3 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Plato

Plato, the towering figure of ancient Greek philosophy, is often associated with the Allegory of the Cave and his student, Aristotle. But there’s more to this influential thinker than meets the eye. Here are three surprising facts about Plato that might shed new light on his legacy.

The Playful Athlete

While we often picture philosophers as serious scholars, Plato might have been quite the athlete in his youth. Some accounts suggest he competed in the pankration, a brutal ancient Greek martial art combining boxing and wrestling. 

Failed Politician

Before dedicating himself to philosophy, Plato dabbled in politics. He witnessed the chaotic aftermath of the Peloponnesian War and believed a philosopher-king, someone wise and just, was needed to guide society. However, his attempts to influence Athenian politics were unsuccessful. This experience likely shaped his later ideas about the ideal form of government explored in works like The Republic.

The Academy

In 387 BCE, Plato founded the Academy in Athens, considered the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Remarkably, the Academy functioned for nearly 900 years! It became a hub for philosophical discourse, attracting scholars from across the Mediterranean and influencing countless thinkers throughout history.

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