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Pyrilampes (Greek: Πυριλάμπης) was an ancient Athenian politician and stepfather of the philosopher Plato. His dates of birth and death are unknown; according to estimations of Debra Nails he must have been born after 480 BC, and he must have died before 413 BC.[1]

Pyrilampes had served many times as an ambassador to the Persian court and was a friend of Pericles, the leader of the democratic faction in Athens.[2] He was injured at the Battle of Delium in 424 BC, when he was in his mid-fifties.[3] Pyrilampes raised and showed peacocks, gifts he had received on his Asian embassies. Plutarch states accusations against Pyrilampes, according to which he used the peacocks to procure freeborn women for Pericles.[4]

Pyrilampes appears to have married his first wife in the late 440s;[3] he had a son from this marriage, Demus, who was famous for his beauty.[5] C. 423 BC Pyrilampes had been widowed, and he was free to marry his niece, Perictione, Plato's mother. Perictione gave birth to Pyrilampes' second son, Antiphon, the half-brother of Plato, who appears in Parmenides, where he is said to have given up philosophy, in order to devote most of his time to horses.[6]


  1. D. Nails, "Pyrilampes", 257–258
  2. Plato, Charmides 158a
    * Plutarch, Pericles, IV
  3. 3.0 3.1 D. Nails, "Pyrilampes", 258
  4. Plutarch, Pericles, IV
  5. Plato, Gorgias, Gorgias 481d and 513b
    * Aristophanes, Wasps, 97
  6. Plato, Parmenides 126c