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Pythagoras - Iamblichus's Life - Healing 'passions of the soul' and insomnia with music

Identifier

014680

Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Iamblichus – Life of Pythagoras [translated by Thomas Taylor]

The whole Pythagoric school produced by certain appropriate songs, what they called exartysis, or adaptation, synarmoge or elegance of manners, and epaphe or contact, usefully conducting the dispositions of the soul to passions contrary to those which it before possessed. 

For when they went to bed they purified the reasoning power from the perturbations and noises to which it had been exposed during the day, by certain odes and peculiar songs, and by this means procured for themselves tranquil sleep, and few and good dreams.

But when they rose from bed, they again liberated themselves from the torpor and heaviness of sleep, by songs of another kind.  Sometimes, also, by musical sounds alone, unaccompanied with words, they healed the passions of the soul and certain diseases, enchanting, as they say, in reality.

And it is probable that from hence this name epode, i.e. enchantment, came to be generally used. After this manner, therefore, Pythagoras through music produced the most beneficial correction of human manners and lives.

The source of the experience

Pythagoras

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities