On the last evening of his life, Plato listened to music – a slave flute player from Thrace played to him. Dying of a fever, the philosopher criticizes the flutist for her lack of a sense of rhythm.

This episode is described in a previously unknown fragment of the "History of the Academy" by Philodemus Gadarsky. The scroll with the fragment was found at the so–called Papyrus Villa on the outskirts of Herculaneum, a city that died in the eruption of Vesuvius (as well as the more famous Pompeii). A large library was found in this villa – about 1800 scrolls, but it is quite difficult to read them – because of the high temperatures, the scrolls were badly charred. Some papyri were able to be unfolded mechanically, but many of these scrolls died while trying to "read". In recent years, they are most often deployed "virtually" – using computed tomography, and artificial intelligence helps to process the results. Graziano Ranocchia, project manager at the University of Pisa, recently shared new successes.

In addition to information about Plato's last evening, there are other facts in the scroll that were previously unknown. For example, the exact burial place of the philosopher is indicated there. Philodemus says that Plato was buried in the special garden of the Athenian Academy, next to the Museum. It was previously known that his grave was located somewhere in the Academy, but in which part, it was unclear.

There is new information about when exactly Plato was enslaved. According to Philodemus, this happened on Aegina when the Spartans captured the island. According to other sources, we know that there were two such seizures – in 404 and 399. The second date is symbolic, since in the same year Socrates, Plato's teacher, was executed. Previously, it was believed that Plato was enslaved in 387 BC, when he lived in Sicily, and it was even assumed that he was sold into slavery by Dionysius I, the tyrant of Syracuse, because the philosopher tried to teach him how to govern the state.