Aristotle in Art

In the year 2016 marks 2400 birth anniversary of the great Greek thinker Aristotle. The 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference held in Paris, was declared Jubilee year 2016 year of Aristotle. Let’s join the celebration of the life of this outstanding philosopher today!

Aristotle was a popular personage in various art works since the Middle Ages. One of the most popular subjects was the story of Phyllis and Aristotle. It says that while Aristotle was tutoring a young Alexander the Great, the philosopher instructed the young prince to avoid the charms that beautiful woman can cast upon men. Alexander, an impressionable young man, might be lead astray by his wife and impeded from seeking the general good. Hearing this, Phyllis, who was either a wife or preferred courtesan of Alexander, set about to entice the old philosopher to fall in love with her. She regularly attempted to seduce Aristotle and finally succeeded. When he started soliciting her, the woman said, “This I will certainly not do, unless I see a sign of love, lest you be testing me. Therefore, come to my chamber crawling on hand and foot, in order to carry me like a horse. Then I’ll know that you aren’t deluding me.”

Aristotle agree with this condition. She framed everything up, so Alexander saw this improper scene. The young prince was so angry that he initially wished to kill Aristotle for his transgressions. The philosopher excused himself by saying that he had been right all along. If a wise philosopher like himself could be tricked by a woman, the same could certainly happen to an impressionable young man like Alexander.

And here’s the samples of Aristotle’s portraits from various epochs.

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