Plato is one of the world's best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato's works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time.
These works blend ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, epistemology, and metaphysics into an interconnected and systematic philosophy.
It is most of all from Plato that we get the theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. Plato came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens.
Plato's works also contain the origins of the familiar complaint that the arts work by inflaming the passions, and are mere illusions. Their political activities, however, are not seen as laudable ones by historians. Charmides' own uncle, Critias, was the leader of the Thirty.
We also are introduced to the ideal of "Platonic love:" Plato saw love as motivated by a longing for the highest Form of beauty—The Beautiful Itself, and love as the motivational power through which the highest of achievements are possible. One of Plato's uncles (Charmides) was a member of the notorious "Thirty Tyrants," who overthrew the Athenian democracy in 404 B. Plato's relatives were not exclusively associated with the oligarchic faction in Athens, however.
Because they tended to distract us into accepting less than our highest potentials, however, Plato mistrusted and generally advised against physical expressions of love. These dates, however, are not entirely certain, for according to Diogenes Laertius (D. If Plato's date of death is correct in Apollodorus' version, Plato would have been born in 430 or 431. His stepfather Pyrilampes was said to have been a close associate of Pericles, when he was the leader of the democratic faction. When Socrates died, Plato left Athens, staying first in Megara, but then going on to several other places, including perhaps Cyrene, Italy, Sicily, and even Egypt.
It is widely accepted that Plato, the Athenian philosopher, was born in 428-7 B. E and died at the age of eighty or eighty-one at 348-7 B. L.), following Apollodorus' chronology, Plato was born the year Pericles died, was six years younger than Isocrates, and died at the age of eighty-four (D. Diogenes' claim that Plato was born the year Pericles died would put his birth in 429. Diogenes' report that Plato's birth was the result of Ariston's rape of Perictione (D. 3.1) is a good example of the unconfirmed gossip in which Diogenes so often indulges. Plato's actual given name was apparently Aristocles, after his grandfather. Although the name Aristocles was still given as Plato's name on one of the two epitaphs on his tomb (see D. Strabo (17.29) claims that he was shown where Plato lived when he visited Heliopolis in Egypt. In any event, Plato returned to Athens and founded a school, known as the Academy.Later (at 3.6), Diogenes says that Plato was twenty-eight when Socrates was put to death (in 399), which would, again, put his year of birth at 427. Both sides of the family claimed to trace their ancestry back to Poseidon (D. We can be confident that Plato also had two older brothers, Glaucon and Adeimantus, and a sister, Potone, by the same parents (see D. "Plato" seems to have started as a nickname (for or "broad"), perhaps first given to him by his wrestling teacher for his physique, or for the breadth of his style, or even the breadth of his forehead (all given in D. Plato occasionally mentions Egypt in his works, but not in ways that reveal much of any consequence (see, for examples, According to the account given there, Plato first went to Italy and Sicily when he was "about forty" (324a). (This is where we get our word, "academic." The Academy got its name from its location, a grove of trees sacred to the hero Academus—or Hecademus [see D. 3.7]—a mile or so outside the Athenian walls; the site can still be visited in modern Athens, but visitors will find it depressingly void of interesting monuments or features.) Except for two more trips to Sicily, the Academy seems to have been Plato's home base for the remainder of his life.In spite of the confusion, the dates of Plato's life we gave above, which are based upon Eratosthenes' calculations, have traditionally been accepted as accurate. According to Diogenes, whose testimony is notoriously unreliable, Plato's parents were Ariston and Perictione (or Potone—see D. While he stayed in Syracuse, he became the instructor to Dion, brother-in-law of the tyrant Dionysius I. The first of Plato's remaining two Sicilian adventures came after Dionysius I died and his young son, Dionysius II, ascended to the throne. Dionysius then summoned Plato, but wished for Dion to wait a while longer.According to doubtful stories from later antiquity, Dionysius became annoyed with Plato at some point during this visit, and arranged to have the philosopher sold into slavery (Diod. His uncle/brother-in-law Dion persuaded the young tyrant to invite Plato to come to help him become a philosopher-ruler of the sort described in the 338a-b). Dion accepted the condition and encouraged Plato to go immediately anyway ( 339a-b and next section) on board begging Plato to return to Syracuse.Dion and Plato stayed in Athens for the next four years (c. Partly because of his friend Dion's enthusiasm for the plan, Plato departed one more time to Syracuse.Once again, however, things in Syracuse were not at all to Plato's liking.