Born: c. 428 B.C.
Died: 347 B.C. (natural causes ?)
Birthplace: Athens, Greece
Best known as: The ancient philosopher who wrote The Republic
Plato was one of the early stars of Western philosophy. The son of an aristocrat, he studied under the great Greek thinker, Socrates. After years of travel and study, Plato founded the Academy in his native Athens in 387 B.C.; it became a famous hotbed of philosophical and scientific discussion, and is regarded by many as the first known university in the world. Plato's writings mostly take the form of dialogues, or "dialectics," in which knowledge is revealed as two characters ask and answer questions of each other. (Socrates was often one of the characters.) Plato's text The Republic, in which he lays out his ideas on the perfect state, remains a staple of college reading lists around the world.
Extra credit: Plato's cause of death is unknown, though it's generally assumed that his death was related to old age. Another famous -- and unproven -- old story is that Plato died of phthiriasis, or consumption by lice... Plato's most famous pupil was that other great Greek thinker, Aristotle... Plato's exact date of birth is unknown; most scholars believe it was during the years 429-427 B.C.
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