This paper discusses the role of choral institutions in Plato’s ideal polis. In the fourth century BC, choral competitions were a key site of political discourse in Athens, exposing the conflicts inherent to the use of aristocratic patronage in a democratic system. As the demos embraced new musical practices, aristocrats critiqued these changes as a proxy for their opposition to democracy itself. Plato, operating firmly within the aristocratic tradition, placed choral education at the center of his ideal polis as a means to restore and cultivate aristocratic power. However, he also sought to use choral music as a means to rise beyond the aristocratic past, tempering power and honor with moderation and wisdom. His musical program acted as a means of social control, a clarification of social status, and a tool for moral formation of citizens, re-solidifying the aristocracy while transcending its faults.
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"Athenian Choral Institutions and Plato's Ideal Polis,"
Grand Valley Journal of History: Vol. 8:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/gvjh/vol8/iss1/1
Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity Commons, History Commons, Musicology Commons