From Here to Antiquity: Could Aristotle Be a Turkish Delight?


Greeks and Turks have been at odds with each other pretty much since Greece won independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832. Hostility between the two nations intensified after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974, and the subsequent Turkish occupation of the northern portion of the country, which is still ongoing today.

The Greeks, who have formed the largest population on Cyprus since Antiquity, are obviously not happy that their Turkish neighbors seized a piece of the Mediterranean island. And now it looks like Turkey is stoking the fire again by staking a claim to another of Greece’s prized “possessions:” the famous philosopher, Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC).

According to this recent article, Turkey says the philosopher, who made significant contributions to many areas of human knowledge—including logic, biology, metaphysics, and ethics—was, in fact, of Turkish origin.

The article goes on to say that local authorities in the ancient Turkish town of Assos have restored the statue of Aristotle as a symbol of their city.

Since the article doesn’t cite any proof as to the philosopher’s (alleged) Turkish blood, there is no way to ascertain whether this claim is credible. We do know that Aristotle was born to Greek parents in the ancient Greek city of Stagira. After the death of his mentor, Plato (428 BC–348 BC), Aristotle did travel to Asia Minor, which is present-day Turkey. He stayed there for about six years, got married, and went on to the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon, where he tutored a young man who would eventually become Alexander the Great.

What do the Greeks think about Turkey’s appropriation of the eminent philosopher? The headline in the aforementioned newspaper calls it a “historical insanity.”

But since there is no record of any other reaction, official or otherwise, we can only assume that this claim may very well be all Greek to them.

More on Aristotle