Today we associate Aristotle with the golden age of Athenian philosophy, in one of the great cultural successions (Socrates taught Plato taught Aristotle, like Haydn taught Mozart taught Beethoven). But Aristotle was actually born in Thrace, in the little village of Stageira, on a hillside overlooking the sea. Thrace was defeated by Macedon in Aristotle's lifetime and Stageira was razed at the end of his time at Plato's Academy. The village was rebuilt years later, supposedly as a gift from Philip to Aristotle for the years he spent tutoring Philip's son, Alexander.
The Athenians never considered Aristotle one of their own. Though he spent the last twelve years of his life living and teaching in Athens, he was forced to leave the city after Alexander's death, when Athenian sentiment turned against anyone associated with Macedon. Aristotle is supposed to have said he didn't want "the Athenians to sin twice against philosophy", a reference to Socrates' execution.
Here's a 30-second clip of the ruins of Stageira:
Saturday, April 11, 2009
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