PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Phocion (Athenian Statesman & Military Commander) 

PHOCION (c. 402 – 318 BCE) was an Athenian statesman and military commander who, according to tradition, was made a general a staggering 45 times. 

A student of Plato and known as ‘the Good’, his political position was somewhat ambiguous, and ultimately he was accused of colluding with the Macedonians and dismantling the democracy of Athens. He is the subject of one of Plutarch’s Lives biographies.

Phocion (also spelt Phokion) was born in the deme of Potamioi; his father was Phokos. Not much is known of his early life except that he studied at Plato’s Academy and became a follower of the great philosopher. Amongst his friends he counted the philosopher Xenocrates and the noted general Chabrias. This distinguished company may explain Phocion’s reputation as a highly principled and conservative member of the Athenian elite and his popular title of ‘Phocion the Good’ (ho chrestos). 

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Article by Mark Carwtwright on AHE