Category: Plato in 80 entries

Scholarchs of the Academy

The Academy as a philosophical school was founded by Plato after his first visit to Sicily, most probably in 387 BC. Plato stayed at the School’s helm until his death in 347 BC. In the same year, his nephew Speusippus was appointed scholarch of the Academy, which position he held until his death in 339 BC. Speusippus was succeeded by another of Plato’s students, Xenocrates from Chalcedon, who directed the Academy until 314 BC. The Athenian Polemon, who replaced him, died in 270 BC and the reins of the Academy passed for three years to Crates from Thriasio in Attica, until his death in 267 BC.

Arcesilaus from Pitane in Asia Minor, became Academy’s head in 265 BC, probably keeping the post until his death in 241 BC. His scholarchate ushered in the period of the so-called New or Middle Academy, during which the style of Plato’s teaching with references to Socratic dialectics was revived. In 215 BC Arcesilaus’ successor, Lacydes handed over the position of scholarch to two of his students, Telecles and Euander. When exactly Hegesinous (or Hegisilaus) from Pergamon assumed the duties of scholarch is not known. The only certain fact is that he was a teacher of Carneades of Cyrene, who succeeded him in the Academy.

Carneades became scholarch in 155 BC and kept the post until his death in 129/8 BC. He wrote nothing, as far as we know, but sparked the conflict between the philosophical schools of Athens. He bequeathed the scholarchate to his pupil Clitomachus from Carthage, who served until his death in 110 BC. His student Philo of Larisa, who was elected scholarch after him, tried to bring the polemic against the Stoa back to the forestage, but the objections of Academy members and primarily of his student Antiochus of Ascalon, thwarted his plans and led to his dismissal in 88 BC. Antiochus fail to bring the teaching back to genuine Platonism, but rather prepared the ground for Neoplatonism. Cicero was in his audience in Athens between 79 and 78 BC, from which time on nothing is known about the continuation of the scholarchate of the Academy, nor is there any other reference to the operation of the school.

Author: Konstantinos Sp. Staikos
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