Ancient Greece People


AristotlePortrait of Aristoteles. Pentelic marble, copy of the Imperial Period (1st or 2nd century) of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos.

Aristotle was born in 384 BC in Stagirus, in Northern Greece on the Chalcidic peninsula. His father, Nicomachus was doctor by profession and his mother name was Phaestis. Phaestis hometown was Chalcis in Euboea. There is no reference whether the medical skills of his father were passed on to Aristotle. But it is likely that Nicomachus would have wanted Aristotle to become a doctor like him. Unhappy with the living conditions in his area, Nicomachus traveled to Macedonia and became a court physician to King Amyntas of Macedonia.

It is not known whether Aristotle lived with his father Nicomachus while he served King Amyntas, in Pella, capital of Macedonia. But it a true fact, that he was sociable, with the Kings' son Philip, who was about his same age.
Nicomachus died when Aristotle was about the age of 10. So it virtually impossible to think that Aristotle could have become a medical practitioner as his mother had also died young. After his parents died, Proxenus (said to be his uncle) became his guardian. As his guardian Proxenus also became his teacher and educated him on Greek, rhetoric, and poetry.

In his teenage years, Proxenus admitted Aristotle in Plato's academy. Here Aristotle and Plato's long association as a student and teacher set off. When Aristotle first joined the academy Plato was not present there. His students, Eudoxus of Cnidos, ran it. Speusippus, Plato's nephew, and Xenocrates of Chalcedon also taught there.
Aristotle was a very extraordinary student. As soon as he finished his education, he became a part of the faculty there. He taught there for about 20 years educating about rhetoric and dialogue.

Why he didn't become Plato's successor after his death, the question remains a little uncertain. Some say that Speusippus took over the academy as Plato's nephew after his death in 347 BC. Other version is that Speusippus and Plato's views clashed on most of the topics and he couldn't work alongside Speusippus. While another reason is, his childhood friend King Philip of Macedonia request to come and teach his son Alexander (who later became Alexander the Great).
When Aristotle left Athens he traveled to Assos along with Xenocrates of Chalcedon. King Hermias of Assos welcomed Aristotle to his land. Here he married Pythias who was the adopted daughter of Hermias. Pythias gave birth to a daughter who was also named Pythias. About after 10 years of marriage Pythias died. Pythias is known to be much younger to Aristotle, about the age of 18 when the married.

Aristotle became a chief to a group of philosophers when he was in Assos. Along with them, he collected observations on zoology and biology, a skill, which was passed down by his father. When the Persians attacked Assos, King Hermias was caught and put to death. Aristotle fled to Macedonia, which was ruled by his friend King Philip.

King Philip succeeded his older brother Perdiccas, when he was killed in a war. He was an able king and skillful ruler. Philip's enmity with Athens's may have leaded to Aristotle removal from Athens. He stayed in Macedonia for about 7 years where he taught Philip's son, Alexander (who later became 'Alexander the Great'). Macedonia and Athens had a peace treaty signed between them in 346 BC. But the treaty started to fall apart in 340 BC. In Plato's academy, when elections were held due to Speusippus's death, Xenocrates won instead of Aristotle. Due to this Philip lost his interest in Aristotle. Aristotle returned to his hometown of Stagirus, where he remarried Herpyllis. Herpyllis bore him a son, which was named Mytilene.

After King Philip died Alexander succeeded him. He followed the same strategy regarding Athens as his father. While he did support Plato's academy he also encouraged Aristotle to set up his own institution. Aristotle then founded a school called Lyceum in Athens where he taught for the next 12 years. Most of his works were created in this period in Athens of which today only fragments survive. He is said to have given two types of lectures: detailed discussions in morning to advanced students and in the evening, short discourses for general people.
He studied and educated his students on a variety of topics, which included logic, physics, astronomy, meteorology, zoology, metaphysics, theology, psychology, politics, economics, ethics, rhetoric, and poetics. There is some argument whether all Aristotle's works were really written by him. But the counter argument is that the style of writing does change as the person matures and his beliefs change.

After the death of Alexander in 232 BC, anti- Macedonian sentiments flared up in Athens and Aristotle was held for impiety. But he managed to escape to Chalcis in Euboea, his mother's city. He died there within a year because of stomach troubles; in 323 B.C. at that time he was 62 years of age. At the time of his death, he left a will wherein he wished to be buried next to his wife.

Along with Socrates and Plato he was the most influential Greek philosopher's who laid the foundations of Western philosophy with the help of Presocratic Greek philosophy. While some scholars credit Plato and Aristotle with the base of two most important schools of ancient philosophy, Aristotelianism is also considered to be Aristotle's viewpoint of Plato's ideas and works.

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