Corpus Aristotelicum

The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through medieval manuscript transmission. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's works that were lost or intentionally destroyed, are technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school. Reference to them is made according to the organization of Immanuel Bekker's nineteenth-century edition, which in turn is based on ancient classifications of these works.

The end of Sophistical Refutations and beginning of Physics on page 184 of Bekker's 1831 edition.

Overview of the extant worksEdit

The extant works of Aristotle are broken down according to the five categories in the Corpus Aristotelicum. Not all of these works are considered genuine, but differ with respect to their connection to Aristotle, his associates and his views. Some are regarded by most scholars as products of Aristotle's "school" and compiled under his direction or supervision. (The Constitution of the Athenians, the only major modern addition to the Corpus Aristotelicum, has also been so regarded.) Other works, such as On Colors, may have been products of Aristotle's successors at the Lyceum, e.g., Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus. Still others acquired Aristotle's name through similarities in doctrine or content, such as the De Plantis, possibly by Nicolaus of Damascus. A final category, omitted here, includes medieval palmistries, astrological and magical texts whose connection to Aristotle is purely fanciful and self-promotional.

In several of the treatises, there are references to other works in the corpus. Based on such references, some scholars have suggested a possible chronological order for a number of Aristotle's writings. W.D. Ross, for instance, suggested the following broad chronology (which of course leaves out much): Categories, Topics, Sophistici Elenchi, Analytics, Metaphysics Δ, the physical works, the Ethics, and the rest of the Metaphysics.[1] Many modern scholars however, based simply on lack of evidence, are skeptical of such attempts to determine the chronological order of Aristotle's writings.[2]

Exoteric and esotericEdit

According to a distinction that originates with Aristotle himself, his writings are divisible into two groups: the "exoteric" and the "esoteric".[3] Most scholars have understood this as a distinction between works Aristotle intended for the public (exoteric), and the more technical works intended for use within the Lyceum course / school (esoteric).[4] Modern scholars commonly assume these latter to be Aristotle's own (unpolished) lecture notes (or in some cases possible notes by his students).[5] However, one classic scholar offers an alternative interpretation. The 5th century neoplatonist Ammonius Hermiae writes that Aristotle's writing style is deliberately obscurantist so that "good people may for that reason stretch their mind even more, whereas empty minds that are lost through carelessness will be put to flight by the obscurity when they encounter sentences like these."[6]

Diogenes Laërtius' listEdit

Diogenes Laërtius lists in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers the works of Aristotle comprising 156 titles divided into approximately 400 books, which he reports as totaling 445,270 lines of writing.[7]

The list is as follows:[7]

  • Of Justice, four books
  • On Poets, three books
  • On Philosophy, three books
  • Of the Statesman, two books
  • On Rhetoric, or Grylus, one book
  • Nerinthus, one book
  • The Sophist, one book
  • Menexenus, one book
  • Concerning Love, one book
  • Symposium, one book
  • Of Wealth, one book
  • Exhortation to Philosophy, one book
  • Of the Soul, one book
  • Of Prayer, one book
  • On Noble Birth, one book
  • On Pleasure, one book
  • Alexander, or a Plea for the Colonies, one book
  • On Kingship, one book
  • On Education one book
  • Of the Good, three books
  • Extracts from Plato's Laws, three books
  • Extracts from the Republic, two books
  • Of Household management, one book
  • Of Friendship, one book
  • On being or having been affected, one book
  • Of Sciences, one book
  • On Controversial Questions, two books
  • Solutions of Controversial Questions, four books
  • Sophistical Divisions, four books
  • On Contraries, one book
  • On Genera and Species, one book
  • On Essential Attributes, one book
  • Arguments for Purposes of Refutation, three notebooks
  • Propositions concerning Virtue, two books
  • Objections, one book
  • On the Various Meanings of Terms or Expressions where a Determinant is added, one book
  • Of Passions or of Anger, one book
  • Five books of Ethics
  • On Elements, three books
  • Of Science, one book
  • Of Logical Principle, one book
  • Logical Divisions, seventeen books
  • Concerning Division, one book
  • On Dialectical Questioning and Answering, two books
  • Of Motion, one book
  • Propositions, one book
  • Controversial Propositions, one book
  • Syllogisms, one book
  • Prior Analytics, eight books
  • Greater Posterior Analytics, two books
  • Of Problems, one book
  • Of Methodics, eight books
  • Of the Greater Good, one book
  • On the Idea, one book
  • Definitions prefixed to the Topics, seven books
  • Of Syllogisms, two books
  • Concerning Syllogism with Definitions, one book
  • Of the Desirable and the Contingent, one book
  • Preface to Commonplaces, one book
  • Topics criticizing the Definitions, two books
  • Affections or Qualities, one book
  • Concerning Logical Division, one book
  • Concerning Mathematics, one book
  • Definitions, thirteen books
  • Refutations, two books
  • Of Pleasure, one book
  • Of Pleasure, one book
  • Propositions, one book
  • On the Voluntary, one book
  • On the Beautiful, one book
  • Theses for Refutation, twenty-five books
  • Theses concerning Love, four books
  • Theses concerning Friendship, two books
  • Theses concerning the Soul, one book
  • Politics, two books
  • Eight books of a course of lectures on Politics like that of Theophrastus
  • Of Just Actions, two books
  • A Collection of Arts, two books
  • Art of Rhetoric, two books
  • Art, a Handbook, one book
  • Another Collection of Handbooks, two books
  • Concerning Method, one book
  • Compendium of the "Art" of Theodectes, one book
  • A Treatise on the Art of Poetry, two books
  • Rhetorical Enthymemes, one book
  • Of Degree, one book
  • Divisions of Enthymemes, one book
  • On Diction, two books
  • Of Taking Counsel, one book
  • A Collection or Compendium, two books
  • On Nature, three books
  • Concerning Nature, one book
  • On the Philosophy of Archytas, three books
  • On the Philosophy of Speusippus and Xenocrates, one book
  • Extracts from the Timaeus and from the Works of Archytas, one book
  • A Reply to the Writings of Melissus, one book
  • A Reply to the Writings of Alcmaeon, one book
  • A Reply to the Pythagoreans, one book
  • A Reply to the Writings of Gorgias, one book
  • A Reply to the Writings of Xenophanes, one book
  • A Reply to the Writings of Zeno, one book
  • On the Pythagoreans, one book
  • On Animals, nine books
  • Of Dissections, eight books
  • A selection of Dissections, one book
  • On Composite Animals, one book
  • On the Animals of Fable, one book
  • On Sterility, one book
  • On Plants, two books
  • Concerning Physiognomy, one book
  • Two books concerning Medicine
  • On the Unit, one book
  • Prognostics of Storms, one book
  • Concerning Astronomy, one book
  • Concerning Optics, one book
  • On Motion, one book
  • On Music, one book
  • Concerning Memory, one book
  • Six books of Homeric Problems
  • Poetics, one book
  • Of Physics, 38 books
  • Two books of Problems which have been examined
  • Two books of Routine Instruction
  • Mechanics, one book
  • Problems taken from the works of Democritus, two books
  • On the Magnet, one book
  • Analogies, one book
  • Miscellaneous Notes, twelve books
  • Descriptions of Genera, fourteen books
  • Claims advanced, one book
  • Victors at Olympia, one book
  • Victors at the Pythian Games, one book
  • On Music, one book
  • Concerning Delphi, one book
  • Criticism of the List of Pythian Victors, one book
  • Dramatic Victories at the Dionysia, one book
  • Of Tragedies, one book
  • Dramatic Records, one book
  • Proverbs, one book
  • Laws of the Mess-table, one book
  • Four books of Laws
  • Categories, one book
  • De Interpretatione, one book
  • Constitutions of 158 Cities, in general and in particular, democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic, tyrannical
  • Letters to Philip
  • Letters of Selymbrians
  • Letters to Alexander, four books
  • Letters to Antipater, nine books
  • To Mentor, one book
  • To Ariston, one book
  • To Olympias, one book
  • To Hephaestion, one book
  • To Themistagoras, one book
  • To Philoxenus, one book
  • In reply to Democritus, one book
  • Verses beginning Ἁγνὲ θεῶν πρέσβισθ᾽ ἑκατηβόλε ("Holy One and Chiefest of Gods, far-darting").
  • Elegiac verses beginning Καλλιτέκνου μητρὸς θύγατερ ("Daughter of a Mother blessed with fair offspring").

Bekker numbersEdit

Bekker numbers, the standard form of reference to works in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are based on the page numbers used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle (Aristotelis Opera edidit Academia Regia Borussica, Berlin, 1831–1870). They take their name from the editor of that edition, the classical philologist August Immanuel Bekker (1785–1871).

Aristotle's works by Bekker numbersEdit

The following list gives the Bekker numbers that are used to give references to Aristotle's works; all of Aristotle's works are listed, except for the Constitution of the Athenians, which was discovered after Bekker's edition was published, and the fragments.

The titles are given in accordance with the standard set by the Revised Oxford Translation.[8] Latin titles, still often used by scholars, are also given.

Work Latin name
1a Categories Categoriae
16a On Interpretation De Interpretatione
24a Prior Analytics Analytica Priora
71a Posterior Analytics Analytica Posteriora
100a Topics Topica
164a Sophistical Refutations De Sophisticis Elenchis
Physics (natural philosophy)
184a Physics Physica
268a On the Heavens De Caelo
314a On Generation and Corruption De Generatione et Corruptione
338a Meteorology Meteorologica
391a On the Universe De Mundo
402a On the Soul De Anima
Parva Naturalia  ("Little Physical Treatises")
436a Sense and Sensibilia De Sensu et Sensibilibus
449b On Memory De Memoria et Reminiscentia
453b On Sleep De Somno et Vigilia
458a On Dreams De Insomniis
462b On Divination in Sleep De Divinatione per Somnum
464b On Length and Shortness
of Life
De Longitudine et Brevitate Vitae
467b On Youth, Old Age, Life
and Death, and Respiration
De Juventute et Senectute, De
Vita et Morte, De Respiratione
481a On Breath De Spiritu
486a History of Animals Historia Animalium
639a Parts of Animals De Partibus Animalium
698a Movement of Animals De Motu Animalium
704a Progression of Animals De Incessu Animalium
715a Generation of Animals De Generatione Animalium
791a On Colors De Coloribus
800a On Things Heard De audibilibus
805a Physiognomonics Physiognomonica
815a On Plants De Plantis
830a On Marvellous Things Heard De mirabilibus auscultationibus
847a Mechanics Mechanica
859a Problems* Problemata*
968a On Indivisible Lines De Lineis Insecabilibus
973a The Situations and Names
of Winds
Ventorum Situs
974a On Melissus, Xenophanes,
and Gorgias
980a Metaphysics Metaphysica
Ethics and politics
1094a Nicomachean Ethics Ethica Nicomachea
1181a Great Ethics* Magna Moralia*
1214a Eudemian Ethics Ethica Eudemia
1249a On Virtues and Vices De Virtutibus et Vitiis Libellus
1252a Politics Politica
1343a Economics* Oeconomica*
Rhetoric and poetics
1354a Rhetoric Ars Rhetorica
1420a Rhetoric to Alexander Rhetorica ad Alexandrum
1447a Poetics Ars Poetica

Aristotelian works lacking Bekker numbersEdit

Constitution of the AtheniansEdit

The Constitution of the Athenians (Greek, Athenaiōn Politeia; Latin, Atheniensium Respublica) was not included in Bekker's edition because it was first edited in 1891 from papyrus rolls acquired in 1890 by the British Museum. The standard reference to it is by section (and subsection) numbers.


Surviving fragments of the many lost works of Aristotle were included in the fifth volume of Bekker's edition, edited by Valentin Rose. These are not cited by Bekker numbers, however, but according to fragment numbers. Rose's first edition of the fragments of Aristotle was Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus (1863). As the title suggests, Rose considered these all to be spurious. The numeration of the fragments in a revised edition by Rose, published in the Teubner series, Aristotelis qui ferebantur librorum fragmenta, Leipzig, 1886, is still commonly used (indicated by R3), although there is a more current edition with a different numeration by Olof Gigon (published in 1987 as a new vol. 3 in Walter de Gruyter's reprint of the Bekker edition), and a new de Gruyter edition by Eckart Schütrumpf is in preparation.[9]

For a selection of the fragments in English translation, see W. D. Ross, Select Fragments (Oxford 1952), and Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, vol. 2, Princeton 1984, pp. 2384–2465. A new translation exists of the fragments of Aristotle's Protrepticus, by Hutchinson and Johnson (2015).[10]

The works surviving only in fragments include the dialogues On Philosophy (or On the Good), Eudemus (or On the Soul), On Justice, and On Good Birth. The possibly spurious work, On Ideas survives in quotations by Alexander of Aphrodisias in his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. For the dialogues, see also the editions of Richard Rudolf Walzer, Aristotelis Dialogorum fragmenta, in usum scholarum (Florence 1934), and Renato Laurenti, Aristotele: I frammenti dei dialoghi (2 vols.), Naples: Luigi Loffredo, 1987.

The authorship paradoxEdit

According to Diogenes Laertius, The library of the Lyceum at its peak under Aristotle comprised many types of books: works authored by the elders under their names, works authored by elders and young men, signatures uncertain, copies of works written by other authors on research topics, and research results of unspecified form. This same library continues under Theophrastus, acquiring more works of the same type, except that Aristotle is no longer a contributor. On the death of Theophrastus, we are led to believe, the library disappears for 200 years, having been safely abscinded by Neleus. Just as suddenly it reappears, having been rescued, cared for by three editors and a powerful aristocrat, to be published in a new recension by Andronicus, and to descend to us this very day as Bekker pages. The paradox is that the recension that descends bears little resemblance to the library at Athens. It contains only books specifically authored by Aristotle with the inclusions of works later shown to be spurious. There are no works of Theophrastus or anyone else and no explanation of what happened to all the other books. The library that was rescued cannot possibly be the one that needed rescuing.[topic note 1]

Research at the LyceumEdit

Recent archaeological discoveries at Athens have verified that there was a school in the park called Lyceum and that one of the foundations fits the shape of a rectangular library.[11] The site had in fact still been a park (or garden), and will remain one, according to the Greek government. Study of the ancient sources reveals that, regardless of its legal status, whether owned, rented, or just occupied, an organization did reside there, which called itself "the friends" (philoi) and the establishment "the school (diatribe) of the friends.".[12] This was its own name, or endonym. It meant that the relationship of belonging to the school was "completely informal." The name peripatetikoi, those who inhabited the walkways, or peripatoi, of the gymnasion in the park, is an exonym.[13]

The friends lived in a "cooperative" (koinonia).[14] They dined together and together had responsibility for the facilities, including the library and the museum. They paid no one and received no pay from anyone. The expenses for the establishment were assumed by wealthy patrons, one of whom was Aristotle; however, during the time that Alexander the Great was a friend, there were no financial worries. For all these informalities, they were nevertheless considered to be either "young men" (neaniskoi) or "elders" (presbuteroi).[15] Aristotle, moreover, did have some power, beginning with his position, described by English scholars as scholiarch, "ruler of the school."[topic note 2] This rule did not include the day-to-day operation of the school, as he instituted the equivalent of a maritime "watch" to take care of that; i.e., every 10 days he appointed an archon, "master," from the friends.

The business of the friends was not merely education in existing knowledge. As is expressed in the first few paragraphs of Physics, they were interested in discovering the principles, or elements of the knowledge, which was an entirely new goal in Greek education. This research was divided into specific "fields" (methodoi). First they collected written works representing the existing knowledge. Subsequently, they collected field data through interviews and specimen-hunting. Aristotle is the first known scientist to have sent out field workers, and to have sent them with military expeditions. Alexander's ethnic and political intelligence gathering as a friend of the school was certainly of greatest value in his ultimate goal, to create a new, multi-cultural world empire. His was the first known army to feature a military historian unit. He was said to have assigned thousands of men to the task of collecting specimens, presumably in addition to their military duties.[16]

The final step in a research project was analysis of all the information to ascertain "scientific knowledge" (episteme) of the "elements" (stoicheia), the "causes" (aitia), and the "first principles" (archai) of the topic. These were written in a new type of document, which has survived in the corpus.[17]:3 Beginning with a brief survey of the previous views, it launched into the definitions and conclusions in a style similar to a geometric presentation. The papers were then stored in the library. Their authors, analysts, contributors, whether or not they were emended, or corrected, and by whom, remain unknown for certain. Diogenes Laertius called these "notebooks" (hypomnemata) and said that Aristotle wrote "an unusual number."

The question of the libraryEdit

Transition from cooperative to private schoolEdit

According to Strabo,[18] Neleus, son of Coriscus, a friend at the Lyceum, "inherited the library (bibliotheke) of Theophrastus, which included that of Aristotle."[19] Theophrastus received Aristotle's library by being bequeathed it along with the school. Theophrastus was the first book collector, as far as Strabo knew. Apparently, the elders owned their own libraries and could dispose of them as they pleased.

The main problems with this view are, first of all, that Aristotle's Will survives credibly in Diogenes Laertius' (D.L.'s) Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers under Aristotle. There is not one word about a library. Moreover, Aristotle, a metic, or foreign resident of Athens, was not allowed to own property or bequeath it, so he could not have either owned the school with its library or have left it to anyone by legal process.[20] Even if he were not a metic, he could not have disposed of the land and buildings, which were municipal property.[topic note 3] None of the other friends could either. According to the laws in effect on the day Aristotle died, no one could own or bequeath the school to anyone. The city owned it. As to whether Aristotle and Theophrastus had additional personal libraries of their own, first, private ownership was not in the spirit of the school, and second, the fate of the school after Theophrastus suggests that the library was in fact the school library.

After the death of Alexander, Athens staged a brief revolt against the Macedonians. Turning their attention to the school, they went after Aristotle, who went into exile to escape the death penalty. He died in exile. Within a few years Athens was again under Macedon ruled by Cassander. Theophrastus returned in triumph to the school under the authority of the new vice-regent of Athens, Demetrius of Phalerum, a friend of the school and former student of Theophrastus. The school became even greater than before, but Demetrius made some changes to the administration. D.L. says only that Theophrastus "is said to have become the owner of a garden of his own after Aristotle's death, through the intervention of his friend, Demetrius of Phalerum." Apparently D.L. does not quite understand his source. The meaning was not "his friend." This was not a personal favor. A "friend" is an associate of the school. There were not two gardens; Theophrastus was not a poor man in need of some property of his own. His extensive will details the disposition of the assets of the school as his own property, including the garden. He names the friends and wants to make sure that they understand the ownership is to be treated as joint. Demetrius had simply instituted the legal convention prevalent at other schools of having the master own the school and its assets.

The very disposition of the property in Theophrastus' will is an attempt to restore the koinonia established by Aristotle.[21] The garden, the walks, and the buildings around the garden are to go to ten named friends,[topic note 4] to be held in common, provided they use the property for the study of literature and philosophy. This is provisional ownership. If the provisions are not met, the property must revert to someone by law, probably the proprietor, or owner, of the school. The total property of Theophrastus as proprietor was much larger. The family estate at Eresus and the Aristotelian property at Stagira went to individual friends. He also owned funds in trust managed by Hipparchus. The latter was enjoined to use them to rebuild the museum and other buildings. He also had slaves in his possession (as had Aristotle). They were either set free or given to friends. He had one freedman client, whom he rewarded richly for four more years of maintaining the buildings.

Abscondence of the library by NeleusEdit

The will contains one more bequest that is rather peculiar. It has a bearing on the nature of the Corpus, whether it is Aristotle's, Aristotle's and Theophrastus', or of all the friends. There is as yet no solution to the problem of authorship, or rather lack of it. Ancient sources on the topic are inconsistent. There is no general scholarly consensus and no agreed preponderance of evidence.

The will relates in translation "The whole of my library I give to Neleus." The heart of the school was its library, containing all the research results and analytical papers (the notebooks). Without it the friends could not produce current or meaningful lectures about the topics for which the school was known (physics, rhetoric, etc.) All the other school property was being redistributed to the friends in common (except that the foreign estates were given individual owners, probably for their management, while the slaves and the minor received individual guardians), but the heart of the school, without which it could not pump knowledge, was not to be common property, an anomalous approach for the circumstances. No explanation at all is to be found in ancient sources. The moderns almost universally retrieve one explanation, that Neleus was the intended heir of the archonship, although that, strangely, is nowhere suggested. The law still required an archon with property rights over the school.[22]

Whatever the implied expectation, Neleus did not become the scholiarch; instead, Strato of Lampsacus did. Again, there are no details of how or why he acquired the position or any statement of Neleus's feelings about it, inviting speculation.[topic note 5] Strabo then relates what is universally considered an act of perfidy against the school. He was given the library with the understanding that it would be shared as common property. Instead "Neleus took it to Skepsis and bequeathed it to his heirs, ordinary people, who kept the books locked up ...." The result, according to Strabo, was that the school "... had no books at all, with the exception of only a few, ... and were therefore able ... only to talk bombast about commonplace propositions ...." No details or motives are given. Speculations are rife.[topic note 6] Every author has something to say, some judgement to render.[topic note 7] All are conscious of the fact that, were it not for this perfidy, there would be no corpus as it is known today.

Strabo's anecdote is not the sole ancient authority on Neleus' disposition of the books. Athenaeus of Naucratis, in his work Deipnosophistae, "Dinner Sophists," an imaginary portrayal of a series of banquets at which the guests are famous literary figures of the past (over 700), so that the reader is served up menus and snippets of sophistry together, has his main character, the host, Laurentius ("Lawrence") possessing

"such a library of ancient Greek books, as to exceed in that respect all those who are remarkable for such collections; such as ... Aristotle the philosopher, and Nelius his librarian; from whom they say that our countryman Ptolemæus, surnamed Philadelphus, bought them all, and transported them with all those which he had collected at Athens and at Rhodes to his own beautiful Alexandria."[23]

By the rules of logic (Aristotle's very rules) both accounts may not be received as "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," as the American legal principle for courtroom testimony requires. The easiest solution would be to drop one in favor of the other, and many authors take it. The remaining solution is to accept both as partially true, creating a window of opportunity for speculatory explanation of differences between the Alexandrian and Skepsian traditions.

The dual tradition of textsEdit

The ambiguous name, Corpus AristotelicumEdit

The tradition best known to moderns is the Corpus Aristotelicum, New Latin for "Aristotelic body," a term not used by Bekker. The Prussian Academy published his 1831 edition under the name Aristoteles Graece, "Aristotle in Greek," where Aristoteles is the nominative case. In most Latin and New Latin book titles the author is in the genitive case, such as Aristotelis Opera, "the works of Aristotle." Individual works are so named by Bekker, but none of this is any sort of corpus.

In the late 19th century the corpus phrase began to appear in the notes of the German historians of philosophy, such as Zeller and Windelband.[24]:40 By implication they meant Bekker, but even as they wrote a new manuscript was being excavated from the trash-heaps of Egypt about which Bekker knew nothing at all, or anyone else for at least a few thousand years: the Constitution of the Athenians (Aristotle).[topic note 8] It was identified as being one of 158 political studies written by Aristotle and his students no earlier than 330 BC. It is in the "notebook" format. The content differs in that it is not an abstract treatise but is a history stating periods and dates. Not being able to fit it into an idea of the corpus based on Bekker, many rejected it. The date being quite ancient, the majority view is to accept it as of Alexandrian provenience, the only instance of an Aristotelicum from the library and school there.[topic note 9]

The acceptance of the Constitution of the Athenians with the same credibility as the Bekkerian corpus lends a certain ambiguity to the meaning of corpus. If it is to be only the works in Bekker, then such misleading phrases as "the original corpus" are possible, as though the works in Bekker are more authentic than any works out of it. Not even the works in Bekker are authentic beyond any doubt.

The next logical step is to attempt to modify the definition of the term so that it is not to be the Latin word corpus but some special use of it:

"The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through Medieval manuscript transmission. ... Reference to them is made according to Immanuel Bekker's nineteenth-century Royal Prussian Academy edition ... which in turn is based on ancient classifications of these works."[25]

The phrase has such authority that it may not be used without meaning Bekker's collection, but it may be used to mean additional Aristotelica. It is often translated as "the works of Aristotle." In that English sense it ought to mean every work ever attributed to Aristotle as well as every fragment. George Grote had said

"Very different is the case when we attempt to frame an Aristotelian Canon, comprising all the works of Aristotle and none others. We find the problem far more complicated, and the matters of evidence at once more defective, more uncertain, and more contradictory."[26]:27

By "canon" Grote meant "the Berlin edition of Aristotle." He is totally innocent of any Aristotelian corpora. Even if "canon" had survived instead of corpus, such a meaning now would fail to distinguish Bekker. One translational solution is just to name Bekker, as in "Bekker pages." Such an elevation of Bekker as the authority raises the question of the source of this aura of conviction surrounding the name. It seems likely that it was inherent in the sources.

The paper trail before BekkerEdit

Having determined to print all of Aristotle's authentic works, as far as could be ascertained, Bekker found himself looking back over a voluminous paper trail.[topic note 10] He chose to use the texts found in 102 manuscripts (MSS), routinely identified by library name and access number. For use in the book, he gave each MS a letter code. These appear in the footnotes. The front material of the edition includes a list of MSS. His libraries are relatively few, including the Vatican Library at Rome, the Biblioteca Marciana at Venice, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (formerly the Royal Library of Paris), and the Austrian National Library at Vienna. Typically the Aristotelica are included in famous MSS publishing a number of works.[27]

Bekker did not seek out all possible MSS. The number of MSS still extant remains unknown. Before the invention of the printing press ca. 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg, who combined moveable type with a screw press, book reproduction was performed by copyists. It went on everywhere in institutions that could afford to undertake it.

In the 15th century copying slowed as the MSS were replaced by books. Due to cultural lag, some MSS production continued as late as the 17th century in the form of written books. For the most part the MSS were left where they were. Since Bekker, many previously unconsidered MSS have turned up. Their publication is ongoing.[topic note 11] Based on them, works considered spurious are now believed genuine, and vice versa. The jury is always out, so to speak.

The date of a copy is to be distinguished from the date of its recension. Most Aristotle MSS were copied during centuries 13–15 at various scriptoria in Europe. The sequence of text is the recension, which might be instanced by many copies at diverse locations. The recension is not just the text, but is all the idiosyncrasies, such as a specific set of errors (miscopies, misspellings or variant texts), associated with it. The similarities or differences make possible the reconstruction of a tree of descent by the comparative method defining families of MSS, each designated by a capital letter. A family also is a recension. Its first member is its original. Typically originals are not available now but their existence and date can be predicated from different types of historical and textual evidence.

Excluding anomalous archaeological finds, all the MSS copied most lately date to after 1000. Historical and internal clues point to originals in the last 3 centuries before 1000 and a provenience of the domain of the Byzantine Empire; that is, the Greek-speaking world as it was under the eastern Roman Empire. The crusaders broke the power of its capital city, Constantinople, leaving it helpless before the saracens, in this case the Turkish-language speakers from the plains of Central Asia, who became the Ottoman Turks. They soon colonized Anatolia, occupying the urban centers there and replacing the Greek-speakers, who escaped to Greece. As they were not much interested in copying Greek MSS, the task of transmitting them to posterity passed to Europe. (The Turkish people today have an abiding interest in antiquities). The Arabic-speaking saracens to the south after an initial zealous destruction of antiquities, including starting yet another fire in the library of Alexandria, seemed to be infused with the same magic of Aristotle and Alexander that had captured the Roman conquerors of Anatolia earlier. They began to translate Aristotle into Arabic, now the only source of some Aristotelica.

Hand-written MSS of Aristotle are missing from the 1st half of the 1st millennium. The ongoing sites of Oxyrhynchus and the Villa of the Papyri offer hope of the discovery of fragments outside the corpus tradition. Meanwhile, the commentaries, or explanations of the content of the corpus, supply quotations and paraphrases filling in the gap. These lemmata, or excerpts, are so close to the corpus that they can be assigned Bekker numbers, which is good evidence that corpus has been accepted as the work of Aristotle since the beginning of the Roman Empire. The corpus is universally attributed to a single recension, that of Andronicus of Rhodes, dated to mid-1st-century BC, in the late Roman Republic. The diagnostic of Andronicus' work is the division of the text into treatises, the names of some of the treatises, and the order and grouping of the treatises. Any work that does not conform to that diagnostic is immediately suspected of being "spurious" or non-authentic; that is, not of the corpus and not of Aristotle (rightly or wrongly).

Recension of ApelliconEdit

In the story by Strabo, after Neleus has removed the books to Skepsis — many thousands in broad daylight on a caravan of wagons and in a fleet of ships, without objection or notice of any officials at Athens or Skepsis — history knows no more of him, even though he must have had plans for the books. Evidently the plans did not materialize. To take the passage literally, he must have died shortly thereafter, as the relatives received disposition of the property willed to them (the books).

The books arrived at Skepsis and were stored in a large outbuilding at what must have been a country estate, as the space requirements would not have changed any since Athens. The few small rooms of an ordinary dwelling in town would not have been suitable. Perhaps the relatives were not so poor and uneducated as depicted. As one man could not possibly have moved an entire library by himself, Neleus must have had a retinue of servants.

Hearing that Eumenes II, the Attalid king of Pergamon, was hunting books, the Corascid family "hid their books underground in a kind of trench." The king must not even have suspected the presence of a huge underground cache at Skepsis, as kings have methods of investigation and confiscation not available to ordinary citizens. Apparently the king's system of "eyes and ears," so well developed under Alexander, failed totally, that an entire building full of books could have been received and buried without him being informed. Moreover, the event remained a family secret for the next 200 years.

Ordinary people do not keep property and family memory for so long, but the story is the story, and apart from the alternative by Athenaeus, is the only one available. Speculative answers are always possible.[topic note 12] The general view is that Neleus only brought, and his family only hid, a small part of a library that had already otherwise been sold.

For the next event in the creation of the corpus the historical clock must be advanced from the accession of Strato as scholiarch (instead of Neleus) at 286 BC[topic note 13] to the confiscation of the first recension of the re-discovered corpus from the home of the deceased re-discoverer, Apellicon of Teos,[topic note 14] by general Sulla on his return to Athens after his conquest of Anatolia in 84 BC. For that approximately 200 years, Strabo would have us believe, the scholars of the Lyceum were a simple folk, unable to understand, repeat, or reconstruct the work of Aristotle, nor could they add to any of the previous investigations without his guidance. Moreover, when they finally did obtain a glimpse into what they believed were the words of the master, the only scholarly activities of which they were capable were trying to puzzle out what they mean. Whatever this condition might have been, it certainly was not science. Considering the activities of some of the graduates, there has been some grounds for thinking the Lyceum was gone, and the property was being held by greedy charlatans utilizing the name of peripatetic as a mask. Athenaeus tells the story of "Athenion the Peripatetic philosopher" (a contemporary of Apellicon),

"in order that we may come to a thorough understanding and appreciation of those men who profess to be philosophers, and that we may not be taken in by their ragged cloaks and unshaven chins."

The men to whom he refers did not wear ragged cloaks; they were among the richest in Athens, but they were so because they were charlatans, or, as would be said today, "crooks." The school and the society in which it had been placed were different now. The diadochi were gone, or nearly so, including the Attalids. The eastern Mediterranean was divided into provinces of the Roman Republic, except that Mithridates VI of Pontus was successfully contesting Roman rule in Anatolia. The citizenship laws at Athens had changed somewhat. Athenion's mother had been an Egyptian slave owned by his father, and yet based on his father's citizenship he was enrolled as a citizen and inherited his father's estate. Apellicon (not an Athenian name), an immigrant from Teos in Asia MInor, was enrolled as a citizen after his adoption into the family of Aristotle, son of Apolexis.

The fact that the family included two members named Aristotle leads to the suggestion that the adoptive family had connections to the Lyceum and that Apellicon learned of the books through it.[28] Moreover, references in the sources to Apellicon and Athenion as "peripatetics" may well be interpreted as meaning that they both went to the Lyceum, which would explain why they were later comrades-in-arms. The peripatetics never had a predictable philosophy. Both men were skilled orators, which was a specialty of the school at that time. Athenion went on to found a chain of schools for boys, on which account he is called a "sophist" (a teacher of conventional wisdom). Apellicon turned his love for books into something conceded to have been illegal for the times:

"For at one time he was a philosopher, and collected all the treatises of the Peripatetics, and the whole library of Aristotle, and many others; for he was a very rich man; and he had also stolen a great many autograph decrees of the ancients out of the temple of the Mighty Mother, and whatever else there was ancient and taken care of in other cities; and being detected in these practices at Athens he would have been in great danger if he had not made his escape"

As there is no indication that the Apolexidis family were fabulously wealthy or that, being numerous, they had much to leave to their adopted son, Apellicon very likely made his money from the resale of rare documents he acquired for nothing except the cost of stealing them. These were the originals of the decrees, first written on paper and signed before they were carved in stone for public benefit. In describing the ideal library of "Lawrence," Athenaeus points out that even then historians were expected to verify their claims against public documents. In one source Apellicon himself had written a book on Aristotle. Initially he might have yielded to the temptation to walk away with the source rather than return it to display in the temple. Becoming rich through the sale of stolen documents he decided to redeem the old cache, which was said to have been hidden not far from his home town.

Examining the books, and finding that moths and mold had removed portions of the text, Apellicon created another recension, supplying the missing information himself. There is no indication of how much was missing or of what source Apellicon used, if any, or whether the supplied material was grammatical, orthographic, or epigraphic, or included philosophy as well. Subsequent editors judged his recension to have been full of errors, but no ancient source has said what sort of errors, or how they were judged to be errors. These editors made corrections, but the sources of information used for correction remain unknown. In short, the only thing known from ancient sources is that Apellicon made a recension that was later criticised for being erroneus. The contradiction of such a statement is that if they knew enough to correct Apellicon, why would the rediscovery of the books have added anything different to the obviously already known corpus?[topic note 15]

The passage from Athenaeus also provides a rough time table for the recension of Apellicon. It was created toward the end of his years as a successful thief, presumably at his home in Athens. What happened to the damaged originals remains a total mystery. Perhaps they were repasted and sold. How many copies were made if any, and who got them, also is not known. Apellicon probably left town in such a hurry that the books remained in Athens under the care of friends or servants. There is no record that the city moved against his property. Thus in a short time when he returned under the protection of Athenion he took up residence in the same home housing the same library, which was found there by Sulla after Apellicon's death.

Sulla's victory over the peripateticsEdit

In the pages of Athenaeus, evil men come to a bad end, and the peripatetics are not good men. These were shortly to be tested in the First Mithridatic War with disastrous results.[topic note 16] Bithynia and Pontus were independent kingdoms descending from Persian satrapies on the southern coast of the Black Sea never taken by Alexander. The descendants of the satraps remained as the Nicomedid and Mithridatid dynasties respectively.[topic note 17] Walking a fine diplomatic balance they managed to coexist with the reigning diadochi (Attalids, Seleucids, etc.), but they made war on each other. When the diadochi were replaced by Roman provincial governors, Mithridates VI of Pontus attacked Nicomedes IV of Bithynia, claiming tort at the hands of Nicomedes supported by Rome, and further developing an Anatolian alliance defeated all the Roman commanders, massacring as well the helpless Roman citizens. Rome could not ignore these events.

Revolution at AthensEdit

The rise of Mithridates offered some hope of independence to the cities of Greece. The Athenian people made Athenion the ambassador to Mithridates on the basis of his skill at oratory and experience of the east. Mithridates had other ideas. Winning the ambassador by banquets and promises he sent him back to Athens, where he set up headquarters in front of the Stoa of Attalus. The Roman officers were accustomed to address the people at that location. After a running harangue, voting to declare independence, the Athenians elected Athenion as commander-in-chief of their armed forces. The historians refer to him as a tyrant.

The wealthy made it clear that the vote had not been theirs by attempting to escape the city. Posting a guard on the gates and dispatching cavalry to hunt the escapees Athenion held a sequence of drum-head trials for treason of which the result was always the same: death and confiscation of property. Athenaeus' account of other peripatetic tyrants at this time makes it clear that the issue was ideologic, the redistribution of wealth. Athenaeus, however, portrays it as thievery due to greed. He says that Athenion "collected such a quantity of money as to fill several wells." Furthermore, he was lavish in his expenditures. Whether the motives were ideologic or personal is a difficult question to answer either then or now, but Athenion went to extremes. He took to torture to extort money. A curfew was set. The economy declined from want. Rationing was instituted.

Athenion replaced all the magistrates with his own men. Choosing this moment to return to Athens, Apellicon was welcomed as an old comrade. Athenion sent him to Delos in command of a force with instructions to recapture the Athenian national treasury there and bring the money to Athens. It is peculiar that the force he was given is more of a mob than a detachment of soldiers, and that Apellicon evidences total ignorance of military matters. Landing on the shore at night they encamp without a palisade, fail to set a proper watch, and proceed to drink into the small hours. The commander of the Roman guard, Orobius, leads his soldiers into the camp, slaughters 600 men, takes another 400 captive, and hunts the escapees through the countryside, burning them up in their hiding places. Better at running than fighting, Apellicon manages to escape to Athens, where he disappears from politics, at least in the sources, until the brief notice of his death, apparently not of interest to Sulla until then.

On either side, victory depended on intervention. The Pontians moved first. Accompanying his fleet commander, Archelaus, as admiral Mithridates sails to Rhodes with his entire fleet. Lucius Cassius, Proconsul of Asia, had escaped to the fortified harbor in the city of the same name there with whatever refugees he could locate. All the Italians had been struck on a day pre-arranged by Mithridates. Their property was seized by forfeit under pretext of being for the public good, a motive that Appian, like Athenaeus, tears to shreds. The friends of Mithridates revelled in riches. Their cause was amply funded. Commanding from a state quinquereme, Mithridates throws all his naval resources at Rhodes. Failing to take the place, he retreats to his headquarters at Pergamon, instructing Archelaus to complete the conquest of the Cyclades. Archelaus overwhelms Delos, sending the treasury back to Athens with one Aristion under guard of 2000 men. He then anchors at Piraeus, fortifies Munichia, and uses the place as a headquarters, sending out forays to subdue new islands and new coastal cities. During this time Aristion is tyrant of Athens, and no more is heard of Athenion.

The sources on these two men are again contradictory. They are both tyrants of Athens. Athenaeus uses "Athenion," as did his source, Posidonius, without mention of "Aristion." Pausanias, Appian, and Plutarch refer to "Aristion" without mentioning "Athenion." The main difference is that Athenion is a peripatetic, while Aristion is an epicurean. The scholar, Isaac Casaubon, proposed without further evidence that they were the same man, that, enrolling as a citizen, Athenion changed his name to Aristion (there was one other instance of the practice).[29] The difference continued to be troubling, as the two philosophies were at opposite poles: the Epicureans were atomists following Democritus, while the peripatetics were hylomorphs, following Plato. The sources would have known the difference, even just to be men of letters.

In 1935 fragments of a monument were excavated from the Ancient Agora of Athens, which when joined formed part of a decree (I 2351) establishing a new government at Athens. According to Woodhead,

”... officials have been chosen by lot or direct election, and a Constitution is being ratified by the demos.”[30]

A first analysis dated the Constitution to 84/83 BC, the time of Sulla's visit after reaching an agreement with Mithridates. On subsequent revision of the text J.H. Oliver noticed that two of the provisions were so close to recommendations in Aristotle's Politics that Bekker numbers could be assigned.[topic note 18] As a peripatetic constitution would not be being restored in 84 BC after the final overthrow of the peripatetics. Oliver redates it to 87/86 BC suggesting that the author was a peripatetic; that is, Athenion with his friends. Furthermore, I 2351 is strong evidence that the recension of Apellicon was in fact close to the corpus Aristotelicum.[31] Antela-Bernardez suggests that after the Delian debacle Mithridates sacked all the peripatetics and elevated his own man, Aristion, to tyrant.

Civil war at RomeEdit

On the Roman side, the Asiatic Vespers (the massacre) resulted in an immediate declaration of war.[topic note 19] Elections were due for the year 88 BC, which began January first. Sulla and Rufus (“red”) stood for consules and won (see List of Roman consuls). Rufus’ son, an officer under Sulla, had asked for Cornelia's (Sulla's eldest daughter's) hand in marriage and won, a marriage which ended tragically. Sulla himself made a marriage with the daughter of the Chief Priest (Pontfex Maximus). The two consules cast lots for the major obligations, as required by law. Sulla won prosecution of the Mithridatic War.

These electoral victories represent a break-away from the political machine of which Gaius Marius was boss. He headed the Populares party; Sulla and Rufus were of the Optimates. Marius had nevertheless until now sponsored the career of Sulla. Born to the aristocratic Cornelii, Sulla was said to have had a way with women. His step-mother left him her fortune. He married into more wealth. His personal name, Sulla, was actually a food dish of white cheese sprinkled over a red sauce (pizza?) giving the same appearance as his face. He had joined a troupe of comedians who sang and danced making a mockery of famous people, leaving that to enter government service under Marius’ sponsorship. His taking for himself a position Marius had hoped to control was an unforgivable betrayal.

The animosity between them had begun previously when the ambitious Sulla ran for Praetor, lost, ran again, bought some votes and won, to be ridiculed for it by Julius Caesar. Sent to Asia without troops he brought about peace using the troops of his allies there. On his return the Populares impeached him for extorting an ally but the case was dropped. At the outbreak of the Social War (91–88 BC) both parties put their differences aside until victory was achieved and the Italians were restored to Roman rule. Sulla, leading troops recruited at Rome itself, had acquired “the name of a great commander,” but the aging Marius accomplished nothing of note.

Wasting no time, Marius subverted one of the Tribuni plebis, “Tribunes of the People,” Publius Sulpicius Rufus, a feared politician with a private army of 3000 men, to pass an ordinance giving conduct of the war to Marius. Sulpicius had changed allegiance from the optimates to the populares to qualify for the magistracy. As blandishment, Marius promised the relief of Sulpicius’ ruinous debt. Declaring a preventative cessation of business, the two consuls were attacked by Sulpicius’ men in assembly. Rufus escaped somehow. His son was killed. Marius offered shelter to Sulla for old time's sake and in exchange for withdrawal of the cessation.

The tribunes sent to take command of the army at Nola (near Naples) were stoned to death by it. Sulla had gotten there first. Marius began to murder Sulla's partisans and confiscate their property. Sulla marched on Rome with six legions. He was met by emissaries from the Senate, who would, they assured him, make things right. Sulla agreed but lied, following the emissaries back to Rome to capture the gate. Halted there by a mob, he set fire to Rome.[topic note 20]

Marius fled for his life. Sulla passed a death sentence in absentia (later rescinded). Sulpicius was executed. The elections for 87 were upon them. Rufus had been killed in a mutiny. Knowing he could not win, Sulla did not run. He did control who did win, making it possible for them to perform their duties or preventing them. His choices were Gnaeus Octavius (consul 87 BC), an optimate (although he disliked Sulla) and Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a popular. The price for Sulla's support was that they swear a personal oath to leave Sulla in his command, now as Proconsul. Cinna broke it immediately, suborning a low-level tribune to trump up an accusation (not known what) on the basis of which he began impeachment proceedings against Sulla.

The paradox of the shipsEdit

Over a year had passed since the hapless Romans in Asia had sent urgent appeals for assistance. Mithridates had established sovereignty over nearly all of Greece. The Roman government seemed paralyzed by incidents of partisan contention. Meanwhile, Bruttius Sura, a Legate of one Gaius Sentius, Praetor of Macedonia, was conducting small-unit operations quasi-autonomously against the Pontians in Boeotia with minimal success. Boeotia though anti-Pontian was being compelled to submit. In the autumn of 88 BC Sulla's Quaestor (chief supply officer), one Lucullus (undoubtedly the same as Lucius Licinius Lucullus, written about by Plutarch), arrived to order Sura back to Macedonia and to make supply arrangements with Boeotia and the states of central Greece. In the spring of 87, Sulla abandoned the suite of impeachment and the Civil War to strike suddenly across the Adriatic into central Greece with 5 legions and some cavalry, in very round numbers, about 30,000 men, mainly veterans of the Social War, many no doubt from his prior command.

Implied by the sudden strike story is the paradox of the ships. During the siege of Athens, lacking ships to conduct an amphibious assault on Piraeus, Sulla sends Lucullus to Egypt by night in disguised vessels to beg ships from Ptolemy IX Lathyros. Denied and redirected to Cyprus, Lucullus avoids an ambush there and collects a motley fleet from the islands. Meanwhile, Sulla has no ships, it is said. When history last saw Sulla's five legions they had been sent back to the camp at Nola. Either Sulla acquired ships there and sailed around the south of Italy or they marched overland to Brindisi, the preferred port of embarcation for voyages to Greece. The sources give no clue.

The troops next appear at Athens without ships. How did they cross the Adriatic Sea? Mommsen says:[32]

” the spring of 87 B.C. he landed in Epirus—but with only thirty thousand men: he was without a single ship and his treasury was empty.”

He could not have landed in Epirus without a single ship except by extraordinary means not explained by Mommsen. Similarly, the contemporaneous Long says:[33]

”Sulla left Italy in b.c. 87 with five legions and some auxiliary cohorts and cavalry. He would sail from Brundisium and land somewhere on the opposite coast of the continent. It was a long and difficult march to Athens.”

The ships have appeared in this scenario (one cannot sail without them) but the march is unnecessarily laborious. There is no need to disembark at all: one enters the Gulf of Corinth, which is 81 miles long, and no more than a few days later arrives off the shores of Attica and Boeotia. If the ships are allowed, there is no necessity to have any “landing” or any “march” at all.

The current solution implied or expressed by the scholars is that by “ships” the sources mean warships capable of defeating Archelaus’ warships, which would otherwise ram and sink any troop transports. Sulla's quaestorial organization would have acquired sufficient transports for the crossing in Italy. They did not sail to Athens with them as the seas were ruled by Archelaus. The only other route is through the Gulf of Corinth. It requires that either the ships be dragged across the Isthmus of Corinth on an overland route through enemy territory or be left behind in the Gulf.

What the army did do depended on the disposition of the states on the east side of the Gulf and the moot question of supply. Mommsen and Long (and many others) speculate that the troops arrived in Epirus with empty larders, so to speak. On the contrary, as the master of Rome, Sulla would have had no trouble commandeering whatever initial supplies and ships he needed. His was not a poverty-stricken army. Armies on the move, however, require supply lines, which is what the Civil War would deny Sulla. As soon as he had departed his enemies assumed power, and they had no intention of supplying his army. He was on his own.

Appian gives the most detail:[34]

”Sulla ... now for the first time passed over to Greece with five legions and a few cohorts and troops of horse and straightway called for money, reënforcements and provisions from Ætolia and Thessaly.”

There is no mention of any land campaign. Aetolia was on the north shore of the Gulf. Thessaly was far to the north on the east coast of central Greece. This distance is the basis for Mommsen's land campaign, as though Thessaly required one. Thessaly, however, was still pro-Roman.[35] One does not devastate the country of an ally to acquire supplies. Apparently, Sulla landed in Aetolia to receive the assistance promised by both states to Lucullus the previous year.

The quaestor's road auctionEdit

Supplied and augmented by Aetolians Sulla's force marched through the adjoining country of Boeotia. As a symbol of Roman presence it was immensely successful. Every city of Boeotia, including the recalcitrant Thebes, rallied to the Roman cause. His flank now covered, Sulla entered Megaris, which had thrown in its lot with Boeotia. It was an important land link between Attica and the Gulf of Corinth. It had a fortified port, Aigosthena, on the Alkyonides Gulf. Arriving in the vicinity of Athens, Sulla constructed a larger castra (base) at Eleusis to support siege operations, supply operations,[topic note 21] and winter quarters for the men should that become necessary (it did).

After constructing their castra — a Roman legion was prepared to throw up one of those in a single late afternoon, although a permanent camp may have taken longer — the Romans moved to the siege of Athens on the north side. If Sulla had faced the full weight of the Athenian army as it had been, he would perhaps simply have been cleared out of Attica. As it was, Aristion and his Mithridatic ally, Archelaus, were to demonstrate an astounding incompetence (the sources were astounded) against Roman veteran troops; nevertheless, they put up a strong resistance, Archelaus most of all.

The Athenians had created two fortified defensive communities: the city itself with the Acropolis and the Marketplace (agora), and the port, Piraeus, with a defensible elevation. The path between them was protected by two parallel “Long Walls.” Thinking them unimportant, the defenders allowed these walls to be taken and demolished, thus splitting their forces in two. Archelaus defending Piraeus could be resupplied and reinforced by sea. Aristion in Athens itself could not. Sulla threw the entire weight of his attack against Aristion.

The defenders did have a defense strategy, plotted between Mithridates and Archelaus, who were in relatively rapid communication by swift vessel. Mithridates dispatched a strike force of 120,000 men under his son, Arcathias (or Ariathes). He took Macedonia and Thessaly but the force was delayed by the natural death of the son. Had he succeeded in reaching Attica in a timely manner Sulla would have been pinned between three forces. This remedy offers some explanation for Aristion's strange behavior: he sang and danced on the walls of Athens, mocking Sulla by recalling his early career as an entertainer. One source proposes that he was just a fool who liked to entertain the men of his command. Another informs us that he was trying to anger Sulla to keep him on the attack, which also would be a strange thing to do if he did not expect a relieving force. He succeeded all too well, but the timing went wrong.

Sulla sent for some siege engines from Thebes. It was at this time that he crossed paths unknowingly with Aristotle and also made the originally honest decisions that would lead to the plundering of Greek objects d’art. A mere agreement with the allies to provide supplies in kind was grossly insufficient. Cash was needed to pay the men and to buy the goods and services needed for the siege, such as thousands of working mules, drivers and wagons. Just after he was assigned the Mithridatic War, the Senate voted to:[36]

”sell the treasures that King Numa Pompilius had set apart for his sacrifices to the gods.”

That money was gone and Sulla was cut off from Rome, but there were plenty of temples in Greece, each of which served as a repository of wealth. He and Lucullus made the decision to tax these temples for their valuable objects. Letters of appropriation were sent forthwith, delivered by revenue agents in wagons and ships.

The sources concentrate on the three most famous temples: the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Asclepeion at Epidaurus, and the Temple of Zeus, Olympia, which latter yielded “a vast fortune” according to Diodorus Siculus[37] These were not the only temples taxed; there is evidence that the tax might have been on all temples. Pausanias mentions the removal of the statue of Athena from a temple in Haliartus, Boeotia.[38] At this time Sulla was still arguing national security as a motive. After the war he compensated at least some of the temples by giving them confiscated farmland for a yearly income.

Sulla was primarily interested in currency. He could obtain it either by resale of the art objects or by melting them and issuing coin. We are told he founded a mint in the Peloponnesus and that he issued gold and silver coins of greater than standard weight for “purchasing the services of their soldiers with lavish sums.”[39] This money was subsequently called “Lucullian,” according to Plutarch.[40] The coin discoveries from the region are consistent with this view, although not conclusive. A gold aureus and a silver denarius believed from the times are overweight and bear an image of Venus, Sulla's patron goddess, on one side with a double cornucopia and the letter Q for Quaestor on the other.[41] Minting was not the only disposition of the antiques; Sulla was aware of the high resale value of such objects. He took many objects not of precious metal, such as the antique shields of the Greeks who had stopped Brennus (3rd century BC) at Thermopylae. These must have been sold to the highest bidder.


  1. ^ Grote takes note of the problem even before the discovery of the Constitution, which he is embarrassed to relate, he says, considering the credibility invested in Aristotle: Grote 1970, p. 31 "Here, then, we find several embarrassing facts in regard to the Aristotelian Canon. Most of the works now accepted and known as belonging to Aristotle, are neither included in the full Aristotelian Catalogue given by Diogenes, nor were they known to Cicero; who, moreover, ascribes to Aristotle attributes of style not only different, but opposite, to those which our Aristotle presents."
  2. ^ Scholiarch though a useful term in scholarship is a fantasy of the English language. It is based on scholarch, which is used by the classical writers, but so rarely that it does not even appear in the standard Greek dictionaries. The head of a school, such as Plato or Aristotle, is generally called the archon or master or the "leader." Aristotle's transference of the title to any friend at random is believed indicative of his humanistic views. He was nevertheless the guiding light, with the power to name Theophrastus as successor.
  3. ^ A speculative theory by Baltussen supposes that the location outside the walls relieved the metics of their rights and responsibilities as metics making it possible for Aristotle to own the school, justifying Strabo: Baltussen, Hans (2016). "Aristotle's Heirs". The Peripatetics: Aristotle's Heirs 322 BCE - 200 CE. New York; Abingdon: Routledge. p. 2. The Lykeion was located outside the city walls because as a metic (non-Athenian, 'immigrant') Aristotle was not allowed to own property in the city of Athens. On the contrary, the only thing the location got him was a beautiful park, a spring, a ready-made gymnasion, and a place to put a zoo and botanical garden, as the walls were a recent military defense and not any sort of border. The Academics used the park quite a lot. A recent study of the status of metics based on Athenian orations and passages from historians may be found in Kears, Matthew John (2013). Metics and Identity in Democratic Athens (PDF) (PhD thesis). Birmingham, GB: University of Birmingham. According to Kears, the ancient requirement for citizenship was being autochthonous, "of the land," which was Attica and not some small area defined by wall. The citizens were registered in demes, or districts, throughout it. The law required both parents to be autochthonous.
  4. ^ Hipparchus, Neleus, Strato, Callinus, Demotimus, Demaratus, Callisthenes, Melantes, Pancreon, and Nicippus, with rights also to Aristotle, grandson of Aristotle, then a child. Most are not known further to the sources.
  5. ^ One popular speculation has Neleus losing an election to Strato (Lynch 2010, p. 81). The school was not democratic. Aristotle never held elections. The first proprietor to request replacement by election in his will was Lyco, but he had the option of requesting it or not. There was no expectation or process in place. The peripatetics did not share in the Athenian ideal as they were not Athenian. Certainly, the Macedonians, who were friends, decided nothing by democracy, yet it would be hard to find a figure as democratic in his relationships as Alexander. He listened to everyone within reason. When he had made up his mind, it was dangerous to oppose him.
  6. ^ One school of speculations is exculpatory, as in the following example: Blum, Rudolph (1991). Kallimachos: The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography. Translated by Wellisch, Hans H. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 61. Perhaps he wanted to found a school himself ... That was of course a loss ... but not a catastrophe, because the members ... certainly had copies. To the contrary, no school was ever founded, and Blum is suggesting a duplicate library concept, which is in no way stated or implied by any source. It seems logical that some friends had copies of individual books in which they were interested, but a number of sources indicate a library in the thousands of books, which leads to the legitimate question of whether Neleus removed the entire library.
  7. ^ Jacob proposes the books were willed to Neleus' family, who were idiotoi anthropoi, "uneducated men," as a "long-term investment" in rare books: Jacob, Christian (2013). "Fragments of a history of ancient libraries". In König, Jason; Oikonomopoulou, Katerina; Woolf, Greg (eds.). Ancient Libraries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 70. But, the growing community of book collectors only knew the value of the books because they were educated men. The relatives could have been informed by Neleus, but this thought is a speculation on a speculation. By Strabo's report, the books were kept for several generations and sold in dilapidated, partly unreadable condition to Apellicon for an unrefusable price only after persuasion. In another example, Theophrastus allocates funds in his will for the repair of recent vandalism to the museum: Watson 2012, p. 273. Watson hypothesizes that Neleus removed the books to protect them. The ruination of the entire school to protect its library seems pointless.
  8. ^ One of the 4th-century Oxyrhynchus Papyri. It was matched to a papyrus in the British Museum purchased from Cairo bearing the Constitution on one side and some 1st-century Egyptian business accounts on the other. The total find circumstances are related in the Introduction to Loeb L285, which is in the public domain and can be downloaded at Baumann, Ryan. "Loebolus".
  9. ^ If Strabo's and Athenaeus' traditions are taken as purely true, the Constitution of the Athenians ought not to exist. Either it was not among the books that went to Skepsis (not being in Bekker) or it was destroyed by the first great fire among the books at Alexandria. The typical compromise solution is expressed by Sandys as follows: Aristotle (1912). Sandys, John Edwin (ed.). Aristotle's Constitution of Athens: a revised text with an introduction, critical and explanatory notes, testimonia and indices (Second ed.). London: MacMillan and Co. p. xxv. But, to shew that the fate of Aristotle’s writings did not entirely depend on the fortunes of the library buried in the vault at Scépsis, we have abundant proof of some of them being familiar to the philosophic world during the interval in which his library itself was lost to view; and it is probable that many of them, including those of more general interest, were at an early date transcribed at Athens and thence transmitted to the great library at Alexandria.
  10. ^ For a view of the world of MSS such as was seen by Bekker, see "aristotle original manuscripts".
  11. ^ Bekker's labor in having to personally visit institutions to view MSS in person undoubtedly limited the number of MSS he could view. Today most of the larger MSS collectors, including the ones visited by Bekker, have adopted a system of digitizing MSS and making them available online, often as a free public service. For example, refer to "Modern Language Translations of Byzantine Sources: Digitized Greek Manuscripts". Princeton University Library. Retrieved 20 December 2017. Some knowledge of palaeography is required to read these.
  12. ^ Natali, Carlo (2013). Aristotle: His Life and School. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 150. It is much more probable, in my opinion, ... that the second collection of Aristotle's books (the corpus) never left Athens, but was neglected by later peripatetics ....
  13. ^ D.L. states the dates in Olympiads, in this case 123, which is 288-284 BC. The central date comes from R.D. Hicks, translator and editor of "Loeb 184".
  14. ^ There are four sources on Apellicon: 1) Persons 1343 and 1363 containing fragments of Posidonius, Kirschner, Johannes, ed. (1901). Prosographia Attica (in Ancient Greek and Latin). 1. Berolini: Typis et Impensis Georgii Reimeri. pp. 93, 95. 2) "Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, Chapter 5". Perseus Digital Library. 3) "Plutarch, Sulla, Chapter 26". Perseus Digital Library. 4) "Strabo, Geography, 13.1.54". Perseus Digital Library.
  15. ^ There is no credible answer not entirely speculative. Speculations are easily made, such as that some texts were known, or the errors were of an epigraphic character only. Proof awaits further discoveries. A popular speculation is that Apellicon as a book dealer was too ignorant to have attempted a recension; therefore, he did not. There is nothing in book dealers, however, that makes them per se ignorant.
  16. ^ Their rise to power is detailed in "Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, Book V, Chapter 28 (Ath.5.pos=385) - 53 (pos.=390)". Their fall is described in "Plutarch, Sulla, Chapters 12-26".. Complementary detail is given in Plutarch's Lucullus. Another valuable source differs in some major detail from Plutarch: "Appian, Mithridatic Wars, Chapters 3-6". Perseus Digital Library. Plutarch is generally preferred, because he claims to have had access to Sulla's Memoirs (now missing). Appian, however, fills in some gaps in Plutarch, even though sometimes variant.
  17. ^ Use of the -id suffix to designate a dynasty is an English-language fantasy. In Homer it is the predominant patronymic, but only there. Ancient Greek had many methods of designating patronymic. Today's uses are generally not Greek and not substantiated, but the terms are useful as formed nouns; for example, Mithridatids is all the kings in a descent named Mithridates. Not enough cultural data survives to know what they really used, if anything, possibly nothing to do with Mithridates. The numbers after the kings similarly are English ideas, while the knicknames were assigned as convenient identifiers by historians. For example, Ptolemy I Soter did not know he was to be either I or Soter.
  18. ^ Aristotle 1320b lines 11-14 recommends the combination of democracy and oligarchy for the most balanced form of government, to be implemented by two types of magistrates, those chosen by lot (democratic) and those chosen by vote (oligarchic). I 2351 Line 9 places the government in the hands of those chosen by “lot” (kleros) and by “election” (cheirotonia, “show of hands,” not the Christian “laying on of hands”). Aristotle 1294a lines 41-42 recommends the “common or middle term” between democracy and oligarchy. I 2351 Line 14 is establishing the koine kai mese politeia, direct quote.
  19. ^ They were perhaps less ethnic than military: the Marian Reforms of 107 BC had opened the army to propertyless men and provided that at the end of a successful career veterans receive free land, notably in foreign countries. Communities of veterans were becoming an indispensable adjunct to Roman bases.
  20. ^ Appian paints these violent partisan instances as episodes in the Roman civil wars, defining civil war in the Foreword of his work of the same name as a sanguinary conflict between factions of the same people, each claiming jurisdiction under the authority of the same government. In their attempt to find a Constitution that would satisfy both the Patricians and the Plebeians the Romans had created two categories of senior magistrates: the Consuls and Praetors, and the Tribunes. With competing duties and of parallel authorities they were expected to cooperate, yielding when superseded. The cooperation vanished in the period of the civil wars. In its place was the phonos, the "slaughter." Pliny the Elder appears to have supported these historical ideas by terming Sulla's activities the bellum civile Sullanum, "Sullan Civil War." (Natural History 38.46).
  21. ^ Roman accounting was more precise than was believed before the excavations at Vindolanda uncovered the Vindolanda tablets, records written in Roman cursive on thin wooden leaves, including accounting records. The quaestorium was a well-organized warehouse.


  1. ^ W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (1953), vol. 1, p. lxxxii. By the "physical works", Ross means the Physics, On the Heavens, On Generation and Corruption, and the Meteorology; see Ross, Aristotle's Physics (1936), p. 3.
  2. ^ E.g., Barnes 1995, pp. 18–22.
  3. ^ Barnes 1995, p. 12; Aristotle himself: Nicomachean Ethics 1102a26–27. Aristotle himself never uses the term "esoteric" or "acroamatic". For other passages where Aristotle speaks of exōterikoi logoi, see W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (1953), vol. 2, pp. 408–410. Ross defends an interpretation according to which the phrase, at least in Aristotle's own works, usually refers generally to "discussions not peculiar to the Peripatetic school", rather than to specific works of Aristotle's own.
  4. ^ House, Humphry (1956). Aristotles Poetics. p. 35.
  5. ^ Barnes 1995, p. 12.
  6. ^ Ammonius (1991). On Aristotle's Categories. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2688-X. p. 15
  7. ^ a b Laërtius, Diogenes. The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. pp. 189–191.
  8. ^ The Complete Works of Aristotle, edited by Jonathan Barnes, 2 vols., Princeton University Press, 1984.
  9. ^ "CU-Boulder Expert Wins $75,000 Award For Research On Aristotle," Archived 2016-04-18 at the Wayback Machine University of Colorado Office of News Services, December 14, 2005.
  10. ^ D. S. Hutchinson & Monte Ransome Johnson (25 January 2015). "New Reconstruction, includes Greek text".
  11. ^ Chandler, Corinne. "Aristotle's Lyceum". Matt Barrett's Athens Survival Guide. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  12. ^ Lynch 1972, p. 76
  13. ^ Lynch 1972, p. 74
  14. ^ Lynch 1972, p. 85
  15. ^ Lynch 1972, p. 72
  16. ^ Lynch 1972, pp. 83–84
  17. ^ Corazzon, Raul (2016). "The Rediscovery of the Corpus Aristotelicum and the Birth of Aristotelianism" (PDF). Theory and History of Ontology.
  18. ^ Strabo. "Geography 13.1.54". Perseus Digital Library.
  19. ^ Novak 2001, p. 2
  20. ^ Novak 2001, p. 3
  21. ^ Millett, Paul (1991). Lending and borrowing in ancient Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 148.
  22. ^ The argument is to be found in most books on the topic. As an example, see Watson 2012, p. 273
  23. ^ Athenaeus (1854). "Book I Chapter 4". The Deipnosophists. Or Banquet Of The Learned Of Athenaeus. Translated by Yonge, C.D. London: Henry G. Bohn.
  24. ^ Zeller, Eduard (1897). Aristotle and the Earlier Peripatetics. 1. Translated by Costelloe, Benjamin Francis Conn; Muirhead, John Henry. New York: Longmans, Green, and Company.
  25. ^ Aristotle; Plato (2015). "Corpus Aristotelicum". In Catholic Way Publishing (ed.). Aristotle, Plato. The Philosophy Collection [97 Books]. London: Catholic Way Publishing Company. ISBN 9781783794768.
  26. ^ Grote, George (1880). Bain, Alexander; Robertson, George Croom (eds.). Aristotle. London: Murray.
  27. ^ See in the category list at the bottom of the page under Aristotelian manuscripts.
  28. ^ Dix, T.Keith (2004). "Aristotle's 'Peripatetic' Library". In Raven, James (ed.). Lost Libraries: The Destruction of Great Book Collections Since Antiquity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 65.
  29. ^ Cotton, George Edward Lynch (1870). "Aristion". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Volume 1.
  30. ^ Woodhead, A. Geoffrey (1997). Inscriptions: the Decrees. The Athenian Agora. Volume XVI. Princetom: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. pp. 467–469.. The inscription can be found online at "Agora XVI 333". Searchable Greek Inscriptions. The Packard Humanities Institute.
  31. ^ Antela-Bernardez, Borja (210). "Between Medeios and Mithridates: The Peripatetic Constitution Of Athens (Agora I 2351)". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.
  32. ^ Mommsen, Theodor (1906). Howland, Arthur C. (ed.). Rome From Earliest Times to 44 B.C. The History of Nations. Volume III. John D. Morris & Company. p. 217.
  33. ^ Long, George (1866). The Decline of the Roman Republic. Volume 2. London: Bell and Daldy. p. 281.
  34. ^ Mithridatic Wars, 5.30.
  35. ^ Plutarch, Sulla, 11.3.
  36. ^ Appian, Mithridatic War, 4.22.
  37. ^ 37.7.
  38. ^ 9.33.
  39. ^ Plutarch, Sulla, chapter 12.
  40. ^ Lucullus, Chapter 2.
  41. ^ Tameanko, Marvin (2009). "Lucullus, a Second Best Hero Of The Roman Republic". The Journal of Ancient Numismatics. 3 (1).

Works citedEdit

  • Lynch, John Patrick (1972). Aristotle's School: a Study of a Greek Educational Institution. University of California Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Barnes, Jonathan (1995). "Life and Work". The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Novak, Joseph A. (2001). "Abduction and Aristotle's Library" (PDF). Scholarship at Uwindsor. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Watson, Walter (2012). The Lost Second Book of Aristotle's Poetics. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226875101.

External linksEdit