Aristotle was born in Stagira, the son of the physician to the king of Macedon. He was, for a while, tutor to Alexander the Great. This connection and the strong anti-Macedonian feeling in Athens saw him indicted for impiety following Alexander's death. Recalling the fate of Socrates, he left Athens to prevent the Athenians from "sinning a second time against philosophy". He died in Chalcis a year later at age 62.
Alexander was said to have sent his former tutor specimens of rare organisms from the various places that he campaigned in. It is possible that Aristotle instilled in his former pupil a shared fascination for all aspects of nature. However, the relationship between Alexander and Hellenistic science has no doubt became idealised over time. Here, in this medieval illumination, Alexander is seen in a glass diving bell exploring the bed of the ocean.
FROM STUDENT TO RIVAL
Aristotle's attendance at Plato's Academy as a student was undoubtedly the most significant factor in his becoming a major figure in the world of philosophy. He was Plato's student, but not his disciple. Plato was in Sicily when Aristotle first arrived at the Academy, but his Macedonian background would have precluded his participation in the inner circle no matter what his talent. He was less vulnerable to the master's personal spell than others. Yet, even at the Academy, he graduated from student to teacher. He eventually established his own school, the Lyceum, which rivalled the Academy just as his philosophy came to rival that of its late founder. He saw the same issues as important, but looked at them from a different perspective. Plato is said to have compared him to a colt who kicks the dam who gave him birth.