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PAGE 2

Aristotle
by [?]

Then there were deer–you could see their tracks any time around the mountain marshes where the springs gushed forth and the watercress grew lush. Still higher up the mountains, beyond where bears ever traveled, there were mountain-sheep, and still higher up were goats. The goats were so wild that hardly any one but Aristo had ever seen them, but he knew they were there.

The King was delighted to have such a lad as companion for his son, and insisted that he should go back to the capital with them and become a member of the Court.

Not he–there were other ambitions. He wanted to go to Athens and study at the school of Plato–Plato, the pupil of the great Socrates.

The King laughed–he had never heard of Plato. That a youth should refuse to become part of the Macedonian Court, preferring the company of an unknown school-master, was amusing–he laughed.

The next year when the King came back to Stagira, Aristo was still there. “And you haven’t gone to Athens yet?” said the King.

“No, but I am going,” was the firm reply.

“We will send him,” said the King to Proxenus, Aristo’s guardian.

And so we find Aristo, aged seventeen, tall and straight and bronzed, starting off for Athens, his worldly goods rolled up in a bearskin, tied about with thongs. There is a legend to the effect that Philip went with Aristo, and that for a time they were together at Plato’s school. But, anyway, Philip did not remain long. Aristo–or Aristotle, we had better call him–remained with Plato just twenty years.

At Plato’s school Aristotle was called by the boys, “the Stagirite,” a name that was to last him through life–and longer. In Winter he wore his bearskin, caught over one shoulder, for a robe, and his mountain grace and native beauty of mind and body must have been a joy to Plato from the first. Such a youth could not be overlooked.

To him that hath shall be given. The pupil that wants to learn is the teacher’s favorite–which is just as it should not be. Plato proved his humanity by giving his all to the young mountaineer. Plato was then a little over sixty years of age–about the same age that Socrates was when Plato became his pupil. But the years had touched Plato lightly–unlike Socrates, he had endured no Thracian winters in bare feet, neither had he lived on cold snacks picked up here and there, as Providence provided. Plato was a bachelor. He still wore the purple robe, proud, dignified, yet gentle, and his back was straight as that of a youth. Lowell once said, “When I hear Plato’s name mentioned, I always think of George William Curtis–a combination of pride and intellect, a man’s strength fused with a woman’s gentleness.”

Plato was an aristocrat. He accepted only such pupils as he invited, or those that were sent by royalty. Like Franz Liszt, he charged no tuition, which plan, by the way, is a good scheme for getting more money than could otherwise be obtained, although no such selfish charge should be brought against either Plato or Liszt. Yet every benefit must be paid for, and whether you use the word fee or honorarium, matters little. I hear there be lecturers who accept invitations to banquets and accept an honorarium mysteriously placed on the mantel, when they would scorn a fee.

Plato’s Garden School, where the pupils reclined under the trees on marble benches, and read and talked, or listened to lectures by the Master, was almost an ideal place. Not the ideal for us, because we believe that the mental and the manual must go hand in hand. The world of intellect should not be separated from the world of work. It was too much to expect that in a time when slavery was everywhere, Plato would see the fallacy of having one set of men to do the thinking, and another do the work. We haven’t got far from that yet; only free men can see the whole truth, and a free man is one who lives in a country where there are no slaves. To own slaves is to be one, and to live in a land of slavery is to share in the bondage–a partaker in the infamy and the profits.