Musica Universalis

Shown in this engraving from Renaissance Italy are Apollo, the Muses, the planetary spheres and musical ratios.

‘Musica Universalis’ is an ancient philosophical concept that the celestial bodies emit a form of music. Pythagoras is credited with being the creator of the concept, by proposing that the celestial bodies emit their own ‘hum’ based on their orbital revolution.

Pliny the Elder talks about this his ‘Natural History’:

Pythagoras, employing the terms that are used in music, sometimes names the distance between the Earth and the Moon a tone; from her to Mercury he supposes to be half this space, and about the same from him to Venus. From her to the Sun is a tone and a half; from the Sun to Mars is a tone, the same as from the Earth to the Moon; from him there is half a tone to Jupiter, from Jupiter to Saturn also half a tone, and thence a tone and a half to the zodiac. Hence there are seven tones, which he terms the diapason harmony, meaning the whole compass of the notes. In this, Saturn is said to move in the Doric time, Jupiter in the Phrygian, and so forth of the rest; but this is a refinement rather amusing than useful.

Book II, Chp.20.(22.)

Plato in his ‘The Republic’, also builds on the idea of the ‘music of the spheres’:

And the spindle turned on the knees of Necessity, and up above on each of the rims of the circles a Siren stood, borne around in its revolution and uttering one sound, one note, and from all the eight there was the concord of a single harmony.

– Book X, 617b

So would this mean that Apollon has a role in astrology? I think so.

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