Theorist Information

Birth - ca. 3rd Century BCE | Tolmeita, Libya

Era - Pre-Baroque

Theorist Biography

Ptolemais, whose biographical data are completely unknown to scholars lived perhaps in the 3rd century BC, and “certainly not after the first century AD.” She was the author of a handbook on musical theory titled Pythagorean Elements of Music, of which only a few fragments—quoted by Porphyry of Tyre in his Commentary on the Harmonics of Ptolemy—survive. She is the only female musicologist known from classical antiquity and despite the title of her work it seems not to be a manifesto of the Pythagorean doctrine, but to refer to the various traditions of inquiry in harmonic science with no polemic intention.

See Also

  • Andrew Barker, Greek Musical Writings, vol. 2, Harmonic and Acoustic Theory, Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 239–242,
  • Levin, Flora R. Greek Reflections on the Nature of Music, Cambridge University Press, 2009, Chapter 7: “Aisthēsis and Logos: A Single Continent”
  • Plant, Ian Michael, ed. Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology.