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Toward the end of Politics V. 12, Aristotle criticizes Plato’s discussion of political change in Republic VIII-IX. Scholars often reject Aristotle’s criticism, especially because it portrays Plato’s discussion, allegedly unfairly, as developing a historically testable theory. I argue that Aristotle’s criticism is adequate, and that the seriousness with which he considers Plato’s account of political change as an alternative to his own is both warranted and instructive. First, apart from criticizing Plato’s account for its historical inaccuracies, Aristotle also exposes theoretical insufficiencies and internal inconsistencies within it. Second, Aristotle’s criticisms of historical inaccuracies in Plato’s discussion of political change are not misdirected, since there are reasons to think that Plato does intend that discussion to accord with the historical facts.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought


Strabo, in 10.3.7-23, presents an account of the music performed in initiation rites, according to which such music is used, naturally, to facilitate knowledge of divinity. I argue that, despite appearances, religious music, for Strabo, does not fulfill that function by reflecting the harmonious constitution of the cosmos—a Pythagorean-Platonic (and later, Stoic) idea that Strabo mentions but ultimately rejects. Instead, Strabo’s account is clearly influenced by Aristotelian theory, and it stresses the significance of the emotional effect (i.e., awe or astonishment) generated by religious music, which in turn is useful toward gaining knowledge of the gods, most probably because it motivates audiences to learn about them. Indeed, the affinity between Strabo’s text and Aristotle seems sufficient for Strabo’s 10.3.23, perhaps in addition to parts of 10.3.7 and 10.3.9, to count as Aristotelian ‘fragments.’

Open Access
In: Mnemosyne