Highly Fascinating Facts about Plato

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Plato is one of the most renowned philosophers in history. Plato was born in 427 BC and died in 348 BC. He was a great philosopher in Ancient Greece of the classical times. He discussed many theories and ideas in his works which are still discussed to this day. His work is mainly in the form of dialogues, people discussing their ideas and their agreements and disagreements.

Plato was also an important figure for Western religion and spirituality. He belonged to one of the wealthiest and noblest families, which allowed him to pursue the best education Athens offered. Plato devoted his talents to writing excellent works of poetry and even delved into politics. Nevertheless, the most transformative course of life came for Plato when he met Socrates. Socrates’ methods and ideas lit a spark inside Plato, which made him a loyal student of Socrates. If you would like to learn more interesting facts about Plato, keep on reading this fascinating article.

Here Are Some Interesting Facts about Plato You May Have Not Heard Before

1. The famous philosopher Socrates highly influenced Plato

Plato’s association with Socrates changed the course of his life. Socrates was a great ancient Greek philosopher who had excelled in building a new method of dialogue and debate that focused on reason. Plato was highly influenced by Socrates and became his close associate and dedicated his life to searching for knowledge, virtue, and building a noble character.

The Death of Socrates Painting showing Plato at the foot of the bed

Socrates remained to be Plato’s mentor until his trial and eventual execution. Socrates has no written accounts of his own and whatever historians know about the brilliant philosopher is through Plato’s writings. Plato’s works the Apology, the Crito, and Euthyphro feature Socrates as the main character in the dialogues and discussions.

2. Plato served as a soldier

Most people know Plato to be an intellectual philosopher, but in truth, he was so much more than that. Plato was a talented gymnast, poet, and painter. Aside from that, Plato also took part in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, which took place between 409 BC to 404 BC. Sparta conquered Athens, and the democracy of Athens was transformed into an oligarchy. Charmides and Critias were two of Plato’s relatives who served the new oligarchy in prominent roles and were involved in a group called the Thirty Tyrants, which diminished the rights of Athenian citizens cruelly. When democracy was restored, Plato considered serving as a politician, but his teacher, Socrates’ execution, put him off the idea of joining politics.

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3. Plato wrote his works in the form of dialogues

Plato has numerous works written on the topics of philosophy and religion. After Socrates’ death, Plato began his travels around the Mediterranean and started to compose an interesting work called The Dialogue in a peculiar but captivating style. He wrote in dialogues where Plato would introduce a handful of characters, and they would discuss a topic by asking each other questions. This style of writing allowed Plato to view and discuss an argument from different point-of-views and introduce new ideas and thoughts. He wrote Lysis about friendship, Charmides about common sense, and Laches about courage.

Many of the arguments feature Plato’s teacher Socrates in them as the main character or the focal point of the discussion. Since Socrates did not leave behind any written works, most of what is known about him comes from Plato’s writings. Plato also wrote about Socrates’ last days in his book The Apology, where Socrates defends himself before being sentenced to death for impiety.

4. Plato had interesting opinions about Death

Plato and Socrates believed death to be the “ultimate separation of body and soul.” The body is a prison for the soul, and death is the relief that sets it free. According to their definition, a true philosopher is already dead before their bodily functions cease. In Phaedo, Plato talks about how “a true philosopher practices death as if at every moment life were behind him”.

A philosopher seeks to disentangle himself from the body to satiate his soul by seeking spiritual gratification through searching for the meaning of life and looking for real happiness. Plato also introduced the idea of reincarnation and of how we have immortal souls. Plato believed that only those whose souls were good and had knowledge could ascend to the higher planes of the universe.

5. Plato founded the first organized school in the West

After returning to Athens from learning about mathematics, religion, geology, astronomy, and geometry in the Mediterranean region for twelve years, Plato returned to Athens and formed his own school called The Academy in Athens. It was founded in 385 BC and is considered to be the first school for higher education in the West.

The School of Athens founded by Plato

Bright young students like Aristotle joined the Academy to learn subjects like philosophy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and astronomy. The Academy was funded by donations, charity, and goodwill gestures, and anyone who wanted to learn something at the institution could do so easily. Plato encouraged the students to live a simple life, even to be celibate, and to stay on for four years.

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6. Plato used to tutor royal children

Plato was an excellent mentor, and in 367 BC, Plato was invited by Dion, a student, and a friend, to tutor his nephew. Dion’s nephew was the new ruler of Sicily (Syracuse), named Dionysius II. Dion had a strong belief in his nephew and thought he showed promise as a young and ideal leader. Plato accepted the offer to tutor the young royal personally in hopes that the experience would transform Dionysius into a wise philosopher-king.

Nevertheless, surprisingly, Dionysius showed little promise as a good philosopher king and suspected Plato and Dion to be conspiring against him. Dionysius had Dion exiled while Plato was put under house arrest for some time.

7. Plato’s family almost killed Socrates

Critias, a member of Plato’s family, was a leader of the Thirty Tyrants, a notorious group of oppressive rulers in the city of Athens. After the Spartans conquered Athens, these oppressive rulers were put into power. Many people were tried for their crimes in the war between Athens and Sparta, and similarly, so was Socrates. In the writings of Plato’s work ‘The Apology’, he says that Socrates was only spared from the Thirty Tyrants’ punishment since they were removed from power at just the right time.

Plato belonged to a highly rich and influential family in Athens. Ariston was Plato’s father and was a direct descendant of Codrus, the King of Athens, and Melanthus, the King of Messenia. Plato’s mother also had aristocratic blood relations to Solon, the famous lawmaker, and poet.

9. Plato left excellent works of philosophy after his death

Plato wrote many works relating to themes of politics, philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and religion. His works include the Sophist, the Laws, Critias, the Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus, and more. Timaeus discusses the inherent rationality of the university. The Laws discusses which framework would work best in a society for the betterment of its inhabitants. On the other hand, The Sophist discusses the perplexing metaphysical matter of being and not-being. Plato’s work focuses greatly on the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of finding the truth in a rational universe.

10. Plato is known to be an idealist and dreamer

Although Plato’s work focuses mostly on rationalism and shirking illusions, he is still perceived to be an idealist and dreamer in comparison with other ancient Greek philosophers. Aristotle, Plato’s disciple, is deemed to be much more rational. Plato’s works are closely associated with classical idealism as he focuses on the perception of reality from a metaphysical lens. Even though the brilliant philosopher cannot be thought of as an idealist in the modern sense, Plato is still considered to be the first representative of metaphysical objective idealism.

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The statue of Plato

11. The origins of the name Plato are amusing

It is believed by many people that Plato’s real name was, in fact, Aristocles. Some historians believe that he was named Plato for his wide stature and broad physical build. Some people also believe that the name Plato was given to him for his wide forehead.

PHILOSOPHY – Plato

Plato was one of the world’s earliest and possibly greatest philosophers. He matters because of his devotion to making humanity more fulfilled.

Summary

Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher who belonged to an aristocratic family in Athens. Due to his family’s nobility, Plato was able to learn from the best teachers in Athens at the time. He met Socrates in his youth and was deeply influenced by him. Plato was also influenced by Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides. Plato is deemed to be the foundational figure for Western spirituality, philosophy, and religion.

His writings discuss many subject matters: justice, politics, theology, cosmology, philosophy, epistemology, and aesthetics. He dedicated his life to learning and founded a school for higher learning in Athens, which was the first institution for higher education in the Western world. We hope you learned deeply about the highly intellectual and brilliant philosopher from the facts about Plato listed in this article.

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