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THE

CLASSICAL MUSEUM.

XX.

ON THE CHORAL DANCING OF THE GREEKS.

WITHOUT pretending to give any regular account of the art of dancing, as it existed amongst the Greeks, I shall endeavour to shew in the following pages, first; that it was not viewed by them in the trivial light in which we are apt to regard it; secondly, that they used it, as well as music, in the higher species of the ode, such as the choruses of tragedy and the epinician odes of Pindar-a fact which there seems to be a growing disposition to dispute.

Dancing was included by the Greeks under the general term of music (μovoin). Thus Aristides Quintilianus, one of the best writers on ancient music, in his account of Rhythm, tells us that musical rhythm is perceptible by two of our senses, sight and hearing; and that the subjects of rhythm in music are, the motion of the body, melody, and speech. ỏ dè kara μουσικὴν (ρυθμὸς) ὑπὸ δυοῖν (νοεῖται), ὄψεώς τε καὶ ἀκοῆς ῥυθμίζεται δὲ ἐν μουσικῇ κίνησις σώματος, μελωδία, λέξις. (L. 1. p. 31, ed. Meib.) And a little further on he says that these three sorts of rhythm mingled together constitute the ode (ταῦτα δὲ σύμπαντα μιγνύμενα τὴν ᾠδὴν ποιεῖ).

This is perfectly consonant with what we learn from the more classic writers. Plato, in the first Alcibiades, gives just the same definition of music. Εἰπὲ πρῶτον τίς ἡ τέχνη ἧς τὸ κιθαρίζειν καὶ τὸ αἴδειν καὶ τὸ ἐμβαίνειν ὀρθῶς ;-Μουσικήν μοι SOKETS λéyev. (p. 810, C.) So, too, from several passages in the Laws of the same author it is plain that he regarded dancing as a part of music: as in the second book; kaivà dì

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ἄττα ἀεὶ γιγνόμενα περί τε τὰς ὀρχήσεις καὶ περὶ τὴν ἄλλην μουσικὴν ξύμπασαν. (p. 660, Β.) It is needless to multiply citations; but the reader may compare the same book (p. 655, B); also Philebus (c. vII. p. 17, D. &c.). So, too, Aristotle ranges dancing under music, in the following passage of his Politics: ὁ γὰρ θεατής φορτικὸς ὢν μεταβάλλειν εἴωθε τὴν μουσικὴν· ὥστε καὶ τοὺς τεχνίτας τοὺς πρὸς αὐτὸν μελετώντας αὐτούς τε ποιούς τινας ποιεῖ καὶ τὰ σώματα διὰ τὰς κινήσεις. (Lib. VIII. c. 7.) Indeed the Greeks seem to have considered that rhythm, the necessary concomitant of music, could hardly exist without motion; whilst, on the other hand, they clearly recognized the possibility of its subsisting independently on sound. Thus Aristotle tells us that it may be discovered in the motions of the dancer, although there be no tune: αὐτῷ δὲ τῷ ῥυθμῷ μιμεῖται, χωρὶς ἁρμονίας, ἡ τῶν ὀρχηστῶν. (Poet. c. I.) But the rhythm of verse and music, when not accompanied with actual dancing, was at least marked by the motion of the foot. The idea of movement is included in all the illustrations of rhythm given by Longinus: orav μèv yàp τοὺς χαλκέας ἴδωμεν τὰς σφύρας καταφέροντας ἅμα τινὰ καὶ ῥυθμὸν ἀκούομεν· καὶ ἱππῶν δὲ πορεία ῥυθμὸς ἐνομίσθη, καὶ κίνησις δακτύλων, καὶ μελῶν σχήματα, καὶ χορδῶν κινήματα, Kaì Twν óрvíðwv тà πтeρvyloμata. (Frag. § é. Toup.) Where the word towμev is remarkable; we see the motion of the hammers, and at the same time hear a rhythmical sound. From this prevalent sense of motion in rhythm, the word puuós seems to be sometimes used by Greek writers as equivalent to dancing itself, as we shall perhaps see in the course of this inquiry.

Having thus endeavoured to establish the true meaning which the Greeks affixed to the words music (in its more extended sense) and rhythm, I shall now proceed to the first part of my position; namely, that dancing was not viewed by that people in the trivial light in which we are apt to regard it, but as an art which, on certain occasions, might become both dignified and solemn. By some it may be considered that I am here undertaking a work of supererogation; but as it is

1 The Latin version renders the words by apta membrorum conformatio. But though the word rhythm, by a borrowed use, sometimes signifies bodily symmetry;

yet the context shews that by exhμara μελῶν Longinus here means the postures of the limbs in dancing.

in this part that the fact of Greek choral dancing has sometimes been disputed, it becomes necessary to examine whether the objections be tenable.

Plato, in the second book of his Laws (p. 653, E), traces the origin of music and dancing to the delight which youth naturally feels in the exercise of the limbs and voice; a feeling springing from the fulness of animal life and enjoyment, and shared by the brute creation with mankind. Only the rational soul, however, was capable of perceiving the beauty of order in sound and motion. The order of motion is rhythm; that of the voice, harmony; and both together constituted what the Greeks understood by the word chorus. Tn dè tñs Kivýσεως τάξει ῥυθμὸς ὄνομα εἴη· τῇ δ ̓ αὖ τῆς φωνῆς, τοῦ τε ὀξέος ἅμα καὶ βαρέος συγκεραννυμένων, ἁρμονίας ὄνομα προσαγορεύ οιτο· χορεία δὲ τὸ συναμφότερον κληθείη. (p. 665, Β.) So also previously; χορεία γε μὴν ὄρχησίς τε καὶ ᾠδὴ τὸ ξύνολον ἐστίν. (p. 654, B.) Plato, who was a fanciful etymologist, derives the word xopóc, in conformity with his account of the origin of dancing and music, from χαρά, joy (χορούς τε ὠνομακέναι τὸ παρὰ τῆς χαρᾶς ἔμφυτον ὄνομα. Leg. u. p. 654, Β); but it seems more probable that it was derived from an open space in towns affording room for the evolutions of the choral dances.

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This habit of dancing together in chorus may be traced to a very early period of Greek antiquity. It is several times. mentioned by Homer, both in the Iliad and Odyssey; and Hesiod, in his Shield of Hercules (v. 162, seqq.), describes both a chorus of maidens dancing to the lyre, and a kõμoç of youths, whose more boisterous movements are regulated by the sound of the flute. With the more ancient Greeks, however, and particularly amongst the lively children of Ionia and the Islands, choral dancing does not appear to have assumed quite so much of that sacred and solemn character with which it was subsequently invested. Its chief employment seems to have been on occasions of festivity; a wedding, a feast, or the vintage. To us this appears its only appropriate use. Yet there are records of a more solemn one even in those remoter times. Thus we learn from Homer's Hymn to Apollo (v. 146, seqq.), that choruses in honour of that deity were performed in Delos by the Ionians, and by the Delian maidens, a custom afterwards kept up by the Athenians. (Thucyd. 111. 104.) In the same hymn, dancing and music are represented as the relaxations of

the immortal gods themselves. While the Muses sing responsively, the Graces, the Hours, Armonia, Hebe, and Venus, dance, laying hold of each other's wrists. Mars and Mercury join the throng; whilst Apollo leads them all, playing on the cithara, and dancing vigorously at the same time:

αὐτὰρ ὁ Φοῖβος Απόλλων ἐγκιθαρίζει

Καλὰ καὶ ὕψι βιβάς.

V. 201.

In process of time, as the religion of the Greeks put on a more solemn character, so also did certain parts of their dancing. This may have been owing to various causes; the graver character of the more northern tribes, the use of the religious mysteries, and the intercourse of the Greeks with the Egyptians. There were no mysteries without dancing; which, indeed, formed so characteristic a feature of them, that he who was impious enough to reveal their secrets was said ἐξορχεῖσθαι. (Lucian, Salt. 15.) So the initiated are represented, in the Frogs of Aristophanes, as indulging in choral dances. The influence of Egypt on Greek civilization is well known. In that singular country, which it would be perhaps depreciating to call the China of antiquity, the different kinds of music and dancing were sanctified and rendered unalterable by being dedicated to the service of particular gods. (Plato, Leg. vII. p. 799, B.) These songs and dances, Plato tells us, and with a solemnity of asseveration that puzzles all our chronological notions, were the invention of Isis, and had existed for ten thousand years; not ten thousand years, as people loosely speak (ç πоç επε), but actually and truly (övrws). It may be a subject of conjecture whether the Jews, during their captivity, borrowed from the Egyptians the custom of dancing, as a religious ceremony. That at least it was so used amongst them is apparent from several passages of the Old Testament. Thus Miriam is represented as celebrating the defeat of the Egyptians with timbrels and dances (Exod. xv. 20); and at a later period, David is described as dancing before the ark, "with all his might." (2 Sam. vi. 14.) It is true that he thereby draws upon himself the contempt of Michal; not, however, that she considered his dancing profane, but that the king of Israel should have exhibited himself, like some" vain fellow." When we see such a custom existing in so severe a religion as that of the Jews, which had so strong an aversion to all

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