Translation of Arthur Ahlvers’ Zahl Und Klang Bei Platon.

Author: Black, John
Ahlvers, Arthur
This work deals with interpretive issues surrounding Plato’s mathematically-based accounts, derived from Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, of reproduction among the ruling class of the Republic, of terrestrial and celestial music, and of atomic stereometry. It indicates surprising ways in which these accounts are essentially connected. Ahlvers offers a re-analysis of Plato’s derivation of the nuptial number in Republic, and devotes much attention to the broader issues raised by Timaeus. It will be of interest not only to Plato scholars, but to scholars of medieval thought, and music.


“I found the translation to be clear, well-documented, and easily readable, not a mean feat with academic German. Black’s Introduction is most helpful in laying a foundation for understanding of some of the rather difficult ideas of Ahlvers (and Plato).” – Peter Slemon

“This text provides considerable help. . . in moving to a more complex and better informed understanding of the links between geometry, music, and Plato’s concern for the beautiful and the good, especially in those passages where the author pauses in between passages of close argument and sums up the argument so far or discusses the various other attempts to deal with notoriously obscure parts of Plato’s text. . . . The translation is lean and clean, eminently readable. . . . The translator’s introduction and the scholarly apparatus are also excellent – unobtrusive but very helpful. . . . the book provides a valuable service in acquainting those fond of sweeping generalizations about Plato’s debt to mathematics and the Pythagoreans with what such a claim actually means in theoretical practice.” – Ian Johnston

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Translator’s Introduction
1. The So-called Nuptial Number in the Republic
2. The Third in the Musical Scale of Timaeus
3. The Musical Element in the Formation of the Five Regular Polyhedra in the Timaeus
4. The Pythagoreans or Democritus?
Notes; Bibliography; Index