Ethos and education in Greek music by Warren D. Anderson

Harvard University Press,


This book examines the thoughts of Greek poets and philosophers (Pindar, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Philodemus) on the social and ethical significance of music. In Ancient Greece, it explains, music filled the whole of life-home, school, temple, theatre. But so it does in modern Britain; and it is hard to believe there was more music BC than BBC, let alone that it “demanded from performer and listener alike more profound responses than are known to Western man today”. Plucked strings and vocal monody accompanied by drums and gymnastic exercise sounds more pop than classic; and history can afford to repeat itself, having all the time in the world. Yet we cannot be sure. The ancient modes became old fashions; the golden age is silence; “Greek music is lost” (p.1). The topic seems empty; Professor Anderson fills it with sheer dedication. He has scrutinized every scrap (literally) of textual evidence. His insight is keen; his style lucid; his scholarship prodigious; his apparatus exemplary. For anyone who enjoys living thought, even on dead music, here is the very book.


The Musical Times, Sept. 1967 (p. 809) © the estate of eric sams