It is known that Socrates has many dialogues that involve a single thought or point of his. This early dialogue, Hippias Minor, is a great example of that. The dialogue goes along very detailed and methodically surrounding one point. It shows us, the readers, a different way to go about understanding Socrates? thought process. Even though the dialogue may be somewhat short you can sort of figure out just what Socrates is thinking. By just reading each sentence you can tell what he is trying to get at or if he is just rambling on just for the heck of it. I think each dialogue begins to show sides of Socrates? personality, especially when you read Hippias Minor.
I have to go into agreement with the commentary that this dialogue evolves around one single area of Socratic thought. Whether the truthful person and the liar are of the same. The dialogue begins with Hippias and Socrates having a friendly conversation of intellect. Socrates wants to know who is the better of Odysseus and Achilles. The great claim by Homer is that Achilles was the best as Odysseus was of the complex one. Hippias has just finished a so-called great intellectual lecture in front of many in Olympia. He seems somewhat drained, as I have interpreted. Now here is Socrates waiting to pounce by applying his ability to boggle another great mind of wisdom. He asks Hippias who he thinks is the better of the two. This is when Socrates decides to take over in my opinion. I think he knows that he is of great wisdom as is Hippias, but Socrates knows when he can over match someone.
The dialogue now begins to go back and forth mainly with Hippias agreeing with what Socrates has to say. Socrates is mainly asking several questions, but also throws in his answers to those questions as he goes along. They are not necessarily the correct answers, but I think he throws them out there to get an idea for himself as well as Hippias to who is the better of Odysseus and Achilles. Socrates asks Hippias if by being a complex person could he be deceitful. Hippias answers that as a yes. Hippias believes Homer intended to be that way. He then goes to ask Hippias if Homer distinguishes a difference between the two, and Hippias complies with of course he does. Hippias definitely believes in a difference.
For this introductory dialogue the commentary, which is Robin Waterfield and Trevor Saunders, propose a conclusive question. Whether or not Plato believes that there is a separation between the truthful and the liar, or can they be the same. They both think Plato does not believe in it. I would have to agree with that; however, the main thing is if Socrates believes this could be true. Throughout the dialogue you can never really grasp if he has a certain opinion. Just that he keeps the main point going with new ideas and paradoxes. I think that is what Socrates is all about, and I think Hippias certainly knows this as well since he seems more exasperated with him as they go along.
Socrates further on into the dialogue becomes a little more detailed with one example after another. He keeps coming up with these examples to show Hippias that maybe there can be a connection with a lying deceitful person and an honest truthful person.
One example Socrates expresses is of the subject arithmetic. He asks Hippias if arithmetic is the subject in which a liar cannot lie, although he can in other places. Hippias answers that you can certainly lie about arithmetic. Socrates chimes in that doesn?t this