Due to a lack of primary sources from the time period, much of Plato's life has been constructed by scholars through his writings and the writings of contemporaries and classical historians.
Traditional history estimates Plato's birth was around B. Both of his parents came from the Greek aristocracy. Plato's father, Ariston, descended from the kings of Athens and Messenia.
His mother, Perictione, is said to be related to the 6th century B. Greek statesman Solon.
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Some scholars believe that Plato was named for his grandfather, Aristocles, following the tradition of the naming the eldest son after the grandfather. But there is no conclusive evidence of this, or that Plato was the eldest son in his family. Other historians claim that "Plato" was a nickname, referring to his broad physical build. This too is possible, although there is record that the name Plato was given to boys before Aristocles was born.
As with many young boys of his social class, Plato was probably taught by some of Athens' finest educators. The curriculum would have featured the doctrines of Cratylus and Pythagoras as well as Parmenides. These probably helped develop the foundation for Plato's study of metaphysics the study of nature and epistemology the study of knowledge. Plato's father died when he was young, and his mother remarried her uncle, Pyrilampes, a Greek politician and ambassador to Persia.
Plato is believed to have had two full brothers, one sister and a half brother, though it is not certain where he falls in the birth order. Often, members of Plato's family appeared in his dialogues. Historians believe this is an indication of Plato's pride in his family lineage. As a young man, Plato experienced two major events that set his course in life. One was meeting the great Greek philosopher Socrates.
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Socrates's methods of dialogue and debate impressed Plato so much that he soon he became a close associate and dedicated his life to the question of virtue and the formation of a noble character. The other significant event was the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, in which Plato served for a brief time between and B. The defeat of Athens ended its democracy, which the Spartans replaced with an oligarchy. Two of Plato's relatives, Charmides and Critias, were prominent figures in the new government, part of the notorious Thirty Tyrants whose brief rule severely reduced the rights of Athenian citizens.
In the interest of making this diverse research as accessible as possible to the nonscholar, I have transliterated all of the Greek accents have been omitted , appended to each essay a short list of suggested further readings, and provided a brief summary of the arguments of each of the essays in my general introduction. Finally, for the scholar I have included an extensive bibliography of Socratic research covering the last two decades as well as an index locorum.
I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of people who in various ways have provided much needed assistance. I am grateful to Gregory Vlastos and Geoffrey Sayre-McCord for encouraging me to take on this project; to Nicholas Smith, Mark McPherran, Gregory Vlastos, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions concerning which essays to include; to Cynthia Read for her patience and encouragement during the preparation of this volume; and to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma--in particular to Neera Badhwar and Monte Cook for reading drafts of the introduction, to Catherine Blaha for her flawless and timely clerical assistance and Mark Hulbert for the preparation of the index locorum.
I am especially grateful to Roslyn Weiss, who always seemed willing to drop everything to offer encouragement, suggestions, and criticism. All remaining mistakes and instances of poor judgment are, of course, my own. Finally, I would like to thank Ann and Thomas Benson for their patience and love. An unknown error has occurred. Socrates Wikipedia socrates apology essayministerial accountability essay meaning of socrates apology essay. The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy.
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