Plato was born c. 427 B.C. in Athens, Greece, to an aristocratic family very much involved in political government. Pericles, famous ruler of Athens during its golden age, was Plato's step-father. Plato was well educated and studied under Socrates, with whom he developed a close friendship. When Socrates was publically executed in 399 B.C., Plato finally distanced himself from a career in Athenian politics, instead becoming one of the greatest philosophers of Western civilization. Plato extended Socrates's inquiries to his students, one of the most famous being Aristotle. Plato's The Republic is an enduring work, discussing justice, the importance of education, and the qualities needed for rulers to succeed. Plato felt governors must be philosophers so they may govern wisely and effectively. Plato founded the Academy, an educational institution dedicated to pursuing philosophic truth. The Academy lasted well into the 6th century A.D., and is the model for all western universities. Its formation is along the lines Plato laid out in The Republic. Many of Plato's essays and writings survive to this day. Plato died in 347 B.C. at the age of 80.
Aristotle, 384 B.C. - 322 B. C. Aristotle was born at Stagira, in Macedonia, in 384 B.C. At the age of 17, he went to Athens to study at Plato's Academy, where he remained for about 20 years, as a student and then as a teacher. When Plato died in 347 B.C., Aristotle moved to Assos, a city in Asia Minor, where a friend of his, Hermias, was ruler. After Hermias was captured and executed by the Persians in 345 B.C., Aristotle went to Pella, the Macedonian capital, where he became the tutor of the king's young son Alexander, later known as Alexander the Great. In 335, when Alexander became king, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his own school, the Lyceum Aristotle's works were lost in the West after the decline of Rome, but during the 9th Century A.D., Arab scholars introduced Aristotle, in Arabic translation, to the Islamic world. In the 13th Century, the Latin West renewed its interest in Aristotle's work, and Saint Thomas Aquinas found in it a philosophical foundation for Christian thought. The influence of Aristotle's philosophy has been pervasive; it has even helped to shape modern language and common sense. Aristotle died in 322 B.C.