Socrates was an early Greek philosopher who had many
pupils, but even more enemies. In 399 B.C., he was
charged with denying the existence of the gods of the
state and in turn creating new divinities. By teaching,
he was corrupting the youth of Athens. He pleaded his
case in Plato's Apology, but he was eventually convicted
and executed. In this essay, I intend to prove that
Socrates did not deny the existing Greek gods, but only
believed in one god and was in fact one of the first
monotheists in history.
In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates and Euthyphro have a
friendly conversation in which Socrates asks Euthyphro to
define the word piety. Euthyphro points to his own
actions-prosecuting his father for murdering a servant in
anger-as a proper definition for piety. He then cites
examples from the actions of Zeus and Cronos who both
turned against their fathers for their wrongdoings.
Socrates apparently doesn't believe in the Greek gods as
he replies, "May not this be the reason...why I am
charged with piety-that I cannot away with these stories
of the gods?" (Euthyphro, p.5) Socrates asks Euthyphro if
he actually believes whether or not tehse storis of the
gods are true and Euthyphro immediately replies that they
are indeed and offers to tell Socrates more about the
gods. Once again, he seems uninterested and kindly tells
Euthyphro to recount the tales another time when Socrates
has leisure, which we can clearly see is sarcastic.
Socrates doesn't deny the existence of the Greek gods,
but he doesn't seem to believe in them.
In Plato's Apology, Socrates repeatedly refers to a
single God, the God of Delphi, who is most likely Apollo.
But Socrates never directly calls his God Apollo.
Socrates had explained that God had told him that there
was no other man wiser than him. Socrates, being his
inquisitive self, investigated whether or not this be
true. He defended this investigation by stating, "...