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This article is about 'Lyceum as school or as public hall. For other uses, see Lyceum
A Lyceum can be The precise usage of the term varies among various countries.

(See also Lyceum Movement for a discussion of the lyceum movement and its participants in the United States.)

Ancient Greek Lyceum (word origins)

"School of Athens" by Raphael
The original Lyceum, to which modern schools and public halls trace their name, was a gymnasium and public meeting place named after the god of the grove which housed the Lyceum, Apollo Lyceus. Apollo was also the Greek “wolf-god.” Though most well known for its connections with Aristotle and the peripatetic school he led there, the Lyceum was in existence long before Aristotle’s formal founding in 334 or 335 BC and continued under several heads until the Roman general Sulla’s sacking of Athens in 86 BCMorison, William. “The Lyceum.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 2006. 30 Oct. 2009. />.. The remains of the Lyceum were discovered in modern Athensmarker in 1996.

The Lyceum before Aristotle

Speculation suggests that Pericles or Pisistratus may have originally opened the first building of the Lyceum, as a gymnasium, in the fifth or sixth centuries BC, though the Lyceum grounds would have predated the gymnasium. In the early years of the Lyceum the head of the Greek army was said to have had an office there, which would have made it easy for him to be involved in the military training and exercises which the grounds were used for. The Lyceum’s use as a recreational gym and military training base is supported by the existence of wrestling rings, a racetrack, and seats for athlothetai, the judges of athletic eventsMorison, William. “The Lyceum.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 2006. 30 Oct. 2009. />..

A long list of philosophers and sophists gave talks at the Lyceum prior to Aristotle, including Prodicus of Chios, Protagorus and RhapsodesMorison, William. “The Lyceum.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 2006. 30 Oct. 2009. />.. The most famous philosophers to have taught there, however, were Isocrates, Plato (of The Academy) and the most well known Athenian teacher, SocratesStenudd, Stefan. "Aristotle: His Life, Time, and Work." Stennud. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009. />. . In addition to militaristic and educational pursuits, the Lyceum also housed Athenian Assembly meetings before Pnyx Hill became the official meeting place in the fifth century BC. Cult practices of various groups were also held at the LyceumMorison, William. “The Lyceum.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 2006. 30 Oct. 2009. />..

Aristotle's School and Library

In 335 BC, Athens fell under Macedonian rule and Aristotle, age 50, returned from Asia. Upon his return to Athens, Aristotle began teaching regularly in the morning in the Lyceum and founded an official school, The Lyceum. After his morning lessons Aristotle would frequently lecture on the grounds for the public and his lectures were eventually compiled in a book. The group of scholars who followed the Aristotelian doctrine came to be known as the peripatetics due to Aristotle’s tendency to walk as he taught.

Aristotle’s main foci as a teacher were cooperative research, an idea which he founded through his natural history work and systematic collection of philosophical works to contribute to his library. The school was extremely student research focused and students were assigned historical or scientific research projects as part of their studies. The school was also student run. The students elected a new student administrator to work with the school leadership every ten days, allowing all the students to become involved"Aristotle." NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. NCSU CALS, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009. />.. Before returning to Athens, Aristotle had been the tutor of Alexander of Macedonia, who became the great conqueror Alexander the Great.

Throughout his conquests of various regions, Alexander collected plant and animal specimens for Aristotle’s research, allowing Aristotle to develop the first zoo and botanical garden in existence. It is also suspected that Alexander donated what would be the equivalent of more than 4 million dollars to the Lyceum"Aristotle." NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. NCSU CALS, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009. />.. In 322 BC Aristotle was forced to flee Athens with his family when the political leadership changed away from the Macedonians again and his previously published works supporting Macedonian rule left him a target. He passed on his Lyceum to Theophrastus and died later that year in Chalcis, near his hometown"Aristotle's School." Portland State University Greek Civilization Home Page. Portland State University, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009./ State University Greek Civilization Home Page v2/DOCS/11/arischol.htm>. .

History of Aristotle's Library

Theophrastus placed a provision in his will that left the Lyceum library, which at this point included both his and Aristotle’s work as well as student research, philosophical historical texts and histories of philosophy, to his supposed follower, Neleus. However, the seniors of the Lyceum placed Strato as the next leader and upon his retirement from the school in the mid third century BC, Neleus divorced the Lyceum from its library and took all of the books with him to Asia Minor’s Skepsis.

The library then disappeared for several centuries until it appears to have been bought from Neleus’ heirs in the first century BC and returned to the school. However, when Sulla attacked Athens, the books were shipped to Romemarker. Throughout their travels one fifth of Aristotle’s works were lost and thus are not a part of the modern Aristotelian collection. Still, what did remain of Aristotle’s works and the rest of the library were arranged and edited for school use between 73 and 20 BC, supposedly by Andronicus of Rhodes, the Lyceum’s eleventh leaderStenudd, Stefan. "Aristotle: His Life, Time, and Work." Stennud. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009. />. . Since then the remaining works have been translated and widely distributed, providing much of the modern knowledge of historic philosophy.

The Lyceum after Aristotle

As head of the Lyceum, Theophrastus continued on Aristotle’s foci of observation, collaborative research and documentation of philosophical history, thus making his own contributions to the library. Though he was not a citizen of Athens (he had met Aristotle in the 340s BC in his homeland of Lesbos) he managed to buy land near the main gym of the Lyceum as well as several buildings for the library and additional workspace in 315 BC. Theophrastus also continued his own work while teaching and demonstrated his devotion to learning and education by leaving the land of the Lyceum to his friends to continue their work in education in philosophy in the non-private tradition of the school upon his death.

During the era of Theophrastus and his successor, Strato, the Lyceum experienced a decline until it fell with the rest of Athens in 86 BC. There is some thought that the Lyceum was refounded in the first century AD by Andonicus of Thodes, and no matter its secondary founder, it once again flourished as a philosophical school in the second century and continued until Athens was once again sacked in 267 AD"Aristotle's School." Portland State University Greek Civilization Home Page. Portland State University, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2009./ State University Greek Civilization Home Page v2/DOCS/11/arischol.htm>. .

Leaders of the Lyceum

Theophrastus headed the Lyceum for 36 years, between Aristotle’s flee from Athens in 322 BC until his own death in 286 BC. There is some speculation that both Aristotle and Theophrastus were buried in the gardens of the Lyceum, though no positive graves have been identified. Theophrastus was followed by Strato, who served as head until 268. Lyco of Stratus, likely Aristo of Ceos, Critolaus, Diodorus of Tyre and Erymneus were the next several heads of the school. Additionally, Andronicus of Rhodes served as the eleventh head.

Members of the Lyceum

At various points in the history of the Lyceum numerous scholars and students walked its parapetoi, though some of the most notable include Eudemus, a mathematical historian, Aristoxenus, who wrote works on music, and Dicaearchus, a prolific writer on topics including ethics, politics, psychology and geography. Additionally, medicinal historian Meno and an eventual ruler of Athens, Demetrius of Phaleron spent time at the school. Demetrius of Phaleron ruled Athens as a proxy leader for a dynasty from 317-307 BC.

Aristotle's Lyceum Today

During 1996 excavation to clear space for Athens’ new Museum of Modern Art the remains of Aristotle’s Lyceum were uncovered. Descriptions from the works of ancient philosophers hint at the location of the grounds, speculated somewhere just outside the eastern boundary of ancient Athens, near the rivers Ilissus and Eridanus and Mount Lykabettos, which is just where the remains were found. In present day Athens the excavation site is located between Rigilis and Vasilissis Sofias, 200 yards from the British Embassy and behind the War Museum. The first excavations revealed a gymnasium and wrestling area, but further work has uncovered the majority of what is believed to have withstood the erosion caused to the region by nearby architecture’s placement and drainage. Upon realizing the magnitude of the discovery beneath the parking lot to be transformed into the museum, secondary plans were made for nearby construction of the art museum so that it could be combined with a Lyceum outdoor museum and give tourists easy access to both attractions. There are plans for a large outdoor roof to be placed over the Lyceum remains and the area was slated to open for the public in summer 2009.

Lyceums of the Russian Empire

In Imperial Russiamarker, a Lyceum was one of the following higher educational facilities: Demidov Lyceum of Law in Yaroslavlmarker (1803), Alexander Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selomarker (1810), Richelieu lyceum in Odessamarker (1817), and Imperial Katkov Lyceum in Moscowmarker (1867).

The Tsarskoye Selo Lyceummarker was opened on October 19, 1811 in the neoclassical building designed by Vasily Stasov and situated next to the Catherine Palacemarker. The first graduates were all brilliant and included Aleksandr Pushkin and Alexander Gorchakov. The opening date was celebrated each year with carousals and revels, and Pushkin composed new verses for each of those occasions. In January 1844 the Lyceum was moved to Saint Petersburgmarker.

During 33 years of the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum's existence, there were 286 graduates. The most famous of these were Anton Delwig, Wilhelm Küchelbecher, Nicholas de Giers, Dmitry Tolstoy, Yakov Karlovich Grot, Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky, Alexei Lobanov-Rostovsky and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin.

Lyceums also emerged in the former Soviet Union countries after they became independent. One typical example is Uzbekistan, where all high schools were replaced with lyceums ("litsey" is the Russian term, derived from French "lycee"), offering three-year educational program with a certain major in certain direction. Unlike Turkey, Uzbek lyceums do not hold University entrance examination, which gives students the right to enter a University, but they hold a kind of "mock examination" which is designed to test their eligibility for a certain University.

Lyceums in today's education

The term lyceum is still used in some (mostly European) countries when referring to a type of school.


The Belarusian Humanities Lyceum is a private secondary school founded shortly after Belarus' independence from the USSRmarker by intellectuals, such as Vincuk Viacorka and Uladzimir Kolas, with the stated aims of preserving and promoting native Belarusian culture, and raising a new Belarusian elite. It was shut down in 2003 by president Alexander Lukashenko, but continues to operate in secret. It is currently the only educational institution using the Belarusian language as its medium of instruction.


Liceo is the term used for a secondary education public school, it lasts 4 years. It is mandatory to complete it for every citizen.


Secondary General Education - Ages: 16 ~18

Lykeio (3 years, upper secondary education)

Czech Republic

The term lyceum refers to the type of secondary education consisting of 4 years ended by graduation. It is a type between grammar school and a technical high school.


The French word for an upper secondary school, lycée, derives from Lyceum. (see Secondary education in France.)


The concept and name lyceum (or lyseo in Finnish) entered Finland through Sweden. Traditionally, lycea were schools to prepare students to enter universities, as opposed to the typical, more general education. Some old schools continue to use the name lyceum, though their operations today vary. For example, Helsinki Normal Lyceum educates students in grades 7-12, while Oulu Lyceum enrolls students only in grades 10-12. The more commonly used term for upper secondary school in Finland is lukio.


Secondary Education - Ages: 16 ~ 18

Γενικό Λύκειο (3 years), Geniko Lykeio "General Lyceum", (~ 1996, 2006~present)

Ενιαίο Λύκειο (3 years), Eniaio Lykeio "Unified Lyceum" (1997~2006)

Comparable to the last two or three years of American High School (upper secondary) classes in Greecemarker.


The Italian word for an upper secondary school, liceo, derives from Lyceum (see Secondary education in Italy). Among the Italian kinds of licei are: liceo classico (specializing in classical studies, including Latin, Ancient Greek and philosophy), liceo scientifico (specializing in scientific studies, and with Latin and English for 5 years), liceo artistico (specializing in art subjects, with English for 5 years), liceo linguistico (specializing in foreign languages: two foreign languages for 5 years and a third foreign language for the last 3 years). They last 5 years between 14 and 18 years of age.


Junior lyceums refer to secondary education state owned schools.


There is a major university in the City of Manila named Lyceum (complete name: Lyceum of the Philippines University). It can also be called on the acronym LPU. Its branches also bear the name "Lyceum". There are other schools that are not affiliated with LPU but has the word "Lyceum" in their names. Thus, it can also be used to name any educational instititution. However, LPU is the original bearer of the name and still has the word pertained to it.


The liceum is the Polish secondary-education school. Polish liceums are attended by children aged 16 to 19–21 (see list below). Before graduating, pupils are subject to a final examination, the matura.

Polish liceums are of several types:


In the Portuguesemarker educational system in the early 1970s, the Lyceum ( ), or National Lyceum ( ), was a high school that prepared students to enter universities or more general education. On the other hand the Industrial school ( ) was a technical-oriented school. After several Education reforms, all these schools merged into a single system of Secondary Schools ( ), offering grades 7 to 12.


The Turkish word for the latest part of pre-university education is lise which is derived from the French word "lycée" and corresponds to "high school" in English. It lasts 3 to 5 years with respect to the type of the high school. At the end of their "lise" education, students take the ÖSS test (Öğrenci Seçme Sınavı), i.e. university entrance examination, to get the right to enroll in a university.


The Romanian term is liceu and it represents a post-secondary, pre-university educational institution. It is more specialized than secondary school. Certain specialized lyceum diplomas are enough to find a job.

United States

The Lyceum is the central building of the University of Mississippimarker. It is used as the school symbol on all official emblems. The Lyceum Academy of New Hanover High School was founded in same spirit of education as Aristole's earliest intellectual and academic gatherings.


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