Plato, Roman herm probably copied from a Greek original, 4th century BC. In the Staatliche Museen, Berlin.
Plato was born, the son of Ariston and Perictione, in Athens, or perhaps in Aegina, in about 428 BC, the year after the death of the great statesman Pericles.
Plato believed that there exists an immaterial Universe of `forms', perfect aspects of everyday things such as a table, bird, and ideas/emotions, joy, action, etc. The objects and ideas in our material world are `shadows' of the forms (see Plato's Allegory of the Cave).
This solves the problem of how objects in the material world are all distinct (no two tables are exactly the same) yet they all have `tableness' in common. There are different objects reflecting the `tableness' from the Universe of Forms.
Excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica without permission.