The Dialogues of Plato

Date: 1875

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Chapter XI the Trial and Death of Socrates



Socrates Accused


Euth. Why have you left the Lyceum,1 Socrates? and what are you doing in the porch of the King Archon? Surely you cannot be engaged in an action before the king, as I am.

Soc. Not in an action, Euthyphro; impeachment is the word which the Athenians use.

Euth. What! I suppose that some one has been prosecuting you, for I cannot believe that you are the prosecutor of another.

Soc. Certainly not.

Euth. Then some one else has been prosecuting you.

Soc. Yes.

Euth. And who is he?

Soc. A young man who is little known, Euthyphro; and I hardly know him: his name is Meletus. Perhaps you may remember his appearance; he has a beak, and long straight hair, and a beard which is ill grown.

Euth. No, I do not remember him, Socrates. And what is the charge which he brings against you?

Soc. What is the charge? Well, a very serious charge, which shows a good deal of character in the young man, and for which he is certainly not to be despised. He says he knows how the youth are corrupted and who are their corrupters. I fancy that he must be a wise man, and seeing that I am anything but a wise man, he has found me out, and is going to accuse me of corrupting his young friends. And of this our mother the state is to be the judge. Of all our political men he is the only one who seems to me to begin in the right way, with the cultivation of virtue in youth. He is a good husbandman, and takes care of the shoots first, and clears away us who are the destroyers of them. That is the first step; he will afterwards attend to the older branches. If he goes on as he has begun, he will be a very great public benefactor.

Euth. I hope that he may; but I rather fear, Socrates, that the reverse will turn out to be the truth. My opinion is that in attacking you he is simply aiming a blow at the state in a sacred place. But in what way does he say that you corrupt the young?

Soc. He brings a remarkable accusation against me, which at first hearing excites surprise. He says that I make new gods and deny the existence of old ones; this is the ground of his indictment.

Euth. I understand, Socrates. . . . He knows that such a charge is readily received, for the world is always jealous of novelties in religion. And I know that when I myself speak in the Assembly about divine things, and foretell the future to them, they laugh at me as a madman; and yet every word that I say is true. But they are jealous of all of us. I suppose that we must be brave and not mind them.

Soc. Their laughter, friend Euthyphro, is not a matter of much consequence. For a man may be thought wise; but the Athenians, I suspect, do not care much about this, until he begins to make other men wise; and then for some reason or other, perhaps, as you say, from jealousy, they are angry.

Euth. I have no desire to try conclusions with them about this.

Soc. I dare say that you don’t make yourself common, and are not apt to impart your wisdom. But I have a benevolent habit of pouring out myself to everybody, and would even pay for a listener, and I am afraid that the Athenians know this; and therefore, as I was saying, if the Athenians would only laugh at me as you say that they laugh at you, the time might pass gayly enough in the court. But perhaps they may be in earnest, and then what the end will be you soothsayers only can predict.

Euth. I believe that the affair will end in nothing, Socrates, and that you will win your cause; and I think that I shall win mine.

1 , translated by Benjamin Jowett. 2d edition. 5 vols. Oxford, 1875. Clarendon Press.

2 Plato, Euthyphro, 1–3.

1 A popular resort containing a gymnasium and gardens, on the banks of the Ilissus.

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Chicago: Benjamin Jowett, trans., The Dialogues of Plato in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 121–123. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . The Dialogues of Plato, translted by Benjamin Jowett, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 121–123. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: (trans.), The Dialogues of Plato. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.121–123. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from