Aristotle

Just as Nestor begins with references to an unnamed "him" who turns out to be the ancient Greek general Pyrrhus, the first paragraph of Proteus finds Stephen thinking of an unnamed thinker: "Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno." The Italian phrase, which comes from Dante's Inferno, means "the master of those who know" and refers to Aristotle. The other details (baldness and riches) come from medieval biographical traditions about Aristotle, and the term "diaphane" is a transliteration of the ancient philosopher's Greek. Stephen seems to be preoccupied with Aristotle ("he," "he," "his," "he") throughout this first paragraph, but Aristotle's empiricism clashes in his thoughts with a mystical search for absolute truth inspired by Jakob Boehme and George Berkeley.

JH 2014

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1653, held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The School of Athens, fresco painted 1509-11 by Raphael, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. Plato and Aristotle stand at the center of the composition. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Aristotle's four material elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Source: ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu.