Il cibo per la cura dell’anima, la musica e le virtù per la salute del corpo

kairos e epimeleia nella dottrina pitagorica


  • Mino Ianne Dipartimento Ionico, Università di Bari



food, diet, body, soul, music therapy


The Pythagoreans went beyond the traditional use of diet to cure disease, convinced, as they were, that its real importance lies in healing the soul. The Pythagorean δίαιτα essentially takes on a further meaning with respect to the properly medical notion, that is, a meaning of existential and formative nature. If it is true, in fact, that food, in its variations, is decisive for the states of health and physical illness, it is also true that it has a reflex effect on psychic states and character; the ψυχή is strongly conditioned in the determination of lifestyles, as, on the other hand, it also appeared clear to the Hippocratic doctors.

In this sense, it can perhaps be hypothesized that καιρός is the conceptual hub that allowed the transition from the iron rules of the akusmata of early Pythagoreanism to the more flexible consideration of what is appropriate in different circumstances, as we find in the doctrine related by Iamblichus, dating back to Aristoxenus, and, therefore, in the Pythagoreanism of the fourth century. The first testimony in which medicine is related to music and music therapy, specifically defined as “catharsis”, that is to say a tool for healing both physical and mental illnesses, also dates back precisely to this period.

Hence the importance attached by Pythagorean thought to epimeleia, care as total harmony of body and spirit. In this sense, the Pythagorean doctrine appears to be the direct antecedent of Plato’s thought on the care of the “whole”.