Theophrastus of Eresus: Commentary Volume 9.1

Sources on Music (Texts 714–726C)


Among the many subjects on which Theophrastus wrote, music is one of the most fascinating, as is testified by the sources discussed in this volume. Although scanty, the material we have—sixteen texts altogether, most of which are indirect testimonies—gives an idea of the originality and modernity of Theophrastus’ thought on music, and makes us regret that we do not know more. Our philosopher conceives of music as something that originates from a movement in the soul caused by passions and comes into existence through the body. Accordingly, he is interested in performance—i.e. the way in which musical expression is brought to the listener—and its effects on the soul and the body—e.g. musical therapy.
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Biographical Note

Massimo Raffa, Ph.D. (2000, University of Palermo) is a teacher of Classics and former Research Fellow at the University of Perugia. He is the translator of Ptolemy’s Harmonics and Porphyry’s Commentary into Italian (Bompiani 2016) and critical editor of the latter for the Teubner series (De Gruyter 2016).

Table of contents


1 Introduction
 1  Sounds Outside: Harmonics and Acoustics in Theophrastus’ Time
 2  Sounds Inside: Qualities, Affections, and the Soul
 3  Theophrastus’ Thought on Music in Context

2 The Sources
 1  Philodemus, c. 110–40 BC
 2  Apollonius, II cent. BC
 3  Plutarch, c. 45–120 AD
 4  Aulus Gellius, c. 130–180 AD
 5  Athenaeus of Naucratis, III cent. AD
 6  Censorinus, III cent. AD
 7  Porphyry, IIIIV cent. AD
 8  Aelius Festus Aphthonius, IIIIV cent. AD
 9  Ṣiwān al-ḥikma, IXX cent. AD

3 Titles of Books

4 The Texts
 1  Harmonics
 2  Musicians
 3  Music and the Soul
 4  Music and the Human Body

Index of Relevant Words
Index of Ancient Names, Places, Authors and Passages Cited
Index of Relevant Matters


All interested in ancient philosophy and psychology, musicologists and music historians; moreover, anyone interested in the history of medicine and musical therapy.