Category: Plato in 80 entries

Xenophon (and Plato)

Xenophon was born (circa 430 B.C.) in Athens, and early on became familiar with Socrates' companions. Exiled form Athens because of his connections with Sparta, Xenophon settled in Skillounta in Elis, where he devoted himself in the composition of most of his historical, didactic, and Socratic works. He died probably before 350 B.C. in Corinth.

In his Hellenica, Xenophon carries forward Thucydides’ history, and strives (not always successfully) to keep up with the chronicles model of his great predecessor. Xenophon’s acquaintance with the companions of Socrates will inspire him to write a few dialogues: Oeconomicus, Apology of Socrates, Symposium, Memorabilia. In addition to the narration of incidents taken from the life of Socrates, these volumes also broach topics on moral philosophy. Especially in his Memorabilia, Xenophon recounts various memories, and incidents taken from the life of the philosopher. The intention is to promulgate the exemplary character of Socrates, and to debunk the allegations against him.

Xenophon was an all-around personality: a man of letters, a disciplined military man, a lover of rural life, and a man of piety. He was sufficiently familiar with the philosophy of his time, although he is not among its most prominent advocates. His claims and views, put in the mouth of his dramatic Socrates, can be measured up against Plato’s testimony. The difference between the two versions of Socrates is obvious: the first retains only the halo of the true philosopher; he is someone who aims at defining, through dialectics, concepts drawn from the domain of moral philosophy.

Author: Ioannis Petrakis
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