How Accurate Is: The Golden Mean (Book, Annabel Lyon, 2009)

Aristotle tutoring Alexander the Great; by JLG Ferris, 1895.
Aristotle tutoring Alexander the Great; by JLG Ferris, 1895.

Hello everyone! Today, I am going to be doing a book post, this time on The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon. This book focuses on the tutoring of Alexander the Great by the famous philosopher (and student of Plato) Aristotle from 343 BCE until (possibly) 335 BCE. This is a period of history surrounding which there is much speculation but little information; no details from the sessions survive until today, and so only the record of their existence remains. As a result, Lyon had a large canvas to work with, and she does not disappoint, providing a carefully constructed description of the tutoring and the effects it had on both figures involved, as well as a brief summary of the life of Aristotle himself through flashbacks. Essentially the only times in the book she deviated from the historical record, in fact, were when she filled in gaps in the historical record surrounding the life of Aristotle. I will list such examples of those as could be found here.

  • Aristotle’s second wife, Herpyllis, is presented in the novel as the maid of Aristotle and a childhood acquaintance; in fact, little is known about her except her marriage to Aristotle. However, her identity in the book is one of the more common theories surrounding her, so Lyon is as close to historically accurate as possible.[1]
  • As far as I have found, there is no record of Aristotle tutoring Arrhidaeus, the incapable elder brother of Alexander; it is likely this was a fiction on the part of Lyon so the relationship between Alexander and Arrhidaeus could be seen.
  • Although Lyons does not appear to weigh in specifically on how long the tutoring of Alexander lasted, there is some debate on the subject; estimates range between five and eight years.[2]

For more, continue past the link.

This is a book it is hard to find fault with; Lyons evidently did her research before composing it. I would recommend this book to any lover of history. Among the titles i have reviewed, it is second in acccuracy only to the works of Umberto Eco. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a good day.


1 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Aristotle.” Last modified July 2015.

2 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Aristotle.” Last modified July 2015.

Other Sources:

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Aristotle”. n.d.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Aristotle.” Last modified November 2014.

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