... After this, considering him to be of a temper
easy to be led to his duty by reason, but by no means to be compelled,
he always endeavoured to persuade rather than to command or force him to
anything; and now looking upon the instruction and tuition of his
youth to be of greater difficulty and
importance than to be wholly trusted to the ordinary masters in music and poetry, and the common school subjects, and to require, as Sophocles says-
"The bridle and the rudder too,"
he sent for Aristotle, the most learned and most celebrated philosopher
of his time, and rewarded him with a munificence proportionable to and
becoming the care he took to instruct his son. For he repeopled his native
city Stagira, which he had caused to be demolished a little before, and
restored all the citizens, who were in exile or slavery, to their habitations.
As a place for the pursuit of their studies and exercise, he 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. For when he
was in Asia, and heard Aristotle had published some treatises of that kind,
he wrote to him, using very plain language to him in behalf of philosophy,
the following letter:
"Alexander to Aristotle, greeting. You have not done well to publish your books of oral doctrine; for what is there now that we excel others in, if those things which we have been particularly instructed in be laid open to all? For my part, I assure you, I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. Farewell."
And Aristotle, soothing this passion for pre-eminence, speaks, in his excuse for himself, of these doctrines as in fact both published and not published: as indeed, to say the truth, his books on metaphysics are written in a style which makes them useless for ordinary teaching, and instructive only, in the way of memoranda, for those who have been already conversant in that sort of learning.
Doubtless also it was to Aristotle that he
owed the inclination he had, not to the theory only, but likewise to the
practice of the art of medicine. For when any of his friends were sick,
he would often prescribe them their course of diet, and medicines proper
to their disease, as we may find in his epistles. He was naturally a great
lover of all kinds of learning and reading; and Onesicritus informs us
that he constantly laid Homer's Iliads, according to the copy corrected
by Aristotle, called the casket copy, with his dagger under his pillow,
declaring that he esteemed it a perfect portable treasure of all military
virtue and knowledge. When he was in the upper Asia, being destitute of
other books, he ordered Harpalus to send him some; who furnished him with
Philistus's History, a great many of the plays of Euripides, Sophocles,
and Aeschylus, and some dithyrambic odes, composed by Telestes and Philoxenus.
For a while he loved and cherished Aristotle no less, as he was wont to
say himself, than if he had been his father, giving this reason for it,
that as he had received life from the one, so the other had taught him
to live well. But afterwards, upon some mistrust of him, yet not so great
as to make him do him any hurt, his familiarity and friendly kindness to
him abated so much of its former force and affectionateness, as to make
it evident he was alienated from him. However, his violent thirst after
and passion for learning, which were once implanted, still grew up with
him, and never decayed; as appears by his veneration of Anaxarchus, by
the present of fifty talents which he sent to Xenocrates, and his particular
care and esteem of Dandamis and Calanus.