Aristoxenus and Music Therapy: Fr. 26 Wehrli within the Tradition on Music and Catharsis.

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The importance of music for the ancient Pythagoreans, together with recognition of its therapeutic function, favoured the rise of a long tradition relating to the Pythagoreans and music therapy, which in two Neoplatonic works, Vita Pythagorae by Porphyry of Tyre (c. 234-305 AD) and De vita pythagorica by Iamblichus of Chalcis (ca. 245-325 AD), has its best-known testimonies and the ones richest in details. Although the most ancient sources on Pythagoras tell us nothing on the subject, the tradition relating to the Pythagorean use of music therapy at all events dates back to long before the two Neoplatonics, as is shown by a brief and well-known fragment by Aristoxenus (fr. 26 Wehrli) saying that “the Pythagoreans used medicine for the purification of the body, and music for that of the soul”. This testimony seems, more than any other, to have determined the almost undisputed acceptance of a true theory of musical catharsis, also seen in an ethical sense, worked out by the ancient Pythagoreans and such as to represent a model for Aristotle. In this connection, I try to highlight that behind the fragment it is instead easy to recognize the religious-ritual sphere of traditional catharsis, and the widespread belief in the beneficial effects of music on ethos. So the fragment reflects common beliefs, and can also be connected to some Presocratic texts and to Aristoxenus' Pythagorean Precepts.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteAristoxenus of Tarentum: Discussion.
Numero di pagine38
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012

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