Philip ll was the legendary king of Macedon, a kingdom to the north of the ancient Greek city-states. He was a great warrior, a military genius and a great conqueror.
He had almost united a lot of Greek cities under his rule defeating states like Athens and Thebes. But in spite of this, the Greek states considered him no less than a Macedonian barbarian which he resented.
Aristotle was born around the year of 384 BC, in Stagira, Chalcidice, near modern day Thessaloniki. He was born to a man called Nicomachus, who was the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon.
Since the age of eighteen, Aristotle studied under Plato for about twenty years, after which he left Athens, possibly due to some political reasons. He then travelled to Asia Minor.
Aristotle comes to Macedonia
Around the year 343 BC, after the death of his wife, King Philip II of Macedon invited him to tutor his son Alexander, an invitation he accepted to great consequences. After accepting the invitation Aristotle was appointed the head of the academy of Macedon, where he tutored along with Alexander, two other future Kings, Ptolemy and Cassander.
He taught Alexander and his companions at the temple of Nymphs near Naoussa. During this time he also composed most of his universally famous theories on many subjects like Literature, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Zoology, Botany and more. Aristotle’s works in a variety of fields have been such that today they form a virtual encyclopaedia of the Greeks.
Alexander and Aristotle relationship
How did Aristotle influence Alexander
Aristotle’s teachings had a very profound effect on Alexander.He developed a taste for Greek literature like Homer under Aristotle. We can identify Aristotle’s influence on Alexander throughout his life.
His influence can be seen through his conquests all over the world as Aristotle was always pro-war as he considered it as an opportunity to achieve greatness and show the entire world one’s excellence. Aristotle is considered as a master of diplomacy and politics and Alexander’s skillful handling of political and diplomatic problems throughout his career clearly shows his influence. Even his great reading habits can be attributed to Aristotle and he even carried an annotated copy of Aristotle’s books throughout his campaign around the world.
The Greek value of virtue can be clearly seen in Alexander as he refused a night attack on the forces of Darius in the battle of Guagemala even when they were greatly outnumbered and logically a surprise attack was the only Avenue for a win, but he considered it as unvirtuous.
Greek heroic literature had left a great impact on Alexander considering martial success as the way to achieve greatness which encouraged him to build the largest ever Empire.
Alexander was a patron of art and paintings all through his life and this another character which Aristotle might have left on the child Alexander as his teacher.
He considered the Persians, or rather any non-Hellenic people to be nothing more than barbarians, who had to be ‘civilised’. Aristotle, it seems, also believed firmly that slavery is not wrong, and is meant for barbarians and uncouth people; this he said in reference to the Persians and Iranians especially.
He also stated that Greeks were a superior race and were to be treated with respect and friendship, whereas the rest were to be treated like beasts.
Aristotle’s opinion towards the non- Greeks was like this because he thought anyone who lived only through their senses, or could not rise above hedonism, was not worthy of being called civilised. He believed that Persians were hedonists and thus of low virtue and not to be respected.
All these aspects of his mentor, had a great impact on the thinking of Alexander, and shaped his future to a very large extant. His father had given him the best mentor he could find for his son, and asked Alexander to rise above his father’s mistakes.
Even at a young age Alexander scorned his father for having more than one wife and then having children by them. His scorn did not result from a moral consciousness or a sense of right or wrong, but because he knew it would cause political trouble after his father’s death.
Alexander was a quick learner who seeped in whatever his mentor had to offer him, and then encouraged by the same person to conquer Persia, he set out on that journey. Alexander was already anti-Persian, and Aristotle’s beliefs fuelled his desires even more.
One can see by the fact that Alexander obtained so many slaves; he was a believer of Aristotle’s way of life and thinking. Not only this, but Alexander’s attitude towards sex was very guarded and cautious, so much that it is said that his mother Olympias was worried he might not have children.]
Conspiracy by Aristotle against Alexander
The relationship of Alexander and Aristotle, perhaps the most famous mentor-tutor relationship, sadly did not end on a happy note. Nearing his death, Alexander had doubts that Aristotle was planning to assassinate him, and thus threatened him in his letters.
Even after his pro-war stance he was staunchly against tyranny and Alexandra’s divinity was not taken well by him. There are theories about him poisoning Alexander although they are up for debate.
Aristotle openly made contempt of Alexander’s pretence of divinity, further souring the relations between them. Even today, some people, though few, believe that it was Aristotle who killed Alexander.
In the end, this relationship actually brought him to his decline. He was accused of being a Macedonian sympathizer and sentenced to death but he managed to flee Athens to the city of Chalcis and then died on Euboea.