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THEOPHRASTUS
A Greek philosopher, born 371 B.C. at Eresus, in Lesbos. At Athens, he was at first the pupil of Plato, and then of Aristotle, who, on account of his fascinating powers of language, is said to have given him the name of Theophrastus ("divine speaker"), instead of his original name Tyrtamus. Appointed by Aristotle guardian of his son and heir to his library, and designated by him as his successor in the leadership of the Peripatetic school, he continued at its head, and pursued, in an independent spirit, the philosophy of his master. After long enjoying the highest esteem, he died in the eighty-fifth year of his age, in 287. Like Aristotle, he succeeded in combining with his philosophical studies (of which only the fragment of a work on metaphysics has been preserved), various investigations in natural science, especially in botany, of which science he may be said to be the founder, just as Aristotle is considered to be the originator of zoology. Of his botanical works we still possess a Natural History of Plants, in ten books, and six books of the eight On the Origin (or physiology) of Plants. A small pamphlet, containing an outline of mineralogy, has also been preserved, together with other scientific works. His Characters are probably an abridgment of a larger work. They consist of thirty sections, descriptions of various types of character, and are remarkable for the knowledge of life and keenness of observation which they display, and for the intuitive skill and vivacity of expression with which they are written.
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