TWO

Plato (427–347 BCE): Justice and Reason

Plato was born in 427 bce in Athens, in one of its oldest and most distinguished families. As we saw in the last chapter, these were troubled times for Athens, which was suffering mounting losses in the second Peloponnesian War. Pericles died in 429 bce, after leading Athens in the war for two years. Athens’s first overwhelming reversal came in 413 bce, when its fleet was destroyed at Syracuse, and it was finally defeated by Sparta in 404 bce. Both in 413–412 bce and in 404–403 bce, the democratic government of Athens was overthrown by oligarchic factions, which ruled for short periods. In 404–403 bce, when Athens experienced a second year of civil strife, and the so-called ‘tyranny of the 30’ backed ...

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