PLATO'S BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
Plato was born in Athens in 428 B.C. in the month of Targelion (May-June) into an ancient and noble family. Originally he was known as Aristocle. His father Ariston was descended from the last king of Athens an directly from the king Codrus, and his mother Perictone, trough Critias, was descended from Dropide of the house of Solon.
As a youth he observed the great political events and upheavals which caused Athens to lose its hegemony over Greece (the Peloponnesian War).
It seems that some members of his family may have been influential members of the aristocratic party, and it is even believed that Plato himself took part in the so-called "government of the thirty" which come to power in 404 B.C.
Experiencing the misery of politics had a far-reaching impact on Plato. He could see how wrong was the relationship between those who ruled and those who were ruled. It was this realization that led him to conceive of an Ideal State, a State whose principles originated in the domain of Archetypical and Metaphysical Ideas.
Plato was initiated to Philosophy by Cratylus, one of Heraclitus disciples. His early formation, thus, focused more on the tenets of becoming rather than on those of Being. The most forming philosophical influence Plato received, however, came from Socrates. Of this latter Plato was an assiduous and diligent listener. And it was Socrates who became the protagonist of is dialogues.
After Socrates death in 399 B.C., Plato went on a series of journeys for about ten years: where he was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries: to the south of Italy and to Tarentum where he came into contact with Archytas, the leader of the Pythagoreans of the area.
Towards the year 390 B.C., Plato went to Syracuse in Sicily to the court of the tyrant Dionysius the Elder in the hope of setting up the Ideal State. His hope, however, remained unfulfilled with both Dionisyus the Elder and Dionysius the Younger.
His failure with the Syracusean rulers led Plato to return to Athens where he completely devoted himself to Philosophy. In Athens, Plato founded the Academy, spiritual palestra for the mind who sought the discipline of philosophical dialectic. The Academy was a sacred nature, headed by a Scholarch whose term of office lasted until death. The Scholarch not only looked after the general running of the organization, but was also in charge of sacrificial ceremonies, ritual convivia, and so on.
In 347 B.C. Plato abandoned his "mortal shadow-sheath" to fly towards the world of pure Ideas or of Being.
Plato's philosophy is of an initiatory order, it is conversion to Being, it is initiation into the supreme Good - and this is not our idea but Plato's. Its understanding doesnt occur in the realm of mental speculations; it requires a realization in ones conscience and a concordant commitment in ones life. It is by absorbing it into our consciousness that we can find the answers to so many apparently impossible questions and to discover truths might at first sight appear irrational.
Platonism was highly regarded by the Fathers of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, John of Damascus, Anselm from Canterbury, and so on). It continued to be the Doctrine approved by the Church until the XII century. During the Renaissance, it flourished even more thanks to the Florentine Academia (Marsilio Ficino, the two Pico della Mirandola, etc.) in Italy, and the Platonics of Cambridge in England (H. More, Th. Gale, J. Morris, at al.).
Platonism, indeed, never died out . Although Justinian closed the Platonic Academia in the 529 A.D. , groups and individuals continued meditating, realizing, and expressing this Doctrine.
Platonism expresses a vision of life in which beings are beyond the limit of ephemerality and sensoriality; it represents also a precise aspiration for a better and different society. Embedded in this Philosophy are means that can lead to the gradual acquisition of noetic intuition. The pattern of knowledge marked by this Doctrine goes far beyond the domain of formal logic: it emanates firmly the certainty that the individual is able to realize and live the Noetic Truth.
Platos Teaching belongs to the Tradition; as such it is holy. Those who want to embrace it must recognize that they are being initiated to the sacred. This doctrine represents a direct emanation of the metaphysical Tradition in the western world. Despite its ancient origin, it remains open to all those who wish to make themselves available to it.