chapter  I
LIFE AND WORKS
Pages 20

Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. in the little town of Stagira, the modern Stavro, on the north-east coast of the peninsula of Chalcidice. An attempt has sometimes been made2 to detect a non-Greek strain in his character and to attribute this to his northern birth; but Stagira was in the fullest sense a Greek town, colonized from Andros and Chalcis and speaking a variety of the Ionic dialect. His father, Nicomachus, belonged to the clan or guild of the Asclepiadae, and it seems probable3 that the family had migrated from Messenia in the eighth or seventh century. The family of his mother, Phaestis, belonged to Chalcis, where in his last days Aristotle took refuge from his enemies. His father was the physician and friend of Amyntas II of Macedonia, and it is possible that part of Aristotle’s boyhood was spent at Pella, the royal seat. It is reasonable to trace Aristotle’s interest in physical science and above all in biology to his descent from a medical family. Galen tells us4 that Asclepiad families trained their sons in dissection, and it is possible that Aristotle had some such training; further, he may have helped his father in his surgery, and this is probably the origin of the story which charged him with having been a quack-doctor. His parents died while he was still a boy, and he became the ward of a relation named Proxenus, whose son Nicanor he later adopted.