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Zum Verhältnis von Musik und Sprache in der griechischen Antike


Elvers,  Paul       
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Elvers, P. (2016). Zum Verhältnis von Musik und Sprache in der griechischen Antike. Rhetorik, 35(1), 9-24. doi:10.1515/rhet.2016.003.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-2F59-6
In this paper I discuss the relationship of music and language as it was conceived in Greek antiquity. More specifically, I focus on central passages from the corpora of Plato and Aristotle that are concerned with the theory of the arts. I claim that under the notion of μουσική (mousiké) both Aristotle and Plato understood language and music as two modalities of the same kind of artistic (or »aesthetic«) communication. Both modalities typically appear combined, as in the case of song or drama, serving as two different means to achieve a common goal: the accurate depiction of affections, as well as the appropriate elicitation of these in the perceiver. This implies that typically both modalities are interdependent and complementing each other. Further, subsuming both language and music under the notion of μουσική supports the idea of shared resources and foundations between the two modalities, which is a necessary prerequisite for any musical rhetoric. Although the notion of musical rhetoric in antiquity did not exist as such, the intimate relationship of music and language laid ground and served as an important point of reference for later scholars, who worked towards elaborated forms of a musical rhetoric.