In 428 B.C. Aristocles (later known as Plato) was born in Athens. He was born on the island of Aegina, which lies just twelve miles off shore from Athens in the Saronic Gulf (Havelock 3). Aristocles was born into a great political family (Friedlander 14). His father being the descendant of Codrus, the last king of Athens, and his mother was descendant from the great Athenian law maker Solon (Friedlander 15). Like most adolescent children his ambitions were far from anything his parents had ever done. Aristocles wanted to be a wrestler. Aristocles attained the name “Plato” from his wrestling experiences (Havelock 4). Twice he carried the wrestling prize at the Isthmian games but seemingly never made it to the Olympics at Olympia. Plato then decided that he might want to be a poet (O’Conner). He failed to go anywhere with this dream also. Having not won an Olympic metal or anything for his poetry Plato thought he was going to simply become a mere statesman. As a last fling he decided to take a go at philosophy (Havelock 4).
For Plato this was love at first sight. Plato began his studies under his “master” also known as Socrates. For nine years Socrates taught Plato through conversational methods also known as “dialectic” method (Friedlander 17). Plato spent all of this time learning about himself. Plato learned his weaknesses, strengths, qualifications, and so forth.
Plato spent many years under the instruction of Socrates yet still had a yearning for politics (Havelock 6). After viewing the behavior of the Athenian Politicians and the way they acted in the prosecution of Socrates, Plato was disgusted and quickly lost the desire to become part of the political world. Plato’s close relationship with Socrates caused the need for Plato to leave Athens. Plato went on to Megara where he stayed with Euclid for three years (Havelock 10). The years directly after Plato had been separated from Socrates he spent most of his time doing works heavily influenced by Socrates. In fact three of Plato’s earliest dialogues, (The Apology, Crito, and Euthyphron), were devoted entirely to the trial, prison days, and the ultimate death of Socrates (Friedlander 13).
Plato traveled to many different philosophers that lived throughout the Greek colonies (O’Conner). One of which had a great impact on Plato’s philosophy and beliefs. Pythagoras’s theory that “numbers held the understanding to the universe” intrigued Plato (Friedlander 24).
Plato explained life in the form of an image. Plato explains that “most humans live as if in a dim cave. We are chained, he says, and facing a blank wall, with a fire at our backs. All we see are flickering shadows playing across the cave wall and this we take to be reality” (Friedlander 30). Only if we learn to turn away from the wall and the shadows, and escape from the cave, can we hope to see the true light of reality (O’Conner). Many criticize that this philosophy that Plato suggests is unrealistic. It has been said that his idea...