Attuning to the cosmos: the ethical man's mission from Plato to Petrarch

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This essay discusses music and silence as two important paradigms for articulating spiritual progress in the Platonic corpus and its reception by Neoplatonic and Christian thinkers. After examining the importance of music in Plato's theory in the soul, mainly in the Republic and the Timaeus, I argue that he appreciated music as a spiritual awakening, as preparation for the truth which is always experienced in deafening silence. Proclus, a sensitive reader of Plato, and later thinkers such as Proclus and Boethius, provided a secure path for the survival of Platonic ideas in the West. Petrarch, a meticulous reader of Augustine, grappling with the same Platonic notions that frustrated the fourth-century theologian, experiments boldly with Platonic silence in the Secretum and his Rime Sparse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe intellectual dynamism of the High Middle Ages
EditorsClare Monagle
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9789048537174
ISBN (Print)9789462985933
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameKnowledge Communities
PublisherAmsterdam University Press


  • Plato
  • Neoplatonics
  • Proclus
  • Augustine
  • Petrarch
  • Music
  • Silence


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