Plato’s hidden ‘music code’ discovered

A science historian at Manchester University unlocks a secret musical message


Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, who was instrumental in laying the foundations for Western philosophy and science, used a regular pattern of symbols to give his books a musical structure, according to a new discovery by Dr Jay Kennedy of Manchester University.

In a five-year study, working with original scripts, Kennedy has observed how Plato (427-347 BC) used a regular pattern of symbols based on the 12 notes of the Greek musical scale, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras. Using computer technology, he discovered that some key phrases, themes and words occurred during regular intervals, which matched the spacing of the 12-note scale. ‘It’s a musical code’, says Kennedy. ‘Plato and the Greeks believed music was the key to mathematics and the cosmos. What we didn’t know was that he used Greek musical scales to give his works a hidden structure and then built layers of hidden meanings beneath that.’
Kennedy, a researcher at Manchester University’s Centre for the History of Science Technology and Medicine, explains the reason Plato concealed his views in a hidden code: ‘Plato’s own teacher was executed for religious heresy and Plato and the other followers of Pythagoras were known for hiding their doctrines’.

This is just the start, admits Kennedy: ‘In antiquity, many of Plato’s followers said the books contained hidden layers of meaning and secret codes but this was rejected by modern scholars. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols’.  


Neil McKim