Story type: Essay
Happiness itself is sufficient excuse. Beautiful things are right and true; so beautiful actions are those pleasing to the gods. Wise men have an inward sense of what is beautiful, and the highest wisdom is to trust this intuition and be guided by it. The answer to the last appeal of what is right lies within a man’s own breast. Trust thyself.
—Ethics of Aristotle
The Sublime Porte recently issued a request to the American Bible Society, asking that references to Macedonia be omitted from all Bibles circulated in Turkey or Turkish provinces. The argument of His Sublimity is that the Macedonian cry, “Come over and help us!” puts him and his people in a bad light. He ends his most courteous petition by saying, “The land that produced a Philip, an Alexander the Great and an Aristotle, and that today has citizens who are the equal of these, needs nothing from our dear brothers, the Americans, but to be let alone.”
As to the statement that Macedonia today has citizens who are the equals of Philip, Alexander and Aristotle, the proposition, probably, is based on the confession of the citizens themselves, and therefore may be truth. Great men are only great comparatively. It is the stupidity of the many that allows one man to bestride the narrow world like a Colossus. In the time of Alexander and Aristotle there wasn’t so much competition as now, so perhaps what we take to be lack of humor on the part of the Sublime Porte may have a basis in fact.
Aristotle was born Three Hundred Eighty-four B.C., at the village of Stagira in the mountains of Macedonia. King Amyntas used to live at Stagira several months in the year and hunt the wild hogs that fed on the acorns which grew in the gorges and valleys. Mountain climbing and hunting was dangerous sport, and it was well to have a surgeon attached to the royal party, so the father of Aristotle served in that capacity. No doubt, though, but the whole outfit was decidedly barbaric, even including the doctor’s little son “Aristo,” who refused to be left behind. The child’s mother had died years before, and boys without mothers are apt to manage their fathers. And so Aristo was allowed to trot along by his father’s side, carrying a formidable bow, which he himself had made, with a quiver of arrows at his back.
Those were great times when the King came to Stagira!
When the King went back to the capital everybody received presents, and the good doctor, by some chance, was treated best of all, and little Aristo came in for the finest bow that ever was, all tipped with silver and eagle-feathers. But the bow did not bring good luck, for soon after, the boy’s father was caught in an avalanche of sliding stone and crushed to death.
Aristo was taken in charge by Proxenus, a near kinsman. The lad was so active at climbing, so full of life and energy and good spirits, that when the King came the next year to Stagira, he asked for Aristo. With the King was his son Philip, a lad about the age of Aristo, but not so tall nor so active. The boys became fast friends, and once when a stranger saw them together he complimented the King on his fine, intelligent boys, and the King had to explain, “The other boy is mine–but I wish they both were.”
Aristo knew where the wild boars fed in gulches, and where the stunted oaks grew close and thick. Higher up in the mountains there were bears, which occasionally came down and made the wild pigs scamper. You could always tell when the bears were around, for then the little pigs would run out into the open. The bears had a liking for little pigs, and the bears had a liking for the honey in the bee-trees, too. Aristo could find the bee-trees better than the bears–all you had to do was to watch the flight of the bees as they left the clover.
Then there were deer–you could see their tracks any time around the mountain marshes where the springs gushed forth and the watercress grew lush. Still higher up the mountains, beyond where bears ever traveled, there were mountain-sheep, and still higher up were goats. The goats were so wild that hardly any one but Aristo had ever seen them, but he knew they were there.
The King was delighted to have such a lad as companion for his son, and insisted that he should go back to the capital with them and become a member of the Court.
Not he–there were other ambitions. He wanted to go to Athens and study at the school of Plato–Plato, the pupil of the great Socrates.
The King laughed–he had never heard of Plato. That a youth should refuse to become part of the Macedonian Court, preferring the company of an unknown school-master, was amusing–he laughed.
The next year when the King came back to Stagira, Aristo was still there. “And you haven’t gone to Athens yet?” said the King.
“No, but I am going,” was the firm reply.
“We will send him,” said the King to Proxenus, Aristo’s guardian.
And so we find Aristo, aged seventeen, tall and straight and bronzed, starting off for Athens, his worldly goods rolled up in a bearskin, tied about with thongs. There is a legend to the effect that Philip went with Aristo, and that for a time they were together at Plato’s school. But, anyway, Philip did not remain long. Aristo–or Aristotle, we had better call him–remained with Plato just twenty years.
At Plato’s school Aristotle was called by the boys, “the Stagirite,” a name that was to last him through life–and longer. In Winter he wore his bearskin, caught over one shoulder, for a robe, and his mountain grace and native beauty of mind and body must have been a joy to Plato from the first. Such a youth could not be overlooked.
To him that hath shall be given. The pupil that wants to learn is the teacher’s favorite–which is just as it should not be. Plato proved his humanity by giving his all to the young mountaineer. Plato was then a little over sixty years of age–about the same age that Socrates was when Plato became his pupil. But the years had touched Plato lightly–unlike Socrates, he had endured no Thracian winters in bare feet, neither had he lived on cold snacks picked up here and there, as Providence provided. Plato was a bachelor. He still wore the purple robe, proud, dignified, yet gentle, and his back was straight as that of a youth. Lowell once said, “When I hear Plato’s name mentioned, I always think of George William Curtis–a combination of pride and intellect, a man’s strength fused with a woman’s gentleness.”
Plato was an aristocrat. He accepted only such pupils as he invited, or those that were sent by royalty. Like Franz Liszt, he charged no tuition, which plan, by the way, is a good scheme for getting more money than could otherwise be obtained, although no such selfish charge should be brought against either Plato or Liszt. Yet every benefit must be paid for, and whether you use the word fee or honorarium, matters little. I hear there be lecturers who accept invitations to banquets and accept an honorarium mysteriously placed on the mantel, when they would scorn a fee.
Plato’s Garden School, where the pupils reclined under the trees on marble benches, and read and talked, or listened to lectures by the Master, was almost an ideal place. Not the ideal for us, because we believe that the mental and the manual must go hand in hand. The world of intellect should not be separated from the world of work. It was too much to expect that in a time when slavery was everywhere, Plato would see the fallacy of having one set of men to do the thinking, and another do the work. We haven’t got far from that yet; only free men can see the whole truth, and a free man is one who lives in a country where there are no slaves. To own slaves is to be one, and to live in a land of slavery is to share in the bondage–a partaker in the infamy and the profits.
Plato and Aristotle became fast friends–comrades. With thinking men years do not count–only those grow old who think by proxy. Plato had no sons after the flesh, and the love of his heart went out to the Stagirite: in him he saw his own life projected.
When Aristotle had turned twenty he was acquainted with all the leading thinkers of his time; he read constantly, wrote, studied and conversed. The little property his father left had come to him; the King of Macedon sent him presents; and he taught various pupils from wealthy families–finances were easy. But success did not spoil him. The brightest scholars do not make the greatest success in life, because alma mater usually catches them for teachers. Sometimes this is well, but more often it is not. Plato would not hear of Aristotle’s leaving him, and so he remained, the chief ornament and practical leader of the school.
He became rich, owned the largest private library at Athens, and was universally regarded as the most learned man of his time.
In many ways he had surpassed Plato. He delved into natural history, collected plants, rocks, animals, and made studies of the practical workings of economic schemes. He sought to divest the Platonic teaching of its poetry, discarded rhetoric, and tried to get at the simple truth of all subjects.
Toward the last of Plato’s career this repudiation by Aristotle of poetry, rhetoric, elocution and the polite accomplishments caused a schism to break out in the Garden School. Plato’s head was in the clouds at times; Aristotle’s was, too, but his feet were always on the earth.
When Plato died, Aristotle was his natural successor as leader of the school, but there was opposition to him, both on account of his sturdy, independent ways and because he was a foreigner.
He left Athens to become a member of the Court of Hermias, a former pupil, now King of Atarneus.
He remained here long enough to marry the niece of his patron, and doubtless saw himself settled for life–a kingly crown within his reach should his student-sovereign pass away.
And the royal friend did pass away, by the dagger’s route. As life-insurance risks I am told that Kings have to pay double premium. Revolution broke out, and as Aristotle was debating in his mind what course to pursue, a messenger with soldiers arrived from King Philip of Macedon, offering safe convoy, enclosing transportation, and asking that Aristotle come and take charge of the education of his son, Alexander, aged thirteen.
Aristotle did not wait to parley: he accepted the invitation. Horses were saddled, camels packed and that night, before the moon arose, the cavalcade silently moved out into the desert.
* * * * *
The offer that had been made twenty-four years before, by Philip’s father, was now accepted. Aristotle was forty-two years old, in the prime of his power. Time had tempered his passions, but not subdued his zest in life. He had the curious, receptive, alert and eager mind of a child. His intellect was at its ripest and best. He was a lover of animals, and all outdoor life appealed to him as it does to a growing boy. He was a daring horseman, and we hear of his riding off into the desert and sleeping on the sands, his horse untethered watching over him. Aristotle was the first man to make a scientific study of the horse, and with the help of Alexander he set up a skeleton, fastening the bones in place, to the mighty astonishment of the natives, who mistook the feat for an attempt to make a living animal; and when the beast was not at last saddled and bridled there were subdued chuckles of satisfaction among the “hoi polloi” at the failure of the scheme, and murmurs of “I told you so!”
Eighteen hundred years were to pass before another man was to take up the horse as a serious scientific study; and this was Leonardo da Vinci, a man in many ways very much like Aristotle. The distinguishing feature in these men–the thing that differentiates them from other men–was the great outpouring sympathy with every living creature. Everything they saw was related to themselves–it came very close to them–they wanted to know more about it. This is essentially the child-mind, and the calamity of life is to lose it.
Leonardo became interested in Aristotle’s essay on the horse, and continued the subject further, dissecting the animal in minutest detail and illustrating his discoveries with painstaking drawings. His work is so complete and exhaustive that nobody nowadays has time to more than read the title-page. Leonardo’s bent was natural science, and his first attempts at drawing were done to illustrate his books. Art was beautiful, of course–it brought in an income, made friends and brought him close to people who saw nothing unless you made a picture of it. He made pictures for recreation and to amuse folks, and his threat to put the peeping Prior into the “Last Supper,” posed as Judas, revealed his contempt for the person to whom a picture was just a picture. The marvel to Leonardo was the mind that could imagine, the hand that could execute, and the soul that could see.
And the curious part is that Leonardo lives for us through his play and not through his serious work. His science has been superseded, but his art is immortal.
This expectant mental attitude, this attitude of worship, belongs to all great scientists. The man divines the thing first and then looks for it, just as the Herschels knew where the star ought to be and then patiently waited for it. The Bishop of London said that if Darwin had spent one-half as much time in reading his Bible as in studying earthworms, he would have really benefited the world, and saved his soul alive. To Walt Whitman, a hair on the back of his hand was just as curious and wonderful as the stars in the sky, or God’s revelation to man through a printed book.
Aristotle loved animals as a boy loves them–his house was a regular menagerie of pets, and into this world of life Alexander was very early introduced. We hear of young Alexander breaking the wild horse, Bucephalus, and beyond a doubt Aristotle was seated on the top rail of the paddock when he threw the lariat.
Aristotle and his pupil had the first circus of which we know, and they also inaugurated the first Zoological Garden mentioned in history, barring Noah, of course.
So much was Alexander bound up in this menagerie, and in his old teacher as well, that in after-life, in all of his travels, he was continually sending back to Aristotle specimens of every sort of bird, beast and fish to be found in the countries through which he traveled.
When Philip was laid low by the assassin’s thrust, it was Aristotle who backed up Alexander, aged twenty–but a man–in his prompt suppression of the revolution. The will that had been used to subdue man-eating stallions and to train wild animals, now came in to repress riot, and the systematic classification of things was a preparation for the forming of an army out of a mob. Aristotle said, “An army is a huge animal with a million claws–it must have only one brain, and that the commander’s.”
Alexander gave credit again and again to Aristotle for those elements in his character that went to make up success: steadiness of purpose, self-reliance, systematic effort, mathematical calculation, attention to details, and a broad and generous policy that sees the end.
When Aristotle argued with Philip, years before, that horse-breaking should be included in the educational curriculum of all young men, he evidently divined football and was endeavoring to supplant it.
* * * * *
I think history has been a trifle severe on Alexander. He was elected Captain-General of Greece, and ordered to repel the Persian invasion. And he did the business once for all. War is not all fighting–Providence is on the side of the strongest commissariat. Alexander had to train, arm, clothe and feed a million men, and march them long miles across a desert country. The real foe of a man is in his own heart, and the foe of an army is in its own camp–disease takes more prisoners than the enemy. Fever sniped more of our boys in blue than did the hostile Filipinos.
Alexander’s losses were principally from men slain in battle; from this, I take it that Alexander knew a deal of sanitary science, and had a knowledge of practical mathematics, in order to systematize that mob of restless, turbulent helots. We hear of Aristotle cautioning him that safety lies in keeping his men busy–they must not have too much time to think, otherwise mutiny is to be feared. Still, they must not be over-worked, or they will be in no condition to fight when the eventful time occurs. And we are amazed to see this: “Do not let your men drink out of stagnant pools–Athenians, city-born, know no better. And when you carry water on the desert marches, it should be first boiled to prevent its getting sour.”
Concerning the Jews, Alexander writes to his teacher and says, “They are apt to be in sullen rebellion against their governors, receiving orders only from their high priests, and this leads to severe measures, which are construed as persecution”; all of which might have been written yesterday by the Czar in a message to The Hague Convention.
Alexander captured the East, and was taken captive by the East. Like the male bee that never lives to tell the tale of its wooing, he succeeded and died. Yet he vitalized all Asia with the seeds of Greek philosophy, turned back the hungry barbaric tide, and made a new map of the Eastern world. He built far more cities than he destroyed. He set Andrew Carnegie an example at Alexandria, such as the world had never up to that time seen. At the entrance to the harbor of the same city he erected a lighthouse, surpassing far the one at Minot’s Ledge, or Race Rock. This structure endured for two centuries, and when at last wind and weather had their way, there was no Hopkinson Smith who could erect another.
At Thebes, Alexander paid a compliment to letters, by destroying every building in the city except the house of the poet, Pindar. At Corinth, when the great, the wise, the noble, came to pay homage, one great man did not appear. In vain did Alexander look for his card among all those handed in at the door–Diogenes, the Philosopher, oft quoted by Aristotle, was not to be seen.
Alexander went out to hunt him up, and found him sunning himself, propped up against the wall in the Public Square, busy doing nothing.
The philosopher did not arise to greet the conqueror; he did not even offer a nod of recognition.
“I am Alexander–is there not something I can do for you?” modestly asked the descendant of Hercules.
“Just stand out from between me and the sun,” replied the philosopher, and went on with his meditations.
Alexander enjoyed the reply so much that he said to his companions, and afterward wrote to Aristotle, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes,” and thus did strenuosity pay its tribute to self-sufficiency.
* * * * *
Aristotle might have assumed important affairs of State, but practical politics were not to his liking. “What Aristotle is in the world of thought I will be in the world of action,” said Alexander.
On all of his journeys Alexander found time to keep in touch with his old teacher at home; and we find the ruler of Asia voicing that old request, “Send me something to read,” and again, “I live alone with my thoughts, amidst a throng of men, but without companions.”
Plutarch gives a copy of a letter sent by Alexander wherein Aristotle is chided for publishing his lecture on oratory. “Now all the world will know what formerly belonged to you and me alone,” plaintively cries the young man who sighed for more worlds to conquer, and therein shows he was the victim of a fallacy that will never die–the idea that truth can be embodied in a book. When will we ever learn that inspired books demand inspired readers!
There are no secrets. A book may stimulate thought, but it can never impart it.
Aristotle wrote out the Laws of Oratory. “Alas!” groans Alexander, “everybody will turn orator now.” But he was wrong, because Oratory and the Laws of Oratory are totally different things.
A Boston man of excellent parts has just recently given out the Sixteen Perfective Laws of Oratory, and the Nineteen Steps in Evolution.
The real truth is, there are Fifty-seven Varieties of Artistic Vagaries, and all are valuable to the man who evolves them–they serve him as a scaffolding whereby he builds thought. But woe betide Alexander and all rareripe Bostonians who mistake the scaffolding for the edifice.
There are no Laws of Art. A man evolves first, and builds his laws afterward. The style is the man, and a great man, full of the spirit, will express himself in his own way.
Bach ignored all the Laws of Harmony made before his day and set down new ones–and these marked his limitations, that was all. Beethoven upset all these, and Wagner succeeded by breaking most of Beethoven’s rules. And now comes Grieg, and writes harmonious discords that Wagner said were impossible, and still it is music, for by it we are transported on the wings of song and uplifted to the stars.
The individual soul striving for expression ignores all man-made laws. Truth is that which serves us best in expressing our lives. A rotting log is truth to a bed of violets, while sand is truth to a cactus. But when the violet writes a book on “Expression as I Have Found It,” making laws for the evolution of beautiful blossoms, it leaves the Century Plant out of its equation, or else swears, i’ faith, that a cactus is not a flower, and that a Night-Blooming Cereus is a disordered thought from a madman’s brain. And when the proud and lofty cactus writes a book it never mentions violets, because it has never stooped to seek them.
Art is the blossoming of the Soul.
We can not make the plant blossom–all we can do is to comply with the conditions of growth. We can supply the sunshine, moisture and aliment, and God does the rest. In teaching, he only is successful who supplies the conditions of growth–that is all there is of the Science of Pedagogics, which is not a science, and if it ever becomes one, it will be the Science of Letting Alone, and not a scheme of interference. Just so long as some of the greatest men are those who have broken through pedagogic fancy and escaped, succeeding by breaking every rule of pedagogy, as Wagner discarded every Law of Harmony, there will be no such thing as a Science of Education.
Recently I read Aristotle’s Essays on Rhetoric and Oratory, and I was pained to see how I had been plagiarized by this man who wrote three hundred years before Christ. Aristotle used charts in teaching and indicated the mean by a straight horizontal line, and the extreme by an upright dash. He says: “From one extreme the mean looks extreme, and from another extreme the mean looks small–it all depends upon your point of view. Beware of jumping to conclusions, for beside the appearance you must look within and see from what vantage-ground you gain the conclusions. All truth is relative, and none can be final to a man six feet high, who stands on the ground, who can walk but forty miles at a stretch, who needs four meals a day and one-third of his time for sleep. A loss of sleep, or loss of a meal, or a meal too much, will disarrange his point of view, and change his opinions,” And thus do we see that a belief in “eternal punishment” is a mere matter of indigestion.
A certain bishop, we have seen, experienced a regret that Darwin expended so much time on earthworms; and we might also express regret that Aristotle did not spend more. As long as he confined himself to earth, he was eminently sure and right: he was really the first man who ever used his eyes. But when he quit the earth, and began to speculate about the condition of souls before they are clothed with bodies, or what becomes of them after they discard the body, or the nature of God, he shows that he knew no more than we. That is to say, he knew no more than the barbarians who preceded him.
He attempted to grasp ideas which Herbert Spencer pigeonholes forever as the Unknowable; and in some of his endeavors to make plain the unknowable, Aristotle strains language to the breaking-point–the net bursts and all of his fish go free. Here is an Aristotelian proposition, expressed by Hegel to make lucid a thing nobody comprehends: “Essential being as being that meditates with itself, with itself by the negativity of itself, is relative to itself only as it is relative to another; that is, immediate only as something posited and meditated.” It gives one a slight shock to hear him speak of headache being caused by wind on the brain, or powdered grasshopper-wings being a cure for gout, but when he calls the heart a pump that forces the blood to the extremities, we see that he anticipates Harvey, although more than two thousand years of night lie between them.
Some of Aristotle reads about like this Geometrical Domestic Equation:
All boarding-houses are the same boarding-houses.
Boarders in the same boarding-house, and on the same flat, are equal to one another.
A single room is that which hath no parts and no magnitude.
The landlady of the boarding-house is a parallelogram–that is, an oblong figure that can not be described, and is equal to anything.
A wrangle is the disinclination to each other of two boarders that meet together, but are not on the same floor.
All the other rooms being taken, a single room is a double room.
Postulates and Propositions:
A pie may be produced any number of times.
The landlady may be reduced to her lowest terms by a series of propositions.
A bee-line is the shortest distance between the Phalanstery and By Allen’s.
The clothes of a boarding-house bed stretched both ways will not meet.
Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than one meal at the Phalanstery.
On the same bill and on the same side of it there should not be two charges for the same thing.
If there be two boarders on the same floor, and the amount of the side of the one be equal to the amount of the side of the other, and the wrangle between the one boarder and the landlady be equal to the wrangle between the landlady and the other boarder, then shall the weekly bills of the two boarders be equal. For, if not, let one bill be the greater, then the other bill is less than it might have been, which is absurd. Therefore the bills are equal.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
* * * * *
The business of the old philosophers was to philosophize. To philosophize as a business is to miss the highest philosophy. To do a certain amount of useful work every day, and not trouble about either the past or the future, is the highest wisdom. The man who drags the past behind him, and dives into the future, spreads the present out thin. Therein lies the bane of most religions. A man goes out into the woods to study the birds: he walks and walks and walks and sees no birds. But just let him sit down on a log and wait, and lo! the branches are full of song.
Those who pursue Culture never catch up with her. Culture takes alarm at pursuit and avoids the stealthy pounce. Culture is a woman, and a certain amount of indifference wins her. Ardent wooing will not secure either wisdom or a woman–except in the case where a woman marries a man to get rid of him, and then he really does not get the woman–he only secures her husk. And the husks of culture are pedantry and sciolism. The highest philosophy of the future will consist in doing each day that which is most useful. Talking about it will be quite incidental and secondary.
* * * * *
After Alexander had completed his little task of conquering the world, it was his intention to sit down and improve his mind. He was going back to Greece to complete the work Pericles had so well begun. To this end Aristotle had left Macedonia and established his Peripatetic School at Athens. Plato was exclusive, and taught in the Garden with its high walls. Aristotle taught in the “peripatos,” or porch of the Lyceum, and his classes were for all who wished to attend. Socrates was really the first peripatetic philosopher, but he was a roustabout. Nothing sanctifies like death–and now Socrates had become respectable, and his methods were to be made legal and legitimate.
Socrates discovered the principle of human liberty; he taught the rights of the individual, and as these threatened to interfere with the State, the politicians got alarmed and put him to death. Plato, much more cautious, wrote his “Republic,” wherein everything is subordinated for the good of the State, and the individual is but a cog in a most perfectly lubricated machine. Aristotle saw that Socrates was nearer right than Plato–sin is the expression of individuality and is not wholly bad–the State is made up of individuals, and if you suppress the thinking-power of the individual, you will get a weak and effeminate body politic; there will be none to govern. The whole fabric will break down of its own weight. A man must have the privilege of making a fool of himself–within proper bounds, of course. To that end learning must be for all, and liberty both to listen and to teach should be the privilege of every man.
This is a problem that Boston has before it today: Shall free speech be allowed on the Common? William Morris tried it in Trafalgar Square, to his sorrow; but in Hyde Park, if you think you have a message, London will let you give it. But this is not considered good form, and the “Best Society” listen to no speeches in the park. However, there are signs that Aristotle’s outdoor school may come back. Phillips Brooks tried outdoor preaching, and if his health had not failed, he might have popularized it. It only wants a man who is big enough to inaugurate it.
Aristotle had various helpers, and arranged to give his lectures and conferences daily in certain porches or promenades. These lectures covered the whole range of human thought–logic, rhetoric, oratory, physics, ethics, politics, esthetics, and physical culture. These outdoor talks were called exoteric, and there gradually grew up esoteric lessons, which were for the rich or luxurious and the dainty. And there being money in the esoteric lessons, these gradually took the place of the exoteric, and so we get the genesis of our modern private school or college, where we send our children to be taught great things by great men, for a consideration.
Will the exoteric, peripatetic school come back?
I think so.
I believe that university education will soon be free to every boy and girl in America, and this without going far from home. Esoteric education is always more or less of a sham. Our public-school system is purely exoteric, only we stop too soon. We also give our teachers too much work and too little pay. Stop building warships, and use the money to double the teachers’ salaries, making the profession respectable, raise the standard of efficiency, and the free university with the old Greek Lyceum will be here.
America must do this–the Old World can’t. We have the money, and we have the men and the women; all that is needed is the desire, and this is fast awakening.
* * * * *
When Alexander died, of acute success, aged thirty-two, Aristotle’s sustaining prop was gone. The Athenians never thought much of the Macedonians–not much more than Saint Paul did, he having tried to convert both and failed.
Athens was jealous of the power of Alexander: that a provincial should thus rule the Mother-Country was unforgivable. It was as if a Canadian should make himself King of England!
Everybody knew that Aristotle had been the tutor of Alexander, and that they were close friends. And that a Macedonian should be the chief school-teacher in Athens was an affront. The very greatness of the man was his offense: Athens had none to match him, and the world has never since matched him, either. How to get rid of the Macedonian philosopher was the question.
And so our old friend, heresy, comes in again. A poem was found, written by Aristotle many years before, on the death of his friend, King Hermias, wherein Apollo was disrespectfully mentioned. It was the old charge against Socrates come back–the hemlock was brewing. But life was sweet to Aristotle; he chose discretion to valor, and fled to his country home at Chalcis in Euboea.
The humiliation of being driven from his work, and the sudden change from active life to exile, undermined his strength, and he died in a year, aged sixty-two.
In morals the world has added nothing new to the philosophy of Aristotle: gentleness, consideration, moderation, mutual helpfulness, and the principle that one man’s privileges end where another man’s rights begin–these make up the sum. And on them, all authorities agree, and have for twenty-five hundred years.
The family relations of Aristotle were most exemplary. The unseemly wrangles of Philip and his wife were never repeated in the home of Aristotle. Yet we will have to offer this fact in the interests of stirpiculture: the inconstant Philip and the termagant Olympias brought into the world Alexander; whereas the sons of Aristotle lived their day and died, without making a ripple on the surface of history.
As in the scientific study of the horse, no progress was made from the time of Aristotle to that of Leonardo, so Hegel says there was no advancement in philosophy from the time of Aristotle to that of Spinoza.
Eusebius called Aristotle “Nature’s Private Secretary.”
Dante spoke of him as the “Master of those who know.”
Sir William Hamilton said, “In the range of his powers and perceptions, only Leonardo can be compared with him.”