Plato was a student and follower of Socrates, who was put to death in 399 BCE. He himself founded his Academy, as the principal center of philosophical learning in the classical world, in 387, and it was to survive his death. Although he influenced a large number of students, principally in mathematics, he is best known for the thirty-two Dialogues in which Socrates is given the role of protagonist.
At the time she wrote Frankenstein Mary Shelley had begun to learn Greek through the offices of Percy Bysshe Shelley, but she had not gone so far in her studies as to read Plato on her own. In 1818, after the novel was published, she transcribed her husband's translation of the Symposium, and it is to this work that she alludes in an interpolation in the 1831 text (see Letter 4.7 and note).