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Observations placeholder

The Marriage of Philology and Mercury - The Strains of a Cithara attract Hyperborean Swans



Type of Spiritual Experience


Human beings have a tendency to think that animals do not appreciate music. But they do, it is just that they don't much like the musical scale we have devised. All animals are attracted by music and if the music is pleasing and harmonious they will be happier. The horses and cows that graze in the field next to us will come over and listen when I have my CD player on and the window open. There is substantial evidence that chickens lay better, and cows provide more milk in buildings with music being played.

But their appreciation of music seems to be of a little being in tune with the systems from which the music derives. The curiosity is in hearing a system they have not heard before. To put it perhaps crudely, they hear the tune and wonder what thing it belongs to – a new plant perhaps or maybe a new cloud system.

So this quote can be taken at face value as a straightforward description of the fact that animals will respond to music.

But there is another level, and I have no idea whether this level was intended.  Every animal/fish mentionned is a symbol - stags, fish, swan, elephants and birds and the word pipe is also symbolic.  And this has a completely differen meaning..........

A description of the experience

The Marriage of Philology and Mercury – Martianus Capella 5th century AD

The Thracian lyre player was one who demonstrated that animals are sensitive to … songs and are drawn to follow directly. In this case it was not a myth but actual fact that established his reputation. How is it that stags are caught through the use of shepherds’ pipes, that clattering sounds cause fish to stop swimming in the stagnant pools of Alexandria, and that the melodious strains of a cithara attract Hyperborean swans? It is a fact that Indian elephants are restrained by the soothing effects of musical instruments; it is also common knowledge that birds are attracted by reed pipes and that ….. stringed instruments have won dolphins over to the friendship of man

The source of the experience

The Marriage of Philology and Mercury

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Listening to music