Damon of Oa: A Music Theorist Ostracized?

Robert W. Wallace*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the evidence for the career of Damon of Oa, music theorist and friend of Pericles, who was said to have been ostracised for his dangerous activities. It defends that tradition, arguing that music and politics were intimately connected in 5th-century Athens. The sources suggest that Damon developed what was later called the ethos theory of music which believed in the power of music to influence character and behaviour. Given the centrality of mousike in 5th-century Athenian society, it is entirely plausible that a theorist who emphasised music's potential to change or disturb the social order might be perceived as a threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMusic and the Muses
Subtitle of host publicationThe Culture of Mousike in the Classical Athenian City
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191714078
ISBN (Print)9780199242399
StatePublished - Jan 15 2004


  • Damon
  • Ethos
  • Mousike
  • Music
  • Pericles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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