On Three Locations Connected with Aristotle: Ancient Stagira - Mieza - Athens
Keywords:philosophy / Greek philosophy, archaeology, biography, Greece, Ellás
The last decade has witnessed well-nigh simultaneous discoveries on three archaeological sites connected with Aristotle, which have eliminated many cliches and mistaken assumptions about the philosopher's life and work. These are: (1) his native town of Stagira, or Stagirus; (2) his school in the Macedonian town of Mieza; and (3) the location of the Peripatetic school, the Lyceum, at Athens. The first part of the article thus briefly surveys the most important discoveries about the layout of ancient Stagira, as described in the monograph by Konstantinos Sismanidis. The main archaeological finds include an early classical town-wall (an admirable example of military architecture), the stoa, an aqueduct, the foundations of three temples, silver coins with the type of a wild boar, etc.-The second part moves from a preliminary description of Mieza to an attempt at reconstructing the philosophical ideas transmitted by Aristotle to Alexander and his peers at Mieza- not Pella-, using Plutarch's Life of Alexander as a starting-point. Such education would have been impossible if the Macedonians had not been Greeks and their language a Greek dialect, and it is the failure to realize this fact that has long impeded- and still does- our understanding of Aristotle's attitude to Philip and Alexander. The article touches on the potential relevance of Alexander's politics for the present, which may be sought in its interplay of two processes: the spreading of Greek culture abroad on the one hand, and, on the other, the preservation of other cultures with which the Greeks came into contact. The third part, drawing on Rupp's book Peripatoi, presents the latest archaeological discoveries relating to the exact location of Aristotle's Peripatos in Athens. In 323 BC -immediately after Alexander's death- Aristotle retired from Athens for the second time, his life endangered by the prevailing anti-Macedonian attitude. The paper attempts to justify his openly pro-Macedonian politics on the basis of his Panhellenic views. These three locations between which Aristotle moved-Stagira, Mieza, and Athens (twice) -are thus a testimony to the dynamic, insecure, and sometimes dangerous political circumstances in which he lived.
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