Plato (427-347 B. C.) was born to a distinguished Athenian family a few years after the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. He came under the influence of Socrates, although he may not have been one of the philosopher's most intimate followers. After the death of his mentor, Plato left Athens in disgust, giving up any hope of ever entering the political career he had long desired. Upon returning to the city some years later, he founded the school known as the Academy (387 B. C.), to which he devoted the remaining years of his long life. Many students came here to pursue a wide range of interests that went beyond formal philosophy itself, including political science, natural science, and mathematics. The school continued after Plato's death as an influential educational institution, coming to an end only in A. D. 529 . In many ways the Academy can lay claim to being the world's first university. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "5. Athens: Plato. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 21-30.