Who Is Plato?

Plato, born around 428 B.C. in Athens, Greece, was an ancient Greek philosopher, a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle who founded one of the first institutes of higher learning. He wrote on a variety of subjects, including justice, equality, politics, theology and cosmology.

Born to two aristocratic parents, Plato was educated in poetry, philosophy and gymnastics. He served in the Peloponnesian War and was greatly affected by Athens’ defeat by Sparta, which resulted in the end of Athens’ democracy and the beginning of its oligarchy.

Plato was heavily influenced by the dialogue and debate of Greek philosopher Socrates. When Athens’ democracy was restored, Plato considered a role in politics but decided to pursue education and philosophy after his teacher, Socrates, was executed. After Socrates' death, Plato left Athens and spent a dozen years traveling the Mediterranean region studying math, geometry, astronomy, religion and geology. During this time, Plato began his writings, including his most famous dialogue, “The Republic,” along with “Timaeus” and “Critias,” in which he mentions the city of Atlantis.

When he was about 40 years old, Plato went home to Athens and started the Academy, an open-air school of higher learning where he lectured students in biology, math, politics, philosophy and astronomy. His most famous pupil was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.