This is a Lorenz Eitner Lecture for Classical Studies.
Of all the great minds of antiquity, Aristotle’s is the one which most clearly celebrated curiosity for its own sake and has most profoundly affected how we all do literature, philosophy and science. There was no constituent of the universe in which he was not interested, whether it was empirically discernible to the senses (plants, animals, planets), or lying beneath and beyond the perceptible surface of things (ethical impulses, principles of logic, time, chance). This illustrated lecture first traces some key moments in the history of the reception, perception, representation and influence of the man whom Dante called simply ‘master of those who know’, il Maestro di color che sanno. As we approach his 2,400th birthday, it then asks whether celebrating certain aspects of Aristotle’s thought and its reception could bolster all our academic endeavours today.
Edith Hall is Professor in the Department of Classics and Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s College London and Chairman of the Gilbert Murray Trust. Her research interests cover ancient Greek literature, thought, politics and culture and their reception in modern times. She taught at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Durham and Royal Holloway before taking up her present position; she has also held visiting appointments at Swarthmore College, PA, Northwestern University, IL, Leiden and Erfurt. She has published over twenty books, both monographs and edited volumes, most recently Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind (2014, Bodley Head). Her monograph Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris: A Cultural History of Euripides’ Black Sea Tragedy (OUP 2013) won a Goodwin Award of Merit from the American Philological Association. In 2015 she was awarded the Erasmus Prize by the European Academy for her contribution to international research.