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Pato Lecture notes detailing the life of Plato, his works, beliefs and relation to Socrates.

Classical Studies
Course Code
Sheila Ager

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Wrote a lot about Socrates
Difficult to determine what is Socrates and what is Plato
After death of Socrates he was bitter with the state
428-348: born just after Peloponnesian wars began. Grew up during that war; war between
constitutional ideals
Athens was defeated and enduring siege of Athens, then period of restored democracy and death
of Socrates
o Student of Socrates
o All existing constitutions and laws were bad because they were incapable of meeting new
situations created by complex and changing events of daily life
o Believed they needed a ruler who had true knowledge of what was good for the state.
Knowledge came from understanding of the state in it nature.
o Ideal state divided into 3 groups: Guardians, Auxiliary and the rest of society; rulers, military
assistants and the rest of society
o Eugenics used to produce best candidates for top groups and no discrimination based on
o Lost confidence that his ideal state could be carried out, decided to try for second best;
people would be ruled by laws created by experts
Loss of Faith
Experiencing tension between democracy and oligarchy within and without Athens. Aristocrats
believed that oligarchy would be the best rule for the state
Whereas Socrates was a stone cutter, Plato was rich, aristocratic and educated
Seen democracy fail repeatedly at conducting the war in a rational manner during the
Peloponnesian war. Democracy led Athenians to attack Melos and launch an expedition against
o Alcibiades: persuaded Athenians to launch the expedition against Sicily (Athenians lost many
men and many boats. Weakened them to the attacks of Sparta). Also a friend of Socrates;
Athens associated him with Socrates.
30 tyrants after the Peloponnesian war to try to overhaul the constitution; Athens then an
extreme oligarchy
o Leader called Critias; relative of Plato and associated with Socrates. Was the most
Democracy reinstated after a few months of being under tyrant control
Plato now sees that neither democracy nor oligarchy was working; failure on both sides of political
spectrum followed by execution of his teacher
Response: mankind will have no respite from trouble until either real philosophers gain political
power or politicians become by some miracles true philosophers
o Those who rule must be philosophers
o Rejected all existing modes of government
o Democracy: people are not trained in running the state and will make bad decisions.
Oligarchy: no prevention from them abusing their power
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