The Pythagorean Symbolism in Plato’s Philebus

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The Philebus contains what may be called a Pythagorean semiotics. That is, the dialogue has a number of embedded references and allusions to central aspects and ideas of Pythagoreanism. T hese act as signposts to the informed reader/auditor which illuminate certain topics of discussion in the dialogue and furnish a rich subtext which, when properly decoded, imparts a greater degree of sophistication and meaning to the text as a whole. One l evel of this may be observed in the Pythagorean allusions by themselves, of which there are many. A deeper level of Pythagorean semiotics arguably occurs in the very fabric of the dialogue itself. It has been argued that the Platonic dialogues have been de liberately structured according to a Pythagorean division of the musical canon, with certain themes corresponding to the consonance or dissonance of a given "note" on the scale. This, along with the relevant symbolism present, will be examined in greater d etail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages7
JournalAthens Journal of History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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