Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Plato Code

It sounds like something out of a Dan Brown novel, but a scholar in Manchester, England, claims to have found hidden code in the ancient writings of Plato. If true, the secret messages would have made the ancient philosopher and mathematician a heretic in his day.

Jay Kennedy tells NPR's Guy Raz that his discovery was partially luck. Looking at Plato's works in their original scroll form, he noticed that every 12 lines there was a passage that discussed music. "The regularity of that pattern was supposed to be noticed by Plato's readers," Kennedy says.

Music in ancient Greece was based on a 12-note scale, unlike the eight-note scale of modern Western music. Kennedy posits that Plato deliberately inserted discussions of music every 12 lines to send a secret, musical message.

What Plato couldn't tell people was that he was a closet Pythagorean. Pythagoras and his followers believed that mathematics and music were the key to the universe.

Being rooted in symbolism, it seems that much religio-philisophical literature contains codes. Some codes, like perhaps Plato's, are designed to preserve ideas from out of view of inquisitors, while others are merely attempts convey ineffable subjective experiences.

UPDATE:> Much more on this interesting story can be found here and here.

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