Plato Eutifron

Socrates . Tell me for the sake of Zeus, Eutifron, do you consider yourself so precisely informed in divine laws and in questions of piety and ungodliness that you are not afraid – even if everything was as you say – to commit an unholy deed by prosecuting your father?

Eutifron . It would be of little use to me, Socrates, and Eutifron would not be any different from most people if I were not exactly aware of such things.

Socrates . Perhaps, dear Eutifron, for me the best thing is to become your student … [298] Tell me, for the sake of Zeus … what is piety and wickedness both in relation to murder and in everything else? [299] After all, you have confirmed that it is precisely by virtue of a single idea [1] that the ungodly is ungodly and the pious is pious. […] So explain to me regarding this idea what exactly it represents, so that, looking at it and using it as a model, I would call one thing that is done by you or someone else and similar to this model, pious, another, not like him, would not call them.

Eutifron . So pious is that which pleases the gods, and that which is not pleasing to them is unholy. […]

Socrates . So, and the fact that the gods have a confrontation, civil strife and mutual hostility – you also confirm this?

Eutifron . Yes confirm.

Socrates . And among the gods, the noblest Eutifron, some, in your words, venerate one thing fair, beautiful, shameful, good and evil, and others – the other: because they would not rebel against each other if they did not argue because of this. What do you think?

Eutifron . You’re right.

Socrates . But, Eutifron, according to this reasoning, pious and ungodly is one and the same.

Eutifron . Apparently so.

Socrates. But let us now introduce such an amendment in the argument: the wickedly hated by all the gods, and pleasing to all of them – pious, if something one of them loves and others hate, then it is either neither one nor the other, or both at the same time. But think about this: is the godly beloved by the gods because it is godly, or is it godly because the gods love him? … It is not because the slave is being led that it is a slave, but it is therefore known that it is being led; finally, not because the carrier is carried, that it is carrier, but it is carrier, because it is carried. So, it’s clear, Eutifron, what I want to say, namely: if something is something and experiences something, then it’s not because it is what happens to be, but it is because it is; and not because of it it experiences something that happens to be suffering, but it suffers because it experiences something. What do we say, Eutifron, about the pious? […] So they love him because they are pious, and not because they are pious because they love him? But what is charitable because it is because it is pleasing to the gods? […] So, the charitable, Eutifron, is not pious and pious – this is not charitable, as you say, but these are two different things.

Eutifron . So Socrates, it seems to me that the righteous and pious is that part of the fair that relates to the service of the gods; the same part that relates to caring for people will be the rest of the fair. […]

Socrates . Well, piety and righteousness is the care of the gods, Eutifron?

Eutifron . Exactly.

Socrates . So, then, and piety, being a concern for the gods, benefits the gods and makes them the best? And will you agree that when you do something pious, you make one of the gods better?

Eutifron . Of course not, I swear by Zeus! […]

Socrates . So tell me, what kind of service to the gods is pious?

Eutifron . And such as the slaves serve their masters.

Socrates . I understand: it means that this is a kind of art to serve the gods. But tell me, for the sake of Zeus, what is this wonderful work that the gods do, using us as servants?

Eutifron . They do many wonderful things, Socrates. […]

Socrates . Of the many miraculous deeds performed by the gods, which is the main thing?

Eutifron . But I only recently told you, Socrates, that it’s a great deal to understand exactly how this is all going on. I’ll just tell you that if someone knows how to say or do anything pleasing to the gods, offering prayers and sacrifices, then this is pious and similar actions protect both your own homes and the state property; actions contrary to pleasing the gods are ungodly and are directed toward general destruction and destruction. […]

Socrates . So, according to your word, it turns out that piety is the science of how to ask and give gifts to the gods.

Eutifron . You understand very well, Socrates, what I said.

Socrates . So wouldn’t it be right to ask them what we need?

Eutifron . Of course, what else?

Socrates . But will it be right to give them in return for those that they need from us? After all, it’s somehow embarrassing to give someone something that he doesn’t need at all.

Eutifron . You are telling the truth, Socrates.

Socrates . So, Eutifron, piety is a kind of art of trade between people and gods.

Eutifron . Well, let it be the art of trading, if you like it that way.

Socrates . I don’t like it at all, since this is not true. Say, what benefit do the gods derive from the gifts received from us? What they give us is clear to anyone, for we do not have a single good that does not come from them. But what is the use of what they get from us? Or are we already profiting at their expense from this exchange so much that we receive all the benefits from them, and they are nothing from us?

Eutifron . But do you really think, Socrates, that the gods are benefiting from what they receive from us?

Socrates . But then what is it, Eutifron, our gifts to the gods?

Eutifron . What else do you think, if not honorary awards, pleasant to them, as I said before?

Socrates . So, Eutifron, the pious is pleasant, but not useful and pleasing to the gods?


 

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