The Musical Structure of Plato's Dialogues

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Kennedy shows that Plato gave his dialogues a similar musical structure, dividing each dialogue into twelve parts and inserting symbols at each twelfth to mark a musical note. These passages are either harmonious or dissonant and traverse the ups and downs of a known musical scale. Many of Plato’s early followers insisted that Plato used symbols to conceal his own views within the dialogues, but modern scholars have denied this. Kennedy, an expert in Pythagorean mathematics and music theory, is able to show that Plato’s dialogues contain a system of symbols that are undetectable by those without knowledge of obsolete Greek mathematics. The book begins with a concise and accessible introduction to Plato’s symbolic schemes and the role of allegory in ancient times. The author then annotates the musical symbols in two of Plato’s most popular dialogues, the Symposium and Euthyphro, and shows that Plato used the musical scale as an outline for structuring his narratives.

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