Arystoteles about music

Music in Ancient Greek Philosophy

Music is an ancient art of sounds that played a significant role in the lives of ancient Greeks. Philosophers of that time, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Pythagoras, delved into the mysteries of music and its impact on the human soul.

In this article, we will explore how ancient thinkers understood music and attributed moral and societal significance to it.


„Music arouses a desire for good deeds.”

Pythagoras and the Music of Spheres

Pythagoras, renowned not only as a mathematician but also as a philosopher interested in sound, claimed that music arouses a desire for good deeds in the heart. However, it was his theory of the music of the spheres that gained particular recognition. He believed that the sounds of celestial bodies create a harmony that influences the human soul.


„Earthly music is a reflection of the music of the spheres.”

Plato on Music and Morality

Plato, another great philosopher of antiquity, emphasized the moral aspects of music. In his works, there is a conviction that music influences the character of individuals and society. According to Plato, the evaluation of music should be based not only on the pleasure it provides but also on its harmony with beauty and order.

Variability of Musical Trends and State Laws

Plato observed that changing musical trends affect fundamental state laws. For him, music was not just a form of entertainment but had a significant impact on social structure and ethical values.

Contemporary society, if its laws changed as much as musical trends, could lead to the destabilization of society and a violation of fundamental values such as freedom, equality, and justice. However, changes in music and culture can also lead to progress and development if conducted responsibly and with democratic values. In such a case, music changes can contribute to the creation of a more open and tolerant society that respects diversity and creativity.

Harmony Within Order

Plato’s reflections also encompass the distinction between chaotic music and that which adheres to beautiful order. The philosopher was attracted not just by the pleasure that music provided, but also by its power to improve people.

Aristotle on Musical Education

Aristotle, a student of Plato, continued to reflect on music. For him, music had a powerful influence on manners and the ennoblement of the soul.

The Role of Music in Education

Aristotle emphasized that music soothes manners and influences ennoblement. In his philosophy, music was an integral part of education, and its study was reserved even for the sons of aristocratic families.


„Music soothes manners.”

Harmony of the Soul and Melody

Aristotle posited a correlation between the soul and music. Ancient thinkers often viewed the soul as harmony, believing that music mirrored moral experiences.

Reflections of Other Philosophers

Philodemus and the Significance of Music

Philodemus highlighted that music serves the noble fulfillment of rest. According to him, playing instruments contributes to the education of the mind and the development of cognitive abilities.


„Music as the invention of the gods is sacred in every respect.”

Plotinus and the Contemplation of Harmony

Plotinus, a Neoplatonic philosopher, noted that music in the soul leads to the contemplation of the harmony of the spiritual world. For him, sounds were a means of expressing the beauty of transcendental reality.


Music, according to ancient Greek philosophers, was not merely a form of entertainment but a powerful tool shaping the characters of individuals and society. Their reflections on music continue to inspire an understanding of the profound meaning of the art of sound. After all, music is an ancient art of sounds that touches our innermost being.