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Mieza (NŠousa)


Aristotle's school at Mieza (modern Naoussa). Photo Jona Lendering.
Aristotle's school in Mieza. In the second century CE,
Mieza: town in Macedonia, modern NŠousa; Aristotle used to have a school at Mieza.

The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea, writing at the beginning of the second century CE, had no doubts about it: as a boy, Alexander the Great had been the student of Aristotle of Stagira, the most famous philosopher of his age. The story, however, is a bit too good to be true: 

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Bust of the philosopher and scientist Aristotle. Archaeological Museum, Palermo (Italy). Photo Jona Lendering.
Aristotle (Archaeological 
Museum, Palermo)

As a place for the pursuit of their studies and exercise, [king] Philip II of Macedonia assigned the temple of the Nymphs, near Mieza, where, to this very day, they show you Aristotle's stone seats, and the shady walks which he was wont to frequent. It would appear that Alexander received from him not only his doctrines of Morals and of Politics, but also something of those more abstruse and profound theories which these philosophers, by the very names they gave them, professed to reserve for oral communication to the initiated, and did not allow many to become acquainted with.

It is not very likely that the future world conqueror was really interested in the more abstruse and profound theories, but there is no good reason to doubt that the great scientist was once Alexander's teacher.

The shrine of the Nymphs and the school of Aristotle have been identified by archaeologists; they were situated in one of the most beautiful and green parts of Macedonia. The complex consists of two natural caves, between which a rectangular space has been cut out from the rock. Part of it was covered by a portico. The simas can be dated to the fourth century BCE. There's a third cave, about eighty meters away, where the stalactites can be seen that are mentioned by Pliny the Elder (Natural History, 31.30).

A satellite photo can be seen here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2005
Revision: 21 Nov. 2010
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