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young are corrupted, and who are their corrupters. He must be a wise man, who, observing my ignorance, is going to accuse me to the city, as his mother, of corrupting his friends. I think that he is the only man who begins at the right point in his political reforms : I mean whose first care is to make the young men as perfect as possible, just as a good farmer will take care of his young plants first, and, after he has done that, of the others. And so Meletus, I suppose, is first clearing us off, who, as he says, corrupt the young men as they grow up; and then, when he has done that, of course he will turn his attention to the older men, and so become a very great public benefactor. Indeed, that is only what you would expect, when he goes to work in this way.
Euthyphron — I hope it may be so, Socrates, but I have very grave doubts about it. It seems to me that in trying to injure you, he is really setting to work by striking a blow at the heart of the state. But how, tell me, does he say that you corrupt the youth?
Socrates — In a way which sounds strange at first, my friend. He says that I am a maker of gods; and so he is prosecuting me, he says, for inventing new gods, and for not believing in the old ones.
Euthyphron- I understand, Socrates. It is because you say that you always have a divine sign. So he is prosecuting you for introducing novelties into religion; and he is going into court knowing that such matters are easily misrepresented to the multitude, and consequently meaning to slander you there. Why, they laugh even me to scorn, as if I were out of my mind, when I talk about divine things in the assembly, and tell them what is going to happen : and yet I have never foretold anything which has not come true. But they are jealous of all people like us. We must not think about them : must meet them boldly.
Socrates — My dear Euthyphron, their ridicule is not a very serious matter. The Athenians, it seems to me, may think a man to be clever without paying him much attention, so long as they do not think that he teaches his wisdom to others. But as soon as they think that he makes other people clever, they get angry, whether it be from jealousy, as you say, or for some other
Euthyphron - I am not very anxious to try their disposition towards me in this matter.
Socrates — No, perhaps they think that you seldom show yourself, and that you are not anxious to teach your wisdom to others; but I fear that they may think that I am; for my love of men makes me talk to every one whom I meet quite freely and unreservedly, and without payment: indeed, if I could, I would gladly pay people myself to listen to me.
If then, as I said just now, they were only going to laugh at me, as you say they do at you, it would not be at all an unpleasant way of spending the day, to spend it in court, jesting and laughing. But if they are going to be in earnest, then only prophets like you can tell where the matter will end.
Euthyphron - Well, Socrates, I dare say that nothing will come of it. Very likely you will be successful in your trial, and I think that I shall be in mine.
Socrates — And what is this suit of yours, Euthyphron? Are you suing, or being sued ?
Euthyphron - I am suing.
Euthyphron - A man whom I am thought a maniac to be suing
Socrates — What? Has he wings to fly away with ?
Euthyphron - He is far enough from flying ; he is a very old man.
Socrates — Who is he?
[Then Euthyphron having stated that he was prosecuting his father for having murdered a slave, Socrates asks him to define holiness. Euthyphron becomes entangled, and Socrates points out that he has not answered his question. He does not want a particular example of holiness. He wants to know what that is which makes all holy actions holy. Euthyphron, at length, defines holiness as “that which is pleasing to the gods. But Socrates, by a series of apparently innocent questions, compels Euthyphron to admit the absurdity of his definition. Euthyphron has no better fortune with a second and third definition, and he passes from a state of patronizing selfcomplacency to one of puzzled confusion and deeply offended pride.]
Socrates — Then we must begin again, and inquire what is holiness. I do not mean to give in until I have found out. Do not deem me unworthy; give your whole mind to the question, and this time tell me the truth. For if any one knows it, it is you ; and you are a Proteus whom I must not let go until you have told me. It cannot be that you would ever have undertaken to prosecute your aged father for the murder of a laboring man unless you had known exactly what is holiness and unholiness. You would have feared to risk the anger of the gods, in case you should be doing wrong, and you would have been afraid of what men would say. But now I am sure that you think that you know exactly what is holiness and what is not ; so tell me, my excellent Euthyphron, and do not conceal from me what you hold it to be.
Euthyphron - Another time, then, Socrates. I am in a hurry now, and it is time for me to be off.
Socrates — What are you doing, my friend! Will you go away and destroy all my hopes of learning from you what is holy and what is not, and so of escaping Meletus ? I meant to explain to him that now Euthyphron has made me wise about divine things, and that I no longer in my ignorance speak rashly about them or introduce novelties in them ; and then I was going to promise him to live a better life for the future.
Socrates defends himself before the Athenians.
Socrates I cannot tell what impression my accusers have made upon you, Athenians : for my own part, I know that they nearly made me forget who I was, so plausible were they ; and yet they have scarcely uttered one single word of truth. But of all their many falsehoods, the one which astonished me most, was when they said that I was a clever speaker, and that you must be careful not to let me mislead you. I thought that it was most impudent of them not to be ashamed to talk in that way; for as soon as I open my mouth the lie will be exposed, and I shall prove that I am not a clever speaker in any way at all : unless, indeed, by a clever speaker they mean a man who speaks the truth. If that is their meaning, I agree with them that I am a much greater orator than they. My accusers, then I repeat, have said little or nothing that is true ; but from me you shall hear the whole truth. Certainly you will not hear an elaborate speech, Athenians, drest up, like theirs, with words and phrases. I will say to you what I have to say, without preparation, and in the words which come first, for I believe that my cause 'is just ; so let none of you expect anything else. .. Indeed, my friends, it would hardly be seemly for me, at my age, to come before you like a young man with his specious falsehoods. But there is one thing, Athenians, which I do most earnestly beg and entreat of you. Do not be surprised and do not interrupt, if in my defense I speak in the same way that I am accustomed to speak in the market place, at the tables of the money changers, where many of you have heard me, and elsewhere. The truth is this. I am more than seventy years old, and this is the first time that I have ever come before a Court of Law; so your manner of speech here is quite strange to me. If I had been really a stranger, you would have forgiven me for speaking in the language and the fashion of my native country : and so now I ask you to grant me what I think I have a right to claim. Never mind the style of my speech - it may be better or it may be worse - give your whole attention to the question, Is what I say just, or is it not? That is what makes a good judge, as speaking the truth makes a good advocate.
I have to defend myself, Athenians, first against the old false charges of my old accusers, and then against the later ones of my present accusers. For many men have been accusing me to you, and for very many years, who have not uttered a word of truth : and I fear them more than I fear Anytus and his companions, formidable as they are. But, my friends, those others are still more formidable ; for they got hold of most of you when you were children, and they have been more persistent in accusing me with lies, and in trying to persuade you that there is one Socrates, a wise man, who speculates about the heavens, and who examines into all things that are beneath the earth, and who can make the worse appear the better reason.”
These men, Athenians, who spread abroad this report, are the accusers whom I fear; for their hearers think that persons who pursue such inquiries never believe in the gods. And then they are many, and their attacks have been going on for a long time : and they spoke to you when you were at the age most readily to believe them: for you were all young, and many
of you were children: and there was no one to answer them when they attacked me. And the most unreasonable thing of all is that commonly I do not even know their names :