Plato's Biography

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11 min read

Published: Oct 31, 2018

Words: 2081|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: Oct 31, 2018

Table of contents

  1. The Emergence of Ancient Greek Education System
  2. The Original Academy
  3. Works Cited

Plato whose original name was Aristocles was born into one of the most known aristocratic families of Athens. His father name was Ariston and his mother’s name was Perictione. His aristocrat family and the historic period created lots of impacts for Plato’s point of view on life. He also born in the illustrious city and he lived in the Athens’s Golden Age. In this age, Athens had better architecture, drama, arts, and a fluorescence of Athenian cultural, intellectual, and political life. Before Plato’s birth, Athens and Sparta gave a decision for connecting their forces and those of their allies in the Peloponnesian War.

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This war continued so long and it wasn’t finished until Plato entered twenty-three. So, Plato grew up these formative years. He observed numerous instances of cruelty, betrayal, and deceit as some unscrupulous Greeks attempted to make the best of things for themselves at the expense of other people (supposedly their friends) and in clear violation of values that Plato thought sacred. After the war end of losing Peloponnesian War to Sparta, a small group of people having control and they were set up in Athens in place of the former democracy, Plate can choose to join their power, but he rejected it. Those in power, who later became known as the “Thirty Tyrants,” soon proved to be ruthless rulers. As the Plato, Socrates rejected it too. After a time later, old democracy restored, but after the restoration Socrates was brought to trial, condemned to death, and executed. That was the last straw for Plato. He understands the political power’s importance but he had convinced that he needed to stay away from the system.

Devoting himself instead to developing the learning and instruction that every wise person until the philosopher become rulers. It is true to call Plato the father of Western philosophy. He had knowledge of ethics, politics, epistemology, language, aesthetics, mathematics, metaphysics, and religion and more. “Plato seemed more popular than Pythagoras, and more revered than Socrates, because he stands in the midst between them softening the greater severity of the one to philanthropy, and raising the mockery and jocularity of the other, from irony to dignity and reputation; and this he accomplished specially hereby, that he mingled Pythagoras and Socrates.” ( E. Moore, (2007), Plato, p. 10)

The education of Plato was begun as a typical education of youth in Athens. In the Republic, Plato outlines the normal education of a Greek boy, which he also received – learning to read and write and study the poets. The begging of education in Athens around 640- 550 BC. Solon’s edict that every boy need read and swim in schools, palestras, and gymnastic schools. Normally, Athenian citizens can read and write, to count and sing or play the lyre. Schools in Athens were not a creation of the state but a private enterprise with the teacher supported by tuition payments. Every person does not need to go to school in Athens, nor was it open to all, but only to the male children of the citizens. Athenian boys attended a series of public schools between the ages of eight and sixteen. The education in Athens, was a well-rounded, people who were capable in politics educated liberally, military knowledge and general social life and could take part in the direct participatory democracy. The aim of education for Athenian women was more at the level of training, they educated about more domestic tasks. They were only educated in the home. There were only a few schools existed in this era. Sappho of Lesbos was one of the schools which operated and gave education about singing, music, dancing, and sports. Plato’s philosophy of education was particularly strong because people thought that education was an art to be learned. The important idea about him is that he was the first to suggest an equal education system for men and women. Actually, This idea influenced by the system of education in the south of Greece in Sparta.

The Emergence of Ancient Greek Education System

The emergence of the educational system of the ancient Greek society and the information about children education can be obtained with the help of archaeological data, ancient writers, and vase paintings (Jenkins 1993, p.11-16). The education has not been institutionalized until the Hellenistic Period in ancient Greek society. But the families that want to be an esteemed citizen of their children in society, they send their child to a private educational institution that includes reading, writing and sports training. In Greek society, it had been given attention to the male child to receive an education. The training of girls and to come to an important status in society is relatively rare. The freeborn boys in Greek society were able to continue their the education according to the family earnings of the financial. The children were trained by “paidagogos” whom slave is responsible for the child at home in preschool and accompanied with this slaves starts school they go to school (Jenkins, 1993, p.11-12). Greek Classical Period school has not already become an official institution yet and the families have not an obligation to send their children to like the schools. However, due to social pressure, all the affluent families care about the education of their children because they want their children to be an elite citizen. Thus they had been aimed to provide their children earn privileges in society.

Ancient Greek educational institutions show a similar structure at all of the Greek city-state (polis). It is generally defined, children acquire the ability reading and writing and to express orally what they have learned in elementary school. The children’s education in fine art is mainly music. In addition to these courses, children’s physical activity that takes place in “gymnasium” training (fitness, training) is located. In the first school, “dramatises” who teaches literacy and “kitharistes” (music teacher) that while the same person, but gymnasium physical education/training of palaestra had been given by another teacher is “paidotribes” (physical education teacher) (Jenkins, 1993, s.15-16; Blanck, 1999, s.165-166; Griffith, 2001, s.66-67).In the later stages of the education, the boy can go to university like the Platon’s “academic” which lectured by philosophers and rethorics, is usually the child of aristocratic families. In the same time the children’s schooling, they had been learned the career of their father and also develop in the professional direction(Blanck, 1999,s.165-166; Bitros – Karayiannis, 2009, s.1-29). Academy, although on the basis of a philosophy school, it had been an institution that not only philosophy but mathematics, geometry and astronomy course of a given school. In terms of the process of the education system “academia,” it is recognized as the foundation of the university today.

The Original Academy

Site at Akademeia: Before the Academia was a school and even before Cimon enclosed its precincts with a wall (Plutarch Life of Cimon xiii:7), it contained a sacred grove of olive trees, watered by the Cephisus, about six stadia outside the city walls of ancient Athens (Thucydides ii:34). The ancient name for the site was Hekademeia, which by classical times had evolved into Akademeia and was explained, at least as early as the beginning of the sixth century B.C.E., by linking it to an Athenian hero, a legendary “Akademos.”The site of the academy was sacred to Athena and other immortals. Since the Bronze Age it had sheltered a religious cult, perhaps associated with the hero-gods Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces); the hero Akademos associated with the site was credited with revealing to the Divine Twins where Theseus had hidden Helen. Out of respect for its association with the Dioskouri, the Spartans would not ravage these original “groves of Academe” when they invaded Attica (Plutarch, Life of Theseus xxxii), a piety not shared by the Roman Sulla, who felled the sacred olive trees in 86 B.C.E. to build siege engines. Among the religious observations that took place at the Akademeia was a torchlit night race from altars within the city to the Promemeikos altar in the Akademeia. Funeral games also took place in the area as well as a Dionysiac procession from Athens to the Hekademeia and then back to the polis (Paus. i. 29.2, 30.2; Plut. Vit. Sol. i. 7).

The road to Akademeia was lined with the gravestones of Athenians. The olive trees of Akademeia, according to Athenian fables, were reared from layers taken from the sacred olive in the Erechtheum, and from them came the oil was given as a prize to victors at the Panathenean festival. Plato’s AcademyWithin the enclosure of Akademeia, Plato possessed a small garden in which he founded a school for those who wished to listen to his instruction. The name Academia is frequently used in philosophical writings to refer to the followers of Plato. The Platonic Academy is usually contrasted with Aristotle’s own creation, the Lyceum. Famous philosophers entrusted with running the Academy included Arcesilaus, Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Proclus. Sextus Empiricus described five divisions of the followers of Plato. Plato was the founder of the first Academy, Arcesilaus of the second, Carneades of the third, Philo and Charmides of the fourth, Antiochus of the fifth. Cicero recognized only two Academies, the Old, beginning with Democritus, and the New, commencing with Arcesilaus. He listed the founders of the Old Academy, in order, as Democritus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Parmenides, Xenophanes, Socrates, Plato, Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemo, Crates, and Crantor. In the New, or “Younger,” he included Arcesilaus, Lacydes, Evander, Hegesinus, Carneades, Clitomachus, and Philo (Acad. Quaest. iv. 5).

According to Diogenes, the Old Academy consisted of those who taught the doctrine of Plato without corruption; the Middle of those who made certain innovations in the Platonic system; and the New began with those who relinquished the more questionable propositions of Arcesilaus and restored the declining reputation of the Platonic school. Beginning with Carneades, the New Academy was largely skeptical, denying the possibility of arriving at absolute truth or any definite criterion of truth. During this period philosophy was increasingly becoming a vehicle for dialectic and rhetoric rather than a serious pursuit of truth. The Revived Neoplatonic Academy of Late antiquity after a lapse during the early Roman occupation, the academy was refunded (Cameron 1965) as a new institution by some outstanding Platonists of late antiquity who called themselves “successors” (diadochoi, but of Plato) and presented themselves as an uninterrupted tradition reaching back to Plato. However, there cannot have actually been any geographical, institutional, economic or personal continuity with the original academy in the new organizational entity (Bechtle).

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The last “Greek” philosophers of the revived academy in the sixth century were drawn from various parts of the Hellenistic cultural world and suggest the broad syncretism of the common culture (see koine): Five of the seven academy philosophers mentioned by Agathias were Syriac in their cultural origin: Hermias and Diogenes (both from Phoenicia), Isidorus of Gaza, Damascius of Syria, Iamblichus of Coele-Syria and perhaps even Simplicius of Cilicia himself (Thiele).In 529 C.E., the Byzantine emperor Justinian I closed the school in because he considered it a pagan institution, which date is often cited as the end of Classical antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, the remaining members of the academy sought protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I of Persia in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine Empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian school. The students of the academy-in-exile, an authentic and important Neoplatonic school surviving at least until the tenth century, contributed to the Islamic preservation of Greek science and medicine when Islamic forces took the area in the seventh century (Thiele). One of the earliest academies established in the east was the seventh-century Academy of Gundishapur in Sassanid Persia. Raphael painted a famous fresco depicting “The School of Athens” in the sixteenth century. The site of the academy was rediscovered in the twentieth century; considerable excavation has been accomplished. It is located in modern Akadimia Platonos, in Athens. The Church of St. Triton on Kolokynthou Street, Athens, occupies the southern corner of the academy, confirmed in 1966 by the discovery of a boundary stone dated to 500 B.C.E.

Works Cited

  1. E. Moore. (2007). Plato. Routledge.
  2. Jenkins, F. W. (1993). The emergence of the ancient Greek education system: Some comments. Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, 11, 11-19.
  3. Kieran, M. (2014). Platonic epistemology: Plato’s influence and contribution to epistemology. In The Routledge Companion to Epistemology (pp. 517-526). Routledge.
  4. Kraut, R. (2018). Plato. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  5. Plato. (2000). Republic. Cambridge University Press.
  6. Reeve, C. D. C. (2013). Plato on justice and power: Reading Book 1 of Plato’s Republic. Parmenides Publishing.
  7. Sassi, M. M. (2017). The philosophy of imagination in Plato’s Republic. Cambridge University Press.
  8. Schofield, M. (2007). Plato: political philosophy. In The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy (pp. 315-336). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  9. Sedley, D. N. (2017). The academy: Plato’s school of philosophy and its successors. Oxford University Press.
  10. Vlastos, G. (1981). The paradox of Socratic ignorance. Journal of Philosophy, 78(5), 273-291.
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The Life and Work of the Philosopher Plato. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Life and Work of the Philosopher Plato.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
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