Hippias Minor

or The Art of Cunning

One of Plato’s most controversial dialogues, Hippias Minor details Socrates’ confounding arguments that there is no difference between a person who tells the truth and one who lies, and that the good man is the one who willingly makes mistakes and does wrong and unjust things.

But what if Socrates wasn’t championing the act of lying – as it has been traditionally interpreted – but, rather, advocating for a novel way of understanding the power of the creative act?

In this sterling translation by Sarah Ruden, Hippias is rendered anew as a provocative dialogue about art as a form of ‘wrongdoing’, one that, paradoxically, makes life more ethical by teaching us to be more cunning.

An introduction and artwork by artist Paul Chan situates Hippias within a wider philosophical and artistic context, and an essay by classicist Richard Fletcher grapples with how Greek and Roman ideas about aesthetics resonate in Chan’s work and in contemporary art today.

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