It is, “ not merely unnecessary for a king to be a philosopher, but even a disadvantage. Rather a king should take the advice of true philosophers. Then he would fill his reign with good deeds, not with good words.” These are the words of the great Aristotle who was born in 384BC to a physician who attended King Amyntas and the royal Macedonian family. He was then trained like his father to become a physician, but Aristotle’s life was meant to take another direction. His father died while he was about 10 years old and a guardian filled in as the role of parent. It is suggested that since his father was the physician to the king and the king’s son, Philip, was about the age of Aristotle that they became good friends. It is possible then that Aristotle had many privileges that others did not due to his father’s position. His guardian may have been responsible for encouraging Aristotle in poetry and speaking.
When Aristotle turned 17, he was sent to Plato’s school to study. He thrived and was soon appointed a teacher. His writings at this time were in strong support of Plato’s views, but later he would begin to shift from those ideologies. The Macedonian kingship, which was now passed to Philip, and some of the political events with Athens that took place after the king died may have been a contributing factor. He stayed at the school for 20 years and after Plato’s death may have acted as an ambassador for Philip. He left the school for Assos and soon found himself as a leader of a group of philosophers and wrote about biology and zoology.
Unfortunately, war broke out in Assos and Aristotle fled and continued doing his research on the island of Lesbos. King Philip then made a peace treaty in 346 and Aristotle returned to the court where he may have been an influence to Philip’s son, Alexander the Great. The peace treaty between Macedonia and Athens faded in 340 and Aristotle again went to his birthplace in Stagirus as a leader of philosophers and scientists. Alexander then wanted to propose a peace treaty and Aristotle seemed to support this efforts. Alexander also encouraged Aristotle to found a rival academy in Athens. Aristotle then outlived Alexander the Great and who died in 323. As a friend who had strong Macedonian connections, Aristotle left Athens and retired to a family home where he lived only a year before dying at age 62 of stomach complaints.
His contributions to society included philosophy, science, metaphysics, astronomy, music, poetry, and politics. His influence may have been more monumental than realized as a close confidant to the Macedonian royal court. Many of his writings that we read today are not without skepticism as to their origin. It is thought that some of these writings may have actually been written by his students. Regardless, during his lifetime it is no doubt that he greatly contributed to the government, others great figures of history, and the society of his time as a living philosopher.
Aristotle. J J O'Connor and E F Robertson. Retrieved from http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Aristotle.html on May 20, 2008.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) Retrieved from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/aristotle.html on May 20, 2008.
About the author:
Dianne Irene is a published writer and public speaker who has served as college and industry educator.
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