Socrates's first lines are also quite typical of Socrates's behavior in all of the dialogues. Socrates defers answering Lysimachus's question to the two older generals despite the fact that, as we see later, Socrates possesses great wisdom and insight concerning the subject. This method for Socrates serves two ends. First, it is a famous belief of Socrates that the only thing that can be known by a person is that he or she knows nothing. In Socrates's mind, if you know that you know nothing, then you are slightly wiser than anybody else who believes that they know something. Within this context, Socrates's humility may seem appropriate. A person who believes that he or she knows nothing about a subject wouldn't wish to begin a conversation about it for obvious reasons.

However, there is a second feature of Socrates's belief that may have motivated him to invite one of the other men to speak first. In this and many others of the dialogues, Socrates frequently allows others to speak first so that he can exploit their own inconsistencies. Since Socrates believes that the only true knowledge a person may have is to know that he or she knows nothing, we consistently see Socrates trying to prove this fact to his companions so as to give them the one bit of knowledge that a person can have.