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Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, [1948], at


Damôn of Athens was in his prime about 460 B.C.

His teaching seems to have been mainly oral, but he is said to have incorporated his doctrines in an Areopagiticus (speech purporting to be written for delivery to the Areopagus).

1. (Cicero: Damon treated music in a way that embraced not merely the particular but the universal).

2. (Philodemus: If Damon addressed the actual, and not a fictitious Areopagus, he deceived them in saying that men of taste should take up music).

3. Those who practise the licentious sport . . .

p. 71

4. (Philodemus: If anyone inquires whether music advances one in all the virtues or only in some, the answer is given that Damon thinks that it is in all, for he says): in singing and playing the lyre, a boy will be likely to reveal not only Courage and Moderation, but also Justice.

S. (Ps.-Plutarch: The relaxed Lydian mode was discovered by Damon).

6. Song and dance necessarily arise when the soul is in some way moved; liberal and beautiful songs and dances create a similar soul, and the reverse kind create a reverse kind of soul.

7. (Aristeides Quintilianus: Through similarity, the notes of a continuous melody create a character that did not exist in boys and in those more advanced in years, and also bring out the latent character. This was the doctrine of Damon's school also. In the harmonies handed down by him it is possible to find in the sequences of notes that sometimes the female notes, sometimes the male, either predominate or diminish or are completely absent, obviously because a different harmony was serviceable according to the character of each particular soul).

8. (Socrates in the 'Laches' of Plato: Damon has much in common with Prodicus, who excelled in the science of nomenclature).

9. (Socrates in the 'Republic' of Plato: Socrates pretends to have an uncertain recollection of Damon's teaching, in which Damon analysed metres and their feet, using terms such as 'martial', 'dactylic', 'heroic', and described the iambus and the trochee; he assigned praise and blame not only to the rhythms for moral quality, but also to the feet, or to both together).

10. Musical modes are nowhere altered without (changes in) the most important laws of the State.

Next: 38. Hippôn of Samos