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Aristotle: His Life and School

Carlo Natali
Publisher: 
Princeton University Press
Publication Date: 
2013
Number of Pages: 
219
Format: 
Hardcover
Price: 
29.95
ISBN: 
9780691096537
Category: 
General
[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
, on
10/23/2013
]

This book is a detailed account of Aristotle, the society that he lived in, the politics of Greece in his time, his relationships with Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great and the school that bore his name. It is heavily referenced and is written in a scholarly manner. The style is that quotations from existing ancient textual works are expressed in bold and are embedded within the text developed by the author. The book is clearly a definitive work on the life of Aristotle within the context of his historical environment.

As I read the book I was saddened by the many times there was a statement of the form, “unfortunately, that work no longer exists.” There are many holes in the record, and at those points Natali does the best he can to fill in the details and when the evidence dictates, states a logical conclusion. In other cases he simply says something of the form, “there is scholarly disagreement on this issue” and points the reader in the proper directions.

This is not a book about the works and thought of Aristotle, the man that established so much of modern logic and philosophy. It is about his life and the world that he had to survive in. For that reason historians will also find it interesting. Even the greatest of minds are partially shaped by the social and political world they live in and Aristotle is no exception. 


Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

Preface (2013) - p. vii
Introduction (1990) - p. 1

Chapter One - The Biography of Aristotle: Facts, Hypotheses, Conjectures - p. 5

  • 1. Many Facts, Not All of Equal Interest - p. 5
  • 2. Stagira - p. 6
  • 3. A Family of Notables - p. 8
  • 4. A Provincial Pupil - p. 17
  • 5. A Sudden Interruption - p. 31
  • 6. At the Courts of Princes and Kings - p. 32
  • 6.1. Atarneus - p. 32
  • 6.2. Macedonia - p. 42
  • 7. The Adventure of Callisthenes - p. 52
  • 8. Athens Revisited - p. 55
  • 9. Trial and Flight - p. 60
  • 10. From Traditional Customs, a New Model - p. 64

Chapter Two - Institutional Aspects of the School of Aristotle - p. 72

  • 1. The Three Conditions of the Theoretical Life in Aristotle - p. 72
  • 2. The Organization of Theoria: The Nature and Organization of the Philosophical Schools - p. 77
  • 3. The Organization of Theoria: Philosophical Schools and Permanent Institutions - p. 83
  • 4. Subsequent Events - p. 90

Chapter Three - Internal Organization of the School of Aristotle - p. 96

  • 1. The Collections of Books - p. 96
  • 2. Methods of Gathering and Interpreting Information - p. 104
  • 3. Teaching Supports and Instruments of Research - p. 113
  • 4. Teaching While Strolling - p. 117

Chapter Four - Studies of Aristotle's Biography from Zeller to the Present Day - p. 120

  • 1. Sources of Aristotle's Biography - p. 120
  • 1.1. Texts of Aristotle - p. 120
  • 1.2. Official Documents - p. 124
  • 1.3. Ancient Biographies of Aristotle - p. 125
  • 1.4. The Testimonia of Ancient Authors - p. 130
  • 2. Images of Aristotle from the Nineteenth Century to the Present - p. 135

Postscript (2012) - p. 145
Notes to: ch. 1 - p. 153; ch. 2 - p. 170; ch. 3 - p. 175; ch. 4 - p. 177
Index of Sources - p. 181
i) epigraphy - p. 181; ii) papyri - p. 181; iii) ancient authors -p. 181; iv) ancient biographies of Aristotle - p. 193; v) modern collections of evidence - p. 194
Bibliographical Index - p. 196
Index of Persons and Places - p. 211

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED