Aristoteles. A great philosopher, the son of Nicomachus, court
physician to Philip II. of Macedon, and born in B.C. 384 at Stagira, a small town
in the Thracian Chalcidice. He received from his father a training in the natural
science of the day; but his philosophical education was obtained in Athens, where
he was a pupil and companion of Plato during the last twenty years of the latter's
life (367-347). His mind was, however, of too exact and unimaginative a type to
accept the mystical idealism of Plato's later years, and we find him gradually
developing a system of philosophy of his own, distinct from, and often antagonistic
to, that of his teacher, whose doctrines he nevertheless always treated with pious
respect, even when controverting them. In the later years of his association with
Plato and the Academy he began to lecture on his own account, treating especially
the subject of rhetoric. At the death of Plato the pre-eminent ability of Aristotle
would seem to have designated him to succeed to the leadership of the Academy,
but his divergence from his master's teaching was too great to make this possible.
At the invitation of his friend Hermeas, ruler of Atarneus and Assos in Mysia,
he repaired to his court, where he spent several years, and married his niece
and adopted daughter Pythias. His son Nicomachus, however, was the offspring of
a later union with Herpyllis, said to have been a slave, but to whom he testifies
the warmest gratitude in his will. From 344 to 342 he was again in Athens, but
in the latter year he accepted an invitation from King Philip to undertake the
oversight of the education of his son Alexander. It is not too fanciful to trace,
in the lofty views of the future conqueror, and his passionate love for the Homeric
poems, the influence of his three years' association with the great philosopher.
Aristotle did not forget, in this influential position, the town of his birth,
but obtained from Alexander that Stagira, which had been destroyed by Philip,
should be rebuilt. On Alexander's accession to the throne of Macedon in 335, Aristotle
removed to Athens, and established his school in the gymnasium known as the Lyceum,
from whose shady walks (peripatoi) his pupils became known as Peripatetics. He
is said to have given two classes of lectures: the more abstruse discussions (akroamatika)
in the morning for an inner circle of advanced pupils, and the popular discourses
(exoterika) in the evening for the general body of lovers of knowledge. At the
death of Alexander, in 323, the anti-Macedonian party in Athens recovered a temporary
ascendency, and Aristotle was involved in an accusation for impiety, to escape
which he fled to Chalcis in Euboea, in order, as he said, "that the Athenians
might not for a second time commit a sin against philosophy." Here he died
soon after, in 322, of a stomach complaint. A grave recently (1891) excavated
at Chalcis, by the explorers of the American School at Athens, is identified with
considerable probability as that of Aristotle. His will, perhaps genuine, is preserved
to us in Diogenes Laertius, v. 1. A statuette in the Mattei Palace and a life-size
statue in the Villa Spada at Rome reproduce the keen features of the profound
thinker. His character, if we may judge from the tone of his writings and from
the provisions of his will, was mild and generous; and the slanderous reports
found in such writers as Athenaeus may be dismissed as utterly without foundation.
The many-sided activity of Aristotle's mind and his prodigious industry are shown in the extent and variety of his writings, which embraced, according to Diogenes Laertius, 146 works in 400 books. Another list, which seems to rest on the authority of the Peripatetic Andronicus, who in the time of Cicero published a new edition of Aristotle's works, gives the number of books as 1000.
The history of his writings, if a widely accepted tradition be true, is a romantic one. After the death of Theophrastus, who had succeeded to the leadership of the Peripatetic School, his library, including the works of Aristotle, is said to have passed into the hands of his pupil Neleus of Scepsis in the Troad. The heirs of Neleus, to protect the books from the literary greed of the Attalids of Pergamus, concealed them in a vault, where they were injured by dampness and the ravages of moths and worms. In this hiding-place they were discovered about the year B.C. 100 by Apellicon, a rich book-lover, and conveyed to Athens, whence they were taken to Rome after the capture of Athens by Sulla in B.C. 86. In Rome they soon attracted the attention of scholars, and the new edition then prepared by Andronicus gave a fresh impetus to the study of Aristotle and of philosophy in general. Strangely enough, the list of works in Diogenes Laertius, mentioned above, does not seem to contain any of the forty treatises in our Aristotle, and it is not impossible that the whole catalogue is a list of forgeries, compiled at a time when the real works were lost to sight. The greater part of what has come down to us under the name of Aristotle is undoubtedly genuine.
The works of Aristotle fall naturally under three heads: I. Dialogues and other works of a popular character. II. Collections of facts and material for scientific treatment. III. Systematic works. Among his writings of a popular character the only one which we possess of any consequence is the interesting tract On the Polity of the Athenians, recently discovered in some Egyptian papyri, and edited by Kenyon under the auspices of the British Museum (London, 1891). It is written in a clear and easy style, and sheds a flood of new light on Athenian political history, and especially on the Constitution in Aristotle's own time. Of the works of the second class nothing worthy of mention has been preserved. The systematic treatises are marked by a severe plainness of style, with none of the golden flow of language which the ancients praised in Aristotle. This may be due to the fact that these works were not, in most cases, published by Aristotle himself or during his lifetime, but were edited after his death, from unfinished MSS., by Eudemus, Nicomachus, or Theophrastus.
Aristotle's systematic treatises may be grouped in several divisions, in accordance with the subjects discussed, as follows: I. Logic. II. Natural Science. III. Psychology and Metaphysics. IV. Ethics. V. Politics. VI. Rhetoric.
I. The writings on the general subject of Logic were included by the later Peripatetics under the name of Organon, or Instrument, as having to do with reasoning, the chief instrument of dialectic and scientific investigation. They embrace (1) the Categories (Kategoriai), treating of the ten fundamental forms of predicating existence (probably not by Aristotle himself, but by one of his pupils). (2) On Interpretation (Peri Hermeneias), dealing with the forms and parts of the sentence. (3) Prior and Posterior Analytics (Analutika Protera and Hustera), containing (a) the doctrine of scientific proof and (b) of cognition or knowledge in general. (4) The Topics (Topika), on the art of dialectic. (5) The Sophistical Refutations (Sophistikoi Elenchoi), an examination of the fallacies of the Sophists, then in such vogue. All of the most important of Aristotle's works in the domain of Logic have come down to us, and they include the most enduring contribution which the great aualyst has made to human thought. The science of deductive reasoning has made no essential progress since his day. II. The works in the department of Natural Science are (1) the Physics (Phusike Akroasis). This is not a treatise on physics in the modern sense of the term, but is happily styled by Hegel the “metaphysics of physics.” It treats of the principles of existence, of matter and form, explaining the fundamental conceptions in accordance with which we look at the phenomena of nature. (2) On the Heavens (Peri Ouranou). (3) On Generation and Decay (Peri Geneseos kai Phthoras), discussing the pairs of opposites, hot and cold, and wet and dry, and how their different combinations produce the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water. (4) Meteorology (Meteorologika). (5) Researches about Animals (Hai peri ta Zoia Historiai). (6) On the Parts of Animals (Peri Zoion Morion). (7) On the Generation of Animals (Peri Zoion Geneseos). (8) On Locomotion of Animals (Peri Poreias Zoion). (9) A number of shorter works are usually classed together under the head of Parva Naturalia. They treat of sense and sensation, youth and age, and other phenomena of life. The treatises On Plants, On the Universe, On Motion, On Respiration, On Colour, On Physiognomy, On Strange Statements, and the collection of various scientific Problems, are all of doubtful authenticity. The above-mentioned works exhibit an astonishing breadth of observation in natural history. The Researches about Animals shows an acquaintance with almost five hundred different species, and the observations on the purpose and adaptation of the organs of various creatures are characterized by remarkable insight. III. Psychology and Metaphysics. (1) On the Soul (Peri tes Psuches). This treatise might fairly be classed with the works on natural science, as it does not deal with psychology in the modern sense, but with the physiology of the vital principle in animals generally. (2) The Metaphysics (Metaphusika), as the name indicates, forms the highest step in Aristotle's system, and deals with the first principles of all existence. Here he grapples with the deepest questions of philosophy, but with less clear and satisfactory results than he reaches in many of his discussions. His doctrine of mind (nous), or the godhead, as the power that moves the starry heavens, is not sufficient to account for the structure of the universe or the origin of existing things. IV. Ethics. The ethical works of Aristotle embrace (1) the Nicomachean Ethics (Ethika Nikomacheia); (2) the Eudemean Ethics (Ethika Eudemeia); (3) the so-called Magna Moralia (Ethika Megala). The foundation principles of the Aristotelian system of morals appear alike in all of these works, but it is probable that the first alone is the work of the philosopher himself. He teaches that happiness is the highest good, and that this is found in an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. Virtue is a permanent state of the soul, and consists in the mean between the too much (huperbole) and the too little (elleipsis). The Nicomachean Ethics is one of the most interesting of Aristotle's works, and his descriptions of some of the virtuous characters (see bk. iv.) are exceedingly impressive. V. Politics. Closely connected with the Ethics is the Politics (Politika). The best ordering of the State was, to Aristotle's mind, the worthiest problem for the philosopher; and though his treatment of the subject was not brought to a logical conclusion, yet the work contains much valuable information and abounds in interesting remarks. The Economics (Oikonomika) is probably the work of some later writer of the Peripatetic School. VI. Rhetoric. The rhetorical works include (1) the Poetics (Peri Poietikes), and (2) the Art of Rhetoric (Techne Rhetorike). The first of these, though insignificant in length, has received more consideration in recent years than almost any other work of the author. The famous definition of tragedy in chap. vi., the discussion of the parts of tragedy in chap. xii., and the distinction between epic and tragic poetry in chap. xxvi. are passages of the greatest interest and value. The celebrated doctrine of the katharsis effected by tragedy (vi. 2) has given rise to much discussion, but has not yet been satisfactorily explained. The doctrine of the three "unities" of tragedy, upon which so much stress has been laid by the French critics, was first promulgated by Aristotle in this work. The Rhetoric treats of oratorical proof, and its leading elements, together with an interesting discussion of style--all marked by the author's usual clear and exhaustive treatment.
In reviewing the works of Aristotle we are at a loss whether to admire most his vast and accurate observation of nature, his profound acquaintance with the literature of his day, or his deep and penetrating insight, his keen analysis, and his unfailing good sense. In his love for research and his critical tendency he may be regarded as the forerunner of the Alexandrian Age which was soon to open. His style, though so concise as sometimes to be obscure, is often a model of condensed energy, and his occasional illustrations are marvellously appropriate. His influence on the course of human thought since his day has been almost boundless. In antiquity he was the most honoured philosopher, while the early Christian writers compared Plato and Aristotle to Moses and Christ. He was the ora cle of the Middle Ages, when his writings, through his followers, the schoolmen, were almost all that saved Europe from utter barbarism. The Arabians, in the reign of the calif Al Mamun (A.D. 813), began to translate his works, which became the foundation of Saracenic culture, and were brought by them to the knowledge of Western Europe through the medium of Latin versions from the Arabic. In Arabic tradition Aristotle is the "wisest man," just as his pupil Ishkander (Alexander) is the hero of warlike fable. The Roman Catholic Church almost canonized him, and his philosophical system, as modified by the great Dominicans Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, lies at the basis of Catholic theology to-day. But when the Renaissance gave back to Europe the knowledge of Plato, the popularity of Aristotle declined. Plato's perfection of form, and the fact that he wrote for the enlightened public generally, rather than for an inner circle of special students, no doubt contributed to this result. The Reformers, who regarded Aristotle as the bulwark of the Papacy, attacked him bitterly, and by the middle of the eighteenth century he had been almost set aside. It was reserved for the nineteenth century, through the labours of Schleiermacher, Spengel, Brandis, and others, to find the key to the true historical appreciation of the value of Aristotle.
The influence of Aristotle on the vocabulary of modern philosophy is worthy of especial notice. A large number of terms which are in constant use to-day are derived from him, either directly or through the medium of Latin equivalents. Some of these are: principle (arche), subject (hupokeimenon), matter (materies=hule), form, end, final cause, faculty (dunamis), energy, category, predicament, habit, mean, extreme, quintessence, metaphysics, etc.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Aristotle was born at Stageira, a sea-port town of some little importance in the district of Chalcidice, in the first year of the 99th Olympiad (B. C. 384). His father, Nicomachus, an Asclepiad, was physician in ordinary to Amyntas II., king of Macedonia, and the author of several treatises on subjects connected with natural science (Suidas, s.v. Aristoteles). His mother, Phaestis (or Phaestias), was descended from a Chalcidian family (Dionys. de Demosth. et Arist. 5); and we find mention of his brother Arimnestus, and his sister Arimneste (Diog. Laert. v. 15; Suid. l.c.). His father, who was a man of scientific culture, soon introduced his son at the court of the king of Macedonia in Pella, where at an early age he became acquainted with the son of Amyntas II., afterwards the celebrated Philip of Macedonia, who was only three years younger than Aristotle himself. The studies and occupation of his father account for the early inclination manifested by Aristotle for the investigation of nature, an inclination which is perceived throughout his whole life. He lost his father before he had attained his seventeenth year (his mother appears to have died earlier), and he was entrusted to the guardianship of one Proxenus of Atarneus in Mysia, who, however, without doubt, was settled in Stageira. This friend of his father provided conscientiously for the education of the young orphan, and secured for himself a lasting remembrance in the heart of his grateful pupil. Afterwards, when his foster-parents died, leaving a son, Nicanor, Aristotle adopted him, and gave him his only daughter, Pythias, in marriage.
After the completion of his seventeenth year, his ardent yearning after knowledge led him to Athens, the mother-city of Hellenic culture (B. C. 367). Various calumnious reports respecting Aristotle's youthful days, which the hatred and envy of the schools invented, and gossiping anecdote-mongers spread abroad (Athen. viii.; Aelian. V. H. v. 9; Euseb. Praep. Evangel. xv. 2; comp. Appuleius, Apol.) to the effect that he squandered his hereditary property in a course of dissipation, and was compelled to seek a subsistence first as a soldier, then as a drug-seller (pharmakopoles), have been already amply refuted by the ancients themselves. (When Aristotle arrived at Athens, Plato had just set out upon his Sicilian journey, from which he did not return for three years. This intervening time was employed by Aristotle in preparing himself to be a worthy disciple of the great teacher. His hereditary fortune, which, according to all appearance, was considerable, not merely relieved him from anxiety about the means of subsistence, but enabled him also to support the expense which the purchase of books at that time rendered necessary. He studied the works of the earlier as well as of the contemporary philosophers with indefatigable zeal, and at the same time sought for information and instruction in intercourse with such followers of Socrates and Plato as were living at Athens, among whom we may mention Heracleides Ponticus.
So aspiring a mind could not long remain concealed from the observation of Plato, who soon distinguished him above all his other disciples. He named him, on account of his restless industry and his untiring investigations after truth and knowledge, the "intellect of his school"; his house, the house of the "reader" (anagnostes, Ammon. l. c.; Caelius Rhodigin. xvii. 17), who needed a curb, whereas Xenocrates needed the spur (Diog. Laert. iv. 6). And while he recommended the latter "to sacrifice to the Graces", he appears rather to have warned Aristotle against the "too much". Aristotle lived at Athens for twenty years, till B. C. 347. During the whole of this period the good understanding which subsisted between teacher and scholar continued, with some trifling exceptions, undisturbed. For the stories of the disrespect and ingratitude of the latter towards the former are nothing but calumnies invented by his enemies, of whom, according to the expression of Themistius (Orat. iv.), Aristotle had raised a whole host (Ael. V. H. iii. 19, iv. 9; Euseb. Praep. Ev. xv. 2; Diog. Laert. ii. 109, v. 2; Ammon. Vit. Arist.). Nevertheless, we can easily believe, that between two men who were engaged in the same pursuits, and were at the same time in some respects of opposite characters, collisions might now and then occur, and that the youthful Aristotle, possessed as he was of a vigorous and aspiring mind, and having possibly a presentiment that he was called to be the founder of a new epoch in thought and knowledge, may have appeared to many to have sometimes entered the lists against his grey-headed teacher with too much impetuosity. But with all that, the position in which they stood to each other was, and continued to be, worthy of both. This is not only proved by the character of each, which we know from other sources, but is also confirmed by the truly amiable manner and affectionate reverence with which Aristotle conducts his controversies with his teacher. In particular, we may notice a passage in the Nicomachean Ethics (i. 6), with which others (as Ethic. Nic. ix. 7, Polit. ii. 3.3) may be compared. According to a notice by Olympiodorus (in his commentary on Plato's Gorgias), Aristotle even wrote a biographical logos elkomiastikos on his teacher.
During the last ten years of his first residence at Athens, Aristotle himself had already assembled around him a circle of scholars, among whom we may notice his friend Hermias, the dynast of the cities of Atarneus and Assos in Mysia (Strabo, xiii.). The subjects of his lectures were not so much of a philosophical as of a rhetorical and perhaps also of a political kind (Quintil. xi. 2.25). At least it is proved that Aristotle entered the lists of controversy against Isocrates, at that time the most distinguished teacher of rhetoric. Indeed, he appears to have opposed most decidedly all the earlier and contemporary theories of rhetoric (Arist. Rhet. i. 1, 2). His opposition to Isocrates, however, led to most important consequences, as it accounts for the bitter hatred which was afterwards manifested towards Aristotle and his school by all the followers of Isocrates. It was the conflict of profound philosophical investigation with the superficiality of stylistic and rhetorical accomplishment; of systematic observation with shallow empiricism and prosaic insipidity; of which Isocrates might be looked upon as the principal representative, since he not only despised poetry, but held physics and mathematics to be illiberal studies, cared not to know anything about philosophy, and looked upon the accomplished man of the world and the clever rhetorician as the true philosophers. On this occasion Aristotle published his first rhetorical writings. That during this time he continued to maintain his connexion with the Macedonian court, is intimated by his going on an embassy to Philip of Macedonia on some business of the Athenians (Diog. Laert. v. 2). Moreover, we have still the letter in which his royal friend announces to him the birth of his son Alexander (B. C. 356; Gell. ix. 3; Dion Chrysost. Orat. xix.).
After the death of Plato, which occurred during the above-mentioned embassy of Aristotle (B. C. 347), the latter left Athens, though we do not exactly know for what reason. Perhaps he was offended by Plato's having appointed Speusippus as his successor in the Academy (Diog. Laert. v. 2, iv. 1). At the same time, it is more probable that, after the notions of the ancient philosophers, he esteemed travels in foreign parts as a necessary completion of his education. Since the death of Plato, there had been no longer any ties to detain him at Athens. Besides, the political horizon there had assumed a very different aspect. The undertakings of Philip against Olynthus and most of the Greek cities of Chalcidice filled the Athenians with hatred and anxiety. The native city of Aristotle met with the fate of many others, and was destroyed by Philip at the very time that Aristotle received an invitation from his former pupil, Hermias, who from being the confidential friend of a Bithynian dynast, Eubulus (comp. Pollux, ix. 6; Arist. Polit. ii. 4.9, 10), had, as already stated, raised himself to be the ruler of the cities of Atarneus and Assos. On his journey thither he was accompanied by his friend Xenocrates, the disciple of Plato. Hermias, like his predecessor Eubulus, had taken part in the attempts made at that time by the Greeks in Asia to free themselves from the Persian dominion. Perhaps, therefore, the journey of Aristotle had even a political object, as it appears not unlikely that Hermias wished to avail himself not merely of his counsel, but of his good offices with Philip, in order to further his plans. A few years, however, after the arrival of Aristotle, Hermias, through the treachery of Mentor, a Grecian general in the Persian service, fell into the hands of the Persians, and, like his predecessor, lost his life. Aristotle himself escaped to Mytilene, whither his wife, Pythias, the adoptive daughter of the assassinated prince, accompanied him. A poem on his unfortunate friend, which is still preserved, testifies the warm affection which he had felt for him. He afterwards caused a statue to be erected to his memory at Delphi (Diog. Laert. v. 6, 7). He transferred to his adoptive daughter, Pythias, the almost enthusiastic attachment which he had entertained for his friend; and long after her death he directed in his will that her ashes should be placed beside his own (Diog. v. 16).
Two years after his flight from Atarneus (B. C. 342) we find the philosopher accepting an invitation from Philip of Macedonia, who summoned him to his court to undertake the instruction and education of his son Alexander, then thirteen years of age (Plut. Alex. 5; Quintil. i. 1). Here Aristotle was treated with the most marked respect. His native city, Stageira, was rebuilt at his request, and Philip caused a gymnasium (called Nymphaeum) to be built there in a pleasant grove expressly for Aristotle and his pupils. In the time of Plutarch, the shady walks (peripatoi) and stone seats of Aristotle were still shewn to the traveller. Here, in quiet retirement from the intrigues of the court at Pella, the future conqueror of the world ripened into manhood. Plutarch informs us that several other noble youths enjoyed the instruction of Aristotle with him. Among this number we may mention Cassander, the son of Antipater (Plut. Alex. 74), Marsyas of Pella (brother of Antigonus, afterwards king), who subsequently wrote a work on the education of Alexander; Callisthenes, a relation of Aristotle, and afterwards the historian of Alexander, and Theophrastus of Eresus (in Lesbos). Nearchus, Ptolemy, and Harpalus also, the three most intimate friends of Alexander's youth, were probably his fellow pupils (Plut. Alex. 10). Alexander attached himself with such ardent affection to the philosopher, that the youth, whom no one yet had been able to manage, soon valued his instructor above his own father. Aristotle spent seven years in Macedonia; but Alexander enjoyed his instruction without interruption for only four. But with such a pupil even this short period was sufficient for a teacher like Aristotle to fulfil the highest purposes of education, to aid the development of his pupil's faculties in every direction, to awaken susceptibility and lively inclination for every art and science, and to create in him that sense of the noble and great, which distinguishes Alexander from all those conquerors who have only swept like a hurricane through the world. According to the usual mode of Grecian education, a knowledge of the poets, eloquence, and philosophy, were the principal subiects into which Aristotle initiated his royal pupil. Thus we are even informed that he prepared a new recension of the Iliad for him (he ek tou narthekos), that he instructed him in ethics and politics (Plut. Alex. 7), and disclosed to him the abstrusities of his own speculations, of the publication of which by his writings Alexander afterwards complained (Gell. xx. 5). Alexander's love of the science of medicine and every branch of physics, as well as the lively interest which he took in literature and philosophy generally (Plut. Alex. 8), were awakened and fostered by this instruction. Nor can the views communicated by Aristotle to his pupil on politics have failed to exercise the most important influence on his subsequent plans; although the aim of Alexander, to unite all the nations under his sway into one kingdom, without due regard to their individual peculiarities (Plut. de Virt. Alex. i. 6), was not founded on the advice of Aristotle, but, on the contrary, was opposed to the views of the philosopher, as Plutarch expressly remarks, and as a closer consideration of the politics of Aristotle is of itself sufficient to prove (Comp. Polit. iii. 9, vii. 6, i. 1). On the other hand, this connexion had likewise important consequences as regards Aristotle himself. Living in what was then the centre and source of political activity, his survey of the relations of life and of states, as well as his knowledge of men, was extended. The position in which he stood to Alexander occasioned and favoured several studies and literary works. In his extended researches into natural science, and particularly in his zoological investigations, he received not only from Philip, but in still larger measure from Alexander, the most liberal support, a support which stands unrivalled in the history of civilisation (Aelian, V. H. v. 19; Athen. ix.; Plin. H. N. viii. 17).
In the year B. C. 340, Alexander, then scarcely seventeen years of age, was appointed regent by his father, who was about to make an expedition against Byzantium. From that time Aristotle's instruction of the young prince was chiefly restricted to advice and suggestion, which may very possibly have been carried on by means of epistolary correspondence.
In the year B. C. 335, soon after Alexander ascended the throne, Aristotle quitted Macedonia for ever, and returned to Athens, after an absence of twelve years, whither, as it appears, he had already been invited. Here he found his friend Xenocrates president of the Academy. He himself had the Lyceum, a gymnasium in the neighbourhood of the temple of Apollo Lykeios, assigned to him by the state. He soon assembled round him a large number of distinguished scholars out of all the Hellenic cities of Europe and Asia, to whom, in the shady walks (peripatoi) which surrounded the Lyceum, while walking up and down, he delivered lectures on philosophy. From one or other of these circumstances the name Peripatetic is derived, which was afterwards given to his school. It appears, however, most correct to derive the name from the place where Aristotle taught, which was called at Athens par excellence, ho peripatos, as is proved also by the wills of Theophrastus and Lycon. His lectures, which, according to an old account preserved by Gellius (xx. 5), he delivered in the morning (heothinos peripatos) to a narrower circle of chosen and confidential (esoteric) hearers, and which were called acroamatic or acroaiic, embraced subjects connected with the more abstruse philosophy (theology), physics, and dialectics. Those which he delivered in the afternoon (deilinos peripatos) and intended for a more promiscuous circle (which accordingly he called esoteric), extended to rhetoric, sophistics., and politics. Such a separation of his more intimate disciples and more profound lectures, from the main body of his other hearers and the popular discourses intended for then, is also found among other Greek philosophers. As regards the external form of delivery, he appears to have taught not so much in the way of conversation, as in regular lectures. Some notices have been preserved to us of certain external regulations of his school, e. g., that, after the example of Xenocrates, he created an archon every ten days among his scholars, and laid down certain laws of good breeding for their social meetings (nomoi sumpotikoi, Diog. Laert. ii. 130; Athen. v.). Neither of the two schools of philosophy which flourished at the same time in Athens approached, in extent and celebrity, that of Aristotle, from which proceeded a large number of distinguished philosophers, historians, statesmen, and orators. We mention here, beside Callisthenes of Olynthus, who has been already spoken of, only the names of Theophrastus, and his countryman Phanias, of Eresus, the former of whom succeeded Aristotle in the Lyceum as president of the school; Aristoxenus the Tarentine, surnamed mousikos; the brothers Eudemus and Pasicrates of Rhodes; Eudemus of Cyprus; Clearchus of Soli ; Theodectes of Phaselis; the historians Dicaearchus and Satyrus; the celebrated statesman, orator, and writer, Demetrius Phalereus; the philosopher Ariston of Cos; Philon; Neleus of Scepsis, and many others, of whom an account was given by the Alexandrine grammarian Nicander in his lost work, Peri ton Aristotelous matheton.
During the thirteen years which Aristotle spent at Athens in active exertions amongst such a circle of disciples, he was at the same time occupied with the composition of the greater part of his works. In these labours, as has already been observed, he was assisted by the truly kingly liberality of his former pupil, who not only presented him with 800 talents, an immense sum even for our times, but also, through his vicegerents in the conquered provinces, caused large collections of natural curiosities to be made for him, to which posterity is indebted for one of his most excellent works, the "History of Animals" (Plin. H. N. viii. 17).
Meanwhile various causes contributed to throw a cloud over the latter years of the philosopher's life. In the first place, he felt deeply the death of his wife Pythias, who left behind her a daughter of the same name: he lived subsequently with a friend of his wife's, the slave Herpyllis, who bore him a son, Nicomachus, and of whose faithfulness and attachment he makes a grateful and substantial acknowledgement in his will (Diog. Laert. v. 1; v. 13). But a source of still greater grief was an interruption of the friendly relation in which he had hitherto stood to his royal pupil. The occasion of this originated in the opposition raised by the philosopher Callisthenes against the changes in the conduct and policy of Alexander. Aristotle, who had in vain advised Callisthenes not to lose sight of prudence in his behaviour towards the king, disapproved of his conduct altogether, and foresaw its unhappy issue. Still Alexander refrained from any expression of hostility towards his former instructor (a story of this kind in Diog. Laert. v. 10, has been corrected by Stahr, Aristotelia, p. 133); and although, as Plutarch expressly informs us, their former cordial connexion no longer subsisted undisturbed, yet, as is proved by a remarkable expression, Aristotle never lost his trust in his royal friend. The story, that Aristotle, irritated by the above-mentioned occurrence, took part in poisoning the king, is altogether unfounded. Alexander, according to all historical testimony, died a natural death, and no writer mentions the name of Aristotle in connexion with the rumour of the poisoning except Pliny (H. N. xxx. 53). Nay, even the passage of Pliny has been wrongly understood by the biographers of Aristotle; for, far from regarding Aristotle as guilty of such a crime, the Roman naturalist, who everywhere shews that he cherished the deepest respect for Aristotle, says, on the contrary, just the reverse -that the rumour had been "mnagna cum infamia Aristotelis excogitatum".
The movements which commenced in Grecce against Macedonia after Alexander's death, B. C. 323, endangered also the peace and security of Aristotle, who was regarded as a friend of Macedonia. To bring a political accusation against him was not easy, for Aristotle was so spotless in this respect, that not even his name is mentioned by Demosthenes, or any other contemporary orator, as implicated in those relations. He was accordingly accused of impiety (asebeias) by the hierophant Eurymedon, whose accusation was supported by an Athenian of some note, named Demophilus. Such accusations, as the rabulist Euthyphron in Plato remarks, seldom missed their object with the multitude. The charge was grounded on his having addressed a hymn to his friend Hermias as to a god, and paid him divine honours in other respects (Diog. Laert. v. 5). Certain dogmas of the philosopher were also used for the same object. Aristotle, however, knew his danger sufficiently well to withdraw from Athens before his trial. He escaped in the beginning of B. C. 322 to Chalcis in Euboea, where he had relations on his mother's side, and where the Macedonian influence, which was there predominant, afforded him protection and security. In his will also mention is made of some property which he had in Chalcis. (Diog. Laert. v. 1). Certain accounts (Strabo, x. p. 448; Diog. Laert. x. 1) even render it exceedingly probable that Aristotle had left Athens and removed to Chalcis before the death of Alexander. A fragment of a letter written by the philosopher to his friend Antipater has been preserved to us, in which he states his reasons for the above-mentioned change of residence, and at the same time, with reference to the unjust execution of Socrates, adds, that he wished to deprive the Athenians of the opportunity of sinning a second time against philosophy. From Chalcis he may have sent forth a defence against the accusation of his enemies. At least antiquity possessed a defence of that kind under his name, the authenticity of which, however, was already doubted by Athenaeus. However, on his refusing to answer the summons of the Areiopagus, he was deprived of all the rights and honours which had been previously bestowed upon him (Aelian, V. H. xiv. 1), and condemned to death in his absence. Meantime the philosopher continued his studies and lectures in Chalcis for some time longer without molestation. He died in the beginning of August, in the year B. C. 322, a short time before Demosthenes (who died in October of the same year), in the 63rd year of his age, from the effects, not of poison, but of a chronic disorder of the stomach. The accounts of his having committed suicide belong to the region of fables and tales. One story (found in several of the Christian fathers) was, that he threw himself into the Euripus, from vexation at being unable to discover the causes of the currents in it. On the other hand, we have the account, that his mortal remains were transported to his native city Stageira, and that his memory was honoured there, like that of a hero, by yearly festivals of remembrance. Before his death, in compliance with the wish of his school, he had intimated in a symbolical manner that of his two most distinguished scholars, Menedemus of Rhodes and Theophrastus of Eresus (in Lesbos), he intended the latter to be his successor in the Lyceum (Gellius, xiii. 5). He also bequeathed to Theophrastus his well-stored library and the originals of his own writings. From his will (in Diog. Laert. v. 21; Hermipp. ap. Athen. xiii.), which attests the flourishing state of his worldly circumstances not less than his judicious and sympathetic care for his family and servants, we gather, that his adoptive son Nicanor, his daughter Pythias, the offspring of his first marriage, as well as Herpyllis and the son he had by her, survived him. He named his friend Antipater as the executor of his will.
If we cast a glance at the character of Aristotle, we see a man of the highest intellectual powers, gifted with a piercing understanding, a comprehensive and deep mind, practical and extensive views of the various relations of actual life, and the noblest moral sentiments. Such he appears in his life as well as in his writings. Such other information as we possess respecting his character accords most completely with this view, if we estimate at their real value the manifest ill-will and exaggerations of the literary anecdotes which have come down to us. At Athens the fact of his being a foreigner was of itself a sufficient reason for his taking no part in politics. For the rest, he at any rate did not belong to the party of democratical patriots, of whom Demosthenes may be regarded as the representative, but probably coincided rather with the conciliatory politics of Phocion. A declared opponent of absolutism (Polit. ii. 7.6), he everywhere insists on conformity to the law, for the law is "the only safe, rational standard to be guided by, while the will of the individual man cannot be depended on". He wished to form the beau ideal of a ruler in Alexander (Polit. iii. 8, extr.), and it is quite in accordance with the oriental mode of viewing things, when the Arabian philosophers, as Avicenna and Abu-l-faraj, sometimes call Aristotle, Alexander's vizier.
The whole demeanour of Aristotle was marked by a certain briskness and vivacity. His powers of eloquence were considerable, and of a kind adapted to produce conviction in his hearers, a gilt which Antipater praises highly in a letter written after Aristotle's death (Plut. Cat. Maj., Coriol.). He exhibited remarkable attention to external appearance, and bestowed much care on his dress and person (Timotheus, ap. Diog. L. v. 1; Aelian, V. H. iii. 19). He is described as having been of weak health, which, considering the astonishing extent of his studies, shews all the more the energy of his mind. He was short and of slender make, with small eyes and a lisp in his pronunciation, using L for R (traulos, Diog. L. v. 1), and with a sort of sarcastic expression in his countenance (mokia, Aelian, iii. 19), all which characteristics are introduced in a maliciously caricatured description of him in an ancient epigram. (Anth. 552, vol. iii. p. 176, ed. Jacobs).
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Aristotle, Classic Technique, and Greek Drama
It is to the Greeks that we owe not only the first great plays, but also the first principles of criticism and of dramatic construction.
Not every Athenian was a good critic, as some would have us think; but we know that the comic poets took it upon themselves to deliver judgments, to compare one writer with another, and in some measure, to lay down the laws of drama. It fell, however, to Aristotle, a philosopher and teacher born in the first quarter of the fourth century, to become not only the most important mouthpiece of Greek dramatic criticism, but also one of the most important influences in all the history of literature. He analyzed the plays of the fifth century as well as those of his own time, classified the kinds of drama, and laid down rules for the construction of tragedy. Aristotle had the very human characteristic of harking back to the good old days, and thinking them much better than the days in which he lived.
Taking scant account of Aeschylus, he regarded Sophocles and Euripides as models in tragedy. His chief complaints were that the poets of his own time spoiled their work by rhetorical display; that the actor was often of more importance than the play; and that the poets tampered with the plot in order to give a favorite actor an opportunity of displaying his special talent. He said that the poets were deficient in the power of portraying character, and that it was not even fair to compare them with the giants of the former era; that the drama was greatly in need of fresh topics, new treatment, and original ideas; that it was polished in diction, but lacking in force and vitality. The playwrights too frequently made use of the god-from-the-machine for the purpose of extricating characters from their troubles. Such was the tenor of Aristotle's “reviews” and criticisms.
THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF ARISTOTLE
The greatest tragedy, in the opinion of Aristotle, was Oedipus the King by Sophocles. The reasons for its supremacy lay in the excellent management of plot and chorus, in the beauty of the language, in the irony of the situations, and in the general nobility of conception. Aristotle cited also the Helena of Euripides as a model of its kind, and lauded the author for the skill with which he had set forth the complicated plot. Euripides was to him the most tragic of the poets. At the same time, he found much in Euripides to censure. Only in Sophocles, the perfect writer, were united ideal beauty, clearness of construction and religious inspiration--the three qualities which alone make tragedy great.
The subjects of tragic drama, Aristotle said, were rightly drawn from ancient mythology, because coming from that source they must be true. If man had invented such strange incidents, they would have appeared impossible. The chief characters of a tragic action should be persons of consequence, of exalted station. The leading personage should not be a man characterized by great virtue or great vice, but of a mixed nature, partly good and partly bad. His errors and weaknesses lead him into misfortune. Such a mixture of good and evil makes him seem like ourselves, thus more quickly arousing our sympathy. The course of the tragic action should be such as to saturate the spectator with feelings of compassion, drive out his petty personal emotions, and so "purge" the soul through pity and terror (Catharsis). The crimes suitable for tragic treatment may be committed either in ignorance, or intentionally, and are commonly against friends or relatives. Crimes committed intentionally are generally the more dramatic and impressive. (This in spite of the fact that the central crime in Oedipus the King was committed in ignorance.) As to style, a certain archaic quality of diction is needful to the dignity of tragedy.
THE THREE UNITIES
The most famous of the Aristotelian rules were those relating to the so-called unities--of time, place, and action. The unity of time limits the supposed action to the duration, roughly, of a single day; unity of place limits it to one general locality; and the unity of action limits it to a single set of incidents which are related as cause and effect, “having a beginning, a middle, and an end”. Concerning the unity of time, Aristotle noted that all the plays since Aeschylus, except two, did illustrate such unity, but he did not lay down such a precept as obligatory. Perhaps tacitly he assumed that the observance of the unity of place would be the practice of good playwrights, since the chorus was present during the whole performance, and it would indeed be awkward always to devise an excuse for moving fifteen persons about from place to place. The third unity, that of action, is bound up with the nature not only of Greek but of all drama.
GREEK DRAMA MORE CONCERNED WITH PLOT THAN WITH CHARACTER
Aristotle conceived the action, or plot, of a play as of far greater importance than the characters. This conception he gained from the plays of the fifth century, which, in general, centered around a personified passion rather than around a character. The action was “the vital principle and very soul of drama”. Again he says, “Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of actions”. Second in importance was characterization; and third were the sentiments aroused by the action.
He insisted very clearly that in tragedy the plot does not rise out of the characters, but on the contrary the plot tests the characters through the working-out of destiny -- “blind fate”. The main duty of the dramatist was to organize first the action, then display the moral character of his people under the blows of fate. “The incidents of the action, and the structural ordering of these incidents, constitute the end and purpose of tragedy”.
Finally, and perhaps most important of all, was Aristotle's belief that although tragedy should purge the emotions through pity and terror, yet all drama was meant to entertain: tragedy through the sympathies, comedy through mirth.
PERVERSION OF ARISTOTLE'S PRINCIPLES
In this manner begun the formulated technique of the drama. The principles enunciated by Aristotle were deduced from a study of the plays which were effective in his time, and under the conditions of the Athenian stage; but as time went on, critics and playwrights often studied Aristotle instead of plays, and left out of consideration differing circumstances and conditions.
In this way, rules, created for the open-air Athenian production, were applied indiscriminately to all sorts of stages, whether indoors or out. Many writers failed to recognize the new life in their own art, and missed seeing the truth that a first-hand observation of life is always of more value than rules of any sort. Therefore an immemorial war has been waged between the sticklers for old laws, on the one side, and, on the other, the genuinely creative writers. In no art has this war been more apparent than in the drama; and in no art have rigid rules been more oppressive. There have been long periods when the dominance of technical rules, wholly or partially outgrown, has sterilized and all but killed the theater.
Martha Fletcher Bellinger, ed.
This text is cited Sept 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
1. Aristotle, Overview
2. Aristotle, Ethics
3. Aristotle, Metaphysics
4. Aristotle, Motion and its Place in Nature
5. Aristotle, Poetics
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
1. Aristotle's Logic
2. Aristotle's Ethics
3. Aristotle's Metaphysics
4. Aristotle's Psychology
5. Aristotle's Political Theory
6. Aristotle's Rhetoric
Perseus Project - Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Homer to Alexander
1. Aristotle on Human Happiness
2. Aristotle on Just Behavior
3. Aristotle on Slaves and Women
4. Aristotle on the City-state
5. Aristotle, Scientist and Philosopher
Greek Science course taught at Tufts University by Prof. Gregory Crane:
1. Herodotus-Thucydides through the lens of Aristotle, by Ben Zarit
2. Aristotle's Astronomy, by Thomas Fowler
3. The Atomists into Aristotle, by Marc Wohnsigl
Callinus, disciple and friend of Theophrastus (of Eresus), who left him in his will a piece of land at Stageira and 3000 drachmae. Callinus was also appointed by the testator one of the executors of the will. (Diog. Laert. v. 52, 55, 56.)
Hipparchus. Of Stageira, a relation and disciple of Aristotle, who mentions him
in his will. (Diog. Laert. v. 12.) Suidas (s. v.) mentions his works ti appen
kai Delu para tois Deois and tis ho gamos. Probably he is the same as the Hipparchus
mentioned in the will of Theophrastus, and the father of Hegesias. (Diog. Laert.
v. 51, 56, 57.)
AKANTHOS (Ancient city) HALKIDIKI
Artachaees (Artachaies), a distinguished Persian, and the tallest man in the nation, superintended the construction of the canal across the isthmus of Athos. He died while Xerxes was with his army at Athos; and the king, who was deeply grieved at his loss, gave him a splendid funeral, and the whole army raised a mound. In the time of Herodotus, the Acanthians, in pursuance of an oracle, sacrificed to Artachaees as a hero (Herod. vii. 22, 117). This mound appears to be the one described by Lieutenant Wolfe, who remarks: "About 1 1/2 mile to the westward of the north end of the canal (of Xerxes) is the modern village of Erso (on the site of Acanthus), which gives its name to the bay, situated on an eminence overhanging the beach: this is crowned by a remarkable mound, forming a small natural citadel".
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