that he applied himself to painting and wrote poems, first dithyrambs, afterwards lyric poems and tragedies. He had, they say, a weak voice; this is confirmed by Timotheus the Athenian in his book On Lives. It is stated that Socrates in a dream saw a cygnet on his knees, which all at once put forth plumage, and flew away after uttering a loud sweet note. And the next day Plato was introduced as a pupil, and thereupon he recognized in him the swan of his dream.a
At first he used to study philosophy in the Academy, and afterwards in the garden at Colonus (as Alexander states in his Successions of Philosophers), as a follower of Heraclitus. Afterwards, when he was about to compete for the prize with a tragedy, he listened to Socrates in front of the theatre of Dionysus,b and then consigned his poems to the flames, with the wordsc:
Come hither, O fire-god, Plato now has need of thee.d
From that time onward, having reached his twentieth year (so it is said), he was the pupil of Socrates. When Socrates was gone, he attached himself to Cratylus the Heraclitean, and to Hermogenes who professed the philosophy of Parmenides. Then at the age of twenty-eight, according to Hermodorus, he withdrew to Megara to Euclides, with certain other disciples of Socrates. Next he proceeded to Cyrene on a visit to Theodorus the mathematician, thence to Italy to see the Pythagorean philosophers Philolaus and Eurytus, and thence to Egypt to see
- aCompare Apuleius, De Platone, p. 64 Goldb. It has been proposed to emend the next sentence by bracketing the words ἐν Ἀκαδημείᾳ, εἶτα ἐν τῷ κήπῳ τῷ παρὰ τὸν Κολωνόν, as a note inserted by Diogenes Laertius from a different author.
- bAelian (V.H. ii. 30) has πρὸ τῶν Διονυσίων, “before the festival of Dionysus.”
- cHom. Il. xviii. 392.
- dἔπειτα μέντοι . . . τι σεῖο χατίζει. It is suggested that this sentence also is an insertion by Diogenes, which interrupts the real sequence of the narrative.