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Aristotle: An Everlasting Intellectual Hotspot

2400 years since The Philosopher’s birth

Staging the omniscient setting of his life, for “excellence is never an accident..[n]or an act, but a habit,” Aristotle (384-322 BCE), who claimed that for one to avoid criticism, should “do nothing, say nothing and be nothing,” he himself, who “by nature desired to know,” and most importantly to know himself cared “more for the true than for what people think,” and thus he did everything, said almost all and gained eternity through his thoughts and writings, still omnipresent 2400 years after his birth.

Aristotle and Plato’s Academy in Athens

Born in Stageira of eastern Halkidiki, Greece, Aristotle combined the Ionian with the Attic philosophical school of thought. In 368 BCE, at the age of 17, Aristotle was sent by his guardian to Athens, where he joined Plato’s Academy. For the next 20 years he pursued his studies and turned into an outstanding scholar and philosopher—‘The Philosopher’ according to Aquinas, reaching his entelechy ( i.e. his full-potential) both as a social being as well as a philosopher, distinctly different from his teacher Plato.

Aristotle in Assos, Lesvos and Mieza

When Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and resided to Assos, in Mysia for three years (348-345 BCE). There, he met and married Pythias, a member of Hermeias family, a ruler of the cities of Atarneus and Assos in Mysia, in close affiliation with Philip of Macedonia. Then, after moving to the island of Lesvos for the next two years he worked with Theophrastus on botany and zoology and on observing and interpreting natural phenomena. In 343 BCE, he got an invitation from Philip II of Macedonia to move to Mieza, close to Pella, to be appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedonia and undertake the education of adolescent Alexander, the successor of Philip II, and of other noble offsprings such as the future kings Ptolemy and Cassander.

Aristotle, the Lyceum, the Peripatetic School and his death in Chalcis

In 335 BCE, he returned to Athens where, under the protection and support of Antipater (c. 398-319 BCE), Alexander’s deputy, Aristotle started teaching at Lyceum, originally a gymnasium and before that a public meeting place in a grove of trees named in honor of its patron Apollo Lyceus (i.e."Apollo as a wolf"), on eastern Athens and established the Peripatetic School of Philosophy. There, the philosopher, while walking under a sheltered place, was giving elaborate lectures in the morning as well as more easily comprehended ones on various topics in the evening. So there were the early walks (eothinos peripatos) and the evening walks (deilinos peripatos), while the participants, the Peripatetics, shared together food and drink in Syssitia (i.e common meals) and Symposia (i.e. common eating, drinking and discussing).

Soon after Alexander’s the Great death, in 322, anti-macedonian sentiments in Athens brought about accusations of impiety, making Aristotle leave Athens and flee to his mother’s family estate in Chalcis, not allowing, as he himself said, “the Athenians to sin twice against philosophy,”making an implicit reference to Socrates’ trial and execution. The philosopher died of natural causes later that year in Chalcis.

Aristotle’s contributions

Aristotle has been regarded as the first scientist in history having written treatises, among other things, on physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, rhetoric, poetry, theatre and music. Through his work he managed to develop the first complete western philosophical Corpus. He applied empirical methodology and so set the foundation of scientific research and methodology since he firmly believed that knowledge was based on perception. He was among the first to classify flora and fauna species and study them. He has given us definitions of almost all fields of philosophy, ethics, politics, arts and sciences. He firmly believed in the merit of education, since it offers people “the art of living well,” and by claiming that “Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular,” he promoted the educational purposes of this art, which may explain why he made a special edition of the Iliad to teach Alexander the Great when he was in Mieza.

The World Academia honors Aristotle in 2016

On the occasion of the 2400 years since Aristotle’s birth, UNESCO has proclaimed 2016 as an International Year of Aristotle. Due to this anniversary the “Interdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle Studies,” of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki will be holding a World Congress “Aristotle 2.400 years”, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic republic on May 23 to 28, 2016. This Congress has the support of the The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie (FISP), The Academy of Athens, The Research Centre for Greek Philosophy of the Academy of Athens and The Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO. It will be taking place at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in ancient Stageira, and in ancient Mieza. Also, The International Association of Greek Philosophy, of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and The Greek Philosophical Society and The Philosophical Society of Cyprus are also holding a World Congress of Philosophy on the topic of “The Philosophy of Aristotle”, in Athens, on 10 to 20 July, 2016. This Congress will be under the auspices of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP). Meanwhile, from January 2016 to January 2017 there will be Multiple International Congresses on “Aristotle Today 2400 Years Anniversary 2016” held in Heidelberg, Leuven, Padua, Paris, Helsinki, Lisbon, Notre Dame (Indiana), Moscow, Córdoba and Athens.

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