Lyceum (Classical)

Lyceum (Classical)

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The Lyceum was a gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

 and public meeting place in Classical Athens
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 named after the god of the grove that housed the Lyceum, Apollo Lyceus (Apollo as 'wolf-god'). Though best known for its connection with Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and the peripatetic school he led there, the Lyceum was in existence long before Aristotle’s formal founding in 334 or 335 BC and continued under several heads until the Roman general Sulla sacked Athens in 86 BC. The remains of the Lyceum were discovered in modern Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 in 1996.

The Lyceum before Aristotle

Speculation suggests that Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

 or Pisistratus may have originally opened the first building of the Lyceum, as a gymnasium, in the 5th or 6th centuries BC, though the Lyceum grounds would have predated the gymnasium. In the early years of the Lyceum the head of the Greek army was said to have had an office there, which would have made it easy for him to be involved in the military training and exercises which the grounds were used for. The Lyceum’s use as a recreational gym and military training base is supported by the existence of wrestling rings, a racetrack, and seats for athlothetai, the judges of athletic events.

A long list of philosophers and sophists gave talks at the Lyceum prior to Aristotle, including Prodicus of Ceos
Prodicus of Ceos was a Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophists. He came to Athens as ambassador from Ceos, and became known as a speaker and a teacher. Plato treats him with greater respect than the other sophists, and in several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears...

, Protagoras
Protagoras was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist or teacher of virtue...

 and Rhapsodes. The most famous philosophers to have taught there, however, were Isocrates
Isocrates , an ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. In his time, he was probably the most influential rhetorician in Greece and made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works....

, Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 (of The Academy
Platonic Academy
The Academy was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for twenty years before founding his own school, the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC...

) and the best-known Athenian teacher, Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

. In addition to military training and educational pursuits, the Lyceum also housed Athenian Assembly meetings before the Pnyx
The Pnyx is a hill in central Athens, the capital of Greece. It is located less than west of the Acropolis and 1.6 km south-west of the centre of modern Athens, Syntagma Square.-The site:...

 became the official meeting place in the 5th century BC. Cult practices of various groups were also held at the Lyceum.

Aristotle's school and library

In 335 BC, Athens fell under Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian rule and Aristotle, aged 50, returned from Asia. Upon his return to Athens, Aristotle began teaching regularly in the morning in the Lyceum and founded an official school, The Lyceum. After his morning lessons Aristotle would frequently lecture on the grounds for the public, and manuscripts of his compiled lectures were eventually circulated. The group of scholars who followed the Aristotelian doctrine came to be known as the Peripatetics due to Aristotle’s tendency to walk as he taught.

Aristotle’s main foci as a teacher were cooperative research, an idea which he founded through his natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 work and systematic collection of philosophical works to contribute to his library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

. His students were assigned historical or scientific research projects as part of their studies. The school was also student run. The students elected a new student administrator to work with the school leadership every ten days, allowing all the students to become involved in turn. Before returning to Athens, Aristotle had been the tutor of Alexander of Macedonia, who became the great conqueror Alexander the Great.

Throughout his conquests of various regions, Alexander collected plant and animal specimens for Aristotle’s research, allowing Aristotle to develop the first zoo and botanical garden in existence. It is also suspected that Alexander donated what would be the equivalent of more than 4 million dollars to the Lyceum. In 322 BC Aristotle was forced to flee Athens with his family when the political leadership reacted against the Macedonians again and his previously published works supporting Macedonian rule left him a target. He passed on his Lyceum to Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 and died later that year in Chalcis, near his hometown.

History of Aristotle's library

Theophrastus placed a provision in his will that left the Lyceum library, which at this point included both his and Aristotle’s work as well as student research, philosophical historical texts and histories of philosophy, to his supposed follower, Neleus
Neleus of Scepsis
Neleus of Scepsis, was the son of Coriscus of Scepsis. He was a disciple of Aristotle and Theophrastus, the latter of whom bequeathed to him his library, and appointed him one of his executors...

. However, the seniors of the Lyceum placed Strato as the next leader and upon his retirement from the school in the mid 3rd century BC, Neleus divorced the Lyceum from its library and took all of the books with him to Skepsis
Skepsis or Scepsis was an ancient settlement in Mysia, Asia Minor that is at the present site of the village of Kurşuntepe, near the town of Bayramiç in Turkey...

 in Mysia
Mysia was a region in the northwest of ancient Asia Minor or Anatolia . It was located on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara. It was bounded by Bithynia on the east, Phrygia on the southeast, Lydia on the south, Aeolis on the southwest, Troad on the west and by the Propontis on the north...

 Neleus was an expert on Theophrastus and Aristotle and it may be Theophrastus hoped he would prepare a catalogue of the 10,000 rolls of papyrus. At least some of the books seem to have been sold to the library in Alexandra. In the 10th century a catalogue of the library revealed manuscripts by both Theophrastus and Aristotle which almost had to have been obtained from Neleus. The rest seem to have been hidden by his family, known for their ignorance

The library then disappeared for several centuries until it appears to have been bought from Neleus’ heirs in the 1st century BC and returned to the school. However, when Sulla attacked Athens, the books were shipped to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Throughout their travels one fifth of Aristotle’s works were lost and thus are not a part of the modern Aristotelian collection. Still, what did remain of Aristotle’s works and the rest of the library were arranged and edited for school use between 73 and 20 BC, supposedly by Andronicus of Rhodes
Andronicus of Rhodes
Andronicus of Rhodes was a Greek philosopher from Rhodes who was also the eleventh scholarch of the Peripatetic school.He was at the head of the Peripatetic school at Rome, about 58 BC, and was the teacher of Boethus of Sidon, with whom Strabo studied...

, the Lyceum’s eleventh leader. Since then the remaining works have been translated and widely distributed, providing much of the modern knowledge of historic philosophy.

The Lyceum after Aristotle

As head of the Lyceum, Theophrastus continued Aristotle’s foci of observation, collaborative research and documentation of philosophical history, thus making his own contributions to the library, most notably as the first organizer of botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

. Though he was not a citizen of Athens (he had met Aristotle in the 340s in his homeland of Lesbos) he managed to buy land near the main gym of the Lyceum as well as several buildings for the library and additional workspace in 315 BC. Theophrastus also continued his own work while teaching and demonstrated his devotion to learning and education by leaving the land of the Lyceum to his friends to continue their work in education in philosophy in the non-private tradition of the school upon his death.

During the era of Theophrastus and his successor, Strato of Lampsacus
Strato of Lampsacus
Strato of Lampsacus was a Peripatetic philosopher, and the third director of the Lyceum after the death of Theophrastus...

, the Lyceum experienced a decline until it fell with the rest of Athens in 86 BC.

There is some thought that the Lyceum was refounded in the 1st century AD by Andronicus of Rhodes
Andronicus of Rhodes
Andronicus of Rhodes was a Greek philosopher from Rhodes who was also the eleventh scholarch of the Peripatetic school.He was at the head of the Peripatetic school at Rome, about 58 BC, and was the teacher of Boethus of Sidon, with whom Strabo studied...

, and no matter its secondary founder, it once again flourished as a philosophical school in the 2nd century and continued until Athens was once again sacked in 267 AD.

Leaders of the Lyceum

Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 headed the Lyceum for 36 years, between Aristotle’s exile from Athens in 322 BC until his own death in 286 BC. There is some speculation that both Aristotle and Theophrastus were buried in the gardens of the Lyceum, though no graves have been positively identified. Theophrastus was followed by Strato, who served as head until 268. Lyco of Troas
Lyco of Troas
Lyco of Troas, son of Astyanax, was a Peripatetic philosopher and the disciple of Strato, whom he succeeded as the head of the Peripatetic school, c. 269 BC; and he held that post for more than forty-four years.-Life:...

, likely Aristo of Ceos
Aristo of Ceos
Aristo of Ceos was a Peripatetic philosopher and a native of the island of Ceos, where his birthplace was the town of Ioulis. He is not to be confused with Aristo of Chios, a Stoic philosopher of the mid 3rd century BC....

, Critolaus
Critolaus of Phaselis was a Greek philosopher of the Peripatetic school. He was one of three philosophers sent to Rome in 155 BC , where their doctrines fascinated the citizens, but scared the more conservative statesmen. None of his writings survive...

, Diodorus of Tyre
Diodorus of Tyre
Diodorus of Tyre, was a Peripatetic philosopher, and a disciple and follower of Critolaus, whom he succeeded as the head of the Peripatetic school at Athens c. 118 BC. He was still alive and active there in 110 BC, when Licinius Crassus, during his quaestorship of Macedonia, visited Athens...

 and Erymneus were the next several heads of the school. Additionally, Andronicus of Rhodes served as the eleventh head.

Members of the Lyceum

At various points in the history of the Lyceum numerous scholars and students walked its parapetoi, though some of the most notable include Eudemus, a mathematical historian, Aristoxenus
Aristoxenus of Tarentum was a Greek Peripatetic philosopher, and a pupil of Aristotle. Most of his writings, which dealt with philosophy, ethics and music, have been lost, but one musical treatise, Elements of Harmony, survives incomplete, as well as some fragments concerning rhythm and...

, who wrote works on music, and Dicaearchus
Dicaearchus of Messana was a Greek philosopher, cartographer, geographer, mathematician and author. Dicaearchus was Aristotle's student in the Lyceum. Very little of his work remains extant. He wrote on the history and geography of Greece, of which his most important work was his Life of Greece...

, a prolific writer on topics including ethics, politics, psychology and geography. Additionally, medicinal historian Meno
Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. It attempts to determine the definition of virtue, or arete, meaning virtue in general, rather than particular virtues, such as justice or temperance. The first part of the work is written in the Socratic dialectical style and Meno is reduced to...

 and an eventual ruler of Athens, Demetrius of Phaleron spent time at the school. Demetrius of Phaleron ruled Athens as a proxy leader for a dynasty from 317-307 BC.

Aristotle's Lyceum today

37°58′26.67"N 23°44′36.61"E

During a 1996 excavation to clear space for Athens’ new Museum of Modern Art, the remains of Aristotle’s Lyceum were uncovered. Descriptions from the works of ancient philosophers hint at the location of the grounds, speculated to be somewhere just outside the eastern boundary of ancient Athens, near the rivers Ilissos
The Ilissos or Ilissus is a river in Athens, Greece. Originally a tributary of the Kifissos River, it is now largely channeled underground.-Ancient Athens:...

 and Eridanos
Eridanos (Athens)
Eridanos was the small stream that flowed from a source in the foothills of the Lykabettos, through the Agora of ancient Athens in Greece to the archaeological site of the Kerameikos, where its bed is still visible...

, and close to Lycabettus Hill. The excavation site is located in downtown Athens, by the junction of Rigillis and Vasilissis Sofias Streets, next to the Athens War Museum and the National Conservatory
National Conservatoire (Greece)
The Greek National Conservatoire was founded in Athens in 1926 by the composer Manolis Kalomiris and a number of other notable artists like Charikleia Kalomoiri, Marika Kotopouli, Dionysios Lavrangas, and Sophia Spanoudi...

. The first excavations revealed a gymnasium
Gymnasium may refer to:*Gymnasium , educational and sporting institution*Gymnasium , type of secondary school that prepares students for higher education**Gymnasium **Gymnasium...

and wrestling area, but further work has uncovered the majority of what is believed to have withstood the erosion caused to the region by nearby architecture’s placement and drainage. The buildings are definitely those of the original Lyceum, as their foundations lie on the bedrock and there are no other strata further below. Upon realizing the magnitude of the discovery, contingency plans were made for a nearby construction of the Art Museum so that it could be combined with a Lyceum outdoor museum and give visitors easy access to both. There are plans for canopies to be placed over the Lyceum remains, and the area was opened to the public in 2009.