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1. The Life of Plato of Athens


Subject Philosophy

People Plato

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405115216.2006.00004.x


Plato died in the first year of the hundred and eighth Olympiad in the thirteenth year of the reign of Philip of Macedon – 347 bce by contemporary reckoning – and was buried at the Academy. So venerable and so widespread was the philosopher's reputation that mythologizing was inevitable and prolonged: Plato was sired by the god Apollo and born to the virgin Perictione; he was born on the seventh of Thargelion, Apollo's birthday, and the bees of Mount Hymettus dripped honey into the mouth of the newborn babe. Renaissance Platonists celebrated Plato's birth on the seventh of November, the same day his death was commemorated. Woodbridge's 1929 The Son of Apollo begins, “The demand of history that we be accurate contends with the demand of admiration that we be just. Caught between the two, biographers of Plato have written, not the life of a man, but tributes to a genius.” Genius he certainly was, but he deserves better than a tribute and better than the standard vita cut to fit the pattern of the Alexandrian librarian Apollodorus who divided ancient lives into four twenty-year periods with an akmē at age 40. By this scheme, Plato is duly born in 427, meets Socrates at age 20 (when Socrates is 60), founds the Academy at 40, voyages to Sicily at 60, and dies at the age of 80. Ample evidence belies the neat fit. Plato of Collytus, son of Ariston – for that was his full legal ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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