30 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

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Key FiguresCharacter Analysis


Plato, a student of Socrates, is himself one of the greats of early Greek philosophy. His 30 Socratic dialogs, including Meno, Phaedo, and Republic, serve as a kind of biography of Socrates’s philosophy and methods. (Phaedo, the last dialog between Socrates and his students, ends with the philosopher’s execution by self-administered poison. A study guide for Phaedo is available at SuperSummary.com.)

Plato founded The Academy, the first university, where he expounded on Socrates’s ideas, developed them further, and trained the philosopher Aristotle. These three philosophers form a triumvirate of great minds who set forth the basic principles of philosophic inquiry that influence Western thought to this day. Alfred North Whitehead, one of the towering figures of 20th-century philosophy, quipped that Plato was so influential that “the European philosophical tradition is […] a series of footnotes to Plato.” (Alfred North Whitehead. Process and Reality. Corrected edition, Free Press, 1978, page 73.)


One of the founders of Western philosophy, Socrates believed that the purpose of life was to cultivate virtue, and that the best method involved study and introspection. Socrates strongly influenced his student Plato, who collected Socrates’s teachings into a series of 30 dialogs that have influenced Western thought for 2,400 years.