The Truth About Aristotle’s Love Life

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is one of the most influential minds in history. Much of our understanding — and occasionally misunderstanding — of biology, psychology, and arts stem from his thoughts, musings, and teachings of the ancient philosopher. While his opinions are widely known and recorded, his personal life is shrouded in a little more mystery, and speculation over the romances in his life continues thousands of years after his death.

Aristotle married the niece (or by some accounts adoptive daughter) of King Hermias, Pythias, and the couple had a daughter together named after her mother (via Biography). According to Maths History, Pythias was around the age of 18 when they married, while Aristotle was around his 40s. Their marriage lasted around a decade until the death of Pythias. Aristotle never remarried but had a relationship with someone named Herpyllis. Little is known about his second lover, except that she came from the same hometown as the philosopher, bore him children, and was possibly one of his former slaves.

Aristotle did not see women as intellectually equal

Aristotle was not known for his sense of romance and courtship. While this was partly due to his dedication to philosophy and politics, his views on women were dim, to say the least. Aristotle saw men as superior by nature to women, the latter the subject and the former the master (via Project Muse). This was a distinctly less favorable view of women than his mentor Plato, who only found men physically stronger but otherwise equal. Plato wished for upper-class women to hold social roles equal to men, while Aristotle believed they should be bound to the home.

Aristotle’s positioning of women as above slaves yet below male citizens could have affected his love life. Unlike his mentor Plato, there are no records of Aristotle engaging in any homosexual relationships. Women were there to fill a role in the house, not a hole in his heart, and his mind was much more dedicated to biology and the sciences than love or courtship.

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