Biography of Plato
Plato, also known as Aristocles, was an influential Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, the founder of the Academy in Athens where Aristotle had studied.
Plato played an important role at the Academy, lecturing extensively and writing on many philosophical issues: politics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology. His most important writings, his dialogues still survive today along with some letters; however, it is disputed whether the letters were truly written by Plato himself. It is far more likely that of spurius (a gentile name for persons of unimportance).
Born in Athens in May or December of 428 or 427BC, Plato was raised by a moderately well-to-do family of aristocrats; father: Ariston, mother: Perictione. His family claimed to be that of descendants of ancient Athenian kings, and he was related to a prominent politician, Critias. According to an account by Diogenes Laertius, Plato's given name was Aristocles, however his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, nicknamed him Platon, meaning "broad" due to his robust figure. Diogenes further mentions alternative accounts on Aristocles' pseudonym; (platutes) breadth of eloquence, (platus) wide forehead. According to Dicaearchus, Aristocles wrestled in the Isthmian games and held his abilities due to being the son of Apollo. Further stories tell of, in his infancy, bees settled on his lips, allowing him to flow honeyed words from them.
In his youth, Plato became a pupil of Socrates and, according to his own words, attended his master's trial, but not his execution. Much of his early writings were based on memories of his teacher due to his discontent with the city's treatment of his former teacher. It is suggested that his ethical writings were in result of Socrates' execution and in pursuit of a society where similar injustices would not occur. For twelve years following the death of Socrates, Plato traveled throughout Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Cyrene in quest for knowledge.
At the age of forty, Plato founded one of the earliest known organized schools in Western civilization at Grove of Academe. The academy was "a large enclosure of ground which was once the property of a citizen at Athens named Academus... some, however, say that it received its name from an ancient hero" (Robinson, Arch. Graec. I i 16), and operated until the year 529AD, when closed by Justinian I of Byzantium who saw a threat by the academy to the propagation of Christianity. Throughout the years of operation, the school taught many intellectuals; including Aristotle.
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