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It is most of all from Plato that we get the theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. Plato came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens.Plato's works also contain the origins of the familiar complaint that the arts work by inflaming the passions, and are mere illusions. Their political activities, however, are not seen as laudable ones by historians. Charmides' own uncle, Critias, was the leader of the Thirty.In spite of the confusion, the dates of Plato's life we gave above, which are based upon Eratosthenes' calculations, have traditionally been accepted as accurate. According to Diogenes, whose testimony is notoriously unreliable, Plato's parents were Ariston and Perictione (or Potone—see D. While he stayed in Syracuse, he became the instructor to Dion, brother-in-law of the tyrant Dionysius I. The first of Plato's remaining two Sicilian adventures came after Dionysius I died and his young son, Dionysius II, ascended to the throne. Dionysius then summoned Plato, but wished for Dion to wait a while longer.According to doubtful stories from later antiquity, Dionysius became annoyed with Plato at some point during this visit, and arranged to have the philosopher sold into slavery (Diod. His uncle/brother-in-law Dion persuaded the young tyrant to invite Plato to come to help him become a philosopher-ruler of the sort described in the 338a-b). Dion accepted the condition and encouraged Plato to go immediately anyway ( 339a-b and next section) on board begging Plato to return to Syracuse.
According to the Plato counted Socrates "the justest man alive" (324e).According to Diogenes Laertius, the respect was mutual (3.5). Whether or not any of these stories is true, there can be no question of Plato's mastery of dialogue, characterization, and dramatic context.Supposedly possessed of outstanding intellectual and artistic ability even from his youth, according to Diogenes, Plato began his career as a writer of tragedies, but hearing Socrates talk, he wholly abandoned that path, and even burned a tragedy he had hoped to enter in a dramatic competition (D. He may, indeed, have written some epigrams; of the surviving epigrams attributed to him in antiquity, some may be genuine. 2.48-59, 3.34), were also well-known "Socratics" who composed such works. Kahn (1996, 1-35), concludes that the very existence of the genre—and all of the conflicting images of Socrates we find given by the various authors—shows that we cannot trust as historically reliable any of the accounts of Socrates given in antiquity, including those given by Plato.He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers. Though influenced primarily by Socrates, to the extent that Socrates is usually the main character in many of Plato's writings, he was also influenced by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Pythagoreans.
According to Diogenes, Plato was buried at the school he founded (D. Aristotle and Diogenes agree that Plato had some early association with either the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, or with one or more of that philosopher's followers (see Aristotle Metaph. Parmenides and Zeno also appear as characters in his dialogue, the He mixed together in his works the arguments of Heracleitus, the Pythagoreans, and Socrates. 3.8) A little later, Diogenes makes a series of comparisons intended to show how much Plato owed to the comic poet, Epicharmus (3.9-3.17).