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The Golden Mean

Lyon, Annabel (Book - 2009)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Golden Mean
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On the orders of his boyhood friend, now King Philip of Macedon, Aristotle postpones his dreams of succeeding Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens and reluctantly arrives in the Macedonian capital of Pella to tutor the king's adolescent sons. An early illness has left one son with the intellect of a child; the other is destined for greatness but struggles between a keen mind that craves instruction and the pressures of a society that demands his prowess as a soldier.nbsp; nbsp; Initially Aristotle hopes for a short stay in what he considers the brutal backwater of his childhood. But, as a man of relentless curiosity and reason, Aristotle warms to the challenge of instructing his young charges, particularly Alexander, in whom he recognizes a kindred spirit, an engaged, questioning mind coupled with a unique sense of position and destiny. nbsp; Aristotle struggles to match his ideas against the warrior culture that is Alexander's birthright. He feels that teaching this startling, charming, sometimes horrifying boy is a desperate necessity. And that what the boy - thrown before his time onto his father's battlefields - needs most is to learn the golden mean, that elusive balance between extremes that Aristotle hopes will mitigate the boy's will to conquer. nbsp; Aristotle struggles to inspire balance in Alexander, and he finds he must also play a cat-and-mouse game of power and influence with Philip in order to manage his own ambitions. nbsp; As Alexander's position as Philip's heir strengthens and his victories on the battlefield mount, Aristotle's attempts to instruct him are honoured, but increasingly unheeded. And despite several troubling incidents on the field of battle, Alexander remains steadfast in his desire to further the reach of his empire to all known and unknown corners of the world, rendering the intellectual pursuits Aristotle offers increasingly irrelevant. nbsp; Exploring this fabled time and place, Annabel Lyon tells her story in the earthy, frank, and perceptive voice of Aristotle himself. With sensual and muscular prose, she explores how Aristotle's genius touched the boy who would conquer the known world. And she reveals how we still live with the ghosts of both men.
Authors: Lyon, Annabel, 1971-
Title: The golden mean
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2009
Characteristics: 284 p. ; 22 cm
Awards & Distinctions: Fiction & literature
Fiction, New, 2009_09
Local Note: 20090908 neb / 20090910 neb dash
ISBN: 9780307356208
0307356205
9780307356215
Branch Call Number: FIC
c823 L991g
Statement of Responsibility: Annabel Lyon
Subject Headings: Aristotle Fiction Alexander, the Great, 356 B.C.-323 B.C. Fiction Philosophers Greece Fiction Greece History Macedonian Expansion, 359-323 B.C. Fiction Athens (Greece) Fiction
Genre/Form: Biographical fiction
Historical fiction
Canadian fiction
Topical Term: Philosophers
MARC Display»

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From Library Staff

Forced to tutor a young Alexander the Great, Aristotle must delay his aspirations. Horrified by the idea of living in the backwater of his youth, he is eventually won over by Alexander’s intellectual promise. Only later does Alexander’s warrior nature reveal itself. Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction ... Read More »

Finalist - Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize


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Aug 15, 2013
  • rab1953 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An interesting novel that looks at Alexander the Great through the first-hand account of his teacher Aristotle. It takes Aristotle out of the ethereal philosophical and intellectual realm on the first page, having him swear and complain about the soreness of riding a horse, while distracting himself with the thought of a woman servant’s ass; it returns to Aristotle’s home life, his ambitions and his fears about becoming entangled in court politics. As he’s not really an insider, his view of Alexander is limited, but he sees how a bright boy has to accommodate the political need for military leadership and social pressures. In the end, both philosopher and ruler have to look for a balance between what they want and what they can accomplish, or get away with, in the real world.

Jun 23, 2013
  • gloryb rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I find it amazing how an author can fictionalize the lives of Aristotle, King Philip, and Alexander, his son after reading histories of this time period and biographies of these men. I enjoyed reading this book, more to see what life could have been like in those times than to find out about the lives of Aristotle or his student, Alexander, who happen to be the vehicles for this discovery. The book is easy to read and, like a life, has no plot except to detail what happens in Aristotle's life during a certain time period....work, play, leisure, family, households, food, friends, relatives, entertainment, problems, successes, failures, housing, pleasures, deaths, diseases, gods/religion/ beliefs, teachings/education, etc.

Jun 17, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Lyon recounts the history of Aristotle from the philosopher’s point of view, concentrating on the time he spends as the tutor of Alexander the Great, a gifted adolescent who displays shockingly violent impulses and a passion for warfare. The balance of extremes becomes a theme as Aristotle attempts to temper the boy while battling emotional extremes of his own. Lyon’s voice has been called earthy and frank; thus the grittiness of Classical Antiquity comes alive, and the reader inhabits
the mind of a great thinker afflicted with bilious swings of mood and energy. Some days Aristotle sleeps and weeps; others he produces “monuments of work that [are] pure luminous chryselephantine genius.” Lyon’s own work is one of notable achievement: nominated for all three of Canada’s major fiction awards, Lyon won the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Oct 23, 2012
  • lisangus rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderful book! Really makes Aristotle and Alexander seem like real people.

Jul 27, 2012
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Aristotle and Alexander the Great. A balance of extremes.

Jan 15, 2012
  • rrrobbie rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

What an under achievement. The premise had great potential, yet, but the resulting book was too pedestrian. The characters were not well developed. Nothing in this book gave you any glimpse in to these two great men, Alexander and Aristotle. Who are these people who have judged this book to have been worthy of awards? It seems to me that they need to read more literature.
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Nov 08, 2011
  • kmoyer rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The author has ingeniously applied and interpreted Aristotle’s writings with existing known historical facts to create a fascinating story of the great philosopher’s life during the six years he spent at the court of King Philip of Macedonia as tutor to prince Alexander and his half-brother Arrhidaeus. The story shows how the more contemplative and scholarly approach could influence and mold the young prince as well as contrasting it with the brutal reality of the training and mind set of warriors and Kings. A fresh way of looking at political theory and of understanding the times. Genuine sadness that Alexander failed to achieve the 'golden mean' Aristotle was promoting.

Highly disappointing. Hated the book. Terribly written with slow boring plot. Over use of vulgar words; seems out of place.

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Mar 06, 2011
  • animal74 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

animal74 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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