Page images



Plat. Op. Serrani, Vol. 1. p. 2.

SOCRATES,1 about the time that an accusation had been preferred against him for impiety in the court of the Baotlevs,2 walking in the portico, where that magistrate used to sit in judgment, meets with Euthyphro, a person deeply versed in the knowledge of religious affairs, 1 Ol. 95. 1.

2 Impeachments for murder were laid in the court of the Baoiλevs, but not tried till four months after in the court of Areopagus, where the Baoλeus had himself a vote. The cause was judged in the open air, for all such as were (óuoppopia) under the same roof with the defendant were thought to partake of his guilt. The accuser gave him immediate notice not to approach the forum, the assembly, the temples, or the publick games, (προσηγορεύει ειργεσθαι των νομιμων) and in that state he continued, till he was acquitted of the crime. See Antipho, Orat. de cæde Herodis, and de cæde Choreuta. Informations might

also (as it seems) be laid in the court of Helixa before the Thesmothetæ.


Mr. Foster having published and made remarks on this and some other pieces of Plato, it is unnecessary for me to dwell long upon them.

P. 2. The Baoiλeîos Zтoa was in the Ceramicus on the right hand, as you come from the gate which led to the Piraeus.

as sacrifices, oracles, divinations, and such matters, and full of that grave kind of arrogance which these mysterious sciences use to inspire. His father, having an estate in the isle of Naxus, had employed among his own slaves a poor Athenian who worked for hire. This man, having drunk too much, had quarrelled with and actually murdered one of the slaves. Upon which, the father of Euthyphro apprehended and threw him into a jail, till the Eέnynra1 had been consulted, in order to know what should be done. The man, not having been taken much care of, died in his confinement upon which Euthyphro determines to lodge an indictment against his own father for murder. Socrates, surprised at the novelty of such an accusation, inquires into the sentiments of Euthyphro with regard to piety and the service of the gods, (by way of informing himself on that subject against the time of his trial) and by frequent questions, intangling him in his own concessions, and forcing him to shift from one principle and definition to another, soon lays open his ignorance, and shews that all his ideas of religion were

1 The Enynraι at Athens, like the Pontifices at Rome, were applied to, when any prodigy had happened or any violent death, to settle the rights of expiation or to propitiate the manes of the dead. Harpocration and Suidas have these words, Εξηγητης, ὁ εξηγουμενος τα ἱερα· εστι δε και ἁ προς τους κατ οιχομενους νομιζομενα εξηγοῦντο τοις δεομενοις. So Demosthenes contra Everg. of a woman supposed to be murdered: Eπeidn τοινυν ετελευτησεν, ηλθον ὡς τους Εξηγητας, ἵνα ειδειην ὁ τι με χρη ποιειν περι τουτων : and the prosecution of the murderer made a necessary part of this expiation. See Theophrasti Charact: Tepi Deloidaiμovias, c. 16, and Plato de Republ. L. 4, p. 427, where he calls the Delphian Apollo, Εξηγητης πατριος.

founded on childish fables and on arbitrary forms and institutions.

The intention of the dialogue seems to be, to expose the vulgar notions of piety, founded on traditions unworthy of the divinity, and employed in propitiating him by puerile inventions and by the vain ceremonies of external worship, without regard to justice and to those plain duties of society, which alone can render us truly worthy of the deity.


PLATO was himself present at the trial of Socrates, being then about twenty-nine years of age; and he was one of those who offered to speak in his defence, (though the court would not suffer him to proceed), and to be bound as a surety for the payment of his fine: yet we are not to imagine, that this oration was the real defence which Socrates made. Dionysius says, that it was δικαστηριου μεν η αγορᾶς ουδε θυρας ιδων, κατ' αλλην δε τινα βουλησιν γεγραμμενος, and what that design was, he explains himself by saying, that, under


Platon. Op. Serrani, Vol. 1. p. 17.

P. 18. It is remarkable that he should mention this comedy of Aristophanes, as having made a deep impression on the people; and yet it was brought on the stage twenty years before, where it was exploded; and afterwards it was produced again, but still in vain: (Vid. Prolegom. ad Nubes, and v. 524.) though the author regarded it as his best play.

23. Qr? Whether Anytus were the same person who was colleague to the great Thrasybulus, and had a principal share in restoring the democracy, mentioned by Lysias in Agoratum, p. 260, 263, by Xenophon, Hist. Græc. L. 2, p. 468, and by Isocrates, in Exc. adv. Callimachum? Melitus, who is mentioned as a bad tragick poet in the Rana of Aristophanes, v. 1337, and whose person is described in the Euthyphro, was not probably the same with that Melitus, who was among the accusers

the cover of an apology, it is a delicate satire on the Athenians, a panegyrick on Socrates, and a pattern and character of the true philosopher. (Dion. Halicarnass. de vi Demosthen. p. 289, and de Art. Rhetor. p. 83. Vol. 2. edit. Huds. Oxon. 1704.) Nevertheless, it is founded on truth; it represents the true spirit and disposition of Socrates, and many of the topicks used in it are agreeable to those which we find in Xenophon,1 and which were doubtless used by Socrates himself; as where he mentions his dæmon, and the reasons he had for preferring death to life, his account of the oracle given to Chærepho, and the remarkable allusion to Palamedes,2 &c. the ground-work is manifestly the same, though the expressions are different. In one

1 Xenophon was absent at the time of the trial, Ol. 95. 1, in Asia; and the account, which he gives, he had from Hermogenes, the son of Hipponicus, a great friend of Socrates: we see from him, that many persons had written narrations of the behaviour of Socrates on the occasion.

2 This doubtless gave occasion to what Ælian and others have said, (Var. Hist. and Diog. Laert. L. 2, s. 44.) that Euripides, in some lines of his Palamedes, alluded to Socrates's death; whereas that drama was played Ol. 91. 1, and Euripides died Ol. 93. 2, seven years before Socrates.


of Andocides, the year before this, for Socrates speaks of him as a youth not known in the world before this accusation of his (See Euthyphr.); nor with the Melitus who was deputed by the Athenians to go to Sparta, Ol. 94. 1: these two last facts seem to belong to one and the same person.

P. 24. Пoλλη apooviav.] Hence it appears that, in whatever court Socrates was tried, the judges were extremely numerous.

26. Δραχμης εκ της Ορχηστρας.] The price of a seat in the theatre was at most one drachma.

« PreviousContinue »