The main characters are Socrates, the boys Lysis and Menexenus who are friends, as well as Hippothales, who is in unrequited love with Lysis and therefore, after the initial conversation, hides himself behind the surrounding listeners. Socrates proposes four possible notions regarding the true nature of friendship: 1. Friendship between people who are similar, interpreted by Socrates as friendship between good men. 2. Friendship between people who are dissimilar. 3. Friendship between neither-good-nor-bad men and good men in the presence of evil. 4. Gradually emerging: friendship between those who are relatives (oikeioi - not kindred) by the nature of their souls.
In the end, Socrates seems to discard all these ideas as wrong, although his paralogical refutations have strong hints of irony about them.