chapter  2
The Interpretation Presented
Pages 12

At the beginning of the dialogue that bears his name, Euthyphro is about to commit the extraordinary act of indicting his own father for murder. Euthyphro says that those who know about it are shocked by his plan, and Socrates himself is shocked. And, one might suspect, Plato has so arranged the case that his readers stand a very good chance of being shocked as well. For the victim of the alleged murder was not anyone of any importance to Euthyphro, a serf in fact, a violent drunkard, and indeed a murderer himself, on Euthyphro’s own account. Furthermore, the father’s deeds seem quite trivial, and although we must accept Euthyphro’s word that they led to the death of the serf, they do not seem to constitute murder. For the father had simply arrested the man for killing a servant while drunk, and then thrown him into a cellar or pit somewhere for safe keeping while he sent to the religious author­ ities to find out what to do. As it happened, advice was slow in coming, and the serf died of hunger and cold due to the father’s inattention. Even if we take Euthyphro’s word that his father was callously indifferent to the fate of the prisoner (who would likely have been killed for his crime in any case), we may feel that Euthyphro is being rather precipitous in charging him with mur­ der-and this is apparently the opinion of Euthyphro’s contempo­ raries, including Socrates.