How did the earth come about? How did life begin? What is our purpose here? So many questions have plagued humans for about as long as they've been around. Some people think they know all the answers; some have no clue and don't really care. Others spend their lives in pursuit of answers and reasons why. Plato of Athens devoted a majority of his life to these very subjects and teaching his findings to other philosophers who might be interested.
Around 427 BC, Ariston and Perictione had a child, Plato. Ariston, who descended from the early Athenian kings, and Perictione, who was related to Solon the early lawmaker, were a wealthy and aristocratic family. Prior to Plato reaching adulthood, his father Ariston died. Perictione decided to remarry an associate of the statesman Pericles, Pyrilampes.
Plato fought in the Peloponnesian war from around 409-404 BC, but did not want a military career. Instead, he felt a political career was right for him. Plato's mother's brother, Charmides, helped him enter into the oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens. Plato took an early leave, however, due to their violent acts. This abuse of power turned Plato away from the political world in Athens. The execution of Socrates, Plato's mentor, in 399 BC convinced Plato that he would have nothing more to do with Athenian politics (GP).
After the death of Socrates, Plato traveled to Egypt, Sicily, and Italy. Upon his return to Athens, he devoted his life to philosophy. In 385 BC, Plato founded the Academy (GP). It was named thus because the land had belonged to Academos (TAP). It was the first known University and provided a comprehensive curriculum, including areas in astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. Plato planned to train young men to become statesmen. Plato spent the rest of his life at the Academy until dying painlessly in his sleep around the age of 80 (GP).
Plato's works can be divided into three main periods. These include...