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Biography

Plato


Plato

History >> Ancient Greece >> Biography

Biography:

Growing Up in Athens

Plato grew up in the Greek city-state of Athens during the Classical Period of Ancient Greece. Although historians don't know a lot about Plato's early life they know he came from a wealthy family and likely had two brothers and a sister. He would have been taught by best Greek teachers about various subjects including music, gymnastics, math, grammar, and philosophy.

The Peloponnesian War

Much of Plato's youth would have been influenced by the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. It is likely that Plato served in the Athenian army during his early life. The war no doubt influenced his life and his philosophy.

Meeting Socrates

As Plato grew older he became more interested in academics and philosophy. He became a student and close follower to the famous philosopher Socrates. Socrates would hold conversations with his students about various aspects of politics and life. They then would break down the problem and come up with theories on the subject. Socrates teachings and learning style became the cornerstone of Plato's writings.

Travel and Study

In 399 BC, Socrates was executed by the leaders of Athens for corrupting the youth and for not acknowledging the gods of Athens. Plato left Athens and traveled around the Mediterranean region for the next twelve years. During that time, he visited places like Italy, Egypt, and North Africa. He studied all sorts of subjects including science, math, and philosophy.

The Dialogue

While Plato was traveling around the Mediterranean, he began to write. He wrote in an interesting style called a "dialogue". In the dialogue, Plato would introduce several characters who would discuss a topic by asking questions of each other. This form allowed Plato to explore several sides of an argument and to introduce new ideas.

Many of Plato's dialogues feature his former teacher Socrates as the main character. Most of what is known about Socrates' philosophies comes from Plato's dialogues. He wrote four dialogues about Socrates' final days including The Apology in which Socrates' defends himself before being sentenced to death.

The Republic

Plato's most famous writing is The Republic. In The Republic, several characters discuss the meaning of justice and how it relates to happiness. Socrates is once again the main character in the dialogues and he discusses how being just or unjust can affect someone's life. They discuss various aspects of government and finally present the "philosopher-king" as the ideal ruler. Plato comes to the conclusion that philosophers must become kings, or kings must become philosophers.

Founding the Academy

When Plato was around 40 years old, he returned to Athens and founded a school called the Academy. Plato and other scholars taught subjects such as mathematics, philosophy, biology, and astronomy at the Academy. One of Plato's students was the famous scientist and philosopher Aristotle who studied at the Academy for nearly 20 years.

Death and Legacy

Plato died around the year 347 BC in Athens. Not much is known about this death, but he was 80 years old and likely died in his sleep. Plato's legacy lives on in modern Western philosophy. His writings have been studied for the last 2000 years and are still studied in universities today.

Interesting Facts About Plato

For more about Ancient Greece:

Overview
Timeline of Ancient Greece
Geography
The City of Athens
Sparta
Minoans and Mycenaeans
Greek City-states
Peloponnesian War
Persian Wars
Decline and Fall
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Glossary and Terms

Arts and Culture
Ancient Greek Art
Drama and Theater
Architecture
Olympic Games
Government of Ancient Greece
Greek Alphabet

Daily Life
Daily Lives of the Ancient Greeks
Typical Greek Town
Food
Clothing
Women in Greece
Science and Technology
Soldiers and War
Slaves

People
Alexander the Great
Archimedes
Aristotle
Pericles
Plato
Socrates
25 Famous Greek People
Greek Philosophers

Greek Mythology
Greek Gods and Mythology
Hercules
Achilles
Monsters of Greek Mythology
The Titans
The Iliad
The Odyssey

The Olympian Gods
Zeus
Hera
Poseidon
Apollo
Artemis
Hermes
Athena
Ares
Aphrodite
Hephaestus
Demeter
Hestia
Dionysus
Hades

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Greece >> Biography


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