Adeimantus of Collytus, Brother of Plato

Instructor: Flint Johnson

Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow

Learn about Adeimantus of Collytus, the brother of Plato and a character in his book The Republic. When you are finished take the quiz and see what you've learned.

Adeimantus of Collytus?

A Renaissance painting of the School of Athens; no one knows what Adeimantus of Collytus looked like, but he was probably intended to be somewhere in the painting
School of Athens

Adeimantus of Collytus lived from around 432-382 B.C.E. Adeimantus and his father Ariston, like Adeimantus' brother Plato, were born in Athens. Collytus was just the name of the district Adeimantus lived in. We really don't know much about him personally, only how Plato portrayed him in The Republic, Parmenides, and Apology.

The Republic

The Republic is a work written by Plato in which his teacher, Socrates, explores his philosophies and explains how a perfect government, his Republic, would function. In The Republic's Book IV, which touches on virture, wealth, and poverty, Adeimantus raises the question of whether the guardians, policemen in the Republic, will have any happiness. Socrates responds by saying that the Republic will not bend in any way that makes one group of people happy at the expense of another. He also reminds Adeimantus that people raised to be guardians count duty to the state as one of the greatest virtues anyway.

Here, Plato portrays his brother as someone more focused on pleasure than on understanding the nature of the Republic. He is not stupid or self-centered, he just represents the thinking of many Athenians wondering what the point of a Utopia would be without everyone being happy.

Parmenides and Apology

Adeimantus is mentioned in two other works involving Socrates. Parmenides was a debate between Parmenides and Zeno of Elea on the one hand and a young Socrates on the other. Adeimantus and his brother Glaucon were only mentioned in the preface there. Apology was the speech Socrates gave at his trial as a corrupter of Athens' youth. Adeimantus was one of many students Socrates named when he asked for any witnesses to present themselves and testify against him.

Socrates teaching in Athens
Socrates teaching

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