Born: 427 B.C., in Athens, Greece

Died: 347 B.C., in Athens, Greece

Plato is considered the most important of the ancient Greek philosophers. His broad system of philosophy has been very influential to date.

Born of an aristocratic Athenian family, Plato envisioned a career in politics until he developed the belief that ethical men had nothing to gain from a life in politics.

From his boyhood, Plato was acquainted with Socrates, who was a friend and great influence on him. After the execution of Socrates in 399 B.C., Plato and some friends left Athens for Megara to visit the philosopher Euclides.

Near the age of forty, Plato traveled to Italy and Sicily, where he acquired the friendship of Dion, the brother-in-law of Dionysius I, the ruler of Syracuse.

About 387 B.C., after returning to Athens, Plato founded an institute for young men to systematically study science and politics. He devoted the rest of his life to this school which became known as the Academy. Many important young men from distinguished backgrounds became pupils of Plato at the Academy. Among them were Dion and Aristotle.

For a brief period in 367 B.C., at the request of Dion, Plato returned to Syracuse to tutor young Dionysius II, the son and successor of Dionysius I. When this attempt failed, Plato again returned to the Academy in Athens. Plato continued to teach and write at the Academy until his death.

Plato is famous for being one of the greatest philosophical writers. Among his most revered works are the Dialogues, the Republic, and the Laws.