"Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, you cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation." These golden words come from a person who is still revered for his great philosophies. Yes, Plato had a very practical outlook on life. He believed in human skills but insisted that people must put great effort and use their skills for the good of the entire mankind. Plato respected his teacher, the famous philosopher, Socrates very much and he propagated most of his teacher's philosophy through his works. Many scholars consider Plato's dialogues as the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates's Philosophy. It would be great to learn about the life and contribution of this highly eminent teacher-student duo, especially, on such a wonderful day like Teacher's Day. Read further to know about their life and the kind of relationship they shared.
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian Philosopher. He is revered as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Interestingly, he had not penned any philosophical works. His philosophies were propagated through the works of his students like Plato and Xenophon. The details of this great philosopher's life can be found from three sources - Plato's and Xenophon's dialogues and Aristophanes's plays. Aristophanes, in his play, 'The Clouds', depicts Socrates as a clown who teaches his students to hoodwink their way out of the debt. Aristophanes's works are famous for their parody style of presentation and hence, this characterization is also considered as parodic. According to Plato's works, Socrates was born to Sophroniscus and his wife Phaenarete. Socrates married Xanthippe, who was much younger to him. The couple had three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus. According to the ancient texts, Socrates did not work and hence, how he earned a living is still not clear. Though Aristophanes', The Clouds', Socrates is said to have accepted fees for teaching. However according to Plato and Xenophon, he never accepted any fees or remuneration. Socrates criticized democracy and claimed loyalty to his city and went against the normal course of Athenian politics and democracy. It is believed that his attempts to improve the Athenian sense of Justice was not accepted but was severely criticized and this could probably be the reason that he was sentenced to death. He was accused of corrupting the minds of the youth in Athens. He was asked to drink a mixture containing poison hemlock and was executed this way.
Plato, the classical Greek philosopher and mathematician, was a student of Socrates and the founder of the Academy in Athens. Socrates was popular for his philosophies. Plato was one of the most famous students of Socrates and he, along with Socrates, played a vital role in laying foundations of Western philosophy and science. Plato's high sophistication of writing is evident in his works. There is no dependable source of information regarding the exact place and time of his birth but, it is certain that he belonged to an aristocratic family.
However, depending on the most popular scholars, he was born between 429 and 423 BC to an aristocratic family. Ariston, Plato's father, is believed to have been the son of the king of Athens and the king of Messenia. Plato's mother, Perictione also belonged to an aristocratic family. He was not originally named as Plato but as Aristocles. He was called 'Plato' for the first time by his wrestling trainer, who called him 'Platon', a Greek word which meaning 'broad'. Plato was trained in various subjects like grammar, music and gymnastics from the most eminent teachers of his time. Plato travelled a lot. He had visited many places like Italy, Sicily, egypt and Cyrene. However, he returned to his hometown Athens and founded the Academy, one of the earliest known organized schools in Western civilization.
The exact place and cause of death of this great philosopher is not clear, there are various speculations related to his death. According to one version, he died on his bed, while other states that he died during a marriage feast.
The Teacher-Student Duo
Socrates and Plato were very close to each other, and Plato was very much influenced by Socrates' philosophies. Plato's works have been considered as one of the major sources of Socrates philosophies. According to Plato's work 'Apology of Socrates', he had mentioned that Socrates considered Plato as one of the youths close to him. Socrates, on his speech regarding his death sentence, asked the public that if he had corrupted the youth. And if so, why then Plato's and any of the other youth's fathers did not have any problem with him. However, Plato was not present at the prison on Socrates's last day. According to historical sources, Plato was ill that day.
There are different views regarding the types of relationship they shared. However, there is no scope for a debate that Socrates and his philosophies have influenced Plato a great way, which is evident in almost all of his works. What better way to celebrate Teacher's Day than to reflect on the lives and relationships shared between these two men?