The Golden Mean

The Golden Mean

Book - 2010
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A startlingly original first novel by "this generation's answer to Alice Munro" ( The Vancouver Sun )--a bold reimagining of one of history's most intriguing relationships: between legendary philosopher Aristotle and his most famous pupil, the young Alexander the Great.

342 BC: Aristotle is reluctant to set aside his own ambitions in order to tutor Alexander, the rebellious son of his boyhood friend Philip of Macedon. But the philosopher soon comes to realize that teaching this charming, surprising, sometimes horrifying teenager--heir to the Macedonian throne, forced onto the battlefield before his time--is a necessity amid the ever more sinister intrigues of Philip's court.

Told in the brilliantly rendered voice of Aristotle--keenly intelligent, often darkly funny-- The Golden Mean brings ancient Greece to vivid life via the story of this remarkable friendship between two towering figures, innovator and conqueror, whose views of the world still resonate today.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780307593993
0307593991
Characteristics: 287 p. ; 22 cm

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m
merlinsilver
Nov 18, 2015

I totally agree with the reader ‘s comments of April 22, 2015. The first third of the book was great! Then to the end it was slow and humdrum. There were some nice details, but to me it seemed like 2 different authors were writing. The first was interested in the subject matter and the second was just filling up the pages to get it over and done with. A real disappointment with such interesting characters this could have been a really good book.

r
richibi
Apr 22, 2015

this book started off with a bang, after all, the conjunction of Philip of Macedon, Aristotle and Alexander the Great holds great promise, but too pedestrian situations occur to finally hold rapt your attention, interest fizzles, the tale ends in a whimper, though the timeline uniting the three protagonists was made clear, and I liked the information about Ptolemy, Alexander's successor, originator of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, and thus Cleopatra's earliest recorded ancestor

r
rab1953
Aug 15, 2013

An interesting novel that looks at Alexander the Great through the first-hand account of his teacher Aristotle. It takes Aristotle out of the ethereal philosophical and intellectual realm on the first page, having him swear and complain about the soreness of riding a horse, while distracting himself with the thought of a woman servant’s ass; it returns to Aristotle’s home life, his ambitions and his fears about becoming entangled in court politics. As he’s not really an insider, his view of Alexander is limited, but he sees how a bright boy has to accommodate the political need for military leadership and social pressures. In the end, both philosopher and ruler have to look for a balance between what they want and what they can accomplish, or get away with, in the real world.

g
gloryb
Jun 23, 2013

I find it amazing how an author can fictionalize the lives of Aristotle, King Philip, and Alexander, his son after reading histories of this time period and biographies of these men. I enjoyed reading this book, more to see what life could have been like in those times than to find out about the lives of Aristotle or his student, Alexander, who happen to be the vehicles for this discovery. The book is easy to read and, like a life, has no plot except to detail what happens in Aristotle's life during a certain time period....work, play, leisure, family, households, food, friends, relatives, entertainment, problems, successes, failures, housing, pleasures, deaths, diseases, gods/religion/ beliefs, teachings/education, etc.

b
Babalouis
Jun 18, 2013

This book is not hard to read, not too deep or philosophical, but not very engaging either. It did not have much of a plot line or flow and I did not know where it was heading. Some aspects of life during Aristotle's years in Macedon were interesting but not enough for me to finish the book.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

Lyon recounts the history of Aristotle from the philosopher’s point of view, concentrating on the time he spends as the tutor of Alexander the Great, a gifted adolescent who displays shockingly violent impulses and a passion for warfare. The balance of extremes becomes a theme as Aristotle attempts to temper the boy while battling emotional extremes of his own. Lyon’s voice has been called earthy and frank; thus the grittiness of Classical Antiquity comes alive, and the reader inhabits
the mind of a great thinker afflicted with bilious swings of mood and energy. Some days Aristotle sleeps and weeps; others he produces “monuments of work that [are] pure luminous chryselephantine genius.” Lyon’s own work is one of notable achievement: nominated for all three of Canada’s major fiction awards, Lyon won the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

l
lisangus
Oct 23, 2012

A wonderful book! Really makes Aristotle and Alexander seem like real people.

u
uncommonreader
Jul 27, 2012

Aristotle and Alexander the Great. A balance of extremes.

j
jenzbooks
Mar 03, 2012

Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander get to know Aristotle who tutors Alexander and his brother. The relationships described by Lyon really bring the time period and the people to life. Aristotle especially comes off as a funny, curious professorial type. This is an interesting, quick read.

r
rrrobbie
Jan 15, 2012

What an under achievement. The premise had great potential, yet, but the resulting book was too pedestrian. The characters were not well developed. Nothing in this book gave you any glimpse in to these two great men, Alexander and Aristotle. Who are these people who have judged this book to have been worthy of awards? It seems to me that they need to read more literature.
.

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animal74
Mar 06, 2011

animal74 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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