Imagine the Awkward Conference Panels: Plato and Aristotle, Frenemies

Aelian, Varia Historia 3.19

“It is reported that the first difference between Plato and Aristotle developed for the following reasons. Plato was displeased with Aristotle’s life, and in the clothing he selected. See, Aristotle dressed in well-made clothes and shoes; he also had his haircut in a manner disliked by Plato; he also took pride in wearing many rings. His face, moreover, bore a certain aspect of derision; and within this face, an untimely talkativeness brought his character into question too. All these characteristics are obviously foreign to a philosopher. When Plato saw them, he was repelled by the man and preferred Xenocrates, Speusippos, Amykles, and others. These men received his respect and regular conversation.

When Xenocrates was out of town to visit his home, Aristotle set upon Plato and made a chorus of his companions around him with Mnason of Phocis and other similar men. Speusippus was ill and was incapable of walking with Plato who was already eighty years old. Thanks to his age, he had lost some parts of his memory. Aristotle plotted against him and set upon him: he questioned him rather aggressively and in the manner of refutation, which was clearly unjust and unsympathetic. Because of this, Plato stopped going for his walk outside; he walked inside with his friends.”

Λέγεται τὴν διαφορὰν ᾿Αριστοτέλους πρὸς Πλάτωνα τὴν πρώτην ἐκ τούτων γενέσθαι. οὐκ ἠρέσκετο τῷ βίῳ αὐτοῦ ὁ Πλάτων οὐδὲ τῇ κατασκευῇ τῇ περὶ τὸ σῶμα. καὶ γὰρ ἐσθῆτι ἐχρῆτο περιέργῳ ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης καὶ ὑποδέσει, καὶ κουρὰν δὲ ἐκείρετο καὶ ταύτην ἀήθη Πλάτωνι, καὶ δακτυλίους δὲ πολλοὺς φορῶν ἐκαλλύνετο ἐπὶ τούτῳ· καὶ μωκία δέ τις ἦν αὐτοῦ περὶ τὸ πρόσωπον, καὶ ἄκαιρος στωμυλία λαλοῦντος κατηγόρει καὶ αὕτη τὸν τρόπον αὐτοῦ. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ὡς ἔστιν ἀλλότρια φιλοσόφου, δῆλον. ἅπερ οὖν ὁρῶν ὁ Πλάτων οὐ προσίετο τὸν ἄνδρα, προετίμα δὲ αὐτοῦ Ξενοκράτην καὶ Σπεύσιππον καὶ ᾿Αμύκλαν καὶ ἄλλους, τῇ τε λοιπῇ δεξιούμενος αὐτοὺς τιμῇ καὶ οὖν καὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ τῶν λόγων.

ἀποδημίας δὲ γενομένης ποτὲ τῷ Ξενοκράτει ἐς τὴν πατρίδα, ἐπέθετο τῷ Πλάτωνι ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης, χορόν τινα τῶν ὁμιλητῶν τῶν ἑαυτοῦ περιστησάμενος, ὧν ἦν Μνάσων τε ὁ Φωκεὺς καὶ ἄλλοι τοιοῦτοι. ἐνόσει δὲ τότε ὁ Σπεύσιππος, καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ἀδύνατος ἦν συμβαδίζειν τῷ Πλάτωνι. ὁ δὲ Πλάτων ὀγδοήκοντα ἔτη ἐγεγόνει, καὶ ὁμοῦ τι διὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν ἐπελελοίπει τὰ τῆς μνήμης αὐτόν. ἐπιθέμενος οὖν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐπιβουλεύων ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης, καὶ φιλοτίμως πάνυ τὰς ἐρωτήσεις ποιούμενος καὶ τρόπον τινὰ καὶ ἐλεγκτικῶς, ἀδικῶν ἅμα καὶ ἀγνωμονῶν ἦν δῆλος· καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ἀποστὰς ὁ Πλάτων τοῦ ἔξω περιπάτου, ἔνδον ἐβάδιζε σὺν τοῖς ἑταίροις.

Aelian, Varia Historia 4.9

“Plato used to call Aristotle Pôlos [the Foal]. What did he wish with that name? Everyone knows that a foal, when it has had its fill of baby’s milk, kicks its mother. Thus Plato was signaling a certain ingratitude on Aristotle’ part. Indeed, Aristotle received the greatest seeds of Philosophy from Plato and then, though he was filled to the brim with the best ideas, he broke with Plato rebelliously. He founded his own house, took his friends on Plato’s walk, and set himself up to be Plato’s rival.”

῾Ο Πλάτων τὸν ᾿Αριστοτέλη ἐκάλει Πῶλον. τί δὲ ἐβούλετο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα ἐκεῖνο; δηλονότι ὡμολόγηται τὸν πῶλον, ὅταν κορεσθῇ τοῦ μητρῴου γάλακτος, λακτίζειν τὴν μητέρα. ᾐνίττετο οὖν καὶ ὁ Πλάτων ἀχαριστίαν τινὰ τοῦ ᾿Αριστοτέλους. καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος μέγιστα ἐς φιλοσοφίαν παρὰ Πλάτωνος λαβὼν σπέρματα καὶ ἐφόδια, εἶτα ὑποπλησθεὶς τῶν ἀρίστων καὶ ἀφηνιάσας, ἀντῳκοδόμησεν αὐτῷ διατριβὴν καὶ ἀντιπαρεξήγαγεν ἐν τῷ περιπάτῳ ἑταίρους ἔχων καὶ ὁμιλητάς, καὶ ἐγλίχετο ἀντίπαλος εἶναι Πλάτωνι.

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Crazy Love: Aelian on Strange Affairs

Varia Historia 9.39

 

“How could someone deny that the following types of love affairs are ridiculous and incredible? They say that Xerxes fell in love with a plane tree. An Athenian youth from a noble family was in love with a statue of Good fortune that stood near the Prytany. He used to show his affection by putting embracing the statue and then, out of mind and struck by desire, he went to the council-chamber and pleaded that he was prepared to spend however much money was needed to buy the statue. When he could not persuade them, he decorated the statue with crowns and garlands and he made a sacrifice, wrapped even more decoration around it, and then ended his own life after weeping endlessly. Some men say that a dog loved Glaukê the Kithara-player; others say it was a ram or a goose. Among the Soloi in Kilikia, a dog was loved by a boy named Xenophon; and at Sparta, a crow fell in love with a good-looking boy.”

Πῶς δὲ οὐκ ἂν φαίη τις γελοίους ἅμα καὶ παραδόξους τούσδε τοὺς ἔρωτας; τὸν μὲν Ξέρξου, ὅτι πλατάνου ἠράσθη. νεανίσκος δὲ ᾿Αθήνησι τῶν εὖ γεγονότων πρὸς τῷ πρυτανείῳ ἀνδριάντος ἑστῶτος τῆς ᾿Αγαθῆς Τύχης θερμότατα ἠράσθη. κατεφίλει γοῦν τὸν ἀνδριάντα περιβάλλων, εἶτα ἐκμανεὶς καὶ οἰστρηθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ πόθου, παρελθὼν ἐς τὴν βουλὴν καὶ λιτανεύσας ἕτοιμος ἦν πλείστων χρημάτων τὸ ἄγαλμα πρίασθαι. ἐπεὶ δὲ οὐκ ἔπειθεν, ἀναδήσας πολλαῖς ταινίαις καὶ στεφανώσας τὸ ἄγαλμα καὶ θύσας καὶ κόσμον αὐτῷ περιβαλὼν πολυτελῆ εἶτα ἑαυτὸν ἀπέκτεινε, μυρία προκλαύσας. Γλαύκης δὲ τῆς κιθαρῳδοῦ οἳ μέν φασιν ἐρασθῆναι κύνα, οἳ δὲ κριόν, οἳ δὲ χῆνα. καὶ ἐν Σόλοις δὲ τῆς Κιλικίας παιδὸς Ξενοφῶντος ἠράσθη κύων, ἄλλου δὲ ὡραίου μειρακίου ἐν Σπάρτῃ κολοιός.

 

Imagine the Awkward Conference Panels: Plato and Aristotle, Frenemies

 

Aelian, Varia Historia 3.19

“It is reported that the first difference between Plato and Aristotle developed for the following reasons. Plato was displeased with Aristotle’s life, and in the clothing he selected. See, Aristotle dressed in well-made clothes and shoes; he also had his haircut in a manner disliked by Plato; he also took pride in wearing many rings. His face, moreover, bore a certain aspect of derision; and within this face, an untimely talkativeness brought his character into question too. All these characteristics are obviously foreign to a philosopher. When Plato saw them, he was repelled by the man and preferred Xenocrates, Speusippos, Amykles, and others. These men received his respect and regular conversation.

When Xenocrates was out of town to visit his home, Aristotle set upon Plato and made a chorus of his companions around him with Mnason of Phocis and other similar men. Speusippus was ill and was incapable of walking with Plato who was already eighty years old. Thanks to his age, he had lost some parts of his memory. Aristotle plotted against him and set upon him: he questioned him rather aggressively and in the manner of refutation, which was clearly unjust and unsympathetic. Because of this, Plato stopped going for his walk outside; he walked inside with his friends.”

Λέγεται τὴν διαφορὰν ᾿Αριστοτέλους πρὸς Πλάτωνα τὴν πρώτην ἐκ τούτων γενέσθαι. οὐκ ἠρέσκετο τῷ βίῳ αὐτοῦ ὁ Πλάτων οὐδὲ τῇ κατασκευῇ τῇ περὶ τὸ σῶμα. καὶ γὰρ ἐσθῆτι ἐχρῆτο περιέργῳ ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης καὶ ὑποδέσει, καὶ κουρὰν δὲ ἐκείρετο καὶ ταύτην ἀήθη Πλάτωνι, καὶ δακτυλίους δὲ πολλοὺς φορῶν ἐκαλλύνετο ἐπὶ τούτῳ· καὶ μωκία δέ τις ἦν αὐτοῦ περὶ τὸ πρόσωπον, καὶ ἄκαιρος στωμυλία λαλοῦντος κατηγόρει καὶ αὕτη τὸν τρόπον αὐτοῦ. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ὡς ἔστιν ἀλλότρια φιλοσόφου, δῆλον. ἅπερ οὖν ὁρῶν ὁ Πλάτων οὐ προσίετο τὸν ἄνδρα, προετίμα δὲ αὐτοῦ Ξενοκράτην καὶ Σπεύσιππον καὶ ᾿Αμύκλαν καὶ ἄλλους, τῇ τε λοιπῇ δεξιούμενος αὐτοὺς τιμῇ καὶ οὖν καὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ τῶν λόγων.

ἀποδημίας δὲ γενομένης ποτὲ τῷ Ξενοκράτει ἐς τὴν πατρίδα, ἐπέθετο τῷ Πλάτωνι ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης, χορόν τινα τῶν ὁμιλητῶν τῶν ἑαυτοῦ περιστησάμενος, ὧν ἦν Μνάσων τε ὁ Φωκεὺς καὶ ἄλλοι τοιοῦτοι. ἐνόσει δὲ τότε ὁ Σπεύσιππος, καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ἀδύνατος ἦν συμβαδίζειν τῷ Πλάτωνι. ὁ δὲ Πλάτων ὀγδοήκοντα ἔτη ἐγεγόνει, καὶ ὁμοῦ τι διὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν ἐπελελοίπει τὰ τῆς μνήμης αὐτόν. ἐπιθέμενος οὖν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐπιβουλεύων ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης, καὶ φιλοτίμως πάνυ τὰς ἐρωτήσεις ποιούμενος καὶ τρόπον τινὰ καὶ ἐλεγκτικῶς, ἀδικῶν ἅμα καὶ ἀγνωμονῶν ἦν δῆλος· καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ἀποστὰς ὁ Πλάτων τοῦ ἔξω περιπάτου, ἔνδον ἐβάδιζε σὺν τοῖς ἑταίροις.

 

Aelian, Varia Historia 4.9

“Plato used to call Aristotle Pôlos [the Foal]. What did he wish with that name? Everyone knows that a foal, when it has had its fill of baby’s milk, kicks its mother. Thus Plato was signaling a certain ingratitude on Aristotle’ part. Indeed, Aristotle received the greatest seeds of Philosophy from Plato and then, though he was filled to the brim with the best ideas, he broke with Plato rebelliously. He founded his own house, took his friends on Plato’s walk, and set himself up to be Plato’s rival.”

῾Ο Πλάτων τὸν ᾿Αριστοτέλη ἐκάλει Πῶλον. τί δὲ ἐβούλετο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα ἐκεῖνο; δηλονότι ὡμολόγηται τὸν πῶλον, ὅταν κορεσθῇ τοῦ μητρῴου γάλακτος, λακτίζειν τὴν μητέρα. ᾐνίττετο οὖν καὶ ὁ Πλάτων ἀχαριστίαν τινὰ τοῦ ᾿Αριστοτέλους. καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος μέγιστα ἐς φιλοσοφίαν παρὰ Πλάτωνος λαβὼν σπέρματα καὶ ἐφόδια, εἶτα ὑποπλησθεὶς τῶν ἀρίστων καὶ ἀφηνιάσας, ἀντῳκοδόμησεν αὐτῷ διατριβὴν καὶ ἀντιπαρεξήγαγεν ἐν τῷ περιπάτῳ ἑταίρους ἔχων καὶ ὁμιλητάς, καὶ ἐγλίχετο ἀντίπαλος εἶναι Πλάτωνι.

Homer In India, Performance, and Sparta: Three Passages from Aelian

Aelian’s Varia Historia

12.48

“[Men say] that the Indians have translated the words of Homer into their own native language and they sing them; and they aren’t the only ones: the Persian kings do too, if we can trust those who write about these things.”

῞Οτι ᾿Ινδοὶ τῇ παρά σφισιν ἐπιχωρίῳ φωνῇ τὰ ῾Ομήρου μεταγράψαντες ᾄδουσιν οὐ μόνοι ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ Περσῶν βασιλεῖς, εἴ τι χρὴ πιστεύειν τοῖς ὑπὲρ τούτων ἱστοροῦσιν.

13.14

“The tradition is that the ancients used to sing Homeric epics in separate parts. For example, they sang the “Battle By the Ships”, the “Doloneia”, the “Aristeia of Agamemnon”, the “Catalogue of Ships,” the “Patrokleia” and the “Ransoming” or the “Contest for Patroklos” and the “Breaking of the Oaths”. These were from the Iliad. From the other poem they sang “Events at Pylos” and “Events at Sparta” “Calpyso’s Cave,” “The Raft Story”, “The Tales of Alkinoos” and “The Kyklopeia” and the “Nekyuia” or “Events with Kike”, “the Washing”, “The Murder of the Suitors,” “The Events in the Country”, “Laertes’ Tale”.

Rather late, Lyrkourgos the Spartan was the first to bring the poetry of Homer together into Greece; He brought them back with him from Ionia when he was living abroad. Later, Peisistratos collected them and had the Iliad and the Odyssey performed.”

῞Οτι τὰ ῾Ομήρου ἔπη πρότερον διῃρημένα ᾖδον οἱ παλαιοί. οἷον ἔλεγον Τὴν ἐπὶ ναυσὶ μάχην καὶ Δολώνειάν τινα καὶ ᾿Αριστείαν ᾿Αγαμέμνονος καὶ Νεῶν κατάλογον καὶ Πατρόκλειαν καὶ Λύτρα καὶ ᾿Επὶ Πατρόκλῳ ἆθλα καὶ ῾Ορκίων ἀφάνισιν. ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς ᾿Ιλιάδος. ὑπὲρ δὲ τῆς ἑτέρας Τὰ ἐν Πύλῳ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λακεδαίμονι καὶ Καλυψοῦς ἄντρον καὶ Τὰ περὶ τὴν σχεδίαν καὶ ᾿Αλκίνου ἀπολόγους καὶ Κυκλώπειαν καὶ Νέκυιαν καὶ Τὰ τῆς Κίρκης καὶ Νίπτρα καὶ Μνηστήρων φόνον καὶ Τὰ ἐν ἀγρῷ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λαέρτου. ὀψὲ δὲ Λυκοῦργος ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος ἀθρόαν πρῶτος ἐς τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἐκόμισε τὴν ῾Ομήρου ποίησιν· τὸ δὲ ἀγώγιμον τοῦτο ἐξ ᾿Ιωνίας, ἡνίκα ἀπεδήμησεν, ἤγαγεν. ὕστερον δὲ Πεισίστρατος συναγαγὼν ἀπέφηνε τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα καὶ ᾿Οδύσσειαν.

13.19

“Cleomenes the Laconian asserted—in the manner of Spartans—that Homer was a Spartan poet because he spoke about the right way to go to war and that Hesiod was the Helot’s poet, since he talks about how best to farm.”

῎Ελεγεν ὁ Κλεομένης Λακωνικῶς κατὰ τὸν ἐπιχώριον τρόπον τὸν ῞Ομηρον Λακεδαιμονίων εἶναι ποιητήν, ὡς χρὴ πολεμεῖν λέγοντα· τὸν δὲ ῾Ησίοδον τῶν Εἱλώτων, λέγοντα ὡς χρὴ γεωργεῖν.

Wise Frogs Surpass Snakes in Wisdom, Aelian 1.3

“A type of Egyptian frog is a bit of a wise creature and for this reason it surpasses other frogs by a lot. If it this frog runs into a water snake that lives in the Nile, it bites off a shoot of reed and carries it forward obliquely and holds it tight, and it will not let it go until its strength gives out. The snake cannot eat the frog with the reed, since its mouth will not open as wide as the reed would demand. From this trick, the frogs surpass the strength of the watersnake with wisdom”

Σοφόν τι ἄρα χρῆμα ἦν γένος βατράχων Αἰγυπτίων, καὶ οὖν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὑπερφέρουσι κατὰ πολύ. ἐὰν γὰρ ὕδρῳ περιπέσῃ Νείλου θρέμματι βάτραχος, καλάμου τρύφος ἐνδακὼν πλάγιον φέρει, καὶ ἀπρὶξ ἔχεται, καὶ οὐκ ἀνίησι κατὰ τὸ καρτερόν. ὃ δὲ ἀμηχανεῖ καταπιεῖν αὐτὸν αὐτῷ καλάμῳ• οὐ γάρ οἱ ἐγχωρεῖ περιβαλεῖν τοσοῦτον τὸ στόμα, ὅσον ὁ κάλαμος διείργει. καὶ ἐκ τούτου περιγίνονται τῆς ῥώμης τῶν ὕδρων οἱ βάτραχοι τῇ σοφίᾳ.

Mice Are Prophetic; Ants are Too : Aelian, Varia Historia 1.11

“Mice are also among the most prophetic of the animals. For, when a house has already become decrepit and is about to collapse, they perceive it and they abandon the mouse-holes within them and their earlier habits. They run off with whatever speed they can muster and settle elsewhere.

Ants, I have heard too, have a certain knowledge of prophecy. Whenever a famine is soon to develop, they work terribly hard at stockpiling food. They put aside a store of grain and the shells of seeds, all those things that ants eat for dinner.”

῏Ησαν δὲ ἄρα μαντικώτατοι τῶν ζῴων καὶ μύες. γηρώσης γὰρ οἰκίας ἤδη καὶ μελλούσης κατολισθάνειν αἰσθάνονται πρῶτοι, καὶ ἀπολιπόντες τὰς μυωπίας τὰς αὑτῶν καὶ τὰς ἐξ ἀρχῆς διατριβάς, ᾗ ποδῶν ἔχουσιν ἀποδιδράσκουσι καὶ μετοικίζονται.
῎Εχουσι δὲ καὶ οἱ μύρμηκες, ὡς ἀκούω, μαντικῆς τινα αἴσθησιν. ὅταν γὰρ μέλλῃ λιμὸς ἔσεσθαι, δεινῶς εἰσι φιλόπονοι πρὸς τὸ θησαυρίσαι καὶ ἑαυτοῖς ἀποταμιεύσασθαι τοὺς πυροὺς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν σπερμάτων, ὅσα μυρμήκων δεῖπνόν ἐστιν.

The Power of Someone Who Loves: A Timely Bit from Aelian (3.9)

“Someone who does not love will not fight equally to the man who does, when the battle strikes and war crashes together. The unloved man flees and runs in front of the one who loves, as if he were an alien, and uninitiated into the god–brave only as far as his soul can reach and the strength of his body holds.”

᾿Ερῶντι ἀνδρί τις οὐκ ἐρῶν ἐπειγούσης τῆς μάχης καὶ συνάγοντος τοῦ πολέμου οὐκ ἂν συμμίξειεν. ὁ γὰρ ἀνέραστος φεύγει καὶ ἀποδιδράσκει τὸν ἐρωτικόν, ἅτε βέβηλος καὶ ἀτέλεστος τῷ θεῷ καὶ τοσοῦτον ἀνδρεῖος, ὅσον αὐτῷ καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ χωρεῖ καὶ τὸ σῶμα ῥώμης ἔχει·