Theophrastus
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Theophrastus
 

Theophrastus (c. 370 - 285 BC), a native of Eressos in Lesbos, was the successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. After receiving his first introduction to philosophy in Lesbos from one Leucippus or Alcippus, he proceeded to Athens, and became a member of the Platonic circle. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle, and in all probability accompanied him to Stagira. The intimate friendship of Theophrastus with Callisthenes, the fellow-pupil of Alexander the Great, the mention made in his will of an estate belonging to him at Stagira, and the repeated notices of the town and its museum in the nine books of his Enquiry into plants and his six books of Causes of Plants point to this conclusion. Aristotle in his will made him guardian of his children, bequeathed to him his library and the originals of his works, and designated him as his successor at the Lyceum on his own removal to Chalcis. Theophrastus presided over the Peripatetic school for thirty-five years, and died at the age of eighty-five according to Diogenes. He is said to have remarked "we die just when we are beginning to live".

From the lists of Diogenes, giving 227 titles, it appears that the activity of Theophrastus extended over the whole field of contemporary knowledge. His writing probably differed little from the Aristotelian treatment of the same themes, though supplementary in details. He served his age mainly as a great popularizer of science. The most important of his books are two large botanical treatises, Enquiry into Plants, in nine books (originally ten), and On the Causes of Plants, in six books (originally eight), which constitute the most important contribution to botanical science during antiquity and the Middle Ages, the first systemization of the botanical world; on the strength of these works some call him the "father of Taxonomy". We also possess in fragments a History of Physics, a treatise On Stones, and a work On Sensation, and certain metaphysical Airoptai, which probably once formed part of a systematic treatise.

(Adapted from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophrastus)


 
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