The Platonic Academy


The Academy was an actual place in ancient Athens, a field. Around it philosophers, including Plato, bought up residences. Plato probably bought his in 387, though a generation or so before, philosophers had been meeting there (Plato may have been the first to actually purchase property a kepos, and was the first to erect a shrine to the Muses, a museion, there.) They strolled in its olive groves, dissecting octopuses and dialoguing about politics. They searched for the Realm – Kingdom of Ideas – (Akademia) Basileia Ouranos – Regnum Caelorum. They were not searching for a King, they were searching for a Kingdom, the Kingdom where all men are kings. Lectures were relatively rare, though not unheard of (the most infamous being the now lost On the Good).  Dialogue was its blood.

Hekademos, Diogenes Laertius tells us, was a hero who donated his land to the Athenians as a public gymnasium, or gymnasios.  Plato’s Academy continued on the original site until 83 BC, when it moved locations and lasted until 529 AD.  No one really imagines that it had departments or even a set curriculum, though mathematics has been alleged to have been a staple, as well as Plato’s intention to educate politicians.  And though the structure is also largely unknown we do know it had heads, or scholarchs, Plato being the first, his nephew Speussipus the second, and so on.