Exploring the question of what exactly makes good people good, Protagoras and Meno are two of the most enjoyable and accessible of all of Plato's dialogues. Widely regarded as his finest dramatic work, the Protagoras, set during the golden age of Pericles, pits a youthful Socrates against the revered sophist Protagoras, whose brilliance and humanity make him one the most interesting and likeable of Socrates' philosophical opponents, and turns their encounter into a genuine and lively battle of minds. The Meno sees an older but ever ironic Socrates humbling a proud young aristocrat as they search for a clear understanding of what it is to be a good man, and setting out the startling idea that all human learning may be the recovery of knowledge already possessed by our immortal souls.
As the father of Western philosophy, who transformed Greek thought with his questioning insights into life and ethics, Socrates (470-399 bc) was a powerful inspiration - and major irritant - to the Athenians of his day. After his trial and execution on charges of heresy and the corruption of young minds, his greatest pupil Plato (c. 427-347 bc) wrote a series of dialogues as an act of homage. Lesley Brown is Centenary Fellow in Philosophy at Somerville College, Oxford, and the author of numerous articles and book chapters on Plato and Aristotle.