Plato: Cryptographer?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

You might have heard of subliminal messages embedded in rock albums, but what about in works of philosophy? Writing for the Daily Mail, David Derbyshire reports that Manchester University professor Dr Jay Kennedy has discovered a series of hidden messages in the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, whose work in metaphysics and epistemology influenced Aristotle, his student, and shaped the foundation of the Western world. As Derbyshire writes, Kennedy thinks the codes indicate that Plato "was a secret follower of the philosopher Pythagoras and shared his belief that the secrets to the universe lie in numbers and maths."

The key to unravelling the Plato Code lies in a Greek musical scale of 12 notes popular among followers of the earlier philosopher Pythagoras. Dr Kennedy discovered that key phrases, words and themes crop up in regular intervals throughout Plato's writings and that they match the spacing of these 12 notes in the musical scale. His most famous work, the Republic, for instance, is made up of 12,000 Homeric lines of text. Dr Kennedy found that every 1,000 lines, Plato returns to the theme of music. In another dialogue, the Symposium, words describing harmony and unity crop up at the same regularly spaced intervals. In the Greek musical scale some of the notes are harmonic, or pleasing to the ear. Others are dissonant or grating, and need to be followed by another note to relieve the musical tension they create. At the location of harmonic notes in his writings, Plato wrote lines associated with love or laughter. But the dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death....A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, or 'harmony of the spheres' and that the secrets of the universe lay in maths.

Derbyshire ponders the profound implications of Plato's penchant for hidden messages. "The presence and nature of the hidden codes suggest that Plato may have signed up to the same belief - and that 2,000 years before the birth of modern science, he was leaving a message in his writing that maths and logical patterns ruled the universe, not the gods."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.