know nothing about them (peri autȏn mȇden eidenai, 6b2-3, tr. Jowett).’ He nevertheless points out that Euthyphro did not answer his question: ‘Remember (Memnȇsai oun) that I did not ask you (hoti ou touto soi diekeleuomȇn) to give me two or three examples of piety (hen ti ȇ duo me didaxai tȏn pollȏn hosiȏn), but to explain the general form (all’ ekeino auto to eidos) which makes all pious things to be pious (hȏi panta ta hosia hosia esti) … Tell me what is the nature of this form (Tautȇn toinun me autȇn didaxon tȇn idean tis pote estin), and then I shall have a standard to which I may look (hina eis ekeinȇn apoblepȏn kai chrȏmenos autȇi paradeigmati), and by which I may measure actions, whether yours or those of anyone else, and then I shall be able to say that such and such an action is pious (ho men an toiouton ȇi hȏn an ȇ su ȇ allos tis prattȇi phȏ hosion einai), such another impious (ho d’ an mȇ toiouton, mȇ phȏ).’ (6d9-e6, tr. Jowett) – Euthyphro accepts Socrates’ request: ‘I will tell you, if you like (All’ ei touto boulei, ȏ Sȏkrates, kai houtȏ soi phrasȏ, 6e7-8, tr. Jowett)’ – but all his subsequent attempts to do so turn to be faulty.

Thus Euthyphro says: ‘I should say (all’ egȏge phaiȇn an) that what all the gods love is pious and holy (touto einai to hosion ho an pantes hoi theoi philȏsin), and the opposite (kai to enantion) which they all hate (ho an pantes theoi misȏsin), impious (anosion).’ – Socrates: ‘Ought we to inquire into the truth of this, Euthyphro (Oukoun episkopȏmen au touto, ȏ Euthuphrȏn, ei kalȏs legetai), or simply to accept it on our own authority and that of others – echoing mere assertions? What do you say (ȇ eȏmen kai houtȏ hȇmȏn te autȏn apodechȏmetha kai tȏn allȏn, ean monon phȇi tis ti echein houtȏ sunchȏrountes echein; ȇ skepteon ti legei ho legȏn)?’ (9e1-7, tr. Jowett)

In Aristophanes’ Clouds Strepsiades admires his son after he had been schooled in Socrates’ House-of-thinking: ‘Now you look (nun men g’ idein ei), in the first place (prȏton), to be apt at denying (exarnȇtikos), disputatious (k’antilogikos), and this (kai touto), which is typical of the place (t’oupichȏrion), is simply blossoming on your face (atechnȏs epanthei): ‘what do you say (ti legeis su)?’.’ (1172-4)

In the Euthyphro Socrates’ ‘what does the speaker say’ (ti legei ho legȏn) introduces the most demanding section of the dialogue. Euth. ‘We should inquire (Skepteon) and I believe that the statement will stand the test of inquiry (oimai mentoi egȏge touto nuni kalȏs legesthai).’ – Soc. ‘We shall soon be better able to say, my good friend (Tach’, ȏ’gathe, beltion eisometha). The point which I should first wish to understand is (ennoȇson gar to toionde) whether the pious or holy (ara to hosion) is beloved by the gods because it is holy (hoti hosion esti phileitai hupo tȏn theȏn), or holy because it is beloved by the gods (ȇ hoti phileitai hosion esti).’ – Euth. ‘I don’t understand your meaning (Ouk oid’ hoti legeis), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates).’ – Soc. ‘I will endeavour to explain (All’ egȏ peirasomai saphesteron phrasai): we speak of carrying and we speak of being carried (legomen ti pheromenon kai pheron), of leading and being led (kai agomenon kai agon), seeing and being seen (kai horȏmenon kai horȏn). You know that in all such cases there is a difference (kai panta ta toiauta manthaneis hoti hetera allȇlȏn esti), and you know also in what the difference lies (kai hȇi hetera)?’ – Euth. ‘I think that I understand (Egȏge moi dokȏ manthanein).’ – Soc. ‘And is not that which is beloved distinct from that which loves (Oukoun kai philoumenon ti esti kai toutou heteron to philoun)?’ – Euth. ‘Certainly (Pȏs gar ou).’ – Soc. ‘Well; and now tell me (Lege dȇ moi), is that which is carried in this state of carrying because it is carried (poteron to pheromenon dioti pheretai pheromenon estin), or for some other reason (ȇ di allo ti)? – Euth. ‘No; that is the reason (Ouk, alla dia touto).’ (9e8-10b3) … Soc. ‘Is not that which is loved (Oukoun kai to philoumenon) in some state either of becoming or suffering (ȇ gignomenon ti estin ȇ paschon ti hupo tou)?’ – Euth. ‘Yes (Panu ge).’ – Soc. ‘And the same holds as in the previous instances (Kai touto ara houtȏs echei hȏsper ta protera); the state of being loved follows the act of being loved, and not the act the state (ouch hoti philoumenon estin phileitai hupo hȏn phileitai, all’ hoti phileitai philoumenon).’ – Euth. ‘Certainly (Anankȇ).’ – Soc. ‘And what do you say of piety (Ti dȇ oun legomen peri tou hosiou), Euthyphro (ȏ Euthuphrȏn); is not piety, according to your definition, loved by all the gods (allo ti phileitai hupo theȏn pantȏn hȏs ho sos logos)?’ – Euth. ‘Yes (Nai).’ (10c6-d3) … Soc. ‘It is loved because it is holy (Dioti ara hosion estin phileitai), not holy because it is loved (all’ ouch hoti phileitai, dia touto hosion estin)?’ – Euth. ‘Apparently (Eoiken).’ – Soc. ‘And it [i.e. ‘that-which-is-loved-by-gods’, J.T.) is the object of god’s love, and is dear to them, because it is loved of them (Alla men dȇ dioti phileitai hupo theȏn philoumenon esti kai theophiles – ‘But because it is loved by gods it is loved and loved-by-them’, J.T.)?’ – Euth. ‘Certainly (Pȏs gar ou).’ – Soc. ‘Then that which is dear to the gods, Euthyphro, is not holy (Ouk ara to theophiles hosion estin, ȏ Euthuphrȏn), nor is that which is holy dear to the gods (oude to hosion theophiles), as you affirm (hȏs su legeis); but they are two different things (all’ heteron touto toutou).’ – Euth. ‘How do you mean (Pȏs dȇ), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates)?’ – Soc. ‘I mean to say that the holy has been acknowledged by us to be loved (Hoti homologoumen to men hosion dia touto phileisthai) because it is holy (hoti hosion estin), not to be holy because it is loved (all’ ou dioti phileitai hosion einaii, ȇ gar.’ – Euth. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Soc. ‘But that which is dear to the gods (To de ge theophiles) is dear to them because it is loved by them (hoti phileitai hupo theȏn, autȏi toutȏi tȏi phileisthai theophiles einai), not loved by them because it is dear to them (all’ ouch hoti theophiles, dia touto phileisthai).’ Euth. ‘True (Alȇthȇ legeis).’ – Soc. ‘But, friend Euthyphro, if that which is holy were the same with that which is dear to the gods (All’ ei ge t’auton ȇn, ȏ phile Euthuphrȏn, to theophiles kai to hosion), and were loved because it is holy (ei men dia to hosion einai ephileito to hosion), then that which is dear to the gods would be loved as being dear to them (kai dia to theophiles einai ephileito an to theophiles); but if that which is dear to them were dear to them because loved by them (ei de dia to phileisthai hupo theȏn to theophiles theophiles ȇn), then that which is holy would be holy because loved by them (kai to hosion an dia to phileisthai hosion ȇn). But now you see that the reverse is the case (nun de horais hoti enantiȏs echeton), and that the two things are quite different from one another (hȏs pantapasin heterȏ onte allȇlȏn). For one is of a kind to be loved because it is loved (to men gar, hoti phileitai, estin hoion phileisthai), and the other is loved because it is of a kind to be loved (to d’ hoti estin hoion phileisthai, dia touto phileitai). Thus you appear to me (kai kinduneueis), Euthyphro (ȏ Euthyphrȏn), when I ask you what is the nature of holiness (erȏtȏmenos to hosion hoti pot’ estin), to offer an attribute only, and not the essence (tȇn men ousian moi autou ou boulesthai dȇlȏsai, pathos de ti peri autou legein) – the attribute of being loved by all the gods (hoti peponthe touto to hosion, phileisthai hupo pantȏn theȏn). But you still do not explain to me the nature of holiness (hoti de on, oupȏ eipes).’ … Euth. ‘I really do not know, Socrates, how to express what I mean (All’, ȏ Sȏkrates, ouk echȏ egȏge hopȏs soi eipȏ ho noȏ). For somehow or other the definitions we propound, on whatever basis we rest them, seem always to turn round and walk away from us (perierchetai gar pȏs hȇmin aei ho an prothȏmetha kai ouk ethelei menein hopou an hidrusȏmetha auto).’ (11b6-8, tr. Jowett)

What makes the dialogue important and fascinating is the urgency that Socrates’ question concerning the standard to which one may look and measure actions, whether Euthyphro’s or anyone else’s, derives from his acute awareness of the particular circumstances of the given case. This aspect of the dialogue comes to the fore in Socrates’ final appeal, when Euthyphro with his definitions has gone the full circle, again defining what is loved by gods as holy: ‘Then we must begin again and ask (Ex archȇs ara hȇmin palin skepteon), What is piety (ti esti to hosion)? That is an inquiry which I shall never be weary of pursuing as far as in me lies (hȏs egȏ prin an mathȏ hekȏn einai ouk apodeiliasȏ); and I entreat you not to scorn me (alla mȇ me atimasȇis), but to apply your mind to the utmost (alla panti tropȏi prosschȏn ton noun hoti malista), and tell me the truth (nun eipe tȇn alȇtheian). For, if any man knows, you are he (oistha gar eiper tis allos anthrȏpȏn); and therefore I must hold you fast (kai ouk apheteos ei), like Proteus (hȏsper ho Prȏteus), until you tell (prin an eipȇis). If you had not certainly known (ei gar mȇ ȇidȇstha saphȏs) the nature of piety (to te hosion) and impiety (kai to anosion), I am confident that you would never (ouk estin hopȏs an pote), on behalf of a serf, have charged your aged father with murder (epecheirȇsas huper andros thȇtou andra presbutȇn patera diȏkathein phonou). You would not have run such a risk of doing wrong in the sight of the gods, and you would have had too much respect for the opinion of men (alla kai tous theous an edeisas parakinduneuein mȇ ouk orthȏs auto poiȇsois, kai tous anthrȏpous ȇischunthȇs). I am sure, therefore (nun de eu oida), that you know [‘that you think you know clearly’, J.T.] the nature of piety and impiety (hoti saphȏs oiei eidenai to te hosion kai mȇ). Speak out then (eipe oun), my dear Euthyphro (ȏ beltiste Euthuphrȏn), and do not hide (kai mȇ apokrupsȇi) your knowledge (hoti auto hȇgȇi [‘what you think it is’]).’ (15c11-e2, tr. Jowett)

But Euthyphro has had enough for the moment; he obviously can’t think of any better answer than those answers that he has given to Socrates, and which proved to be wanting: ‘Another time (Eis authis toinun), Socrates (ȏ Sȏkrates); for I am in a hurry (nun gar speudȏ poi), and must go now (kai moi hȏra apienai).’ (15e3-4)

Socrates doesn’t seem to have taken Euthyphro’s ‘another time’ as seriously meant, for he concludes the discussion with the words: ‘Alas! My friend, and will you leave me in despair (Hoia poieis, ȏ hetaire, ap’ elpidos me katabalȏn megalȇs aperchȇi hȇn eichon)? I was hoping that you would instruct me in the nature of piety and impiety (hȏs para sou mathȏn ta te hosia kai mȇ); and then I might have cleared myself of Meletus and his indictment (kai tȇs pros Melȇon graphȇs apallaxomai). I would have told him that I had been enlightened by Euthyphro (endeixamenos ekeinȏi hoti sophos ȇdȇ par’ Euthyphronos ta theia gegona), and had given up rash innovations and speculations in which I indulged only through ignorance (kai hoti ouk eti hup’ agnoias autoschediazȏ oude kainotomȏ peri auta), and that now I am about to lead a better life (kai dȇ kai ton allon bion hoti ameinon biȏsoimȇn.’ (15e5-16a4, tr. Jowett)

I believe that when Plato wrote these words, he too was convinced that Euthyphro’s ‘another time’ were just empty words, and that he wrote the Euthyphro before the early morning discussion between Socrates and Euthyphro, to which Socrates refers in the Cratylus, took place.

Euthyphro is not the only one to suggest that they meet ‘another time’. Earlier in the dialogue, when Euthyphro maintained that in prosecuting his father he was following Zeus who bound his father Cronus for devouring his sons and thus trespassing against justice (hoti tous huieis katepinen ouk en dikȇi, 6a1-2), and pointed to Cronus who castrated his father Uranus for similar misdeeds (di’ hetera toiauta, 6a3), Socrates asked: ‘Tell me (alla moi eipe), for the love of Zeus (pros Philiou), whether you really believe that they [i.e. those stories, J.T.] are true (su hȏs alȇthȏs hȇgȇi tauta houtȏs gegonenai)?’ – Eut. ‘Yes, Socrates; and things more wonderful still (Kai eti toutȏn thaumasiȏtera, ȏ Sȏkrates), of which the world is in ignorance (ha hoi polloi ouk isasin).’ – Soc. ‘And do you really believe that the gods fought with one another (Kai polemon ara hȇgȇi su einai tȏi onti en tois theois pros allȇlous), and had dire quarrels (kai echtras ge deinas), battles (kai machas), and the like (kai alla toiauta polla), as the poets say (hoia legetai te hupo tȏn poiȇtȏn), and as you see represented in the works of 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 throughout (kai hupo tȏn agathȏn grapheȏn ta te alla hiera katapepoikiltai, kai dȇ kai tois megalois Panathȇnaiois ho peplos mestos tȏn toioutȏn poikilmatȏn anagetai eis tȇn akropolin). Are all these tales of the gods true (tauta alȇthȇ phȏmen einai), Euthyphro (ȏ Euthuphrȏn)?’ – Eut. ‘Yes, Socrates (Mȇ monon ge, ȏ Sȏkrates); and as I was saying (all’ hoper arti eipon), I can tell you, if you would like to hear them, many other things about the gods (kai alla soi egȏ polla, eanper boulȇi, peri tȏn theiȏn diȇgȇsomai) which would quite amaze you (ha su akouȏn eu oid’ hoti ekplagȇsȇi).’ – Soc. ‘I dare say (Ouk an thaumazoimi); and you shall tell me them at some other time when I have leisure (alla tauta men moi eis authis epi scholȇs diȇgȇsȇi).’

And so they met again, as Socrates speaks of it in the Cratylus. Having explored the correctness of the names given to Zeus, Cronus, and Uranus, Socrates said: ‘If I could remember (ei de ememnȇmȇn) the genealogy of Hesiod (tȇn Hȇsiodou genealogian), I would have gone on and tried more conclusions of the same sort on the remoter ancestors of the gods (tinas eti tous anȏterȏ progonous legei toutȏn, ouk an epauomȇn diexiȏn hȏs orthȏs autois ta onomata keitai), – then I might have seen whether this wisdom, which has come to me all in an instant, I know not whence, will or will not hold good to the end (heȏs apepeirathȇn tȇs sophias tautȇsi ti poiȇsei, ei ara aperei ȇ ou, hȇ emoi exaiphnȇs nun houtȏsi prospeptȏken arti ouk oid’ hopothen).’ – Hermogenes: ‘You seem to me, Socrates, to be quite like a prophet newly inspired, and to be uttering oracles (Kai men dȇ, ȏ Sȏkrates, atechnȏs ge moi dokeis hȏsper hoi enthousiȏntes exaiphnȇs chrȇsmȏidein).’ – Soc. ‘Yes, Hermogenes, and I believe that I caught the inspiration from the great Euthyphro of the Prospaltian deme (Kai aitiȏmai ge, ȏ Hermogenes, malista autȇn apo Euthuphronos tou Prospaltiou prospeptȏkenai moi), who gave me a great lecture which commenced at dawn: he talked and I listened (heȏthen gar polla autȏi sunȇ kai pareichon ta ȏta), and his wisdom and enchanting ravishment has not only filled my ears (kinduneuei oun enthousiȏn ou monon ta ȏta mou emplȇsai tȇs daimonias sophias) but taken possession of my soul (alla kai tȇs psuchȇs epeilȇphthai).’ (396c3-397d8)

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