Vol. 38 No. 1 (2018): Back to Ancient Questions? / Tornare alle domande degli Antichi?

Socrates interrupted? Plato’s Euthyphro

Robert W. Wallace
Nortwestern University

Published 2018-07-23


  • apology,
  • defence,
  • Sokrates,
  • piety,
  • sophist,
  • ...More

How to Cite

Wallace, R. W. (2018). Socrates interrupted? Plato’s Euthyphro. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 38(1), 37–48. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v38i1.29


Sokrates is about to be tried for impiety; the prophet Euthyphro plans to prosecute his own father for homicide. Sokrates asks Euthyphro, “what is piety?” The quality of their subsequent arguments is often judged inadequate. I argue that the main purpose of this dialogue is defending Sokrates against the legal and other charges brought against him. Scholars praise its portrait of Sokrates, which I argue is different from Plato’s other portraits on four points: an aristocrat, Sokrates shows class arrogance; his personality is unpleasant; he does not deny teaching; and he calls himself a sophos/sophist. Plato realized that these points, while historically accurate, were not the best defense of his teacher, so he cut short his inadequate dialogue and wrote the Apology, a far better defense and a literary masterpiece.