Stoicism at the Academy

The Academy’s name is synonymous with the philosophy of Plato but it also plays a part in the history of Stoic philosophy. Zeno of Citium studied at the Platonic Academy for at least a decade before founding his own Stoic school, located in the Agora of Athens. Toward the end of his life a monument was erected in the grounds of the Academy. It was a pillar with an inscription commemorating Zeno’s exemplary virtue and temperance, and honouring his contributions to philosophy.

The Academy was one of Athens’ ancient gymnasia or recreational grounds. It contained a wrestling school, libraries, shrines, etc. (It was described as a pleasant wooded grove, until the Roman dictator Sulla cut down its trees to rebuild his siege engines in the 1st century BC.) The Academy was most famously associated with Plato’s philosophy, with which it quickly became synonymous after he set up his school and began teaching there. However, other philosophers also taught in the grounds of the Academy. Socrates appears to have walked there discussing philosophy, while Plato was still a young student of his, and his rivals the Sophists probably gave speeches there.

You do not escape my notice, Zeno, slipping in by the garden door, stealing my doctrines and clothing them in a Phoenician style!

Polemon of Athens

Centuries later, Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, spent ten years attending lectures in the Platonic school at the Academy, which at that time was headed by a successor of Plato called Xenocrates of Chalcedon. Over the years, Zeno began to build a reputation himself as an expert on dialectic, however, he continued to attend lectures at the Academy, delivered by Xenocrates’ successor, Polemon of Athens, a rebellious youth who turned his life around and became renowned for his temperance as a philosopher. Zeno was therefore admired for showing intellectual humility by attending the public lectures of a famous rival philosopher. Nevertheless, Polemon is said to have joked: “You do not escape my notice, Zeno, slipping in by the garden door, stealing my doctrines and clothing them in a Phoenician style!” In other words, he borrowed ideas from Polemon’s Academic philosophy and incorporated them into Stoicism.

After founding the Stoic School, Zeno earned such a reputation as a teacher and role model to the youth that when he reached an advanced age, the Athenians passed a decree publicly honouring him and had it inscribed on two stone pillars “one in the Academy and the other in the Lyceum”. It begins with the words:

Whereas Zeno of Citium, son of Mnaseas, has for many years been devoted to philosophy in the city and has continued to be a man of worth in all other respects, exhorting to virtue and temperance those of the youth who come to him to be taught, directing them to what is best, affording to all in his own conduct a pattern for imitation in perfect consistency with his teaching, it has seemed good to the people – and may it turn out well – to bestow praise upon Zeno of Citium, the son of Mnaseas, and to crown him with a golden crown according to the law, for his goodness and temperance, and to build him a tomb in the Ceramicus at the public cost.

This information seems to be derived by our source, Diogenes Laertius, from an earlier author Antigonus of Carystus, whose Successions of Philosophers was written in the 3rd century BC, shortly after Zeno’s death. Antigonus of Carystus adds that to the inscription were added the words “Zeno of Citium, the philosopher”, as Zeno had insisted that his status as a foreign immigrant at Athens should not be forgotten.

Articles on Stoicism

You’ll find several articles on this website from leading academics and well-known authors who specialize in Stoic philosophy.

The Honor of a Nation

soldiers in line to get in a plane

A Case for Stoicism in Foreign Policy

by Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy, Adam Piercey, and Donald J. Robertson

George Washington was influenced by Stoicism. He was so fond of the Stoic philosopher and Roman statesman, Cato the Younger, that he actually arranged for a play about him to be performed for his soldiers before the battle of Valley Forge. Perhaps the most famous line in that play was:

Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
Than wound my honor. 

Jospeh Addison, Cato, a Tragedy

A founding father, the first General, and the first President of the United States, Washington understood the importance of honor.
The Stoics derived four virtues from the teachings of Socrates as the fundamental principles of their philosophy. These were wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. They believed that people who exhibited all of these principles were honorable.

These four main aspects of virtue or excellence (arete in Greek) each held a specific value for the different activities that a Stoic would carry out in their day-to-day lives.

  • Wisdom was not just knowledge but also the opposition of folly or thoughtlessness, and included the pursuit of reason.
  • Justice meant lawfulness and integrity but also included acts of public service and opposition to injustice or wrongdoing.
  • Courage (or fortitude) was meant to represent brave-heartedness and endurance, but also the opposition of cowardice.
  • Moderation stood for the opposition of excess, and the pursuit of orderliness.

A Stoic would hope to embody all of these traits in their day-to-day activities as they strove to pursue a life of good, and right. As Stoicism became more widespread, the actions of its followers grew in influence, including in the political sphere. As each person’s actions cause effects in those around them, they begin to see the impact of those actions on a greater scale.

The reputation of a nation is made up of the collective actions of its leaders and its people. Does it uphold the principles set out above, how does it treat its allies and partners, does it keep its word? If it does not uphold these principles, it will never be a great nation; if it does not treat its allies and partners with respect, it will soon be without any; and if it does not keep its word it, will have no standing as a leader in the international community.

Promises Made

The attacks in New York and Virginia on September 11, 2001, by the terrorist group Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, mobilized international support for the United States. The Star-Spangled Banner played in capitals around the world and NATO united behind the U.S. where it matters the most, going to war.

This led to the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban who had allowed Al Qaeda to operate there. The invasion included the Northern Alliance, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Germany. These other countries were not attacked. This threat if left unchecked could become a serious problem for them, but they went to war because they had made a promise to do so. They kept their word and they did so for twenty years.

The “graveyards of empires” is a quote many have heard about Afghanistan.

They then started to build the Afghan military, intelligence service, and police force. Afghans had seen superpowers come and go throughout history, from Alexander the Great to the British, the Soviet Union, and now the United States. The “graveyards of empires” is a quote many have heard about Afghanistan. Afghans have heard it as well. It was difficult to get them to trust us, but they did.

Would the U.S. and its allies be there for the long haul? America had promised that if we were to leave the country, and Afghans met the standards we laid out, they would have the opportunity to come to the United States. These standards included risking their lives fighting along with U.S. forces, against those who would oppress their people, and for the human rights of all. Would the U.S. honor its promise, though? Thousands took that chance.

Courage and Justice is Honor

Acts of courage alone are not inherently honorable, they must instead take into account two things: the reason for the action, and the intended effect of the outcome. As Marcus Aurelius wrote:

Let it make no difference to you whether you are cold or warm if you are doing your duty. And whether you are drowsy or satisfied with sleep. And whether ill-spoken of or praised. And whether dying or doing something else. For it is one of the acts of life, this act by which we die. It is sufficient then in this act also to do well what we have in hand. 

Meditations, 6.2

To do what is right is what matters, and whether or not you are praised or pummeled is irrelevant.

In any organization with strict ethical and honor codes, a prevailing culture of the men and women serving in that organization will be focused upon protecting and providing refuge or assistance to those in need. As Tamler Sommers, a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, put it in a recent interview with Ryan Holiday:

Honour cultures tend to attach great value to acts of courage that benefit the group. 

Tamler Sommers

The culture of these organizations to oppose wrongdoing and injustice shows virtue, and it is the duty of that organization’s members to carry out those actions.

Aiding and protecting those in need is certainly an important part of honor cultures, but there is also a secondary practice within those cultures as well; to honor and uphold the agreements formed by those organizations. Sometimes, agreements can be positive and provide added value, or be beneficial to both sides. Other times, agreements can be challenging, one-sided, or even costly. However, the presence of an agreement, pact, or partnership means that those participating parties must act to uphold the terms of that agreement. To do something with integrity, especially in the pursuit of public service and to uphold those agreements made before, is honorable, and must be pursued as best as possible. To break from an agreement would mean to bring dishonor on an organization, and that dishonor can have rippling effects into the future.

The Standard set by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius led the Roman Empire for 19 years, until his death in 180 CE. Throughout that time, Marcus would face serious challenges in the empire including plague, uprisings, and war but he would do so with honor and integrity. Upon taking the throne, Marcus inherited an empire whose borders surrounded much of Europe, bringing with them the dangers of warring tribes and enemies on several fronts. During his reign, Marcus’ experiences spoke much to the honor and reputation that an organization can gain or lose through its actions.

At many points in the wars between Rome and the tribes of northern Europe, Marcus found himself dealing with tribal leaders with whom Rome had existing agreements. Marcus did not tolerate allies who broke treaties and failed to keep their word. For example, when several Germanic tribes proposed an armistice with Rome, during the First Marcomannic War, Marcus did not trust them, viewing the armistice as a ruse - something that would only have remained in place while it was convenient for the enemy. Marcus was proven right to be skeptical as the tribes kept aiding one another in raids against Roman provinces. When the time came to dole out the rewards from the wars or seek new agreements, you can bet that Marcus had trepidation towards those with poor reputations.

At other points, Marcus would be faced with the difficult position of having to decide whether to push for a peace treaty or pursue Rome’s enemies and continue fighting at the cost of more troops and resources. When fighting a Sarmatian tribe called the Iazyges, Marcus faced this dilemma and needed to decide whether to grant peaceful terms or continue to fight. Ultimately, Marcus chose to continue fighting and by the war’s end, these enemies returned an incredible number of Roman captives back to Rome. If Marcus had just agreed to peace and walked away, over a hundred thousand captured Roman subjects would have been abandoned, left as slaves of the enemy. We can infer from this outcome that Marcus chose to fight on in hopes that he could rescue those Romans, and not leave them behind even though peace would have been much easier.

As emperor of Rome, Marcus also had to face sedition from one of his prized commanders, as a betrayal occurred when Avidius Cassius was declared emperor by his troops in Egypt and sought to take the Roman throne for himself. At that moment Marcus had a choice: crush the rebellion, or choose a more peaceful alternative. Instead of launching into outright war with Cassius, Marcus chose instead to offer a pardon to Cassius and his troops if they would lay down their arms. Cassius’ own officers turned against him and sent Cassius’ head to Marcus as an offer of penance. Marcus would honor his word and not punish the rebels for their actions. As emperor, it would only have taken Marcus one order to commit the entire army of rebels to death but he chose instead to act with restraint and clemency. Many times in history this restraint has been noted by historians and contemporaries as a true sign of Marcus’ character.

Veterans Step up and Step in

The U.S. decision to leave Afghanistan without leaving a residual force was against the advice of the military chain of command. Many veterans disagreed with that decision, but many did agree. Where there was almost unanimous agreement among veterans was the need to keep the promise made by their government to those Afghans who fought alongside U.S. troops. The chaotic withdrawal, the seeming lack of a plan, and the very real possibility that many would be left behind motivated many veterans to take action. They volunteered to do what they could and help those whom the U.S., not honoring its promise, was leaving behind.

These volunteer veterans formed groups with like-minded civilians and they soon were moving Afghan partners around Taliban checkpoints into the airport. Even when the final U.S. presence left, these groups did not stop, they moved to try to get people out by other means. They felt compelled to honor a promise made by their country. To them it wasn’t a political calculation, it was an oath.

The honor of a nation has to actually come from the nation, though, and its representatives. History will record it and our allies will remember it, as will our adversaries.

About the Authors

Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, a retired CIA officer, a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute, an Analyst for ABC News, on the board of directors for Grassroots Reconciliation Group, a co-founder of End Child Soldiering, and the co-founder of the Lobo Institute. He writes and speaks often on Stoicism, especially its applicability to the military. For other publications please visit here.

Adam Piercey is an Engineering Technologist living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is currently working in the industrial, medical, and space industries, and has previously worked in green energy, and biometric security. Adam has been implementing Stoic practice into his career for over 8 years, has authored articles on Stoic practice, and is also the host of the Modern Stoicism Podcast, the official podcast of Modern Stoicism.

Donald J. Robertson is a cognitive-behavioural therapist and writer, living in Athens, Greece, and Ontario, Canada. He is the author of six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, including Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor.

Announcing: Plato’s Academy Centre

How would you like to attend an event at the original location of Plato’s Academy?

We’re delighted to officially announce the launch of the Plato’s Academy Centre project.  Plato’s Academy Centre is a nonprofit organization, creating an international conference centre at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens, Greece. We are also creating an online community for exploring the applications of Greek classical literature and philosophy to modern living. 

[Plato’s Academy is] an inspiring and atmospheric place to visit. It would be wonderful to be able to meet with people and talk about ancient philosophy there, an iconic location in the history of Western thought.

Dr. John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism

What we’ve been doing

  • We recently joined the Orange Grove incubator program, based in Athens, who will be supporting our startup phase
  • Our core team has been formed, and a board of advisors has been established, which includes academics, authors, and experts
  • The legal process of incorporating as a Civil Non-Profit Association (AMKE), will be completed by 1st Jan 2022
  • We have been meeting stakeholders, including government ministers and other NGO’s
  • We are now looking at properties adjacent to Plato’s Academy Park, for the new conference centre
  • We’ve secured initial startup funding for the project, and have started implementing our communications and social media strategy
  • Our website has been published, and social media accounts created, featuring interviews and other original content 
  • We’ve started collaborating other organizations in order to organize physical and virtual events in 2022

Giving a talk or workshop at the location of Plato’s Academy in Athens would be a dream for me. I am in awe of Plato’s contribution to culture and learning…

Mia Funk, artist and founder of The Creative Process exhibition and podcast

What’s next? 

We are organizing physical and virtual events for 2022, which will be announced shortly. You can find more information about the project on our website platosacademy.org.  From now on, we’ll be posting news and articles regularly there, and keeping you informed via our social media accounts.  You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube

How you can help

If you want to support the project, you can subscribe to our Patreon page.  Please also feel free to contact us if you’re interested in volunteering or offering your support in other ways.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter, to receive regular updates about our progress.

Thank you for your support, 

Kasey Pierce 

Communications Director

Eugenia Manolidou: Ancient Greek: Past, Present & Future

Eugenia Manolidou

Eugenia Manolidou is a musician, composer and conductor of symphonic music. Since 2017 she has been directing Elliniki Agogi, a school specialising in Ancient Greek, History and Philosophy. Her passion for the Classics began when she left Athens at the age of 19 to study composition at the Juilliard School. Amazed by the depth and richness of the Greek Civilisation she decided to learn Ancient Greek in order to understand the original texts. Her compositions and performances, including a concert given for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, were entirely based on the Greek civilisation.

Eugenia is the Director and Program Coordinator of Elliniki Agogi. Where they apply the Living Language method. Since 1994, they have been teaching the Ancient Greek language to children from the ages of 3 to 16 years old. They also teach adults who wish to broaden and advance their knowledge of Ancient Greek, history and philosophy. Eugenia’s role, as the Director and Program Coordinator of the school, is to continuously research, develop and evaluate the curricula, as well as, introduce and create new approaches to learning Ancient Greek. She does her best to ensure the learning programme remains interesting, compelling, engaging and fun for both children and adults.

How did you become interested in this area?

Once I realized the plethora of benefits derived from learning the Ancient Greek language, for all ages, it propelled me to research and develop new methods and techniques to improve the educational model by effectively connecting learning, communication and experience. These methods allow students to approach their distant past by integrating knowledge and experience, in and outside of the classroom. Offering so much knowledge in such a fun and gratifying way is what attracted me the most to this area.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

The most important concept we try to communicate and demonstrate to our students is that Ancient Greek is not a “dead” language. As Greeks, most of our everyday vocabulary comes directly from the ancient Greek language. We use phrases, quotes, jokes, in Ancient Greek, even as kids. By naming the language “dead” automatically separates what comes natural to us, as a continuation of the ancient form of our language. As a result, when students start studying Ancient Greek in high school they feel they are studying something “dead” and therefore, useless. At Elliniki Agogi, we try to bring our students in contact with the wealth of Ancient Greek thought and culture, showing the temporal continuity and enhancing it morally and spiritually.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Many people still question why they should learn Ancient Greek and what the practical use may be. Of course we can speak about the beauty of reading the original texts of Greek drama or philosophy or the wealth of vocabulary building and improved grammar comprehension. The most important practical reason to learn Greek is to improve the knowledge of all the other Western languages, as a significant amount of words are derived from both Greek and Latin.

Many scientific words are Greek and many abstract meanings come from this very rich language. I believe it is worth trying to learn, even a few words, anyway! There are words of Greek origin like “disaster” (dysastron) that don’t sound greek at all, and yet they come from Greek. The hardest part is for someone to decide to learn Greek; once the decision is made and the first few lessons begin, a whole new irresistible world full of ideas and noble concepts opens up!

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

There are many quotes that I use in my everyday life. My most favourite quote of mine is by Chilon of Sparta: ΜΗΔΕΝ ΑΓΑΝ – “Nothing in excess”. Moderation as a principle of life and at the same time, a key part of personal development.

Another favourite of mine, which is used a lot to encourage our young students, is the wise counsel found in rapsody Z in the Iliad: Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων, μηδὲ γένος πατέρων αἰσχυνέμεν – “Ever to excel, to do better than others and to bring glory to your forebears”. For me, this is the foundation of excellence, to try your best, without harming others, thus avoiding disgracing ones ancestors.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I would advise and encourage them to come and attend our classes and lectures, or register online. Elliniki Agogi is an educational institution open to everyone who wishes to investigate the Greek civilisation by either studying the ancient greek language, or by listening to lectures on philosophy or drama which ultimately founded the roots of Western thought.

It’s considered a sacred place amongst the Greeks. It is the first “University” of the Western world where the foundations of Western Science and Philosophy were laid two-and-a half millennia ago.

Eugenia Manolidou

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

Just the thought of it gives me the chills! I study Plato’s philosophy. In fact, at Elliniki Agogi, we recently concluded the whole Platonic Corpus after two years of weekly lectures, and I would be so grateful to watch scholars talk in this amazing place.

It’s considered a sacred place amongst the Greeks. It is the first “University” of the Western world where the foundations of Western Science and Philosophy were laid two-and-a half millennia ago. If I were given the opportunity, I would present on the relevance of music in Ancient Greece and the importance of melody, rhythm and harmony in today’s world.

Elliniki Agogi’s children’s tribute to Thermopylae and Salamis in Ancient Greek with English captions.

David Fideler: A Short History of Plato’s Academy

Why did Plato start the Academy? And what went on there?

Plato’s Academy marked a revolution in ancient Greek education and was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. It also inspired the creation of Aristotle’s school, which, like the Academy, became a center for scientific research. While Plato’s Academy was structured less formally than a modern college or university, the fact that so many schools today bear the name “academy” highlights the lasting influence of Plato’s school, which existed for an unbroken period of 300 years.

In this article, I will describe why Plato (427–347 BC) founded the Academy, its physical setting in Athens (which one can still visit today), and what took place there based on the ancient sources that have come down to us.

Figure 1: Stairway near the site of Plato’s Academy, by the gymnasium.

Why Plato Founded the Academy

Around the age of twenty, Plato met the philosopher Socrates. As a young man, Plato wanted to contribute to society, so he seriously thought about pursuing a career in politics. But he was personally disillusioned by the unjust and corrupt political events that unfolded around him in Athens. When Plato was twenty-eight, his dear friend and mentor Socrates was executed on trumped-up charges of impiety. Then, earlier, there was the case of the Thirty Tyrants, who ruled Athens for a period of eight months. At first Plato had been hopeful about the Thirty—but he misjudged their character. The unhappy truth was revealed when they unleashed a reign of terror. Despite their brief rule, the Thirty executed 1,500 Athenians without trial, confiscated the property of citizens, and sent people into exile.

Based on these events, Plato reasoned that the political situation in Greece could only improve if politicians came to understand the nature of Goodness and Justice. Socrates had explored these questions earlier, and they were central to Plato, too.

Plato concluded that political troubles would never cease until either philosophers became rulers or rulers became philosophers. This, in short, was Plato’s famous idea of the so-called “philosopher king.” In his view, only a properly educated ruler, who understood the true nature of goodness and justice, would have a genuine vantage point from which he or she could govern well.

Plato was in touch with members of another philosophical school, the Pythagoreans, based in South Italy, including his friend Archytas of Tarentum (d. 360–350 BC). Archytas was a Pythagorean philosopher, mathematician, inventor, scientist, and statesman. He was a much-loved leader of Tarentum, being elected seven years in succession, even though the law only allowed one term. He most likely served as the model for the “philosopher king” or political guardian in Plato’s Republic. Another political figure from South Italy, Dionysisus I, who Plato didn’t admire, probably served as a model for the tyrant in the same dialogue.

Plato made several trips to South Italy. On the first trip, Plato met Archytas, other Pythagoreans, and sought to acquire Pythagorean manuscripts. These meetings almost certainly inspired Plato to start his own philosophical school, the Academy, because he founded the school immediately upon his return to Athens.

Prior to the Academy, the schools in Athens were for children or adolescents. Students would learn basic subjects, including gymnastics, reading and writing, literature, arithmetic, and works of the lyric poets. Students, then, were expected to receive their remaining education by participating in civic life.

Aside from those elementary schools, the primary providers of education were the Sophists (“wise ones”), who taught the art of persuasive public speaking for a fee. In a city like Athens, persuasive speaking was an essential skill for professional advancement. Unfortunately, the Sophists were like polished courtroom attorneys who would argue either side of a case to win an argument without reference to the underlying truth. Dubiously, the Sophist Protagoras had said, “Man is the measure of all things,” while Thrasymachus claimed, “Justice is the rule of the stronger.”

Because of their questionable ideas—and what often appears to be outright moral relativism—the Sophists frequently came under the scrutiny of Socrates, who would engage with them in dialogue and test their ideas and teachings. In his conversations with the Sophists, Socrates would use his famous method of dialectic, which employed systematic question and answer, the careful definition of terms, and a careful exploration of logical contradictions. By using this method, Socrates would, in the end, leave the Sophists dazed and reeling, feeling dumbfounded, and realizing at the end of a dialogue that their actual beliefs were flimsy or incoherent.

Against this background, Plato founded the Academy in the Park or Grove Academus, from which the school took its name. Significantly, he started it with a belief that philosophy could direct people’s minds toward a knowledge of goodness and virtue, which, in turn, would benefit all of society.

The Park and Grove Academus: The Setting of Plato’s School

It was common for philosophers to meet in the public parks of Athens, especially those with gymnasia, to engage in discussions. The Sophists, similarly, would use such public spaces to give speeches, display their rhetorical skills, and seek out students.

The Park Academus, located a short walk outside the northern gate of Athens, was famous for its beautiful setting, tall plane trees, and shady walks—a perfect place to linger with friends and have meaningful conversations. In what must be a historical miracle, the ancient park has now survived for 2,500 years in its original location, in a densely populated neighborhood still called Akedēmia Platōnos (Plato’s Academy), without being built over or destroyed. In fact, the tall trees and shady pathways of the present-day park give visitors today an almost perfect experience of the pathways that existed there during Plato’s lifetime, which, as Cicero said, “are so deservedly famous” (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Shaded pathways at Plato’s Academy Park in Athens today, near the ancient gymnasium.

As a child, Plato grew up not far from the park, which contained a Sacred Grove. According to ancient account, the small grove of olive trees in the park originated from the sacred olive tree of Athena atop the Acropolis. In addition to the Sacred Grove, there were altars dedicated to Athena, Prometheus, Hephaestus, Eros, the Muses, and Heracles. And of course, it goes without saying that the park contained a gymnasium, the foundations of which can still be seen today (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Archaeological remains of the ancient gymnasium at the Academy Park.

Plato founded the Academy in the year 387 BC, at the age of forty-one, after returning to Athens from his first trip to southern Italy. According to the accounts that have come down to us, Plato first bought a kēpos—an orchard or garden—near the Academy Park, which also contained a house. This provided the school with a center for its private activities, including symposia or drinking parties, during which philosophical conversations would occur.

Plato’s second act was to create a shrine dedicated to the nine Muses—the goddesses of learning and education—in the Academy Park. This probably contained statues of the nine Muses, and it’s also likely that there was a small mouseion, or place sacred to the Muses, on Plato’s property. These shrines to the Muses were standard features of all Greek schools, including elementary schools; and this ancient word, mouseion, is the source of our modern term museum: a place devoted to learning.

While Plato’s orchard and house may have been small by later Roman standards, philosophy scholar John Dillon suggests the orchard could have been up to a couple of acres. Plato’s house must have had several rooms, including an exedra—a place for conversations. It almost certainly contained a library for the school’s books and manuscripts

Plato’s strategy in setting up the school was brilliant, since it gave the school both a public and a private dimension. Many of the school’s activities took place in the Academy Park, where members would meet and then converse, walking along the pathways. Other activities took place at Plato’s house and garden. It was like having the best of both worlds: the school had its private property while also having access to a beautiful, free-to-use campus, open to all. The arrangment, however, also creates confusion for us today, because when ancient writers speak about “the Academy” as a school, it’s not always clear if they are referring to the park or to Plato’s private property.

The Activities of Plato’s School

In the Republic, Plato presents a detailed philosophy of education with a corresponding curriculum. In Plato’s plan, the would-be guardians of the state should study mathematics in-depth. This would purify their insight, allowing them ultimately to understand the nature of Goodness—and the classical virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation. Plato, in fact, was the first individual to describe a systematic philosophy of education.

Because of the educational blueprint detailed in Plato’s most famous work, one might (wrongly) assume this was the type of training a student would receive at the Academy. Also, because we modern people are products of the present-day educational system, it’s easy to assume that Plato’s Academy would have offered regular “classes,” just like we have today, complete with lectures. But both of these assumptions are false. First of all, while Plato had strong philosophical views of his own, the whole purpose of the Academy was not to teach students a specific philosophical doctrine, dogma, or what to think; the point was to teach students how to think. Second, during Plato’s life, there’s no evidence that regular classes were offered there, or at least anything that would resemble university classes today. In fact, during the entire forty years that Plato taught at the Academy, he only offered one public lecture, entitled “On the Good.” While Plato’s closest students, including Aristotle, took careful notes on the lecture, most people who came to hear the talk left in confusion because it ended up being about mathematics!

While there’s no question that Plato wanted his students to understand the Good and many other things, too, it’s to his credit that the educational approach of the Academy was based on Socratic questioning and not focused on teaching a philosophical doctrine. As John Dillon describes it,

Despite Plato’s strong views on many subjects, it was not his purpose to leave to his successors a fixed body of doctrine which they were to defend against all comers. What he hoped that he had taught them was a method of enquiry, inherited by himself from his master Socrates, which, if correctly practised, would lead them to the truth; but, if so, it was a truth which everyone would have to arrive at for himself.

While some informal courses might have been taught on geometry or mathematics, the overall emphasis of the Academy was on Socratic dialogue and dialectic: question and answer, arriving at sound definitions, testing unproven assumptions, and searching for logical inconsistencies. (While Plato preferred dialogue, his student of twenty years, Aristotle, preferred the lecture format and would later found his own school where he could, and would, lecture endlessly.)

Plato’s published dialogues reportedly attracted new students to the school, who would read his work and then travel to Athens. Supposedly, one student even came from Chaldea. One of Plato’s most famous and enjoyable dialogues, the Symposium, in which people give speeches about the nature of love, may have been (at least in part) a marketing document for the school, advertising the kind of intellectual stimulation and companionship one could find there. The Academy also attracted two female students, Lasthenea of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius. Reportedly, Axiothea became a student after reading the Republic, while Nerinthos, a Corinthian farmer, joined the school after reading Plato’s Gorgias. Aristotle, who came from Macedonia, joined the Academy at the age of eighteen.

In addition to Plato, some Academy members also wrote dialogues, including Aristotle, Speusippus, and Heraclides. These dialogues, we might imagine, would have been shared with others or even performed out loud for other students to discuss. Some of Plato’s dialogues could have been used in a similar way to teach the Socratic method.

Aside from its emphasis on Socratic inquiry (which would have investigated the nature of virtue and what it means to live a good life), the Academy was also an institute for scientific research into mathematics. Plato was familiar with the most advanced mathematical discoveries of his time. But it’s astonishing to realize that every single advanced mathematician during Plato’s lifetime had some relationship with the Academy. This group included Theatetus of Athens, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Heraclides of Pontus, Menaechmus, Dinostratus, Hermotimus of Colophon, and Philip of Opus—a true who’s who of Greek mathematics. The famous saying supposedly inscribed over the Academy’s entrance, “Let No One Ignorant of Geometry Enter Here,” is surely a myth. But the serious mathematical research that went on at the Academy during Plato’s lifetime was significant and widely known. Looking back from today, it makes Plato’s Academy resemble a private think tank with its own board of advanced scholars. It also appears that the mathematicians of Plato’s time worked out most of the material in Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, which Euclid would have then compiled, edited, and published.

One of the best documented and most interesting reports to reach us from the ancient world is that Plato acted as “an architect” or a “director of studies” for the mathematicians of the Academy. What this means is that he would raise specific questions or problems for the mathematicians to solve. In one famous case, Plato raised “the problem of the planets.” In visual astronomy, which we perceive with our eyes, the movement of the planets does not appear to follow regular, mathematical patterns when mapped out over time. But based on his belief that the planets do follow regular mathematical patterns in reality, Plato challenged the Academy members to discover, or at least model, what those regular patterns are. Plato’s challenge gave birth to mathematical physics: study of nature’s mathematical laws.

This story offers, I believe, a profound insight into Plato’s actual role at the Academy: he was not an instructor or a lecturer, but someone who set out problems for the students to investigate. If he played this role in mathematical research, it suggests he worked the same way in other areas, too, like ethics and political philosophy. In fact, we can see him working this way in his dialogues, like the Republic. For example, Plato raises questions about the nature of goodness and virtue. He then tries to solve those questions by using Socratic inquiry.

The Afterlife of Plato’s Academy—and the Spirit of Philosophy Today

Plato lived to be eight-one years old, dying in the year 347 BC. He was buried in “the Academy”—presumably his orchard—which, while near the Academy Park, has yet to be discovered. After his death, a sculpture of Plato was erected at the Academy by the famous sculptor Silanion, copies of which survive today (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. A Roman copy of the bust of Plato by the sculptor Silanion.

The Academy was designed to be a permanent institution, headed by a scholarch or “head of school.” When Plato traveled to Italy, Eudoxus, a famous mathematician, was a temporary scholarch. When Plato died, he was followed as scholarch by his nephew Speusippus. Following Plato’s death, Aristotle set up his own school in 335 BC at the Lyceum, another famous park in Athens, which has now been excavated and is open to visitors. Aristotle, who Plato had humorously called “the brain,” carried on the Academy’s work in his own unique way, suited to his own temperament. While Plato favored mathematics, geometry, and dialogue, Aristotle favored biology, systematic research programs, and declarative arguments. Aristotle’s comprehensive research programs, in fact, helped to inspire the formation of the Library and Museum at Alexandria.

Over the decades and centuries, Plato’s nephew Speusippus was followed by a long line of scholarchs at the Academy, too many to list here. But because the Academy had no philosophical doctrine, aside from stressing the importance of critical inquiry, the character of Academic thought changed over time. Certainly, the most exciting time to be at the Academy would have been during Plato’s lifetime when Aristotle was there too.

In the year 86 BC, the Roman general Sulla sacked Athens. During the attack, he cut down the tall plane trees and the Sacred Grove of the Academy Park, using the wood to build machines of war. That was the physical end of the Academy as a teaching center. As an institution in Athens, it probably ended a couple of years earlier when Philo of Larissa, the last scholarch, fled to Rome to escape the Mithridatic wars.

Despite these setbacks, Plato’s philosophy remained unharmed. It continued to influence and inspire countless thinkers in the ancient world. It influenced the Stoics and Cicero, it inspired Neoplatonism, and it resurfaced in the Renaissance to help fertilize a reawakening of culture, classical values, and the humanities.

As Alfred North Whitehead famously said, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” That is because the big questions Plato raised are still actively explored and debated today. Likewise, the search for Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and virtue has never gone out of style (even if it is still often absent in the modern political sphere, just as it was in Plato’s day).

Sulla destroyed the trees of the Park Academus in the name of war. But through the power of natural regeneration, those trees have returned to their former beauty. Today, we can once again walk along the peaceful, shaded pathways of the Academy Park in Athens, while cicadas and crickets sing in the background. For someone interested in ancient philosophy or the deeper aspects of education, making this journey is an unforgettable experience. By walking along those pathways, it’s literally possible to walk in the exact footsteps of some of history’s most inspiring people: Plato, Aristotle, and the greatest Greek mathematicians; those who came later, like Cicero, Plutarch, and Marcus Aurelius; and everyone else who has been drawn to this birthplace of Western philosophy and science—those who believe that the unexamined life is not worth living.

David Fideler holds a PhD in philosophy and the history of science. He has a long-standing interest in the philosophy of education, has written a textbook on the history of Plato’s Academy and other Greek philosophical schools, and is a contributor to the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. He’s also the editor of The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library and author of the book Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Dillon, John. Chapter 1, “The Riddle of the Academy,” in John Dillon, The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347–274 BC). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Fideler, David. Platonic Academies: The Educational Centers of Athens, Alexandria, and Renaissance Florence—Their History and Contribution to the Philosophy of Education. East Hampton, New York: Ross School, 1996.

Kalliga, Paul, Chloe Balla, Effie Baziotopoulou-Valavani, and Vassilis Karasmani, editors. Plato’s Academy: Its Workings and Its History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Photo credits: Photos from Plato’s Academy Park (stairway, pathway, and gymnasium) copyright by David Fideler. All rights reserved. Other public domain photos from Wikipedia.

Christopher Gill: Modern Stoicism

Christopher Gill is a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy (Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, UK). He has researched and published especially on the interface between ethics and psychology in Greek and Roman thought. His books in this area include Personality in Greek Epic, Tragedy, and Philosophy: The Self in Dialogue (1996), and The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought (2006). He has also written extensively on Plato, especially his use of dialogue and narrative form for philosophical purposes, for instance Plato’s Atlantis Story: Text, Translation and Commentary (2017).

Much of his recent work has been centred on Stoic philosophy, including Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Books 1-6, translated with an introduction and commentary (2013), and the introduction and notes to the Oxford World’s Classics translations (by Robin Hard) of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Also, since 2012, He has been closely involved with Modern Stoicism, a collaborative project and organization designed to make Stoic principles accessible as life-guidance to a broad public audience. In that connection, He has given many talks at Stoicon conferences, including one in Athens in 2019, written many blog-posts for Stoicism Today, and worked with others on the handbook for the annual on-line Stoic Week course.

If I were to give a talk or workshop at the site of Plato’s Academy, I might discuss certain parallels and contrasts between Platonic and Stoic thinking on what counts as a good human life.

Prof. Christopher Gill

How did you become interested in this area?

My interest in ancient philosophy goes back to my undergraduate study of Classics at Cambridge. I have taught and researched ancient philosophy since completing a PhD in this area at Yale; in latter years, I have been focused particularly on Greek and Roman ethics, especially Stoic ethics (the subject of a book in progress).

My more recent interest in applied Stoicism stems from a workshop I organized at Exeter University in 2012, exploring the potential implications for public engagement of my research on Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. This workshop brought together ancient philosophy scholars such as John Sellars and people interested in using Stoicism as a basis for psychotherapy, counselling, and life-guidance, including Donald Robertson, Tim LeBon and Jules Evans. During two stimulating and creative days, we formulated and planned the collaborative activities (Stoic Week, the blog, Stoicon) that have remained central for Modern Stoicism. We have worked closely together, along with colleagues from across the world, while the organization and its activities and global audience have grown steadily.

In my work in Modern Stoicism, I am especially interested in bringing out the links between Stoic practice as emotional therapy, directed towards oneself, and Stoic ethics directed at benefiting other people through interpersonal and social relationships, and also activities directed towards repairing the damage that human beings have done to the natural environment.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

What Stoicism can teach us is the importance of taking care of ourselves, others, and our world, and of integrating these three kinds of care. I think that is probably the most important general message that I would want to convey now. This message is also closely linked with the fundamental Stoic ethical idea that our happiness in life depends on developing the virtues (something we are all capable of doing), rather than on acquiring other things generally seen as valuable and as forming the basis of happiness, including health, property, social status and the welfare of our family and friends. Stoics also regards those things as having positive value; but they still insist that happiness depends not on these things but on whether we have and use the virtues, especially the four, core virtues (wisdom, courage, moderation and justice). Developing the virtues is the way in which each of us can best express care for ourselves, other people and our world.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Much of the work of Modern Stoicism is devoted to presenting exercises that can help people to embed these ideas into their lives and practice. For examples and discussion, see, for instance, past versions of Stoic Week, a recent blog post of mine on ‘Marcus on the dichotomy of value and response’, and a two-part dialogue between Tim LeBon and myself on values-clarification.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

Marcus Aurelius expresses powerfully the aspiration to virtuous care of yourself and others: here is one of many examples, framed as a dialogue to himself:

At every hour, give your full concentration, as a Roman and a man, to carrying out the task in hand with scrupulous and unaffected dignity and affectionate concern for others and freedom and justice, and give yourself space from other concerns. You will give yourself this space if you carry out each act as if it were the last of your life, freed from all randomness and passionate deviation from the rule of reason and from pretence and self-love and dissatisfaction with what has been allotted to you. You see how few things you need to be able to live a smoothly flowing and god-fearing life; the gods will ask no more from someonewho maintains these principles.

Meditations 2.5

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

If I were to give a talk or workshop at the site of Plato’s Academy, I might discuss certain parallels and contrasts between Platonic and Stoic thinking on what counts as a good human life. For Plato, I might use the image of ‘the self in dialogue’ (based on the Republic): the idea of human beings as participants in three interrelated types of dialogue, that is, dialogue between the parts of the psyche, between different people or social groups, and philosophical dialogue (dialectic) directed at establishing what is objectively valuable in human life.

For the Stoics, I might use the ideas outlined earlier: that human beings at their best are engaged in three types of care, for themselves, other people, and their world (or ‘nature’), and that each of these three types of care are underpinned by the development of the virtues and virtue-based happiness. I think this comparison would bring out important ethical implications of the two ancient theories that would have powerful resonance for modern audiences.

John Sellars: Living a Good Life

What’s most important is within us and under our control, namely our attitudes, judgements, and character.

John Sellars is an academic who teaches ancient philosophy at the University of London. He has written mostly about Stoicism and its later influence, but also on Socrates, Plato and Epicureanism. At the moment he is about to start work on a short book on Aristotle. 

How did you become interested in that area?

As a schoolchild I was interested in ‘big questions’ about the origins of the universe and the like, and so I enjoyed studying physics. As an older teenager I became interested in politics and was quickly drawn to questions in political philosophy about freedom, justice, and so on. I’d also had a longstanding fascination with ancient Greece and Rome. I went to university to study philosophy, and ancient Greek philosophy seemed to encompass all these seemingly disparate interests that I had at once. 

Many of these ideas go back to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who of course gained a good part of his own philosophical education at the Academy. 

John Sellars

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

Beyond my academic research I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few years talking to general audiences about Stoicism and how it might help them in their everyday lives. That’s involved teaching people about a range of core ideas in Stoicism, including what we can control, the emotions, how to deal with adversity, our place within nature, and the importance of developing a virtuous character. Many of these ideas go back to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who of course gained a good part of his own philosophical education at the Academy. 

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

One of the central ideas in Stoicism that people seem to benefit from is the idea that what’s most important is within us and under our control, namely our attitudes, judgements, and character. Many people seem to suffer a lot of distress worrying about external situations out of their control, and Stoicism argues that these things are in fact not that important for living a good life. 

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

I guess it would have to be Epictetus’ “It’s not things that upset us but our judgements about things”. 

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

These days people are keen to record talks and do podcast interviews, and I’ve done a good number of these recently. But I always much prefer to read a physical book – at my own pace and with a pencil in hand to annotate – and so that’s what I’d encourage others to do. If people want to learn more about Stoicism and are new to it, they might want to start with my short book Lessons in Stoicism (which has also been translated into Modern Greek as Η τέχνη των στωικών). 

Suppose you were able to give a talk at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

In 2019 I had the chance to visit Athens for the first time. I made a trip to the site of the Academy, wandered around the remains in the park, and visited the small museum (I also visited the sites of the Lyceum and the Painted Stoa). Although well off the usual tourist trail and tucked away in a residential area, it was nevertheless an inspiring and atmospheric place to visit.

It would be wonderful to be able to meet with people and talk about ancient philosophy there, an iconic location in the history of Western thought. 

Kathryn Koromilas: Delaying Gratification

Imagine if you were dying right now, what would you choose to focus on.

Kathryn Koromilas is a writer, an educator, a creativity coach, and an event host and speaker. She uses ancient wisdom and writing practices to help reignite creativity, reimagine purpose, and foster a thriving creative practice for living well.

She is co-organiser of the Stoicon-x Women: Practical Paths to Flourishing event, leads The Stoic Salon, which is a Facebook group dedicated to reading and writing with the Stoics, and hosts The Stoic Salon Podcast where she engages guests in long-form conversations about life, love, work, play, the universe, and Stoicism.

She is writing two books inspired by Stoicism. The first is The Joyful Practice of Stoic Death Writing, forthcoming end 2021. The second is a collaboration with Dr. Ranjini George and it’s called Journaling with the Stoics.

How did you become interested in philosophy?

I’ve always been curious about literature, philosophy, and creative living. As a child, I’d be the one asking “Why” on repeat. At nine, I knew I wanted to go to the University of Sydney to “learn everything.” At age 17, my English teacher told me not to do philosophy at uni because she had a friend who spent the first week crying on the steps of Wallace Theatre because of those metaphysics lectures. When I heard that I knew I wanted to learn stuff that would be so metamorphic it would make me cry.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

At the moment, my focus is on paying attention and on creative listening. Some of the creative writing practices that I teach include copywork, literally copying texts word-for-word as a way of listening, learning, memorising and as a way of finding a way into one’s own creative voice. This is what Arrian did when he recorded the Discourses and this is what Marcus Aurelius did in Meditations though he reframed, re-expressed, and reformulated the Stoic teachings, to use Gregory Hays’ words.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

I think it would be delaying gratification. We have a sense that we have to respond quickly to texts or to people with our own answers and opinions. We aren’t allowed to just sit in silence without an answer or an opinion. The more we rush to respond and interject and interrupt, the less we are really listening so we end up in a monologue with ourselves. So, delaying gratification, delaying the gratification we get from hearing our own voices to leave space and silence to really listen to what we are reading and to others.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

ἄφες τὰ βιβλία: μηκέτι σπῶ. οὐ δέδοται

I love it when Marcus Aurelius in Meditations, Book 2.2 tells himself to stop being distracted, to throw away the books. I just feel there is such a pressure to consume everything, even knowledge, these days. And there are companies that sell apps with condensed versions of books so that we can pack more and more into our brains in the shortest period of time. And there’s such a pressure to entertain and distract ourselves. But just imagine, imagine if you were dying right now, what would you choose to focus on. I try to ask myself this question every day. I’ve spent the last three years reading snippets of Meditations everyday. In one way, that book is all the books.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I don’t like to give unsolicited advice, so let’s email or set a date and chat first.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

I would love to talk about Plato’s two women students. Axiothea of Phlius and Lastheneia of Mantinea. I love that Axiothea read Plato and travelled to Athens to study with him. She had to dress as a man so that she could do that. I’m fascinated by stories of women who entered the male arena by either dressing as a man or using a male pseudonym. I’d love to know what that was like and how awesome would it be to have that conversation on the very ground she walked.

I love learning in community so if you are working creatively and into Stoicism please connect with me via my website, Instagram, Twitter. And if you’d like to learn more about or get involved in the Practical Paths to Flourishing women in Stoicism events which will be held yearly, please make contact through the website here. And, see you at the Academy soon!

Artemios Miropoulos: Finding True Growth

Artemios Miropoulos is the Managing Director of Linkage Greece. In this role , he applies his extensive business background to coaching executives at global organizations, including Astir Hotels, Johnson & Johnson, Mercedes Benz, Motorola, Roche, Valencia, and Vodafone, among others.

He cherishes history, archaeology, story telling and writing, all culminating to his 2015 publication of his first book, The Nameless King-15 Stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece,​ sold exclusively in The Public,​ Greece’s biggest bookseller and via Amazon.

Artemios has has a wife and three daughters and lives just outside Athens, in a landscape of wineries, the homeland of retsina wine, crossed by the Classical Marathon road trail.

Leadership was not invented in the 21st century, so while it is reasonable to look ahead for new trends and concepts it is also a smart thing to look backwards and decode the signs of past societies.

Artemios Miropoulos

How would you introduce yourself and the work that you do to our readers? 

What I do for the past 17 years or more is teach people how to lead. It has been a long journey during which I have seen the topic of my teaching treat and trick me at the same time. Leadership is a fascinating subject I am still exploring. In the course of my ‘self-actualization’ (to use good old Maslow) I have written a book called The Nameless King-25 stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece and I have taken up a post graduate degree in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Athens. Of course my identity would never be complete without my three lovely daughters and Julie.

How did you become interested in that area?

Leadership was not invented in the 21st century, so while it is reasonable to look ahead for new trends and concepts it is also a smart thing to look backwards and decode the signs of past societies. We all know Greece has a unique historical heritage and by studying the original sources I have discovered extraordinary events that could fill the scripts for dozens of Hollywood blockbusters. Not everyone likes history but we all love stories. So that’s what I do; I am telling stories people will never forget and then I bring it to their present business reality.

While teaching Leadership you realize there are burning questions that cannot be answered in a convincing manner just by going through management literature. “Can we be friends with our subordinates?” or “Was Leonidas right when he killed the Persian messengers in ‘This is Sparta’?” These questions have long ago been answered and our ancestors are are transmitting the right answer to us through centuries with signs, symbols or myths.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

There is god-like image carrying a lamb on his shoulders as a shepherd, and this goes for Christianity as well as Islam along with the relevant quotes from the holy books. There is an equivalent 6th century BC marble statue of a man carrying a calf on his shoulders at the Acropolis Museum. The meaning here is that a Leader needs to care and carry other people’s burdens.

Before I start teaching anything I urge my audience to agree on two working assumptions: Subordinates are as clever as we are, and whatever we feel it shows on our face. We are not teaching acting or just ‘communications skills.’ People will follow you if they feel you care about them, and this shows.  So if you want to lead people you first need to make sure you really and sincerely care about people. And this, as strange as it might sound, can be developed.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Since we talk about storytelling we all have great stories to tell, from our own experiences, or family history or things we heard to books we read. We only need to retrieve these from the deeper layers of our memory, brush them up and take our time to share them with love. We have learnt that speed is a good thing. Well, it isn’t when you want to tell a good story or when you want to show that you care. And another thing: books say you first need to decide on what is the point you want to make and then find the story that will get you there. I believe every good story has a good point to pass. I always start from the story.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

Well I guess reading The Nameless King would be a good start. Just before the pandemic we only did live sessions where I am using short videos (from History Channel and such) and pictures that help me ‘dramatize’ some of my stories. After relating the stories (which people say it is a powerful experience) we debate on advanced leadership topics, like making difficult decisions on values, trust, inclusion and biases, powerful women leaders and others.

I have done that in Germany and the US (and of course Greece) and I am telling you it is amazing how much alike people react and how close are our leadership challenges. Hopefully we will soon get back there, me traveling and presenting and teaching, but we all know our virtual footprint is here to stay, so my company will be releasing short Leadership videos soon.

Suppose you were giving a talk at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

I live in Athens, where strolling among such places feels normal. So I guess I would feel pretty much at home. The myth says that there was a sign overarching the door in Plato’s academy “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.”

One of the core leadership commitments is the need to ‘Become’ which means that you need to constantly and globally evolve. Many seek their “become” journey assuming they invest on a degree similar to their professional occupation. Plato’s suggestion about geometry means you can find true growth in seemingly diverse fields where there is balance, harmony and where your heart truly flourishes.