Lyceum

Aristotle

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Delphi walked around the edge of the gymnasium, waiting for her father to come out.  Of course, she wasn’t allowed to go in, not that she wanted to.  She didn’t really understand what was so good about it.  She’d asked questions about the place of course.


Delphi asked a lot of questions, most often to her dad.  One of her favourite ones was: why doesn’t everyone else ask a lot of questions?


Delphi looked around at the trees, and the birds, and the road, and the sky.  There was so much that was mysterious about the world.  Why do birds go quiet in the winter?  How many legs has a cockroach got?  Why do tortoises have a shell?  What are the grey-reddish rocks called?  Are they the same as the white rocks?  Why are there rocks?  Why won’t you answer my questions about rocks?  Why are you ignoring me?


Yes, there were a lot of questions about the world and, if her dad was anything to go by, surprisingly few answers.


If you got an answer at all to these questions, it would usually be one of two responses.  Firstly, there would be a long and complicated answers involving the gods, heroes and other things which certainly explained some things, and sometimes made a good story, but didn’t really answer your question.  Or, you’d be told to shut up.


This all seemed very unsatisfactory to Delphi.  Apparently, some people – some of the philosophers – did have some answers to this kind of thing, but they were answers like ‘everything is fire’ or ‘everything changes’, and didn’t really help at all.


Someone needed to sort it all out, thought Delphi.  But they probably won’t.  The men were all too busy exercising naked in the gymnasium.  Weirdos.

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Lyceum: Fact box

  • The school at the Lyceum was founded by a philosopher called Aristotle.  He had been taught by Plato at his Academy and is said to be the third great ancient Greek philosopher, along with Plato and Socrates.

 

  • The Lyceum was surrounded by parks where the philosophers would walk and discuss ideas.  In fact, the philosophers walked so much that it became an essential part of philosophy for Aristotle’s school.  The next time you have a good discussion while taking a walk, you can think that Aristotle was doing the same thing two thousand years ago!

 

  • Aristotle was alive much later than Socrates, and so for Delphi, the Lyceum was just a gymnasium – a Greek word literally meaning a place where you exercise naked!  The Greeks believed having a healthy body was a sign of having a complete personality – that if you had a healthy body then you had a healthy mind and soul.  Favourite sports included boxing and wrestling, so it’s not hard to imagine why women weren’t allowed in!

Aristotle

  • Aristotle wasn’t from Athens – he was born in Stagira in Northern Greece and came to Athens to study at Plato’s Academy.

 

  • Aristotle developed a different approach to philosophy than Plato, and he was interested in a huge range of subjects including science, mathematics and politics.  It was Aristotle who defined many ‘subjects’ that we still use today – such as physics, biology and geology.  Aristotle was interested in everything, and he influenced science and philosophy for the next two thousand years across the world.

 

  • He also had ideas about how to live a good life, like Socrates did.  However he thought the important thing was to develop ‘virtues’, positive aspects of yourself that shouldn’t dominate your personality too far one way or the other.  He also wrote about friendships and how to be happy.

 

  • He was also said to be the teacher of Alexander the Great – the great general who conquered most of the known world.  This took Greek culture and philosophy across the world, and Aristotle’s philosophy with it.  This meant that Aristotle’s ideas became very important in Islamic and Christian thought over the next thousand years.

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