Crates was an Athenian philosopher who studied in the Platonic Academy under Polemo. He presided over the Academy after the death of his teacher.

Life

Crates from Athens was the son of Antigenes, and should not be mistaken for the cynic philosopher Crates of Thebes. He was the dearest among Polemo’s students, with whom he shared the same ideas and way of life. On his teacher's death, he became the scholarch of the Academy in 279 B.C. Regarding his administration, it is said that he carried on with the tradition that Xenocrates initiated and Polemo maintained. Diogenes Laertius says that the bond between Crates and his teacher grew so strong that the two were buried in the same tomb. “The two were so much attached to each other that they not only shared the same pursuits in life but grew more and more alike to their latest breath, and, dying, shared the same tomb” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers IV 21).

Plutarch passes on an interesting information: Crates played an important historical role. When Demetrius Poliorcetes began a siege of Athens in 287 B.C., Crates was sent to him as a delegate of Athens and convinced him to raise the siege. He is also described as a philosopher of great reputation and influence (Plutarch, Demetrius 46 II).

Philosophy

Diogenes Laertius tells us that Crates left behind a lengthy work, which comprised philosophical treatises, comedies and rhetorical speeches. None of them is extant, neither is any source with regards to the content of his doctrines. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be much in error to assume that his ideas must have been in rapport with those of his teacher on account of their close attachment. Among the distinct pupils that Crates left behind, we find Arcesilaus who later took over the Academy and oriented it towards philosophical skepticism.

• Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers IV 21-23

• Plutarch, Demetrius 46.
Author: Deny Konstantinidi
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