About

This is the blog for the course, The Ancient Greeks: Tragedy, Philosophy, and Politics, a class at the Eastman School of Music.  It is primarily designed for the benefit and discussion of participants in the class.  However, public discussion is also welcome.

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One Response to About

  1. I was thinking of what I would like to blog about today, when I came across an article about Plato’s The Republic. The article claims that The Republic was written in musical code, and that Plato writes in a new “musical philosophy”. Through Plato’s influences, mostly Pythagoras, the article explains how Dr. Jay Kennedy has discovered a new mystery to be unraveled.

    Dr. Jay Kennedy teaches in the Life Sciences department at the University of Manchester. He has been conducting a five year study on The Republic, attempting to unravel what he believes is a musical code or “score” in Plato’s writing. He claims that the books have a secret code and symbols, and that his unraveling of these codes will reveal Plato’s hidden musical philosophy.

    Plato’s work was influenced by Pythagoras, another ancient Greek philosopher, who was a mathematician. He believed that the entire universe could be rationalized through numbers. He even believed that the planets and stars danced to “a harmony of the spheres.” Kennedy deduces that since music can be rationalized in numbers as well, Pythagoras also believed that the universe was comparable to a “grand cosmic mathematical symphony.” This is what really stood out to Kennedy as a key factor in his theory of Plato’s musical philosophy.

    Kennedy also claims to have discovered that Plato uses large groups of words that relate to music in his writing. These groups of words can be divided into twelve different twelve equal sections. This pattern, he believes to relate to the twelve notes of the Greek musical scale. He even goes as far as to say that when the code is played out like a musical score, the locations of the text that were associated with love or laughter, the code translated into harmonic notes, while sections about war or death were found to have more dissonant screeching sounds. This shows that Plato very well could be speaking in a completely different manner, offering his wisdom both in his language, as well as his harmony. The quality of sounds produced by his hidden code can very well translate to what kinds of feelings certain chord qualities can produce.

    I personally am very skeptical of Dr. Kennedy’s study. I believe that The Republic is full of mysteries, just like other ancient writings, and even paintings. It very well could be true that Plato was implanting musical philosophy into his writing of The Republic, but the concept seems too farfetched to me. Dr. Kennedy’s research could be flawed. He does not state what the code is, or what words belong to which categories, as well as what the twelve categories that makes up the harmonic scale are. Without this critical information, it is hard to prove the legitimacy of his argument. While I don’t believe that his theory is true, I am fascinated by the fact that he has managed to dive so deep into the text and was able to come up with an idea like this.

    I will be researching more on this subject in the future. In my next blog post, I plan on addressing the validity of Dr. Kennedy’s thesis on Plato’s symphony of The Republic.

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