Ancient Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle
Country: Greece

Biography of Plato

Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, was a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. He is considered one of the founders of Western philosophy and science. Plato is also known as the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first higher education institution in the Western world. The exact place and time of Plato's birth are unknown, but he was born into an aristocratic and influential family. His father, Ariston, claimed to be a descendant of the Athenian king Codrus and the lord of Messenia, Melanthus. His mother, Perictione, traced her lineage back to the legendary Greek lawmaker Solon. Plato's father, Ariston, is said to have died when he was a child, although the date of his death is unknown.


Plato showed exceptional intelligence and humility from a young age. He received an excellent education in grammar, music, and gymnastics from the best teachers of his time. He also excelled in wrestling and even competed in the Isthmian games. Before meeting Socrates, Plato studied the basics of philosophy under Cratylus, a disciple of Heraclitus of Ephesus.

Plato briefly considered a political career when he was offered a position in the government of the Thirty Tyrants. However, he soon realized the tyranny of the regime, especially their attempt to involve Socrates in a conflict with the democrat Leon of Salamis. After the fall of the Thirty Tyrants, Plato contemplated a political career again, but his plans were halted by the death sentence imposed on Socrates in 399 BCE. Plato, along with other followers of Socrates, fled to Megara.

Plato then embarked on a journey through Europe, visiting Italy, Sicily, Egypt, and Cyrene. He returned to Athens around the age of 40 and founded the Academy, one of the first major educational institutions in the Western world. The origin of the name "Academy" is uncertain, but it gained immense popularity and outlived Plato. The Academy was only closed in 529 CE by Justinian I of Byzantium, who believed it hindered the spread of Christianity. The Academy produced many famous scholars and thinkers, including Aristotle.

Later, Plato became involved in politics, particularly in the affairs of Syracuse. He first visited the city during the reign of Dionysius the Elder. Dion, a relative of Dionysius, became interested in Plato's teachings, but Dionysius himself strongly opposed Plato. The philosopher was sold into slavery and narrowly escaped death in Cyrene, which was at war with Athens at the time. Eventually, Plato was redeemed by one of his admirers and returned home. After Dionysius' death, Dion invited Plato back to Syracuse, where he was offered the position of tutor to Dionysius II. While Dionysius II initially embraced Plato's ideas, he eventually turned against him. Plato managed to escape from his overly hospitable student and the subsequent overthrow of Dionysius II by his returning uncle, who was later overthrown by another of Plato's students, Calippus.

In his works, Plato often used dialectical reasoning as a method of understanding reality and the essence of things. He believed that pure reasoning, unaffected by sensations, leads to the understanding of the deep essence of objects, while knowledge based solely on sensations only reaches the surface level of understanding.

Plato passed away in Athens in 348 BCE (or 347 BCE, according to some sources).