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placed in the anarchy, for after the death of Critias such an allusion would be no longer in the spirit of Plato, so we should have to look already for an apologetic purpose in it. The character of Charmides is strikingly the same as Xenophon represents it, so that this comparison is no slight voucher for the imitative truth of our Author.
As an investigation into the idea of piety, which is likewise brought forward in the Protagoras as one of the parts of virtue, the Euthyphro connects itself with that dialogue. But when compared with the Laches and Charmides, it appears, however, in the light of a very subordinate piece, because not only does its imperfect dress stand in very disadvantageous contrast with the richness and ornament which characterize these dialogues, but even its internal substance, when compared with what we find in them, does not acquit itself much better, For in the Euthyphro we can neither point to a progressive connection of the most general ethical ideas, nor, if we go no further than the particular notion which constitutes the immediate object of the investigation, are those indirect indications to be found which make the attentive reader sufficiently well acquainted with the views of the composer ; but it is clear at once, and upon the face of the work, that the object in view is as limited as the mode of treating the argument is sceptical. Now the fact that so essential an element in the formation peculiar to the Platonic dialogues is here wanting, might fairly excite a suspicion that the present dialogue is one
of those which are to be denied a place among the works of Plato; and this suspicion is strengthened by many peculiarities in the execution which, instead of the already approved and finished master, betray a not unsuccessful, and therefore complacently consequentializing imitator, eager to push to extremes the moderate acquisition of a little dialectics and a somewhat superficial irony. Meanwhile, the rejection of this suspicion depends upon the validity of the following grounds. Firstly, the dialectic exercise contained in the Euthyphro, though not so comprehensive as that in the Charmides, is no less a natural offset from the Protagoras than, in itself, an approximation to, and preparation for, the Parmenides. This holds especially with regard to the development of the distinction between what indicates the nature of an idea, or only one of its relations, as well as with regard to the origin of that usage of language which Plato observes throughout in the sequel to mark this distinction. Moreover, in the remaining works of Plato, the notion of piety is cancelled out of the list of the four cardinal virtues, with which, in the Protagoras, it is still associated, and in such a manner that a particular notice on the subject is altogether necessary, and, if it were not to be found, must have been supposed lost. Later dialogues do indeed contain some positive expressions as to the nature of piety, and the relation in which it stands to those virtues ; but in our author what is covert always precedes what is open and undisguised ; and even these expressions are immediately connected with the merely negativing result of the Euthyphro. Lastly, it must be taken into consideration that this dialogue was unquestionably written between the accusation and condemnation of Socrates, and that, under these circumstances, Plato could hardly avoid combining with the object of dialectically investigating the notion of piety, that of defending his master in his own peculiar manner, connected as the charge against him was with this very subject. Nay, it might be, that the more pressing the circumstances, the more easily this apologetic purpose would so far swallow up the original ethico-dialectic one, that Plato neglected to introduce explanatory hints into the sceptical discussion in his usual manner, without, however, our being able to say that he is untrue to, or that he has completely renounced himself. Thus with this undeniable complication of purposes, the alleged and unquestionable deficiencies of the little work may be explained from the urgency of the endeavour to exhibit, as far as might be possible, the common ideas in their nakedness, and the haste, it would seem, of the composition—so far at least—that as we have no traces of any follower of Socrates who composed and wrote in so Platonic a style as that exhibited in this work, and the piece can hardly be fixed in the later times of the regular imitators, I still would never venture to pronounce sentence of condemnation decisively upon it. If, therefore, we continue to regard this dialogue as Platonic, it may be added, that while it has indeed much of the character of an occasional piece from the preponderance of the subordinate purpose, it cannot without unfairness be excluded from the list of those which connect themselves with the Protagoras, in which it is probable, indeed, that it would have filled its place more worthily without the references to Socrates, though still, if allowed a certain degree of indulgence, it may certainly maintain it. • The introduction of Euthyphro as the interlocutor is quite in the style of the Laches, in which dialogue also Socrates has to do with persons eminently skilled in the subject under discussion. Now this man was, as is manifest from some of his own expressions, a very well-known and somewhat ridiculous personage—a prophet, as it would seem, and one who professed himself especially knowing in matters relating to the gods, and who boldly defended the orthodox ideas taken from the old theological poets. One Euthyphro, indisputably the same as this, appears also in the Cratylus of Plato. The idea, then, of bringing this person into contact with Socrates, while the process against the latter was actually going on, and to exhibit him in contrast with the philosopher, by means of the piece of immorality which his zeal for piety had occasioned him to commit, was one by no means unworthy of Plato. The action brought by Euthyphro against his father, bears pretty much the stamp of a real occurrence, though it might be transferred from other times or persons. The manner, moreover, in which it is discussed, may be almost compared with the story of the sickle-spear in the Laches; only that the suit in the Euthyphro has a far closer connection with the subject, and that neither its greater prolixity, nor the frequent recurrence to it, when the unquestionable apologetic reference is taken into consideration, can be viewed in the light of a fault.
WHo knows not how in former times the Parmenides was by many contemplated at an awful distance as a gloomy sanctuary concealing treasures of the most exalted wisdom, and those accessible only to a few But after this fancy, however matural it might be, had been though not till lately, set aside, that falsely grounded opinion of exalted wisdom was changed into objections of such a nature, that supposing the correctness of them, the whole only becomes inconceivable in another point of view. Or is it not to be thought inconceivable that a man of Plato's genius and philosophical acuteness should either not have remarked the multiplicity of meanings in the words which involved him in the contradictions which he has accordingly written out for the world, with so much patience and without tracing their solution, or that he should have run his jokes with his still unpractised readers more mischievously than all the Sophists whom he so multifariously attacks, and that he should even have pushed the thing so far as to be in danger of fatiguing the instructed with the performance, or of disgusting them with the intention. To review, preliminarily, these objections and the different explanations of them, and to endeavour to set them aside individually or collectively, might contribute more than anything to render difficult the introduction of the reader into this dialogue, on other accounts sufficiently terrifying to many in many points of view. Hence it may be more advisable to state briefly the view which seems to be the correct one, as it may possibly approve itself sufficiently to give a standard whereby to judge of other opinions. It is in general supposed that the Parmenides belongs to the later writings of Plato; but as this hypothesis rests upon hardly any other ground except a reluctance to give him the credit of having composed so profound a work in his youth, the reader may as easily admit the opposite assumption, preliminarily and only P