The Laws of Plato: "Musical" Education

Essay by Shel68University, Bachelor'sA-, February 2007

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Music is a higher revelation than philosophy. - Ludwig van Beethoven

The emphasis placed on education throughout the pages of The Laws is such that it calls for a deeper analysis of the Athenian educational process. Early in Book I, The Athenian Stranger asserts that:

"From one, only a little good comes to the city, but if you ask about the education in general of all who are educated, what great benefits it gives the city, the answer in not difficult: those who are well educated become good men, and becoming such, they act nobly in other respects, as well as in winning victories when they fight their enemies. Education brings victory" (641c)

This passage illustrates the high regard of education in the fabric of the Athenian society. A city is represented by its inhabitants, and for a successful society that can defending itself, and or, be able to conquer, its citizens must be well educated.

This raises an obvious question of how all this education can be acquired and through what approach.

The Laws demonstrate a great amount of appreciation for the arts; entertainments of all sorts, including gymnastic, music, equestrian contests, etc. The focus is then placed on the aspect of "musical" education. In Plato's Republic it is stated that "Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful." (427-347 B.C.) This passage clarifies that one must first be educated in-order to receive the many benefits of music. Furthermore, in Book II the Athenian Stranger proclaims that "Thus far I too should agree with the many, that the...