KATHEGETES is ‘teacher’. This ancient Greek word refers to the role of masters, guides and tutors. Here on sokratiko.com our obvious concern is with instructors of our favourite philosophical schools.
In some context, the term <kathegetes> seems to indicate not exactly the <hegemon> that is the leader. In fact, <hegemon> means guide, commander or chief. Therefore, it hints to the most important master of a school. Instead, <kathegetes> could allude to the assistant or to the associate leader.
<Kathegetes> is ‘teacher’ but not ‘leading master’. It is not necessarily a secondary or marginal function. For instance, we know that Aristoteles (Aristotle), at seventeen or eighteen years of age, joins the Academy of Platon (Plato) in Athens and stays there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347 BC). We can assume (though evidence is sparse) that in the Academy he becomes a <kathegetes>. Shortly after Platon’s death, Aristoteles leaves Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutors Alexander the Great, beginning in 343 BC. He establishes a library in the Lyceum which helps him to produce many of his hundreds of books on papyrus scrolls.
The task of philosophical teachers is not only the traditional ‘handing over’ of knowledge. They also have to be role models, showing in a practical way how to implement their teachings in everyday life. Nonetheless, their most specific function is to help the subject in his soul-searching. This is because any subject has always to perform a crucial work on himself. A work that requires the guidance and the expertise of competent and virtuos masters.