“While Alexander [the Great] was conquering Asia, Aristotle, now 50 years old, was in Athens. Just outside the city boundary, he established his own school in a gymnasium known as the Lyceum. He built a substantial library and gathered around him a group of brilliant research students, called “peripatetics” from the name of the cloister (peripatos) in which they walked and held their discussions. The Lyceum was not a private club like the Academy; many of the lectures there were open to the general public and given free of charge.” [credit]
The school dates from around 335 BC when Aristotle began teaching in the Lyceum. It was an informal institution whose members conducted philosophical and scientific inquiries. After the middle of the 3rd century BC, the school fell into a decline, and it was not until the Roman era that there was a revival. Later members of the school concentrated on preserving and commenting on Aristotle’s works rather than extending them; it died out in the 3rd century.
The study of Aristotle’s works by scholars who were called Peripatetics continued through Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the works of the Peripatetic school were lost to the Latin West, but they were preserved in Byzantium and also incorporated into early Islamic philosophy. Western Europe recovered Aristotelianism from Byzantium and from Islamic sources in the Middle Ages.
The term peripatetic is a transliteration of the ancient Greek word περιπατητικός (peripatētikós), which means “of walking” or “given to walking about”. The Peripatetic school, founded by Aristotle, was actually known simply as the Peripatos. Aristotle’s school came to be so named because of the peripatoi (“walkways”, some covered or with colonnades) of the Lyceum where the members met. The legend that the name came from Aristotle’s alleged habit of walking while lecturing may have started with Hermippus of Smyrna.
Unlike Plato (428/7–348/7 BC), Aristotle (384–322 BC) was not a citizen of Athens and so could not own property; he and his colleagues therefore used the grounds of the Lyceum as a gathering place, just as it had been used by earlier philosophers such as Socrates. Aristotle and his colleagues first began to use the Lyceum in this way about 335 BC, after which Aristotle left Plato’s Academy and Athens, and then returned to Athens from his travels about a dozen years later. Because of the school’s association with the gymnasium, the school also came to be referred to simply as the Lyceum. Some modern scholars argue that the school did not become formally institutionalized until Theophrastus took it over, at which time there was private property associated with the school.
Originally at least, the Peripatetic gatherings were probably conducted less formally than the term “school” suggests: there was likely no set curriculum or requirements for students or even fees for membership. Aristotle did teach and lecture there, but there was also philosophical and scientific research done in partnership with other members of the school. It seems likely that many of the writings that have come down to us in Aristotle’s name were based on lectures he gave at the school.” [credit]