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Ancient Lyceum's Public Opening

A newly inaugurated archeological site opened on Wednesday at 08.00 am in downtown Athens, offering the public the chance to stroll in Aristotle's Lyceum.

 

Aristotle's Lyceum, uncovered first in 1996 by archeologist Efi Lygouri will be open to visitors with one guard per shift between 08.00 am and 20.00 pm. The site is next to the Byzantine and Christian Museum, offering another 11,000 square meter park to the park-starved capital, and acting as a link with the surrounding museums in the area.

The public will enter the site, for free, from Rigillis street, initially, because of works at the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Later, as planned, another entrance will open next to the memorial to the fallen by Lazaros Sohos, on Vasilisis Sofias Avenue.

The 3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, that inaugurated the site without fanfares, has funded the printing of informative leaflets that will be distributed to visitors over the next few days.

The Lyceum, of which very little remains, was one of the greatest schools of classical Athens, and there Aristotle founded his famous Peripatetic School.

Speculation suggests that Pericles or Pisistratus may have originally initiated the building of the Lyceum as a gymnasium in the 5th or 6th centuries BC, though the Lyceum grounds would have predated the gymnasium. In the early years of the Lyceum the head of the Athenian army was said to have had an office there, which would have made it easy for him to be involved in the military training and exercises for which the grounds were used. The Lyceum’s use as a recreational gym and military training base is attested by the existence of wrestling rings, a racetrack, and seats for athlothetai, the judges of athletic events.

A long list of philosophers and sophists gave talks at the Lyceum prior to Aristotle, including Prodicus of Ceos and Protagoras The most famous philosophers to have taught there, however, were Isocrates, Plato, and the best-known Athenian teacher, Socrates. In addition to military training and educational pursuits, the Lyceum also housed Athenian Assembly meetings before the Pnyx became the official meeting place in the 5th century BC. Cult practices of various groups were also held at the Lyceum.

In 335 BCE, Athens fell under Macedonian rule and Aristotle, aged 50, returned from Asia. Upon his return, Aristotle began teaching regularly in the morning in the Lyceum and founded an official school called "The Lyceum". After morning lessons, Aristotle would frequently lecture on the grounds for the public and manuscripts of his compiled lectures were eventually circulated. The group of scholars who followed the Aristotelian doctrine came to be known as the Peripatetics due to Aristotle’s tendency to walk as he taught.

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