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Sound UnseenAcousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice$
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Brian Kane

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347841.001.0001

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Myth and the Origin of the Pythagorean Veil

Myth and the Origin of the Pythagorean Veil

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 Myth and the Origin of the Pythagorean Veil
Source:
Sound Unseen
Author(s):

Brian Kane

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347841.003.0003

Writers on acousmatic sound have never offered a complete history of the term. Usually, the focus is on the Pythagorean school—where it is claimed that Pythagoras lectured to his disciples from behind a veil—or on a rare French word, “acousmate.” After collating the most common claims concerning the history of acousmatic sound and developing the critique of myth presented in chapter 1, this chapter focuses on the legend of the Pythagorean veil. When did the veil first appear in the extant literature on Pythagoras? To answer that question, the ancient sources on Pythagoras are consulted. They reveal that there are, in fact, no ancient Greek sources that substantiate the claim that Pythagoras employed a veil. The earliest sources concerning the Pythagorean veil are found in Clement of Alexandria and reasons are given why Clement may have embellished the Pythagorean legend.

Keywords:   Pythagoras, veil, Pythagoreanism, akousmatikoi, Clement of Alexandria, myth, Iamblichus, allegory

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