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THE philosopher Aristotle, being already nearly sixty-two years of age, was sickly and weak of body and had slender hope of life. Then the whole band of his disciples came to him, begging and entreating that he should himself choose a successor to his position and his office, to whom, as to himself, they might apply after his last day, to complete and perfect their knowledge of the studies into which he had initiated them. There were at the time in his school many good men, but two were conspicuous, Theophrastus and Eudemus, who excelled the rest in talent and learning. The former was from the island of Lesbos, but Eudemus from Rhodes. Aristotle replied that he would do what they asked, so soon as the opportunity came. A little later, in the presence of the same men who had asked him to appoint a master, he said that the wine he was then drinking did not suit his health, but was unwholesome and harsh; that therefore they ought to look for a foreign wine, something either from Rhodes or from Lesbos. He asked them to procure both kinds for him, and said that he would use the one which he liked the better. They went, sought, found, brought. Then Aristotle asked for the Rhodian and tasting it said: “This is truly a sound and pleasant wine.” Then he called for the Lesbian. Tasting that also, he remarked: “Both are very good indeed, but the Lesbian is the sweeter.” When he said this, no one doubted that gracefully, and at the same time tactfully, he had [p. 427] by those words chosen his successor, not his wine. This was Theophrastus, from Lesbos, a man equally noted for the fineness of his eloquence and of his life. And when, not long after this, Aristotle died, 1 they accordingly all became followers of Theophrastus.
1 In 322 B.C.
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