Summary of Plato's Euthyphro

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Summary of Plato's Euthyphro

Socrates encounters Euthyphro outside the court of King-Archon in Athens and is asked why he is there. Socrates proceeds to tell Euthyphro that he has been called to court on charges of impiety by Meletus. Euthyphro asks Socrates how Meletus came to his accusation. Socrates tell Euthyphro that Meletus accuses him of corrupting the youth of Athens by being a maker of gods and that he invents new gods while denying the existence of the old ones. Euthyphro tells Socrates that he understands what he is saying and tries to reiterate. Euthyphro says that Meletus believes that Socrates is a heretic and is attacking him for saying that the divine sign keeps coming to him. Euthyphro then says, the people of the court are easily persuaded what to believe when the case revolves around ethics and religion, as is the same in his case.

Socrates asks Euthyphro whether he is the defendant or the prosecutor in his case. Euthyphro replies, that he has come to prosecute his own father, for having unintentionally killed a murderous hired hand. The servant was bound and thrown into a ditch by the command of Euthyphro's father, who sent a messenger to ask the priest what should be done with him. Before the messenger came back, the criminal had died from hunger and exposure. Euthyphro continues on to say that his father and family are angry at him for bring about this prosecution. They say, "It is impious for a son to prosecute his own father for murder."(Bonjour, Laurence & Baker, Ann. Philosophical Problems: An Annotated Anthology. New York: Pearson, 2005). Euthyphro continues, that just goes to show how little they know what the gods think about piety and impiety. Socrates flatters Euthyphro, suggesting that Euthyphro must be a great expert in religious matters if he is willing to prosecute his own father on so questionable a charge. Euthyphro concurs that he does indeed know all there is to be known about what is holy. Socrates urges Euthyphro to...
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