Polytropic Socrates’ Implicit Defense of Philosophy: Lying, Justice, and Sophistry in Plato’s Lesser Hippias
This paper offers an interpretation of Plato’s Lesser Hippias, about which I make several original claims. First, I contend that the dialogue takes place in front of an unnamed audience composed of Socrates’ students and the dialogue is therefore for their benefit, not that of Hippias or Eudicus. I then argue that Socrates juxtaposes himself to Hippias to show the superiority of philosophy to sophistry; I accomplish this through an examination of the cultural significance of Socrates’ physical description of Hippias at 368 and following. I also claim that the central argument of the dialogue is used to demonstrate Socrates’ superior understanding of justice, for he is able to best tell the truth on the matter as well as lie. Through these assertions, I argue the importance of the dialogue in the broader Platonic corpus.