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Academy, public gymnasium at Athens, sacred to the hero Academus, north-west of the Dipylon gate. It gave its name to the school founded there by Plato (1) in the early 4th cent. and maintained by an unbroken line of successors until the 1st cent. bce. The school's private property was never there, but, at least during the 4th cent., at Plato's nearby house.

The Early Academy is the phase of doctrinal Platonism under Plato himself (d. 347) and his successors Speusippus, Xenocrates (1), Polemon (2), and Crates.

The ‘New Academy’ is the phase, from c.269 to the early or mid-1st cent. bce (its further subdivision, Sext. Emp. Pyr. 1. 220, is a later imposition), in which the school, initially under Arcesilaus (1), interpreted true Platonism as scepticism. Dialectical criticism of doctrines, usually Stoic, was orchestrated to demonstrate akatalēpsia, the impossibility of knowledge, resulting in epochē, suspension of judgement. Carneades, its most influential head (mid 2nd cent.), was a systematic critic of all doctrines. His successors disagreed about his true intentions: Clitomachus (scholarch c.128–c.110) regarded his arguments as still promoting epochē, but Metrodorus (4) of Stratonicea and Philon (3) of Larissa (possibly the last scholarch, c.110–c.79) considered their intent doctrinal, albeit fallibilist, with the ‘convincing’ (pithanon) an adequate basis for both action and philosophical judgement. Cicero's main philosophical works reflect his allegiance to the Philonian Academy.

In 87 bce, when the Academics were refugees from Athens, Philon was openly challenged by his disciple Antiochus (11) of Ascalon, whose ‘Old Academy’ claimed to return to the doctrines of the ‘ancients’, meaning especially Plato and Aristotle. Thereafter the Academy as an institution disintegrated (whether Antiochus ever became scholarch is uncertain), although the title ‘Academic’ lived on (cf. plutarch).


H. Cherniss, The Riddle of the Early Academy (1945).Find this resource:

    J. Glucker, Antiochus and the Late Academy (1978).Find this resource:

      T. Dorandi (ed.), Filodemo, ‘Storia dei filosofi: Platone e l'Academia’ (1991).Find this resource:

        M. Ostwald and J. P. Lynch, Cambridge Ancient History 62 (1994), ch. 12a.Find this resource:

          J. Dillon, The Heirs of Plato (2003).Find this resource:

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