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Research Strategies for Classics Majors : A Tutorial

4. Databases (with indices/abstracts/full text)

Databases can either have a very basic search function or be quite sophisticated. The latter will allow you to, for example, search by year, type of publication, language and to use so called Boolean operators such as "AND" (combining concepts) and "OR" (searching either concept) to refine your search. Consult the help screen of each database. If “Boolean operators” (keyword combinations) can be used, some suggested combinations for our purpose may include:

“Aristotle AND music”

“Aristotle AND (tragedy OR drama)”

“Aristotle AND (tragedy OR drama AND music)”

“Aristotle AND education”

“Aristotle AND paideia”

“ethos AND paideia”

“Greek music OR mode(s)”

“Greek harmony(ies) OR harmonics”

“Aristotle AND (sense perception OR aesthetics)”

“Aristotle AND (ethics OR ethical behavior)”

“Greek philosophy AND (music OR music theory)”

“Aristotle AND (mimesis OR representation OR imitation)”

“Aristotle AND tragedy AND (catharsis OR katharsis)”

“ethics AND music”

You may also choose to expand your search to include a comparison with Plato or with Aristotle's own discussion of tragedy in his Poetics:

“Tragedy AND (Plato OR Aristotle)”

“Aristotle AND Poetics”

Other search words include: theater and Greece (or theat* to allow for both the American and British variant spellings).

Note: You have to consult the help screen of each database to find the truncation symbol used. In some databases, such as the PHI (for searching Latin literary texts), you choose prefixes or suffixes instead of truncation symbols and the online TLG (for searching Greek literary texts) where you click on a wildcard option for inflected (declined, conjugated, derived, or dialectical) forms.

“Greek theater”

“Greek drama”

“Greek tragedy”


You may also wish to consult the following databases for additional citations:


Examples of citations found when searching on “Aristotle AND Music”:

  • Lintott, Andrew. “Aristotle and Democracy.” Classical Quarterly 42 (1) (1992): 114–128.
  • Murnaghan, Sheila. “Sucking the Juice without Biting the Rind: Aristotle and Tragic Mimēsis.” New Literary History 26 (4) (1995): 755–773.
  • Myers, Henry Alonzo. “Aristotle's Study of Tragedy.” Educational Theatre Journal 1 (2) (1949): 115–127.

Examples of citations found when searching on Aristotle AND (tragedy OR music) or other keywords (see suggested list above):

  • Brullmann, Philipp. “Music Builds Character. Aristotle, Politics VIII 5, 1340a14-b5.” Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science. 46 (4) (2013): 345-373.
  • Dahlhaus, Carl, and Ruth Katz (eds.). Contemplating Music: Source Readings in the Aesthetics of Music. New York: Pendragon Press, 1987.
  • Halliwell, Stephen. "Aristotelian Mimesis Reevaluated." Journal of the History of Philosophy (1990): 487-510.
  • Koeplin, Aimee. “The Telos of Citizen Life: Music and Philosophy in Aristotle's Ideal Polis.” Polis: The Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought 26 (1) (2009): 116-132.
  • Vetere, Lucia. "La Musica in Aristotele." Studi Filosofici (1992): 107-124.


Example of a citation found:

Lintott, A. "Aristotle and Democracy." Classical Quarterly 2 (1) (1992): 114-128.

Examples of citations found:

  • Ford, Andrew Laughlin. “Catharsis: The Power of Music in Aristotle's Politics." In Music and the Muses: The Culture of “mousike” in the Classical Athenian City. Penelope Murray and Peter Wilson, eds. (pp. 309-336). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Frazier, Françoise. "Remarques autour de la classification des arts au chapitre I de la Poétique (1447 a 18-b 13)." Revue des Études Grecques 110 (2) (1997): 420-433.

Examples of citations found:

  • Golden, Leon. Aristotle and Comic Mimesis. Atlanta: GA: Scholars Press, 1992. Reviewed by Elizabeth Belfiore.
  • Katz, Steven B. The Epistemic Music of Rhetoric: Toward the Temporal Dimension of Affect in Reader Response and Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996. Reviewed by Wilfred E. Major.
  • Lowell, Edmunds, and Robert W. Wallace (eds.). Poet, Public and Performance in Ancient Greece. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Reviewed by Simon Goldhill.
  • Swanson, Judith A, and C. David Corbin, Aristotle's Politics: A Reader's Guide. Continuum Reader's Guides. London; New York: 2009. Reviewed by Richard Fernando Buxton.

Examples of citations found:

  • Paul, J. "Vox-Atque-Sonus - Studies on the Spread of Aristotle 'De anima' and Its Significance for Music Theory." Moyen Age 98 (1) (1992): 125-128.
  • Schoennazzaro, M.B. "Plato and Aristotle on the Ends of Music." Laval Theologique et Philosophique 34 (3) (1978): 261-273.


Note: In the following three music databases the keyword “music” is superfluous since these resources would only index music related works.

Example of citation found:

Sörbom, G. Aristotle on Music as Representation.”   Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1) (1994): 37-46. 

Examples of citations found:

  • MacNeil, Anne. "Weeping at the Water's Edge." Early Music 27 (3) (1999): 406-417
  • Woodruff, P. “Aristotle on Character in Tragedy, or, Who is Creon? What is he?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (3) (2009): 301-309. 

Example of citation found:

  • Regelski, Thomas A. "The Aristotelian Bases of Praxis for Music and Music Education as Praxis." Philosophy of Music Education Review 6 (1) (Spring 1998): 22-59.


Note: You are expected to read broadly also “around” your topic(s). Even if the sources on Aristotle were not to contain words such as “music” or “tragedy” or other keywords you have tried in the title, you may still find that they are exactly what you need for your paper.  Be creative and think beyond exact phrases.


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