Ancient Philosophy


What was Plato’s Academy?

Sometime between the early 380’s and 367 B.C.E., Plato founded The Academy in Athens, where he lived. Plato’s Academy provided higher education to sons of the aristocracy. It was different from Isocrates’ (c. 436–c. 393 B.C.E.) school, which formalized the teachings of the Sophists in politics and rhetoric for the practical aim of training lawyers. Plato’s students, on the other hand, were taught mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. Aristotle entered the Academy when he was 17, and in his early twenties added the subject of rhetoric to the curriculum.

Plato’s academy was probably cofounded by Theatetus (417–369 B.C.E., after whom Plato named a dialogue) and Eudoxus (c. 408–c. 347 B.C.E.), astronomer and mathematician. Lectures were given to seated students who took notes. There were probably never more than 100 students in attendance at a time, and it is not certain that Plato himself lectured there.

A Roman statue of Plato. The Romans admired the Greeks and adapted much Greek culture to their own (iStock).

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