Plato (c. 427-347 BC) was Socrates’ student and one of the most influential philosophers in Western civilization. Born to a politically active and wealthy noble Athenian family, (Plato’s mother was descended from Solon, the famous lawgiver credited with major democratic reforms that paved the way for Athen’s Golden Age) Plato grew up during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), a conflict that arose among Athens, Sparta, and their allies. This civil war was the beginning of the end of the Athenian Golden Age, and created an opening for later conquest by Philip of Macedon. The principles of democracy in Athens were lost, as was much of the cultural wealth of both city states. Continue reading Plato
Aristotle, or Aristoteles, (c.384-322 BC) was born in Stagirus in the Greek colony of Chalcidice, which lies to the north of Greece near Macedon. Aristotle was never an Athenian citizen, despite having spent most of his life in Athens. Nicomachus, Aristotle’s father, was court physician to King Amyntas III of Macedon.
Aristotle came to Athens to study and joined Plato’s Academy in 367 BC. Aristotle became Plato’s best student and was generally felt to be Plato’s successor. He remained at the Academy until Plato’s death in 347 BC, when, bypassed in the election of the Academy’s next president, Aristotle left Athens with a few students and friends. Continue reading Aristotle