Plato Project #2: Euthyphro
“Today must be your day in court, Euthyphro.
Perhaps, en route, you’ll agree to be my guide,
For you must be wiser than I am, you know.
“What gives you confidence you are in the right?
By your vast knowledge of the gods and their ways,
Set true piety plainly before my eyes.
“I applaud your consistency, but I raised
My question to gain a standard I may use
To investigate truth no matter the case.
“Your first attempt, alas, I must refuse.
This time you gave a principle, but in vain:
Not even the gods agree what we should do.
“Your refinement to what all the gods hold dear
Raises yet another question of my own:
Divine decree or outside nature, which here
“Makes something pious? Do the gods’ desires show
What is pious and righteous, or are they held
To a standard they must find themselves below?
“Now, Euthyphro, surely you won’t try to tell
Me we can attend to the gods as though we
Could better or serve them or give them some help?”
“Now that court is through, I have more time to see
To your questions. What god could be worth the name
That needed our attendance to work or eat?
“Or what good is divinity if the same
Ills and evils that befall us befall them?
If they submit to any, they forfeit claim
“To godhood. Why laud them with a poem?
Why serve them at all? Why not serve the Most High
By whom even they may find themselves condemned?
“This high God must have no need with them to vie
For fame or honor or justice or the truth;
Himself worthy of the name and more beside.
“Good––neither arbirary nor to be viewed
As abstract––is a Person in whom we see
Piety and justice, wisdom and virtue
“Because He is the standard, and He will mete
Perfect judgments of evil and good and call
Piety obedience to His decrees.
“There can be no other god like Him at all,
None to contradict nor contest His wisdom.
Every knee will bow low and all must fall
“Before the One who is Himself both Welcome
And Terror, Mercy and Judgment, Holy Love.
Let us leave our feeble ways for His Kingdom.”
What is Terza Rima?
What is the Plato Project?
The Plato Project is a series of ten poems in Terza Rima (see above link), each based on one of Plato’s dialogues. Typically in the dialogues, Socrates never finds the answer to the truth he seeks, asking clarifying questions and narrowing down possibilities but never settling on an answer.
The dialogues in the Project are Lysis, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Protagoras, Phaedrus, Symposium, The Republic, and Theaetetus.