Chapter 1. ARISTOTLE (384-322 B.C.)
Aristotle, son of Nicomachus and Phaestis, was
a native of Stagira. His father, Nicomachus, as
Hermippus relates in his book
his descent from Nicomachus who was the son of
Machaon and grandson of Asclepius; and he resided
with Amyntas, the king of Macedon, in the capacity
of physician and friend. Aristotle was Plato's most
genuine disciple; he spoke with a lisp, as we learn
from Timotheus the Athenian in his book
further, his calves were slender (so they say), his
eyes small, and he was conspicuous by his attire, his
rings, and the cut of his hair. According to
Timaeus, he had a son by Herpyllis, his concubine,
who was also called Nicomachus.
He seceded from the Academy while Plato was
still alive. Hence the remark attributed to the
latter: "Aristotle spurns me, as colts kick out at
the mother who bore them."1
Hermippus in his
mentions that he was absent as Athenian
envoy at the court of Philip when Xenocrates became
head of the Academy, and that on his return, when
he saw the school under a new head, he made choice
of a public walk in the Lyceum where he would walk
up and down discussing philosophy with his pupils
until it was time to rub themselves with oil. Hence
the name "Peripatetic." But others say that it was
given to him because, when Alexander was recovering from an illness and taking daily walks, Aristotle
joined him and talked with him on certain matters.
In time the circle about him grew larger; he then
sat down to lecture, remarking2
It were base to keep silence and let
XenocratesMost authorities put Isocrates here in place of
He also taught his pupils to discourse upon a set
theme, besides practising them in oratory. Afterwards, however, he departed to Hermias the eunuch,
who was tyrant of Atarneus, and there is one story
that he was on very affectionate terms with Hermias;
according to another, Hermias bound him by ties of
kinship, giving him his daughter or his niece in
marriage, and so Demetrius of Magnesia narrates in
his work on
Poets and Writers of the Same Name.
same author tells us that Hermias had been the slave
of Eubulus, and that he was of Bithynian origin and
had murdered his master. Aristippus in his first
On the Luxury of the Ancients
fell in love with a concubine of Hermias,
her with his consent, and in an excess of delight
sacrificed to a weak woman as the Athenians did to
Demeter of Eleusis4
; and that he composed a paean
in honour of Hermias, which is given below; next that
he stayed in Macedonia at Philip's court and received
from him his son Alexander as his pupil; that he
petitioned Alexander to restore his native city which
had been destroyed by Philip and obtained his
request; and that he also drew up a code of laws for
the inhabitants. We learn further that, following the
example of Xenocrates, he made it a rule in his
school that every ten days a new president should be
appointed. When he thought that he had stayed
long enough with Alexander, he departed to Athens,
having first presented to Alexander his kinsman
Callisthenes of Olynthus.
But when Callisthenes
talked with too much freedom to the king and disregarded his own advice, Aristotle is said to have
rebuked him by citing the line5
Short-lived, I ween, wilt thou be, my child, by what thou
And so indeed it fell out. For he, being suspected
of complicity in the plot of Hermolaus against the
life of Alexander, was confined in an iron cage and
carried about until he became infested with vermin
through lack of proper attention; and finally he was
thrown to a lion and so met his end.
To return to Aristotle: he came to Athens, was
head of his school for thirteen years, and then
withdrew to Chalcis because he was indicted for
impiety by Eurymedon the hierophant, or, according to Favorinus6
Demophilus, the ground of the charge being the
hymn he composed to the aforesaid Hermias,
as the following inscription for his statue at Delphi7
This man in violation of the hallowed law of the immortals
was unrighteously slain by the king of the bow-bearing
Persians, who overcame him, not openly with a spear in
murderous combat, but by treachery with the aid of one in
whom he trusted.
At Chalcis he died, according to Eumelus in the
fifth book of his
aconite, at the
age of seventy. The same authority makes him
thirty years old when he came to Plato; but here he
is mistaken. For Aristotle lived to be sixty-three,
and he was seventeen when he became Plato's pupil.
The hymn in question runs as follows:
O virtue, toilsome for the generation of mortals to achieve,
the fairest prize that life can win, for thy beauty, O virgin,
it were a doom glorious in Hellas even to die and to endure
fierce, untiring labours. Such courage dost thou implant
in the mind, imperishable, better than gold, dearer than
parents or soft-eyed sleep. For thy sake Heracles, son
of Zeus, and the sons of Leda endured much in the tasks
whereby they pursued thy might.
And yearning after thee
came Achilles and Ajax to the house of Hades, and for the
sake of thy dear form the nursling of Atarneus too was
bereft of the light of the sun. Therefore shall his deeds be
sung, and the Muses, the daughters of Memory, shall make
him immortal, exalting the majesty of Zeus, guardian of
strangers, and the grace of lasting friendship.
There is, too, something of my own upon the
philosopher which I will quote8
Eurymedon, the priest of Deo's mysteries, was once about
to indict Aristotle for impiety, but he, by a draught of
poison, escaped prosecution. This then was an easy way
of vanquishing unjust calumnies.
Favorinus in his
Aristotle was the first to compose a forensic speech
in his own defence written for this very suit; and
he cites him as saying that at Athens9
Pear upon pear grows old and fig upon fig.There must have been a chapter in Favorinus dealing
According to Apollodorus in his
was born in the first year of the 99th Olympiad.11
He attached himself to Plato and resided with him
twenty years, having become his pupil at the age of
seventeen. He went to Mitylene in the archonship of
Eubulus in the fourth year of the 108th Olympiad.12
When Plato died in the first year of that Olympiad,13
during the archonship of Theophilus, he went to
Hermias and stayed with him three years.
archonship of Pythodotus, in the second year of the
he went to the court of
Alexander being then in his fifteenth year. His
arrival at Athens was in the second year of the
and he lectured in the
thirteen years; then he retired to Chalcis in the
third year of the 114th Olympiad16
died a natural
death, at the age of about sixty-three, in the archonship of Philocles, in the same year in which Demosthenes died at Calauria. It is said that he incurred
the king's displeasure because he had introduced
Callisthenes to him, and that Alexander, in order to
cause him annoyance, honoured Anaximenes
sent presents to Xenocrates.
Theocritus of Chios, according to Ambryon in his
ridiculed him in an epigram
which runs as follows18
To Hermias the eunuch, the slave withal of Eubulus, an
empty monument was raised by empty-witted Aristotle, who
by constraint of a lawless appetite chose to dwell at the
mouth of the Borborus [muddy stream] rather than in the
Timon again attacked him in the line19
No, nor yet Aristotle's painful futility.Cf. Hom.
Such then was the life of the philosopher. I have
also come across his will, which is worded thus:
"All will be well; but, in case anything should
happen, Aristotle has made these dispositions.
Antipater is to be executor in all matters and in
but, until Nicanor shall arrive, Aristomenes,
Timarchus, Hipparchus, Dioteles and (if he consent
and if circumstances permit him) Theophrastus shall
take charge as well of Herpyllis and the children as
of the property. And when the girl shall be grown
up she shall be given in marriage to Nicanor; but
if anything happen to the girl (which heaven forbid
and no such thing will happen) before her marriage,
or when she is married but before there are children,
Nicanor shall have full powers, both with regard to
the child and with regard to everything else, to
administer in a manner worthy both of himself and
of us. Nicanor shall take charge of the girl and of
the boy Nicomachus as he shall think fit in all that
concerns them as if he were father and brother.
And if anything should happen to Nicanor (which
heaven forbid!) either before he marries the girl, or
when he has married her but before there are children, any arrangements that he may make shall be
And if Theophrastus is willing to live with her,
he shall have the same rights as Nicanor. Otherwise the executors in consultation with Antipater
shall administer as regards the daughter and the boy
as seems to them to be best. The executors and
Nicanor, in memory of me and of the steady affection
which Herpyllis has borne towards me, shall take
care of her in every other respect and, if she desires
to be married, shall see that she be given to one
not unworthy; and besides what she has already
received they shall give her a talent of silver out of
the estate and three handmaids whomsoever she
shall choose besides the maid she has at present and
the man-servant Pyrrhaeus;
and if she chooses to
remain at Chalcis, the lodge by the garden, if in
Stagira, my father's house. Whichever of these two
houses she chooses, the executors shall furnish with
such furniture as they think proper and as Herpyllis
herself may approve. Nicanor shall take charge of
the boy Myrmex, that he be taken to his own friends
in a manner worthy of me with the property of his
which we received. Ambracis shall be given her
freedom, and on my daughter's marriage shall
receive 500 drachmas and the maid whom she now
has. And to Thale shall be given, in addition
to the maid whom she has and who was bought,
a thousand drachmas and a maid.
And Simon, in
addition to the money before paid to him towards
another servant, shall either have a servant purchased
for him or receive a further sum of money. And
Tycho, Philo, Olympius and his child shall have their
freedom when my daughter is married. None of
the servants who waited upon me shall be sold but
they shall continue to be employed; and when
they arrive at the proper age they shall have their
freedom if they deserve it. My executors shall see to
it, when the images which Gryllion has been commissioned to execute are finished, that they be set
up, namely that of Nicanor, that of Proxenus, which
it was my intention to have executed, and that of
Nicanor's mother; also they shall set up the bust
which has been executed of Arimnestus, to be a
memorial of him seeing that he died childless,
shall dedicate my mother's statue to Demeter at
Nemea or wherever they think best. And wherever
they bury me, there the bones of Pythias shall be
laid, in accordance with her own instructions. And
to commemorate Nicanor's safe return, as I vowed
on his behalf, they shall set up in Stagira stone
statues of life size to Zeus and Athena the Saviours."21
Such is the tenor of Aristotle's will. It is said that
a very large number of dishes belonging to him were
found, and that Lyco mentioned his bathing in a
bath of warm oil and then selling the oil. Some
relate that he placed a skin of warm oil on his
stomach, and that, when he went to sleep, a bronze
ball was placed in his hand with a vessel under it,
in order that, when the ball dropped from his hand
into the vessel, he might be waked up by the sound.22
Some exceedingly happy sayings are attributed
to him, which I proceed to quote. To the question,
"What do people gain by telling lies?" his answer
was, "Just this, that when they speak the truth
they are not believed." Being once reproached for
giving alms to a bad man, he rejoined, "It was the
man and not his character that I pitied."
He used constantly to say to his friends and pupils, whenever
or wherever he happened to be lecturing, "As sight
takes in light from the surrounding air, so does the
soul from mathematics." Frequently and at some
length he would say that the Athenians were the
discoverers of wheat and of laws; but, though they
used wheat, they had no use for laws.
"The roots of education," he said, "are bitter,
but the fruit is sweet." Being asked, "What is it
that soon grows old?" he answered, "Gratitude."
He was asked to define hope, and he replied, "It is
a waking dream." When Diogenes offered him dried
figs, he saw that he had prepared something caustic
to say if he did not take them; so he took them
and said Diogenes had lost his figs and his jest into
the bargain. And on another occasion he took them
when they were offered, lifted them up aloft, as you
do babies, and returned them with the exclamation,
"Great is Diogenes." Three things he declared to
be indispensable for education: natural endowment,
study, and constant practice. On hearing that some
one abused him, he rejoined, "He may even scourge
me so it be in my absence." Beauty he declared to
be a greater recommendation than any letter of
Others attribute this definition to
Diogenes; Aristotle, they say, defined good looks
as the gift of god, Socrates as a short-lived reign,
Plato as natural superiority, Theophrastus as a mute
deception, Theocritus as an evil in an ivory setting,
Carneades as a monarchy that needs no bodyguard.
Being asked how the educated differ from the uneducated, "As much," he said, "as the living from
He used to declare education to be an
ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.
Teachers who educated children deserved, he said,
more honour than parents who merely gave them
birth; for bare life is furnished by the one, the
other ensures a good life. To one who boasted that
he belonged to a great city his reply was, "That is
not the point to consider, but who it is that is worthy
of a great country."
To the query, "What is a
friend?" his reply was, "A single soul dwelling in
two bodies." Mankind, he used to say, were divided
into those who were as thrifty as if they would live
for ever, and those who were as extravagant as if
they were going to die the next day. When some one
inquired why we spend much time with the beautiful,
"That," he said, "is a blind man's question." When
asked what advantage he had ever gained from
philosophy, he replied, "This, that I do without
being ordered what some are constrained to do by
their fear of the law."25
The question being put,
how can students make progress, he replied, "By
pressing hard on those in front and not waiting for
those behind." To the chatterbox who poured out
a flood of talk upon him and then inquired, "Have
I bored you to death with my chatter?" he replied,
"No, indeed; for I was not attending to you."
When some one accused him of having given a subscription to a dishonest man--for the story is also
told in this form
--"It was not the man," said he,
"that I assisted, but humanity." To the question
how we should behave to friends, he answered, "As
we should wish them to behave to us." Justice he
defined as a virtue of soul which distributes according
to merit. Education he declared to be the best
provision for old age. Favorinus in the second book
mentions as one of his habitual
sayings that "He who has friends can have no true
friend." Further, this is found in the seventh book
These then are the sayings attributed
His writings are very numerous and, considering
the man's all-round excellence, I deemed it incumbent on me to catalogue them28
Of Justice, four books.
On Poets, three books.
On Philosophy, three books.
Of the Statesman, two books.
On Rhetoric, or Grylus, one book.
Nerinthus, one book.
The Sophist, one book.
Menexenus, one book.
Concerning Love, one book.
Symposium, one book.
Of Wealth, one book.
Exhortation to Philosophy, one book.
Of the Soul, one book.
Of Prayer, one book.
On Noble Birth, one book.
On Pleasure, one book.
Alexander, or a Plea for Colonies, one book.
On Kingship, one book.
On Education, one book.
Of the Good, three books.
Extracts from Plato's Laws, three books.
Extracts from the Republic, two books.
Of Household Management, one book.
Of Friendship, one book.
On being or having been affected, one book.
Of Sciences, one book.
On Controversial Questions, two books.
Solutions of Controversial Questions, four books.
Sophistical Divisions, four books.
On Contraries, one book.
On Genera and Species, one book.
On Essential Attributes, one book.
Three note - books on Arguments for Purposes of
Propositions concerning Virtue, two books.
Objections, one book.
On the Various Meanings of Terms or Expressions
where a Determinant is added, one book.
Of Passions or of Anger, one book.
Five books of Ethics.
On Elements, three books.
Of Science, one book.
Of Logical Principle, one book.
Logical Divisions, seventeen books.
Concerning Division, one book.
On Dialectical Questioning and Answering, two books.
Of Motion, one book.
Propositions, one book.
Controversial Propositions, one book.
Syllogisms, one book.
Eight books of Prior Analytics.
Two books of Greater Posterior Analytics.
Of Problems, one book.
Eight books of Methodics.
Of the Greater Good, one book.
On the Idea, one book.
Definitions prefixed to the Topics, seven books.
Two books of Syllogisms.
Concerning Syllogism with Definitions, one book.
Of the Desirable and the Contingent, one book.
Preface to Commonplaces, one book.
Two books of Topics criticizing the Definitions.
Affections or Qualities, one book.
Concerning Logical Division, one book.
Concerning Mathematics, one book.
Definitions, thirteen books.
Two books of Refutations.
Of Pleasure, one book.
Propositions, one book.
On the Voluntary, one book.
On the Beautiful, one book.
Theses for Refutation, twenty-five books.
Theses concerning Love, four books.
Theses concerning Friendship, two books.
Theses concerning the Soul, one book.
Politics, two books.
Eight books of a course of lectures on Politics like
that of Theophrastus.
Of Just Actions, two books.
A Collection of Arts [that is, Handbooks], two
Two books of the Art of Rhetoric.
Art, a Handbook, one book.
Another Collection of Handbooks, two books.
Concerning Method, one book.
Compendium of the "Art" of Theodectes, one book.
A Treatise on the Art of Poetry, two books.
Rhetorical Enthymemes, one book.
Divisions of Enthymemes, one book.
On Diction, two books.
Of Taking Counsel, one book.
A Collection or Compendium, two books.
On Nature, three books.
Concerning Nature, one book.
On the Philosophy of Archytas, three books.
On the Philosophy of Speusippus and Xenocrates,
Extracts from the
and from the Works of
Archytas, one book.
A Reply to the Writings of Melissus, one book.
A Reply to the Writings of Alcmaeon, one book.
A Reply to the Pythagoreans, one book.
A Reply to the Writings of Gorgias, one book.
A Reply to the Writings of Xenophanes, one book.
A Reply to the Writings of Zeno, one book.
On the Pythagoreans, one book.
On Animals, nine books.
Eight books of Dissections.
A selection of Dissections, one book.
On Composite Animals, one book.
On the Animals of Fable, one book.
On Sterility, one book.
On Plants, two books.
Concerning Physiognomy, one book.
Two books concerning Medicine.
On the Unit, one book.
Prognostics of Storms, one book.
Concerning Astronomy, one book.
Concerning Optics, one book.
On Motion, one book.
On Music, one book.
Concerning Memory, one book.
Six books of Homeric Problems.
Poetics, one book.
Thirty - eight books of Physics according to the
Two books of Problems which have been examined.
Two books of Routine Instruction.
Mechanics, one book.
Problems taken from the works of Democritus, two
On the Magnet, one book.
Analogies, one book.
Miscellaneous Notes, twelve books.
Descriptions of Genera, fourteen books.
Claims advanced, one book.
Victors at Olympia, one book.
Victors at the Pythian Games, one book.
On Music, one book.
Concerning Delphi, one book.
Criticism of the List of Pythian Victors, one book.
Dramatic Victories at the Dionysia, one book.
Of Tragedies, one book.
Dramatic Records, one book.
Proverbs, one book.
Laws of the Mess-table, one book.
Four books of Laws.
Categories, one book.
De Interpretatione, one book.
Constitutions of 158 Cities, in general and in particular, democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic, tyrannical.
Letters to Philip.
Letters of Selymbrians.
Letters to Alexander, four books.
Letters to Antipater, nine books.
To Mentor, one book.
To Ariston, one book.
To Olympias, one book.
To Hephaestion, one book.
To Themistagoras, one book.
To Philoxenus, one book.
In reply to Democritus, one book.
Ἁγνὲ θεῶν πρέσβισθ᾽
("Holy One and Chiefest of Gods, far-darting").
Elegiac verses beginning
("Daughter of a Mother blessed with fair
In all 445,270 lines.
Such is the number of the works written by him.
And in them he puts forward the following views.
There are two divisions of philosophy, the practical
and the theoretical. The practical part includes
ethics and politics, and in the latter not only the
doctrine of the state but also that of the household
is sketched. The theoretical part includes physics
and logic, although logic is not an independent
science, but is elaborated as an instrument to the
rest of science. And he clearly laid down that it
has a twofold aim, probability and truth. For each
of these he employed two faculties, dialectic and
rhetoric where probability is aimed at, analytic and
philosophy where the end is truth; he neglects
nothing which makes either for discovery or for
judgement or for utility.
As making for discovery
he left in the
a number of
propositions, whereby the student can be well supplied with probable arguments for the solution of
problems. As an aid to judgement he left the
By the Prior Analytics
premisses are judged, by the Posterior the process of
inference is tested. For practical use there are the
precepts on controversy and the works dealing with
question and answer, with sophistical fallacies,
syllogisms and the like. The test of truth which he
put forward was sensation in the sphere of objects
actually presented, but in the sphere of morals
dealing with the state, the household and the laws,
it was reason.
The one ethical end he held to be the exercise
of virtue in a completed life. And happiness he
maintained to be made up of goods of three sorts:
goods of the soul, which indeed he designates as
of the highest value; in the second place bodily
goods, health and strength, beauty and the like;
and thirdly external goods, such as wealth, good
birth, reputation and the like. And he regarded
virtue as not of itself sufficient to ensure happiness;
bodily goods and external goods were also necessary,
for the wise man would be miserable if he lived in
the midst of pains, poverty, and similar circumstances.
Vice, however, is sufficient in itself to secure misery,
even if it be ever so abundantly furnished with
corporeal and external goods.
He held that the
virtues are not mutually interdependent. For a man
might be prudent, or again just, and at the same
time profligate and unable to control his passions.
He said too that the wise man was not exempt from
all passions, but indulged them in moderation.
He defined friendship as an equality of reciprocal
good-will, including under the term as one species
the friendship of kinsmen, as another that of lovers,
and as a third that of host and guest.
The end of love was not merely intercourse but also philosophy.
According to him the wise man would fall in love
and take part in politics; furthermore he would
marry and reside at a king's court. Of three kinds
of life, the contemplative, the practical, and the
pleasure-loving life, he gave the preference to the
contemplative. He held that the studies which make
up the ordinary education are of service for the
attainment of virtue.
In the sphere of natural science he surpassed all
other philosophers in the investigation of causes, so
that even the most insignificant phenomena were
explained by him. Hence the unusual number of
scientific notebooks which he compiled. Like Plato
he held that God was incorporeal; that his providence extended to the heavenly bodies, that he is
unmoved, and that earthly events are regulated by
their affinity with them (the heavenly bodies).
Besides the four elements he held that there is a
fifth, of which the celestial bodies are composed.
Its motion is of a different kind from that of the
other elements, being circular. Further, he maintained the soul to be incorporeal, defining it as the
first entelechy [i.e.
realization] of a natural
body potentially possessed of life.31
By the term
realization he means that which has an incorporeal
form. This realization, according to him, is twofold.
Either it is potential, as that of Hermes in the
wax, provided the wax be adapted to receive the
proper mouldings, or as that of the statue implicit
in the bronze; or again it is determinate, which is
the case with the completed figure of Hermes or
the finished statue. The soul is the realization "of
a natural body," since bodies may be divided into
(a) artificial bodies made by the hands of craftsmen,
as a tower or a ship, and (b) natural bodies which
are the work of nature, such as plants and the bodies
of animals. And when he said "organic" he meant
constructed as means to an end, as sight is adapted
for seeing and the ear for hearing. Of a body
"potentially possessed of life," that is, in itself.
There are two senses of "potential," one answering to a formed state and the other to its exercise
in act. In the latter sense of the term he who is
awake is said to have soul, in the former he who is
asleep. It was then in order to include the sleeper
that Aristotle added the word "potential."
He held many other opinions on a variety of
subjects which it would be tedious to enumerate.
For altogether his industry and invention were remarkable, as is shown by the catalogue of his writings
given above, which come to nearly 400 in number,
counting those only the genuineness of which
not disputed. For many other written works and
pointed oral sayings are attributed to him.
There were in all eight Aristotles: (1) our philosopher himself; (2) an Athenian statesman,32
author of graceful forensic speeches; (3) a scholar
who commented on the
; (4) a Sicilian rhetorician, who wrote a reply to the Panegyric of Isocrates;
(5) a disciple of Aeschines the Socratic philosopher,
surnamed Myth; (6) a native of Cyrene, who wrote
upon the art of poetry; (7) a trainer of boys, mentioned by Aristoxenus in his Life of Plato; (8) an
obscure grammarian, whose handbook
is still extant.
Aristotle of Stagira had many disciples; the most
distinguished was Theophrastus, of whom we have
next to speak.