Abstract
Following Schleiermacher, who was unable to account for several oddities in the dialogue, some scholars consider the Hipparchus a spurious Platonic work. This essay, by means of a dramatic re-enactment of the dialogue, accounts for those oddities. It demonstrates that the comrade is a recent immigrant to Athens who, having been deceived by a moneychanger in the agora, accuses ‘lovers of gain’ of being ‘profiteers’. Socrates exposes the comrade as fearful of risk-taking and then defends the reputation of Hipparchus, the Athenian King who encouraged commercial development. By further correcting the democratic account of his assassination, Socrates exposes the comrade’s envy, which hides his own profiteering ambitions. The discussion points to a series of dualities regarding commerce and philosophy, including both the generating and non-generating qualities of the philosophic life. It also reveals the rural origins of Socrates’ ‘new’ accusers, and the notion of justice held by them.
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DOI 10.1163/20512996-90000071
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