City, Poetry, and Song
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Averroes Plato Alfarabi music poetry politics

How to Cite

City, Poetry, and Song: Averroes’s Subjection of Music to Politics in his Commentary on Plato’s Republic. (2023). The Political Science Reviewer, 47(1), 1-32.


This article builds on the Political Science Reviewer’s “Symposium: An Intoduction to Music in Plato’s Political Thought,” and represents the first attempt to understand Averroes’s views on the relationship between politics and music. Averroes treats the topic mainly in the framework of his Commentary on Plato’s Republic. He goes further than Plato in articulating how music would have to be regulated and reduced, in order to function as an appendage of poetry that serves solely the purposes of the city. However, a number of equivocations in Averroes’s work on Plato, and contradictory statements in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics, imply that while a certain kind of music is well-suited to political messaging, others kinds will stubbornly resist being employed in so narrow a fashion. This conclusion sheds light on why Alfarabi, who wrote so much about music, nonetheless said so little about its use in politics.

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