“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato
Jay Kennedy, philosopher and historian from the University of Manchester, has discovered the encrypted musical code in Plato’s works.
Kennedy’s breakthrough, published in the journal Apeiron this week, is based on stichometry: the measure of ancient texts by standard line lengths. Kennedy used a computer to restore the most accurate contemporary versions of Plato’s manuscripts to their original form, which would consist of lines of 35 characters, with no spaces or punctuation. What he found was that within a margin of error of just one or two percent, many of Plato’s dialogues had line lengths based on round multiples of twelve hundred.
“My claim,” says Kennedy, “is that Plato used that technology of line counting to keep track of where he was in his text and to embed symbolic passages at regular intervals.” Knowing how he did so “unlocks the gate to the labyrinth of symbolic messages in Plato”.
Copies of the paper have been circulating among senior scholars, who believe Kennedy’s argument should be taken seriously.
Kennedy believes his findings restore what was the standard, mainstream view which held for 2,000 years “from the first generation of Plato’s followers, up through the renaissance”. This held that “he wrote symbolically and that if you worked hard and became wise you could understand the symbols and penetrate his text to his underlying philosophy.” Only in the last few hundred years has an emphasis on the literal meanings of texts led to a neglect of their figurative meanings.
Listen to the NPR coverage of this story including a sample of Plato’s musical code.