The Golden Mean

The Golden Mean

Book - 2009
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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;
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2009
ISBN: 9780307356208
0307356205
9780307356215
Branch Call Number: FIC
c823 L991g
Characteristics: 284 p. ; 22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

The fascinating story of Aristotle and his personal tutelage of the man who would become Alexander the Great, trying to instill in him the balance between extremes that is the golden mean. Aristotle must also struggle to maintain political balance for himself in Alexander’s Macedonia.

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 »

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2009.

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 natur... Read More »

Finalist - Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize


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m
merlinsilver
Nov 18, 2015

I totally agree with the reader ‘s comments of April 22, 2015. The first third of the book was great! Then to the end it was slow and humdrum. There were some nice details, but to me it seemed like 2 different authors were writing. The first was interested in the subject matter and the second was just filling up the pages to get it over and done with. A real disappointment with such interesting characters this could have been a really good book.

r
richibi
Apr 22, 2015

this book started off with a bang, after all, the conjunction of Philip of Macedon, Aristotle and Alexander the Great holds great promise, but too pedestrian situations occur to finally hold rapt your attention, interest fizzles, the tale ends in a whimper, though the timeline uniting the three protagonists was made clear, and I liked the information about Ptolemy, Alexander's successor, originator of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, and thus Cleopatra's earliest recorded ancestor

r
rab1953
Aug 15, 2013

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.

g
gloryb
Jun 23, 2013

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.

b
Babalouis
Jun 18, 2013

This book is not hard to read, not too deep or philosophical, but not very engaging either. It did not have much of a plot line or flow and I did not know where it was heading. Some aspects of life during Aristotle's years in Macedon were interesting but not enough for me to finish the book.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

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.

l
lisangus
Oct 23, 2012

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

u
uncommonreader
Jul 27, 2012

Aristotle and Alexander the Great. A balance of extremes.

j
jenzbooks
Mar 03, 2012

Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander get to know Aristotle who tutors Alexander and his brother. The relationships described by Lyon really bring the time period and the people to life. Aristotle especially comes off as a funny, curious professorial type. This is an interesting, quick read.

r
rrrobbie
Jan 15, 2012

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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animal74
Mar 06, 2011

animal74 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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