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Aristotle (Ancient Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης) was an ancient Greek philosopher who was the first to create a comprehensive system of philosophy that encompassed all areas of human development: sociology, physics, mathematics, logic, philosophy, and politics. He was a student of Plato. From 343 to 340 BCE, he was the pupil and teacher of Alexander the Great. In 335-334 BCE, he founded the first Lyceum (Ancient Greek: Λύκειον Λицей, or the Peripatetic school). Aristotle was the founder of formal logic and a naturalist of the classical period, and he was also the most influential of ancient philosophers. He created a conceptual framework that is still an integral part of the philosophical lexicon and the style of scientific thinking. Therefore, it can be asserted that Aristotle laid the foundations of modern natural sciences. His views on ontology had a significant influence on the subsequent development of human thought. Thomas Aquinas adopted Aristotle's metaphysical teachings and developed them using the scholastic method. Karl Marx referred to Aristotle as the greatest thinker of antiquity.

Born: 384 BC, Stagira, Thrace

Died: 322 BC, Chalcis, Euboea

Bust of Aristotle. Palazzo Altemps, Italy. Inv. 8575. Roman copy of the Greek original (later 330 BC). The author of the original, made of bronze-Lysippus.

Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira, a Greek colony in Chalcidice, located near Mount Athos. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but it is presumed to have been between July 384 and October 383 BCE. It is reliably known that according to the ancient calendar, his birth coincided with the first year of the 99th Olympiad. Due to his birthplace, he was given the epithet "the Stagirite" (Ἀριστοτέλης Σταγειρίτης).

According to Isychius of Miletus, Stagira was located in Thrace. He writes in his "Compendium of the Lives of Philosophers" that Aristotle was "ἐκ Σταγείρων πόλεως τῆς Θρᾷκης," meaning "from Stagira, a city in Thrace." A similar mention can also be found in the 10th-century Byzantine dictionary, "Suda," which states: "Ἀριστοτέλης υἱὸς Νικομάχου καὶ Φαιστιάδος ἐκ Σταγείρων πόλεως τῆς Θρᾴκης," meaning "Aristotle, son of Nicomachus and Phaestis, from Stagira, a city in Thrace." Around 349-348 BCE, Stagira was captured and destroyed by the Macedonian king Philip II. During this period, Aristotle was in Athens, studying at the school of his teacher, Plato, who soon passed away. Shortly thereafter, Aristotle requested Philip to rebuild Stagira, and he himself wrote the city's laws for its citizens. Stagira's affiliation with Macedonia is mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium in his "Ethnica," where it states: "Στάγειρα, πόλις Μακεδονίας," meaning "Stagira, a Macedonian city."

Much is also known about Aristotle's family origins. His father, Nicomachus, hailed from the island of Andros, while his mother, Phaestis, was born in Chalcis of Euboea. This place would play a role in Aristotle's life as well, as he would later travel there after being exiled from Athens, likely due to having familial connections there. Based on his parents' origins, Aristotle was of pure Greek descent both paternally and maternally. Nicomachus, Aristotle's father, came from a hereditary line of Asclepiads and traced his lineage back to the Homeric hero Machaon, the son of Asclepius. The philosopher's father was a court physician and a friend of Amyntas III, the father of Philip II and the grandfather of Alexander the Great. According to the "Suda" dictionary, Aristotle's father authored a work on natural philosophy and six books on medicine. He was Aristotle's first mentor, as it was customary for Asclepiads to educate their children from a young age. It is likely that Aristotle assisted his father during his early years, sparking his interest in biology.

Aristotle's parents passed away before he reached adulthood. Therefore, his education was undertaken by Proxenus, the husband of his elder sister Arimneste, who hailed from the Anatolian city.

The parents of Aristotle died before he reached adulthood. Therefore, his upbringing was taken over by Proxenus, the husband of the philosopher's elder sister Arimneste, who hailed from Atarneus, a city in Asia Minor. Proxenus took care of his ward's education.

In 367 or 366 BCE, at the age of seventeen, Aristotle arrived in Athens. Plato was not present at the Academy at the time of his arrival. Before joining the Academy, Aristotle studied oratory under the rhetorician Isocrates. This version is supported by the fact that Aristotle had a special interest in rhetoric, which is reflected in his works such as "Rhetoric," "Topics," "Prior Analytics," "Posterior Analytics," and "On Interpretation." In these works, the philosopher examines not only the types of speeches and the social positions of the "rhetorician-audience" relationship but also the "elements" of speech, such as sound, syllable, verb, and so on. Aristotle laid the foundation for the first principles of logical reasoning and formulated rules for constructing syllogistic arguments. Aristotle stayed in Plato's Academy for 20 years, until his teacher's death.

Their relationship had both positive and negative aspects, and biographers often highlight episodes from the biography of Aelian:

"Once, when Xenocrates left Athens for a while to visit his hometown, Aristotle, accompanied by his students, including Phocian Mnason and others, approached Plato and began to press him. Speusippus was ill that day and could not accompany his teacher, the eighty-year-old elder with a weakening memory due to his age. In anger, Aristotle attacked him and arrogantly started asking questions, hoping to expose him, and behaved insolently and very disrespectfully. From that time on, Plato ceased to leave his garden and only walked with his students within its bounds.

After three months, Xenocrates returned and found Aristotle walking where Plato usually strolled. Noticing that he and his companions, after their walk, were heading not towards Plato's house but towards the city, he asked one of Aristotle's interlocutors where Plato was, assuming that he did not come out due to illness. The reply was, 'He is well, but since Aristotle insulted him, he stopped walking here and now converses with his students in his garden.' Hearing this, Xenocrates immediately went to Plato and found him among a circle of listeners (there were many of them, all dignified and well-known people). After the conversation ended, Plato greeted Xenocrates with his usual warmth, and he responded in the same manner. During this meeting, neither of them mentioned a word about what had happened. Then Xenocrates gathered Plato's students, and with anger, he reproached Speusippus for yielding their usual place for walks, then he confronted Aristotle and acted so decisively that he drove him away and returned Plato to his accustomed place for teaching."

Despite their disagreements, Aristotle remained in Plato's school until his teacher's death and developed a close relationship with Xenocrates, who also held great respect for his own teacher. Furthermore, although Aristotle often disagreed with Plato's teachings, he spoke positively of him. In "Nicomachean Ethics," Aristotle writes about Plato: "The doctrine of Ideas was introduced by people close to us." In the original text, the word "φίλοι" is used, which can also be translated as "friends."

"Plato and Aristotle, or Philosophy", Luca Della Robbia. Bas-relief of the 15th century.

After Plato's death in 347 BCE, Aristotle, along with Xenocrates, Erastus, and Coriscus (whom Plato mentions in his 6th letter, where he recommends that they reconcile with the tyrant Hermias, ruler of their native cities of Atarneus and Assos), set off to Assos, a coastal city in Asia Minor, located near the island of Lesbos. During their stay in Assos, Aristotle gained the support of Hermias. The tyrant held the philosopher in high regard and eagerly attended all his lectures. Their budding closeness led Aristotle to marry Hermias' adopted daughter and niece, Pythias, who bore him a daughter named after his mother. After Pythias' death, Aristotle unlawfully married Hermias' maid, Herpyllis, who gave birth to a son named after Aristotle's father, Nicomachus, following ancient Greek tradition.

Education of Alexander the Great

After spending three years in Assos, Aristotle, according to his student Theophrastus, traveled to the island of Lesbos and settled in the city of Mytilene, where he taught until 343-342 BCE, until he received an invitation from Philip II to become the tutor of his son, the future king Alexander. The close relationship between Hermias and Philip may have been a reason for Aristotle's selection for this position.

Aristotle began educating Alexander when he was around 13-14 years old. The teaching process took place in Pella and later in the city of Mieza at the Nymphaeum, a sanctuary dedicated to the nymphs. Aristotle instructed Alexander in various subjects, including medicine. The philosopher instilled in Alexander a love for Homeric poetry, to the extent that in the future, Alexander would keep a list of the "Iliad" compiled by Aristotle alongside his dagger under his pillow. Aristotle left instructions for Alexander in a letter. In it, he wrote that Alexander should show compassion towards the weak and defenseless, not be ashamed of pity, and avoid cruelty. Furthermore, he advised the young ruler to lead a virtuous life, practicing virtue in deeds and avoiding anger.

During this time, Aristotle learned about Hermias' death. The city of Hermia, Atarneus, was besieged by Mentor, a Greek military commander serving Darius III. Mentor tricked Hermias out of the city and took him to Susa, where he tortured him for a long time in hopes of obtaining information about Philip's plans. As a result, Hermias was crucified.

In 335-334 BCE, Aristotle temporarily suspended his education of Alexander due to the assassination of Alexander's father, and the young pupil had to assume power. During this time, Aristotle went to Athens, where he established his school in the northeastern part of the city, not far from the Temple of Apollo Lyceius. The area derived its name, Lyceum, from the temple, which, in turn, was passed on to the new philosophical school. In addition to that, Aristotle's school was also called the Peripatetic school. This designation is mentioned by Diogenes Laërtius, who claimed that Aristotle's school acquired this name because of the regular walks during philosophical discussions (from the ancient Greek word "peripateō" - to walk around). While many philosophers practiced walking during their teachings, it was the followers of Aristotle who became known as the "Peripatetics."

Exile from Athens

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, an anti-Macedonian uprising began in Athens. The Athenian Assembly declared independence from Macedonian rule, and the rebellious democrats demanded the expulsion of Macedonian garrisons from Greece. During this time, Hierophant of the Eleusinian Mysteries Euryomedon and the rhetorician Demophilus from the school of Isocrates accused Aristotle of impiety. The reason for the accusation was a hymn called "Virtues" written by Aristotle twenty years earlier in honor of the tyrant Hermias. The accusers claimed that the verses were written in the style of hymns to Apollo and that the tyrant of Atarneus was unworthy of such reverence. However, most likely Aristotle's hymn served as a pretext for initiating political persecution, the reason for which was his close ties to Alexander the Great. Furthermore, Aristotle was a metic, and therefore did not possess Athenian citizenship and full political rights. Legally, even the Lyceum did not belong to him. It is known that Aristotle did not mention it in his will. As a result, Aristotle decided not to suffer the same fate as Socrates and left for Chalcis in Euboea. There he lived in his mother's house with his second wife, Herpyllis, and his two children, Nicomachus and Pythias.

In 322 BCE (according to the ancient Greek calendar, in the 3rd year of the 114th Olympiad, a year after the death of Alexander the Great), Aristotle died of stomach illness. There is another version that he was poisoned with aconite. His body was transported to Stagira, where grateful inhabitants erected a tomb for the philosopher. Festivals were established in honor of Aristotle, known as the "Aristotelian Games," and the month in which they took place was named the "Aristotelian Month."

Related topics

Ancient Greece-Hellas, Alexander the Great, Athenian Democracy, Cleisthenes ' reforms, The oligarchic movement in Athens, Peisistrati Dynasty, Greek Tyranny


Translations of original works:

1. Aristotle. Essays. In 4 volumes (Series "Philosophical heritage"). Moscow: Mysl, 1975-1983. - Vol. 1. / Ed. and an introductory article by V. F. Asmus. 1975. 552 pp. - Vol. 2. / Ed. and an introduction by Z. N. Mikeladze. 1978. 688 p. - Vol. 3. / Ed. and introductory article by I. D. Rozhansky. 1981. 616 p. - Vol. 4. / Ed. and introductory articles by A. I. Dovatura and F. H. Cassidy. 1983. 832 pp.

2. Aristotle. Analytics, First and Second (link unavailable from 12-05-2013 [3133 days]). Translated by B. A. Fokht, Moscow, 1952.

3. Aristotle. The Athenian Polity. Translated by S. I. Radzig, Moscow: Sotsekgiz Publ., 1936, 198 p.

4. Aristotle. About animal parts. Translated by V. P. Karpov. (Series "Classics of Biology and Medicine"). Moscow: Biomedgiz, 1937. 220 p.

5. Aristotle. About the origin of animals. Translated by V. P. Karpov. (Series "Classics of Natural Science"). M.-L.: Publishing House of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 1940. 252 p.

6. Aristotle. Animal history. Translated by V. P. Karpov. Edited by B. A. Starostin, Moscow: RSUH, 1996. 528 p.

7. Aristotle. On the movement of animals / Translated by E. V. Afonasina / / ΣΧΟΛΗ 10.2 (2016) 733-753

8. Aristotle. Rhetoric (translated by O. P. Tsybenko). Poetics, ed. 2, revised, Moscow: Labyrinth, 2007. 256 p. ISBN 5-87604-040-1.

9. Aristotle. Protreptik. On sensory perception. About memory. Translated by E. V. Alymova, St. Petersburg: SPbU Publishing House, 2004, 184 p.

10. Aristotle. Evdemov's ethics. Translated by T. V. Vasilyeva (books 3, 7), T. A. Miller (books 1, 2, 8), and M. A. Solopova (books 4-6). Ed. by M. A. Solopov. (Series "Philosophical classics: for the first time in Russian"). Moscow: IF RAS, 2005. 448 p. 500 copies.

11. Aristotle. About memory and recollection. / Translated by S. V. Mesyat. / Kosmos i dusha, Moscow, 2005, pp. 407-419.

12. Aristotle. About dreams. Translated by O. A. Chulkov. // Academy. Issue No. 6. St. Petersburg, 2005, pp. 423-432.

13. Aristotle. On predictions in a dream / Translated by M. A. Solopova // Intellectual traditions of antiquity and the Middle Ages (Research and Translations), Moscow: Krug, 2010, pp. 169-175.

14. The Aristotelian Corpus. About undivided lines. Translated by A. I. Shchetnikov. // ΣΧΟΛΗ, 1, 2007, c. 248—258.

15. The Aristotelian Corpus. Music problems. Translated by A. I. Shchetnikov. // ΣΧΟΛΗ, 6, 2012, c. 87-97.

16. The Aristotelian Corpus. Mechanical problems. Translated by A. I. Shchetnikov. // ΣΧΟΛΗ, 6, 2012, c. 405—433.

Contemporary authors:

1. Aleksandrov G. F. Aristotle (philosophical and socio-political views). - M., 1940.

2. Aristotle // The Great Soviet Encyclopedia: [in 30 volumes] / ch. ed.by A.M. Prokhorov. -3rd ed. — Moscow : Sovetskaya entsiklopediya, 1969-1978.

3. Glukhov A. A., Mikhailov P. B., Shichalin Yu. A. Aristotle / / Orthodox Encyclopedia, Moscow, 2001, vol. III: "Anthemius-Athanasius", pp. 242-257, 752 p. - 40 000 copies. — ISBN 5-89572-008-0.

4. Zubov V. P. Aristotle: The Man. The science. The fate of the legacy. ("Scientific and biographical series"). Moscow: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences, 1963, 368 p.

5. Chanyshev A. N. Aristotle, Moscow: Mysl, 1981, 200 p.