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First Published 

Volume 1 - - < 1776 
Volume 2 * - - 1782 
Volumes 3 & 4 - 1789 

Second edition of 
Volume 1 * - - 1789 
Volume 2 - < > 1782? 

F R s . 



From the Earliest Ages to the 

Present Period 




Mus.D., F.R.S. 




New Yorlc 


IN preparing this edition of Burney's " General History of 
Music," my aim has been to make the work more valuable 
to the general reader; that is, the class of reader for whom the 
" History " was intended. I have not attempted to bring it 
" up to date " in the sense of any tampering with the text, or 
softening or altering the opinions held by the author. Too many 
critics praise or censure Burney 's work (and, indeed, all Histories) 
in accordance with the treatment, sympathetic or otherwise, meted 
out to their own particular period. Burney's History is not a 
period History it is a General History, and it is an intensely 
personal one. I do not intend to embark upon a defence of 
Burney's opinions; they were his own, and they cannot be 
dismissed lightly; but I must draw attention to one thing that is 
frequently overlooked by many, and that is the necessity of 
appreciating the 18th century meaning of words such as barbarous 
and licentious, etc. The age of Burney was an age of frank 
speaking, and one must not ignore this fact when reading works 
of that period. Burney often uses words which have, since his 
day, received a more special meaning, and if this is kept in mind 
many of his so-called " savage and harsh strictures " will not 
appear unfair. 

In the present edition, Bumey's text and notes (with the original 
spelling) have been given in full and unaltered with the following 
exceptions : 

(1) The transcription of the musical tract by Tunsted in the 
second book has been punctuated correctly. 

(2) A more correct version of Cutell's tract in Book 2 has been 

(3) The titles of the early English Psalters have been given in 
more detail. 

All the dates and corrections enclosed in square brackets [ ] 
are additions for which I am responsible. 

The work has been re-indexed, and I trust that the new index 
will be found more useful than the original one. 

The musical examples are also complete with the exception of 
a very dull example of a degree exercise, which will be -found in 
Vol. Ill, p. 351, of the original edition. One or two examples 
of the difficulties to be found in Virginal music have been curtailed, 
but eaough remains to show the nature of the difficulty. Jja Up 
musical examples, Burney employs almost every variety * 
I think that the only one I have not discovered is the o 


violin clef. The unusual ones have been altered to modern usage, 
but I have retained the tenor and alto C clefs. 

The question of the examples of Tudor music has given me 
considerable trouble. Burney not only alters that peculiar feature 
of the technique of the period, the so-called false relation or 
augmented octave, but in some cases his scansion of the words has 
made him change a semibreve into a dotted minim and a crotchet. 
All cases of wrong notes have been altered, but in the majority 
of cases I have allowed his arrangement of the words to stand. 

For the sake of convenience Burney 's volumes are called Books, 
so that Book 1 is Burney' s Volume I, etc. When volume is 
mentioned it refers to the present edition. 

My own notes are indicated by asterisks, and in selecting those 
inserted, from the large number I had prepared, I have been 
influenced by what might be most useful to the non-specialist. 

If I endeavoured to thank publicly all those who have given 
information and help in the preparation of this edition, my intro- 
duction would be extended to an inordinate length, but I must give 
my thanks to Dr. Percy Scholes for sending me a proof copy of 
his valuable book, " The Puritans and Music "; to Miss Burney, 
of Wandsworth, for permission to copy and include letters from 
her collection of Burney MSS; to Richard Border, Esq., for the 
letter from Burney to Lady Banks; to Raymond Conrad, Esq., for 
information about the Troubadours; to the officials at the British 
Museum and the Music Library of the University of London; to 
G. Ceci for permission to photograph his copy of " A musical 
evening at Dr. Burney' s "; to the Education Department of the 
Columbia Graphophone Company, Ltd., for the loan of records: 
and, above all, to my wife, without whose constant help my work in 
connection with the publication could not have been accomplished, 


Abbreviations Used in the Editor's Notes 

The usual abbreviations in connection with dates. Please note the c letter before a date 
refers to one date only. Thus, for example, in c. 1500-57 the circa refers to 1500, and not to 
1557. If both dates should be uncertain, the following would be used: c. 1500-5. 57. 

Add. MSS .................... Additional manuscript. 

Bib. Nat ........................ Bibliotheque National Paris. 

B. &H ....................... Breitkopf & Hartel. 

B.M ........................... British Museum. 

Davey ......................... History of English Music (1921). 

D.T.O ........... . ...... ..... Denkmaler der Tonkunst in Osterreich. 

D.D.T. ........ ................ Denkmaler der Deutscher Tonkunst. 

E.M.S .................. ....... English Madrigal School. 

Grove's ........................ Grove's Dictionary of Music & Musicians (ard editioa unless 

otherwise stated). 

Harl .......................... Harlean Manuscripts. 

L.M.M.F ....... ...... . . . . ...... Les Maitres Musiciens de la Renaissance (H. Expert) Fttncafo*, 

O.E.E. ....... . .......... ...... Old English Edition (Arkwright). 

OX.H.M. ... ..... .............. Oxford History of Music (latest edition unless otherwise stated). 

Proske. MJ> ................. Musica Divina. 

Q.L. ... ............. . ......... Eitner. Quellen-Lexikon. 

Torchi. A.M.I. .. .............. L'Arte Musicale in Italia. 

V.V.N.M. ..................... Vereeniging voor Nederlandsche Muztekgeschiedenis. 








Section I. Of the Notation or Tablature of 
Ancient Music, including its Scales, 
Intervals, Systems, and Diagrams ... ... 23 

Section II. Of the three Genera: Diatonic, 

Chromatic, and Enharmonic ... .... 40 

Section III. Of the Modes 53 

Section IV. Of Mutations 64 

Section V. Of Melopoeia 67 

Section VI. Of Rhythm 71 

Section VII. Of the Practice of Melopoeia ... 87 
Section VIII. Whether the Ancients had 

Counterpoint or Music in Parts 105 

Section IX. Of Dramatic Music ... ... 133 

Section X. Of the Effects Attributed to the 
Music of the Ancients 




Chapter L Of Music in Greece during the 
Residence of Pagan Divinities, of the first 

order, upon Earth - 

Chapter II. Of the Terrestial, or Demi-Gods ... 247 
Chapter III. Concerning the Music of Heroes 

and Heroic Times ... ... ' 254 


THE HISTORY OF GREEK Music (Continued) 

Chapter IV. Of the State of Music in Greece, 
from the time of Homer, till it was subdued 
by the Romans, including the Musical 
Contests at the Public Games 286 

Chapter V. Of Ancient Musical Sects, and 

Theories of Sound 342 

Chapter VI. Of the Scolia, or Songs, of the 

Ancient Greeks 359 





Chapter I. Of the Introduction of Music into 
the Church, and of its progress there 
previous to the Time of Guido 409 

Chapter II. Of the Invention of Counterpoint, 
and State of Music, from the Time of Guido, 
to the Formation of the Time-table ... 457 

Chapter III. Of the Formation of the Time- 
table, and State of Music from that 
Discovery till about the middle of the 
fourteenth century ... ... 524 

Chapter IV. Of the Origin of Modern 
Languages, to which written Melody and 
Harmony were first applied; and general 
state of Music till the Invention of Printing, 
about the year 1450 ... 559 

Chapter V. Of the State of Music, from the 
Invention of Printing till the Middle of the 
XVIth Century: including its Cultivation 
in the Masses, Motets and Secular Songs of 
that Period ... ... 703 




THE condescension with which your Majesty has been pleased 
to permit your name to stand before the following History, may 
justly reconcile the author to his favourite study, and convince 
him, that whatever may be said by the professors of severer 
wisdom, the hours which he has bestowed upon Music have been 
neither dishonourably, nor unprofitably spent. 

THE science of musical sounds, though it may have been 
depreciated, as appealing only to the ear, and affording nothing 
more than a momentary and fugitive delight, may be with justice 
considered as the art that unites corporal with intellectual pleasure, 
by a species "of enjoyment which gratifies sense, without weakening 
reason; and which, therefore, the Great may cultivate without 
debasement, and the Good enjoy without depravation. 

THOSE who have most diligently contemplated the state of man, 
have found it beset with vexations, which can neither be repelled 
by splendour, nor eluded by obscurity; to the necessity of combating 
these intrusions of discontent, the ministers of pleasure were 
indebted for that kind reception, which they have perhaps too 
indiscriminately obtained. Pleasure and innocence ought never 
to be separated; yet we seldom find them otherwise than at variance, 
except when Music brings them together. 

To those who know that Music is among your Majesty's 
recreations, it is not necessary to display its purity, or assert its 
dignity. May it long amuse your leisure, not as a relief from evil, 
but as an augmentation of good; not as a diversion from care, but 


as a variation of felicity. Such, Madam, is my sincerest wish, 
in which I can, however, boast no peculiarity of reverence or zeal; 
for the virtues of your Majesty are universally confessed; and 
however the inhabitants of the British empire may differ in their 
opinions upon other questions, they afl behold your excellences 
with the same eye, and, celebrate them with the same voice; and 
to that name which one nation is echoing to another, nothing 
can be added by the respectful admiration, and humble gratitude 


your Majesty's, 
most obedient 

and most devoted Servant, 



THE feeble beginnings of whatever afterwards becomes great 
or eminent, are interesting to mankind. To artists, 
therefore, and to real lovers of art, nothing relative to the 
object of their employment or pleasure is indifferent. 

Sir Francis Bacon recommends histories of art upon the principle 
of utility, as well as amusement ; and collecting into one view the 
progress of an art seems likely to enlarge the knowledge, and 
stimulate the emulation of artists, who may, by this means, be taken 
out of the beaten track of habit and common practice, to which 
their ideas are usually confined. 

The love of lengthened tones and modulated sounds, different 
from those of speech, and regulated by a stated measure, seems a 
passion implanted in human nature throughout the globe ; for we 
hear of no people, however wild and savage in other particulars, 
who have not music of some kind or other, with which we may 
suppose them to be greatly delighted, by their constant use of it 
upon occasions the most opposite : in the temple, and the theatre ; 
at funerals, and at weddings ; to give dignity and solemnity to 
festivals, and to excite mirth, chearfulness, and activity, in the 
frolicsome dance. Music, indeed, like vegetation, flourishes 
differently in different climates ; and in proportion to the culture and 
encouragement it receives ; yet, to love such music as our ears are 
accustomed to, is an instinct so generally subsisting in our nature, 
that it appears less wonderful it should have been in the highest 
estimation at all times, and in every place, than that it should 
hitherto never have had its progressive improvements and 
revolutions deduced through a regular history, by any English 

Indeed, though time has spared us a few ancient histories of 
empires, republics, and individuals, yet no models of a History, 
either of Music, or of any other art or science, are come down 
to us, out of the many that antiquity produced. Plutarch's 
Dialogue on Music approaches the nearest to history ; but, though it 
abounds with particulars relative to the subject, it is so short and 
defective, that it rather excites than gratifies curiosity. 

Some of the writings of Aristotle and Aristoxenus that are lost, 
though they were not express histories of music, would, nevertheless, 
had they been preserved, have satisfied our doubts concerning 
several parts of ancient music, which are now left to conjecture. 


" Aristotle, the disciple of Plato," says Plutarch, " regarded 
melody as something noble, great, and divine." Now, as this 
passage is not to be found in the remaining works of Aristotle, it is 
imagined that Plutarch took it either from his Treatise on Music 
(a), or the second book of his Poetics, where he treated of the Flute 
and Cithara, both which works are lost. And yet Kircher, 
[1602-80] in his Musurgia (&),* speaking of the ancient writers on 
Music, whose works he had consulted among the manuscripts in 
the Jesuit's College Library at Rome, names Aristotle;** but I 
sought in vain for the Treatise which he had written expressly on 
Music, nor could I find there any work by that philosopher relative 
to the subject, except his Acoustics (c). 

Almost all the ancient philosophers, especially the Pythagoreans, 
Platonists, and Peripatetics, wrote treatises on Music, which are 
now lost. Meursius, in his notes on Aristoxenus, enumerates, 
among others, the following ancient writers on music, of whom we 
have nothing left but the name : Agenor, of Mytilene, mentioned 
by Aristoxenus (d), from whom sprung a sect of musicians called 
Agenorians ; as from Eratocles, the Eratocleans ; from Epigonus, 
the Epigonians, and from Damon, who taught Socrates music, 
the Damonians (e). 

But of all the ancient musical writers, the name of no one is 
come down to us, of whose works I was in greater want than those 
of the younger Dionysius Halicamassensis, who flourished, .according 
to Suidas, under the emperor Adrian, and who wrote twenty-six 
books of the History of Musicians, in which he celebrated not only 
the great performers on the Flute and Cithara, but those who had 
risen to eminence by every species of poetry. He was, likewise, 
author of five books, written in defence of Music, and chiefly in 
refutation of what is alledged against it in Plato's Republic. Aristides 
Quintilianus (/) has, also, endeavoured to soften the severity of 
some animadversions against Music in the writings of Cicero (g) J 
but though time has spared the defence of this author, yet it does 
not indemnify us for the loss of that which Dionysius junior left 
behind him ; as testimonies are still remaining of his having been 
a much more able writer than Arist. Quintilianus (ft). 

But though all the musical histories of the ancients are lost, yet 
almost every country ki Europe that has cultivated the polite arts, 
has, since the revival of learning, produced a history of Music, , 
except our own, Italy can boast of two works under that title ; 

(a) 'YTTP Movcrwe^. (b) Tom. *. p. 545. (c) Hepi <weov<rwv. (rf) lib. w. p t 36. 

(t) The list of Greek writers on the subject of Music, whose works axe lost, amount*, in Fabriciua 
to near thirty. 

(f)P.69,*tseq. (g) 1 Politic. 

(It) Vide FabHrium, Bib. Grac. lib. iii. p. zo. 

* The most famous of the many works of this versatile writer is the Mu*wrp* Vnivtrsafa 
5nu Ars Ma-gna Consom Et Dissont fa vols., Rome, 1650), which contains much valuable informa- 
tion. The second volume deals with Greek music but is untrustworthy in many respects, 

** Made many references to music In his writings. These have been collected and published 
?7, XP^I 808 (^** Smptores Grow, iBgs). Aristotle was bom 384 B.C. and died 32* B.C., 
It is held by some authorities that the Problemata Sect. 19. which is of ten mentioned in this volume 
dates from the first or second century A.D. and was probably written at Alexandria. 


one written in the latter end of the last century by Bontempi (*), 
and that of Padre Martini, in this (k). France has likewise two, 
one by Bone* $> and one by M. de Blainville (/ft)] and Germany 
has not only produced two histories of Music in its own language, by 
Caspar Printz (*), ai>4 Hi fearpurg (0) ; but one in Latin, lately 
published in two volumes, 4to. by the prince abbot of St. Blasius (p ). 
Unluckily, those of P. Martini,* and M. Marpurg, are not yet 
finished ; and that of the learned abbot only concerns church music ; 
so that though much has been done, much is still left for diligence 
to do (f ) ; and however I may respect the learning, and admire the 
industry and abilities of some of these writers, yet I saw the wants 
of English musical readers through such a different medium, that 
I have seldom imitated their arrangements, and never servilely 
copied their opinions. pJiftffed materials lie open to us all ; and 
as I spared no expense or pains either in acquiring or consulting 
'them, the merely citing the same passages from them, cannot convict 
me of plagiarism. With respect likewise to manuscript information, 
and inedited materials from foreign countries, few modem writers 
have perhaps expended more money and time, undergone greater 
fatigue, or more impaired their health in the search of them, than 

And /t; though all will readily allow, in general, that perfection 
is not to be expected in the works of man; it is evident that, in 
particular cases, little tenderness is shewn to imperfection in the 
most difficult and laborious undertakings. 

If I might presume to hope,, however, for any unusual indulgence 
from the public with respect to this work, it must be from the 
peculiarity of my circumstances during the time it was in hand; 
for it may with the utmost truth be said, that it was composed 
in moments stolen from sleep, from reflection, and from an occupa- 
tion which required all my attention, during more than twelve 
ours a day, for a great part of the year. 

(*) Historia Musica. In Perugia, fol. 1695. 

(*) Storia detta Musica, 4to. In Bologna, x757, and 1770, and [1781]. 

(I) ffistoire de la Musique, et de ses Effets. z Tom. xamo. Par. 17x5, and Amst. 1726. 

(m) Histoire generate, critique et philologique de la Musique. a Paris. 1767. 

(n) ftitftoriffcfjc Eescfjreitafl tor Efcleit &mfltmfc IftUngfainflt, in |to> gcftrufct, ju 



' (o) Ifctitfoclje einWtunjj in Hi* ffiwcfjfcljte utrt fUforjmCjt U altm tin* twutti 

^to. -Berlin. 1759. 

(p) De Cantu et Musica Sacra a prima Ecclesia eetate usque ad presens tempus. Typis San. 
Blasianis. 1774. 

(a) The history of Music by M. Bonet is written upon a very narrow plan j for the second volume 
contains nothing more than exclusive eulogiums of Luffi, and illiberal censures of every species of 
Italian music. And though the work of M. de Blainville is nominally a General History of Music, yet, 
notwithstanding the splendid promises in the title, the whole historical, critical, and (philological parts 
of this work, are comprised inless than half a thin quarto ; therestof the volume being fifled with a 
treatise on composition. The Musical Dictionary of M. Rousseau, without promising any thing more 
than an explanation of terms peculiar to the theory and practice of Music, affords not only more 
amusementrbut more historical information relative to the art, than perhaps any book of the size that 
is extant. 

* An important figure in the musical life of the eighteenth century. He was bom at Bologna 
in i7o6 and died in 1784.. Apart from his compositions he was a prolific writer on musical matters. 
The third volume of his history was published in 1781 and this proved to be the last, as he died before 
he could complete the fourth. Martini had an enormous library which Burney estimated to contain 
about 17,000 volumes. 


If it be asked, why I entered on so arduous a task, knowing 
the disadvantages I must labour under, my answer is, that it was 
neither with a view to rival others, nor to expose the defects of 
former attempts, but merely to fill up, as well as I was able, a 
chasm in English literature. I knew that a history of Music was 
wanted by my countrymen, and was utterly ignorant that any one 
else had undertaken to supply it; yet, to confess the truth, I did, 
at first imagine, though I have been long convinced of my mistake, 
that, with many years practice and experience in musical matters, 
some reading, and the possession of a great number of books on 
the subject, I should have been able to compile such a history as 
was wanted, at my leisure hours, without great labour or expence. 

But, after I had embarked, the further I sailed, the greater 
seemed my distance from the port: doubts of my own abilities, 
and respect for the public, abated my confidence; my ideas of 
what would be required at my "hands were enlarged beyond my 
powers of fulfilling them, especially in the narrow limits of two 
volumes, and in the little time I had allowed myself, which was 
made still less by sickness. 

A work like this, in which it is necessary to give authorities for 
every fact that is asserted, advances infinitely slower, with all the 
diligence that can be bestowed upon it, than one of mere imagina- 
tion, or one consisting of recent circumstances, within the 
knowledge and memory of the writer. The difference in point 
of time and labour is as great as in building a house with scarce 
materials produced in remote regions of the world, or with bricks 
made upon the spot, and timber from a neighbouring wood; and 
I have frequently spent more time in ascertaining a date, or seeking 
a short, and, in itself, a trivial passage, than would have been 
requisite to fill many pages with conjecture and declamation. 

However, after reading, or at least consulting, an almost 
innumerable quantity of old and scarce books on the subject, of 
which the duiness and pedantry were almost petrific, and among 
which, where I hoped to find the most information, I found but 
little, and where I expected but little, I was seldom disappointed; 
at length, wearied and disgusted at the small success of my 
researches, I shut my books, and began to examine myself as to 
my musical principles; hoping that the good I had met with in 
the course of my reading was by this time digested, and incorporated 
in my own ideas; and that the many years I had spent in practice, 
theory, and meditation, might entitle me to some freedom of 
thought, unshackled by the trammels of authority. 

Concerning the music of the Greeks and Romans, about which 
the learned talk so much, it is impossible to speak with certainty; 
however, the chief part of what I have to say with respect to its 
theory and practice, is thrown into a Preliminary Dissertation, in 
order that the narrative might not be interrupted by discussions 
-concerning dark and disputable points, which will be generally 
uninteresting even to musical readers; and in which it is very 


doubtful, whether I shall be able either to amuse or satisfy the 

It is, indeed, with great and almost hopeless diffidence, that I 
enter upon this part of my work; as I can hardly animate myself 
with the expectation of succeeding in enquiries which have foiled 
the most learned men of the two or three last centuries. But 
it has been remarked by Tartini, in speaking of ancient music, 
that doubt, difficulty, and obscurity, should not be imputed to 
the author, but to the subject, since they are in its very essence : 
for what, besides conjecture, is now left us, concerning things so 
transient as sound, and so evanescent as taste? 

The land of conjecture, however, is so extensive and unappro- 
priated, that every new cultivator has a right to break up fresh 
ground, or to seize upon any spot that has long lain fallow, without 
the sanction of a grant from anyone who may arrogate to 
himself the sovereignty of the whole, or of any neglected part of 
it. But though no one has an exclusive right to these imaginary 
regions, yet the public has a just power of censuring the methods 
of improvement adopted by any new inhabitant, and of condemn- 
ing such productions as may be deemed unfit for use. 

The opinions of mankind seldom agree, concerning the most 
common and obvious things; and consequently will be still less 
likely to coincide about others, that are reducible to no standard 
of truth or excellence, but are subject to the lawless controul of 
every individual who shall think fit to condemn them, either with, 
or without understanding them. 

Dr. Johnson has well said, that " those who think they have 
done much, see but little to do;" and with respect to ancient 
music, I believe those who have taken the greatest pains to 
investigate the subject, are least satisfied with the success of their 

What the ancient music really was, it is not easy to determine; 
the whole is now become a matter of faith; but of this we are 
certain, that it was something with which mankind was extremely 
delighted: for not only the poets, but the historians and 
philosophers of the best ages of Greece and Rome, are as diffuse 
in its praises, as of those arts concerning which sufficient remains 
are come down to us, to evince the truth of their panegyrics. And 
so great was the sensibility of the ancient Greeks, and so accentuated 
and refined their language, that they seem to have been, in both 
respects, to the rest of the world, what the modern Italians are at 
present; for of these last, the language itself is music, and their 
ears are so polished and accustomed to sweet sounds, that they 
are rendered fastidious judges of melody, both by habit and 

But as to the superior or inferior degree of excellence in the 
ancient music, compared with the modern, it is now as impossible 
tc determine, as it is to hear both sides. 



Indeed it is so entirely lost, that the study of it is become as 
unprofitable as learning a dead language, in which there are no 
books ; and yet this study has given rise to so much pedantry, and 
to such an ambition in modern musical authors, to be thought 
well versed in the writings of the ancients upon music, that their 
treatises are rendered both disgusting and unintelligible by it. 
Words only are come down to us without things. We have so few 
remains of ancient Music by which to illustrate its rules, that we 
cannot, as in Painting, Poetry, Sculpture, or Architecture, judge of 
it, or profit by examples ; and to several of these terms which are 
crammed into our books, we are utterly unable to affix any precise 
or useful meaning. To write, therefore, in favour of ancient music 
now, is like the emperor Julian's defending paganism, when 
mankind had given it up as indefensible, and had attached 
themselves to another religion. 

However, it is, perhaps, a fortunate circumstance for modern 
music that the ancient is lost, as it might not have suited the 
genius of our language, and might have tied us down to precedent ; 
as the writers of modem Latin never dare hazard a single thought 
or expression without classical authority. 

The subject itself of ancient music is so dark, and writers 
concerning it are so discordant in their opinions, that every 
intelligent reader who finds how little there is to be known, has 
reason to lament that there still remains so much to be said. Indeed, 
I should have been glad to have waived all discussion about it : for, 
to say the truth, the study of ancient music is now become the 
business of an Antiquary more than of a Musician, But in every 
history of music extant, in other languages, the practice had been 
so constant for the author to make a display of what he knew, and 
what he did not know concerning ancient music, that it seemed 
absolutely necessary for me to say something about it, if it were 
only to prove, that if I have not been more successful in my enquiries 
than my predecessors, I have not been less diligent* And it 
appeared likewise necessary, before I attempted a history of ancient 
Greek music, to endeavour to investigate its properties, or at least 
to tell the little I knew of it, and ingenuously to confess my ignorance 
and doubts about the rest. 

Indeed it was once my intention to begin my history with the 
invention of the present musical scale and counterpoint ; for 

" What can we reason, but from what we know? " 

But it was impossible to read a great number of books upon the 
subject, without meeting with conjectures, and it was not easy to 
peruse these, without forming others of my own. If those which 
I have hazarded should throw any light upon the subject, it will 
enable my readers to travel through the dark maze of enquiry 
with more facility, and consequently less disgust ; and if I fail in 
my researches, and leave both the subject and them where I found 
them, as the expectation which I encourage is but small, so it is 
hoped will be their disappointment. For with respect to all I 



have to say, I must confess that the Spanish motto, adopted by 
Francis ie Vayer, is wholly applicable. 

De las cosas mas seguras 
La mas seguras es dudar (r). 

In wading through innumerable volumes, with promising titles, 
and submitting to the drudgery of all such reading as was never 
read, I frequently found that those who were most diffuse upon the 
subject, knew least of the matter ; and that technical jargon, and 
unintelligible pedantry so loaded each page, that not an eligible 
thought could be found, in exploring thousands of them. Indeed 
my researches were sometimes so unsuccessful, that I seemed to 
resemble a wretch in the street, raking the kennels for an old rusty 
nail. However, the ardour of enquiry was now and then revived by 
congenial ideas, and by gleams of light emitted from penetration and 
intelligence ; and these will be gratefully acknowledged, whenever 
they afford assistance. 

There are already more profound books on the subject of ancient, 
as well as modem Music, than have ever been read ; it was time to 
try to treat it in such a manner as was likely to engage the attention 
of those that are unable, or unwilling, to read treatises written, for 
the most part, by persons who were more ambitious of appearing 
learned themselves, than of making others so. Indeed, I have long 
since found it necessary to read with caution the splendid assertions 
of writers concerning music, tiU I was convinced of their knowledge 
of the subject ; for I have frequently detected ancients as well as 
moderns, whose fame sets them almost above censure, of utter 
ignorance in this particular, while they have thought it necessary 
to talk about it. Apuleius, Pausanias, and Athenaeus, among the 
ancients, were certainly musicians ; but it is not so evident that 
Cicero, Horace, and others, who have interspersed many passages 
concerning Music in their works, understood the subject any more 
than our Addison, Pope, and Swift. Among these, the two first 
have written odes on St. Cecilia's day, in which they manifest the 
entire separation of Music and Poetry, and shew the possibility of 
writing well on what is neither felt nor understood. For Pope, who 
received not the least pleasure from Music himself, by the help of his 
friends, was enabled to describe its power with all the rapture and 
sublimity of a great genius, music-mad. This appears not only in 
his Ode of St. Cecilia, but in speaking of Handel, in the Dunciad. 

Music and its admirers were ever contemned by him and Swift ; 
but, having neither taste nor judgment in this art, they were surely 
unqualified to censure it. Few conquerors ever aimed at universal 
monarchy, compared with the number of authors who have wished 
to be thought possessed of universal knowledge ; and yet these great 
writers, who discover, in what is within their competence, a vigour 
of mind, and elevation of genius, which inclines mankind to regard 
them as beings of a superior order, whenever they hope by the power 

(r) The most secure of all secure things, is to doubt. 
Voi,. i. 2 17 


of thinking to supply the place of knowledge, discover an imbecillity , 
which degrades them into common characters. 

I will not, however, over-rate musical sensations so far as to 
say, with the poet, that the man who cannot enjoy them " is fit for 
treasons, stratagems, and spoils " ; there being, perhaps, among 
mankind, as many persons of bad hearts that are possessed of a 
love and genius for music, as there are of good, that have neither 
talents nor feeling for it : but I will venture to say, that it has been 
admired and cultivated by great and eminent persons at all times 
and in every country, where arts have been cherished ; and though 
there may be no particular connection between correctness of ear, 
and rectitude of mind, yet, without the least hyperbole it may be 
said, that, cceteris paribus, the man who is capable of being affected 
by sweet sounds, is a being more perfectly organized, than he who 
is insensible to, or offended by them. 

But, as the Constable in Much ado about Nothing says, " these 
are gifts which God gives/' and lovers of music should be content 
with their own superior happiness, and not take offence at others 
for enjoying less pleasure than themselves. However, it is no 
uncommon thing for the rich to treat the poor with as much insolence, 
as if it were a crime not to be born to a great estate; yet, on the 
other hand, to be proud of beggary and want, is too ridiculous for 

With respect to the present work, there may, perhaps, be many 
readers who wish and expect to find in it a deep and well digested 
treatise on the theory and practice of music: whilst others, less 
eager after such information, wifl be seeking for mere amusement 
in the narrative. I wish it had been in my plan and power fully 
to satisfy either party; but a history is neither a body of laws, 
nor a novel. I have blended together theory and practice, facts 
and explanations, incidents, causes, consequences, conjectures, and 
confessions of ignorance, just as the subject produced them. Many 
new materials concerning the art of Music in the remote times of 
which this volume treats, can hardly be expected. The collecting 
into one point the most interesting circumstances relative to its 
practice and professors; its connection with religion; with war; 
with the stage ; with public festivals, and private amusements, 
have principally employed me: and as the historian of a great 
and powerful empire marks its limits and resources; its acquisitions 
and losses; its enemies and allies; I have endeavoured to point 
out the boundaries of music, and its influence on our passions; 
its early subservience to poetry, its setting up a separate interest, 
and afterwards aiming at independence; the heroes who have 
fought its battles, and the victories they have obtained. 

If the titles of my chapters should appear too general and 
miscellaneous, and the divisions and sections of my work too few; 
if method and minute exactness in the distribution of its several 
subjects and parts should seem wanting; the whole is, perhaps, 
the more likely to be read for these deficiences; for a history, of 



which the contents are symmetrically digested, separated by 
chapters, and sub-divided into sections, may be easily consulted, 
but is no more likely to be read throughout, than a dictionary. 

My subject has been so often deformed by unskilful writers, that 
many readers, even among those who love and understand music, 
are afraid of it. My wish, therefore, is not to be approached 
with awe and reverence for my depth and erudition, but to bring 
on a familiar acquaintance with them, by talking in common 
language of what has hitherto worn the face of gloom and mystery, 
and been too much " sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;" 
and though the mixing biographical anecdotes, in order to engage 
attention, may by some be condemned, as below the dignity of 
science, yet I would rather be pronounced trivial than tiresome; 
for Music being, at best, but an amusement, its history merits 
not, in reading, the labour of intense application, which should be 
reserved for more grave and Important concerns. 

I have never, from a vain display of erudition, loaded my page 
with Greek; on the contrary, unless some disputable point seemed 
to render it necessary, or the passage was both remarkable and 
short, I have industriously avoided it, by referring my learned 
readers to the original text. The modesty of citation may, however, 
be carried to excess; for quotations of remarkable passages are 
very amusing and satisfactory to learned readers, and often prevent 
suspicions of misrepresentation. There is no pedantry in a margin; 
and the ancients are perhaps never so entertaining as in the 
fragment way of quotation. As I pretend not to such a profound 
and critical knowledge in the Greek language as to depend entirely 
upon myself, in obscure and contested passages, I have, when 
such occurred, generally had recourse to the labours of the best 
translators and commentators, or the counsel of a learned friend. 
And here, in order to satisfy the sentiments of friendship, as well 
as those of gratitude, I must publicly acknowledge my obligations 
to the zeal, intelligence, taste, and erudition of the reverend Mr. 
Twining ; a gentleman whose least merit is being perfectly 
acquainted with every branch of theoretical and practical music. 

As ancient Greek Music had its technical terms, as well as the 
modern Italian, with which many excellent scholars and translators 
from that language, for want of an acquaintance with Music, and 
Greek musical writers, have been utter strangers, I may venture 
to observe that I have tried, and I hope not always without 
success, to trace these terms in ancient authors, in order to discover 
their original acceptation. 

It would be a false, and perhaps offensive modesty, if I were 
here to trouble the reader with apologies for the length and 
frequency of quotations from the Iliad and Odyssey, and other 
ancient poets besides Homer; as it will be shewn, that history has 
no other materials to work upon in times of high antiquity, than 
those poems, T$ji?k fraye always been regarded as historical; prose 



compositions having been utterly unknown in Greece for 300 years 
after most of them were written (s). 

I have never had recourse to conjecture, when facts were to be 
found. In the historical and biographical parts, I have asserted 
nothing without vouchers; and I have made the ancients tell their 
own story as often as was possible, without disputing with them 
the knowledge of their own history, as many moderns have done; 
for I cannot help supposing them to have been full as well 
acquainted with their own affairs 2,000 years ago, as we are at 
present. An ancient Greek might, with almost equal propriety, 
have pretended to foretell what we should be f at the distance of 
2,000 years, as we determine now what they then were. 

Indeed it was my intention, when I first entered upon this 
work, to trace the genealogy of Music in a right line, without either 
meddling with the collateral branches of the family, or violating 
the reverence of antiquity. I wished and determined to proportion 
my labour to my powers, and I was unawares seduced into a 
course of reading and conjecture, upon matters beyond the reach 
of human ken, by the chief subject of my enquiries being so 
extensively diffused through all the regions of literature, and 
all the ages of the world. I found ancient Music so intimately 
connected with Poetry, Mythology, Government, Manners, and 
Science in general, that wholly to separate it from them, seemed 
to me like talcing a single figure out of a group, in an historical 
picture; or a single character out of a drama, of which the propriety 
depends upon the dialogue and the incidents. If, therefore, a 
number of figures appear in the back-ground, I hope they will give 
relief, and somewhat keep off the dryness and fatigue which a 
single subject in a long work, or a single figure, if often repeated, 
though in different points of view, is apt to produce. 

(5) Cadmus Milesius. whom antiquity allowed to have been the inventor of history in prose, 
flourished, according to Sir Isaac Newton, 550 years B.C. and Herodotus, the oldest Greeic historian 
whose writings are preserved, died 484 years before the same sera'. 


Ancient writers upon science usually began with definitions ; 
and as it is possible that this work may fall into the hands of persons 
wholly unacquainted with the elements of Music, a few preliminary 
explanations of such difficulties as are most likely to occur to them, 
may somewhat facilitate the perusal of the technical parts of my 

Music is an innocent luxury, unnecessary, indeed, to our 
existence, but a great improvement and gratification of the sense of 
hearing. It consists, at present, of Melody, Time, Consonance, and 

By Melody is implied a series of sounds more fixed, and generally 
more lengthened, than those of common speech; arranged with 
grace, and, with respect to Time, of proportional lengths, such as 
the mind can easily measure, and the voice express. These so^mds 
are regulated by a scale, consisting of tones and semitones; but 
admit a variety of arrangement as unbounded as imagination. 

Consonance is derived from a coincidence of two or more sounds, 
which being heard together, by their agreement and union, afford 
to ears capable of judging and feeling, a delight of a most grateful 
kind. The combination and succession of Concords or Sounds in 
Consonance, constitute Harmony; as the selection and texture of 
Single Sounds produce Melody. 

Dissonance is the want of that agreeable union between two or 
more sounds, which constitutes Consonance: in musical composition 
it is occasioned by the suspension or^ anticipation of some sound 
before, or after, it becomes a Concord. It is the Dolce piccante of 
Music, and operates on the ear as a poignant sauce on the palate; 
it is a zest, without which the auditory sense would be as much 
cloyed as the appetite, if it had nothing to feed on but sweets. 


Of musical tones the most grateful to the ear are such as are 
produced by the vocal organ. And, next to singing, the most 
pleasing kinds are those which approach the nearest to vocal ; such 
as can be sustained, swelled, and diminished, at pleasure. Of these, 
the first in rank are such as the most excellent performers produce 
from the Violin, Flute, and Hautbois. If it were to be asked what 
instrument is capable of affording the greatest effects? I should 
answer, the Organ ; which can not only imitate a number of other 
instruments, but is so comprehensive as to possess the power of a 
numerous orchestra. It is t however, very remote from perfection, 
as it wants expression, and a more perfect intonation. 

With respect to excellence of Style and Composition, it may 
perhaps be said that to practised ears the most pleasing Music is such 
as has the merit of novelty, added to refinement, and ingenious 
contrivance ; and to the ignorant, such as is most familiar and 

Other terms used in Modern Music, as well as those peculiar to 
the Ancient, are generally defined, the first time they occur, in 
the course of the work. 





Section I 

Of the Notation or Tdblature of Ancient 

Music, including its Scales, Intervals, 

Systems and Diagrams 

THE music of the ancients, according to Euclid, Alypius,* and 
Martianus Capella,** was divided into seven constituent 
parts : these were Sounds, Intervals , Systems^, Genera, Modes, 
Mutations, and Melop&ia, or the composition of melody. To these 
divisions, which comprehended only what was denominated 
Harmonics, or the Science of Music, strictly so called, were added 
five other requisites, no less essential for a musician to know, than 
the preceding seven: and these were, Rhythm, or the regulation 
of cadences in all kinds of movement; Metre, or the measure of 
verses ; Organic, or the instrumental art ; Hypocritic, or gesture ; 
and Poetic, or the composition of verses. And still to these divisions, 
Aristides Quintilianus, and some other musical writers, add Odicuwi, 
or the Art of Singing; which, indeed, seems of more importance to 
Music, than either the Organic or Hypocritic art. In order to 
communicate to, my readers all the information I am able, upon 
so dark and difficult a subject, I shall consider the music of the 
ancient Greeks under such heads only as absolutely concern Music, 
according to our acceptation of the word ; for it is plain that several 

* Probably flourished about 300 B.C. at Alexandria* His Introduction to Music which was 
reprinted by Meibomius in 1652 contains very valuable information on the subject of Greek musical 
notation. It is, however, only a part of the original work, the remainder having been lost. 

** Born at Carthage, probably in the fifth century A.D. He wrote a work in nine volumes, 
of which the seventh contains an essay on music. Kopp, of Frankfort, published the text in 2836. 



of its ancient divisions more immediately belonged to Poetry. 
Indeed these two arts were at first so intimately connected, and so 
dependant on each other, that rules for poetry were, in general, 
rules for music; and the properties and effects of both were so much 
confounded together, that it is extremely difficult to disentangle 

Leaving therefore, for the present, all other distinctions, 
divisions, and subdivisions, with which ancient musical treatises 
abound, I shall proceed to fulfil the title of this section. 

In the study of Modern Music, the first objects of enquiry are 
the names by which the several sounds in the scale are expressed ; 
and, if we regard music as a language, the Scale or Gammut may 
be called its Alphabet. 

Plutarch says, that it is not sufficient for a musician to know 
what kind of music should be set to any particular poem ; he should 
likewise know how to write it down in all the Genera (6), that is to 
say, in the Diatonic or natural scale, consisting of tones and 
semitones as at present ; in the Chromatic, in which the scale was 
divided into semitones, and minor thirds ; and in the Enharmonic 
genus, moving by quarter tones, and major thirds, as will be 
explained hereafter. 

It does not appear from history, that the Egyptians, Phoenicians.. 
Hebrews, or any ancient people, who cultivated the arts, except 
the Greeks and Romans, had musical characters; and these had no 
other symbols of sound than the letters of their alphabet, which 
likewise served them for arithmetical numbers and chronological 

As the notation of the Greeks was imagined in the infancy of 
the art of music, when the flute had but few holes, and the lyre but 
few strings, the simplicity of expressing the octave of any sound 
by the same sign, as in modern music, was not thought of; the 
most ancient and constant boundary of musical tones having been 
the Diatesseron, or fourth, the extremes of which interval were 
fixed, though the intermediate sounds were mutable : and in the 
manner of tuning these consisted the difference of intervals in the 
several genera (c). 

The Greek scale, in the time of Aristoxenus, the oldest writer 
upon music, whose works are come down to us (d), extended to two 
octaves, and was called Systema perfectum f maximum immutatum; 
the great, the perfect, the immutable system; because its extremities 
formed a perfect consonance, including all the simple, double, 
direct, and inverted concords, with all the particular systems; and 
it was the opinion of the ancients that this disdiapason, or double 
octave, was the greatest interval which could be received in melody. 

This whole system was composed of five tetrachords, or 
different series of four sounds, and one note added at the bottom of 
the scale to complete the double octave; whence the string which pro- 

(b) De Musica. (c) See Sect. II. 

(4) He flourished three hundred and forty years before Christ. 


duced this sound was called aQooAapfiavopevos, Proslambanomenos, 
or note subjoined to the scale ; for though this was constantly the 
lowest sound in all the modes, it was not included in the 
tetrachords (0). 

All these sounds had different denominations in the system, like 
our Gammut, A re, B mi, C fa ut, &c., besides two different 
characters, one vocal, and the other instrumental, appropriated to 
each sound in the several modes and genera, for the purpose of 
writing down melodies. 

That the fourth was a favourite and important interval in the 
music of the ancients, is plain from the great system of two octaves 
having been composed of five of these tetrachords, in the same 
manner as the scale of Guido is of different hexachords. 

The first tetrachord is called by the Greek musicians Hypaton, 
or principal; the sounds of which are denominated: 

1 . Hypate hypaton, principal of principals; 

2. Parypate hypaton, next the principal; 

3. Lichanos hypaton, or index of principals ; from its having 
been played with the index or fore-finger. This third sound of the 
first tetrachord in the Diatonic genus, was likewise called Hypaton 

4. Hypate meson, or principal of the middle or mean 
tetrachord ; for this sound not only served as the last or highest 
note of the first tetrachord, but as the first or lowest of the second; 
whence these two tetrachords were called conjoint, or connected. 
These four denominations of the sounds in the first tetrachord may 
be compared with the terms B mi, C fa ut, D sol re, and E la mi, 

in the Guido scale ; or with the sounds 

The sounds of the Meson, or middle tetrachord, were placed in 
the following order: 

Hypate Meson, or principal of the mean tetrachord ; 

Parypate Meson, next to the middle principal; 

Lichanos Meson; 

Mese, or middle, as this sound completes the second tetrachord, 
and is the centre of the whole system. The sounds of this tetrachord 
correspond with those which in the base of the scale of Guido, are 
called E la mi, F fa ut, G sol re ut, and A la mi re, which are 

equivalent to 

The Mese in ancient music was of equal importance with the 
key note in modern music: being an octave above ^the 
Proslambanomenos, which was the lowest sound of the ancient 
modes, and a kind of key note to them all. 

(e) How this great system, from three 01 jour sounds only, was extended to a double octave, and 
by>rhom, will be related in the course of the history. 


Euclid calls Mese the sound by which all other sounds are 
regulated. And Aristotle, in his XXXVIth problem, sect. 19, says 
that all the tones of a scale are accommodated, or tuned, to the 
Mese. The same author likewise tells us, problem XX. that all 
melody, whether it moves above or below the Mese, has a natural 
tendency to that sound. 

The third tetrachord,* beginning by the last note of the second, 
was thence called Synemmenon, the united, or conjunct tetrachord; 
the sounds of which proceed in the following order: 

Mese ; 

Trite Synemmenon, or third string of this tetrachord from the 
top ; 

Paranete Synemmenon, penultima of this tetrachord ; 

Nete Synemmenon, last of the Synemmenon tetrachord ; the 
four sounds of which correspond with those in the centre of our 
gammut, that are called A la mi re, B fa, C sol fa ut, and D la sol re, 

The fourth tetrachord, ascending, is called Diezeugmenon, 
disjunct, or separated, as it begins at B natural, which is not a note 
in common with any one in the other tetrachords. But though this 
system of four sounds is only an octave higher than that of tile first 
tetrachord, and though the next is but a replicate of the second, I 
shall present them to the reader, as the several sounds of which they 
are composed have in the Greek music different denominations. 

The first sound of the second octave, or series of eight sounds in 
the ancient great system, is Mese, and the first of the fourth 
tetrachord begins with the note. 

Paramese, near the Mese, or middle sound ; the next is called 
Trite Diezeugmenon, or third string of this tetrachord from the 
top : then follows the Paranete Diezeugmenon ; and lastly, the 

/) After ascending regularly thus far, up to D, by three conjoint tetrachords, the fourth tetra- 
chord in the great system is begun by descending a minor third to B natural, the octave above the first 
sound of the lowest tetrachord. Something of this dodging kind is to be found in the scale of Guide, 
divided into hexachords : tor, after ascending six notes regularly in the durum hexachord, it is necessary 
to descend a major third, if we would begin the natural hexachord ; and when the natural hexachord fe 
completed, if we would begin at the Molle, it can only be done by a leap of a third below. This will best 
appear by an example in notes : 

Durum Hexachord Natural Hexachord Molle Hexachord 

Ut ie mi ta sol la. Ut re mi fa sol la. Ut re mi fa sol la. 

It appears from the Greek tetrachords, as well as from this example, that neither the ancients nor 
the early modems admitted the sharp seventh of a key into their scales. 

* The system of tetrachords described by Burney was known as the " Perfect Immutable 
System," and is the combination of the " Greater Perfect " and the " Lesser Perfect " systems. 
The Greater System consisted of the four tetrachords, Hypaton, Meson, Diezeugmenon and Hyper i 
bolaion, in which the Meson and Diezeugmenon' tetracnords were disjunct. The Lesser System 
comprised the three tetrachords, Hypaton, Meson and Synemmenon ; the Meson and Synemmenon 
tetrachords being conjunct. As the mterva Jbetween the two lowest notes of a tetrachord had to be 
a semitone, the second note of Tetrachordon Synemmenon (Trite Synemmenon) had to be flattened* 



Nete Diezeugmenon, or final soun.d of this tetrachord, which 
includes the sounds B mi, C sol fa ut, D la sol re, and E la mi, in 

the middle of the Guido scale, or 

The last sound of the fourth tetrachord is the first of the fifth, 
which is called the Hyperbolceon, or supreme tetrachord ; the 
sounds of which ascend in the following order: 

Nete Diezeugmenon, last of the diezeugmenon tetrachord; 

Trite Hyperbolceon, third string of the hyperbolseon tetrachord ; 

Paranete Hyperbolceon, penultima of the supreme tetrachord; 

Nete Hyperbolceon, last of the supreme, or highest tetrachord, 
and of the great system, or diagram. 

This last tetrachord being added to the scale long after its first 
formation, was called Hyperbolceon, from its sounds being more 
acute than the rest, and beyond the common bounds of the scale ; 
in the same manner, as, with us, the notes above D in the treble are 
said to be in alt. This tetrachord includes the sounds E la mi, F fa 

ut, G sol re ut, and A la mi re, or 

Iff an 

The ancients used likewise four different monosyllables ending 
with different vowels, by way of solmisation, for the exercise of 
the voice in singing; like our mi, fa, sol, la. These were, for the 
first note of each tetrachord, ra, for the second rf, for the third r5> 
and for the fourth, if it .did not serve as the first of the adjoining and 
relative tetrachord, rl ; but if it began a new tetrachord, it was called 
by the first name, ra. 

The repetition of these monosyllables is a further proof that the 
fourth in the ancient music served as a boundary to a system of 
four sounds, in the same manner as a hexachord did in the Guido 
scale, and as an octave does for eight sounds in the more modern 

Any interval between the terms of which one or more sounds 
intervened, was by the ancients called a System : EG, for example, 
constituted a system of a third minor ; EA, of a fourth ; EB, of a 
fifth, &c. 

These smaller systems were of different species ; thus there were 
three kinds of tetrachords, that differed in melody by the position of 
the semitone, which was sometimes at the beginning, sometimes at 
the end, and sometimes in the middle : as in the following example, 
where the black notes are semitones, an.d the white, tones.** 


* The tetrachords and scales formedjfrom them were considered as descending sequences of 
notes, but the idea of a tonic or final as we understand it was probably introduced at a much later date 

Tetrachord, Similar variations were 



As the Greeks used all the four and twenty letters of their 
alphabet for musical characters, or symbols of sound ; and as their 
most extensive system or scale did not exceed two octaves, or fifteen 
sounds, it should seem as if their simple alphabet was more than 
sufficient to express them ; for their music being at first only a 
notation of their poetry, the rhythm, or air, must have been 
determined by the metre of the verses, without the assistance of 
signs of proportion peculiar to music. But supposing it was necessary 
for them to have different characters to express the different feet 
of the verse, it is certain that vocal music was in no want of them; 
and instrumental being chiefly vocal music played by instruments, 
had likewise no need of them, when the words were written, or the 
player knew them by heart. 

However, in order to multiply these characters, the letters of 
their alphabet were sometimes written in capitals, and sometimes 
small ; some were entire, some mutilated, some doubled, and some 
lengthened ; and besides these distinctions in the form of the letters, 
they had others of situation, sometimes turning them to the right, 
sometimes to the left ; sometimes inverting, and sometimes placing 
them horizontally ; for instance, the letter Gamma, by these 
expedients, served to express seven different sounds : F L 1 H H 
M- |j. Some of the letters were also barred, or accented, in order 
to change their symbolical import; and these still not sufficing, they 
made the common grave and acute accents serve as specific musical 

It is a matter that has been long disputed among the learned, 
whether Accents were originally Musical Characters, or marks of 
Prosody. It is in vain to set about determining a question 
concerning which the proofs on both sides are so numerous (g). But 
as music had characters different from accents so early as the time 
of Terpander, to whom the invention is given by the Oxford Marbles,* 
which place this event about six hundred and seventy years before 

(g) See Gaily and Spelman against accents, and Primatt and Forsterin defence of tliem. Mr. West 
is firmly of opinion *' that accents were originally imtsical notes, set over words to direct the several 
tones and inflexions of the voice, requisite to give the whole sentence its proper harmony and cadence." 
Find. vol. ii. And the abb6 du Bos, who frequently by a peremptory decision cuts the knot of such 
difficulties as he is unable to untie, asserts, without sufficient proof, that as poets originally set their 
own verses, they placed for this purpose a figure, or accent, over each syllable. So that, according to 
this writer, we are at present, not only in possession of the poetry of Homer, Pindar, Anacreon, and 
Sappho, but their music. Why then do we complain of the total loss of Greek music ? See Reflex. 
Critique, c. iii. p. 85. 

* A collection of works of art made by Thomas Howard, the second Earl of Arundel (c. 1585- 
1646). The marbles and a considerable number of statues were donated to Oxford University in 1667 
and are usually known as the Arundel Marbles. One of the chief items of the collection is the famous 
Parian Chronicle, a marble slab said to have been carved about 263 B.C. in the island of Paros. The 
slab records events in Greek history from 1582 B.C. to 354 B.C. 

The following extract from Evelyn's Diary (Sept. 19, 1667} is of interest : " To London, 
with Mr. Henry Howard, of Norfolk, of whom I obtained the gift of his Arunddian Marbles, 
those celebrated and famous inscriptions Greek and Latin, gathered with so much cost and 
industry from Greece, by his illustrious grandfather, the magnificent Earl of Arundel, my noble 
friend whilst he lived. When I saw these precious monuments miserably neglected, and scattered 
up and down about the garden, and other parts of Arundel House, and how exceedingly the 
corrosive air of London impaired them, I procured him to bestow them on the University of 
Oxford. This he was pleased to grant me; and gave me the key of the gallery, with leave to 
mark all those stones, urns, altars, &c., and whatever I found had inscriptions on them, that 
were not statues. This I did; and getting them removed and piled together, with those which 
were encrusted in the garden walls, I sent immediately letters to the Vice-Chancellor of what 
I had procured, and that if they esteemed it a service to the University (of which I had been 
a member), they should take order for their transportation." 



Christ ; and as accents for prosody are likewise proved to be of 
high antiquity, it seems as if there could have been no necessity 
for the ancients to use one for the other. 

But it has already been remarked that the letters of the alphabet, 
though turned, distorted, and mutilated, so many different ways, 
were insufficient to express the sounds of all the modes in the three 
genera ; so that recourse was had to accents, as the scale became 
more^ extended, in order to augment the number of characters. And 
Alypius, in the enumeration of the notes in the enharmonic genus, 
tells us, that Trite Synemmenon is represented by Beta and the 
acute accent ; and Paranete Synemmenon enarmonios by Alpha, 
and the grave accent (h). 

This is a proof that the accents were known at the time of 
Alypius, and were then used chiefly for prosody, not music, for 
which they were only called in occasionally. Indeed they are 
mentioned as accentual marks by writers of much higher antiquity 
than Alypius ; for not only Cicero and Plutarch, but Aristotle and 
Plato, speak of them as merely regarding the elevation and 
depression of the voice in speech. However, in the early Greek and 
Roman missals, as will be shewn hereafter, the musical characters 
used in Canto Fermo, seem to have been only lengthened accents. 

These various modifications of letters and accents in the Greek 
notation composed in all one hundred and twenty different 
characters, which were still considerably multiplied in practice ; for 
each of these characters serving many purposes in the vocal as well 
as instrumental tablature or gammut, and being changed and 
varied according to the different modes 'and genera, as the names 
of our notes are changed by different clefs and keys, the one 
hundred and twenty Greek characters produced one thousand six 
hundred and twenty notes (t) ! 

Two rows of these characters were usually placed over the words 
of a lyric poem ; the upper row serving for the voice, and the lower 
for instruments. 

If we had not the testimony of aH the Greek writers who have 
mentioned these characters, for their use and destination, it would 
be natural to suppose that the double row of different letters placed 
over each other, and above the words of a poem, were intended to 
express different parts, with respect to harmony ; as with us, in 
modern music, the treble notes are written over the base, and the 
first treble over the second ; but Alypius, who is extremely minute 
in his instructions concerning the use of these characters, in all 
these modes, tells us, in express terms, that the upper line of the 

(h) Bijra KOA oeta, B' : a\<a *ai jSapeta, A\ Alyp. Edit. Meibom, p. 56. 

(*) Not contented with using all the letters of the alphabet, in every possible situation, as symbols 
of sound, the Greeks mutilated and distorted them io order to augment their number ; just as the 
ancient JEgyptians,in their animal idolatry and religious ceremonies, " besides the adoration of almost 
every thing existing, worshipped a thousand chimeras of their own creation, some with human bodies, 
and- the head or feet of beasts : others with brutal bodies, and the head or feet of men ; while others 
again were a fantasticaTcompound of fthe severaTparts of beasts, birds, and reptiles, terrestrial and 
aquatic." Div, keg . vok W- P 178. 



notes is for the words, and the lower for the lyre (fe). And he 
afterwards proves them to have been unisons to each other, both 
by his definitions, and by placing them opposite to the same sound 
in all the scales. 

In this author, the notes of the great system of the Lydian mode 
in the diatonic genus, are ranged in the following order: 

7 1 R $ C P M lOrUZ E 13 CD Ji M' I 
HrLFCo T T<:VNZfc J LlZr ? /.T['<J' (/) 

And these he defines in such a manner as leaves no room to doubt 

of the identity of their signification. 

7 H Proslambanomenos, an imperfect Zeta, and a Tau placed 

1 F Hypate Hypaton an averted Gamma, and a Gamma direct. 

R L Parypate Hypaton, an imperfect Beta, and a Gamma 

$ F Hypaton Diatonos, a Phi, and a Digamma. 

C C Hypate Meson, Sigma and Sigma. 

P O Parypate Meson, Rho, and Sigma inverted. 

M T Meson Diotonos, Mu, and a lengthened Pi. 

I < Mese, Iota, and a horizontal Lambda. 

6 V Trite Synemmenon, Theta, and an inverted Lambda. 

F N Synemmenon Diatonos, Gamma and Nu. 

C? Z Nete Synemmenon, an inverted Omega and a Zeta. 

Z t Paramese, Zeta, and Pi placed horizontally. 

E j Trite Diezeugmenon, Epsilon, and an inverted Pi. 

Z Diezeugmenon Diatonos, as Nete Synemmenon, which was 
the same string in the lyre. 

& iy 2\fete Diezeugmenon, horizontal Phi, and a small Eta 

j^ / Trite hyperbolceon, an inverted Upsilon, and an imperfect 

M'T HyperbolcBon Diatonos, Mu, and a lengthened Pi, 

I <!' Nete Hyperbolceon, Iota, and an accented Lambda, placed 


It is from the indefatigable labour of that learned Meibomius,* 
in his Commentaries upon the ancient Greek Musicians, particularly 

(ft) Sijfxeta TO fiw aw, rrj? Aeea><?' TO. fie icaro TTJS Kpovo-ews. Introd. Mus. Edit. Meibom. p. 2. 
We are told, not only by Alypius, but by Gaudentius, p. 23, that of the two rows of letters used for 
musical characters, the upper is for the words, that is, to be sung, and the under to be played. 

(Z) It is somewhat strange that the notes for the voice in ancient music, should be placed above 
those for the lyre, and consequently further from the words. Meibomius, in his preface, has, however, 
given a curious reason for this custom, from a fragment of Bacchius, senior : " The upper line of notes 
is for the poem, the lower for the lyre j because the mouth, which alone gives utterance to the words, 
is placed by nature above the hands, which produce tones from the instrument." 

* Marcus Meibom (Meibomius) of Upsala and Utrecht, published tracts and translations of 
many Greek and Roman books on music. There does not seem to be any English translation ot the 
Antiques musicae auctares septem graece et Mine (1625). He died in 1711. There have been reprints 
of his work including one by Karl von Jais issued in 1895. Meibom's works include the treatises of 
Aristoxenus. Euclid (Cleonides), Alypius, Nichomachus, Gaudentius, Bacchius senior, and Aristides 



Alypius, that we are able to decypher these characters ; which, 
before his time, had been so altered, corrupted, disfigured, and 
confounded, by the ignorance or negligence of the transcribers of 
ancient manuscripts, that they were rendered wholly unintelligible. 

In examining the three diagrams of Alypius, where the notation 
of all the fifteen modes in each genus is given, I have frequently 
tried to find some rule for the use of different kinds of letters, or 
reason for the confusion in which they appear in the scale. I thought 
it would have furnished something of 201 historical deduction, if I 
could have discovered that the simple letters of the alphabet were 
used in a regular series, to express the sounds ascending or 
descending, in any one mode of the several genera. For it was 
natural to suppose, that in the first use of the alphabet for notes 
as well as numbers, the order would have been regular ; and if such 
a regularity could have been found, in any mode of the three 
genera, it might have been presumed that such mode was the first to 
which the alphabetic characters had been applied. 

Indeed something like regularity appears, in passing the eye 
obliquely upwards from Mese to Nete hyperbolaeon, in all the 
genera, particularly in the enharmonic diagram, where the letters 
proceed by quarter tones, as is generally the case, but with many 
exceptions : I tried in vain to find the rule for these exceptions. All 
the notes in the horizontal range of the several diagrams, are at the 
same pitch; but they are frequently expressed by different 
characters, for which I have been a.ble to assign no solid reason. 
And, on the contrary, notes of a different pitch are sometimes 
expressed by the same character, for which I am equally unable to 
account. The letters and scale go on in a direct series of quarter- 
tones for some time ; but afterwards, a letter is, unaccountably, 
either omitted or repeated, which interrupts all regularity. I rather 
suspect, however, that these perplexities may arise from the modes 
being a semitone above each other. Ptolemy, lib. II. cap. 2 speaks 
of the inconvenience of this arrangement of modes, owing to the 
necessity of altering in some of them the tuning of all the strings. 
I suspect likewise, that where the same note, in the same horizontal 
line, is expressed by different characters, it was to suit the lyre ; 
and that the two different sounds were expressed with the same 
mark, to suit the fingers. 

After a long and painful meditation upon these diagrams, 
all that I am able to discover like regularity and constancy in them, 
is in the following particulars : 

1. In all the three genera the simple alphabet is used for the 
upper octave of the Disdiapason, beginning with A at the semitone 
above Nete hyperbolc&on, and always ending with Omega in Mese. 
From thence downwards the second alphabet is used (m) consisting 
of the disguised, and mutilated letters, but in the same regular 
order of the alphabet, beginning always from Mese, and ending 
with the divided Phi & a, in proslambanomenos of the Hypodorian 

(w) Vide Meibom, in Prarf . 



The order of the letters in these several instances is broken and 
interrupted, but no where, that I have been able to discover, 
reversed or promiscuous. Then from the semitone above Nete 
hyperbolceon upwards, to dd, the octave of Nete synemmenon, six 
other characters are used, and these are still the six last letters of 
the alphabet in a different dress: if these are traced downwards 
from x ^> to QZ ' tlie y wiu ke f oun d as regular as the former letters. 

To complete the three octaves and one tone, in giving all the 
fifteen modes intire, there still remain thirteen characters more, 
which are repeated from the first alphabet of simple letters, except 
the y at the top : after that character, they descend regularly from 
AV to OK', distinguished only by an accent. The plain 
alphabet therefore is used down to Mese, and the disguised 
alphabet from mese to proslambanomenos. Six new disguised letters, 
however, appear from the octave above Trite synemmenon, up to 
the octave above Nete synemmenon : and thirteen old ones, with the 
addition only of a virgula, from that sound up to the double octave 
above Paramese. 

2. In the enharmonic and chromatic genera the characters are 
exactly the same, and in the same perpendicular order, in all the 
modes ; only the chromatic Lichani, the distinguishing strings of 
each genus, are marked, as Meibomius observes, with a dash, to 
distinguish them from the enharmonic Lichani (n). 

3. In all the three diagrams the strings, except the Lichani, 
have the same characters : this will appear in examining any of the 
modes ascending or descending perpendicularly, and missing the 
red characters, which are the Lichani ; for the order of the rest, 
which are black, will be found exactly the same in all the genera. 
Thus much seems fixed and constant in all the diagrams of Alypius, 
as published by Meibomius, and upon which these remarks are 
intended as a commentary. 

With respect to the multiplicity of characters, it is natural to 
suppose that the Greeks began their notation when their compass 
was small: as that was extended, they, were forced by degrees to 
augment the number of their musical characters. And when this 
method of notation by the letters of the alphabet was once 
established, nothing was more obvious than to repeat the same 
letters, which admitted of such easy variation, by position, 
mutilation, and accents. The order of instrumental notes is much 
more wild and unaccountable than that of the vocal, to which these 
remarks have been hitherto confined.* 

I am fearful of swelling my book too much with these conjectural 
explications, though there is scarce a single circumstance relative 
to ancient music which does not require them. However, amidst so 
much doubt and obscurity, two points seem clearly demonstrable : 

(n) The third string ascending, of each of the two lowest tetrachords, is called Lichanos. 

* A complete list of the signs used in Greek musical notation will bo found on page 6 of the 
introductory volume to the Oxford History of Music (1939) and also in the article " Monochord " 
in Grove's Dictionary (vol. Ill, p. 498). 



first, that the enharmonic genus moving in dieses, or quarter-tones, 
is the most regular in its notation ; which encourages a belief that 
this genus, however unnatural and difficult to us, must have been 
not only very ancient, but the first that was expressed in writing ; 
and consequently, at some one period of time, must have been in 
the most general use (o). Secondly, that it must have been usual 
to read the general scales, or diagrams, backwards, descending, 
from acute to grave ; which, as all the ancient modes were in what 
we should call minor keys, must have been more agreeable to the 
ear than ascending, for want of a sharp-seventh. This, however, 
does not imply that the tetrachords were always read in that order; 
for these being much more ancient than the alphabetic notation, 
had been long tuned and regulated from grave to acute. 

The neglect of these distinctions will introduce a universal 
scepticism concerning every part of ancient music. But provided 
the intervals are determined, it is of as small consequence whether 
the scale is read from the top to the bottom, or the bottom to the 
top, as whether a child is taught to repeat the modern gammut 
from G in the treble, or G in the base. 

The scales of Aristoxenus, Euclid, and Alypius, begin at 
Proslambanomenos, it is true; but though this note is first named 
in the descriptions and definitions of the sounds of the several 
systems, and consequently stands highest in the page where it is 
mentioned, yet it does not follow that it was the most acute sound 
in the scale, or that it was produced by the shortest string in the 
ancient lyre (p). But so disputable is every thing that concerns 
Greek music, that it has even been doubted whether this leading 
note was the highest or lowest of the scale. 

Galilei, Zarlino, Bontempi, Tevo, M. Rousseau, Dr. Brown, 
and others have asserted, that the terms high and low, had different 
acceptations among the ancients, from those in which they are 
understood by the moderns, without guarding, as they ought to 
have done, against such consequences, with respect to the situation 
of the scale, as it was natural for the reader to draw from that 

Dr. Pepusch* asserts roundly, and without the least modification 
of doubt, or even condescending to alledge a single reason or proof 
in defence of his opinion, that "it was usual among the Greeks to 
consider a descending as well as an ascending scale ; the former 
proceeding from acute to grave, precisely by the same intervals as 
the latter did from grave to acute. The first sound of each was the 
Proslambanomenos (q)." 

(o) See Sect II. 

(p) If a verbal description of the modern gammut were given in writing, without notes, it would 
have the same appearance : r ut, A re, B mi, C fa ut, D sol re, E la mi, F fa ut, G sol re ut, A la mi re, 
B f a B mi, C sol fa ut, &c. 

(q) Phil. Trans. No. cccclxxxi. p. 226, and Martyn's Abridg. Vol. X. Part i, p. 6i 

m * 1667-1752. Specialized in the study of Greek musical theory. He settled in London in 1700, 
and became a well-known and popular composer for the stage. He is best remembered to-day by 
the work he did for "The Beggar's Opera " and " Polly." 

Vox,, i. 3 33 


No instances of these inverted scales are to be found, however, 
in Aristoxenus, Euclid, or any of the oldest and best writers. 
Boethius, Bryennius, and some other of the more modern compilers, 
have, indeed, puzzled the cause by ambiguous expressions, which 
seem to bear such construction (r) ; and Dr. Pepusch, the oracle of 
his time, who equalled at least that of Delphos by the darkness of 
his decrees, readily jumped to any conclusion that would involve a 
musical question in mysterious and artificial difficulty. 

It seems as if all this perplexity and confusion had arisen 
from the want of precision in the musical nomenclature of the 
Greeks. The prepositions vno, sub, vase, super, an<i the adjectives 
VXCLTOG, summus, and VIJTOS, imus, have manifestly* been applied to 
sounds more to express their situation in the lyre and diagrams, 
than the length of the strings, or the gravity and acuteness of their 

Dr. Wallis,* in his Appendix to Ptolemy's Harmonics (s), 
explains this difficulty in the following manner. 

"The Greeks called Hypate, supreme, though it is the lowest 
sound or string of the tetrachord ; and Nete, last, or lowest, though 
the most acute. (This Henry Stephens acknowledges at the word 
vvjrij, which he defines ultimam seu imam : and paranete, ima 
proximam) : therefore those who first use of these names, 
applied them differently from us, calling grave, high, and acute, 
low. And thus Nicomachus, p. 6, calls Saturn the highest of the 
planets, Hypate] and the moon, the lowest, with respect to us, Nete. 
Boethius, likewise, in his Treatise on Music, places, in all his 
diagrams, the low sounds at the top, and the high ones at the 
bottom. But, he concludes, that we must not attend to the original 
import of these words, summus and imus, but understand Hypate 
and Nete as first and last, or principal and extreme, as Aristides 
Quintilianus has done, p. 10." 

In the first, or Mercurian lyre, the longest string, which produced 
the lowest sound, from being placed highest in the instrument, as 
is the case with the modern harp, was called Hypate, the highest 
sound, and Nete, for the same reason, was afterwards, upon the 
extension of the scale, called lowest, though the most acute. Trite, 
the third string from the top of the two last tetrachords, had its 
name, as in our violins, by comparison with the smallest strings. 
From a passage in Aristides Quintilianus (t) it seems as if the 
Greeks, in naming and numbering the notes of their scale, made 
it a rule always to go towards Mese, and end with it, as being the 
regulator of the other notes, and situated in the medium of the 
voice. This is confirmed by the problem of Aristotle already cited, 
and this confirms what has been already observed of the order of 
the alphabetic notation, in which Mese is always expressed by 

(r) Meibom, in Gaudent, p. 33, et Wallis in Bryennio, p. 364, et seq. 

(s) P. 159. FoL Ed. (t) P. n, at the top. 

* Published the texts of Ptolemy, Porphyry's Commentary and Bryennius, between 1657-1699. 



Omega. It seems, therefore, as if the Greeks ascended the lower 
octave of the disdiapason, and descended the upper one ; otherwise 
it is not easy to see why the strings of the upper octave should have 
names referring, as they evidently do, to a descending series, and 
in order opposite to those of the lower octave (u). 

IlaQa, in the compound names of the notes, evidently means 
next in order; Parypate, in the lower octave, then is ascent ; 
Paranete, in the upper octave, plainly descent. The same is implied 
in Trite. But the term Neie, last, looks very like ascent again 
And darkness was upon the face of the deep ! These contradictions 
may account in some degree for the great perplexity about the 
scale ; they are curious, however, and as well worth observing, 
perhaps, as any matters of this kind. 

I have, indeed, from the seemingly aukward and uncouth melody 
produced by the Greek scales ascending, been sometimes inclined 
to think that if they were reversed with respect to intervals, it 
would be much more agreeable to our ears, and explain away many 
difficulties; but soon found that it would leave others stifl more 
insuperable behind : put Proslambanomenos out of the question, 
as a note that might be added indifferently to the top or bottom of 
the scale, and compare the intervals of our diatonic scale in C 
natural descending, with that of the Greek in the Hypodorian mode 
ascending, and the intervals will be found to be the same. 

This hypothesis might have been defended by many passages in 
the Greek writers ; yet stubborn facts would have arisen against it, 
by which, in the end, it would be totally overthrown. 

The perplexity concerning the scale is a subject that required 
more time and meditation than I was able to bestow upon it ; 
however, I was very unwilling to leave it, till I had discovered by 
some indisputable rule, how to determine the question, as the few 
fragments left of Greek music, by a mistake in this particular, 
would be as much injured as a poem, by reading it backwards. 

At length, an infallible rule presented itself to me,, in the works 
of the great Euclid, who has been regarded for so many ages as the 
legislator of mathematicians, and whose writings have been their 
code. In his section of the Canon (x), p. 37, Edit. Meibom. he 
represents Proslambanomenos by the whole string: so that, if any 
thing concerning ancient music can be made certain, it is, that this 
whole string represented the lowest sound in the Greek scale, 
which, in the Hyperdorian mode, was equivalent to the 

(u) See Meibomius's note upon Arist. Quintil. p. n, which seems solid. 

(*) By Canon must here be understood a single string, which being intersected by moveable 
bridges, serves as a rule or law, for determining musical intervals, and the exact proportion of sound to 



note A 

Half the string, Mese, its octave, a, 

Third part, Nete diezeugmenon, fifth of the octave, e, 

And the fourth part of the string, Nete hyperbolaon, 
the double octave, aa, 

which include all the concords that the ancients admitted. Eight 
ninths of the string are allotted to the sound Hypate Bareia Gravis, 
which is B in the base, one tone higher than Proslambanomenos, 
or A. 

This section, therefore, of the line, representing the sound A, 
must put an end to every doubt concerning the order of the scale, 
which may have arisen from the inverted application of the words 
high and low, constantly occurring in all the more ancient and 
authentic Greek writers on music. 

And now having done with the scale, let us return to the 

The multiplicity of notes in ancient Greek music must certainly 
have made it a very long and laborious study, even at a time when 
the art itself was in reality very simple. Hence it is not surprising to 
find that Plato (y), though he was unwilling that youth should 
bestow too much time upon music, allowed them to sacrifice three 
years to it, merely in learning the elements ; and thought that he 
had reduced this study to its shortest period : but at the end of this 
time, a student could hardly be capable of naming all the notes, and 
of singing an air at sight, as we call it, in all keys and in all the 
genera, accompanying himself at the same time upon the lyre ; 
much less could it be expected that he should be correct in every 
species of rhythm ; that he should be master of taste and expression; 
or be able to compose a melody himself to a new lyric poem. 

It was much more difficult to sing from the tablature, than to 
follow a voice or instrument, as it is far more perplexing to read the 
Chinese language than to speak it, on account of the great 
multiplicity of characters. However, if we could find Greek music 
now,* we should be able to read it, contrary to the general opinion, 
which is, that the ancient notation is utterly lost. But though we 
can perhaps decypher it as exactly as the Greeks themselves could 

(y) De Legib. lib. viL 

* Only a few examples of Greek music have come down to us : 

(1) Scraps of music to the Orestes of Euripides (lines 338-343). The fragment is generally 
considered as being a contemporary score. 

(2) An inscription on a column discovered at Tralles by W. H. Ramsay, and known as the 
Epitaph of Seikolos. The date of this fragment is uncertain. 

(3) Three hymns by Mesomedes, of which transcriptions by Burney are given in Section 7 

(4) Some parts of hymns found whilst excavating the site of Delphi. The probable date 
of the first of these is late second century B.C., and of the second circa xs8 B.C. 

(5) A few exercises for instruments now deposited at Berlin. 



have done, yet to divide it into phrases, to accentuate, and to give 
it the original and true expression, are things, at present, impossible, 
and ever will remain so. For it is with the music of every country 
as with the language ; to read it with the eye, and to give it 
utterance, are different things ; and we can arrive at no greater 
certainty about the expression of a dead music, than the 
pronunciation of a dead language. 

" It is astonishing, however," says M. Burette (z), " that the 
ancient Greeks, with all their genius, and in the course of so many 
ages as music was cultivated by them, never invented a shorter and 
more commodious way of expressing sounds in writing, than by 
sixteen hundred and twenty notes; nor ever thought of simplifying 
their tablature, by making the same characters serve both for voices 
and instruments. It will perhaps be said that this distinction of 
tablature still subsists with us, for the lute, and for some other 
instruments ; but this distinction is almost abolished (a)." And yet, 
notwithstanding the great simplicity of our tablature, compared 
with that, of the ancients, it must be owned that the modern 
characters are so numerous and difficult to understand, and retain 
in the memory, that a student in music has the voice and ear 
formed long before the eye is able to read them. And it may be 
affirmed, that the attention to the rules of music is more difficult 
than the execution. 

It would be therefore curious to calculate the difficulties of 
ancient and modern music separately, that by a comparative view 
we might be enabled to determine which had the greater number. 

With respect to those of notation, their being so much more 
numerous in the ancient music than the modern, is, perhaps, more 
imaginary than real. 

For though the ancients had one hundred and twenty .different 
characters for sound only, without including time, which characters, 
by changes in the modes and genera, were multiplied to sixteen 
hundred and twenty ; yet, if we compare these changes with such 
as are produced by our seven clefs, in which each note is subject to 
the accidents of flats and sharps, the memory will appear to be 
little less burthened by modern than by ancient musical notation. 

Our compass is indeed much more extensive than that of the 
Greeks ; but if we confine it to three octaves only, which was the 
extent of the whole range of modes in the great system of the 
ancients,* we shall have seven changes for each of the twenty-two 
natural sounds, which amount in all to one hundred and fifty-four, 
without the accidents of flats and sharps ; and these being nearly 

(*) Mem. de Litter, torn. v. p. 182. 

(a) M. Burette has presented to the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Letttes at Paris, a great 
number of well written memoirs upon almost every part ox ancient music. When the enquiries of 
this learned academician seem successful, and satisfy my mind by the solution of difficulties, I shall 
freely avail myself of his diligence and erudition ; at other times, I shall either attempt to explain 
these difficulties myself, or shall frankly confess my ignorance and inability to furnish my readers with 
any satisfactory information concerning 

* The full extent of the Greek musical system was ultimately three and one third octaves, 
The number of signs employed therefore was 14070 for vocal and 70 for instrumental use. 



The Perfect System of the Moderns compared with 
the Qreat and Qeneral System of the Ancients 

Greek appellatives 

of the 
in the 


Modern solmi- 
sation, attri- 
buted to Guido 

letters of 
which the 
were first 
used by 


Greek names to 
the sounds of the 
second octave. 






































Nete hyperbolaeon 









Paranete Hyperb. 
or Hyp. diat. 






Trite hyp. 







Nete diezeug. 

Nete Synemmenon 










Paranete diez. or 
Diez. diat. 

Synem. diat. 













Trite diez. 

Trite Synem. 

















Meson diat. or 
Lichanos Meson 








Parypate Meson 








Hypate Meson 






Hyp. diatonos, or 
Lichanos Hyp. 






Paryp. hypaton 







Hypate hypaton 














double that number, the whole will amount to about four hundred 
and fifty-five different representations of the semitones contained 
in three octaves, without enumerating either extreme sharps, or 
double flats. 

Let us, after this, consider the difference of intonation occasioned 
by temperament, between the keys of C natural and C sharp with 
seven sharps; of D natural with two sharps, and of D flat with five 
flats; differences which are certainly distinctions and difficulties in our 
notation, as C # and D|? are not only different sounds upon perfect 
instruments, but expressed by different characters in our tablature. 
Let us likewise consider the different situation of the sounds in all 
our twenty-four keys ; taking into the account, at the same time, 
the great numbers of our different characters for the duration of 
these sounds; and the simplicity of modern notation will not appear 
so much superior to the ancient as has been imagined. 

But music is a modern art with us, as it is only a few centuries 
since the present system is supposed to have been invented ; whereas 
ancient music flourished and was cultivated some thousand years 
before that period. It is therefore by no means surprising, that ours 
has not yet acquired every possible convenience of notation. 
However, notwithstanding the defects of modern music in some 
particulars, I may venture to affirm that it has arrived at a very 
great degree of perfection ; and I appeal for the truth of this 
assertion to the daily experience of persons of good taste and refined 

In order to furnish my readers with a comparative view of the 
ancient and modern musical systems, I shall here insert a general 
diagram of both, constructed by the learned Meibomius, in his 
notes upon Euclid. 

Section II 

Of the three Qenera: Diatonic, Chromatic, 
and Enharmonic 

IN modern music the Genera are but two: Diatonic and 
Chromatic These consist in the manner of arranging the tones 
and semitones of which melody is composed (a). 

In ancient music, not only the tone was divided into two, as with 
us, but the semitone by a Diesis or Quarter-tone. These three kinds 
of interval, the tone, semitone, and Diesis, constituted the difference 
of the three genera. 

It has been already observed that the fourth was the constant 
boundary of sounds in the music of the ancients ; and that its 
extremes, or highest and lowest sounds, were stantes, immobiles, or 
fixed. As the octave in modern music admits of no change, but 
is tuned as perfect as possible, so the fourth in ancient music was 
never allowed to deviate from perfection. The different genera 
therefore were characterized by the changes that were made in the 
two middle sounds of the tetrachord, which were styled mobiles, 
mutable. So that a Genus is defined by Euclid, the division and 
disposition of the tetrachord with respect to the intervals of the 
four sounds of which it is composed ; and Pappus Alexandrinus 
says, that the Genera consisted only in different divisions of the 

In the Diatonic Genus, the melody proceeded by a semitone, 

and two tones, as B C D E | 7 1 ^^j ', and it was from the 

succession of two tones, that this genus acquired the name of 
Diatonic. As the term is derived from dia, by, and rovo$, tone ; that 
is, passing from one tone to another ; which in the Greek music 
was never done but in the diatonic genus. 

The Chromatic proceeded by two successive semitones, and a 

hemiditone, or minor third, as B C C 4 E J 1 A 'ti?j^3oj| 


This modulation holding the middle place between the diatonic 
and enharmonic, has been supposed by Martianus Capella and 

(a) When no more than two semitones occur in the course of an octave, the melody mav nrooerlv 
be styled genuine Diatonic. *^ 

Indeed the Chromatic in use at present can hardly be compared with that of the ancients for 
with them every accidental flat or sharp which led to a new mode or key.would have been called a change 
of Genus. With us, however, a mere change of modulation, though it occasions a change of key, is not 
a change of genus ; for while the sounds made use of in harmony and melody can be referred to any one 
fc<y, the Dtatomc genus is supposed to be preserved : it is only a regular succession of two or more 
semitones, ascending or descending, that constitutes modern Chromatic. 



Bryennius, to derive its name from xewpa, colour ; for as the 
gradations between black and white are called colours, so this genus 
being placed between the diatonic and enharmonic, is called 
Chromatic. M. Rousseau tells us, in his Dictionary, that this genus 
used to be written in coloured notes, but without giving any 
authority in support of this opinion. 

The Enharmonic tetrachord proceeded by two quarter tones, 

and a major third, B Bx C E* _J* n ^ ^ ^=&% This genus 

is often called by Aristoxenus, and others, simply aqpovia, 
harmonia, that is, well arranged and ordered. 

Each of the three genera had some sounds in its scale that were 
peculiar and characteristic, and some that were in common with 
the other two. For instance, B C E F A B|? and d, were used in 
all the three genera, whereas D G were peculiar to the diatonic, 
C# and F# to the chromatic, and Bx Ex and Ax to ttie 
enharmonic. A complete scale of each genus in modem notes will 
explain this matter better than words. 

^ Isttet. 2fndtet ^ 3rd tqt^ 4th tet 5th tet 





Proslam. J "ST*"** 

Hence it appears that the regular diatonic scale consisted, like 
the modern, of tones and semitones ; the chromatic, of semitones 
and minor thirds ; and the enharmonic, of quarter-tones and major 
thirds ; distinctions which seem to have been long religiously 
observed in Greece ; as the lyre was allowed but four strings to each 
tetrachord, and flutes were bored in a particular manner for each 
genus, in which no provision was made for producing the tones 
peculiar to the other two. However, in Euclid's time [323-238 B.C.] 
we find that a mixed genus, as he calls it, had been admitted into 
practice. This author, the clearest and most satisfactory, as far as 
he goes, of all the ancients who have treated of music, has given 
us the following extraordinary scale of sounds used in the mixed 

Proslam - Mc *f 


By which it appears that six strings are wanting to fill up the 
Diatessaron, or interval of a fourth, which, in any one of the three 
pure and uncompounded genera, ha.d occasion but for four ; and 
the octaves from proslambanomenos to mese, which in the pure 

* The sign X is used to indicate the raising of the pitch of a note by a quarter tone. 



diatonic, chromatic, or enharmonic, had but eight strings, in the 
mixed genus must have been supplied with twelve. ^ So that a 
remark made by Perrault (&) concerning the superiority of the 
modern scale over the ancient, in having a greater number of 
sounds in the compass of a fourth, is not so much in our favour as 
it at first appears ; the number of notes being equal in both : with 
this difference, that the ancients had no G sharp, or E flat, and the 
moderns have no Diesis, or interval of a quarter-tone, between 
B C, E F, or A and B^. 

Aristoxenus tells us that the division and bounds of the genera 
were not accurately fixed till his time ; and Aristides Quintilianus 
speaks of several genera, or species of intervals, which were of the 
highest antiquity ; yet so wild and irregular, that after the art of 
music was brought to a greater degree of perfection, and the laws of 
the three principal genera were settled, they had been totally disused 
by the best musicians. The same author asserts, that it is of these 
barbarous divisions of the scale, or old Harmonies, as they were 
called, and not the common modes of the same names, that Plato 
speaks in his Republic, where he admits some of them, and rejects 

The ancients attributed peculiar effects to each genus, and speak 
of many characteristic distinctions of genera, which now appear to 
be wholly fanciful and imaginary. These, if they ever had 
existence, were, perhaps, destroyed by modern harmony. Aristides 
Quintilianus,* p. Ill, tells us, that 

The diatonic is manly, and austere; 

The chromatic sweet, and pathetic ; and 

The enharmonic animating, and mild. 

Vitruvius, speaking of the enharmonic, says, that it is in a 
particular manner grave and majestic (c). 

And Plutarch, in his first Essay against Colotes the Epicurean, 
asks, "Why does the chromatic genus melt and dissolve, and the 
enharmonic brace the nerves, and compose the mind, after being 
disturbed?" . __ 

Aristides Quintilianus, in another place (d), says of the genera", 
that the diatonic is the most natural, because all who have ears, 
though uninstructed in music, are capable of singing it. 

The chromatic is more (e) artificial, for it can be sung only by 
such as are adepts in music. 

(&) Essais Physiques, torn. ii. 

(c) Cantus ejus maximl grawm, et egregiam habet auctoritaiem. 

Perhaps the idea of a major-key, which the enharmonic ditone must impress upon the ear, may have 
contributed to the notion of music in that genus being animating ; but how it could be at the same 
time \ grave and soothing, animating and mild, is not easy to conceive. This genus was never known to 
the Romans, having been lost before they attempted the polite arts. 

(d} P. 19. Edit. Meibom. 

B () A learned, friend has proposed a natural and easy correction of the text in this passage, which 
as it stands in Meibomius, is scarce intelligible. It consists only in a transposition of the termination 
of the two last characteristic adjectives. 

* Aristides flourished probably in tbe ad or sd canturie A.D. Meibomius reprinted the 
work referred to. Groves (vol. i, p. Ha) gives him as living about A.D. 150. 



The enharmonic is the most refined and difficult of all, and has 
been received and practised only by the greatest artists. 

The ancients have related such wonders of this long-lost, and 
long-lamented genus, that a particular discussion seems necessary 
here concerning its existence and properties. There is nothing so 
difficult to the conception of modern musicians, as that pleasing 
effects should ever have been produced by intervals, which they 
themselves are unable to form, and to which, if they could form 
and introduce them into melody, no harmony could be given, that 
would be agreeable to the ear, or the rules of counterpoint. 

And there are so many inconsistencies, in the accounts of ancient 
authors concerning this kind of music, that nothing but an 
hypothesis can reconcile them to probability. With the permission, 
therefore, of my readers, I shall venture to throw together my 
conjectures upon this subject in that form ; assuring them, at the 
same time, that it is the only hypothesis which I intend to hazard 
in the course of this work. 

Old Enharmonic 

From several passages in ancient authors who have written 
upon music, it appears that there were two kinds of 
enharmonic melodies in use among the Greeks ; in the most 
ancient of which we do not find that the Diesis or Quarter-tone, ever 
had admission. This I shall distinguish, in the course of the 
following essay, by the title of Old Enharmonic. The other, in 
which the semitone was divided, and which seems to have been a 
refinement upon this, I shall call New Enharmonic. 

"The number of "four strings, from which the tetrachord derived 
its name," says M. Rousseau (a), " was so far from being essential, 
that we find tetrachords in ancient music which had only three. Such 
for some time, were the enharmonic tetrachords/' He mentions 
the same circumstance in speaking of the invention of the 
enharmonic genus by Olympus (6). 

Now, as the only source of these assertions seems to be a passage 
in Plutarch's Dialogue on Music, which is really curious, I shall here 
insert as faithful a translation of it as possible. 

"Olympus, as Aristoxenus informs us (c), is thought by 
musicians to have invented the enharmonic genus : for before his 
time, all was diatonic and chromatic. He is supposed to have hit 
upon the invention in some such way as this: while he was 
preluding in the diatonic genus, it is imagined that passing 
frequently in his melody from Paramese, and from Mese to 
Parhypate Meson, skipping over the Lichanos, he observed the 
beauty of the effect : to xaMoe rov jj&ovs, effect, manner, or 
expression, and forming then the whole system (of the octachord or 

(a) Diet, de Mus. Art. TETRACHORDE. (ft)' Art ENHARMONIQUE, 

(c) In a work that is not extant. 



heptachord, as I understand it) according to this analogy (d), and 
being struck with it, he adopted and composed in it, in the Dorian 
mode, without touching any string peculiar to the diatonic, to the 
chromatic, or indeed to the enharmonic ; and such were his 
enharmonic melodies. For the first of these they reckon to have 
been the nome or melody called Spondean ; in which melody 
none of the divisions of the tetrachord (i.e., the genera) show their 
peculiar characters (e). . . . For the close enharmonic evaepovtov 
xvxvov, now in use (/), seems not to have been invented by this 
musician ; as any one may easily be convinced, that attends to a 
performer on the flute, who plays in the old-fashioned style: for 
such players chuse to make the semitone an uncompounded interval. 
Such then were the original enharmonic melodies ; but, afterwards, 
the semitone was divided, in the Lydian, and Phrygian modes. 
Thus it appears that Olympus improved the art, by introducing a 
manner that was new and unknown to former musicians, and was 
the great leader and author of the genuine and beautiful Greek 
music (g)." 

M. Burette, who has published the whole Dialogue of Plutarch, 
with a translation, and an ample commentary, in the Memoirs of 
the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, seems unable to 
account for Olympus touching no sotmd peculiar to any one of the 
three genera : however, nothing in the Dialogue is clearer than that 
Plutarch means to say that the three notes used by. Olympus in 
each tetrachord were common to all the genera: he neither intro- 
duced Lichanos diatonos, which is peculiar to the diatonic; nor 
Lichanos chromaticos; nor even, says Plutarch, the sound now 
essential to the enharmonic; that is, neither D natural, C sharp, nor 
the enharmonic BX. 

But M. Burette confounds the old enharmonic with the new. 
He will have the spondean melody to have been in the Phrygian 
mode mentioned by Aristides Quintilianus, p. 21 ; though in that 
the Diesis is admitted ; and Plutarch says expressly that this old 
melody did not admit any characteristics of the genera. And all 
this he does merely to explain an unintelligible parenthesis, which 

(d) That is, missing the third sound, ascending, in every tetrachord which he used. What land 
oi melody would be produced from such a mutilated scale, will be shewn further on. 

(e) This is, plainly, enharmonic, without the quarter-tone. Here a long unintelligible parenthesis 
is omitted. 

(/) That is, with the Diesis, or true enharmonic quarter-tone. 

(g) ^QXvjiwros fie, (o>ff 'AptoTTO&j'os firj&iv) vTroXa/u-jSaverat WTTO TWI/ /zoi/o"i/i>i/ TOV (Wpjuoi/tov, 
vs eupeT/js yeyevijcrflat, ra yap vpo e/cetpov TrcwTa, fitaTOpa /eat xp<oju,ansca T/I/. vnroi'oovcrt fie rjf 



evpecrtp Tot aimjv riva ywecrOai, at/acrrpe^o/teroi' TOV 'OXv/ATroj/ V T&> fitaToi'<;>, /cat fita/3tj8aoiTa TO 
juieXo? aroXXa/as eVt n\v Siarovov rrapyTra-nj*', TOT* /mev arro -njy Trapa/xeaTj?, Tore fie cwro 717? M<r/s, 
jcat irapajSaii/oira n]v Starovov Xt.xa.vov /cara/xadetv TO /caAAo? TOV qiov?, /cat ovno TO IK TTJ? 
ai/aXoyiaj CTWCOTTJKO? crv<mjjaa 6o.vfJ.o.cra.vra. icai arrofic^a/xcwv, tV TOVT<P iron-it/ cm TOV Aw/nov 
rovov. OVT yap TWV TOV fiiaTOi'ov tfita/ ovTe Ttov TOV XP a) / xaT 5 l ttirreorflai, aXXa ovfi TWI/ TTJ? 
eu'at S'aura) TO. irpwTa T<OI/ ei/ap/xovtwv Tot avra. TiOc'atrt yap TOVTW irpwrov rov 


, < ovfic/xta TWV ficaipweoi/ TO t^top e/A^aw/t. ** * ************ 
TO yap e^rats /u-ejrat? cvappovLov TTUKJ/OV, oJ vw xPWTcu, ov fio/cei TOV irotijTOv ni/at. pafitop fi'eort 
-, eai/ TI, apxacKw^ TW'OJ avXowTo? a/cov<nj. dcrvi/deTOv yap jSovXeTai cti/at, /cat TO cv Tat? 
jatTOVov. Ta jAei/'ovv wpwTa TWV ei/ap/utovtwv, TOtavTa. vorepoi/ fie TO ^/uitTOt/to^ fitvjpetfrj, 
^? Avfitot?^ icat ev TOI? *pvytot5. 4>a/eTat 8'OXv/Airo5 av^eras ftovo'twji', T<J> ayewjToi' Tt, 
icat ayroov/uevoy wo TWJ/ enirpoo-Oev eto*ayayeii/, cai apx^yos yei/e<r0at TJ5 'EXXTjvt/a/c icai 



is better omitted, unless some sense could be given to it that would 
not militate with the rest of the text, which is clear and intelligible 
without it. 

M. Burette must be allowed the merit of great diligence and 
learning ; but he does not seem always to have been possessed of 
an equal share of sagacity, or with courage sufficient to confess 
himself unable to explain inexplicable passages in his author. He 
never ^ sees a difficulty ; he explains all. Hence, amidst great 
erudition, and knowledge of antiquity, there are a thousand unin- 
telligible explanations in his notes upon Plutarch. En ecrivant, 
said Fontenelle, jai toujours tache de m 9 entendre. An admirable 
rule ! which every writer ought to adopt. 

Thus much is said, not with a view to depreciate the merit of 
M. Burette, to whom almost all late writers on music have had 
great obligations, and whose labours have been of singular service 
to myself, among the rest ; but to shew how few authors are to 
be always followed implicitly, or read without precaution. 

The passage of Plutarch relative to Old Enharmonic is rendered 
fairly, and as near literally as possible. It must be remembered 
that the Dorian mode, in which Olympus is said to have composed 
his melodies, answers to our key of D natural. Now, in the tetra- 
chords of this mode, if we omit every third sound, we shall have the 
following melody, whether Olympus had two conjunct, or two 
disjunct tetrachords for his system. 


Prosl. only wanting to complete the octave. 
Mese or Key note. 


Both these scales contain only the intervals to be found in the 
following octave. 

Now this is exactly the old Scots scale in the minor key ; a 
circumstance which must strike every one who reads the passage of 
Plutarch, that is at all acquainted with the intervals of the Greek 
scale, and with Scots music. 

The abb6 Roussier, in the second article of his Memoire sur la 
Musique des Anciens, speaks of an old Chinese scale of six notes,* 
mentioned by Rameau. It is preserved in numbers ; and, according 

* The old Chinese scale was pentatonic and the various notes bore queer names : Emberor. 
Prime Minister, Subject People, State Affairs, and Picture of the Universe. A sixth note was added 
about iioo B.C., but later the five note scale was re-adopted. Apart from this the Chinese had a 
secondary system of 12 divisions of the octave ,which was used to allow the pentatonic scale to be 
accommodated to various pitches. 



to Rameau's interpretation, who applies the numbers to ascending 
fifths, they produce the very identical Scots scale, adding only a 
note to complete the octave, C, D, E, G, A, cc. The abb6 contends 
that Rameau is wrong ; and indeed the argument he uses against 
him concerning lengths and vibrations, Sect. XXI. does seem 
plausible ; but the abb had the interest of a system to biass him 
in determining this matter, which Rameau had not. It must be 
confessed, at least, that Rameau's interpretation forms the more 
probable and natural scale: because, like the Scots, and the Old 
Enharmonic, it leaves out the fourth and seventh of the key. The 
only specimen of Chinese music which M. Rousseau has given in 
his Dictionary, from Du Halde, seems to confirm Rameau's scale : 
for except in one passage, at the beginning of the third bar, where 
F natural comes in so aukwardly, as to raise a suspicion that it has 
been inserted by a mistake of the engraver, the fourth and seventh 
of the key are scrupulously missed throughout ; and nothing can 
be more Scottish than the whole cast of the air. 

All the specimens that I have been able to collect of Chinese 
melody, several of which will be given among the examples of 
national music in the second book, are of this cast. Indeed they 
must be so, in compliance with the construction of their instruments, 
in which there are no semitones. One of these I saw when I was 
last at Paris : it was in the possession of the abb6 Arnaud of the 
French Academy, and was a kind of Sticcado, consisting of bars of 
wood of different lengths, as sonorous as if they had been of metal : 
these were placed across a hollow vessel resembling the hulk of a 
ship. The compass was two octaves, and the intervals were 
arranged in the following order: 

Now no music can be composed from such a scale that will not 
remind us of the melody of Scotland, which will hereafter be proved 
of a much higher antiquity than has generally been imagined. 

With respect to the music of China, Dr. Lind, an excellent judge 
of the subject, and philosophically curious about every thing that 
relates to it, after residing a considerable time in that country, 
assured me that all the melodies he had heard there bore a strong 
resemblance to the old Scots tunes. And Dr. Russel has favoured 
me with twelve Chinese airs, that were brought from China by 
his brother, the late Claude Russel, Esq., of the Bengal council ; all 
which confirm what has been said of the want of semitones in the 
Chinese scale, and of the strong resemblance between these airs, 
and those of Scotland, by the omission of the 4th and 7th of the 
key. These airs are all in common time, and have words to them. 

I must add that since the publication of the first edition of this 
volume, I have received answers to some musical queries which I 
sent to Canton, in China. These were translated into French and 
Italian, and transmitted to Pekin, and into a province remote from 



that capital. One of these queries concerned the Chinese Musical 
Scale, which an Italian missionary, who has resided at Pekin more 
than thirty years, and is a good musician, affirms to be without 
Semitones (h). 

But to return to the old enharmonic of Olympus. What degree 
of authority is to be allowed to the passage in Plutarch concerning 
the manner of its invention, I will not pretend to determine. 
No other author whatever, that I have been able to consult, tells 
this story ; though many besides Aristoxenus, from whom Plutarch 
quotes the account, have attributed to Olympus the invention of the 
enharmonic genus. But if there had been two sorts of enharmonic, 
an ancient and a modern, it may seem somewhat strange that not 
one of the many authors who treat of the genera, should say a word 
to this purpose. We may observe, however, that it came more in 
the way of an historical than a technical treatise ; and this Dialogue 
of Plutarch is the only historical tract upon music that is come down 
to us (i). Indeed the account is not given in such terms as would 
make us suppose it merely the hypothesis of an individual ; but 
rather an old traditional opinion current among all the musicians. 

But the Lichanos, or third sound from the bottom of a tetra- 
chord, seems not to have been the only one which the old Grecian 
harpers and pipers were fond of missing in their melodies. Plutarch 
observes (k), that in what he calls the onovfetax, onovfoiaovrt 
, they abstained from the use of Trite, or third sound from 

the top of a tetrachord, skipping over which, ascending, they 
used to ff diafiifla&iv TO peAoe/' i.e., " carry the melody over to 

Paranete." ^ or 

I must just observe that the octave produced by missing the 
third note downwards in two tetrachords, as the second was missed 
in the enharmonic of Olympus, gives exactly the Chinese scale of 
the abb6 Roussier (/), and that of the instrument in the possession 
of the abb6 Arnaud. 

Now what is TQOJCOS onovdsiafav, the spondean mode or manner? 
It looks as if it was the same thing as the spondean melody, that is, 
the libation tune of Olympus, one of those which were still extant 
in Plutarch's time ; for he says, "the Greeks now use them upon 

Plutarch talks likewise of the old masters omitting Nete, the 
highest sound of a tetrachord ; not through ignorance, says he, 
for they used both that and Trite in their instrumental music ; but 
in their vocal melody, "it would have been a disgrace to a musician 

(h) La Cinesi ntlla loro Musica non hanno Semituoni. 

Lristoxenus, which Plutarch quotes as h 
Lit torn. x. p. 309. 

(k) Ib. 136. (I) Vide p. 24, of the Mem. 

(*) The book of Aristoxenus, which Plutarch quotes as his authority, was, according to M. Burette 
historical. Mem. de Lit. torn. x. p. 309. 



to have used the Nete"\ perhaps from the impropriety of straining 
the voice in the execution of a note that was too high for its natural 
compass, Nete being the last and highest note of the scale in all 
the modes. 

The perplexity occasioned by the change of names according to 
the gradual extension of the system, and the uncertainty what 
system is really here understood, whether heptachord or octachord, 
disjunct or conjunct, throws undoubtedly a thick fog over all this 
account in Plutarch's Dialogue. However, I still think it by far the 
most curious passage about the ancient music that I have ever met 
with : as it is the only one that tends to anything like a description 
of what old Greek melody was. All the rules for it in Aristoxenus 
furnish not a single idea. The accounts of the genera do indeed 
give us an idea of the intervals in each ; yet it is an idea that we 
know not what to do with. But when we hear of constantly 
skipping notes in a diatonic scale, we really do acquire some idea, 
however general. 

There is nothing that gives a stronger character, or tf&os, as the 
Greeks called it, to a melody, than the constant or usual omission 
of particular notes in the scale. Suppose it uncertain from this 
passage what notes were missed ; yet the general fact, that these 
old musicians, composers of the ancient genuine Greek music, 
which Plato, Aristotle, and all the writers speak of as so excellent 
and superior to the more modern, did delight to break the diatonic 
progression, to diaftif!aew f or stride over certain notes in the melody, 
seems pretty clear: and this surely renders it highly probable, that 
the cast of the old national Greek airs was much like that of the old 
Scots music. If they had melodies where the Lichanos was omitted, 
they must have been very like ; but even the Trite omitted gives still 

a strong Scottish tincture to an air aT Tf ^ J j || for if 

we suppose the key note to be G instead of E ; a major 
key instead of a minor, this omission gives precisely the Scots scale. 
And I believe, in general, that the omission of any notes in the 
scale, producing skips of thirds, will have much the same effect 
on the ear. 

The Chinese scale, take it which way we will, is certainly very 
Scottish. It is not my intention to insinuate by this that the one 
nation had its music from the other, or that either was obliged to 
ancient Greece for its melody ; though there is a strong resemblance 
in all three. The similarity, however, at least proves them all to b( 
more natural than they at first seem to be, as well as more ancient, 
The Chinese are extremely tenacious of old customs, and equally 
enemies to innovation with the ancient -Egyptians, which favours 
the idea of the high antiquity of this simple music ; and as there is 
reason to believe it very like that of the most ancient Greek melodies, 
it is not difficult to suppose it to be a species of music that is natural 


to a people of simple manners during the infancy of civilization 
and arts among them. In this and in other perplexing points, it is 
, my sincere wish to leave the mind of my reader something, at least, 
like an idea to fasten upon ; and what conveys the fullest conviction 
to my own mind, I shall, in general, adhere to, witMbut unhinging 
all belief, by quoting a crowd of heterogeneous opinions upon the 
same subject. Besides, if I wished to give all the chaos of com- 
mentatorship, I could not, for want of room. 

I shall therefore proceed to speak of the more artful and 

Modern Enharmonic 

The account already given of the invention of Olympus seems 
not only to furnish some idea of the old Greek melody, but helps, I 
think, to make the true enharmonic with the Diesis, somewhat less 
inconceivable than it would be without this idea of its origin. 

If we take the enharmonic tetrachord ^^^^g| by 

itself, it appears wholly strange and unaccountable; not only from 
the divided semitone, but from the skip of a Ditone, which the 
melody was confined to in its progress, after the two Dieses in 
ascending, or before them, in descending. ML Burette accounts 
for this rule, from the limited number of strings: "The tetrachord 
had but four strings," says he; "three of these were occupied by the 
semitone and its division : it was therefore matter of necessity to 
skip to the upper note of the tetrachord, a stable sound, which 
could not be dispensed with." This may, of necessity, have been 
the case during the early ages of music in Greece ; but afterwards 
the custom must have been continued through choice, and in 
compliance with venerable and established melodies used in 
religious ceremonies, which admitted of no change for many ages. 
And it is easy to conceive that after a nation has been long 
accustomed to the omission of certain sounds in their melodies, they 
will not soon be reconciled to the use of them. This is the case 
in the music of Scotland, where no ancient tune is thought to be 
genuine, unless certain sounds are omitted. 

But the reason assigned by M. Burette for the omission of certain 
sounds in the chromatic and enharmonic genera, for want of a 
sufficient number of strings in the Lyre, is invalidated by a passage 
in Aristoxenus, p. 28, where he lays down the same rule for the 
voice, and where the lyre is out of the question, as he is expressly 
considering the natural vocal succession. Indeed the voice and 
lyre were alternately subservient to each other. In very early times 
the lyre seems to have governed the voice, and to have regulated its 
intervals and compass by the small number of strings with which it 
was furnished ; though, afterwards, the extent of the voice long 
bounded the scale of instruments by which it was accompanied. 

Voi,. i. 4 49 


The story of Olympus, however, accounts reasonably for the 
continuance of wide intervals in the enharmonic genus ; the. first 
scale of which being, according to Plutarch, this : 

. y g Mf, m A j| was certainly a natural and pleasing 

melody, though of an antique and melancholy cast. Now according 
to this relation, which I firmly think I believe, for 
- I'uom suole 
Dar facile credenza a quel che vuole, 

the Diesis was, at first, inserted into melodies of this kind, as a 
sort of accidental grace, though in later times it became essential to 
the genus (a). Even at the period when Plutarch wrote his 
Dialogue, we find there were old-fashioned players on the flute, who 
omitted the division of the semitone, in playing music that was still 
reckoned enharmonic; the observation would otherwise have no 

How this quarter-tone could be managed so as to be rendered 
pleasing, still remains a mystery ; yet the difficulty of splitting a 
semitone into two equal parts, or even dividing it into more minute 
intervals, is less, perhaps, than has been imagined. When it is 
practised by a capital singer, or a good performer on the violin, or 
hautbois, at a pause, how wide it seems!* 

When the Diesis is thus considered as a grace, or a note of taste, 
it renders the genus not only conceivable, but practicable; for 


then the natural outline ^7~*g^^ [[ of the Old Enharmonic 

still remains in full force upon the ear. 

But there are other difficulties concerning the enharmonic, which 
this account, in a great measure, clears up. Plutarch expressly 
says, p. 162, that among the old artists the enharmonic was solely, 
or almost solely, in use, and that "they gave themselves no trouble 
about diatonic or chromatic/' And Aristoxenus says the same : his 
expression is, that "they had no idea of them." M. Burette would 
confine this preference to theorists and writers on the subject ; but 
nothing can be clearer than that there was an age when the 
enharmonic, some kind of enharmonic, at least, was practically 
preferred to the other genera; and it is more than probable that this 
age was the early time of music in Greece, when the art was 
confessedly in its most simple state ; when music was, according to 

(a) The musical reader must recollect the origin of several fashionable licences and innovations 
n modem music, which, though used and tolerated at first only as notes of taste and embellishment* 
are now become essential to good melody. 

* The difficulty of managing the quarter-tone is not so great as Burney imagines. It must be 
remembered that he was writing with all the dogmatism of an eighteenth century musician. It is 
possible that in the future music will develop by means of using quarter and even other fractions of a 
tone. Already music has been written by Haba (influenced by the use of small intervals in Moravian 
folk music) employing scales with 24, 18, 36 and 72 degrees to the octave. For interesting informa- 
tion about various scale systems see Carl Engel's Music of the most Ancient Nations sad Parry's The 
An of Music (chapter II). 

Fabio Colonna of Bologna (c. 1567-1650) invented a stringed instrument naming it the Pentaconta 
chordon, which divided the octave in 17 parts. 



all the descriptions of Plato, Plutarch, and others, solemn, majestic, 
and used for no other than solemn and majestic purposes. 

Plutarch expressly says, that the ancients were attached to the 
enharmonic, dia ospvoryra, that is, on ''account of its gravity/' The 
whole drift of his Dialogue is to apologize for the old musicians, the 
very practisers of the enharmonic, upon the score of its simplicity, 
and to shew that it proceeded not from ignorance, but from choice. 

The chromatic, agreeably to this idea, is every where spoken of 
as a more refined and new-fangled thing. Plutarch, p. 140, mentions 
a number of old musicians, who purposely abstained from the 
chromatic, as if it was a wicked modern innovation. It is mentioned 
as such in the curious decree of the Spartans against Timotheus; 
nay, it is even said, in the copy of that decree, at the end of the 
Oxford Aratus, that "he substituted his chromatic instead of their 
enharmonic"; though some translators have omitted these words, 
perhaps because they could not conceive how the enharmonic 
could possibly be more simple music. A passage in Aristoxenus, 
p. 23, seems to admit the same construction ; where, speaking of 
the innovators of his time, and their tuning the enharmonic, which 
was then expiring, like the chromatic, he says, the reason was, that 
they always wanted to ylvxawstv, that is, to put more sugar in their 

How can we reconcile all this with the common genealogy of the 
genera, 1. Diatonic, 2. Chromatic, 3. Enharmonic? Or with the 
general idea of the Enharmonic being the last and almost impractic- 
able refinement of the art? 

But if, as 'the account of Plutarch says, the simple melody of 
Olympus was called Enharmonic, it is at least very natural to 
suspect that all this may be meant of that enharmonic, which was 
certainly more simple than the Chromatic, and even than the strict 
Diatonic, by conjoint degrees ; as the fourth and seventh, the two 
notes of the scale that are of the most difficult intonation, were not 
admitted into its melodies. The fourth is so aukward an interval, 
that it is not only difficult to sound it correctly upon wind instru- 
ments, but such as I have observed few natural unguided singers are 
able to sing in tune. The same may be said of the seventh, which 
in descending, the ear rather requires to be sharp : it seems only for 
the sake of the sixth that it is sometimes made flat in minor-keys ; 
on which account Rameau considers it merely as a passing-note, 
serving only to lead more smoothly to the sixth, and which should 
not, properly, be taken account of in the fundamental base. 

This suspicion, which is all I shall venture to call it, naturally 
therefore presents itself: not that I would willingly lean harder upon 
it than it will bear. All the writers agree that the diatonic and 
chromatic existed before the enharmonic ; but by the expressions 
they use, and by talking of cpvcis, nature (6), they seem to mean 
the new and difficult enharmonic, and rather to speak according to 
what they thought naturally must have been, than upon any 

(*) See Apstox. p. 19, asd Pfot. p. 138. 



historical certainty concerning a matter so remote, even from the 
oldest writer on music, Aristoxenus. 

However, setting this suspicion aside, the account given by 
Plutarch seems still greatly to help to clear up the mystery; because 
it shews us, that even after the introduction of the Diesis, the 
enharmonic, by preserving the old Olympic form of the melody, 
might still be regarded as more pleasing, natural, and simple, than 
the other genera: at least than the chromatic, which, though its 
Diesis, or semitone, be in itself easier to form and to sing than the 
other, is yet, taking in all circumstances, more unnatural, more 
distracting to the ear, more complicated as to the fundamental base, 
which guides the ear of modern musicians, than the enharmonic , 
the oefivorys, or gravity, of which, and the simplicity implied in it, 
must have consisted, not in the divided semitone, which some 
musicians, even in Plutarch's time, we see, omitted, but in the old 
favourite Scottish melody, which then subsisted: the quarter-tone 
that had crept into it being probably regarded as an accidental 
embellishment of the air, which upon the whole was to the ear what 
Plutarch, p. 136, calls TQi%oQdov xcu anlow ; that is, "three-stringed, 
and simple'' At least it seems more easy to conceive the execution 
of the enharmonic possible as mere melody, than the ancient 
chromatic, where harmony seems wanting to guide the ear, and 
which has the appearance of being both in a major and minor key 

at the same time: (1 T^fT r*f If | g fl And none of these 

HT * i I 

sounds can easily be reduced to mere notes of taste, all are 
fundamentally consequential to the harmony, and leave no natural 
outline of melody for the ear to seize, like the Enharmonic. 

Section III 
Of the Modes 

A MODE, in ancient music, was equivalent to a Key, in the 
modern (a). And Bryennius says in express terms, page 
481 (6), that the tones or modes differ from each other in 
nothing else but the being situated in a higher or lower pitch of the 
voice or instrument ; which is but saying that the modes differed 
from each other only by transposition. 

Aristoxenus admitted of but thirteen modes, though subsequent 
musicians allowed of fifteen ; and this is the number of which 
Alypius has given us a diagram in all the three genera. 

These are placed by every musical writer, anterior to Ptolemy, 
at the distance of half a tone from each other. And as it is generally 
agreed that the lowest of the Greek modes, which was called 
Hypodorian, had its proslambanomenos, or lowest sound, in that 
part of the modern scale which is expressed by A upon the first space 
in the base, the following table will convey an idea to the musical 
reader of the comparative situation of the rest. 

TABLE of the MODES. 



Middle and 





tiypociorian, Hypoiastian, 

or Locrian. Hypoionian, 

or grave Hy- 


Hypophry- Hypoa?olian, Hypolydian.. 
gian. or Grave Hy- 





Ionian or 

Phrygian. ^Eolian. 


Lorian, Hyperiastian, 
lydian. or Hyperio- 


or lian. 


It was with reason that Aristoxenus refused admission to the 
two last of the fifteen modes, which are only octaves of the second 
and third, as the thirteenth is of the first. 

(a) TOPQ?, rpoTTo?, wodvs, mode, tone, and kev, are synonimous terms, both in ancient and 

modern music. 

(ft) Edit.Wallis. 



A scale of two octaves being allowed to each of these modes, 
the whole extent and compass of the fifteen was from Proslainba- 
nomenos, in the Hypodorian mode, to Nete hyperbol&on, in the 
Hyperlydian, three octaves and a tone, from our A in the base, to 

B in the treble 

""ft /L 

As the keys of C and A natural are representatives of all other 
keys in modern music, the scales which have been given, page 41, 
to exemplify the Genera, will shew the intervals of the Hypodorian 
mode, and serve as types of all other modes admitted into the music 
of the ancient Greeks. 

Pliny tells us that the three first, and original modes were the 
Phrygian, Dorian, and Lydian; so named after the several countries 
where they were invented and chiefly used; though Heraclides of 
Pontus asserts that the JEolian, Dorian, and Ionian, were of the 
most ancient and general use among the first inhabitants of Greece. 
However that may have been, it seems probable that the five modes 
mentioned by these two authors were in use long before the rest, 
which, in process of time, as the musical scale was extended by new 
improvements and new instruments, were placed above and below 
them, and distinguished by the prepositions vxo and vneQ, under 
and upper. 

There is a passage in Aristides Quintilianus, p. 23, which seems 
to point out something like connection and relation between the 
five original modes, and those above and below them. He says, 
after having enumerated the fifteen modes, " By this means, each 
mode has ^agvr^ra, at fisooT'rjra, xcu dfvrrjra, its bottom, its middle, 

and its top, or its grave, mean, and acute." 

This seems to imply that the three modes of DORIAN, 
Hypodorian, and Hyperdorian, for instance, were considered, in a 
manner, as one: and as if the two modes belonging to each of the 
five middle ones, a f ourth above, and a fourth below, were regarded 
as necessary adjuncts, without which they were not complete. 

Pursuing this idea, if we place the five most ancient and 
original modes in the middle, between the lower and the higher 
modes of the same name, they will have very much the appearance 
of our relative keys in modern music. 

Fourth below. Principal. Fourth above. 

Hypodorian, DORIAN, Hyperdorian 

Hypoiastian, IASTIAN Hyperiastian. 

[IONIAN] (Hyperphrygian, 

Hypophrygian, PHRYGIAN < or 

(Hypermixolydian . 

Hypoaeolian -SJoLiAN, Hyperaeolian. 

Hypolydian, LYDIAN, Hyperlydian. 


These answer to the following keys in present use : 

A, D, G. 

B, E, A. 

C, F, Bb- 

ctf, FJ, B. 

And amount to the same thing as our fifth above, and fifth below a 
key. Indeed if the ears of the Greeks were not totally different 
from ours, these must have been the first and most natural 

It is worth observing, that though the modes in the diagrams of 
Alypius are placed at the '.distance only of half a tone from each 
other, yet, in giving the notation of each, he ranks them in the 
following order, in all the genera. 

LYDIAN, Hypolydian, Hyperlydian. 

^EOLIAN, Hypoaeolian, Hyperaeolian. 

PHRYGIAN, Hypophrygian, Hyperphrygian. 

IASTIAN, Hypoiastian, Hyperiastian. 

DORIAN, Hypodorian, Hyperdorian. 

It is very remarkable that all the ancient modes or keys were 
minor f which must have given a melancholy cast to their melody 
in general ; and however strange this may appear, it is as certain as 
any point concerning ancient music can be, that no provision was 
made for a major-key in any of the ancient treatises or systems that 
are come down to us. 

But one nation may be prejudiced, by long habit, to a major 
scale, another to a minor ; as well as to certain skips in their melody, 
like the Scots ; and to a certain measure, like the Poles. 

This is not the place to reason upon the subject ; but taking the 
fact for granted, it makes the relations of the modes, by fourths, 
the more natural. For Tartini's observation seems true, that the 
change into the fourth of a minor key is much more agreeable than 
into that of a major. Indeed the ancients could scarce have any 
other change consistently with their rule of modulation, which says, 
that the transition should be by consonant intervals. Now the octave 
producing no change, there remains only the fourth or fifth above 
or below ; for the third was a dissonant interval in their theory. 

It is some satisfaction, however, to find the Greek rules for 
modulation, their change, xara tovov, so nearly correspond with our 
own. When Ptolemy, page 131 (c] recommends the taking those 
keys first that are at consonant distances f and tells us that the 
transition from one tone to another next to it, is disagreeable, it 

(c) Cap. 9. lib, ii. 



accords very well with our modern doctrine and practice, and with 
Rameau's rule for a relative succession of chords. Indeed, there is 
a passage in Euclid that is still less equivocal: he says, page 21, 
speaking of modulation, "Transitions are made, some by con- 
sonant, and some by dissonant intervals ; and of these some are 
more, and some less, melodious. The most melodious are those in 
which there is most connection ; where the two modes have most in 
common: those are less melodious, which have less participation." 
He goes on to explain in what this communio consists ; the text is 
obscure ; but I think a meaning is discoverable, which has escaped 
Meibomius, both in translating, and in commenting, the passage. 

Every writer on the subject of music, till the time of Ptolemy,* 
regarded the fourth as the first concord, and dividing all the fifteen 
modes into tetrachords, regulated the scale in all the genera, by 
that interval. But Ptolemy, about the year one hundred and thirty 
of the Christian sera, and four hundred and fifty years from the 
time in which Aristoxenus flourished, proposed a new doctrine 
and reform in the ancient musical system ; in which he reduced the 
fifteen modes to seven, and made the diapason, or octave, the 
regulator of his scales, not by abandoning the tetrachords, for he 
regulated the genera by those intervals in the same manner as his 
predecessors ; but in his reduction of the modes he kept them 
within the bounds of the octave, and made their number equal to 
the species of diapason. The ancient names of Dorian, Hypodorian, 
Lydian, Hypolydian, Phrygian, Hypophrygian, and Mixolydian, 
he retained, as well as their relative places or distances from each 
other ; but it has been misrepresented as his intention to alter the 
pitch of all the modes, by raising the Proslambanomenos of each a 
fifth higher. The only ground for this opinion is in the eleventh 
chapter of his second book, where having occasion to exemplify in 
some one octave, the manner in which the Meses of his seven modes 
would occupy all its notes, he chose that octave between e and E, 
as he says himself, preferably to any other part of the Greek scale, 
on account of its convenience ; as it was situated in the middle of the 
scale and voice. But there is not the least reason to conclude that 
he meant to propose any reform, or to disturb, in this respect, the 
established doctrine and practice. 

Lemma Rossi, Bontempi, and most of the writers who have 
mentioned the modes of Ptolemy, have supposed them to have 

* Celebrated as an astronomer and geographer, A Latin translation of the Harmonica was 
published by Wallis in 1683. Regarding the introduction of the system attributed to Ptolemy 
Professor Wooldridge (Oxford History of Mtfstc, 1901, vol. r, p. 15), says : " Certainly the conception 
of the octave as consisting of seven species did not originate even with Ptolemy ; it had existed long 
before his time, and had been applied not only to the diatonic but to the enharmonic scale by older 
writers in whose works, moreover, the names adopted by Ptolemy for the seven species, which were 
those of the seven oldest keys, are also to be found." He goes on to state that in the present state of 
our knowledge of Greek music it seems impossible to come to any definite conclusion as to whether 
the " doctrine of the species " was more than a theoretical proposition at first, and if more than one 
species was actually in use. Again on page 15 he writes : " The diatonic double octave scale is of 
course, susceptible of seven different octachordal sections, each of which will display the two semitonic 
intervals in a new position and will therefore, if the first note of each section be taken as its final or 
key note, create a new and special scale and a special character of melody in each scale," 



consisted only in different species of octaves in one key (d). But 
Dr. Wallis, who has translated into Latin the Harmonics of 
Ptolemy, and reduced his modes to modern notes, makes them aH 
consist of transpositions of the Dorian mode, which Ptolemy calls 
the first, and which Dr. Wallis, after him, has written in the 
minor key of A natural, placing it in that part of the scale which 
in practice belonged to the Hypodorian. 



Hypodor. Phrygian. Hypophryg. 

Bacchius senior (e) places two of these modes, the Hypolydian 
and the Lydian, half a tone higher than Dr. Wallis, who seems to 
have mistaken their places. The Mixolydian Bacchius makes the 
highest of all, then places the Lydian half a tone below it, the 
Phrygian a tone below the Lydian, the Dorian a tone below the 
Phrygian, the Hypolydian half a tone below the Dorian, the Hypo- 
phrygian a tone lower, and the Hypodorian, the lowest of all, a 
note below the Hypophrygian. 

By the disposition of Ptolemy's modes, it seems as if his design 
had been to establish a more easy and obvious connection and rela- 
tion between them, than had hitherto been practised ; for though 
the modes placed above and below the five principal ones might 
have been originally intended as their adjuncts, yet from the 
multiplicity and promiscuous arrangement of the modes at the 
distance only of a semitone above each other, their intimate rela- 
tion and union had not been sufficiently attended to. He therefore 

(d) Euclid, and Gaudentius after him, have given seven species of octave in one key, which 
however they call by the names of seven of the modes. 

Meibomius, in his notes on Euclid, p. 59, has given these scales in letters. 

(e) Introd Axtis Musicae, Edit Meibom. .p.$M. 



included all his seven modes in the compass of an octave, "making," 
says Dr. Wallis, "the Dorian the center or mean; after which he 
placed the Mixolydian a fourth above the Dorian; the Hypolydian 
a fifth below the Mixolydian ; and the Lydian a fourth higher than 
the Hypolydian. Then, beginning again at the Dorian, he placed 
the Hypodorian a fourth below it ; the Phrygian a fifth above the 
Hypodorian, and the Hypophrygian a fourth below that." But 
this round-about order of the modes is not that of Ptolemy ; for in 
his tenth book, chap, ii., the title of which is, How to adjust 
accurately the Distances of the Modes, he gives his method of taking 
them by fourths and fifths in the only direct and warrantable way 
in which they can be taken, according to modern modulation, by 
beginning at the Mixolydian: D, A, E, B, F# C# G#. Now if 
each of these modes produced seven species of diapason or octave, 
the seven modes of Ptolemy would furnish seven times seven, or 
forty-nine species of octave ; not indeed all of different kinds, but 
of different pitch in the scale. To each of these modes he. assigned 
the compass of a disdiapason, or double octave, as was the practice 
in the ancient modes ; with this difference, that the first and 
characteristic sound in the fifteen modes was Proslambanomenos, 
but in those of Ptolemy Mese is made the key note, and the center 
of the scale ; which may be supposed to extend an octave above, 
and an octave below the sound given in the table. 

Such was the general opinion concerning the modes of Ptolemy, 
till Sir Francis Haskins Eyles Stiles formed an ingenious hypothesis 
concerning them, which was read to the Royal Society in 1759, and 
afterwards published in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. LI. 
part ii. for 1760, under this title : An Explanation of the Modes or 
Tones in the ancient Gracian Music. Sir Francis in this Dissertation 
endeavours to prove, that the ancients had a double doctrine of the 
modes, an harmonic and a musical doctrine. By the harmonic 
doctrine, the modes were all one and the same series of intervals, 
such as the general system furnishes, only at different pitches ; by 
the musical, they consisted of so many different arrangements of 
intervals or species of octave. Sir Francis regarded the harmonic 
doctrine as only a tuning trick, to produce more readily the different 
species of octave between the fixed sounds (/). 

He explains this in a diagram, taking his pitch, according to 
Ptolemy, at Hypate Meson, our E in the base, and makes all his 
mutations between that sound and its octave, Nete Diezeugmenon. 
And this, according to Sir F. E. Stiles, is the diapason chosen by 
Ptolemy, cap. 2, lib. ii. for the purpose of exhibiting his divisions 
of the several species. 

DIAGRAM of the Species of Diapason in the seven Modes admitted 
by Ptolemy, according to the Doctrine of Sir Francis Haskins 
Eyles Stiles. 

(/) His own hypothesis is too complicated and incompressible to be clearly explained here. I 
must therefore refer the curious reader to the Memoir itself . 










Key of 





Hypophrygian. fc^t: 
Hypodorian. fc^Ez 



[ * 

Sir Francis gives quotations from the ancient Greek writers in 
confirmation of his doctrine, several of which indeed seem favour- 
able to it ; at least they imply a difference on some occasions from 
the intervals in the natural or great system: this difference he 
imagines to be expressed by the term pvtafoki), mutation (g). 

He very truly asserts, that no transposition of the same melody 
into a higher or lower key, can have so powerful an effect as a 
change in the modulation, or succession of intervals ; and observes, 
that modern music has but two considerable changes in the same 
key ; these are from major to minor, and from minor to major. The 
first seems reserved for pathetic effects: here he instances PurceTs 
happy change of modulation in his Mad Bess, at the words, "Cold 
and hungry am I grown (A)." 

(;) See Sect IV. 


Sir Francis assigns a greater antiquity to the musical doctrine, 
than to the harmonic, and refers the effects of the modes in early 
times to the former. "We find/' says he, "in Plutarch, Pliny, and 
other writers, the invention of particular modes ascribed to 
particular musicians ; which may be accounted for, on the sup- 
position that the modes were so many different species of diapason, 
since it requires great art and skill to introduce agreeable melodies 
to which the ear has not been accustomed : but the taking the 
same melody at a different pitch, is a variety, for which the inventor 
would hardly have had his name so carefully transmitted to 
posterity (i)." 

Meibomius, however, was certainly of opinion, that the difference 
in the modes, upon which all their effects depended, consisted only 
in the tension, or acuteness and gravity of the whole system. And 
Dr. Wallis saw still less of this doctrine than Meibomius, "though 
he has rightly," says Sir Francis, "explained the species of diapason, 
as they lay between Hypate Meson and Nete Diezeugmenon ; but 
this interpretation he regards as singular in his author, and draws 
no consequences from it." 

The ascertaining the figure of the earth, by measuring a degree 
near the pole and under the line, introduced a new geography ; in 
the same manner the hypothesis of Sir Francis Eyles Stiles will 
overset all former theories and conjectures on the subject of the 
ancient musical modes, and oblige those whom he convinces of the 
truth of his doctrine, and who had before reconciled themselves to 
received opinions on the subject, to confess their errors and 
ignorance, and to begin the study of ancient music anew. 

It is not, however, certain that Ptolemy's doctrine was 
immediately adopted by all the musicians of his time (&); if it was, 
their minds must have been more flexible than those of modern 
professors. For had the most popular composers of modern times, 
had Alexander Scarlatti, for instance, in Italy, Sebastian Bach, in 
Germany, or Handel, in England, proposed to their cotemporaries 
so considerable a change in the established musical system, it is 
hardly possible to believe that it would have been immediately 
received into general practice (I). 

We know not, indeed, what was the success of Ptolemy's pro- 
posed reformation during his life; a reformation, it must be owned, 
that had something Calvinistical in it ; a zeal for tearing (m)', and 
yet, strange to tell 1 all the traces to be found of it are in the modes 
of the Romish church, established long after, but which resemble 
those of Ptolemy in nothing except their number and names. 
Ptolemy's modes are manifestly transpositions of the scale into 

(*) Phfl. Trans. vol. LI. p. 755. 

(ft) Bacchius senior, a musical writer, cotemporary -with Ptolemy, is the only Greek author who 
gives but seven modes. 

(I) Martianus Capella, who flourished 300 years aiter Ptolemy, and Cassiodorus, a still younger 
writer, tell us, that here were fifteen modes a proof that his reform had not been adopted universally 

(m) See Tale of a Tub, Sect. VI. 


different keys* : the ecclesiastic, only different species of octave, in 
one and the same key. 

Upon the whole, the music so much celebrated by the best 
classical writers, and of which I shall have the most frequent 
occasions to speak in my history, was of much higher antiquity 
than the time of Ptolemy, who flourished when arts and sciences, 
particularly those of Egypt and Greece, were much degenerated. 

It is therefore of no great importance to the history and 
intelligence of ancient music, at its best period, whether this point 
concerning the species of octave, for which Sir Francis Eyles Stiles 
contends, be accurately settled, or not ; for, if he is right, ^ it does 
not clearly appear, what peculiar and astonishing effects could be 
produced by a sudden change of mode, which it is not in the power 
of modern music to produce, by a like sudden change of key. 

But such miraculous powers have been attributed to the modes in 
ancient music, that it must be confessed there is nothing so difficult 
as to imagine they could have been produced by a mere trans- 
position of the scale to a different pitch, while the intervals remained 
the same, or even by the effects of modulation. There must have 
been other characteristic and strong-marked distinctions: as the 
kind of poetry to which the music was set ; the rhythm or measure; 
or the nature of certain melodies invented and used by particular 
nations. Indeed it was from this last circumstance that the 
denominations of the principal modes were derived, such as the 
Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Ionian, and Molian ; and there may 
perhaps have been originally something strongly characteristic in 
the melodies, as well as in the dialects of those countries. 

In modern music a change of key, without a change of time, is 
not sufficient to animate or depress the spirits much : measure must 
concur as an auxiliary ; and mere modulation, though it has its 

* The Aristoxenian system of tonoi was, as we have seen, the same scale taken at any convenient 
pitch. Aristoxemis was also interested in the seven species of the octave, which was a series of scales 
approximating to those which may be formed by using the white keys of the pianoforte. It will be 
seen that the fundamental difference between these scales is in the varying positions of the semitones. 
In this original system of the seven species of octave the note a was always considered as being the 
mese, or dominant. 

List of the seven species of octave scales : 

Compass B b was called the MIXOLYDIAN 


It will be noticed that these scales differ in quality as well as in pitch. 

The system of Ptolemy altered this series in the following manner. To commence with he 
advocated that mese should be the fourth note of each of the species, and secondly he reduced the 
seven species to the same pitch by means of transposition. 

The solution proposed by Sir Francis HasMns Eyles Stiles was adopted by Chappell in his History 
of Music, but W. S. Rockstro in Grove's (Vol. 3, Article, Ecclesiastical Modes, p. 476) gives the follow- 
ing series of scales which differ from those given on p. 59 : 


PHRYGIAN with a key signature of 5 sharps 







effects, yet it can boast of none like those said to have been operated 
by a change from the soft Lydian, or grave Dorian, to the furious 
Phrygian. I should rather suppose then, that in times of musical 
refinement among the ancients, when the characteristics of national 
melody were somewhat effaced, the names of the musical modes 
had much the same use as our technical terms, grazioso, grave, 
allegro, con furia : and that in lyric poetry there were particular 
species of feet and versification allotted to each mode. If that was 
the case, we might easily suppose that a change of mode would be 
a change of style and of measure (ri). This seems a very natural 
idea, and yet it has never been suggested by any of the writers who 
have treated the subject, and who have been so willing to allow 
miraculous powers to the Greek modes, except one, Teodato Osio, 
who, in a very ingenious little tract, published in Milan, 1637, called 
Uarmonia del nudo parlare, has something like the same idea, 
which he slightly mentions, however, with a perhaps, per aventura. 
Speaking of the Mixolydian mode, he says, "I have often thought 
that it might have resembled the trochaic foot ; as the Phrygian 
might the Anapest ; the Hypophrygian, the Iambic ; the Hypo- 
dorian, the Dactyl ; and the Doric gravity might likewise have been 
expressed by the sluggish spondee (0)." 

Indeed the ancients frequently speak of the Phrygian and Lydian 
modes, in terms which seem to imply different measures. Heraclides 
of Pontus, in Athenaeus, lib. xiv. p. 614, describing what he calls 
the three most ancient modes, says "the Dorian is grave and 
magnificent, neither too diffusive, gay, nor varied ; but severe and 
vehement. The JEolian is grand and pompous, though sometimes 
soothing, as it is used for the breaking of horses, and the reception 
of guests ; and it has likewise an air of simplicity and confidence, 
suitable to pleasure, love, and good cheer. Lastly, the ancient 
Ionian is neither brilliant nor effeminate, but rough and austere ; 
with some degree, however, of elevation, force, and energy. But in 
these times," continues he, "since the corruption of manners has 
subverted every thing, the true, original, and specific qualities 
peculiar to each mode are lost (p)." 

Apuleius, in his Florida, tells us that the Lydian measure was 
appropriated to complaint and songs of sorrow ; the Dorian to 
martial airs ; and that the Phrygian was consecrated to religious 
ceremonies ; distinctions which seem to imply time as well as tone. 
But after all that has been said, it would, perhaps, be more for the 
honour of the ancients to suppose some of the principles upon which 

(n) Morley, and all the old writers upon modem music, before the use of bars, affixed no other 
meaning to the modes or moods, as they were then called, than that of regulators of time, or measure. 

(o) Onde il color misso-Lidio si sara simigliante al piede Trochco ; cost come awisai VAnapesto 
confarsi col frigio, e forse con ripofrisio il Giambo ; ma con il subdorio si confara il Dattilo t ed alia 
Gravita del JDorio la tardansa dello Spondee sara convenient*. P. 184. See a notation of these feet, 
Sect. VI. 

(p) Heraclides of Pontus was cotemporary with Plato and Aristotle, and the disciple of both. 
He was a voluminous writer upon music, as well as upon many other subjects ; his works are frequently 
cited by Plutarch, and, with the Records of Sicyon, and Registers of the Victors at the sacred Games, seem 
to have been the phjef sources whence he drew the historical part of his Diahgu* on Music. 



their modes were formed, and concerning which such surprising 
accounts have been given, to be lost, than to endeavour to reduce 
them all to our present keys and practice of melody. For, with the 
few liberties that could be taken with poetical numbers, and the 
little probability there is that counterpoint was known to them, if 
we do not give the ancients credit for arts of expression and 
modulation, which have not been clearly explained in the treatises 
that are come down to us, and which we are now utterly unable to 
divine, their music will be reduced to such a low degree of perfection, 
as nothing but blind enthusiasm for every thing ancient can 
disguise, or deny. 

Section IV 
Of Mutations 

THE next subject of enquiry to the Genera and Modes of 
ancient music, is that of the Mutations, ^rafto^ai, or changes 
incident to melody ; which, in modern music, we should 
call, upon some occasions, modulation. However, the terms are 
not exactly synonymous ; for though to modulate, and to sing, are 
in ancient authors equivalent, as modulation with them signified 
merely a change in melody, yet the moderns more frequently apply 
the term modulation to that kind of change in melody or harmony, 
which introduces a new key. For modulation may be brought about 
by changes in harmony, while melody is stationary. 


Key of C a F 

F f 

r j 


In the system of solmization established upon the hexachords of 
Guido, mutations mean such changes only as are occasioned in the 
names of the notes by accidental flats and sharps. 

The ancients however had four several kinds of accidents in 
their music that were distinguished by the name of mutations. 
These might have happened in the genus, system, mode, or 
melopoeia. In the Genus, when the melody passed from one genus 
to another, from the chromatic, for instance, to the diatonic, or 
enharmonic, and the contrary. In the System, when the 
modulation passed from a conjunct to a disjunct tetrachord ; that is, 
from one that was united to another by some one sound in common 

to both : as from this 

to one that was 

wholly disjunct, and separated from it by the interval of a tone : 

a mutation happened in the Mode, when there was a transition 
in the melody from the Dorian to the Lydian, or Phrygian, and 
the like ; and lastly, a mutation in the Meloposia implied a change 
of style; as from a grave to a gay, or from a sober to an impetuous 
strain. If the mutations were too sudden and unrelative, they 
destroyed the impression made upon the ear by the former part of 
the melody, and the pleasure arising from reminiscence. " The 



understanding music/' says Aristoxenus (a), "depends upon 
sensation and memoiy; for we must not only feel sounds at the 
instant they strike the organ, but remember those with which it has 
been struck before, in order to be able to compare them together; for 
otherwise it will be impossible to follow a melody or modulation with 
pleasure to the ear, or to form a judgment of its degree of excellence 
in the mind." 

The terms peloe and pelcodias, which Meibomius has rendered 
by the Latin words, modulatio and cantilena, had no other significa- 
tion than the change of sounds in singing, or, as we should call it, 
melody ; and this is clear from a passage in Bacchius senior (6), 
where, in his Introduction to the Art of Music, by Question and 
Answer, it. is asked, how many kinds of modulation there are. 
He answers, four; and these, he says, are rising, falling, repeating 
the same sound to different words, and remaining upon, or holding 
out, a musical tone. This is farther explained, Sect V. 

Euclid says that mutations may be made into any mode within 
the compass of an octave, at the .distance even of a semitone (c). 
This is a latitude of modulation that would greatly offend modern 
ears, accustomed only to relative changes of key. Ptolemy, however, 
does not allow of such sudden and extraneous modulations. 

There is something like a specimen of Greek modulation in 
Plutarch's Diaiogue^ (d). If the modes are rightly placed by the 
moderns, the beginning or first movement of the piece he mentions, 
was in A; then it passed to E and B, and ended in G (e) and D. This 

Lib. i. p. 38 and 30. Edit. Meibom. 

(&) P. ii. Edit. Meib. 

(c) M. Burette is mistaken in his translation of this precept in Euclid, which he has taken from 
the version of Meibomius, who has likewise either mistaken, or misprinted the passage. Instead of 
>7uiroi/ias, half a tone, they have both given Diesis, a quarter of a tone, as an allowable modulation 
which is not only contrary to the text, but impossible in practice. Vide Euclid, Edit. Meib. p. 20, at 
the bottom. . 

(d) Mem. des Inscrip. torn. x. p. 160. 

(e) Handel is the only one that I know of who has hazarded a modulation from B to G with a 
flat tiiird ; a passage of this kind occurs in the last act of the Oratorio of Athalia, which is so bold and 
wonderfully happy in expressing the words, that I shall insert it here as a great stroke of the composer, 
as well as of musical imitation. Athalia is relating a dream which she had had just before the execution 
of that conspiracy, which put an end to her tyranny and life. 


Vor,. i. 5 


would be tolerable ; but the vopos TQtfisQ^, or three part song, 
mentioned by Plutarch, p. 124, which, it seems, consisted in singing 
three strophes successively, the first in the Dorian mode, D, the 
second in the Phrygian, E, and the third in the Lydian, F sharp, 
rising a tone each time, would be in the highest degree offensive to 
modern ears. 

And yet, Athenaeus speaks of a similar feat performed by Pytha- 
goras, the Zacynthian, upon the lyre ; and Pausanias, of one by 
Pronomus, the Theban, upon a flute, which he had invented for 
all these three modes. But upon these occasions, what must have 
become of their rule for preferring transitions by consonant 
intervals? We must suppose that these unrelative mutations were 
very old tricks. 

And yet we must not condemn them too hastily; for we find 
the old church composers, in the early .days of counterpoint, 
neglecting the modern rules of relation, or rather not knowing them, 
and taking, fearlessly, two, or more perfect chords of the same 
kind, diatonically, using every note in the scale, except the seventh, 
as a fundamental base (/). 

This is, doubtless, the true secret of ancient church music, and 
the principal cause of its effect, so widely different from that of 
modern compositions ; an effect compounded of solemnity, wildness, 
and melancholy. 

(/) Palestrina begins his Stabat Mater, which is still used in the pope's chapel, and printed in the 
music performed there during Passion week, by three successive common chords, with sharp thirds, to 
this base A G F, descending, diatonically ; and yet this modulation is so qualified by the disposition of 
the parts, and tempered by the perfect manner in which it is sung, that though it looks unscientific 
and licentious upon paper, its effects, of which no idea can be acquired from Keyed instruments, are 

Section V 
Of M.elopoda 

THE rules concerning the different parts of ancient music that 
have been already described, lead naturally to the subject 
of Melopoeia, for which they were at first established. 

MeAos, melos, consisted of a number of musical sounds of a 
certain pitch of voice, opposed to noise, or the unfixed and evan- 
escent tones of common speech. 

MsXcodta, melody, was the singing of poetry, to such sounds : and 

Mshonoiia, melopoeia, the composition, or arrangement, of such 
sounds as were fit for song. 

These several definitions shew that all melody was originally 
vocal, and applied to poetry. 

Melopoeia had its particular rules, several of which are come 
down to us, and are still clear and intelligible: such as that an 
air, or piece of melody, should be composed in some particular 
Genus, and be chiefly confined to the sounds of some certain Mode. 
As to the succession, or order of these sounds in the course of the 
air, that was in general confined to four kinds, which Euclid specifies 
in his Harmonic Introduction (a). These I shall endeavour to 
describe with exactness, as they may throw some light upon ancient 

Euclid tells us, first, that sounds may move either ascending or 
descending regularly, as thus: 

which was called aycoyy ; secondly, by leaps of greater intervals 
than a second : thus, which was called 

3tloxi], interwoven: thirdly, by repeating the same sound several 
times, which was called nerrsta, iteration : as in singing these notes 

and fourthly, that sounds may be sustained in the same tone, which 
we call a holding note, and which the Greeks expressed by the 

Thus far seems intelligible ; but I cannot help thinking that the 
third book of Aristoxenus, which is chiefly employed in laying 

(a) P. 22, Edit. Meibom. 


down rules for the immediate succession of sounds in a scale, has 
been misrepresented, as containing rules for the composition of 
melody in general. 

He says, indeed, p. 66, "that after a semitone the voice can only 
go two ways up, and two ways down" ; that is, by a tone, or another 
semitone. This is true in the order of the scale ; but was all melody 
confined to that order? And is there any doubt whether from a 
semitone it might not go by a leap to a third, fourth, or fifth, above 
or below? M. Burette, however, in his notes upon Plutarch, where 
the enharmonic of Olympus, and the beauty of its melody are 
mentioned, says, the beauty must lie in the novelty, and the novelty 
was the Ditone, or major third, "which was never heard in the 
other Genera." What! was the Diatonic so strictly confined to a 
progress by conjoint degrees, as never to be permitted to skip a 
note, in order to ascend or descend by the interval of a third? 
Nothing can be so strange as this assertion, or so contrary to the 
passage just quoted from Euclid, which M. Burette has elsewhere 
translated and adopted (&), and indeed to the definition of the term 
nloxv), in all subsequent Greek writers upon music, down to 

But M. Burette is not wholly singular, I find, in his opinion upon 
this subject, as Dr. Brown seems to have had the same idea ; for in 
his Progress of Poetry, &c, p. 64, he says, that the Greek Diatonic 
is "utterly incompatible with our Diatonic scale; because there one 
semitone, and two tones, must succeed each other invariably." Mr. 
Malcolm is as obscure and unsatisfactory, as usual, upon this 
subject ; and leaves it, at least, as unintelligible as he found it. 

But the denying or doubting of one of the few facts upon which 
ancient writers have expressed themselves clearly, is joining in the 
conspiracy with time, which has already rendered the study of 
Greek music sufficiently hopeless and desperate, to repress the 
courage of the boldest enquirer. 

There were many rules to be observed in moving by leaps, or 
disjunct degrees, the principal of which was to prefer, in general, 
consonant to dissonant intervals. It was likewise enjoined not to 
divide any two semitones into quarter tones, together, or two 
successive tones into semitones (c), nor were two major thirds to 
follow each other. 

But these, and a great number of other rules laid down by 
Aristoxenus, with respect to the succession of intervals, were all 
derived from the genera, the rules for which were rules for melody. 
The Diatonic genus of the ancients resembled our natural scale in 
every particular ; and it is allowed by Aristoxenus even that three 
tones may succeed each other, ascending or descending, which is 
all that is allowable in our Diatonic, except in minor keys, where 

(&) Mem. des Inscrip. torn. v. p. 178. 

(c) The prohibition of more than, two ! 
clear proof that the ancient chromatic 

* Circa A.D. 1320. His chief work, Harmonics, was really a digest of tracts by earlier writers. 

(c) The prohibition of more than two semitones succeeding each other at a time, rising or falling, 
is a clear proof that the ancient chromatic was very different from the modern. 


we ascend to the octave of the key note by a sharp seventh, which 
the ancients seem never to have admitted. 

A further detail or explanation of these rules, would not make 
the matter much clearer ; however, there are some particulars 
collected together in the first book of Aristides Quintilianus (d), 
that seem to merit attention. 

He sets off by dividing Melopoeia into three species, taken from 
the great and general system, which he names after the sounds called 
Hypate, Mese, and Nete ; that is, lowest, middle, and highest ; and 
these denominations resembled, with respect to melody, our distinc- 
tions of base, tenor, and treble. 

With regard to modulation in melody, he has the same 
distinctions as Euclid for the several species, though he differs a 
little from him in his manner of defining them; but these differences 
are of small importance to us now ; and indeed the authority of 
Euclid is so superior to that of Aristides Quintilianus, that nothing 
which can be cited from him would have weight sufficient to 
invalidate the testimony of so exact and respectable a writer. 

However, the moral distinctions of Melopoeia to be found in 
Aristides Quintilianus are so curious and fanciful, that I shall insert 
a few of them here. 

He allows of three modes (rgonoi) or styles of Melopoeia; the 
Dithyrambic, or Bacchanal ; the Nomic, consecrated to Apollo ; 
and the Tragic; and acquaints us that the first of these modes 
employed the strings, or sounds, in the middle of the great system; 
the second, those at top ; and the third, those at the bottom. 

These modes had other subaltern modes that were dependent on 
them ; such as the Erotic, or amorous ; the Comic ; and the 
Encomiastic, used in panegyrics. All these being thought proper to 
excite or to calm certain passions, were, by our author, imagined 
to have had great influence upon the manners, (*;#?/) ; and, with 
respect to this influence, Melopoeia was divided into three kinds: 
first, the Systaltic, or that which inspired the soft and tender 
passions, as well as the plaintive, or, as the term implies, such as 
affect and penetrate the heart ; secondly, the Diastaltic, or that 
which was capable of exhilerating, by kindling joy, or inspiring 
courage, magnanimity, and sublime sentiments : thirdly, the 
Hesuchastic, which held the mean between the other two, that is, 
which could restore the mind to a state of tranquility and 

The first kind of Melopoeia suited poetical subjects of love and 
gallantry, of complaint and lamentation : the second was reserved 
for tragic and heroic subjects: the third for hymns, panegyrics, 
and as a vehicle of exhortation and precept (e). 

(d) P. 28 and 29. Edit. Meibom. 

(e) These imaginations are evidently drawn from the dreams of Pythagoras. lamblicus, in the 
life of that philosopher, tells us that " he had invented certain musical airs, with which, by a happy 
mixture of genera, he could, at his pleasure, govern the passions of his scholars, and awaken terror, 
melancholy, anger, compassion, emulation, fear, and desires of all kinds ; as well as stimulate appetite, 
pride, caprice, and vehemence ; guiding each affection according to virtue, with suitable melodies, as 
with so many salutary and healing medicines." And Plutarch, in his Discourse on the Cessation of 
Oracles, says, that poetry set to music, was once the current language of Greece, and the vehicle of 
history, philosophy, and of every important subject. 


All these rules concerning the ancient Melopoeia afford only 
general notions, which, to be rendered dear an.d intelligible, would 
require particular discussions, as well as illustrations by example ; 
but the Greek writers on music have absolutely denied us that 
satisfaction, reserving, perhaps, when they published their works, 
all such minutia for the lessons which they gave their scholars in 
private ; for in no one of the seven treatises upon ancient music, 
collected and published by Meibomius, is a single air, or passage 
of Greek melody, come down to us ; which is the more extra- 
ordinary, as there are few treatises upon modern music, without 
innumerable examples in notes, to illustrate the precepts they 

But whatever were the rules for arranging different sounds in 
such order as would flatter the ear in the most agreeable manner, 
it is easy to imagine that this regular disposition, and beautiful 
order of sounds, constituted nothing more than the mere body of 
melody, which could only be animated and vivified by the 
assistance of Rhythm, or Measure: and this will be discussed in 
the next section. 


Section VI 
Of Rhythm 

A CONTINUED motion in every organized body that is capable 
of it, is susceptible of some kind of measure. This measure 
marks the several parts of motion, and enables us to judge 
of their proportions. It is to point out these proportions that the 
Greeks, among many other terms, have made use of Qv&poe, Rhythm, 
which they have applied to different purposes. They have not only 
expressed by it the kind of cadence, or vibration of the wings, in 
the flight of birds ; the movement of the feet in the progressive 
motion of animals ; and the gestures, figures, and steps of dancers; 
but every species of regular motion, such as is observable in the 
beating of the pulse, and in respiration. They have even abused 
the original import of the word so far, as to apply it to things 
absolutely motionless and inanimate ; such as works in painting and 
sculpture, in which they have called that symmetry and just propor- 
tion which reigns in all parts by the name of Rhythm. 

But the most common application of this term has been to 
express the Time or duration of many sounds heard in succession: 
whether these sounds are musical, and such as are produced by 
voices and instruments, or without any determinate tone, as in the 
strokes of a hammer upon an anvil; in the beating of a drum; and 
in the articulations of the voice in common speech, in repeating 
poetry, or pronouncing an oration. 

But our enquiries here shall be confined to that species of 
Rhythm, which more particularly concerns melody, and which 
merits discussion the more, on account of its great importance m 
music, and of the darkness in which it is usually involved by 
writers on the subject. 

From the strict union of poetry and music among the ancients, 
which seem to have been almost inseparable, an offence against 
Time or Rhythm was unpardonable, as it not only destroyed the 
beauty of the poetry, but sometimes even the meaning of the 

words of which it was composed, To nav actQa povoixois 6 $v&pos f 

say the Greeks ; it was the principal point in their music, without 
which they regarded melody as wholly unmeaning and lifeless. 
Hence Plato refused the title of musician to every one who was not 
perfectly versed in Rhythm, as we should now to a bad Timeist. 
It is of such importance, that, without it, music can have no power 
over the human passions. Pythagoras, according to Martianus 
Capella, used to call Rhythm, in music, the male, and Melos the 



female ; and Doni (a) has compared Rhythm with design, in 
painting, and Melos to colouring. It is certain that an ordinary- 
melody, in which the time is strongly marked, and the accents are 
well placed, has more effect than one that is deficient in those 
particulars, though more refined and uncommon, and set off with 
all the richness of harmony, and learning of modulation. 

Isaac Vossius, in his Dissertation, de Poematum Cantu, et 
viribus Rhythmi, has attributed to Rhythm all the miraculous 
powers of ancient music. 

As vocal music was chiefly cultivated among the ancient Greeks, 
the first part of these rhythmical observations shall be confined to 
lyric poetry. 

Aristides Quintilianus defines musical Rhythm ovonjpa ex xeovcov 
xa-ta tiva raw ovyxewsvcov (b). "The assemblage of many parts 
of time, which preserve a certain proportion to each other"; which, 
since the use of bars in music, may be called aliquot parts of a 
measure, or a given portion of time. For the better understanding 
of this definition, it is necessary to remember that the music in 
question was constantly sung to verses, the words of which were all 
composed of long and short syllables; that the short syllable was 
pronounced as quick again as the long, and the short syllable being 
regarded as one part or portion of this measure, the long was equal 
to two : so that, consequently, the sound which was applied to the 
long syllable, was equal in duration to two such sounds as were 
sung to short syllables, or, in other words, that one note was equal 
to two portions of time, and the other to one. It must likewise be 
remembered that the verses thus sung, were composed of a certain 
number of feet, formed by these long and short syllables differently 
combined, and that the Rhythm of the melody was regulated by 
these feet ; as, whatever was their length, they were always divided 
into two parts, equal or unequal, the first of which was called &QOIS, 
elevation, and the second foots, depression (c). In like manner the 
Rhythm of the melody, corresponding with these feet, was divided 
into two parts, equal or unequal, the first of which was called the 
down and up parts of a bar, expressed by beating down the hand or 
foot, and lifting it up. Thus far concerns vocal Rhythm ; what 
follows belongs to instrumental. 

As the notes of ancient music were constantly written over 
each syllable of the verses which were to be sung ; as the quantity 
of each of these syllables was perfectly known to musicians ; and 
as the duration of each sound was regulated by the syllables; it did 
not seem necessary that the time should be marked by any par- 
ticular sign or character. However, for the ease and convenience 
of the musician, a canon, or rule, was given of the Rhythm at the 
beginning of a lyric poem. This canon consisted of nothing but 
the numbers 1 and 2, that is, the Alpha and Beta of the Greek 
alphabet, disposed according to the order of the breves and longs 

(a) Tom. ii. p. 203. (b) Lib. L p. 31. Edit. Meibom. 

* ^ ^ ^ A &* m P 06 * 1 ^ seeEas to answer to a bar in music. A time, among the ancients, was a portion 
of that foot or bar ; as, mth us, a bar is divided into accented and unaccented parts. 



which cpmposed and divided each verse, according to the number 
of its feet. The Alpha, or unit, marked a breve, because it con- 
tained only one portion of time ; and the Beta, or binary, marked 
a long, being equal to two portions. Some of these poetical, or 
rhythmical canons, are still to be found in the Manual of 
Hephaestion (d). 

Rhythm in Latin was called numerus ; and this term, in process 
of time, was extended to the melody itself, subjected to certain 
numbers or rhythms, as appears from this line of Virgil : 

Numeros memini, si verba tenerem : 

If I knew the words, I could remember the tune well enough. The 
Romans had signs for rhythm, as well as the Greeks ; and these 
signs were not only called numerus, but cera, that is, number, or 
the mark for time. Numeri nota, says Nonius Marcellus. In this 
sense we find the word used in a verse of Lucilius : 

HCBC est ratio? perversa &ra! summa subducta improbe? 
Do you call that settling accounts'? such a confusion of figures? and 
the sum falsely cast up? 

Though the word &ra was at first only applied by musicians to 
the time, or measure of the melody, they afterwards made the same 
use of it as of numerus, to express the tune or melody itself ; and 
it has been thought that the word Air, or, as the Italians call it, 
Aria, which includes a certain piece of music of a peculiar rhythm, 
or cadence, is derived from cera. 

Such was the manner in which the ancients marked the measure 
in their written music ; but to make it still more sensible in the 
execution, they beat time in several different ways. The most 
common was by the motion of the foot, which was lifted up and 
beat down alternately, according to what we call common, or triple 
time. To regulate the time was generally the office of the music 
master or director, called PSOOZOQOS and xogvyouos, coryphaeus, 
because he was placed in the middle of the orchestra, among the 
musicians, and in an exalted and conspicuous situation, in order 
to be seen and heard the more easily by the whole band. 

The directors of the time were likewise called in Greek nodoxTvno* 
and fftodoyjoyoi, from the noise of their feet. In Latin they were 
called pedarii, podarii, and pedicularii, for the same reason. Their 
feet were generally furnished with wooden or iron sandals, in order 
to mark the time in a more distinct manner : these implements the 
Greeks called xQovyteia, xQova&a, xQovjcera / and the Latins pedicula 
scabella, or scabilla, because they resembled little pattens or clogs. 

But it was not only with the feet that the ancients beat the time, 
but with all the fingers of the right hand upon the hollow part of 
the left ; and he who marked the time or rhythm in this manner, 
was called manu-ductor. For this purpose they sometimes used 
oyster-shells, and the shells of other fish, as well as the bones of 
animals, in beating time, as we .do of castanets, tabors, &c. Both 
Hesychius, and the scholiast of Aristophanes, furnish passages to 

(d) This author lived in the time of the emperor Verus, in the second century. He was a gram- 
marian of Alexandria. The work alluded to is de re Metrica. Suidas, Jul. Capitolinus. 



confirm this assertion. What a noisy and barbarous music! All 
rhythm, and no sound. The drums and sistrums of the Idsei Dactyli 
could not have been more savage. 

Many ancient instruments were monotonous, and of little use, 
but to mark the measure ; such were the cymbalum and sistrum. 
But it would afford us no very favourable idea of the abilities of 
modern musicians, if they required so much parade and noise in 
keeping together. The more time is beaten, says M. Rousseau, the 
less it is kept ; and, in general, bad music, and bad musicians, 
stand in most need of such noisy assistance. 

^ However, if any thing like the power which ancient music is 
said to have had over the passions can be credited, it must have 
derived this power chiefly from the energy and accentuation of 
the rhythm. Aristides Quintilianus (e) gives a long list of different 
metres, with their several properties of calming or agitating the 
mind, according to the nature of the syllables, or feet of the verses, 
as w^ll as the sentiments which they were intended to express; and 
as it will afford the reader an opportunity of seeing how much stress 
was laid on this part of music, and how fanciful and ideal many of 
the distinctions seem to have been, I shall give the whole passage 
in English. 

"Measure, which begins by a down part of the metrical division, 
is calm and gentle ; whereas that which begins by an up part, 
expresses trouble and agitation. Full time, that is, composed of 
intire feet, is noble in its effect ; and that arising from catalectic 
verses, deficient in a syllable or note, if it be supplied by a short 
rest or pause, has more simplicity, but is less noble. Time of 
equal proportions, is graceful ; and that of odd numbers, or 
sesquialterate proportion, is more proper to excite commotion (f) 
Double time is a kind of mean betwixt the graceful and the turbulent. 
Among the movements of two even notes, if they are short, their 
effect is lively, impetuous, and proper for military .dances, called 
Pyrrhics, in which the dancers are armed ; and time, of which the 
movement is regulated by poetic feet composed of long syllables, is 
more grave, serious, and fit for hymns which are sung in honour 
of the gods, at festivals, and in sacrifices: the measure composed of 
a mixture of long and short notes, participates of the qualities of 
both these last mentioned." 

"Among the duplicate proportions, the Iambic and Trochaic 
^ the most vivacity and fire, and are peculiarly proper for 

dancing. Those called 'oe&ioi and owavroi, of which the Arsis 
answers to two long syllables, are full of dignity. Compound 
measures are more pathetic than simple ; and such as are confined 

(e) Lib. ii. p. 97. Edit Meibom. 

(/) The reader should here be informed, that, besides our common and triple time, they had 
measures of s,.and of 7 qual notes in a bar ; circumstances which must appear very exSaordmarv to 
modem musicians. By double time, Arist. Quint, means triple time, that i w2ch S SSS^art 
of tae bar was to the up, as 2 to i ; or in which one time of the bar was double to the other . So common 
time they called 4*4 because the bars admitted a division into two equal parts. In the same 
manner, the measure of 5 notes in a bar, was called Sesquialter, that is, of a to 3 : and that of 7 notes! 
^<*,OTof 3 to4,fwmthebaMbefcg<E^^ ana msw; or 7 notes, 


to one genus, move the passions much less than those which pass 
from one genus to another (g)." 

After giving these characteristics of time, Aristides proceeds to 
prove their reality and foundation in nature, by drawing a parallel 
between some particular species of Rhythm, and the gait and 
actions of man. He pretends, for instance, "that the motion which 
answers to the Spondaic measure, is a sign of moderation and 
fortitude ; that Trochaics, or Paeans, indicate a greater .degree of 
fire and vivacity ; that the Pyrrhic has something low and ignoble 
in it ; that an irregular velocity implies dissoluteness and disorder ; 
and finally, that a movement resulting from all these, is wild and 

With respect to the excellence and effects of ancient music, it 
is very difficult to steer between the extremes of credulity and 
scepticism. Such enthusiasts as Aristides Quintilianus, by 
asserting too much, have thrown a ridicule upon the subject, and 
inclined us, perhaps, to believe too little. The simplicity of ancient 
melody, and its slavish dependence upon poetry, may probably 
have given birth to some of these fancies. But however that may 
have been, this seems the place in which to give some account of 
those poetic feet, and Rhythms, upon which the ancients laid so 
much stress. For, that they thought the knowledge of poetical 
feet, and even rhetorical, necessary to a musician, is certain from 
the pains that have been taken, especially by Roman musical 
writers, to explain them in all the treatises that are come down 
to us. 

A poetical Foot consists of a certain number of syllables, which 
constitutes a distinct part of a verse, as a Bar does of an air in 
music. An Hexameter verse consists of six of these feet, a 
Pentameter of five. 

The Spondee, Iambus, Trochee, and Pyrrhic or Periambus, are 
dissyllabic feet, or of two syllables each. 

The Spondee consists of two long syllables (h), as 

An Iambic foot has one short and one long 
syllable (i). Oeov, lsya>. potens f amas. "" 

The Trochee has one long and one short syllable, as 
gratus, musa. " " 



(g) The French seem to have had this precept in view in composing their old serious operas, in 
which the time is for ever changing. 

(h) There is no true Spondee in the English language, as every word of two syllables has an accent 
L the first or second syllable, which renders it longer than the other. The ancient Spondean or 
. * ^ y Olympus i ^ ^' * ~ *' '- 

libation air composed by Olympus in the Old Enharmonic, without the quarter tone, was, however, 
in this measure, consisting of slow even notes, and the foot derived its name from this use of it 

(t) Iambic verses were originally used in satire, with which they are often synonymous in ancient 



The Pyrrhic, or Periambus, two short syllables, as 
mare, pro bus. w 

quiver (k). 

The Dactyl, Anap&st, Molossus, Tribrach, Bacchius, Anti- 
bacchius, Amphibrachys, and Creticus, are Trissyllabics, or of three 
syllables. To some of these we have no equivalents ; however, the 
Dactyl, consisting of one long and two short syllables ~ uu 

is very common in our language, as tenderly, 

hastily; and we have verses composed of dactyls as well as the 
Greeks and Romans: 

My j banks they are j furnish'd with | bees, 
Whose | murmur in- | vltes one to | sleep. 

These may be compared with the following celebrated passages 
in Homer and Virgil, where the sound is manifestly and intention- 
ally, an echo to the sense. Homer, (Odyssey, book xi) after he 
has described in labouring Spondees the slow and painful manner 
in which Sysiphus rolled the stone up-hill, makes use of nimble 
Dactyls in describing its swift descent: 

ejreiTO. jreSovSe /cuXivfiero Aaa; ai/cu8>js. 

And Virgil, lib. viid. v 596, describes in pure Dactyls the 
galloping of the horse : 

- It clamor, ei agmtne f'dcfo 
Quddrupedante putrlm somfa qualit unguld cawpum. 

The Anapaest has two short and one long syllable ; as sapiens, 

recubans,""~ (I J J|f || Isaac Vossius, de Viribus Rhythmi, 

p. 56, has said that the French have no Dactyls, nor the English 
a perfect Anap&st in their language. Let the French speak for 
themselves ; but as to our own part of the charge, it is easily 
confuted by the mere mention of the words recommend and 

I shall enumerate the rest of the poetic feet of the ancients, 
merely to shew what resources they had in varying their melody 
by different combinations of two kinds of notes. 

The Molossus has three long syllables, """ 
The Tribrach, three short, uuu 

(k) In our language, though it iTgoverned almostTentirely by Accent, an accented and a long 
syllable are by no means to be confounded, at least in setting words to music. Mr. Stillinfifleet 
Principles and Power of Harmony, has given the word level as a Trochaic, that is, a word in which thi 
first syllable is long, the second short ; but Trochaics in English seem to be such words as silent 
charming, kindred ; and level, revel, quiver, river, correspond more exactly with the Pyrrhic or Periam- 
bus of the ancients, being composed of two short syllables. 

7 6 


;hius, which is the reverse of 
has one short, and two long syllables, 

The Antibacchius, two long and one short, 

The Bacchius, which is the reverse of the Dactyl, f 

~~ y ^ ' 

Amphibrachys, one short, one long, and one short, -/f , 
or one lon between two short a ~ M .17 

or one long between two short, 
Creticus, one short between two long, ~ u ~ (a) F II T 

The Quadrisyllables are compounded of feet already mentioned. 

The Proceleusmaticus is composed of four short ^p ___ 
syllables, or or two Pyrrhics, wwww ft> T T f T 

The Choriambus, two short between two long, or -f p m*^*-* 
the junction of the Trochaus and Iambus, ~" v ~ ft iT I 1 * =1 ' 

Epitrite ; of this foot there are four species: 1. the Iambus and 
Spondee : 2. the Trochee and Spondee ~~~: 3. the Spondee 
and Iambus ~""~: and 4. the Spondee and Trochee w . 

The Paan or Jteow, wMch is the contrary of this last, consists of 
one long syllable, and three short : 

Servius reckons more than a hundred different kinds of verse 
among the Latins ; and, according to Hephaestion, the number 
was still more considerable among the Greeks ; consequently their 
melody might have been varied in as many different ways. There 
is not, however, the least appearance of the ancients having had 
. in their vocal music that kind of. measure which we call pointed ; 
nor did they admit rests in the middle of a verse, though at the 
end of catalectic, or broken verses, the singer was allowed to make 
up the deficiency by a silence, equivalent to a rest in modern music; 
and though they had so great a variety of feet in their poetry, many 
of those already instanced are unfit for modern melody. 

After all the researches which I have been able to make, it must 
be acknowledged that the subject of ancient music, in general, still 
remains, and probably ever will remain, involved in much difficulty 
and uncertainty. It is fortunate, however, for those who wish to 
view as near as possible this dark angle of antiquity, that the 
prospect happens to be the clearest just in that part where all its 
admirers assure us it is best worth examining ; for however 
ignorant we may be of the Melody of ancient music, the Rhythm, 
or time of that melody, being regulated entirely, as has been already 
observed, by the metrical feet, must always be as well known to 


us as the prosody and construction of the verse ; so that we have 
nothing to do but to apply to the long and short syllables any two 
notes, one of which is double the length of the other, in order to 
know as exactly as if we heard, in what manner any particular 
kind of metre was set by the ancients with respect to Time and 
Cadence, that boasted Rhythm, which we are so often told was 
every thing in their music. It may therefore afford some gratifica- 
tion to the curiosity of those who have never considered the poetry 
of the ancients in this point of view, if I produce a few examples, 
which will, perhaps, help to throw a little light upon the dramatic 
music of the Greeks, and give some idea of the rhythmical resources 
of the poet-musician in one of the most interesting provinces of 
his art. 

The first example shall be of the Iambic verse, which chiefly 
prevails in the Greek tragedies, and in which the dialogue and 
soliloquy, indeed all but the chorus or ode, were generally written. 
I shall content myself with applying notes of correspondent lengths 
to the syllables, and marking the time ; leaving the Melody to the 
imagination of the reader. Should I presume to supply it, I might 
expect to be reproached as another Salmoneus for my temerity. 

Demensl qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen, &c. (Z). 

ist Foot 23 456 

P HP r IV r| p 


Ai-irwv tv* 'A | 8175 X"P*k 1 K** rat 0* v, | &C. (*w). 

These lines are the beginning of the Hecuba of Euripides, and 
were sung by the ghost of Polydorus (n). The bars in the verse are 

(J) Salmoneus was a king of Elis 
Who mock'd with empty sounds and mimic rays, 
Heav'ns awful thunder, and the lightning's blaze. 

PITT'S Virg. Book vi. 

(m) This measure when pure and unmixt, consisted of six Iambic feet, as 
eques \ sonan \tever\ bera \bit un\ gula. 

Such verses, however, seldom occur. The laws of this metre only required that the second^ 
fourth, and last feet should be Iambics ; in the other places, Spondees, Anapasts, and Dactyls, were 
admitted. This metre answers to our Alexandrine, or verse of twelve syllables ; but more exactly in 
the number and kind of feet, than in its cadence, or general effect upon the ear. The pause after the 
third foot, so essential to a melodious Alexandrine, has no place but by accident, in the Iambic, which 
runs more swiftly, and has a more prosaic effect. This, undoubtedly, led the ancients to measure it 
per dipodiam, or by double feet (see HOT. Art. Poet. v. 252, pes citus : unde, &c.) which answer to double 
bars in modern music. Ariosto wrote some comedies in this Iambic measure. One of his lines will 
perhaps be as exact a representation of the ancient Iambic as can be produced, in point of cadence. 

Per dio son qua \ si in pensier di \ tornarmene. 

The following A lexandrine of Spenser may also serve for the same purpose. 
So in his angry courage fairly pacified. 

(n) From the drear mansions of the dead, and gates 
Of darkness horrible, I come, where reigns 
Remote from all the Gods, Hell's awful king. 


only to show how the ancients divided it into three portions of 
two feet in each : but the bars of Time, the Thesis or beat, must 
always fall in the middle of the foot: u | ~ f | f*. For the sake of 
distinguishing the feet more clearly, I have barred them singly ; 
though it would have been more conformable to the ancient manner 
of scanning this kind of verse, and probably more expressive of its 
cadence and effect, to have made but three bars in each line (o). ^ 
Besides this metre, the dialogue admitted, occasionally, Trochaic 
verses. They are generally introduced in scenes of hurry and dis- 
order ; being, as Aristotle has described them, and as their name 
implies, a voluble and dancing measure (p). A character which the 
reader will not be inclined to dispute, when he compares the 
ancient Trochaic with a measure exactly corresponding to it in our 
own language, but which we have not yet admitted into our tragedy. 

nov 'ow ovros, 6? ire^vye \ r'Sv/tov eic So^v gtyo? (q) : 

This is a pure Trochaic, and is precisely in the measure of our 

Jolly mortals fill yotir glasses, 
Noble deeds are done by wine. 

The whole difference is, that the ancient Trochaics were written 
in one line : but this is merely to the eye; for they really consist of 
two verses ; the last syllable of the fourth foot being, I believe, 
constantly the end of a word. 

Mr. West, in his translation of the Iphigenia in Tauris of 
Euripides, has given a whole scene of Trochaics in the correspondent 
English measure (r). A single line of the original, with his 
translation, will be a sufficient example of Trochaic Rhythm. 

5* HvSti TToXZ rcus | rovfi* *x& v M' ao-/xa - ros- 

From the reach of this contagion | fly 1 I warn you all to fly ! 

(o) The Iambics of Greek Comedy differ from these only in a little more liberty of construction : 
those of the Roman, in Plautus and Terence, are so licentious, as often not to differ perceptibly from 
Prose, even in the judgment of Cicero himself ; propter similitudinem sermonis, sic seepe sunt abjecti, 
ut nonnunquam vis in his numerus et versus sentixi possit. Orator, cap. 55. 

(p) Tpoxepov opx>j<rucwTepav. Arist. Rhet. 3. 4. et Poet. 4. 

(a) Eurip. Orest. 1539. Orestes runs upon the stage with a sword in his hand, in pursuit of a 
Phrygian slave, who had offended *"'"\ crying out, literally, " Where is he who ran away from my sword 
out of the house ? " These verses are composed of eight feet, wanting one syllable to complete the 
last Trochee, which, in the following example, is expressed by a crotchet rest, to fill up the time, as was 
practised by the ancients in setting these deficient verses. See A. Quint, p. 40. concerning these rests, 
or vacua Tempora. The Trochaic, like the Iambic measure, admitted the mixture of other feet ; 
but contrary to Iambics, thejfrd, third, and fifth places were in this metre the most sacred. It may be 
observed, however, of both, that this licence was not such as by any means destroyed the general 
character and pace of the verse. 

(r) He seems, however, to have been mistaken, in supposing that Trochaics were introduced in 
this scene, " to give an air of solemnity ', &c." Nothing could be more remote from the character of 
this metre. But it was rather adapted to occasions of urgent business, and anxious preparation, such 
as are the subject of this scene. Mr. Gray, in his Ode on Poesy, has three times admitted this measure 
in the three epodes ; in the first epode, where Venus and the Graces are dancing, it is certainly used 
with great propriety and beauty, after 

" Frisking light in frolic measures." 

In the other two epodes it was matter of necessity, the subject would hardly have led him to it. 



Such were the metres appropriated to the dialogue of the 
a,ncient tragedy, and such must have been the Rhythms or Times of 
the music to which they were set. 

I shall close these observations with one example more, taken 
from the choral part of the drama, that part which, as will be 
shewn in the ninth section, was more particularly musical ; the 
circle marked out for the musician, where all the magic of his art, 
with all the wonders of Rhythm, were to be displayed. Of the 
metre of this part, I shall only observe, in general, that it seems 
to have admitted of such an unbounded variety in the mixture 
and arrangement of feet, and to have been fettered by so few 
restraints, that, to a modern ear, it is frequently not to be distin- 
guished from a smooth and elegant prose. We can therefore be 
certain of nothing, concerning the music applied to the ancient 
chorus, except the relative lengths, of the notes as they are 
determined by the prosody : in what manner the ancients divided 
them by beats, I do not even presume to guess ; and I believe it 
may be proposed to the musical reader as a problem, worthy, for 
its difficulty, at least, if not for its importance, to exercise his 
sagacity, how the following specimen should be barred, in order to 
render it as little tormenting to the ear as possible. 

FTrrrrrrrrrr r r 

Q ye-ve-at /SpoTtop, 'ws, 'vjads 't <ra Ka.1 TO 

r r r r 

Z co eras 'e va. pit? /<.& 

-t* r r r r^^ 

Tts yap, Tts 'a vi)p irXe ov 

?v _ 
p r r r r p [== 

Tas 'ciJ-fiat ^/io vl as <j>e pet, 

r r r rr ? FT 

H TO trov TOV *o-^-crov So ^cetv 

r p r rr P^ 

Kat S6^-aw ^ a TTOK Xt i/at; (s) 

(s) So#Aoc. Otftit^. Tyr. v. 1196. 

hapless state of human race ! 

How quick the fleeting shadows pass 

Of transitory bliss below, 

Where all is vanity and woe \-Francklin. 



The most striking circumstance in all these examples, is the 

Eerpetual change of time, occasioned by the mixture of unequal 
jet (t). To the eye, indeed, the Recitative of the old French 
opera presents a similar appearance ; but where no strict time is 
observed, the changes are less perceptible to the ear. No circum- 
stance relative "to ancient music has been more frequently and 
triumphantly opposed to the modern, in proof of superiority, than 
its inviolable adherence to the fixed quantity of syllables (u). It is 
perhaps equally difficult to disprove this, and to conceive how such 
a music could be rigorously executed, without throwing both the 
hearers and performers into convulsions. If, however, this was 
the case, we need no longer wonder at the noisy expedients, to 
which the ancients had recourse in beating time ; for I believe the 
best modern band would find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep 
exactly together in the execution of a Greek Chorus, though 
assisted by all the clatter of an ancient Coryph&us. 

Upon the whole, perhaps, even the imperfect view which I have 
here attempted to give of the rhythmical resources of ancient music, 
may be sufficient to warrant something more than a doubt, whether, 
after all that Isaac Vossius (x), and many others have said, a 
fixed prosody, and the rigorous, unaccommodating length of 
syllables be any recommendation of a language for music ; that is, 
whether a music formed and moulded closely upon such a language, 
must not necessarily be cramped and poor, in comparison of that 
free, unshackled variety, that independent range of rhythmical 
phrase, which constitutes so considerable a part of the riches of 
modern music (y). Let the most inventive composer try to set 
half a dozen Hexameters, pure Iambics, or any other verses that 
will fall into regular common or triple time, and he will soon find 
that no resources of melody are sufficient to disguise or palliate the 
insipid and tiresome uniformity of the measure ; and as for any 
thing like expression, we may as well expect to be affected by the 
mechanical strut of a soldier upon the parade. In other metres, 
such as those already given in the preceding examples, where feet 
of different times are intermixed, some variety is indeed acquired ; 
but it is a misplaced variety, which, without obviating the tiresome 
effect of a confinement to no more than two lengths of notes, adds 
to it that of an aukward and uncouth arrangement: the ear is still 
fatigued with uniformity where it requires change, and distracted 
by change where it requires uniformity. 

(t) See Reflex. Crit. of the abb6 du Bos, torn. iii. 2. p. 33. 

(u) In Versu quidem Theatra iota exdamant, si suit una syllaba brevior aut longior. Gic. Oral, ad 
Brut. 52. 

(x) This author, De Viribus Rhythmi, p. 128, advises the modems, if they would have any music 
fit to be heard, to dismiss all their barbarous variety of notes, and retain only minims and crotchets. 
This would, indeed, be inoentis frugibus, gland* vesci I 

(y) I am happy to find an ingenious writer of the same opinion. " Music," says Mr. Webb, 
" borrows sentiments from poetry, and lends her movements, and consequently must prefer that 
mode of versification, which leaves her most at liberty to consult her own genius." Obs. on Poet, 
and Mus. p. 131. 

VOI,. i. 6 8l 


Modern music, on the contrary, by its division into equal bars, 
and its unequal subdivision of these bars by notes of various 
lengths, unites to the pleasure which the ear is by nature formed to 
receive from a regular and even measure, all the variety and 
expression which the ancients seem to have aimed at by sudden and 
convulsive changes of time, and a continual conflict of jarring and 
irreconcileable Rhythms (z). 

It is evident, from the proofs already given, that the Greeks 
and Romans had but two different degrees of long and short notes, 
and even the old lozenge and square characters still used in the 
Canto Fermo of the Romish church, under the denomination of 
Gregorian notes, are but of two kinds : the time of these may, 
indeed, have been accelerated or retarded, but still the same pro- 
portion must have been preserved between them ; and all their 
variety must have arisen from different combinations of these two 
kinds of notes, such as any two of ours could afford : as semibreves 
and minims, minims and crotchets, or crotchets and quavers (a). 

This accounts for the facility with which even the common 
people of Greece could discover the mistakes, if any were committed, 
in the length and shortness of the syllables, both with respect to 
the poetry, and the music ; a point of history in which all writers 
agree ; and this seems to confirm what has been already said in 
the fifth section : that besides the intervals peculiar to the melody, 
Rhythm, or time, must have contributed to characterize the modes, 
though it has no kind of connection with our flat and sharp keys; 
and this gives an idea quite different from what our modern modes, 
taken as keys, and our music, in general, furnish. Tartini* upon 
this subject says, that we make the prosody subservient to the 
music, not the music to the prosody ; and adds, "that as by the 
laws prescribed to the ancient musicians, they were obliged to 
preserve rigorously in their music the quantity of syllables, it was 
impossible to protract a vowel, in singing, beyond the time which 

(z) Nothing seems more essential to musical pleasure, than the division of melody into eq-ua.1 
portions of time, or bars. Quintilian attributed to this natural mensuration of the ear, the first produc- 
tion of poetry : Pamaaurium mensurd, et similiter decurrentium spatiorum observation ess* 
eeneratum. Hexameters and Iambics appear to have been the most ancient Greek metres ; and the 
latter, if we may credit Horace, A rt. Poet. 253, were at first pure and uncompounded. The mixture of 
unequal feet, and the Dithyrambic licence of lyric poetry, were later refinements. The progress of 
Musical Rhythm was, of course, the same. Plutarch expressly says, in the dialogue de Musicd, that the 
compositions of Terpander, and other old masters, were set to Hexameters, chiefly of Homer ; that is, 
they were in regular common time. The change and intermixture of Rhythms is spoken of as the 
innovation of modern artists. Plato rejects these complicated measures from the music of his Republic: 
and even Isaac Vossius, the great champion of ancient Rhythm, who asserts that " no man can be a 
good musician that is not a good drummer" owns, p. n, that vitiosum 6- incompositum imprimis, fiet 
carmen t si duorum, trium, quatuor, pluHumve temporum pedes, veluti Pyrrichii, Iambi, Dactyli, Paones, 
Jonici, simul copulentur : though this is done continually, not only in the lyric part, but even in the 
dialogue of the ancient drama. < 

(a) Modern " Music," says Mr. Harris, Disc, on Mus. Paint, and Poet. p. 73, ist Edit. " has many 
different lengths of notes in common use, all which may be infinitely compounded, even in any one time 
or measure. Poetry, on the other hand, has but two lengths or quantities, a long syllable and a short, 
which is its half ; and all the variety of verse arises from such feet and metres, as these two species of 
syllables, by being compounded, can be made to produce." What is here said of verse, is equally 
applicable to ancient music, which was strictly confined to verse : and it seems as if whole pages could 
not place the difference between the Rhythm of ancient and modern music, in a clearer point of view. 

* Besides achieving fame as a violinist, teacher and composer, Tartini (1692-1770) wrote many 
books on musical subjects, including a Treatise on Music published in 1754. 



belonged to a syllable: we, on the contrary, prolong the vowels 
through many bars, though in reading they are oftentimes short." 
Tartini, however, in pure courtesy, allows to the ancients a 
discretionary power of making syllables longer or shorter than 
rigorous time would admit, in order to diversify expression, and to 
enforce the passion implied by the words (6); but if time was 
rigorously beaten, in the manner the ancients have related, it is not 
very easy to subscribe to this opinion. 

And now, having explained the nature, difference, and proper- 
ties of ancient Rhythm, I shall bestow a few words on an 
examination of the modern, and endeavour to shew what it has in 
common with the ancient, and what peculiar to itself (c)> 

We no longer know Rhythm now under its ancient name; how- 
ever, it has been continued, with a small change of pronunciation, 
merely to express the final cadence of verses, or the agreement and 
similarity of sound in the last syllables of two or more lines in 
poetry ; being at present what we call Rhyme : whereas the 
proportion subsisting between the different parts of a melody are 
called time, measure, movement. 

And when we come to examine this proportion, we find that it 
only consists of two kinds, differently modified ; and these two are 
known by the names of common time, consisting of equal numbers, 
and triple time, of unequal. 

Tartini has whimsically deduced all measure from the propor- 
tions of the octave and its fifth (d). "Common time, or measure," 
says he, "arises from the octave, which is as 1 : 2 ; triple time arises 
from the fifth, which is as 2 : 3. These, adds he, are the utmost 
limits within which we can hope to find any practicable proportions 
for melody. Indeed, many have attempted to introduce other 
kinds of measure, which, instead of good effects, have produced 
nothing but the greatest confusion ; and this must always be the 
case. Music has been composed of five equal notes in a bar, but 
no musician has yet been found that is able to execute it." 

By the improvement of instrumental music, and indeed by the 
liberties which we have taken with poetry in singing, we have 
multiplied notes, and accelerated the measure. Instead of one 
sound to one syllable, or one portion of time for a short syllable, 
and two for a long one, we frequently divide and subdivide the 
time of these several portions into all their aliquot parts, and some- 
times into incommensurable quantities. 

(6) Trot, di Mus. p. 139. 

(c) Mr. Marpurg has published a very useful work for his countrymen in Germany, upon this 
subject, under the title of nleitttng jut &ineompwtion, Berlin, 1758, Introduction to Vocal 
Music, in which he has compared the pronunciation and versification of the Latin, German, and 
Italian languages. A strict adherence, however, to the rhythmical laws of Greece and Rome 
would not enrich our melody ; though accurate rules for English prosody might be settled by musical 
characters ; and as prosody comprehends not only the rules of pronunciation, but the laws of versin* 
cation, a treatise on the subject, as far as it concerns vocal music, would be a most useful work to our 
young lyric composers, as well as to foreigners, wp frequently injure that poetry, which their melody 
jshould enforce and explain. . 

,(<*) Jrat. diMus. p. 114, 



After the invention of musical characters for time, different 
from those in poetry, the study of their relations became one of the 
most laborious and perplexed parts of a musician's business. These 
characters were of different value and velocity, according to other 
characters placed at the beginning of a musical composition, and 
likewise frequently occurring in the course of a piece, to anounce 
a change of measure : as from common time to triple, from quick 
to slow, or the contrary. These characters were called Moods, but 
they were so extremely embarrassing and ill understood, till the 
invention of bars, by which musical notes were divided into equal 
portions, that no two theorists agreed in the definition of them. 

These modes, by which the kind of movement, with respect to 
quick and slow, as well as the proportions of the notes, used to be 
known, serve for no other purpose, since technical terms, chiefly 
taken from the Italian language and music, have been adopted, 
than to mark the number and kind of notes in each bar. 

But by this invention of musical characters for time, and the use 
of bars, we have certainly advanced in the composition and 
performance of instrumental music, by giving to it more energy 
and accentuation ; it has now a cadence and feet of its own, more 
marked and sensible than those of poetry, by which it used to move. 

We have also, in our Airs, a distinct species of music for poetry, 
wholly different from Recitative and Chanting ; for in these we are 
less tied down to stated measure than the ancients, being only 
governed by the accent and cadence of the words. However, our 
florid-song, it cannot be dissembled, is not always sufficiently 
subservient to poetry ; for in applying music to words, it frequently 
happens that the finest sentiments and most polished verses of 
modern languages are injured and rendered unintelligible, by an 
inattention to Prosody. Even the simple and plain rides of giving 
a short note to a short syllable, a long to a long ; and of accentuating 
the music by the measure and natural cadence of the verse, 
which, it may be supposed, the mere reading would point out to a 
good ear and understanding, are but too frequently neglected. 

Modern melody requires, perhaps, more than a single sound to 
a single syllable ; and a fine voice deserves, now and then, a long 
note to display its sweetness ; but this should be done upon long 
syllables, and to open vowels, and, perhaps, in general, after the 
words have been once simply and articulately sung, for the hearer 
to know what passion is intended to be expressed, or sentiment 
enforced, by future divisions. 

Expletives, particles, and words of small importance, are forced 
into notice by careless or ignorant composers, who, only intent 
upon mere music, pay no regard to her sister, poetry. But then, 
poetry, in revenge, is as little solicitous about musical effects ; for 
symmetry of air, or simplicity of design, are generally so little 
thought of, that every heterogenous idea, which can be hitched 
into rhyme, is indiscriminately crowded into the same song. Indeed 


music and poetry, like man and wife, or other associates, are 
best asunder, if they cannot agree ; and on many occasions, it 
were to be wished, that the partnership were amicably dissolved. 

Salinas tells us, from St. Augustine, that poets and musicians 
have ever been at strife concerning long and short syllables, accents, 
and quantity, since they have ceased to be united in one and the 
same person, and have set up different interests. 

There is some poetry so replete with meaning, so philosophical, 
instructive, and sublime, that it becomes wholly enervated by being 
drawled out to a tune, which affects no part of the head, but the ear. 

And there is, again, some kind even of instrumental music, so 
divinely composed, and so expressively performed, that it wants no 
words to explain its meaning : it is itself the language of the heart 
and of passion, and speaks more to both in a few notes, than any 
other language composed of clashing consonants, and insipid 
vowels, can do in as many thousand. 

And, upon the whole, it seems as if poetry were more 
immediately the language of the head, and music that of the heart; 
or, in other words, as if poetry were the properest vehicle of 
instruction, and modulated sound that of joy, sorrow, and innocent 
pleasure. "Let the musician," says M. Rousseau, "have as many 
images or sentiments to express as you please, with few simple 
ideas: for the passions only sing, the understanding speaks (e)." 

But notwithstanding both poetry and prosody are so frequently 
injured by injudicious composers, it must not be imagined that in 
our simple airs of the gavot and minuet kind, we have no musical 
Rhythm, or that it always clashes with the poetical. Innumerable 
instances may be given from well known English songs, where the 
cadence of the verse, and even the pronunciation of each syllable is 
carefully preserved by the air. For though our time-table furnishes 
six different degrees of long and short notes, without points, yet, if 
the divisions in songs designed to display a particular talent for 
the difficult execution be excepted, we seldom use more than two 
kinds of notes in the same air. 

Mirth, admit me of thy crew, by Handel, as well as several 
popular songs by Dr. Arne, Mr. Jackson, and others, are sufficiently 
conformable to poetical numbers and Rhythm, to satisfy the 
greatest admirers of ancient simplicity, or even such as love poetry 
better than music, from whom complaints of non-conformity 
generally proceed. 

Isaac Vossius* says it is now above a thousand years since 
musicians have lost that great power over the affections, which 
arose only from the true science and use of Rhythm ; and he accuses 

(e) Diet, dff Musiquc, Art. ACCENT. - 

* 1618-1688 (?). He was made a D.C.L. (Oxon,) in 1670 and appointed a Prebend of the Royal 
Chapel, Windsor in 1673. His book DA Poematum Canto et Viribus Rythmi was published 
anonymously in 1673. 



modern music of such a want of time and accent, as to be all of one 
style and colour (/). We will not defend the age in which Vossius 
wrote from the charge, nor the music of the present serious opera in 
France ; but the compositions of Italy and Germany are certainly 
free from the censure, as music is now more divided into phrases 
and sentences, and time is more marked and more easily felt than it 
has ever been since the days of Guido. What it was before, is not 
very well known ; but to confess the truth, it is my opinion, that 
whatever it has comparatively lost in some particulars, it has gained 
in others, as I shall endeavour to manifest in the course of this 

CO Adeoque temporum vanetate destwtur hujus JEtatis Musica, ut v#e de ea did posset, unius 
propemodunt earn esse coloris et saporis. De Poemat. Cantu et Virib. Rhvthmi, p. 86. But true 
English ne* should certainly not be accused of want of accent : for, like the French, according to 
M. Rousseau, in quick movements, it resembles un corps dur et angukux qui rouie sur le pant. 


Section VII 
Of the Practice of Melopoda 

IT was long and ardently wished, that a collection of some of the 
most" beautiful melodies of antiquity could have been found 

among the ancient manuscripts that have escaped the ravages 
of time, in order to determine what kind of music it was, of which 
such wonders have been related ; as examples would have been 
more decisive in proving the truth or falsehood of the effects that 
have been attributed to it, and its comparative excellence with the 
modern, than the strongest arguments that can be drawn from 
history, or the dark and dry musical treatises that are come down 
to us. But remains of this kind are not easily found : however, a 
few are still subsisting, of which I shall give a minute account. 

At the end of a Greek edition of the astronomical poems of 
Aratus, called Phenomena, and their Scholia, published at Oxford, 
in 1672, the anonymous editor (), among several other pieces, has 
enriched the volume with three hymns, which he supposed to have 
been written by a Greek poet called Dionysius, of which the first 
is addressed to the Muse Calliope, the second to Apollo, and the 
third to Nemesis ; and these hymns are accompanied with the notes 
of ancient music, to which they used to be sung. 

This precious manuscript, which was found in Ireland, among 
the papers of the famous archbishop Usher, was bought, after his 
decease, by Mr. Bernard, fellow of St. John's college, who com- 
municated it to the editor, together with remarks and illustrations 
by the reverend Mr. Edmund Chilmead, of Christ-church, who 
likewise reduced the ancient musical characters to those in common 
use. It appears by the notes, that the music of these hymns was 
composed in the Lydian mode, and Diatonic genus. 

Vincenzo Galilei, father of the great Galileo, first published 
these hymns, with their Greek notes, in his Dialogues upon Ancient 
and Modern Music, printed at Florence, 1581, folio. He assures 
us, that he had them from a Florentine gentleman, who copied them 
very accurately from an ancient Greek manuscript, preserved in the 
library of cardinal St. Angelo, at Rome, which MS. likewise contained 
the treatises of music by Aristides Quintilianus, and Bryennius, 
since published by Meibomius and Dr. Wallis. The Florentine 
edition of these hymns entirely agrees with that printed at Oxford. 

(a) Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graca, tells us, that it -was Dr. John Fell, afterwards bishop of Oxford, 
to whom the literary world is indebted for this elegant and accurate edition of Aratus. 



In 1602, Hercules Bottrigari mentioned the same hymns in his 
harmonical discourse, called Melone, printed at Ferrara, in 4to. But 
he derived his knowledge of these pieces, only from the Dialogues 
of Galilei ; however, he inserted, in the beginning of his book, some 
fragments of them in common notes ; but they were disfigured by 
a number of typographical errors. 

At length, in the year 1720, M. Burette published these three 
hymns, in the Memoirs of the Academy des Inscriptions, tome V. 
from a copy found at the end of a Greek manuscript in the king of 
France's library at Paris, No. 3221,, which likewise contained the 
musical treatises of Aristides Quintilianus, and of Bacchius senior. 
But though the words were confused, and confounded one with 
another, they appeared much more complete in this manuscript than 
elsewhere, particularly the hymn to Apollo, which had six verses 
more at the beginning ; and that to Nemesis, which, though deficient 
at the end in all the other editions, v/as here entire, having fourteen 
verses, exclusive of the six first. 

I have been the more solicitous to trace the manner in which 
these curious fragments were discovered, in order to afford my 
reader all possible satisfaction with respect to their authenticity. 
Indeed they have been sifted, collated, and corrected by the most 
able critics in the Greek language, as well as the most skilful 
musicians of this and the last century : I shall therefore avail 
myself of all their labours ; and, after presenting the reader with a 
copy of the original manuscript in the form it was at first discovered, 
that is, with the Greek musical characters over the words, I shall 
insert the same music in equivalent modem notes ; and, lastly, shall 
venture to give an English paraphrastical translation of each hymn, 
with remarks upon the whole,* 


< < <r 


i M M 


Z 2 Z E Z Z i' t 

AVQYJ 8s ocov aa'ahoscov 

M ZE i 0- /> M <f><r 

* Bumey's transcription of these Hymns differs from that by modern authorities not only in 
the actual notes, but in Rhythm. There is such a difference of opinion amongst the experts as to the 
correct transcription of Greek music that it seems impossible to arrive at any definite conclusions 
as to the rights or wrongs of the matter. 

In an article in the Musical Quarterly for October, 1919 (vol. 4, No. 4, part x), Mr. Phillips Barry 
throws doubt on the authenticity of these Hymns. He claims that the structure of them all is penta- 
chordal with a definite close on the Tonic. (This might be so, but it is difficult to see why a penta- 
chordal structure proves the forgery of the Hymns as the early, or as Burney calls it, "The Old 
Enharmonic," scale was of a pentachordal character). He writes : " The tetrachord was the bed- 
rock of melodic composition. The unanimous testimony of scores and musicography is to this effect, 
and establishes as an inviolable rule, the close on the inferior dominant." 

He goes on to say that the hymns are " notated in a mixed rotation, the characters of which are 
taken from both vocal and instrumental diagrams." According to him the composer of these hymns 
got his knowledge of Greek musical notation from the diagram of Alypius and confused the two 
notations. Despite this, most authorities admit the hymns as genuine. 




<y p M p cr <ft p 

Kakkiojteia oocpa, 

$ E(T <r <r <r <r E R 
Movocov nQoxarays 
R <J o- p M i M 

M i E Z E M p <r M 

^taroi;? yore, J^Ate rtaiav, 

M c Z M $ <r cr 

Evfievete stageae poi (&). 


A et - 5e, Mov-<ra, 

X->7, MoX- 


fie <rwv"a7r f aX 

wy, E 

4>pe - j/ay 


ret a <ro <jba, Mov - crwv 

', K<u 

flj-j ilj jl.i M'' JjL jNj Jl< jLJJ 

ra f Aa -TOVS yo-i'e, A>j Xt-e, Ilat av! Eu /xe-vets irap core /tot! 

HYMN to the Muse CALLIOPE. 

Muse belov'd, Calliope divine, 
The first in rank among the tuneful Nine, 
Guide thou my hand and voice, and let my lyre 
Re-echo back the notes thy strains inspire. 

And thou, great leader of the sacred band, 
Latona's son, at whose sublime command 
The spheres are tun'd, whom Gods and men declare 
Sovereign of song, propitious hear my pray'r. 

'(&) In the copy of these hymns, published by M. Burette, from the manuscript in the king of 
France's library, at Paris, the notes expressed by the small letters 'C p <r ate all capitals, like those 
in the printed diagrams of Alypius ; and Vincenzo Galilei observes, that Hypate Meson, which in the 
Lydian mode is C, 'was expressed by Alypius, not only with a small sigma, but a capital, and sometimes 
by this character C. The same thing happened likewise to Parhypatc Meson, and to Mese. Dial, 
delta Musica Antica e M oderna, p. 97. 

(c) In the French MS. this is G$. 

(d) In Burette this is D. 
(*) Oxford MS. 


xai novros, xat nvoiat, 
if (pfioyyoi T OQvi&rav' 
de apoe nuas ftawsiv 


f Evq>ij t ustTQ) nas 

These six verses are not 

in the Oxford or Italian 


9 cr <rar t <r p <r <fr <r 

XiovoflAetpaQOfi nctrsQ dove 
^ M M M Mr^M 1 M 
Podosooav off dvrvya n&A&v 
M t M pMt 21 Z 
Uravoig vn l%veooi facoxeis, 
M Z M Z I'M t i* M Z 
XQVOSCLIOW dyaAAojueroc 
M tZT Z M tp <r p p <r 
USQI vcorov ansiQarov 6vgavov. 
<r p M M M M M MtM 

? M p M t Z M p q- 
^4 tyAae jtoAvxsQSea nayav 



ji j jji^^j 

i i il I H I I 1 1 i j 1 1 i ' ilj J ^jl 

At yXa? iro-Xv /eep5* a u yav 


SCALE o/tt Zyiim Modt, in the Diatonic Gams. 

7 1R.* : C PMI 6 TO ZEO AM' I' 

hTLFC O n<! VNZ fcilZ 1 T <' 


<T p M M M <T p -* M M 

USQI yaiav cutaoav shoocov. 

M t Z Z Z Z Z Z Et B Z 

UoTafj.0 1 $s os&ev SZVQO 

p M i Z Z Z c M p <r 

a- p MMMpptr 

M i M M t p M 4 Z Z 
j^ar' okvfMtov avaxra 

M t Z Z M t p 

Z Z 

a- pM M M <r p M MMi'lM 

Fhavxa ds nag one oehava 

I M I'M M pM t ZZ 

X^ovor &QIOV ayspovevst, 

M t Z i M r o- p M p <r 


(T <r <r er <r <r p p p $ p M 

Favvrai ds is 01 voos 

M i Z i' M i* < crp M p or 


IIoTa /ioi oe <r ev irvpos aja jSporov, 

PXttV <ca 8 irap* 


-i Av ^KWV v TTO crvp/xa <rt ftocr x w " 

01 vo-oj ew ^^te-j^s 

Ilo-Xv-ot fio-va ico<r- jitov Xi<ro > a>v. 



Through nature's wide domain 
Let solemn silence reign: 
Let aH the mountains, hills, and floods, 
The earth, the sea, the winds, and woods, 
The echos, and the feather 'd throng, 
Forbear to move, or tune their song. 

Behold ! the Lord of Light 
Begins to bless our sight ; 
Phoebus, whose voice, divinely clear, 
E'en Jove himself delights to hear ; 
Great father of the bright-ey'd morn, 
Whose shoulders golden locks adorn ! 

Swift through the azure sky 

O let thy coursers fly; 
And with them draw that radiant car 
Which spreads thy splendid rays afar, 
Filling all space at thy desire 
With torrents of immortal fire. 

For thee, serene advance 
The spheres, in solemn dance, 
For ever singing as they move 
Around the sacred throne of Jove, 
Songs accordant to thy lyre, 
While all the heavenly host admire. 

And when the God of day 
Withdraws his golden ray, 
Do thou, sweet Cynthia, bless our sight 
With thy mild beams, and silver light ; 
O spread thy snowy mantle round, 
And wrap the world in peace profound. 


Z MM M M i'MM 10- p M 
Nefteot stTSQoeooa. fliov Qono. 
<f> M Z Z ZZ E Z i ZM 
Kvav&Ttt &sa. &wyareQ A was 

M O o o o Z E 1 
* A feovtpa, <pQva.ypa.Ta 

U U M i Q Z ? t MM 



p a- $ p p 

MeAava qr&ovov SXTOG snavveie (jf). 

( f) The rest of the musical characters are lost. 



H r: 


rto ' c - J J 1 

1 J J 14 j J 

1 * J, J ' 

PO TTtt, 

awo n*t 0e 


IP r rip J-^ijd ,H- 

0vya -rep At 

"A KOV - <a 


e) J 

a ^ a - /btav 

. Me 

Ysto oov TQO%OV, aocLTOv, 
Xagona fisQostcov oreQsqpSTai zv%a. 
Ayftovoa. 8s naQ noda 
ravQovfievov av%sva 
Yjto nrj^vv aei ftiorov 
Nsvsts f vno xoknov ast XOLTCQ 
Zvyov ftera %eiQa XQCLTOVOGL. 

strsQosoaa, ftov 
Nepsotv ftsov adopsv tiup 
Nripegcsa, xai sfctQsdQov Aixav, 
Aixav f TavvowtTeQoVj oppQipav, 
A rav peyahavoQiav PQOTGW 
aq>aiQet xai 


Avenging Nemesis, of rapid wing, 
Goddess of eye severe, thy praise we sing: 
Against thy influence, ruler of our lives, 
Daughter of Justice, man but vainly strives. 
'Tis thine to check with adamantine rein 
The pride of mortals, and their wishes vain; 
Of insolence to blunt the lifted dart, 
And drive black Envy from the canker'd heart. 

Still at the pleasure of thy restless wheel, 
Whose track the Fates from human eyes conceal, 
Our fortune turns ; and in life's toilsome race 
'Tis thine, invisible, our steps to trace; 
To strew with flow'rs, or thorns, the doubtful maze, 
And by thy rule to circumscribe our days. 

Insulting tyrants, at thy dire decree, 
Bow tiae proud head, and bend the stubborn knee : 
Inflexible to each unjust demand 
Frowning thou hold'st thy scales with steady hand. 

(g) In the fitst chorus of the Electra of Sophocles, there is a fine description of this goddess ; 
and among the poems attributed to Orpheus there is a hymn to Nemesis, O Nejx<n, /cX>)a <re fiea 
j8a<rt\eta / 


Incorruptible judge, whom nought can move, 
Nor less infallible than mighty Jove : 
Great guardian ! ever watchful, ever near, 
sacred minister of justice, hear! 

Avenging Nemesis, of rapid wing, 
Goddess of eye severe, thy praise we sing. 
And let Astrsea, thy companion, share 
Our pious praises, and our fervent pray'r. 
She mounts the skies, or plunges into hell 
With rapid flight, the deeds of man to tell ; 
Dread Justice 1 whose report has power t' assuage 
The wrath of Gods, and calm infernal rage. 

Though the Oxford editor of Arams i=> of opinion that these 
three hymns were all written by a poet called Dionysius; yet as 
thirteen or fourteen Greek poets of that name are mentioned by 
ancient authors, the determining to which of them these hymns 
appertain, would be difficult Besides, the hymn to Nemesis is 
by some attributed to a poet named Mesodmes, who flourished 
under the emperor Justinian; but M. Burette thinks the name 
Mesodmes corrupted from Mesomedes; and Capitolinus, in his Life 
of Antoninus Pius, mentions a lyric poet of that name, from whom 
that emperor withdrew part of a pension granted to him by Adrian, 
for verses which he had written in praise of his favourite Antinous. 
This circumstance is likewise mentioned by Suidas; and Eusebius, 
in his Chronicle, speaks of Mesomedes, as a poet originally of 
Crete, whom he calls MfraQcodixov von&v povowos noiijTtjs, which 
agrees very well with the author of the hymn in question. But 
whoever were the writers of these pieces, it is certain that the last, 
addressed to Nemesis, is more ancient than Synethius, a father of the 
church, who flourished four hundred and tw'elve years after Christ; 
and who, in his ninety-fifth letter, quotes three verses from it as 
from a hymn that was sung in his time to the sound of the lyre; and 
it is likewise certain that the composition of this hymn, as well as 
of the other two, bears strong marks of having been written at a 
time when Greek poetry was still flourishing. 

The specimens of ancient music are so rare, that the few which 
remain cannot be too carefully collected, or discussed too minutely. 
M. Burette, after enumerating all the Greek poets of the name 
of Dionysius, and specifying the works that have been attributed 
to them, fixes upon Dionysius, surnamed Iambus, as the author of 
the two first hymns, to which the original music has been preserved. 
This author is quoted by Plutarch (h), and by Clemens Alexan- 
drinus (i). Whence it may be concluded that this poet, though the 
exact time when he flourished is unknown, was certainly more 
ancient than Plutarch, M. Burette pushes conjecture still further, 
and supposes that this Dionysius was even more ancient than 
Dionysius of Thebes, the music-master of Epaminondas, according 

(h) De M*sica (t) Strom, lib. V ,- 



to Cornelius Nepps, and whom Plutarch, from Aristoxenus, in his 
Dialogue on Music, ranks among the most illustrious lyric poets of 
antiquity; such as Lamprus, Pindar, and Pratinas. And in this case 
the hymns to Calliope and Appollo are not only more ancient than 
that to Nemesis, attributed to Mesomedes, but of the highest anti- 
quity. It is likewise the opinion of M. Burette, that the music of 
these hymns is nearly as ancient as the hymns themselves. 

I shall not trouble the reader with all my reasons for the several 
changes and deviations from former editions, that occur in the 
manner of printing these melodies; it seems only necessary to say 
that they have been made from the best copies and authorities I 
could procure. Three things, however, are particularly to be con- 
sidered with respect to this music : the Notes, or characters, by 
which they are expressed; the Melody, or air; and Rhythm, or 

1. Of the Notes of the Ancient Music to the Hymns 

Of the fifteen sounds in the ancient system of music, only ten 
are employed in the melody set to these hymns, and these are the 
ten lowest, according to our method of reckoning. As to the notes 
which express these sounds, they are eleven in number, because 
two of them, T and E, serve to express the same sound in two 
different relations. In the Oxford edition of the first hymn, five 
notes were wanting, which have been supplied from the manuscript 
in the king of France's library, and from the copy given of it in the 
Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, by M. Burette. Some 
other corrections have been made, by comparing the vocal notes of 
the Lydian mode, in which these hymns are composed, with the 
instrumental, which used to be placed in a separate line under the 

2. Of the Modulation, or Melody of this Music 


It was discovered that these three hymns* were sung in the 
Lydian mode of the Diatonic genus, by comparing the notes with 
those given by Alypius, in his catalogue of the characters used in 
that mode, which, in counting from the bottom, was the tenth, 
among the fifteen ancient modes. All the commentators, except 
Sir Francis Eyles Stiles, seem certain that these fifteen modes only 
differed from each other by a semitone; so that, supposing the 
lowest string, or sound of the lowest mode or key, which was called 
the Hypodorian, corresponded with our A on the first space in the 
base; it follows, that the lowest sound of the Lydian mode answered 
to F sharp on the fourth line in the base, and the highest sound to 

* Experts differ as to the modes of these hymns. The late Mr. Cecil Torr inclined to the Hypo 
Lydian for the Hymn to Nemesis whilst Mr. R. P. Winnington Ingram (Music and Letters, October, 
1020), tentatively suggests the Phrygian. The last named also suggests the Mixolydian as the key 
o?the Hymn to the &e. ProfessoV Wooldridge (Oxford History of Music, VoL i. p. 19) describes the 
Hymns to Apollo and to the Muse as being in the Dorian mode and the Hymn to Nemesis as the 
relaxed lastian. 



F sharp on the fifth line in the treble, which extended to two 
octaves, the compass of the ancient system of music. However, it 
must not be concluded from this circumstance that these three 
hymns are in F sharp, according to the modern musical language. 
They are supposed to be in the Lydian mode, only on account of 
the melody being confined within the limits of the two octaves 
appropriate to this mode ; and not because the three essential 
sounds, which, in modern music, are the key note, third, and fifth, 
frequently occur. 

It has already been observed, Section IV. that the medius, or 
middle sound, in all the ancient modes, is a minor, or flat third. 
Indeed the melody of the two first hymns begins and ends upon 
the fifth of the Lydian mode; that of the third hymn begins upon 
the octave of the first sound of the mode; but as the music of only 
the five first verses, and half the sixth is preserved, we are ignorant 
upon what sound this melody ended. 

According to the system of modern music, the first hymn begins 
in the key of C $, with a minor third; the second in the key of F # 
minor; and what remains of the last hymn, seems to be in the key 
of A with a sharp third, as the first note, F, would be only regarded 
as an Appoggiatura by most modern musicians. But why M. 
Burette, and, after him, all other editors of this music, except 
M. Marpurg, have printed the third hymn with jour sharps, and 
yet pronounced it to be in the Lydian mode, which has no D # 
belonging to it, I know not; as D is always natural throughout this 

These melodies, though no other sounds are used in any of 
them than what belong to the Lydian mode, very frequently 
change the key, according to modern language and ideas; which 
shews what a .different sense from ours the ancients annexed to 
the term mode or key. They only understood by it a certain degree 
of elevation, or acuteness, in the general system of their music, in 
which the sounds always" followed in the same order; whereas in 
ours, keys are distinguished from each other, not only by their 
situation in the scale with respect to high and low, but by their 
different arrangement with respect to mutable intervals, such as 
thirds and sixths, which constitute major and minor, or sharp and 
flat keys, besides the different modifications that these keys receive 
from temperament, which in instruments, whose tones are fixed, are 
characterized and diversified by a greater or less degree of perfec- 
tion in the intervals and concords, though all the intervals of major 
and minor keys are nominally, and essentially the same. 

As to the order and succession of sound in the ancient melody 
of these hymns, some of them are repeated several times together, 
and in some places as often as six or seven, and even nine times; 
others move in conjunct or disjunct degrees, ascending or descend- 
ing, and these disjunct intervals are by a major, or minor third, 
a fourth, a tritonus, a fifth, sixth major or minor, a seventh, eighth, 
ninth, or tenth. Through all the simplicity of these melodies, which 
somewhat resemble the Canto Fermo of the Romish church, it 



appears that the musician,, by the arrangement of sounds, aimed at 
the expression of the words. Something also seems to be indicated 
in this music like Appoggiaturas, by two notes, which are sung to 
one and the same syllable, sometimes ascending an,d descending by 
regular degrees, sometimes by leaps of a sixth, and even a tenth, 
which in simple melody is very extraordinary (k). Though it has 
been said, Section VI. that only one note was sung to one syllable, 
yet here we often find two notes to a long syllable; but then they 
are constantly two short notes, which amount but to the natural 
length of the syllable. Upon the whole, these melodies are so little 
susceptible of harmony, or the accompaniments of many parts, 
that it would be even difficult to make a tolerable base to any one 
of them, especially to the first. 

3* Of the Rhythm, or Time, in this Music 

The Rhythm, or cadence of these hymns, though correspondent 
to the different feet of the verses in which they are written, is not 
always regular ; but in the hymn to Calliope it is sometimes in 
common time, and sometimes in triple. M. Burette was the first 
who divided the time by bars, in the modem manner ; but as the 
accents and long syllables in his copy frequently occur upon short 
notes, and unaccented parts of the bars, I have ventured to divide 
the measure in such a manner as seemed best to make the accent of 
the music coincide with the quantity of the verse, in which we are 
taught to think the Greeks were very exact. 

It would be difficult to write the music of the Dithyrambic to 
Calliope in one measure, on account of the different kinds of verse; 
but the rhythm seems sufficiently ascertained by the word Ja/^oc, 
which is written at the title of the manuscript, and by the Greek 
syllable onov, for onovdsios, placed between the first and second verse 
in all the three manuscripts, just above the word pofays, where two 
notes were wanting in the music. These two words probably imply 
that the rhythm is partly in the iambic measure, or triple time, and 
partly in spondees and dactyls, which are equally in common time. 

It has always appeared to me as if M. Burette was mistaken in 
supposing the second and third hymns to be in triple time. The 
melody seems more marked, and the words better accentuated, by 
singing them in common time ; and it looks on paper more like 
music of this world. However, candour requires that the reasons 
alledged by M. Burette for printing them in triple time should be 

1 'I have reduced these hymns, " says this author, ' 'to our measure 
of common and triple time, always placing a rest or pause at the 
end of each verse. This mixture and variety of measure, which is 
always exactly proportioned to the quantity of the syllables in the 

(k) These Appoggiaturas, or short notes, are always upon the circumflex. Some of them bring to 
mind a fault very common in bad English singing, in which violent force is frequently given to leanings 
upon remote and dissonant notes, without grace or meaning. 

VOL- i. 7 97 


poetry, contributes greatly to the energy and expression of the 
melody (Q." 

M. Burette continues to acquaint us that he found out the rhythm 
of the hymn to Apollo, by a note written in red ink, on the margin 
of the king of France's manuscript, in the following words: revos 
dwACLoiov, 6 QV&POS S&dexaorjfjLos; and above these words, the mark for 
the iambic, expressed by the usual characters w . By which he 
understands that the rhythm of this piece of poetry is in the double 
genus, or the iambic, which is the sam'e thing; for in this measure, the 
latter portion has only one syllable or note, and the former two, or 
those proportions. This rhythm is composed of twelve syllables, or 
parts, equivalent to twelve short notes, or what we should call twelve 
breves, compared with six longs, or twelve crotchets opposed to 
six minims ; so that there are four for the up, or last part of a bar, 
and eight for the down, or first part, and the contrary, each verse 
making one rhythm or measure ; which, however, may be divided 
into two parts, or bars ; and this method M. Burette has pursued, 
keeping always the same proportions. 

But the marginal directions for the time, written in red ink upon 
the French manuscript, are, in all probability, modern ; and it 
amounts to the same thing if the verse be divided into three parts, 
which has been done in writing the hymns in common time. There 
is no one of the verses, however, which does not contain more in 
quantity than twelve breves or crotchets, and, indeed, some of 
them include fourteen or fifteen, which, from the strict adherence 
to poetical quantity in the music, must render the time loose and 
disjointed ; but regarding the redundant syllables as odd notes, the 
verses all run thus: u - v/ |- uv |- w |-^| r sometimes | "" v | ~~ | 
which renders a sudden change to triple time necessary ; a change 
which always convulses the hearer. 

But I must give an account here of some alterations that have 
been made in the text, for the sake of the music, by the advice of 
a friend, to whose opinion I have frequently appealed in matters of 
erudition. In the first hymn, M. Burette has made all the syllables 
short, in the word stQoxaTayert ; but the second alpha is long: for the 
word, out of its Doric dress, is xQoxaTijyeti, leader. This mistake has 
made the melody more aukward than it need be, for which there 
was no occasion. In the second hymn, vn l^vsai, disturbs the 
metre, and syncopates the music ; but by inserting another sigma, 
as the poets frequently do, and separating the iota from the rest of 
the word, as is likewise often practised, all will be right ; for a 

(Z) This is an assertion that I cannot possibly pass uncontroverted ; for most of the musicians in 
Europe, except those of France, will absolutely deny the truth of it, and, on the contrary, will affirm, 
that the frequent change of time in the music of the serious French opera, relaxes the measure, and 
destroys all idea of the accent and energy by which every phrase in good melody is constantly marked. 
By two or three bars being in common time, and two or three in triple, as is generally the case in the 
operas of Lulli and Rameau, the hearer can retain no fixed or precise idea of either ; the passages in 
one mutually destroying the effects of the other ; for the traces are either lost, or so slightly impressed 
in the memory, that the work is always to begin anew. The chief superiority of modern melody over 
that of former times, is certainly due to the graceful arrangement of sounds, and the exact and con* 
turned manner with which they are enforced by the measure, and the accentuation of the bars. The 
difficulty of diatmgii-fchjng the airs from the recitatives in the old music, particularly the French, is 
owing to the frequent change of measure, and the want of accent in the bars and musical phrases. 



doubtful vowel before a mute and a liquid, as %v, may be either 
short or long. 

Uravols vn l-%veooi $t-coxsic. 

I know not whether justice has been done to these melodies; all 
I can say is, that no pains have been spared to place them in the 
clearest and most favourable point of view : and yet, with all the 
advantages of modern notes and modern measure, if I had been 
told that they came from the Cherokees, or the Hottentots, I should 
not have been surprised at their excellence. There is music which 
all mankind, in civilized countries, would allow to be good ; but 
these fragments are certainly not of that sort: for, with all the 
light that can be thrown upon them, they have still but a rude and 
inelegant appearance, and seem wholly unworthy of so ingenious, 
refined, and sentimental a people as the Greeks ; especially if we 
subscribe to the high antiquity that has been given to two of the 
hymns, which makes them productions of that period of time when 
arts and sciences were arrived in Greece at the highest point of 

I have tried them in every key, and in every measure that the 
feet of the verses would allow; and as it has been the opinion of 
some, that the Greek scale and music should be read Hebrewwise, 
I have even inverted the order of the notes, but without being able 
to augment their grace and elegance. The most charitable sup- 
position therefore that can be admitted concerning them is, that the 
Greek language being in itself accentuated and sonorous, wanted 
less assistance from musical refinements than one that was more 
harsh and rough : and music being still a slave to poetry, and 
wholly governed by its feet, derived all its merit and effects from 
the excellence of the verse, and sweetness of the voice that sung, or 
rather recited it. For mellifluous and affecting voices nature 
bestows from time to time on some gifted mortals in all the habitable 
regions of the earth; and even the natural effusions of these must 
ever have been heard with delight. But, as music, there needs no 
other proof of the poverty of ancient melody, than its being 
confined to long and short syllables. We have some airs of the 
most graceful and pleasing kind, which will suit no arrangement of 
syllables to be found in poetical numbers, ancient or modern ; and 
which it is impossible to express by mere syllables in any language 
with which I am at all acquainted. 

I come now to speak of a fourth piece of ancient Greek music, 
inserted in the Musurgia of Kircher, p. 542 ; from which it 
was transcribed by the Oxford editor of Aratus, and published 
with the three hymns above mentioned.* Father Kircher has been 
very truly called vir immense^ quidem, $ed indigesta admodum 

* This melody which was first published by Kircher in his Mttsurgia in 1650 is now generally 
admitted to be a forgery. Kircher claimed to nave discovered the original MS. at Messina in the 
monastery of San Salvator. Intensive search has been carried out for the MS. but so far without 



emditionis: a man of immense, but indigested, learning. It was 
very natural to suspect the authenticity of a fragment of this kind 
coming from one, who, though he had displayed great learning 
in the number of huge volumes which he published, yet, was 
always careless, inaccurate, and credulous ; collecting, without 
choice or discernment, whatever he found relative to the subject 
upon which he was writing ; and adopting whatever was offered 
to him, true or false, provided it contained any thing marvellous. 

In his Musurgia, printed at Rome, 1650, in folio, after giving 
an account of the Greek musical characters, from Alypius, he tells 
us, that "nothing now remains for him to do relative to ancient 
music, but to give a genuine specimen of it, which he supposed the 
more necessary, as no one had hitherto thought fit to satisfy the 
eager curiosity of the learned upon a subject so interesting, and so 
utterly unknown." From this passage it appears, that the manu- 
scripts published by the two Italian authors, Vincenzio Galilei, 
and Ercole Bottrigari, had escaped the researches of father Kircher, 
though both much anterior to him, the one appearing in 1581, 
and the other in 1602. 

However, the specimen of ancient Greek music which father 
Kircher gives us, is the more interesting, as he tells us that it had 
never been edited before, but was found by himself in the famous 
Sicilian library of the monastery of St. Saviour, near the port of 
Messina. He calls it a very ancient fragment of Pindar ; it is 
accompanied with the ancient Greek musical notes, which are the 
same as Alypius attributes to the Lydian mode. Unluckily, what 
our good father calls a very ancient -fragment of Pindar, was 
nothing more than the first eight verses of the first Pythic of this 
poet ; which gives no very favourable idea of his acquaintance 
with the ancient poets. 

However, to remove all doubt concerning the authenticity of 
this manuscript, with respect to the music, the catalogue of Greek 
manuscripts in St. Saviour's library was examined, as published in 
Latin by P. Possevin, but without success. At length, application 
was made by M. Burette to father Montfaucon, who was known 
to be in possession of copies of all the most valuable manuscripts 
in the principal libraries of Europe ; and among these the 
manuscripts of St. Saviour's library had not been forgotten. But 
in consulting the catalogue of these, they were found to consist 
chiefly of the writings of the Greek fathers, with fewer prophane 
authors than are mentioned in the catalogue published by Possevin. 
However, in the last article were found the following words : 77o/Ucc 

ds <UAct fiifttia nsQisxovoi rot navra nsgi TOV %ooov / that is, there are 
still many books in manuscript relative to the choral service, which 
must mean church music. "It was doubtless," 'says M. Burette, 
"among such manuscripts as these that father Kircher discovered the 
fragment of an Ode of Pindar set to music, as it seems tibie natural 
place for such a relic to be found, and it is in vain to seek for a 
further justification of the editor." 


Of these eight verses of -the first Pythic of Pindar, which were 
found with such ancient musical characters over them, as belong 
to the Lydian mode (m), the four first have a melody set to them 
for one or many voices ; the four last compose a different melody, 
at the beginning of which were the following Greek words: %OQO$ 
els xiftagav ; chorus sung to the sound of the Cithara ; and over 
the words of each verse are written the characters peculiar to 
instrumental music ; which shews that the second melody was not 
only executed by voices, but accompanied by one or more Citharas, 
that played in unisons, or octaves, to the voice. The melody of 
these eight verses is extremely simple, and composed of only six 
different sounds; which is a cogent proof of the antiquity of the 
music, since the lyre of seven strings had more notes than were 
sufficient for its execution. 

o re i a reioreiMi 

e i 

Xpj> <rg a <f>op fuySt A jroX Xw-ro?, /eat, oirXo/ca ;J.MI 

Mierer oreireierMi 

:ov Moi-crav KTGO.-VOV, Ta5 a 




j U j jlj j l^'j J b ^ l< j 14 r jld g 

rev x>?5 

u v HNZN 

lij Jit j fJIJd j|j j 

Kat TOV atx/xa -ray 

(m) Kit were not for the musical characters over the notes, which belong to the Lydian mode, 
this melody might with more propriety be said to be in the Phrygian mode. 



This Ode has been happily translated by Mr. West. 

Part of the first Pythian ODE. 
Hail, golden lyre ! whose heav'n-invented string 

To Phoebus, and the black-hair' d Nine belongs; 
Who in sweet chorus round their tuneful king 

Mix with thy sounding chords their sacred songs. 
The dance, gay queen of pleasure, thee attends; 
Thy jocund strains her list'ning feet inspire: 
And each melodious tongue its voice suspends, 

'Till thou, great leader of the heav'nly quire, 
With wanton art preluding giv'st the sign 

Swells the full concert then with harmony divine. 

WEST'S Pindar, vol. 1, p. 84. 

The music, reduced to modern notes, is manifestly in 
the key of E minor, as appears from the modulation and final note. 
The first part begins upon the fifth of the key, the second upon the 
third. Most of the closes in the course of the melody are made, not 
as is usual with us, by the sharp seventh of the key, but in 
ascending by a whole tone from the seventh to the eighth; a kind 
of cadence very common among the Oriental people ; at least, if 
we may judge by some Persian airs brought into Europe by the 
missionaries, of which most of the closes are of that kind ; and in 
none of the most ancient ecclesiastical chants is the sharp seventh 
to be found. 

With regard to this melody, it was reduced to common notes 
by M. Burette, in the Memoires de I'Academie des Inscriptions, tome 
V. with all possible care, though somewhat different from father 
Kircher's copy, inserted in his Musurgia. The reasons for deviating 
from this fattier are the following: in the first place he had written 
it in G with a minor third ; that is to say, three notes higher than 









the original will allow ; secondly, he had made several mistakes in 
tha melody, which have been adjusted by the Greek tablature ; 
and lastly, he had observed no kind of rhythm, or measure, whereas 
it is now minutely attended to, and exactly conformable to the 
quantity of syllables which answer to the musical notes. Indeed 
the rhythm could not be made regular, the feet of the verse being 
a mixture of dactyls and iambics. 

This melody however is so simple and natural, that by 
reducing it to regular time, either triple or common, and setting 
a base to it, which it is very capable of receiving, it will have 
the appearance and effect of a religious hymn of the present 

Dr. Jortin, in his letter concerning the Music of the Ancients, 
addressed to Mr. Avison, and annexed to the second edition of his 
Essay^ on Musical Expression, was somewhat unfortunate, when in 
his wishes for a specimen of ancient Greek melody he fixed upon 
Pindar's first ode ; the only piece of Greek poetry generally 
known, in which these wishes might have been gratified. "If," 
says he, "we had the old musical notes which were set to any 
particular ode or hymn that is extant, I should not despair of 
finding out the length of each note; for the quantity of syllables 
would probably be a tolerable guide (n); and I would consent to 
track the works of Signer Alberti for the tune that was set to 
Pindar's Xgvoea (poQptyt;* AnoMcovos 

This author goes on informing us by his conjectures concerning 
what the Greek melody was, that he had never heard of the 
specimens which had been published of it by Vincentio Galilei, 
Bottrigari, Kircher, the Oxford editor of Aratus, or by M. Burette, 
in the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions. 

In the postscript, however, he mentions the Oxford edition of 
Aratus ; but what use has he made of it, except to tell us that he 
saw there "some learned observations on ancient music, and a few 
fragments of ancient tunes to some Greek odes and hymns, reduced 
to our modern notation?" 

Was not this the time and' place to tell us what this music 
was? how far it excelled the modern? and that he was still ready 
to sacrifice the elegant works of poor AJberti for so invaluable an 
acquisition as the tune that was set to his favourite ode of Pindar? 
Not a word escapes from the author concerning his raptures upon 
seeing in venerable Greek characters, as well as in sharp-cornered 
Gothic notes, this divine music, nor of the effect it had on his 
passions when he heard it performed ; he only tells us that " it 
came into his mind he had perused it long ago; and upon looking 
now in the book, he found two remarks of the editor, agreeing with 
his own notions, about time, quantity, and simplicity/' He could 
not submit either to the humiliating task of confessing that he did 
not understand this music ; or that its excellence did not at all 
correspond with the high ideas he ha.d, unheard, and unseen, 
formed of it. 

(n) It is the only guide to the length of ancient notes. 



I shall bestow a word or two more upon this Letter, now I 
am on the subject. The author supposes that " one great 
advantage which arose even from the simplicity of the ancient 
tunes, and which greatly set off their concert of vocal and instru- 
mental music, was, that the singer could be understood, 
and that the words had their effect as well as the music ; and 
then the charms of elegant and pathetic poesy, aided and set 
off by the voice, person, manner, and accent of the singer, 
and by the sound of instruments, might affect the hearer very 
strongly." We do not, however, often find this to be the case 
with Italian recitative, though it more than answers this description 
in every particular, when the poesy is Metastasio's, and the singer, 
besides his fine voice, figure, and action, possesses the most 
exquisite taste and expression. For even, at such time, ^the 
audience is, in general, yawning and languishing for the air, which, 
by its superior sweetness in melody to recitative, ^ makes them 
forget poesy, declamation, propriety, and every thing but their 
ears. A line of recitative, ever so pathetically, or emphatically 
pronounced, seldom extorts that thundering applause from an 
audience, which is bestowed on a great actor for speaking only 
two or three words ; though an air sung by the same performer, 
whose recitatives had been heard with coldness and indifference, 
is honoured with rapturous applause, and an universal encore \ 

The author, in speaking of "the harmonious and unrivalled 
sweetness of the Greek language/' says, "as the Latin tongue 
surpasses ours in sweetness, so the Greek surpasses the Latin. 
When I taught my little boy his Greek nouns and verbs" (says 
Tanaquil Faber), "he told me one day a thing that surprised me, 
for he had it not from me. Methinks, said he, the sound of the 
Greek tongue is much more agreeable than that of the Latin. You 
are in the right, said I. By this I perceived that the boy had a 
good ear, which I took as a presage that his taste and his judgment 
would one day be good ; having often observed that this is one of 
the earliest and best marks of a child's capacity." This observation 
is, in my opinion, so unphilosophical, and wide of the truth, that 
it should only have been mentioned by our author to censure it. A 
good ear in a child may be a presage of his genius for music ; and 
there have been many great musicians without taste or judgment in 
any thing but their own profession. But some of the wisest men, 
and of the greatest talents, in other particulars, I am ^sorry to say 
it, have not had ear enough for music to discover the difference, not 
only between good and bad music, but between one tune and 
another. And yet these great and wise men, in other particulars, 
think themselves qualified to write, talk, and decide, about music, 
in a more peremptory manner, than those of the greatest feeling 
and genius, who have long made it their particular study. Poor 
human nature is never to be perfect : however the musician pities 
the man without ears ; and the man without ears, in revenge, 
heartily condemns the fiddling fool, who can be delighted with 
such nonsense. 


Section VIII 

Whether the Ancients had Counterpoint, 
or Music in Parts 

THIS is a subject which has given birth to many learned 
disquisitions and disputes ; and as it long remained a mere 
matter of opinion, those who believed, and those who denied 
the point in question, consequently treated each other with all due 
polemic acrimony. The champions for antiquity thought them- 
selves involved in the controversy ; and whether they were 
possessed of musical knowledge, or were sensible to the charms of 
harmony, or no, they determined to regard every man as an enemy 
to sound literature, who did not subscribe to the articles of their 

A poem, called Le Siecle de Louis le Grand, written by Charles 
Perrault, of the Academy of Sciences, and brother to Claude 
Perrault, the famous physician and architect, occasioned the long 
and acrimonious dispute between him and Boileau, and soon 
brought on a general war among the learned throughout Europe, 
concerning the superiority of the ancients or moderns, with respect 
to arts, sciences, and literature. This piece was first read by the 
author at the Academy of Sciences in 1687, and was soon followed 
by his Parallele des Anciens et des Modernes. The notes to 
Boileau's translation of Longinus were intended as a reply to 
Perrault ; and are full of bitter invectives, not only against him, 
but the moderns in general. Racine, La Bruyere, and Fontenelle, 
took sides in the quarrel, which in France was kept alive, with 
great animosity, for near thirty years. 

In England, the controversy between Sir William Temple and 
Mr. Wooton, Mr. Boyle and Dr. Bentiey, and Swift's Battle of 
the Books, were consequences of this quarrel. 

Those who had written ex professo on music, had frequently 
differed in their opinions concerning counterpoint having been 
known by the ancients, previous to the learned, in general, interest- 
ing themselves in the dispute ; and before I give my own opinion, 
as an individual, it is incumbent on me, as an historian, to lay 
before my readers the sentiments of others, and the reasons, or 
prejudices, upon which they were founded. Many who doubt of far 
more important points, though such as human evidence can never 
determine, would, however, be glad to have them demonstrated. 
I have read and considered the several arguments which have been 
urged for and against the question, with a mind open to conviction, 



and certainly free from prejudice against the ancients; for, on the 
contrary, I have always admired and reverenced them in the 
models they have given us in every species of writing, as well as 
in the beautiful remains of their sculpture, painting, and 
architecture, and therefore should most willingly contribute my 
utmost in support of their claims to a melody and harmony superior 
to our own, if there were facts sufficiently numerous, clear, and 
indisputable, to found them upon. 

However, as the whole dispute, at this distance of time, from 
the perishable materials upon which the ancient symbols of sound 
were traced, rests upon conjecture, or at most upon presumptive 
proof ; and as I have no favourite hypothesis to support, which 
would incline me to give all the evidence in favour of one side, and 
conceal, or misconstrue, whatever would be for the advantage of 
the other ; I shall put into two honest and even scales all that can 
be urged in support of both sides, and then suspend them by the 
balance, as steadily as Justice will enable me, in order to let the 
reader see, and judge for himself, which of them preponderates. 

The most eminent writers on the side of ancient Counterpoint 
are, Gaffurio, Zarlino, Gio. Battista Doni, Isaac Vossius, 
Zaccharia Tevo, the abb6 Fraguier, and Mr. Stillingfleet, author 
of Principles and Power of Harmony. 

Those against it are, Glareanus, Salinas, Bottrigari, Artusi, 
Cerone, Kepler, Mersennus, Kircher, Claude Perrault, Wallis, 
Bontempi, Burette, the fathers Bougeant and Cerceau, Padre 
Martini, M. Marpurg, and M. Rousseau. 

Claude Perrault, and Mr. Burette, indeed, seem inclinable to 
grant it them by thirds ; and M. Marpurg by fourths and fifths. 

The learned father Martini has collected many of the depositions 
of the several writers on both sides, with great accuracy and 
fairness ; but as I am in possession of all the books he quotes, and 
of others, which it will be necessary to mention in the course of 
the dispute, I shall give some account of each, before I sum up the 

Gaffurius Franchinus [1451-1522] flourished in the fifteenth 
century; his writings were the first that came from the press, upon 
the subject of music, after the invention of printing. One of them, 
under the title of Theoricum Opus Armonicce Discipline was 
published at Naples, 1480; but that in which he allows tiie ancients 
to have known counterpoint, appeared first at Milan, 1496, and 
afterwards at Brescia, 1502*; this has for title, Practica Musicce 
^itriusque Cantus. 

This author quotes Bacchius senior as his authority for the 
ancients having practised simultaneous harmony ; but unluckily not 
a single word can be found in that writer, which has the least 
allusion to the subject. Counterpoint, as Bontempi observes, is the 
Practice of Harmony, and Bacchius senior, in his Introduction to 
the Art of Music, only treats of the Theory of Melody. 

* The second edition of the Practica Musics was published at Brescia in 1497. 1502 is the date 
of the third edition. A fourth edition was published at Venice in 151*. 



Zarlino (a) \_c. 1517-1590] supposes it impossible for the ancients 
to have made use of instruments of many strings, without playing 
in consonance; and that the hydraulicon, or water-organ, must 
have afforded them opportunities of discovering and using different 
parts. In answer to the first supposition, of the ancients having 
many strings upon the lyre, this did not happen till several ages 
after its invention, as at first the number was only 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8; 
but we might oppose to the ancient lyre of many strings, the Irish 
harp, which long had a greater number than the lyre, and yet 
these did not suggest to the performers upon the harp, the idea of 
counterpoint, or of playing in parts; as that instrument remained 
many ages a single or treble instrument, used only for the purpose 
of playing a simple melody, or single part. 

This is not the place in which to discuss the second point; in 
a future chapter, upon the instruments of the ancients, I shall 
endeavour to give my readers some idea of the hydraulicon: the 
use made of it by Zarlino comes under those presumptions in favour 
of ancient harmony, which, having no other support than 
conjecture, can never amount to demonstration. However, if the 
first idea of an organ was taken from the Syrinx, or Fistula Panis, 
which, after being improved into Tibia utriculares, or bagpipes, 
was further perfected by the addition of keys, as is the opinion of 
Bartolinus and Blanchinus, it must have been a long time before 
that instrument was capable of being played in parts, supposing 
counterpoint to have been in use; and if the hydraulic organs, still 
to be found in Italy, are remnants of the ancient, they will furnish 
no very favourable idea of their powers. 

John Baptist Doni* [1593-1647], a Florentine nobleman, who 
flourished in the last century, spent the greatest part of his Hfe in 
the study and defence of ancient music. His writings and opinions 
were very much respected by the learned, though but litfle attended 
to by practical musicians ; on which account most of his treatises, 
which are very numerous, are filled with complaints of the ignorance 
and degeneracy of the moderns, with respect to every branch of 
music, both in theory and practice. 

It is no uncommon thing for philosophers, mathematicians, and 
men of letters, absorbed in mere speculation, to condemn in their 
closets, unheard and unseen, the productions and performance of 
practical musicians; who, in their turn, contemn whatever theory 
suggests as visionary, and inadmissible in practice, without giving 
themselves the trouble to consider, or even to read, the principles 
upon which an hypothesis may be founded. 

"Brother, brother, we are both in the wrong," is a concession 
that many disputants might make, with great truth, besides 
Peachum and Lockit. 

It seems as if theory and practice were ever to be at strife; for 
the man of science, who never hears music, and the musician, who 

() SvppKmenti Musictdi. Venet. 1580. [1588.] 

* Published in 1635 a treatise on Greek music, Compendia dal trattato def gcneri e &' modi delta, 
musica, which was completed by the publication of Annotation* sopra, etc., in 1640. 



never reads books, must be equally averse to each other, and 
unlikely to be brought to a right understanding. 

That Doni was but little acquainted with the music which 
delighted the ears of his cotemporaries, appears in many parts of 
his works ; and as to his belief that the ancients knew and practised 
counterpoint, and that their music was superior to the modern in 
every particular, it seems to have been founded upon no better 
grounds than that of his predecessors, Gaffurio and Zarlino : but if 
it was such as Doni has imagined, and given in example, the ears 
of mankind, to have been delighted with it, must have been 
differently constructed formerly, from those of the present times, 
which are pleased with modern harmony. 

This writer seems full of inconsistencies, with respect to ancient 
counterpoint. He is unwilling that the Greeks and Romans should 
be deprived of it; and yet, in speaking of its use among the moderns, 
he calls it nemico della musica. His reasons for allowing it to the 
ancients, are chiefly drawn from their vocal notes being different 
from the instrumental ; from the early invention of the hydraulic, 
and other organs; from the numerous strings upon some of their 
instruments ; and from a striking passage in Plutarch (6), which he 
thinks decisive, as it proves, that though the most ancient musicians 
used but few strings, yet these were tuned in consonance, and 
disposed with as much art as in our instruments at present. These 
points will be severally considered in the course of this section. 

Doni left behind him at his death, besides many printed works 
upon ancient music (c), a great number of unfinished essays and 
tracts relative to that subject, and the titles of many more. Few 
men had indeed considered the subject with greater attention. He 
saw the difficulties, though he was unable to solve them. The 
titles of his chapters, as well as many of those of father Mersennus, 
and others, are often the most interesting and seducing imaginable. 
But they are false lights, which, like ignes fatui, lead us into new 
and greater obscurity ; or, like the specimens of fruit brought from 
the Land of Promise, which those in whom they excited the 
strongest desire, never lived to see. 

The next Champion for ancient harmony was Isaac Vossius, 
who is greatly admired for his elegant and classical Latin, and 
more frequently quoted in favour of ancient music, than any other 
modern who has treated the subject ; but good writing, and fair 
reasoning, are sometimes different things ; that is, a selection of 
well-sounding words, formed into harmonious periods, may subsist 
without the support of either truth or logic. Vossius, in his 
celebrated book (d), seems more ready to grant every possible and 
impossible excellence to the Greek musicians, than, when alive, 
they could have been to ask. None of the poetical fables, or 

(b) Hept Movtrt/oj?. 

(c) Compend. del Trot, def Genera e M Modi della Musica. De prastantia Musicce Veteris ; and 
particularly his Discorso sopra le Consonanze. 

(d) De Poem. Cantu a Virib. Rythmi. 1673. 


mythological allegories, relative to the power and efficacy of their 
music, put the least violence upon his credulity. A religious bigot, 
who insists upon our swallowing implicitly every thing, however 
hard of digestion, is less likely to make converts to his opinions, 
than he who puts our faith to few trials ; and Vossius overcharged 
his creed so much, that it is of no authority. 

He does not attribute the efficacy of the Greek and Roman 
music to the richness of its harmony, or the elegance, the spirit, or 
pathos, of its melody, but wholly to the force of Rhythm. "As 
long," says he, p. 75, "as music flourished in this Rhythmical 
form, so long flourished that power which was so adapted to excite, 
and calm the passions." According to this opinion there was no 
occasion for melifluous sounds, or lengthened tones ; a drum, a 
cymbal, or the violent strokes of the Curetes, and Salii, on their 
shields, as they would have marked the time more articulately, so 
they would have produced more miraculous effects than the 
sweetest voice, or most polished instrument. In another place he 
tells us, that "to build cities, surround them with walls, to assemble 
or dismiss the people, to celebrate the praises of Gods and men, 
to govern fleets and armies, to accompany all the functions and 
ceremonies of peace and war, and to temper the human passions, 
were the original offices of music: in short, ancient Greece may 
be said to have been wholly governed by the lyre (e)." 

It appears from this passage, and from the tenor of his whole 
book, that this author will not allow us to doubt of a single 
circumstance, be it ever so marvellous, relative to the perfection 
and power of ancient music ; the probable and the improbable are 
equally articles of his belief ; so that with such a lively faith, it is 
easy to imagine that he ranks it among mortal sins to doubt of the 
ancients having invented and practised Counterpoint ; and he 
consequently speaks with the highest indignation against the 
moderns, for daring to deny that they were in possession of a 
simultaneous harmony, though, according to him, they used it 
with such intelligence and discretion, as never to injure the poetry 
by lengthening, shortening, or repeating words and syllables at their 
pleasure, nor by that most absurd of all customs, singing different 
words to several different airs at the same time. 

This author's remarks, however, on the little attention that is 
paid by modern composers to prosody, merit some respect. He has 
already been quoted in the section upon Rhythm (/), and will, 
perhaps, more than once be occasionally mentioned in the course 
of this work. With regard to the present question, whether the 
ancients had counterpoint or not, he cites the usual passages in 
their favour from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca, all which 
wifl be allowed due attention farther on. 

(e) Urbes condere, m&nia moUri, condones advocate et dimittere, Deorwn et virorum fortium laudes 
celebrare, classes et exercitus regere, pads bettique munia obire, &c. Lyra e$t qua veterem fexerit Gradam. 
P. 47. 



The name of Zachana Tevo is but little known, though he is 
an ingenious and candid writer, who has read good books, ancl 
reflected deeply on the subject of music (g). However, as he is^a 
favourer of ancient counterpoint, whose name appears in the list 
of its champions, he shall have a few words bestowed upon him 
among the rest. 

This author very modestly styles himself a collector and 
compiler of the opinions of others concerning ancient harmony. 
Indeed new materials can now hardly be expected : new conjectures 
are all that time, and the many writers who have already handled 
the subject, have left. After citing passages from the most respect- 
able writers of antiquity, which seem to favour the side of 
counterpoint, and giving the sentiments of the most eminent 
moderns upon these passages, he concludes, that "from the minute 
and accurate description of concords by ancient authors, it is 
natural to suppose they were not unacquainted with the use of 
them." But it is as necessary to know, and to ascertain intervals 
in melody as in harmony, otherwise there can be no truth, or 
certainty of intonation ; and this author dissembles the difficulty of 
thirds and sixths being ranked among the discords by ancient 
theorists. It is his opinion, however, that harmony was known 
before the time of Plato and Aristotle ; but that it was lost with 
other arts and sciences during the barbarism of the middle ages; 
and afterwards, about the year 1430, according to Vincentio Galilei, 
its practice was renewed, its limits were extended, and its rules 
established on certain principles, which for the most part remain 
in force at present. Indeed all that he says may be allowed to the 
ancients, without putting them in possession of such harmony as 
ours, consisting of different melodies performed at the same time. 

The abb Fraguier is the next in the list of defenders of ancient 
harmony. This learned academician was unable to persuade himself 
that antiquity, so enlightened, and so ingenious in the cultivation 
of the fine arts, could have been ignorant of the union of different 
parts, in their concerts of voices and instruments, which he calls 
the most perfect and sublime part of music ; and thinking that he 
had happily discovered, in a passage of Plato, an indubitable and 
decisive proof of the ancients having possessed the art of counter- 
point, he drew up his opinion into the form of a memoir, and 
presented it to the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, 
in 1716 (A). 

The passage in question is in the seventh book of Laws, in 
which Plato determines that the proper time for young persons to 
learn music is from thirteen to sixteen years of age ; during which 
period he supposed they might be enabled to sing in unison with 
the lyre, and to distinguish good music from bad ; that is, such airs 
as were grave, decorous, and likely to inspire virtue, from those 

(g) 11 Musico Testore, or the Composer, was published by him at Venice, 1706. 

(%) M. Burette acquaints us that this abbe* learned to play on the harpsichord at an advanced 
age, and concluding that the ancients, to whom he generously gave all good things, could not do 
without counterpoint, made them a present of tbat harmony, with which his aged ears were so pleased. 


that were of a light and vicious cast. This is speaking like a 
legislator, says the abbe Fraguier. But as harmonic composition 
was very bewitching to minds so remarkable for sensibility as the 
Greeks, and was, besides, of so difficult a study, as to require 
infinite time and labour to accomplish, he thought it necessary to 
caution them against too strong an attachment to it, and therefore 
established a kind of rule, by which they would be prevented from 
giving that time to musical studies, which might be better employed 
in more important concerns. 

This is but the introduction to the passage in question, which 
is the following: "As to the difference and variety in the 
accompaniment of the lyre, in which the strings produce one air, 
while the melody composed by the poet produces another, (the poet 
then set his own verses,) whence results the assemblage of dense 
and rare, of quick and slow, acute and grave, as well as of concord 
and discord (i)} besides, the knowing how to adjust the rhythm, or 
measure, to all the sounds of the lyre : these are not studies fit for 
youth, to whom three years only are allowed for learning merely 
what may be of future use to them. Such contrarieties of different 
difficulties in the study and practice of music, are too embarrassing, 
and may render young minds less fit for sciences, which they ought 
to learn with fac&ity." 

It does not seem necessary here to enter into a verbal criticism 
of this passage, as it has been understood and translated by the 
abb6 Fraguier; nor to insert two other passages, one from Cicero, 
and one from Macrobius, which this author has given by way of 
corollaries, in support of his explanation of the passage in Plato ; 
as I shall consign him and his fancied proofs in favour of ancient 
counterpoint to his brother academician M. Burette, the most able 
writer, in many particulars, of all those who have interested them- 
selves in the dispute concerning ancient music. 

The last champion, though by no means the least formidable, 
for ancient harmony, was the late Mr. Stillingfleet, in his ingenious 
Commentary upon a musical Treatise by Tartini (k). If strong 
prejudices in favour of the ancients appear in this work, they are 
natural to a man of learning and taste, who has long drank of the 
pure fountain of knowledge at the source ; and Boileau has truly 
said, that those who have been the most captivated in reading the 
best writings of antiquity, have been men of the first order, and of 
the most exalted genius (I). 

Though I am not so happy as to agree entirely with Mr. 
Stillingfleet in all his musical opinions, yet it is a justice due to his 
merit as a writer, to confess, that I am acquainted with no book in 
our language, upon the same subject, which a scholar, a gentleman, 

(t) Though the abbe* Fraguier translates dyn^mnv, dissonance, it is not the true acceptation of 
the word, nor can it be found thus explained in any lexicon, or Greek writer on music ; its precise 
and technical meaning will be given farther on. 

(k) Principles and Power of Harmony. 

(Z) Des esprits du premier ordre, des hommes de la plus hantte elevation. Lettre a M. Perrault. 


or a musician, can read with so much pleasure and profit as .the 
Principles and Power of Harmony. 

As Mr. Stillingfleet, in forming his judgment, was able to have 
recourse to original information, his opinions seem intitled to 
some respect. 

Tartini, in his Trattato di Musica, p. 143 (m), advances the 
following proposition: "That, if simultaneous harmony was known 
to the Greeks, they could not, and ought not to use it, in order to 
arrive at the end proposed ; but ought to employ a single voice 
in their songs." This proposition he supports with arguments 
drawn from strong reason, and deep reflection. Tartini modestly 
declared himself to be no scholar ; however, he had perfectly 
informed himself of the famous dispute, whether the ancients knew 
and practised harmony, in our sense of the word. He seems to 
have been gifted with native discernment and penetration in all 
his musical enquiries, which usually conducted him to truth, 
though not always by the beaten or shortest road. 

Mr. Stillingfleet peaceably allows him to doubt of the ancients 
having known counterpoint, during the examination of his book ; 
but in the appendix to Principles and Power of Harmony, . 181, 
he takes the matter up seriously. 

" Dr. Wallis," says he, "tells us, that the ancients had not 
consorts of two, three, four, or more parts or voices. Meibomius 
asserts much the same thing ; and this is, one may almost say, the 
universal opinion. Some, however, of the writers on music have 
produced passages out of the ancients, which seem to imply the 
contrary, but which are not looked on as conclusive by others: 
such as that out of Seneca, Epistle Ixxxiv. Non vides quam 
multorum vocibus, &c., where perhaps nothing but octaves are 
implied. Another passage cited by Isaac Vossius, De Poemat. Cant. 
&c. out of the piece De Mundo, attributed to Aristotle, seems to be 
more to the purpose, povomt] 6eis, Sec., i.e. music, mixing together 
acute and grave, long and short sounds, forms one harmony out of 
different voices. Wallis also has produced a passage out of Ptolemy, 
which he thinks may infer music in parts. Ptol. Harm., p. 317. 
But the strongest which I have met with, in relation to this long 
disputed point, is in Plato ; a passage which I have never seen 
quoted, and which I shall translate." 

It appears from this declaration, that Mr. Stillingfleet knew 
not that the Memoir e of the abb6 Fraguier, just mentioned, was 
written merely to explain this passage of Plato, and to confute that 
in which Dr. Wallis denies counterpoint to the ancients. I shall, 
however, give Mr. Stillingfleet' s translation of the passage in Plato, 
in order to let my readers see how he understood it, before I enter 
upon M. Burette's examination of the same passage. 

"Young men should be taught to sing to the lyre, on account 
of the clearness and precision of the sounds, so that they may learn 
to render tone for tone. But to make use of different simultaneous 

(m) In Mr. Stillingfleet' s Commentary, p. 70. 


notes, and all the variety belonging to the lyre, this sounding one 
kind of melody, and the poet another to mix a few notes with 
many, swift with slow, grave with acute, consonant with dissonant, 
&c., must not be thought of ; as the time allotted for this part of 
education is too short for such a work." Plato, 895. 

"I am sensible," says Mr. Stillingfleet, "that objections may be 
made to some parts of this translation, as of the words nvxvTijs, 
pavonis, and dvTKpcovois ; but I have not designedly disguised what I 
took to be the true sense of them, after due consideration. It appears 
then, upon the whole, that the ancients were acquainted with music 
in parts, but did not generally make use of it." 

Having now ranged in chronological order the principal writers 
who have stood forth in defence of ancient harmony, and fairly 
stated the reasons which they have severally urged in support of 
their opinions, I shall next proceed in the same manner to relate 
all the different proofs alledged by those who have traversed the 
cause of the ancients. 

Glareanus [1488-1563] and Salinas [1513-90] are so unanimous 
in thinking counterpoint a modern invention, that they make use of 
precisely the same words in denying it to the ancients (n). The 
Dodecachordon of Glareanus was published in 1547 ; and the 
Treatise of Music by Salinas, in 1577. Their opinion was, that the 
great musicians of antiquity, when they accompanied themselves on 
the lyre, played only in unison with the voice; and that nothing can 
be found in the books that are come down to us, which can be 
urged in proof that music in parts was known to the ancients. 

The opinion of Glareanus upon this matter would not have 
much weight with me, had it not been confirmed by that of Salinas, 
a much better judge of the subject ; for though Glareanus, says 
Meibomius, was, in other respects, a very learned man, yet, in 
ancient music, he was an infant (o).* 

The cavalier Hercules Bottrigari of Bologna [d. 1612], was 
possessed of much musical learning. He was the author of several 
treatises upon music, that were printed about the latter end of the 
sixteenth century, and left several others behind him in manuscript, 
which are now in the possession of Padre Martini, particularly one 
upon the Theory of Fundamental Harmony, in which there is the 
following passage, that puts his opinion concerning ancient counter- 
point out of all doubt. 

"As neither ancient musicians, nor ecclesiastics, had characters 
of different value to express time, or make sounds very long or very 
short, they had consequently no other measure of time in singing, 

(n) Sao autem dubitari vchementer etiamnum hoc estate inter exim& dodos viros, fueritne apud vetercs 
hujusmodi, quam nunc tradituri sumus, musica, (Salinas ait, cantus plurium vocum), cum apud nuttum 
quod equidem sciam, authorem veterem quicquam hujus cantus inveniatur. Multo minus ettam videtur 
quibusdam vuatuor pluriumve vocum concentus oUm in usujuisse. Dodecachord. lib. iii. p. 195. Salinas 
de Musica, lib. v. p. 284. 

(o) Glareanus, homo ut c&tera doctissimus, sic in antiqua musica infans. In Aristox. p. 103. 

* Glareanus is a more important figure than either Burney or Meibom allow. His most important 
work is the Dodecachordon, in which he endeavours to prove that each of the Greek modes had a 
corresponding one in the Church modes. There is an autograph copy of this work extant which is 
now in Washington, U.S.A. A German translation by Bonn was published in 1888. 

VOI,. i. 8. 113 


as far as I have been able to discover, among the Hebrews, Greeks, 
or first ecclesiastics, than that of an articulately quick, or slow 
pronunciation ; nor were they acquainted with that diversity of 
different parts in consonance, which in modern music constitutes as 
many different airs as there are parts set to the principal melody 


Artusi [d. 1613] , another musical writer of the sixteenth century, 

whose opinions were much respected bv his cotemporaries, 
expresses himself very clearly on the subject in question. "In the 
first ages of the world, during the infancy of music, there was no 
such tiling as singing in parts, as counterpoint is a modern 
invention (?)." 

The next in the list of writers of eminence, who denies harmony, 
in our sense of the word, to the ancients, is Cerone [c. 1566-1613], 
author of an excellent treatise upon music in Spanish, which is 
become extremely scarce. This writer says "it is necessary to 
observe, that the music of the ancients was not diversified with so 
many instruments ; nor were their concerts composed of so many 
different parts, or such a variety of voices as the present (r)."* 

The famous Kepler was so far from allowing to the ancients 
such harmony as is practised by the moderns, that he says, though 
Plato in his Republic speaks as if something like it were in use, he 
supposes if they ever had any accompaniment to their melodies by 
way of base, it must have been such a one as is produced by the 
drone of a bagpipe (s). This is, perhaps, being as unjust to the 
ancients, as those are to the moderns, who will not allow them to 
have made any progress in music, because they are unable by their 
compositions and performance, to cure diseases, tame wild beasts, 
or build towns. 

Father Mersennus says, "as to the Greeks, and people still more 
ancient, we know not whether they sung in different parts, or 
accompanied a single voice with more than one part. They might, 
indeed, vary the sounds of the lyre, or strike several strings 
together, as at present ; but there is no treatise on playing that 
instrument come down to us: however, as the ancient books on 
other parts of music which are preserved, are silent with respect to 

(p) Non avendo avuto i musici antichi, anco ecclesiastic* la differenza del diverse valore delle vane 
note, la importantia della misurata grande, opieciola quantita del tempo di quette ; imperocche altra misura 
di tempo non ko fin gui trovato, che avessero in cantando, ne gU Ebrei, i Greci, i primi ecclesi'istid, che 
quella della tarda, o velocebuona lor prononcia: ne la diversita delle tante arie in uno istante medemo r che 
tante sono, guante sono le parti, di che la cantilena e composta. U Trimerone de' Fondam. Aim. 

(?) Ne' primi secoli, nel nascere d^ questa scienza, non cantavano in consonanza, essendo che il 
cantare in consonanza, e un moderno ritrovato. P. D. Gio. Maria Artusi. Arte del Contrapunto. delle 
Conson. imperf. et Disson. p. 29. Venet. 1598. [1586 & 9.] 

(r) Es menester advertir que la musica de los antiguos no era con tantas diversidades de instruments 

Ni tampoco $us concentos eran compuestos de tantas paries, ni con tanta variedad de bozes hazian su 

musica, como agora se haze. El Melopeo y Maestro Tractado de Musica Theorica y Practica. 
Napoles, 1613. 

(s) Etsi vox, harmonia, veteribus usurpatur pro canto ; non est tamen intelligenda sub hoc nomine 
modulatio per plures voces, harmonice consonant es. Novit-ium enim inventum esse, vtsteribusque plane 
incognitum, concentus plurium vocum in perpetua harmoniarum irici$$itudine, id probatione multa non 
indiget. Harmon. Mundi, p. 80, 1650. 

* Many authorities state that this work is merely a translation or resume* of a lost work by 



counterpoint, it is natural to suppose that antiquity was ignorant 
of the art 09." 

Marsilius Ficinus, who in the fifteenth century wrote a com- 
mentary upon the Timaus of Plato, asserts that the Platonists 
could not have understood music so well as the moderns, as they 
were insensible to the pleasure arising from Thirds, and their 
replicates, which they regarded as discords ; notwithstanding the 
seventeenth, tenth, and third major, are the most grateful of our 
concords, and so necessary, that without them our music would be 
destitute of its greatest ornament, and counterpoint become 
monotonous and insipid. 

Kircher says, though the ancients may have used some of the 
concords in counterpoint, yet there were others, such as the thirds 
and sixths, which are so grateful in our compositions, that were 
utterly prohibited ; and as to the use of discords, by which such 
fine effects are produced in modern music, it was an art of which 
they had not the least conception (u). 

Claude Perrault, the famous architect, and member of the 
Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, published a Dissertation upon 
the Music of the Ancients, in 1680, which is chiefly employed in 
proving that counterpoint was unknown to antiquity ; he has 
manifested himself to have been perfectly master of the subject ; he 
had read all the ancient authors who have written expressly upon 
it ; he had examined the passages which have been thought the 
most favourable to it, in some authors who have only mentioned it 
occasionally ; and had considered the marvellous effects attributed 
to it in others ; he reasons forcibly, and the facts he alledges in 
support of the side he has taken, are strong and well stated. This 
work was neither the cause, nor consequence of the quarrel between 
Boileau, and his brother, Charles Perrault, which did not break out 
till seven years after the publication of the Essays in Natural 
Philosophy, in the second volume of which the Dissertation 
upon the Music of the Ancients first appeared. Our author had 
indeed given his opinion upon the subject very freely in the notes 
to his excellent translation of Vitruvius in 1673 ; where, 
in his commentary of the chapter upon Harmonic Music, according 
to the Doctrine of Aristoxenus, he declares that ''there is nothing 
in Aristoxenus, who was the first that wrote upon concords and 
discords, nor in any of the Greek authors who wrote after him, that 

(t) Quant aux Grecs, et aux plus anciens, nous ne seasons pas s'ils cJiantpient, a plttsieurs vote, et 
bien qu'tts ne joignissent qu'une vote a leurs instrument, ils pouwrient neanmoins faire trots ou plusieurs 
parties sur la lyre, comme I'on fait encore aujourdhui, et une autre avec la vote. Joint que les livres que 
les Grecs nous ont laisses de leur musique, ne tesmoignent pas qu'Hs ayent si bien connu et pratique la 
musique, particulierement cells qui est a plusieurs parties t comme Von fait waintenant, et consequemment 
il n'est pas raisonable de les prendrt pour nos juges en cette -mature. Hannonie Universelle, livre vi, 
p. 204. Paris, 1636. 

(u) Musurgia, lib. vii. torn. i. p. 547- 

The learned and laborious Meibomius, p. 35, who was most willing to bestow upon the ancients 
whatever would redound to their honour, at the expence of the moderns, gives no proofs of their 
knowledge of counterpoint. Two passages which he quotes from Bryennius and Psellus, writers of 
the middle ages, shew that even in their time, thirds and sixths made no part of their Antiphonia or 



manifests the ancients to have had the least idea of the use of 
concords in music of many parts (#)." 

Satire is an excellent weapon when employed against vice and 
folly ; but it becomes a basilisk in the hands of a man of strong 
passions and little feeling, who only employs it to blast the reputa- 
tion, and wither the laurels of those who differ from him in opinion, 
or whom mere caprice shall incline him to dislike : it is then a 
deadly instrument, an edged tool in the hands of a mischievous 
child, or a madman. I have never been able to discover, after a 
minute enquiry and perusal of the literary history and quarrels of 
the learned in France, during the reign of Lewis the fourteenth, 
any other cause for the hatred and detestation which Boileau long 
manifested for Charles Perrault, but that he was a friend to the 
poet Quinault, whom posterity has however allowed to be a modest 
and inoffensive man, of true genius ; yet Boileau not only hated 
him, and his manner of writing, but furiously attacked all who were 
connected with him. In his Art of Poetry, his Satires, and in a 
great number of Epigrams, he calls the most learned physician of 
his age and country, "an ignorant quack, an assassin, an enemy 
to health and good sense'*; and of the best architect France has 
ever produced, he says, that "through pity to human kind, or 
rather want of practice, he quitted physic for the trowel, and in a few 
years raised as many bad buildings, as he had before ruined good 

This shews how dangerous it is to depend upon poetical informa- 
tion concerning the vice or virtue, the genius or dullness, of 
individuals. It does not appear that either Quinault, or Perrault, 
ever tried to retaliate Bofleau's abuse ; but luckily posterity has 
done them justice ; and M. de Voltaire, among others, has rescued 
their characters from the infamy with which the surly satirist had 
loaded them. " Quinault," he says, "is no less admired for his 
beautiful lyric poetry, than for the patience with which he suffered 
the unjust severity of Boileau. During his life it was believed that 
he owed his reputation to Lulli; but his poetry will alwa}^ be read, 
though the music of Lulli is already insupportable. Time sets a just 
value on all things." 

And Claude Perrault he allows to have been not only a most 
accurate naturalist, profoundly skilled in mechanics, and an 
admirable architect, but that he was possessed of great abilities in all 
the arts, which he acquired without a master ; and finishes his 
character by saying, that he encouraged the talents of others under 
the protection of the great statesman Colbert, and enjoyed a high 
reputation, in spite of Boileau (y). 

But to return to Counterpoint. There is a famous passage in 
the Treatise on the Sublime of Longinus, cap. xxiv., which has 
been made use of in favour of ancient harmony. The subject of the 
chapter is the Periphrasis. "I believe," says Longinus, "no one 

(x) Les dix Liv. # Architecture de Vitntve, lib. V. p. 161, ad Edit. 1684. 
(y) Siecle de Louis XIV. 


will dispute the utility of the periphrasis in the sublime ; for as the 
principal sound is rendered sweeter by what are called the Para- 
phoni, so the Periphrasis often accords with the proper word, and 
by that consonance adorns the discourse." 

Boileau has translated <p&oyyot naQayuvoi, different parts, from 
his belief that the ancients had counterpoint: "For I am not of the 
opinion of those moderns," says he, "who will not allow different 
parts to that music, of which such wonders are related, since, with- 
out parts, there could be no harmony." But he did not know, that 
by harmony the ancients always understood what we mean by 
melody, as may be proved from ancient musical treatises, as well 
as from a passage in Longinus himself, cap. xxxiii., where harmony 
applied to the human voice in the singular number, must mean 
melody; a mistake that persons not versed in music, are apt to 
make. Mr. Addison talks of an harmonious voice (z). 

However, Boileau, in this instance, only declared his religious 
principles and veneration for antiquity, in opposition to the 
sentiments of his antagonist, Perrault ; and in this he has been 
rather more humble and modest than* usual ; for he concludes his 
note on the passage by saying, "I submit this matter, however, to 
the learned in music, for I have not sufficient knowledge in the art 
to determine the point." 

Upon the whole, it must be allowed, that a periphrasis, which 
implies many words to express the same thing, gives a truer idea 
of melody than harmony, according to the modern acceptation of 
those words, and a passage varied, or a single note broken into 
divisions, has a great similitude to circumlocution. 

(z) This is speaking a la Grecque, and reserving the ancient and original import of the word 
harmony, which implied precisely what the moderns mean by melody. The following definitions, 
with which I was some years since favoured by Mr. Mason, in consequence of a conversation on the 
subject of ancient music, are too applicable to the present purpose, not to excite in me a desire of 
communicating them to the reader ; to whom they will appear the more important, as Mr. Mason, 
however he may have wished it, has not been able to conceal from his friends, how little his genius and 
taste have been confined to poetry, or how great a progress he has made in the knowledge and practice 
of music. I hope, therefore, that he will pardon my vanity in thus divulging the interest he has 
kindly taken in the subject of these enquiries. 


Harmony of the Ancients. Harmony of the Moderns. 

The succession of simple sounds, according The succession of combined sounds, or 
to their Scale, with respect to acuteness or gravity, chords, according to the laws of counterpoint. 


The succession of these harmonica! sounds, What the ancients meant by Harmony 

according to the laws of Rhythm or Metre, or, in Rhythm and Metre being excluded, 
other words, according to Time Measure, and 


What the ancients understood by Melody. 

According to these definitions it appears that Harmony, as we call it, was unknown to the 
ancients that they used that term as we use simple melody, when we speak of it as a thing distin- 
guished from modulated air ; and that their term Melody was applied to what we call air, or song. 
5: this be true, much of the difficulty in understanding ancient musical writers will vanish. 

If an ancient Tibicen used an improper tone or semitone, or transgressed the rule of the mode 
or key in which he was playing, he committed an error in Harmony ; yethis melody might have been 
perfect, with respect to the laws of Rhythm and Measure. We should rather say of a modern musician; 
hi the same instance, that he sung or played wrong notes, or was out of tune, yet kept his time. Whoever 
made this distinction would have been allowed by the ancients to possess a good harmonical ear, 
though the moderns would call it an ear for Melody, or Intonation. I put this familiar instance only 
to make the difference of the definitions more dear. 



Angelini Bontempi,* the next opponent of ancient counterpoint, 
is truly a formidable one. He was not only an excellent practical 
musician, but a profound theorist, and a scholar. With these 
qualifications he read the ancient authors upon the subject of music, 
in the languages in which they were originally written, and com- 
posed a history of music, in one small volume, folio, which is better 
digested, and better executed in most of its parts than any other, 
of the same size, that has been produced. 

This author, after examining all the ancient genera, systems, 
and proportions, declares that it is no longer a matter of doubt 
and conjecture, but a certainty, of the most clear and easy 
demonstration, that ancient music consisted of only a single part, as 
the treatises which are come down to us have considered nothing 
more than contiguous and successive sounds, and, consequently, the 
use of counterpoint was utterly unknown to the ancients : though the 
moderns, without reading or understanding the doctrines of the 
ancient fathers of this science, have imagined, and have persuaded 
others to imagine, that they were in possession of it (a). 

The learned doctor Wallis has given great offence to the 
defenders of antiquity, by the contempt which he has thrown upon 
ancient music, both in his appendix to the Harmonics of Ptolemy, 
and in the Philosophical Transactions. His opinions are indeed 
the more to be feared by them, as it could never be said that they 
were founded upon ignorance ; for they were obliged to allow that 
he knew more of ancient music than any modern, except Meibomius, 
who, likewise, with all his knowledge of the subject, and admiration 
of the ancients, could discover nothing in their musical treatises 
upon which to found their claim to the knowledge of counterpoint. 

Doctor Wallis, who had no prejudices against music in general, 
or that of the Greeks in particular, said, that as far as he was able 
to discover, the union of two, three, four, or more parts, as they are 
called, or sounds in consonance, which is admired in modern 
music, was unknown to the ancients (6); or, as he has translated 
the passage himself in the Philosophical Transactions, No. ccxliii. 
p. 298, for August, 1698: "I do not find amongst the ancients any 
footsteps of what we call several parts or voices, (as base, treble, 
mean, &c., sung in consort) answering each other, to complete the 

(a) Da questipochi assiomi o dimostratione d'Aristosseno si scopre t non per dubbiosa conghiettura: 
ma per chiara e manifesto, ewdewa, die la musica antica, sicome quella, che non ha considerate se non i 
suoni contigui e susseguenti, altro non sia stata, che musica appartenettfe ad una sola voce ; e che I'uso del 
contrapunto, non sia giammai pervenuto alia notitia degli antichi ; siccome i moderni, senza havere o 
letto o inteso la dottrina degli antichi Padri di questa scienlia, si sono persuasi ; et hanno co 1 loro scritti, 
procurato di persuademe anco gli altri. Historia Musica di Gio. And. Angelini Bontempi. Perugia, 
1695, p. 168. 

(6) Ea vero, qua. in hodiema musica conspicUur, partium (w loquuntur] seu vocum duarum, trium 
qvatuor, pluriumve inter se consensio (concinentibus inter se, qui simul audiuntur, sonis) veteribus erat 
(quantum ego video) ignota. Appeadice ad Ptolem. Harm. p. 316 & 317, in 4to. 1682. fol. p. 175 
Edit. 1699. 

* Born at Perugia about 1630. After a short career as a singer at Venice and Dresden he applied 
himself to the study of science and architecture. Besides the Historica Musica (1695) he published in 
1660 and 1690 two other theoretical works. He also composed three operas, " Paride " (1662), 
44 Pafne " (1672), and " Jupiter and lo " (1673). He died in 1705. 



Doctor Wallis has indeed produced one passage out of Ptolemy, 
which he thinks may infer music in parts. The abbe Fraguier, 
Chateauneuf, and Mr. Stillingfleet, have all eagerly availed them- 
selves of this concession ; but M. Burette has cruelly deprived them 
and their adherents of that comfort, by a critical examination of 
their manner of translating the passage, in which he seems clearly 
to have proved that they have either wilfully or inadvertently 
mistaken the true acceptation of the most important terms in the 
Greek text ; and that the utmost which can be inferred from the 
passage in question is, that the ancients both played and sung 
together frequently in unisons and octaves. 

In 1723, M. Burette published, in the fourth volume of the 
Memoires des Inscriptions, a Dissertation upon the Symphony of the 
Ancients, which has never yet been answered. The abbe Fraguier. 
indeed, indirectly endeavoured to invalidate the proofs he cited 
from ancient writers against counterpoint, by others which seemed 
to bear a different construction ; but though the abbe was a man 
of taste and classical learning, he wanted musical erudition sufficient 
to know the technical use of the Greek words, which he thought 
favourable to his argument, in writers who had only mentioned 
music incidentally ; whereas M. Burette, who had drawn his know- 
ledge from the source, by studying such treatises of ancient Greek 
musicians as had been written expressly on the subject, soon 
proved the evidence of his antagonist to be feeble, and his 
reasoning fallacious. 

M. Burette, after so complete a victory, was allowed to enjoy 
his laurels in peace for a considerable time, till, at length, the 
two Jesuits, Bougeant and Cerceau, commenced hostilities ; not for 
his having treated the ancients with too much rigour, but with too 
little : Le sceptique Bayle, says M. de Voltaire, n'est pas assez 
sceptique. M. Burette, m the opinion of these fathers, had granted 
too much to the ancients, in allowing them to have sung and played 
in concert by thirds. 

In order to give my readers an idea of this dispute, I shall 
epitomize, and make some remarks upon M. Burette's Dissertation. 
But first it seems necessary to explain a few important terms, which 
frequently occur in ancient authors concerning music ; and the 
safest way of doing this will be to have recourse to the Greek 
musical writers themselves. 

Such sounds as were tuneable, and fit for music, were called in- 
all their treatises eppefais, concinnous ; and of these some were 
concords, and some discords. The concords, according to the 
testimony of every writer on ancient music, from Anstoxenus, to 
Boethius and Bryennius, the two last, of any authority, were the 
fourth, fifth, eighth, and their replicates or octaves. The discords 
were such intervals as are less than a fourth ; and all such as are 
found between the other consonant intervals ; consequently, the 
third and sixth, as well as the second and seventh, must have been 
numbered among the discords. Gaudentius, p. 11, tells us that 



i, homophonoi, unisons, differ neither in gravity nor 
acuteness, but are duplicates of the same sound/' 

" Ivficpcovoi, symphonoi, concords, are such sounds, as when 
struck at the same time on the lyre, or by flutes, so mix and unite 
together, that the tone of the lower sound is hardly to be dis- 
tinguished from the upper/' 

" Aiaycovoi, diaphonoi, discords, are such sounds as, when struck 
together, never unite (c)." 

" TlaQcupuvoi, paraphonoi, are neither concords nor discords, but 
between both : yet, when used together, they seem symphonoi, or 
concords, as is the case between Parhypate Meson, and Paramese, or 
F B ; and likewise between Meson Diatonos and Paramese, or 
G B." Now we have no sounds that come under this predicament 
of being neither concords nor discords, but between both, unless it 
is such concords as are out of tune. However, the passage seems 
to imply that about this time the tritonus and the ditone began to 
be used in counterpoint. 

M. de Chabanon, Memoires des Belles Lettres, tome XXXV. 
gives it as his own conjecture, that the use of the Paraphonoi, men- 
tioned by Gaudentius,* was the beginning of counterpoint ; yet it 
is but justice to say that M. Marpurg had conjectured the same 
thing in his History of Music, six years before the Memoir e of M. de 
Chabanon was read. However, another conjecture of this learned 
academician seems ingenious and new, which is, that in proportion 
as the enharmonic grew into disuse, attempts at counterpoint became 
more frequent ; for there could be no fundamental base, or 
harmony, given to enharmonic melodies : hence, while that genus 
continued to be so much admired and practised, as Plato, 
Aristoxenus, and other ancient writers, who mention it, inform us, 
all attempts at harmony must have been precluded. 

It has long been a matter of wonder, that sounds so agreeable to 
our ears, and so common in our harmony, as thirds and sixths, 
should by the Greeks be numbered among discords, and be 
banished from symphony, as their name fovpcpcova, or faaycova, unfit 
for symphony, discords, implies ; but the Greek proportions and 
divisions of the scale, however practicable in melody, are certainly 
inadmissible in harmony. 

Sir Isaac Newton, taking it, I suppose, for granted that the 
ancients had harmony like ours, says, "It is very strange that those 
whose nice scrutinies carried them so far as to produce the small 
limmas, should not have been more careful in examining the 
greater intervals (d)." 

The triple progression, to which the Pythagoreans religiously 
adhered, and by which fourths and fifths were made perfect and 

(c) These were only admitted in melody, or a single part; hence Plutarch (de ei Delphico) calls 
them ftXo)Sov/u.eva and j 

(d) Nugcz Antiques, p. 209. 

* Nothing is known about the life of Gaudentius, but an elementary treatise on music has 
survived and was reprinted by Meibom. It is probable that he lived before Ptolemy as he does not 
appear to have been acquainted with his theories. Some writers, however, place him between the 
third and fifth centuries A.D. 



unalterable, soni immobiles, could furnish no thirds and sixths, but 
what were intolerable ; as their tetrachords were built upon these 

B E B D G C F | Bb 

numbers 1 3 9 27 81 243 729 | 2187. And the divisions of 
Aristoxenus, who pretended to make the ear the sovereign judge 
of sounds, and yet gives to the octave six equal tones, twelve 
semitones, and twenty-four dieses, or quarter-tones, must, to our 
conceptions, have rendered the scale unfit, not only for harmony, 
such as ours, but melody. Aristoxenus, however, was a trimmer, 
and availed himself, in some particulars, of the doctrines of 
Pythagoras, at the very time he publicly condemned them. The 
abbe Roussier calls him le chef des temperateurs; and it would not 
be difficult to prove that a temperament was known to the ancients, 
even earlier than the time of Aristoxenus ; but as such a discussion 
does not seem properly to belong to this section, I shall reserve it 
for a future chapter, in which not only a short history of tempera- 
ment will be given, but of harmonics, or the philosophy of sounds, 
as far as it appears to have been known to the ancients. At present 
I shall only observe, that though the perfect harmony of fourths 
and fifths was certainly corrupted by a temperament, which 
rendered the perfect concords false, in order to make the imperfect 
more pleasing ; yet it seems as if we were entirely indebted to 
temperament for counterpoint, or music in parts ; as, without a 
temperament, either occasional or fixed, thirds and sixths would 
always have remained intolerable. 

M. Burette by the word symphony, which is the subject of his 
Dissertation, means the union of many harmonious sounds in 
concert; and this is at present the general acceptation of the word, 
when applied to modern overtures. 

The Greeks gave the appellation of harmony, figuratively, to 
every thing that had proportion. The term, however, must be 
veiy cautiously used in treating of ancient music, as no decisive 
instance can be found in Greek authors, musicians by profession, 
where any thing more is meant by it than the arrangement of single 
sounds, agreeable to some genus, mode, and rhythm; never the 
union or simultaneous use of them (e). 

'Aepovta, harmony, is defined by Hesychius and Suidas 
?7 Ivraxros axolov&ia, a well-ordered succession ; which clearly makes 
it melody. And the general title of the Greek musical treatises, in 
which nothing is mentioned but mere melody, fully confirms this 

Aristoxenus calls his work 'Aenovixa Iroi^ia., Elements of 
Harmony; that of Euclid and Gaudentius is called Etoaycoyy aQpovixy, 
an Introduction to Harmony ; the tract of Nichomachus is styled 
EyxstQidtov, An Harmonic Manual ; and that of Ptolemy 

(e) Theocritus, Idyll, xviii. describes the bride-maids of Helen in the act of dancing and singing t 

AeiSov 8'cLpa ircur&t. e? ev jueAos eyjcporeourai. 

They all sung one and the same melody or tune, beating the ground. 



Lucian (/), in speaking of the modes, which were only different 
kinds of melody, employs this word in the same sense. And 
Plato's definition of harmony (g) is a farther confirmation of its 
being constantly used for melody. "We call cadence/' says that 
philosopher, "the order or succession of movement ; and harmony, 
the order or succession of sounds, as to acute and grave, differently 
arranged and intermixed." And finally, Aristotle (de Mundo) uses 
it in a sense which still fortifies this idea. 

M. Burette therefore concludes, that the Greeks, in their 
chorusses and concerts, sung and played either in unison, which 
was called Homophony ; or in octaves, which was called Antiphony. 
The acceptation of Homophony has never been disputed ; but it 
may be necessary to give authorities for that of the word Antiphony, 
a term frequently used in sacred music during the first ages of lie 

Aristotle,' Prob. XXXIX, Sect. 19, says Antiphony [Symphon- 

ous Singing] is consonance in the octave : TO \L&V<pcovov 

and adds, that it "results from the mixture of the 

voices of boys and men (h)." The same philosopher, Prob. XVI. 
after asking why Antiphony is more agreeable than Homophony, 
gives this reason : that in Antiphony the voices are distinctly heard; 
whereas in unison they are often so confounded that one absorbs 
the other. 

The ancients sung in concert not only in the octave, but the 
double octave, or fifteenth. This appears from another problem 
in Aristotle, XXXIV., where he asks why the double fifth, and 
double fourth, cannot be used in concert as well as the double 
octave? It likewise appears from the same author that the union 
of two voices in octaves was called Magadizing, from a treble instru- 
ment of the name of Magadis, Mayatiig, strung with double strings 
tuned octaves to each other, like the octave stop in our harpsichords.* 

Thus far M. Burette has advanced nothing but what is reason- 
able and indisputable ; but, when he adds, that besides these two 
ways of singing and playing together in unisons and octaves, there 
is room to conjecture that the ancients had still another method, 
which consisted of singing and playing by thirds, here the Jesuits, 
Bougeant and Cerceau, commence their attack ; and here I shall 
leave him, as I shall every author, however respectable, when his 
reasoning does not fully satisfy my mind ; that is, when it rather 
raises than removes difficulties. 

(/) In Harmonide, tome i. p. 585. Ed. Graev. 

(g) De Legib. ii. p. 664. Ed. Steph. In order to avoid, as much as possible, loading the page 
with Greek, I shall frequently give nothing more than references to the edition, and page of the 
authors in question. 

(h) In the ancient Greek music the literal meaning of Antiphonia, or Antiphony, is sound opposed 
to sound ; as a note and its octave, its fourth, or its fifth ; in the music of the Romish church it 
means opposition of voices, response, as when the congregation answers the priest ; or in chanting, 
when each side of the choir sings verse for verse, alternately. 

if Again in Problem XIX, 18, he says, " Why is the consonance of the octave the only one which 
is sung ? for in fact this consonance is magadized, but not the others. Is it not because this con- 
sonance alone is antiphonous ? " 



It is well known that there is nothing so agreeable in modern 
harmony as the alternate succession of sharp [Major] and flat thirds 
[Minor] ; but it is likewise as well known that a whole movement in 
two parts, composed entirely of nothing else but of flat or of sharp 
thirds, from the beginning to the end, would be intolerable. 

Let any one make the experiment with the two stops of an 
organ called the fifteenth and tierce, and he will find the effect 
detestable. No organist ever attempts to play on them together, 
without other stops; and in the full chorus they are so qualified 
by the great number of lower and more powerful sounds produced 
by pipes which are longer, and of a larger diameter, that they 
cannot be distinguished without great attention. 

Full organ, when only 
G is put down. 


With these stops out, every single note upon the instrument is 
furnished with its full harmony; but if the small harmonic pipes 
were not governed by the greater, what a cacophony would a com- 
plete chord occasion ! 



Add any one discord to these, I ft} * *t * H 
and the chord seems to include 
every insult that can be put 
upon the ear. 


M. Perrault supposed a passage in Horace could only be 
explained by admitting that the ancients sometimes sung and 
played by thirds, that is, in two different modes, which were 
distant a third from each other. 

Sonante mistum tibiis, carmen lyra 
Hac Dorium, illis Barbarum. Epod. ix. v. 5. 

M. Burette adopted this idea in the year 1717. In 1726 he 
seemed to give it up to the reasoning of father Bougeant; but in 
1729 he resumed it again with more firmness than ever, upon 
being treated with some severity by father Cerceau, for having 
adopted M. Perrault's explication of the passage in Horace. 



It was urged against him, that the ancients always regarded 
thirds as discords; but this was thought a trivial difficulty. And 
M. Burette had reconciled it to his mind, he surely could not to 
his ear, that it was a common thing among them to sing and play 
in two different modes, or keys, at once. He settles it, therefore, 
that Horace by the Barbarian mode meant the Lydian, which is a 
sharp third above the Dorian. 

J. Baptisti Doni, in speaking of our imitating the ancients in 
musical dramas, proposes as a pleasing variety, the accompanying 
some airs in the course of the piece entirely by thirds; but whether 
two parts always sing in sharp thirds, or flat thirds, the effect will 
be equally disagreeable. Suppose, for instance, the melody was 
the following, and the upper part was the accompaniment: 

Lydian mode. 
Dorian mode. 

These parts would be moving in two keys very different from 
each other; the relations would be mostly false, and there would 
be no precise idea of either of these keys impressed on the ear, in 
preference to the other; and yet M. Burette supposes that Horace, 
in speaking of the pleasures of the table, introduces a concert 
composed of a lyre, played in the Dorian mode, and accompanied 
by flutes in the Lydian; that is to say in the key of Dt|, and F # 
with a minor third; as the general idea about the modes, before 
Ptolemy's time, was, that they were a semitone higher than each 

But let them be placed how they will, either a fourth distant 
from each other, or thus; d c# B A G # F# E, no two of them 
can be used at the same time in thirds, without changing the 
intervals of one, which would be changing the mode or key. 

Indeed a melody might, be accompanied by thirds in two dif- 
ferent species of octave; but that would be still in one mode; and 
the matter in debate is how two persons could sing and play in 
two different modes at the same time. 

In the fifteen modes, as understood by Bontempi and others, 
the Hyperphrygian, or Hypermixolydian mode, and the Hypo- 
dorian are only octaves to each other; and in the explanation which 
Sir Francis Eyles Stiles gives of the fifteen modes, there is not 
only a repetition in these two, but in the Hyperlydian and Hypo- 
phrygian, which are likewise octaves to each other; and it seems 
to explain the Magadizing, or playing in two modes at once, more 
naturally and probably, if we suppose it was done in the modes 
that were octaves, than in any two that were thirds, fourths, or 
fifths to each other. 



This will likewise explain a passage in Athenaeus, lib. xiv. 
cap. 5, concerning what Pindar says in writing to Hiero, that 
" when a boy sings an air with a man, it is called Magadizing, 
because they sing the same melody in two different modes." Now 
boys and women naturally sing an octave higher than a man, at 
the same time that they seem to be singing in unison. 

Father Cerceau has pressed M. Burette very hard in this dis- 
pute, and driven him to a sophistical defence. However, M. 
Burette would persuade us that he has totally overthrown his 
adversary, in the instances he gives of thirds, sixths, and tenths, 
used per saltum, to the same syllable, in ancient melody; but 
because one third, or sixth f may be pleasing in melody, does it 
follow that a succession of nothing else but thirds of the same 
kiad would have a good effect in harmony? If the ancients called 
thirds and sixths discords, on account of their being out of tune, 
from the two great perfection of fourths and fifths, which were 
never tempered, it but renders the fact insisted on by M. Burette, 
of a succession of thirds flat or sharp, the more improbable. 

It is so humiliating a circumstance for a disputant to confess 
himself vanquished, where sagacity is the stake, that it is hardly 
ever done, publicly, with a good grace. M. Burette, a man of 
learning and candour, when he was not hard pushed himself, could 
never have defended so improbable and disagreeable a practice, 
as the succession of flat or sharp thirds throughout an entire piece, 
in the ancient music, for any other reason but that of having 
once said it, after Claude Perrault, perhaps without sufficiently 
reflecting upon the numerous objections to which such an assertion 
was liable. But I am as certain as it is possible to be, of what 
cannot be proved, that though he may have thought with Perrault 
at first, yet, after he had read the arguments urged against such 
a practice by the fathers Bougeant and Cerceau, he reasoned 
against conviction; aixd in supporting his first proposition, reputa- 
tion, not truth, was the object of his defence. 

But to return to M. Burette's Dissertation. He examines the 
structure of the ancient lyre, and the number of its strings, and 
shews how far it was capable of the harmony of double stops. 
After which he enquires whether the ancients availed themselves 
of all its powers in this particular; and concludes that he is able 
to discover no proofs in confirmation of such an opinion. 

However, in speaking of the lyre in its improved state, when 
it was furnished with a great number of strings, M. Burette, after 
refusing counterpoint to the ancients, allows that the lyrists struck 
sometimes a chord composed of the key note, fifth and eighth, 
which was a fourth to the fifth; but though he supposes the ancients 
could bear a whole movement of sharp thirds, he will not suppose 
that a single third was ever use,d in those chords to complete the 
harmony. Upon other instruments he allows for accompaniment 
a kind of drone, composed of key note and fifth, like that of a 
vielle or bagpipe; but this is all conjecture; and if we must have 



recourse to that, why not generously grant the ancients counter- 
point at once, upon a supposition that so ingenious and refined a 
people as the Greeks could not help discovering it, with the great 
time and pains they bestowed in the cultivation of music? 

But not content with annihilating the harmony of the ancients, 
M. Burette adopts a remark of Perrault in his Vitruvius, which 
bears hard upon their melody. By comparing the ancient Greek 
tetrachord with our fourth, it appeared to these writers that we 
had the advantage in the number of sounds; but the specimen of 
Euclid's mixed genus, that has been given, p. 41, proves them 
to have been mistaken. 

According to Aristotle, Prob. 17, Sect. XIX. neither the fifth 
nor fourth, though concords, were sung together in concert (t). 
In Plutarch (k), however, who wrote many ages after Aristotle, 
when it may be imagined that symphony had made some advances 
towards our harmony, it appears as if both the fourth and fifth 
were frequently sounded together; whence they are called ovfiycova, 
concords; but whoever is versed in modern counterpoint, must 
know that a succession of these concords is insufferable, and that a 
composition, in which no other concords than the fourth, fifth, and 
eighth, had admission, would be so dry and insipid, that it would 
scarce merit the name of harmony.* 

On the other side, if, in spite of such formal and positive proofs 
to the contrary, we were, for argument's sake, to allow that the 
ancients made use of their four discords in concert, as well as of 
the three concords, we must at the same time grant them the art 
of combining different chords; of preparing and resolving .discords, 
according to the rules, founded upon the nature of chords, and upon 
the effect which they produce upon the ear. Now we ought to 
conclude that a body of all these rules would form an essential 
part of the theory of music, with respect to symphony, as other 
parts have done with respect to melody, or a simple treble. How- 
ever, in the most ample and complete treatises upon ancient music 
which are come down to us, not one rule with respect to composition 
in parts, is to be found. The authors of these treatises, after 
promising at the beginning that they would speak of every thing 
that concerned music, separate the heads of their work, which they 
all divide into seven articles: sounds, intervals, systems, genera, 
tones, or keys, mutations f and melody, or melopoeia; which with 
rhythm, or time, constituted the whole art and extent of their prac- 
tical music. For there is not the least probability that they would 
have omitted in their didactic writings so considerable a part of it 
as counterpoint, if it had come to their knowledge. 

That diligent enquirer, father Martini of Bologna, whose learn- 
ing and materials have afforded me great assistance in my musical 

(*) Ata irevrc at Sto. r(r<rap<i>v OVK a'Sowtv a'i/Ti<ui'a. 
(*) De ct Delphico, p. 693. Edit. StepJt. Gr. 

* Far from this being the case, some of the examples of Organum, when sung in tune have a 
effect. In the Gramophone History of Music, by 


peculiarly pleasing and even restful effect. In the Gramophone History of Music, by Columbia. 
there is a particularly beautiful specimen of organura. 



researches, ranks himself among the opponents of ancient counter- 
point. The opinion of this respectable judge must have great 
weight with all those who consider that he has spent the chief part 
of a long and laborious life in the study of music, and musical 
literature; that all the repositories, all the archives of Italy, where 
the most precious reliques of antiquity are treasured up, have been 
opened to him; that his knowledge and materials are equally un- 
common; and that the native candour and purity of his mind are 
such as exempt him from all suspicion of prejudice or partiality. 

This author, after shewing a strong desire to favour the ancients 
in their claims, is obliged to confess, with seeming reluctance, that 
as they allowed no other intervals to be concords than the octave, 
fourth and fifth, with their replicates, it indubitably robs them of 
the merit of haying invented and practised what we call counter- 
point (I); and this decision receives additional force from the 
testimony of several writers of the middle ages, cited in his book, 
who call music in parts, the new music, the new art, the new 
invention (m). 

Padre Martini, however, before he quits the subject, gives the 
following specimen of such meagre counterpoint as was likely to 
have been produced without the use of imperfect concords; in which 
he has been obliged to admit three sixths, a second, a seventh, and 
a ninth, contrary to the idea we have of what the delicate ears of 
the Greeks would allow. 

But with all the care of so learned a composer, this little speci- 
men seems made up of every thing that he would have avoided, 
in a composition of so few parts, if thirds and sixths had been 
allowed to be used. 

M. Marpurg, of Berlin [1718-95], published, in 1759, the first 
part of a History of Music (n), the second has not yet appeared. 
His enquiries in this work have been chiefly confined to ancient 
music and musicians. He has read not only many of the authors 
already cited, but several others; and has considered the subject 
with the attention and sagacity of a musician of learning and experi- 
ence. However, he is very cautious in delivering his opinions 

m Cio essendo fiarmi qttesto bastevole a contrastare a' Greet il vanto, e la notixia del contrappunto 
chenoiabbiamoorainpossesso. Sortia della Musica, torn, i, p. 174. *757- 

(*) Musica nova ; ars nova ; novitwm inventum. 
tn\ Kritische einleitung ixi die Geschichte und Lehisasze dcr alten und neuea MUSIK. i voL 
thin \L ^tMfnMi^on to the History and Theory of Ancient and Modern Music. 



concerning ancient harmony, and thinks it safer, and perhaps more 
likely to conciliate parties, to grant some kind of counterpoint to 
the ancients, than wholly to deprive them of it; though what he gives 
them seems more to flow from generosity, than a conviction of their 
just claim. 

This writer sets off with allowing, that as nature does nothing 
by large strides, and all the arts have arrived at perfection by small 
degrees, the music of the most remote times must have consisted 
of only a single part; and when the two part system was at first 
adopted, discords could not have been in use. " There are no 
accounts to be met with/' M. Marpurg is obliged to confess, " by 
which the date can be fixed when the two part system was invented, 
and generally received/' However, he conjectures, that a kind of 
harmony in pure consonance, by which I suppose he means perfect 
concords, of fourths, fifths, and eighths, continued from that period, 
to about the time of Guido. Indeed this is not allowing the ancients 
to have made much progress in the art of combining sounds, as the 
example just given from Padre Martini will manifest. 

M. Rousseau is very explicit upon this subject in his Musical 
Dictionary, at the article Counterpoint, which he terminates by 
saying, " It has long been disputed whether the ancients knew 
counterpoint; but it clearly appears from the remains of their music 
and writings, especially the rules of practice, in the third book of 
Aristoxenus, that they never had the least idea of it." 

His reflections upon this subject, in the article Harmony, are 
curious. " When we reflect, that of all the people on the globe, 
none are without music and melody, yet only the Europeans have 
harmony aad chords, and find their mixture agreeable; when we 
reflect how many ages the world has endured, without any of the 
nations who have cultivated the polite arts knowing this harmony; 
that no animal, no bird, or being in nature, produces any other 
sound than unison, or other music than mere melody; that neither 
the Oriental languages, so sonorous and musical, nor the ears of 
the Greeks, endowed with so much delicacy and sensibility, and 
cultivated with so much art, ever led that enthusiastic and volup- 
tuous people to the discovery of our harmony; that their music, 
without it, had such prodigious effects, and ours such feeble ones 
with it; in short, when we think of its being reserved for a northern 
people, whose coarse and obtuse organs are more touched with the 
force and noise of voices, than with the sweetness of accents, and 
melody of inflexions, to make this great discovery, and to build all 
the principles and rules of the art upon it; when," says he, " we 
reflect upon all this, it is hard to avoid suspecting that ail our 
harmony, of which we are so vain, is only a Gothic and barbarous 
invention, which we should never have thought of, if we ha,d been 
more sensible to the real beauties of the art, and to music that is 
truly natural and affecting." 

This opinion is generally ranked among the paradoxes of M. 
Rousseau. However, the sentiments of this wonderful writer seem 



here to proceed more from a refined taste, enlargement of thought, 
and an uncommon boldness and courage in publishing notions so 
repugnant to established opinions, than from a love of singularity. 
Besides, M. Rousseau is not the only writer on music who has 
imagined it possible for melody to please without the assistance 
of harmony. Vincenzio Galilei and Mersennus went still farther, 
and thought that the contrary effects of grave and acute sounds 
in different progressions, must mutually weaken and destroy each 
other. Indeed Mersennus, in his Harmonie Universelle (o) 
declares, that he thinks it no reproach to the ancient Greeks, to 
have been ignorant of counterpoint. 

" It is difficult/' says this father, " to prevail upon modern 
composers to allow that simple melody is more agreeable than when 
it is accompanied by different parts, because they are in fear of 
diminishing the public esteem for the learning and contrivance of 
their own compositions; which, indeed, would be the case, if a 
method could be devised of finding the most beautiful melodies 
possible, and of executing them with the utmost perfection. 

" For it seems as if the art of composing in parts, which has 
been practised only -for these last hundred and fifty, or two hundred 
years, had been invented merely to supply the defects of air, and 
to cover the ignorance of modern musicians in this part of 
melopoeia, or melody, as practised by the Greeks, who have 
preserved some vestiges of it in the Levant, according to the 
testimony of travellers, who have heard the Persians and modern 
Greeks sing. 

"And experience daily shews, that the generality of mankind 
are more attentive to pure melody, than to concertos, or pieces of 
many different parts, which they readily quit, in order to hear a 
simple air sung by a good voice; because they can more easily 
distinguish the beauty of a single part, or voice, than of harmonic 
relations; without taking into the account the beauties of poetry, 
which axe certainly more easily comprehended in a single part, 
than when it is accompanied by two or more parts, moving in 
different proportions of time. 

" But granting that great pleasure in music arises from hearing 
and distinguishing consonance, a duo must be more agreeable than 
a trio, as the harmony is less confused and compounded. For, 
if an eighth, a fifth, a fourth, a third, or a sixth, has anything 
beautiful in itself, and affects the ear with a peculiar species of 
delight, the sounding each of these concords with others of a different 
kind, must considerably weaken their force and effect. 

"It is related of tie famous composer, Claude le Jeun, that 
when he first presented his pieces of five, six, and seven parts, to 
the masters of Italy and Flanders, they regarded them with 
contempt; and his compositions would never have been performed 
by them, if he had not written something in two parts; in which, 

(o) Lit: IV. de la Composition, p. 197. 
Vox,, i. 9 129 


however, he, at first, succeeded so iU, that he confessed himself to 
have been ignorant of the true principles of music/' 

And this father carries his predilection for simplicity so far as 
to say, that " as the beauties of a trio cannot be so easily dis- 
covered and comprehended as of a duo, the mind and the ear 
having too many things to attend to at the same time; when lovers 
of music are more delighted with trios than duos, it must proceed 
from their being more fond of crowds and confusion, than of unity 
and clearness"; and compares them to " those who love to fish in 
troubled waters, or who like fighting pell-mell with the multitude, 
better than in duel, where a want of courage and conduct is more 
easily discovered." 

At the time when Mersennus lived [1588-1648], the rage for 
music in many parts, and the utter neglect, and indeed ignorance, 
of true melody, were such, as to render his reasoning just and 
necessary; but, at present, however harmony may be sometimes 
abused, it must be allowed that great and pleasing effects are 
produced from it, by composers of genius, taste, and experience, 
who, from the study of contrast, know when to multiply the parts, 
and when to disentangle melody. 

Having given the opinions of the most respectable writers on 
both sides of this long disputed question, it now remains to tell the 
reader ingenuously my own sentiments : and, to confess the truth, 
I will venture to say, that I do not believe the ancients ever did 
use simultaneous harmony, that is, music in different parts', for 
without thirds and sixths it must have been insipid; and with them, 
the combination of many sounds and melodies moving by different 
intervals, and in different time, would have occasioned a confusion, 
which the respect that the Greeks had for their language and 
poetry, would not suffer them to tolerate.* 

It has been frequently urged, and with apparent reason and 
probability, that ignorance and knowledge, taste and inelegance, 
could not be so much united in the same people, as that they 
should be possessed of every kind of refinement and perfection in 
poetry, sculpture, and architecture, and yet be delighted with a 
rude, coarse, and ordinary music. But stop any one principle of 
improvement in an art, or single wheel in a watch, and it will 
check all the rest; tie up one leg of an animal, to whom nature 
has even given four, and it will impede his progressive motion. 
The Turkish religion has not only stopt the advancement of human 
reason wherever it has been established, but totally suppressed 
all the acquirements of former ages. If, therefore, it was a law 
with the ancients to regulate their melody by the length and number 
of syllables; and if every thing that was thought to injure poetry, 
by distracting the attention from it, and rendering it difficult to 
be understood, was avoided, the multiplicity of concords in simple 
counterpoint, and the contrary motion of parts in sounds of 

* This is the modem belief . 


different lengths, in more florid compositions, must have been held 
in utter abhorrence. 

But music has not always kept pace with other arts in those 
countries, where they have been most successfully cultivated. 
Painting, Poetry, and Sculpture, in Italy, during the sixteenth 
century, greatly surpassed the Music of that period; and in France, 
though the compositions of Lulli, in Louis the fourteenth's time, 
were at least as much extolled by the natives, as those of the 
greatest musicians of ancient Greece, by such as either heard them, 
or heard of them; yet the French themselves, now, are of the 
same opinion as the inhabitants of other parts of Europe have long 
been, in thinking them not only greatly inferior to the best 
productions of the same period in all the other arts, but wholly 
intolerable and detestable.* 

I well know that many passages in ancient authors are pointed 
out as favourable to the side of music in parts; but what can not 
be found there by those who are determined to see whatever they 
seek? However, counterpoint seems as much a modern Discovery, 
as gunpowder, printing, the use of the compass, or circulation of 
the blood; and if more proofs against its ever having existed are 
not given, it is not for want of them, but for fear of tiring the 
reader. One observation more, however, I must add, as it seems 
conclusive, and has not, to my knowledge, been urged by any other 
writer: it is generally allowed that the ecclesiastical modes, and 
Canto Fermo of the Romish church, are remains of the ancient 
Greek music; and as these have ever been written in manuscript 
missals, without parts, and been always chanted in unisons and 
octaves, it is a strong presumptive proof, among others, against 
the ancients having had counterpoint, as this species of melody is 
so slow and simple, as to be more capable of receiving, and, indeed, 
to stand more in need of, the harmony of different parts, than 
any other. 

The chief use, therefore, which the ancients made of concords 
in music, seems only to ascertain intervals and distances; as in 
our first lessons of solmisation it has been customary to spell 
intervals, as it were, by naming the intermediate sounds; as do re 
mi, do mi', do re mi fa, do fa] do re mi fa sol, do sol, &c. 

Upon the whole, therefore, it seems demonstrable, that harmony, 
like ours, was never practised by the ancients: however, I have 
endeavoured to 'shew, that the stripping their music of counter- 
point does not take from it the power of pleasing, or of producing 
great effects; and, in modern times, if a Farinelli, a Gizziello, or a 
Cafarelli, had sung their airs wholly without accompaniment 
they would, perhaps, have been listened to but with still more 
pleasure. Indeed the closes of great singers, made wholly without 
accompaniment, are more attended to than all the contrivance of 
complicated parts, in the course of the airs which they terminate. 

* This statement may have been correct in the eighteenth century, but it does not hold good 



An elegant and graceful melody, exquisitely sung by a fine 
voice, is sure to engage attention, and to create delight without 
instrumental assistance; and in a solo, composed and performed by 
a great master, the less the accompaniment is heard, the better. 
Hence it should seem as if the harmony of accumulated vocal 
parts, or the tumult of instrumental, was no more than a succeda- 
neum to a mellifluous voice, or single instrument of the first class, 
which is but seldom found. However, to diversify and vary our 
musical amusements, and to assist in dramatic painting, a full 
piece, and a well written chorus, have their peculiar merit, even 
among songs and solos, however elegant the composition, or perfect 
the performance. 

Section IX 
Of Dramatic Music 

ARISTOTLE tells us, in his Poetics, that music, 
is an essential part of tragedy; but how it became essential, 
this philosopher does not inform us. M. Dacier has 
endeavoured to supply this omission, by suggesting, that custom, 
and a natural passion implanted in the Greeks for music, had 
incorporated it into their drama. Indeed Aristotle calls it, in the 
same work, " the greatest embellishment that tragedy can receive." 
And innumerable passages might be quoted from other ancient 
writers, to prove, that all the dramas of the Greeks and Romans 
were not only sung, but accompanied by musical instruments. 

However, many learned critics, not reflecting upon the origin 
of tragedy, and insensible, perhaps, to the charms of melody, have 
wondered how so intelligent a people as the Greeks could bear to 
have their dramas sung. But as antiquity is unanimous in deriving 
the first dramatic representations at Athens from the Dithyrambics, 
or songs, sung in honour of Bacchus, which afterwards served as 
chorusses to the first tragedies, we need not wonder at the 
continuation of music in those chorusses, which had been always 
sung.* Nor will the custom of setting the Episodes, as the acts 
of a play were at first called, appear strange to such as recollect 
that they were written in verse, and that all verse was sung, 
particularly such as was intended for the entertainment of the 
public, assembled in spacious theatres, or in the open air, where 
it could only be heard by means of a very slow, sonorous, and 
articulate utterance (a). 

It is true that tragedy is an imitation of nature; but it is an 
exalted and embellished nature; take away music and versification, 
and it loses its most captivating ingredients. Those who think it 
unnatural to sing during distress, and the agonies even of death, 
forget that music is a language that can accommodate its accents 
and tones to every human sensation and passion; and that the 

(a) Quintilian, lib. i. cap. 8. says, that " children should be taught to read verse differently from 
prose ; for verse is a kind of music ; and the poets tell us themselves that they sing ; but this must not 
be overdone, in a whining effeminate tone, as if they were really singing a song. Some, he continues 
will have it, that children should recite verses like actors on the stage ; but this is not my opinion ; 
nothing more is necessary than a gentle inflection of the voice, merely to distinguish what the poet says 
himself, from what he makes others say." 

* " Peisistratus revived or amplified the vintage festival, which had been held from early ages 
in honour of Dionysus ... At this new festival which was called the Great Dionysia, the old dances and 
songs performed originally by peasants dressed up as satyrs, were in course of time combined with 
dialogue and with representations of old legends, and this ' goat song ' performance developed little 
by little into the Attic drama " (H. B. CotteriU, Ancient Greece, 1913, p. 175). 



colouring of these on the stage must be higher than in common 
life, or else why is blank verse, or a lofty and figurative language, 
necessary (&). 

From these, and other circumstances, mentioned in the course 
of this section, there can remain no doubt but that the ancient 
dramas were sung: dramatic recitation having been constantly 
called by the Greeks, pekoe, melody, and by the Latins, modulatio, 
modus, canticum, and other musical terms, which imply singing. 

Indeed, so immense was the size of the theatres of Greece and 
Italy, that we may naturally conclude a musical declamation for 
the stage to have been a necessary consequence of speaking loud; 
for whoever shouts, hallows, or bawls, with sufficient force to be 
heard further than common speech can penetrate, makes use of 
fixed tones, which, if softened, would become musical: and it is 
well known that the tones of speech are too transient and undeter- 
mined to be ascertained by those of music, or to be audible at a 
great distance, or in a wide space (c). 

This want of natural power of voice sufficient to be heard in 
the open air, for the ancient theatres had no cover, and by a great 
multitude, gave rise not only to singing upon the stage, but, 
perhaps, to chanting in the church. The necessity of augmenting 
the force of a performer's voice by every possible means, likewise 
first suggested the idea of metallic masks, which were used by the 
actors upon the principle of speaking-trumpets, and to that of the 
Echeia, or harmonic vases; two expedients so peculiar to the 
ancient drama, that it seems necessary to give some account of 

The mask was called by the Latins persona, from personare, to 
sound through; and delineations of such masks as were used in each 
piece, were generally prefixed to it, as appears from the Vatican 
Terence. Hence dramatis persona, masks of the drama; which 
words, after masks ceased to be used, were understood to mean 
persons of the drama. 

Quintilian, lib. ii. gives a list of invariable masks appropriated 
to different characters, to which the public had for many ages been 
accustomed. And Julius Pollux (d) is still more ample in his 
account of theatrical masks, used in Tragedy, Satyr, and Comedy. 

(6) The stage cannot subsist without exaggeration ; as verse is the exaggeration of common 
speech, so music is that of verse ; in like manner exaggerated gesture becomes dancing. M. Marmontel 
in the Encyclopedic, Art. Declamation, says, that the whole merit of speaking on the stage consists in 
being natural ; and of acting, in being well acquainted with the customs and manners of the world. 
Now nature cannot be taught, nor can the manners of society be learned from books ; yet 1 shall give 
here an excellent reflection from this author, which seems to approximate parties, by making allowance 
for a small deviation from the nature of common life, in favour of the poet and the actor, whose writings 
and speech are somewhat more inflated when the buskin is on, than at other times. 

For the same reason as a picture, which is to be seen at a distance, requires bolder strokes and 
higher colouring, the theatrical voice must be pitched higher, the language be more lofty, and the 
pronunication more accentuated, than in society, where we communicate our ideas with more facility, 
but always in proportion to the perspective ; that is to say, in such a manner that the tone of voice 
should be softened and diminished to the degree of nature, before it arrives at the ear of those to whom 
it is addressed." 

(c) The theatre built by Augustus, and dedicated to the memory of his nephew Marcellus, though 
one ot the smallest in Rome, contained 22,000 people ; and, according to Pliny, lib. xxxvi. cap. 15. the 
theatre of Pompey was sufficiently spacious to admit 40,000 people, and that of Scaurus 80,000. 

(4) Lib. iv. cap. 19. Ilept irpwruirw rpayiieiav Sarvpuecti', xai KtofUKwi/. 


Niobe, weeping; Medea, furious; Ajax, astonished; and Hercules, 
enraged. In comedy, the slave, the parasite, the clown, the 
captain, the old woman, the harlot, the austere old man, the 
debauched young man, the prodigal, the prudent young woman, 
the matron, and the father of a family, were all constantly 
characterised by particular masks. This custom is, in some 
measure, still preserved in the Italian comedy, and in our panto- 
mime entertainments, which originated from it (e). 

" The spectators/* says du Bos, speaking of the ancient 
theatre, " lost but little on the side of -face-playing* by the intro- 
duction of masks] for not one third of the audience were near 
enough to the actor to discern the play of muscles, or working of 
the passions in the features of his face; at least to have received 
pleasure from them; for an expression must have been accompanied 
with a frightful grimace and distortion of visage, to be perceptible 
at so great a distance from the stage (/)." 

With respect to the Echeia, or vases, used in theatres for the 
augmentation of sound, Vitruvius, book V. cap. 5, tells us, that 
they were placed in cells or niches, between the rows of seats 
occupied by the spectators, to which the voice of the actor had 
free passage; that they were made of brass, or earthen ware, and 
proportioned in magnitude to the size of the building; and lastly, 
that in the small theatres, they were tuned in harmonica! propor- 
tions of fourths, fifths, and eighths, with their replicates; and in 
theatres of great magnitude, there was a vase to correspond with 
every sound in the disdiapason, or great musical system, in all 
the genera. 

The Romans, according to the same author, were obliged to the 
Greeks for this invention, as well as for tragedy itself. For the 
Eckeia were brought first into Italy from Corinth, by Mummius (g). 
Perhaps they had something of the effect of the whispering gallery 
at St. Paul's church, which, by its orbicular form, augments sound 
in the same manner as the belly of an instrument, a hogshead, 
or a draw-well. 

(e) The ancients had three several kinds of masks ; the tragic, comic, and satiric. Lucian, dt 
Saltat. speaks still of a fourth kind, peculiar to dancers, of which the mouths were shut ; whereas the 
others were always open, and of an enormous size. 

(/) For the form of these masks, see Plate IV. No. i, 2, and 3. No. i is taken from an antique 
figure in metal, of Greek sculpture ; the mask covered the whole head of a person singing on the stage. 
No. 2, is likewise taken from an antique mask in metal. It has a large mouth in the shape of a shell ; 
and by the horror expressed in the countenance, it seems to have been the mask of a tragic actor, 
reciting some terrible event upon the stage. " The wide mouth, in the form of a shell," says Ficoroni, 
" so common in the ancient masks, served to augment the power of the voice, upon the principle of a 
speaking trumpet/' Quetta tea a amchigUa, che si vede in altre mascherff, sennoa per ingrandire la 
ooce, come sttccede nette trombe a proporzione. Le Maschere Sceniche, cap. xvii. and xxii. See likewise 
Darter's and Oilman's Terence. No. 3 is taken from the mask held in the hand of Thalia, the comic 
muse, one of the most perfect and beautiful of the ancient paintings in the musauni at Portia ; it was 
dug out of Pompeii. See Antich. de Ercolano, torn. ii. That the mask was an Egyptian invention 
seems certain, by one that is preserved in the Brandenburg collection, and -a drawing of it published 
by Berger. It represents Isis, is gigantic, and covered with hieroglyphics, some of which have extended 
wings, like those to be seen in the Isiac table. 

(g) Vitruvius continues to these vessels the Greek name Vasa re*-<nte Gtaci Echeia vocantur, 
as more expressive of their use than any term he could find in the Latin language. Hrac?, 
from Hxew, implying not only a vase, but one that is sonorous and musical. As the word bell, 
in English, conveys at once an idea of the form, as well as use, of such an instrument 



Sir Francis Bacon long since observed, that sound diffuses and 
pastes itself in open air, but if inclosed and confined in a canal, or 
narrow limits, its force is augmented ; and adds, that inclosures 
not only encrease and fortify sound, but preserve it (h). Resonance 
is but an aggregate of echos, or of quick repetitions and returns 
of the same sound, which soon uniting into one point, are 
consolidated and embodied; and by this means, the force of the tone 
first given is greatly augmented upon the delivery, and preserved 
some time after the first cause ceases. This constitutes the ringing 
of musical instruments, and places favourable to sound ; but with 
respect to the whisper, which is instantly carried from the person 
who utters it, to the opposite side of the gallery, it runs along the 
smooth surface of the wall, and arrives at the place of its destination 
with nearly the same degree of force as it is delivered. 

It is not easy now, however, to describe, or even to conceive, 
the form and effects of the theatric vases ; it is enough for the 
present purpose that their existence and use are recorded by so 
scientific a writer as Vitruvius. Our smaller theatres, luckily, are 
in want of no such helps ; but this is certain, if these vessels were 
tuned to musical tones and intervals, nothing but noise and 
confusion could be produced from them by common speech, or such 
as is used in modern declamation. For if any one cough, speak loud, 
or strike forcibly upon the case of a harpischord, with the lid 
propped up, or on any hard body near it, the shock will make every 
string in the instrument sound at the same instant ; but if a fixed 
and musical tone be produced by the voice, or upon a violin or 
flute, none but the unison will be heard upon the harpsichord ; and 
though the cloathing of the jacks be in close contact with all the 
strings, which renders it impossible to produce a clear tone from 
any one of them, by the common means of quills, or hammers, yet 
if any person sing near them, every note will be exactly echoed 
by the instrument. 

If, therefore, these Echeia were of the use related by Vitruvius, 
it must have been from the voice approaching them in fixed and 
musical tones, modulated in unison with the tones of the vases (i). 

Every thing was upon a large scale in the ancient theatres. The 
figure, features, and voice, were all gigantic. The voice was, in 
a particular manner, the object of an actor's care ; nothing was 
omitted, says father Brumoy, that could render it more sonorous ; 
even in the heat of action it was governed by the tones of instru- 
ments, that regulated the intervals by which it was to move, and to 
express the passions. 

What kind of music was applied to the Episodes and Chorusses 
of tragedy, is another enquiry : some idea may perhaps be obtained 
concerning it, without having recourse to conjecture; for Plutarch 

(h) Nat. Hist. Cent. 2d and sd. 

(*) The best commentary upon this obscure subject in Vitruvius is that of Penault, who has given 
an engraving of part of an ancient theatre, on purpose to exhibit the situation of the harmonic vases. 
Les dix Litres d' Architecture de Vitruve, Par. i68a, ad Edit, folio. Kircher, whose pen was never 
impeded by doubts or difficulties, has not only described, but given them, imaginary forms resembling 
bells. See Musurgia, torn. ii. p. 285. 


(k) tells us, that the dithyrambic and tragic poets, adopted for 
their pieces that kind of musical execution, of which Archilochus 
[c. 714-676 B.C.] is said to have been the inventor (I). The same 
author likewise informs us, that Archilochus performed the music to 
his Iambic verses in two different ways ; reciting some of them with 
an accompaniment, and singing others, while instruments servilely 
performed the same notes as the voice ; and this was the method 
which the tragic poets afterwards adopted (m). 

We learn from this same work of Plutarch, that even the 
declamatory Iambics were accompanied by the Cithara, and other 
instruments ; but as the emuloyment of the Cithara upon these 
occasions was not constant, it seems as if only the general tone of 
declamation was given to the actor by the musician, as the chord 
is given to the singer in modern recitative ; whereas in the chorus, 
and other poetry that was sung, the instrument constantly 
accompanied the voice, note for note. 

Hence it appears that the ancient dramatic writers used a 
different kind of melos for the declamation of the actors, and for the 
songs of the chorus (n). The one may perhaps be compared to 
modern recitative, and the other to chanting in the Romish 
church (o). 

That this music was simple, and intended to render speech more 
articulate, as weU as to fortify passion, both reason, and the 
authority of ancient writers enable us to believe. 

Plutarch (p) says, " that the chromatic genus was never used 
in tragedy/' Now, if the ancient dramas were declaimed in a 
species of recitative, it will bring it still nearer the recitative of 
modem musical dramas, in which no chromatic is ever admitted. 

Plutarch likewise informs us, that a strict rhythm, or measure, 
was not observed in tragedy ; another circumstance resembling 
modern recitative, in which no time is kept but that of the accent 
and cadence of the verse. And this assertion of Plutarch seems 
to agree with what Aristotle says in his Poetics, chap. 1. " That 
dithyrambics, nomes, tragedies, and comedies, use alike number, 
verce, and harmony, with this difference, that in some all three 
are employed at once, in others, they are used separately." 

By number, or rhythm, is here meant regular time: and by 
harmony, music, or song. In dithyrambics and nomes the verse 

(k) De Mttsica. 

(Z) Archilochus flourished about six hundred and sixty years before Christ. 

(m) Iambics, or satyrs, are supposed to have given birth to comedy, as dithyrambics did to 
tragedy ; and it is somewhat remarkable that religious mysteries should have furnished subjects for 
the first dramatic exhibitions among the ancients as well as the moderns. 

() Aristotle, in his Poetics, chap, xxvii. speaks of two different kinds of rhapsodists ; one of 
which rented epic poems, and the other sung them. 

(o] Father Menestrier coniectures, that the practice of chanting and singing in the church, was 
derived from the ancient manner of declaiming and singing in public. TfaHf Jes Representations en 
Musiqut, Anc. ft Mod. 

(p) Ubi supra, 



was always accompanied by melody, rhythm, and dance (q) ; 
and in tragedy and comedy, the verse was only recited during the 
course of the acts ; but in the choruses it was accompanied by 
singing and dancing. 

As candour forbids the loading the ancients with more customs, 
that are repugnant to modern ideas of propriety, than can be 
warranted by good authority, I shall endeavour to acquit them of 
some part of that excessive fondness for dancing, which many 
writers have laid to their charge, by supposing that not only the 
chorus, but the principal characters of the drama, were continually 
dancing all the time they were upon the stage. Indeed XOQOS, 
chorus, equally means a band of singers, and a company of dancers. 
Many instances occur however, in ancient authors, where dancing 
in the old drama of the Greeks, seems but another word for moving 
and acting gracefully ; and the term hypocritic, which the Greeks 
likewise call orchesis, and the Latins saltatio, though it sometimes 
means dancing, more frequently is used to express Gesture, or 
theatrical action. In the younger drama, according to Lucian (r), 
a single dancer, or mime, was able to express all the incidents 
and sentiments of a whole tragedy, or epic poem, by dumb signs, 
but still to music, as the actors recited it ; though Aristotle expressly 
says, that dancers want neither poetry nor music, as by the 
assistance of measure and cadence only, they can imitate human 
manners, actions, and passions. 

The strange custom of dividing the declamation and gestures, or 
speaking and acting, between two persons, was never thought of 
by the Greeks. It is mentioned by Livy as an invention of Livius 
Andronicus, an old Roman poet, who flourished two hundred and 
forty years before Christ, in order to save himself the fatigue of 
singing in his own piece; to which he, like other authors of his time, 
had been accustomed. But being often encored, and hoarse with 
repeating his canticle or song, he obtained permission to transfer the 
vocal part to a young performer, retaining to himself only the 
acting, which he was able to go through with the more fire and 
propriety, says Livy, by being exempted from the labour of sing- 
ing. M. Duclos endeavours to prove, that as the Canticum of 
Andronicus was composed of songs and .dances, the words of Livy, 
canticum egisse aliquanto magis vigenti motu, quia nikil vocis usus 
impediebat, imply no more than that the old poet, who at first 
sung his Canticum, or, if you will, his Cantata, and afterwards 

(q) Dithyrambics and names were equally hymns sung in honour of the Gods. The nomes were 
for Apollo, as the dithyrambics were for Bacchus. Now the literal meaning of vo^os, nome, being a 
law or rule, it should seem as if, after the invention of musical characters, the nomes were the first 
melodies, or tunes, that were written down, and rendered permanent and unalterable ; whereas, 
before that period, music must have been played extempore, or by memory ; and as Terpander, the 
inventor of a musical notation, is likewise said to have set the vouot, or laws of Lycurgus, to music, the 
conjecture has both a literal and a figurative foundation. Aristotle, Prob. XVII. 28, asks why such 
different things as laws and songs had the same appellations ? and answers the question himself, by 
saying, that before the knowledge of letters, laws were sung, in order to their being the better retained 
in memory. If, according to Josephus, the word i/ojxos is not to be found in all the writings of Homer, 
it must, consequently, be a more modern term. The word, however, dofs occur in Homer's Hymn to 
Apollo, v. 20, though not in the Iliad or Odyssey, 

(r) DeSaUationt, 



danced in the interludes alternately, having sung till he was hoarse, 
transferred the singing to another performer, in order to dance with 
more force and activity; and thence came the custom of making 
singing and dancing two .different professions (s). And it does 
seem as if the separation in question was that of the singing from 
the^ dancing, according to the opinion of M. Duclos; the story 
which, when applied to speaking and acting, is absurd and in- 
credible, becomes both natural and probable, in the other sense. 
It has just been observed, that acting and dancing were frequently 
confounded in ancient authors, and perhaps Livy meant no other 
acting than what dancing literally implied. 

The Greek dramas consisted of soliloquy, dialogue, and chorus; 
but as the chorus was never adopted in the Latin comedy, it has 
been imagined, that such Cantica, or soliloquies, as were full of 
sentiment and passion, had a different, more elaborate, and refined 
melody and accompaniment set to them, than the Diverbia, or 
dialogues; and that, like the chorus of the Greek tragedy, they 
served as interludes, or act tunes. But I have been able to meet 
with no^ satisfactory proof of these cantica, or songs, being a part 
of the piece, like the Greek chorus : for though Fkccus is mentioned 
as composer of the modes, or melodies, to which all the six comedies 
of Terence were sung, no notice is taken of a different music for 
the cantica, or even interludes, if such there were, used between 
the acts. Some of the soliloquies in Terence seem too short and 
trivial to be sung to different music from the diverbia; and others, 
that are longer and more sentimental, have no distinction of versi- 
fication, like the o,des and choruses of Greek tragedy, to point them 
out as cantica; but are all in the same free Iambic verse as the 

Donatus, who flourished three hundred and fifty years after 
Christ, tells us, indeed, that " though the dialogues were spoken, 
the cantica were set to music, not by the poet, but by an able com- 
poser (t)." I should therefore rattier imagine that these cantica 
of the Latin comedy were real Intermezzi, or Interludes, wholly 
detached from the piece, and, perhaps, not only the productions 
of a different composer, but of a different poet (u). 

The melody of ancient declamation being then only a species 
of recitative, could receive nothing but a poetical rhythm, far less 
exact than one strictly musical; exact, indeed, as to long and short 
syllables, but as it approached nearer to common speech than air, 
so it must have been more lax and incommensurate as to time, than 
measured melody, such as constitutes air at present. Long and 
short syllables are rigorously attended to in modern recitative, 
the words are strongly accentuated, and yet the musical measure, 
or time, is never attended to, or beaten. 

(s) Encyclop. Art. Declamation desAnciens. 

(t) Diverbia histriones pronuntiabat ; cantica verb temper ahani modis, non a poetd, sed a perito artts 
musices factis. Scholia in Terent. 

() That the Tibicines exhibited between the acts seems evident from a passage in Plautus, who 
makes one of his .characters say, at the conclusion of the first act of the Pseudolus ; I must go in: 
" Tibicen vos interea Hie delectaverit." 



M. de Voltaire, so much attached to the ancient .drama, and so 
little to modern music, says, we can no where find such an exact 
resemblance of the Greek stage, as in the Italian opera. " The 
Italian recitative is precisely the melopoeia of the ancients; and 
though this recitative is tiresome in ill written pieces, yet it is 
admirable in good ones; and the choruses in some of them, which 
are interwoven in the subject, resemble the ancient chorus so much 
the more, as they were set to a different kind of music from the 
recitative; for the strophe, epode, and antistrophe, were sung by 
the Greeks quite differently from the melopoeia of the rest oi the 

" I know," continues M. de Voltaire, " that these tragedies, so 
bewitching by the charms of the music, an.d magnificence of the 
decorations have a deject which the Greeks always avoided; a 
defect which has transformed the most beautiful, and, in other 
respects, the most regular tragedies that ever were written, into 
monsters: for what can be more absurd than to terminate every 
scene by one of those detached airs, which interrupt the business, 
and destroy the interest of the drama, in order to afford an oppor- 
tunity to an effeminate throat to shine in trills and divisions, at the 
expence of poetry and good sense (#)." 

The last period of this quotation proves the impossibility of 
satisfying all parties in theatrical disputes; for those very airs which 
are so delightful to lovers of music, and which alone render an 
opera supportable to them, are regarded by the exclusive lovers 
of poetry as the only blemishes in this kind of drama, which render 
it inferior to the Greek. However, notwithstanding the acknow- 
ledged merit of particular scenes of recitative in an opera, I am 
inclined to believe, if the airs were omitted, that the rendering 
this kind of spectacle more Grecian, would neither encrease the 
number of its admirers, nor enrich the managers of the theatre. 

Indeed all modern musicians, who have imagined that they have 
discovered what ancient dramatic music was, suppose it to have 
been a species of Recitative, as will be shown hereafter, in the 
specimens that will be given of the music of the first operas and 

The abbe du Bos has not scrupled to assert boldly, that the 
actor, in the ancient dramas, was accompanied by a basso continuo, 
not like that of the French opera, but like the base accompaniment 
to Italian recitative; and determines, from a passage arxd plate in 
Bartholinus (y), that the instrument upon which this continued base 
was played, was a flute (z) \ With the same courage, and the same 
truth, this lively author asserts (a), that the semeia, or musical 
characters of the Greeks, were nothing more than the initial letters 
of the names of the sixteen notes in the great system, or diagram ! 
Opinions which merely to mention, is to confute. 

(x) Dissert, sur la Tragedie Ancienne et Moderne. (y) De Tibiis Veterum. 

(z) Reflex. Crit. torn. iii. p. in, 120 and 126. Edit, de Par. 1733. (a Ib. p. 80. 


M. Duclos, contrary to the general opinion, denies, in the article 
above cited, that the melos of Greek tragedy was singing, or even 
recitative, to fixed and musical tones; but if not, why does Aristotle 
tell us, that music was an essential part of tragedy 1 or how could 
the lyres and flutes, with which declamation was accompanied, 
and of which the tones were fixed and musical, be either useful to 
the actor, or an embellishment to the piece? There are several 
passages in Cicero, concerning Roscius, which, if the ancient actors, 
Roman, as well as Greek, did not declaim in musical notes, would 
be wholly unintelligible. He tells us, de Orat, that Roscius had 
always said, when age should diminish his force, he would not 
abandon the stage, but would proportion his performance to his 
powers, and make music conform to the weakness of his voice; 
which really happened; for the same author informs us, de Leg. 
that in his old age he sung in a lower pitch of voice, and made the 
tibicines play slower (6). 

M. Duclos, who has censured so many of the bold and hazarded 
assertions of the abbe du Bos, falls into one of his worst mistakes, 
by saying, that the ancient declamation, which he denies to have 
been musical, was accompanied by a base part played on the flute. 
But it seems demonstrable, that no kind of base accompaniment 
was known to the ancients (c). 

We have the authority of Plutarch, however, for the recitation 
of tragedy among the Greeks having been accompanied by the 
cithara, and other stringed instruments, after the manner in which 
Archilochus had accompanied his iambics (d). 

The Roman comedy, in the time of Terence was accompanied 
tibiis paribus et imparibus t with equal and unequal -flutes, 
occasionally. This is upon record in all the most ancient manu- 
scripts of that author. What these double -flutes were, or how 
played upon by one person, has much perplexed the learned, as 
well as practical musicians. For my own part, I had long been 
of opinion, that the equal flutes were unisons, and the unequal 
octaves to each other, blown by one mouth piece, before my journey 
into Italy; and the numerous representations I saw of them there 

(b) Solet idem Roscius dicere, se, quo plus sibi accederet etatis, eo tardiores tibicinis modos etcantvs 
remisssiores es$e facturum. In senectute numeros in canto cedderat, ipsasque tardiores fecerat tibtas. 

(c) Though the idea of a base part to mere declamation is not prohable, yet the supposition of its 
being played upon a Flute is perhaps less absurd than it will at first appear to those who regard all 
Flutes as treble instruments. Arist. Quint, who gives a kind of scale of Lyres (see Description ot Plates) 
gives likewise one for wind instruments. The <ra\iriy, or Trumpet, at the grave, or, as he 
falk it, masMne extremity ; and the Phrygian AvXos, or Flute, at the feminine. Of the middle 
class he mentions the Pytliic Flute as of a masculine character, on account of its gramty : Sia ro apoy. 
Now according to Diomedes. this Pythic Flute was the very instrument used in the Ccmhcct, or 
declamation. The melos of tragedy fe said to be Hypatoides (Arist. Quint, p. 30) ; that is, of the 
lowest pitch. Accordingly, Aristotle tells us, expressly, in his Problems, that the modes appropriated^ 
declamation, were the Hypodorian and Hypophrygian ; that is, the two lowest in the system. The 
StateSat accompanied these could not well be a treble instrument, without playing in octaves, or 
double octaves, to the voice. However, if we were to suppose a base accompaniment to these low 
modes, different from the voice part, it must have been performed on a Flute of an enormous size. 

(d) As to the recitation of tragedy being accompanied by the Cithara, there is astrong support for 
the opinion in Aristotle's 49th Problem, where he calls the Hypodorian mode used in declamation, 
mSuSfow rorn TWV dp/ttJtwv ; that is, the most adapted to the dfhara ofaU the modes. And Athenams, 

^^*SSsB of Sophocles playing the Cithara himself, in his tragedy of Thamyns. 



in ancient sculpture, did not furnish me with any more probable 
conjecture. But frequent occasions will occur of making some 
further reflections upon these instruments, of which drawings will 
be given, in the course of the work. 

It now remains to speak of the Chorus, so celebrated in the 
tragedy of the ancients. 

In the most flourishing times of the Athenian republic, so 
great was the passion of the people for shews and public spectacles, 
that the government, which was at the charge of these exhibitions, 
has been accused by Plutarch, of supporting them at a greater 
expence than their fleets and armies. 

The performers of the odes, or full chorusses, were multiplied 
in the time of ^schylus to fifty persons. Indeed their number 
was afterwards reduced by a law to fifteen. Their chief, or 
leader, who was called Coryphceus, frequently spoke in the course 
of the drama, as a single person, and sometimes for the whole 
band, either in dialogue with the characters of the piece, or to 
acquaint the audience with what was going forwards, as well as 
to pity virtue in distress, or to deplore the unruly passions of the 
vicious. Father Brumoy calls him l'konnte-homme de la fiiece. 

The great choruses, or interludes, were generally four in 
number; and, in the beginning of tragedy, they served as act tunes. 
^Eschylus first interwove them into the texture of the drama; aad, 
according to Dacier, there was something different in the versifica- 
tion and melody of each chorus, which distinguished it from the 
rest so much, that let a person enter the theatre when he would, 
it was easy for him to discover by the music of the chorus what 
part of the piece was then representing. 

As the acts of a play were at first but episodes, or interludes, 
between the dithyrambics, or choruses; in process of time they 
changed hands, and the choruses became a species of act tunes, or 
interludes, to the episodes, or cantica and diverbia, formed into 
scenes and acts. Dr. Franklin denies this division into acts; and 
he seems right in denying the number to have been constantly 
five; but that the great choruses were wrought into a more lofty 
and sublime kind of poetry, and of different measure from the 
soliloquies and dialogues, is so certain in all the ancient tragedies 
which are come down to us, that it has been said, if during the 
acts the performers spoke the language of heroes and kings, in the 
choruses they spoke that of the Gods; and it is equally certain 
that they were generally performed in the absence of the inter- 
locutors of the play. Indeed the stage was never empty, nor were 
the performers idle; so that when the choruses were incorporated 
in the piece, as in some of the tragedies of Sophocles, it may be 
said strictly to consist of only one act. 

The Greek name for act being <$ea//a, drama, it encourages 
an opinion, that in the beginning of theatrical exhibitions, each 
chorus and episode was a distinct and entire piece. The Romans, 
however, understood, by the term actus, a part of a play, divided 


from another part; and the intermediate space of time between 
these divisions was usually filled up by a Chorus, a Dance, or a Song. 
In the time of Horace, the number of five acts seems to have been 
settled for the Roman theatre; and in the comedies of Terence, 
and tragedies of Seneca, that number is constant. 

The Greek tragedies being composed of fifteen or sixteen 
hundred verses, would be too long, if sung to airs like ours, and 
too short, if spoken. Relaxation, however, was necessary both to 
the actors and the audience; and this, if it did not give birth to the 
chorus, at least established it into a custom to have a chorus 
between the principal divisions of the piece. 

A drama is composed of many circumstances, out of which the 
poet chuses such as are most proper for the stage, and most 
interesting in the representation: the rest are understood to be 
transacting elsewhere; and in order to allow time for these external 
circumstances, the space between the acts of ancient dramas was 
filled up by the chorus, or other intermediate amusements. 

In all the Greek tragedies that are come down to us, the action 
is interrupted from time to time by the intervention of choruses, 
which fill up the intermediate space between the principal events 
of the piece while the interlocutors are either absent, or remain 
silent and inactive upon the stage: and these form the true 
divisions of the drama into acts. But that these acts always 
amount to four, five, or any stated number, cannot be proved by 
the ancient manuscripts of the Greek dramatic poets, however new 
editions and modern critics may have divided them. 

If the number of odes, or great choruses, is to determine the 
division into acts, they amount most frequently to six or seven. 

Each of these principal odes, or choruses, consisted of three 
couplets, or stanzas; the Strophe, Antistrophe, and Epode. 

Demetrius Triclinius, in his book upon the verses of Sophocles, 
says, that the strophe was sung by the chorus moving to the right; 
the antistrophe to the left, and the epode, after performing these 
two evolutions, without moving at all. He asserts that, by these 
evolutions, which were borrowed from the ^Egyptians, the 
Greeks meant to imitate the course of the heavenly bodies; that 
by the strophe, and wheeling to the right, they designed the 
movement of the fixed stars; by the antistrophe, and turning to 
the left, was indicated the course of the planets; and that the 
epode, which was performed without any motion, shewed the 
fixed situation of the earth. Pindar, in his Odes, has introduced 
the same changes; probably because in singing them, the same 
evolutions were performed. Theseus, when he returned from 
Crete, invented a dance consisting of different turnings, in memory 
of the labyrinth, which was afterwards adopted by the tragic 
chorus. But as to the manner of moving from the right to the 
left, it is very difficult to form any idea of it. M. Dacier says, 
" I am of opinion that the chorus was parted into two divisions, 
as among the Hebrews; the band to the right began, advancing 



to the left half the breadth of the theatre, and this was the 
strophe] the other troop did the same, and this was called the 
antistrophe (e)." 

The profession of an actor was long honourable among the 
Greeks. Their poets, who were likewise orators, statesmen, and 
generals, performed the principal parts in their own pieces; and 
Sophocles, who was the first that did not appear on the stage in 
his tragedies, was compelled to decline it, by the want of voice.* 

Livy, lib. vii. cap. 2, tells us, that Andronicus, who first wrote 
regular plays among the Latins, acted in his own pieces, as every 
author, at that time, did: and all antiquity asserts, that the first 
poets were musicians, and that music was inseparable from poetry : 
but the Greek dramatic poets not only set their own pieces to 
music, but regulated all the steps and attitudes of the dancers in 
the chorus, and the gestures of the actors. It was the opinion of 
Fontenelle, that musical dramas could never satisfy men of 
learning and taste, till the poet and musician were again united in 
the same person; and when the Devin du Village** which was 
both written and set by M. Rousseau, was so universally approved, 
and had so long a run during its first representation at Paris, he 
attributed its great success to this union. 

" Ancient Greece had many musicians/' says M. Dacier (/), 
" who were not poets, but not one poet who was not a musician, 
and who did not compose the music of his own pieces : Musici qui 
erant quondam iidem poeta, says Cicero ; for in Greece, music was 
the foundation of all sciences ; the education of children was begun 
by it, from a persuasion that nothing great could be expected 
from a man who was ignorant of music. This probably gave the 
Greek poetry such a superiority over the Latin, as well as over that 
of modem languages ; for at Rome poetry and music were two 
distinct arts, and poets were there obliged to give their pieces to be 
set by professed musicians, as is the case at present every where 

Such were the sentiments of this profound critic, and these were 
likewise the opinions of the late Dr. Browne, and are those of most 
learned men, who, being out of the way of good music, and good 
performers of the present times, have formed a romantic idea of 
ancient music upon the exaggerated accounts of its effects, which 
they have read in old authors. 

The abate Metastasio, more a man of the world, and more 
reasonable, confesses, that the study of modern music requires 
too much time for a man of letters ever to be able to qualify himself 
for the business of a composer. 

() Theatrt des Grecs, du pert Brumoy, tome 1. 
(/) Remarques s-ur la Poetique d'Aristate, p. 105. 

* In his sixteenth year, however, he was famous for his skill as a musician and dancer and led 
lyre in hand, a chorus which danced and sang about the trophy which had been erected in Salamis to 
celebrate the defeat of the fleet of Xerxes. 

** Burney himself made an adaptation of this under the title The Cunning Man, which was 
produced at Drury Lane in 1766 with no great success* 



The Greeks, indeed, during the time of their education, had 
no language to learn but their own: hence they had more time for 
other studies. But with all the simplicity of their music, the 
poets themselves being able to set their own pieces, and to sing 
them so well to the satisfaction of the public, is to me a certain 
proof that their music had not only fewer difficulties, but fewer 
excellencies than the modern. 

This is not the place to discuss the point ; but it appears to me 
as if the being at once a great poet, and a great musician, were 
utterly impossible ; otherwise why should not such a coincidence 
of talents frequently happen? Milton studied music, and so have 
many of our poets ; but to know it equally well with a professor, 
is a drudgery to which they cannot submit ; besides, a genius for 
poetry is so far from including a genius for music, that some of 
our greatest poets have not only been enemies to harmony, but 
have had ears so unfortunately constructed, as not to enable them 
to distinguish one sound from another. 

The Grecian sage, according to Gravina (g), was at once a 
philosopher, a poet, and a musician. " In separating these 
characters," says he, " they have all been weakened ; the sphere 
of philosophy has been contracted ; ideas have failed in poetry, 
and force and energy in song. Truth no longer subsists among 
mankind ; the philosopher speaks not, at present, through the 
medium of poetry, nor is poetry any more heard through the vehicle 
of melody." Now, to my apprehension, the reverse of all this is 
exactly true ; for, by being separated, each of these professions 
receives a degree of cultivation, which fortifies, and renders it more 
powerful, if not more illustrious. The music of ancient 
philosophers, and the philosophy of modern musicians, I take to 
be pretty equal in excellence. 

Having now mentioned the principal subjects of the ancient 
drama, as far as they concern music, such as the Masks, Echeia, 
Melopoeia of the Cantica, Diverbia, and Choruses, divided into 
Strophe, Antistrophe, and Epode ; the Accompaniments of these 
by the cithara and flutes, equal and unequal ; the union of poet 
and musician, in the authors of ancient dramas ; all which, singly, 
and collectively, prove the declamation of the Greeks and Romans 
to have been musical, and regulated, like the recitative of modem 
operas, by a notation : I shall now bestow a few words upon the 
expediency and possibility of reducing modern declamation in the 
natural tones of speech, unaccompanied by musical instruments, 
to a notation, such as would accurately mark the elevation, 
depression, and inflexions of voice, as well as determine its 
degree of force, and the accentuation of words and syllables. As 
to the expediency of such an invention; it seems on many occasions 
devoutly to be wished ; but, for the possibility of its being 
practicable, that is certainly problematical. However, Dionysius 

(g) Delia Ragum Poetica. 
Vox,, i. 10. *45 


Hallicarnassus, de Struct. Oral, (h), tells us, in a famous passage 
which has often been discussed, that " the fifth was the common 
boundary to the melody of speech: that is," says the abb6 
Arnaud (*), " the tones which constitute language, were commonly 
all comprised within the compass of a fifth, and the inflexions of 
voice extended to all the several degrees of that interval. Each 
word had its accent ; the syllable was elevated by the acute accent, 
and lowered by the grave. This rule was fixed and unalterable ; 
the degree of high and low was freehand various ; and it was this 
variety and freedom, which threw not only grace and variety into 
the pronunciation, but which served to shew the limits and even 
shades of elocution." 

Many passages from Cicero, Quintilian, Plutarch, and Boethius, 
might be cited, to prove, that not only musicians and actors, 
but even orators, had a notation, by which the inflexions of voice, 
peculiar to their several professions of singing, declaiming, and 
haranguing in public ? were ascertained (k). 

But orators, though not constantly accompanied by an 
instrument, had their voices sometimes regulated by one, which 
Quintilian calls a tonorium, Cicero, a fistula, and Plutarch, ovQiyytov, 
or syrinx* which is the same thing ; and this instrument served as 
a kind of pitch-pipe. Both Cicero (I) and Plutarch (m), relate the 
well known story of the voice of the furious tribune, Caius 
Gracchus, being brought down to its natural pitch, after he had lost 
it in a transport of passion, by means of a servant placed behind 
him with one of these instruments (). It is not easy, however, to 
conceive of what use this expedient could be, unless rhetorical tones 
were regulated by those of music. 

M. Duclos (o) denies the possibility of a notation for speech, as 
the intervals are too minute to be ascertained ; and adds that, 
" even if such an invention were possible, the use of it would do 
more harm than good, as it would serve no other purpose than to 
render actors cold* and insipid ; for by a servile imitation they 
would destroy the natural expression which the sentiments inspire ; 
and such notes would not give the refinement, delicacy, grace, or 

(h) Sect ii. p. 76. Edit. Upton. 

(*) Mem. de Litterature t tome xxxii. p. 442. 

(k) As there were combats, or contests, established by the ancients for the voice, as well as other 
parts of the Gymnastice, those who taught the management of the voice wore called $wi/acncot, phonos ci, 
and under their instructions were put all those who were destined to be orators, singers, and comedians. 
Roscius had an academy for declamation, at which he taught several persons, preparatory to their 
speaking in public, or going on the stage. He had a lawsuit with one of them, in which Cicero pleaded 
his cause. 

(Q De Oral. lib. iii. 
(m) In Vit. C. Gracch. 

(n) Cicero tells us that this tibicen, with his flapper, qui staret occuUe post ipsum, and was not seen 
by the people, does not confine his employment to appeasing the passion of his master : he was, upon 
occasion, to incite it : Qui inflaret cekriter eumsonum, quo ilium aut remissum excitaret, ant a conten- 
tione revocaret. 

(o) Encyclop. Art. Dedamat. des Anc. 

* Syrinx or Pan Pipes. See an article by A. H. Fox Strangways in Music and Letters for January' 
I99 (vol. 10, No. i). ' 


passion, which constitute the merit of an actor, and the pleasure 
of an audience." To refute this assertion it should be remarked, 
that a well-written, and well-set scene of recitative, from the mouth 
of a great singer, and good actor, oversets all his reasoning ; for 
though confined to musical notes, it has frequently great power over 
the passions of that part of an audience who understand the 
language. Give it to a man without voice, it will still be a fine 
piece of recitative ; a bad singer, indeed, may spoil it: however, 
it escapes annihilation, and still remains to be taken up by a 
future performer of superior talents ; as a speech in Shakespeare 
does, that has been mangled by a stroller in a barn. But it is 
not to be wished, perhaps, that the tones of speech preserved by 
such notes, should be more permanent than those of music. Every 
new singer of peculiar powers is furnished with new compositions 
to old words, in order to display those powers; so might an actor: 
the plays of Shakespeare might be reset, as well as the ^ operas of 
Metastasio ; and upon such an occasion it were to be wished that 
Mr. Garrick would undertake to be the Composer. 

M. Duclos throws the impracticability of such an expedient upon 
the multiplicity of notes that would be necessary for such minute 
inflexions; a difficulty that seems obviated by the passage just cited 
from Dionysius; which says, that the compass of voice in declama- 
tion, even during a scene of passion, seldom exceeds the interval of 
a fifth. I therefore cannot help giving a place to the invention of 
characters, for theatrical elocution among musical desiderata (p). 
Mr. Garrick, indeed, with seeming reason, objects to the use of them 
for himself, as " they would render his declamation cold and mono- 
tonous, and deprive him of the power of varying the tones of his 
voice, according to his present feelings." But in answer to this 
it might be urged, that a great singer, notwithstanding the outline 
that is given him by the composer, seldom performs an air twice in 
the same manner; though, on account of the accompaniments, and 
regularity of the measure, to which every change, or embellishment, 
must correspond, it is much more difficult to vary musical sounds in 
melody, than the tones of speech in .declamation, which^ are not 
only unconnected with other parts, but uncontrouled by time. 

It is far from being my wish ever to hear our tragedy sung, 
or pronounced in recitative, however desirable it may be to pre- 
serve the tones of voice used by great actors, if it were only to 
assist the young, the ignorant, and unfeeling candidates for 
theatrical fame. 

Moliere, when he performed in his own plays, and Beaubourg, 
the actor, are confidently affirmed, by the abbe du Bos, to have 
noted their particular scenes of .declamation (q). This author says 
that he does not wonder at actors by profession being, in general, 

(ft Since the publication of the first edition of this vol. the particular desideratum in question has 
been as amply supplied as seems possible, by .Mr. Steele, in his ingenious Essay towards establishing the 
Melody and Measure of Speech. 

(q) Reflex, Crit. tome iii, sect, 18, 



against such restraint; mankind is naturally fond of liberty in all 
things : il ne veut pas etre contmint dans ses allures; they will not 
be confined in their natural gait, says Montaigne. But though 
actors and actresses of the first class are sure to charm an audience, 
let their humour be what it will, yet the notation of the tones, in 
which a favourite and affecting speech was spoken by a Garrick, 
or a Gibber, would not only be an excellent lesson to inferior actors 
but would be a means of conveying it to posterity, who will so 
frequently meet with their names and elogiums, in the History 
of the Stage, and be curious to know in what manner they acquired 
such universal admiration. 


Section X 

Of the Effects Attributed to the 
Music of the Ancients 

MATERIALS for this part of my Dissertation are so numerous, 
that if I were only to present the reader with all the stories 
that have been related by the most grave and respectable 
historians and philosophers of Greece and Rome, concerning the 
moral, medicinal, and supernatural powers of ancient music, this 
section would be as full of the miracles of musicians, as the Golden 
Legend is of those operated by the saints. The credulous and 
exclusive admirers of antiquity have, however, so long read and 
reverenced all these narrations, that they are impressed by them 
with an extravagant idea of the excellence of ancient music, which 
they are very unwilling to relinquish; and yet, after a most careful 
investigation of the subject, and a minute analysis of this music, 
by examining its constituent parts, I have not been able to discover 
that it was superiour to the modern in any other respects than its 
simplicity, and strict adherence to metrical feet, when applied to 
poetry. For, as music, considered abstractedly, it appears to have 
been much inferiour to the modern, in the two great and essential 
parts of the art, melody and harmony. 

It shall therefore be my business in this section to collect and 
examine the principal facts, purely historical, that have been 
related by ancient writers, and which are urged by the moderns 
in its favour, under the three following heads : 

First, of the effects of ancient music in softening the manners, 
promoting civilization, and humanizing men, naturally savage and 
barbarous : 

Secondly, its effects in exciting, or repressing the passions : 

And, thirdly, its medicinal power, in curing .diseases. 

Among the effects of the first class, one of the most singular 
aixd striking is related by Polybius the historian, a grave, exact, 
and respectable writer, who, in speaking of several acts of cruelty 
and injustice exercised by the JStolians against their neighbours the 
Cynaetheans, has the following remarkable passage, which I shall 
give at full length from Mr. Hampton's excellent translation. 

" With regard to the inhabitants of Cynaetha, whose misfor- 
tunes we have just now mentioned, it is certain, that no people ever 
were esteemed so justly to deserve that cruel treatment to which 
they were exposed. And since the Arcadians, in general, have been 



always celebrated for their virtue throughput all Greece; and have 
obtained the highest fame, as well by their humane and hospitable 
disposition, as from their piety also towards the Gods, and their 
veneration of all things sacred; it may perhaps be useful to enquire, 
from whence it could arise, that the people of this single city, 
though confessed to be Arcadians, should, on the contrary, be noted 
for the savage roughness of their lives and manners, and distin- 
guished by their wickedness and cruelty above all the Greeks. In 
my judgment then, this difference has happened from no other 
cause, than that the Cynsetheans were the first and only people 
among the Arcadians, who threw away that institution, which their 
ancestors had established with the greatest wisdom, and with a 
nice regard to the natural genius, and peculiar disposition of the 
people of the county ; I mean, the discipline and exercise of music : 
of that genuine and perfect music, which is useful indeed in every 
state, but absolutely necessary to the people of Arcadia. For we 
ought by no means to adopt the sentiment that is thrown out by 
Eptiorus in the preface to his history, and which indeed is very 
unworthy of that writer, " That music was invented to deceive and 
delude mankind." Nor can it be supposed, that the Lacedae- 
monians, and the ancient Cretans, were not influenced by some 
good reason, when, in the place of trumpets, they introduced the 
sound of flutes, and harmony of verse, to animate their soldiers 
in the time of battle: or that the first Arcadians acted without 
strong necessity, who, though their lives and manners, in all other 
points, were rigid and austere, incorporated this art into the very 
essence of their government; and obliged not their children only, 
but the young men likewise, till they had gained the age of thirty 
years, to persist in the constant study and practice of it. For all 
men know, that Arcadia is almost the only country, in which the 
children, even from their most tender age, are taught to sing in 
measure their songs and hymns, that are composed in honour of 
their gods and heroes : and that afterwards, when they have learned 
the music of Timotheus and Philoxenus, they assemble once in 
every year in the public theatres, at the feast of Bacchus; and there 
dance, with emulation, to the sound of flutes, and celebrate, accord- 
ing to their proper age, the children those that are called the puerile, 
and the young men, the manly games. And even in their private 
feasts and meetings, they are never known to employ any hired 
bands of music for their entertainment; but each man is oblig.ed 
himself to sing in turn. For though they may, without shame or 
censure, disown all knowledge of every other science, they dare 
not on the one hand dissemble or deny, that they are skilled in 
music, since the laws require, that every one should be instructed 
in it; nor can they, on the other hand, refuse to give some proofs 
of their skill when asked, because such refusal would be esteemed 
dishonourable. They are also taught to perform in order all the 
military steps and motions, to the sound of instruments : and this 
is likewise practised every year in the theatres, at the public charge, 
and in sight of all the citizens. 


" Now to me it is clearly evident, that 'the ancients by no means 
introduced these customs, to be the instruments of luxury and idle 
pleasure: but because they had considered with attention, both 
the painful and laborious course of life, to which the Arcadians 
were accustomed; and the natural austerity also of their manners, 
derived to them from that cold and heavy air, which covered the 
greatest part of all their province. For men will be always found 
to be in some degree assimilated to the climate in which they live : 
nor can it be ascribed to any other cause, that in the several 
nations of the world, distinct and separated from each other, we 
behold so wide a difference, in complexion, features, manners, 
customs. The Arcadians, therefore, in order to smooth and soften 
that disposition, which was by nature so rough and stubborn, 
besides the customs above described, appointed frequent festivals 
and sacrifices, which both sexes were required to celebrate 
together; the men and women, and the boys with virgins; and, in 
general, established every institution, that could serve to render 
their rugged minds more gentle and compliant, and tame the 
fierceness of their manners. But the people of Cynaetha, having 
slighted all these arts, though both their air and situation, the most 
inclement and unfavourable oi any in Arcadia, made some such 
remedy more requisite to them than to the rest, were afterwards 
engaged continually in intestine tumults and contentions; till they 
became at last so fierce and savage, that, among all the cities ot 
Greece, there was none in which so many and so great enormities 
were ever known to be committed. To how deplorable a state 
this conduct had at last reduced them, and how much their 
manners were detested by the Arcadians, may be fully understood 
from that which happened to them, when they sent an embassy to 
Lacedaemon, after the time of a dreadful slaughter which had been 
made among them. For in every city of Arcadia, through which 
their deputies were obliged to pass, they were commanded by the 
public crier instantly to be gone. The Mantineans also expressed 
even still more strongly their abhorrence of them : for as soon as 
they were departed, they made a solemn purification of the place; 
and carried their victims in procession round the city, and through 
all their territory. 

" This then may be sufficient to exempt the general customs of 
Arcadia from all censure; and at the same time to remind the people 
of that province, that music was at first established in their 
government, not for the sake of vain pleasure and amusement, but 
for- such solid purposes, as should engage them never to desert the 
practice of it The Cynsetheans also may perhaps draw some 
advantage from these reflexions; and, if the Deity should hereafter 
bless them with better sentiments, may turn their minds towards 
such discipline, as may soften and improve their manners, and 
especially to music; by which means alone, they can ever hope to 


be divested of that brutal fierceness, for which they have been so 
long distinguished (a)." 

Though Polybius in this passage seems to attribute the happy 
change that was brought about in the manners of the Arcadians to 
music alone, it does not appear to merit all the honour, as a 
considerable part was doubtless due to the poetry that accom- 
panied it; which being grave, majestic, and full of piety and 
respect for the Gods and heroes, whose glorious actions and benefits 
were celebrated in it, must have had great influence upon the minds 
of young persons, in whose education those two arts had so 
considerable a share. 

Homer places a musician over Clytemnestra during the absence 
of Agamemnon, as a guard over her chastity; and till he was sent 
away, her seducer, ^Egisthus, had no power over her affections : 

At first with worthy shame, and decent pride, 
The royal dame his lawless suit deny'd. 
For virtue's image yet possest her mind, 
Taught by a master of the tuneful kind : 
Atrides parting for the Trojan war, 
Consigned the youthful consort to his care; 
True to his charge, the bard preserv'd her long 
In honour's limits, such the power of song. 

POPE'S Homer's Iliad, Book iii. 

It is not, however, to be supposed, that mere lessons of Music 
could be lessons of prudence and virtue: it must have been the 
Poetry in which the bard's instructions and precepts were con- 
veyed, that kept the queen from infidelity, and not the sound of 
his lyre; though Pausanias, in his Attics, calls him aoidos foye, a 
Singer, and not a Poet. 

But if these accounts from Polybius and Homer were to be 
taken literally, they would prove the sensibility of the Greek^ 
more than the excellence of their music, in such remote antiquity; 
for though all writers agree in saying that the Grecian lyre was at 
first furnished with only three or four open strings, and for many 
ages after, had, at most, but seven or eight, by which small 
number of sounds the voice was wholly regulated and governed; 
yet the miraculous effects of music are thrown into those dark and 
fabulous times, when the art may be supposed to have been in 
its infancy; and the hearers at least as ignorant as the performers 

But now, since Gods and Goddesses are humanized, and ancient 
heroes are reduced to the common standard of mankind, why, it 
may be asked, are we to retain only the marvellous stories 

(a) Book IV, Ch. 3. 

(b) From the heavy complaints made by Plato and Aristotle of the degeneracy of music in their 
time, from its too great refinement, we may suppose that its miraculous powers had then ceased. 



concerning the music of those remote periods," when all the rest are 
given up? 

I shall now consider, under the second head, what has been 
related by ancient authors, concerning the empire of music over the 

Plutarch, in his Dialogue on Music, tells us, that Terpander 
appeased a violent sedition among the Lacedaemonians by the 
assistance of music. 

The same author, in his Life of Solon, relates, that this cele- 
brated legislator, by singing an elegy of his own writing, consisting 
of a hundred verses, excited his countrymen, the Athenians, to a 
renewal of the war against the Megarians, which had been put an 
end to in a fit of despair, and which was forbidden to be mentioned 
on pain of death; but by the power of his song, they were so 
enflamed, that they never rested till they had taken Salamine, 
which was the object of the war. This circumstance is not only 
related by Plutarch, but by Diogenes Laertius, Pausanias, and 

Pythagoras, according to Boethius (c), seeing a young stranger 
enflamed with wine, in so violent rage, that he was on the point 
of setting fire to the house of his mistress, for preferring his rival 
to him; and, moreover, animated by the sound of a flute playing 
to him in the Phrygian mode, had this young man restored to 
reason and tranquillity, by ordering the Tibicina, or female 
performer on the flute, to change her mode, and play in a grave 
and soothing style, according to the measure usually given to the 
Spondee (d). The same kind of story is recorded by Galen, of 
Damon, the music-master of Socrates; and Empedocles is, in like 
manner, said to have prevented murder by the sound of his lyre. 

Plutarch relates of Antigenides, what others have given to 
Timotheus, that in playing a spirited air to Alexander, it so 
enflamed the courage of that prince, that he suddenly arose from 
table, and seized his arms. 

The painter, Theon, who knew the virtue of this martial music, 
availed himself of its power; for, according to JElian (e), at an 
exhibition of a picture, in which he had represented a soldier ready 
to fall on the enemy, he first took the precaution of making a 
Tibicen sound the charge; and as soon as he saw the^ spectators 
sufficiently animated by this music, he uncovered his picture, 
which gained universal admiration. 

Thucydides, as quoted by Aulus Gellius (/), says, when the 
Lacedaemonians went to battle, a Tibicen played soft and soothing 
music to temper their courage, lest by an ardent temerity they 
should have rushed on with too great impetuosity; for, in general,, 
they had more need of having their courage repressed than excited. 

(c) De Musica, lib. i. cap. x. 

*) This measure the French imagine to have been the same as that of the airs known in their old 
serious operas by the name of sommeik, so proper to tranquillize, and excite drowsiness. 

() Lib. ii. cap. 44. (/) ^ib. i. cap. n. 



However, in an engagement with the Messenians, they were 
very near being discomfited, when the celebrated Tyrtaeus, who 
performed the part of a Tibicen that day, finding the troops give 
way, immediately quitted the Lydian mode, and played in the 
Phrygian, which so reanimated their courage, repressed by the 
preceding mode, that they obtained a complete victory (g). 

Such are the wonderful effects upon the passions, which the 
ancient music is said to have produced. Now, without disputing 
the truth of the facts, let us enquire whether, in those early ages, 
it was necessary for the art to have been brought to great perfection, 
in order to operate so powerfully. 

To begin with the sedition at Sparta, that Terpander was able 
to appease so opportunely; upon which I shall only observe, that 
it does not appear as if the lyre had had the principal share in 
the business; that instrument only serving as an accompaniment 
to the voice of the musician, who was likewise an excellent poet, 
and whose verses upon this occasion, it is most likely, were far 
more persuasive than his music. It has already been observed how 
much his melody and modulation must have been confined by the 
small compass of the lyre; and yet, however desirous Terpander 
might have been to extend its limits, he would hardly have been 
so imprudent as to expose himself a second time to the penalty 
which the ephori had before made him pay, for only adding a single 
string to his lyre (h). 

As to the adventure of Solon,* with respect to Salamine, the 
favourable disposition in which he found the Athenian youth for 
war, and the persuasive strains of his elegy, the poetry of which was 
rendered interesting and pathetic, by every circumstance that could 
be urged upon such an occasion, contributed no less to his being 
favourably heard than the music. For melody at this time confined 
to few notes, could not be susceptible of great variety : and we may 
easily form an idea of the rhythm, as it must have been regulated 
by dactyls, spondees, and anapsests, the only feet admissible in 
elegiac verse. 

With respect to the power attributed to the flute, it lessens the 
marvellous very much, when we consider that, in the instances 
just given, this power was only exercised upon persons agitated 
by the fumes of wine; for, at present, it certainly^ would not be 
difficult to render a company of drunken fellows furious, by a bad 
hautbois, or tabor and pipe; but, when the first rage had spent 

. (f) Patritius, lib. ii. cap. 2. 

(k) The Spartans, though the first cultivators of music among the Greeks, were such enemies to 
variations in that art, that Terpander was not the only reformer and innovator who felt their resent- 
ment ; Phryuis and Timotheus underwent a still severer punishment. And Plutarch speaks of a 
lyrist whom they heavily fined for playing with his fingers, instead of the plectrum, as their forefathers 
had done. 

* Born c. 639 B.C. In early life Solon was famous for poetry of a light and amatory character. 
He discarded this mode of writing and before long was considered one of the seven sages. A dispute 
arose between Athens and Megara with regard to tbf possession of Salamis. The Athenians were 
about to relinquish their claims, which roused Solon to such indignation that, feigning madness, he 
rushed into the market place and declaimed an elegaic poem of 100 lines, in which he called upon the 
Athenians to reconquer Salamis. His appeal was effective ; Solon was elected to conduct a war 
against the Megarians, the issue of which was later decided by the arbitration of Sparta. 



itself, if the hautbois were to play a graver strain, and retard the 
measure by degrees, we should soon see these pot-valiant heroes 
fall fast asleep, without reflecting any great honour upon the 
excellence of the music, or performance. 

The flutes, therefore, that were used under the direction of Pytha- 
goras and Damon, cannot easily be regarded in a more wonderful 
Sght, any more than the lyre of Empedocles, which is said to have 
had the power of preventing murder; for all that can be inferred 
from what has been related of this poet and musician is, that he 
restored a furious young man to reason and moderation by the 
assistance of poetical counsel, conveyed to him in a song; for the 
chief use made of the lyre at that time, as before observed, was to 
accompany the voice. 

With regard to the particular power of the flute of Timotheus, 
or of Antigenides, over Alexander, where is the wonder that a young 
and martial prince, extremely sensible to the charms of music, 
should suddenly rise from table upon hearing some military charge 
or march sounded, and, seizing his arms, dance a Pyrrhic dance ? 
Must a musician's abilities be very extraordinary, or the music 
miraculous, to operate such a natural effect? 

A Thracian prince, mentioned by Xenophon ($"), was roused in 
the same manner by the sound of flutes and trumpets, made of 
raw hides, and is said to have danced with as much impetuosity 
and swiftness, as if he had tried to avoid a dart. But must we 
conclude from this circumstance, that in the city Cerasontes, where 
it is said to have happened, music was arrived at a greater degree 
of perfection than elsewhere? 

The trumpeter, Herodorus, of Megara, had the power, accord- 
ing to Athenseus of animating the troops of Demetrius so much, 
by sounding two trumpets at a time, during the siege of Argos, 
as to enable them to move a machine towards the ramparts, which 
they had in vain attempted to do for several days before, on account 
of its enormous weight. Now the whole miraculous part of this 
exploit may safely be construed into a signal given by the musician 
to the soldiers for working in concert at the battering ram, or other 
military engines; for want of which signal, in former attempts, their 
efforts had never been united, and consequently were ineffectual. 

Nor can any thing be inferred very much in favour of either the 
music or musician, mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus (&), who, 
under the reign of Eric the second of Denmark, could work his 
hearers up to a fury at his pleasure; for it was in a dark and 
barbarous age, when music was extremely degenerated. However, 
imperfect as it was, its power over the passions seems to have been 
as great as in the days of Alexander. Giraldus assures us, that 
he saw the same effects produced at the court of Leo X. Music 
was then, indeed, a little emerged from barbarism, though very 
remote from its present degree of perfection. 

(*) Kvp. avaas, lib. vii. (k) Lib. xii. p. 226. 



All this only proves, that the best music of every age, be it 
ever so coarse and imperfect, has great power over the human 
affections, ancUs thought delightful, perfect, and inimitable: hence 
those hyperbolical praises at all times, and in all countries, concern- 
ing music, that becomes intolerable to persons of taste in future 
ages: and, perhaps, the more barbarous the age and the music, 
the more powerful its effects (I). 

I shall now lay before my readers, under the Third head, the 
Medicinal powers that have been attributed to music by the ancients. 

Martianus Capella (in) assures us, that fevers were removed by 
song, and that Asclepiades cured deafness by the sound of the 
trumpet. Wonderful, indeed! that the same noise which would 
occasion deafness in some, should be a specific for it in others ! it 
is making the viper cure her own bite. But perhaps Asclepiades 
was the inventor of the Acousticon, or ear-trumpet, which has been 
thought a modern discovery; or of the speaking-trumpet, which is 
a kind of cure for .distant deafness. These would be admirable proofs 
of musical power (n) ! We have the testimony of Plutarch (o), and 
several other ancient writers, that Thaletas the Cretan delivered 
the Lacedaemonians from the pestilence by the sweetness of his lyre. 

Xenocrates, as Martianus Capella further informs us, employed 
the sound of instruments in the cure of maniacs ; and Apollonius 
Dyscolus (/>), in his fabulous history, Historia Commentitia, tells 
us, from Theophrastus's Treatise upon Enthusiasm, that music is a 
sovereign remedy for a dejection of spirits, and a disordered 
mind ; and that the sound of the Flute will cure an epilepsy, and 
a sciatic gout. Athenseus quotes the same passage from Theo- 
phrastus, with this additional circumstance, that as to the second 
of these disorders, to render the cure more certain, the Flute 
should play in the Phrygian mode (q). But Aulus Gellius, who 
mentions this remedy (r), seems to administer it in a very different 
manner, by prescribing to the Flute-player a soft and gentle 
strain ; si modulis lenibus, says he, tibicen incinat : for the Phrygian 
mode was remarkably vehement and furious. This is what Coelius 
Aurelianus calls loca dolentia decantare, enchanting the disordered 
places (s). He even tells us how this enchantment is brought about 
upon these occasions, in saying that the pain is relieved by 
causing a vibration in the fibres of the afflicted part: QUCB cum 

(I) " For still the less they understand, 

The more they admire the slight of hand." 

In the first ages of Greece, when music was a new art, and the hearers, unaccustomed to excellence, 
gave way to their feelings, without asking their judgment leave to be pleased, its operations were most 

(m) Lib. ix. De Musica. 

(n) It has been asserted by several moderns, that deaf people can hear best in a great noise ; 
perhaps to prove, that Greek noise could do nothing which the modern cannot operate as effectually ; 
and Dr. Willis, in particular, tells us of a lady who could hear only while a drum was beating, in so 
much that her husband, the account says, hired a Drummer as her servant, in order to enjoy the 
pleasure of her conversation. 

(o) De Musica. (p) Cap. zlix. De Musica, p. 42. 

(q) Deipnos. lib. xiv. cap. 15. (r) Lib. iv. cap. 13. 

(s) Chron. lib. v. cap. i. sect. 23. 


saltum sumerent palpitando, discusso dolore mitescerent. Galen 
speaks seriously of playing the Flute on the suffering part, upon 
the principle, I suppose, of a medicated vapour bath (f). The sound 
of the flute was likewise a specific for the bite of a viper, according 
to Theophrastus and Democritus, whose authority Aulus Gellius 
gives for his belief of the fact. But I find nothing more extra- 
ordinary among the virtues attributed to music by the ancients, 
than what Aristotle relates of its supposed power in softening the 
rigour of punishment. The Tyrrhenians, says he, never scourge 
their slaves, but by the sound of flutes, looking upon it as an 
instance of humanity to give some counterpoise to pain, and 
thinking, by such a diversion to lessen the sum total of the 
punishment (u). To this account may be added a passage from 
Jul. Pollux (#), by which we learn, that in the triremes, or vessels 
of three banks of oars, there was always a Tibicen, or flute-player, 
not only to mark the time, or cadence, for each stroke of the oar, 
but to sooth and cheer the rowers by the sweetness of the melody. 
And from this custom Quintilian took occasion to say, that music 
is the gift of nature, to enable us the more patiently to support 
toil and labour (y). 

These are the principal passages which antiquity furnishes, 
relative to the medicinal effects of music ; in considering which, I 
shall rely on the judgment of M. Burette, whose opinions will 
come with the more weight, as he had not only long made the 
music of the ancients his particular study, but was a physician by 
profession. This writer, in a Dissertation on the subject, has 
examined and discussed many of the stories above related, con- 
cerning the effects of music in the cure of diseases. He allows it to 
be possible, and even probable, that music, by reiterated strokes 
and vibrations given to the nerves, fibres, and animal spirits, may 
be of use in the cure of certain diseases; yet he by no means 
supposes that the music of the ancients possessed this power in a 
greater degree than the modern, but rather, that a very coarse and 
vulgar music is as likely to operate effectually on such occasions as 
the most refined and perfect. The savages of America pretend to 
perform these cures by the noise and jargon of their imperfect 
instruments ; and in Apulia, where the bite of the tarantula is 
pretended to be cured by music,* which excites a desire to dance, 
it is by an ordinary tune, very coarsely performed (z). 

(t) Many of the ancients speak'of music as'a recipe for every kind of malady ; and it is probable 
that the Latin word prtzcinere, to charm away pain, incantare, to enchant, and our word incantation, 
came from the medicinal use of song. 

(u) It seems, by the lightness of the music, from a very different reason, that the Prussian soldiers 
are scourged to the sound of instruments, at present. 

(*) Lib. iv. cap. 8. (y) Instit. Orat. lib. i. cap. x. 

(*) M. Burette, with our Dr. Mead, Baglivi, and all the learned of their time, throughout Europe, 
seem to have entertained no doubt of this fact, which, however, philosophical and curious enquirers 
have since iound to be built upon fraud and fallacy. See Serrao, della Tarantola o vero Falangio di 

* The old legend connecting the tarantella with the Tarantula is without foundation. The word 
tarantella -derives from the town of Taranto. The Tarantella was often used as an urge to rapid 
movement in the disease or rather the nervous disorder known as Tarantism, which was prevalent in 
Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 


Credulity must be very strong in those who can believe it 
possible for music to drive away the pestilence. Antiquity, however, 
as mentioned above, relates, that Thaletas, a famous lyric poet, 
cotemporary with Solon, was gifted with this power; but it is 
impossible to render the fact credible, without qualifying it by 
several circumstances omitted in the relation. In the first place it 
is certain, that this poet was received among the Lacedaemonians 
during the plague, by command of an oracle; that by virtue of this 
mission, all the poetry of the hymns which he sung, must have 
consisted of prayers and supplications, in order to avert the anger 
of the Gods against the people, whom he exhorted to sacrifices, 
expiations, purifications, and many other acts of devotion ; which 
however superstitious, could not fail to agitate the minds of the 
multitudes, and to produce nearly the same effects as public feasts, 
and, in catholic countries, processions, at present, in times of 
danger, by exalting the courage, and by animating hope. 

The disease having, probably, reached its highest pitch of 
malignity when the musician arrived, must afterwards have become 
less contagious by degrees; till, at length, ceasing of itself, by the 
air wafting away the seeds of infection, and recovering its former 
purity, the extirpation of the disease was attributed by the people 
to the music of Thaletes, who had been thought the sole mediator, 
to whom they owed their happy deliverance. 

This is probably what Plutarch means, who tells the story; and 
what Homer meant, in attributing the cessation of the plague 
among the Greeks, at the siege of Troy, to music. 

With hymns divine the joyous banquet ends, 
The Pceans lengthen' d till the sun descends: 
The Greeks restor'd, the grateful notes prolong ; 
Apollo listens, and approves the song. 

POPE'S Homer's Hiad, Book 1. 

For the poet, in this passage, seems only to say, that Apollo was 
rendered favourable, and had delivered the Greeks from the 
scourge with which they were attacked, in consequence of Chryseis 
having been restored to her father, and of sacrifices and offerings. 
M. Burette thinks it easy to conceive, that music may be really 
efficacious in relieving, if not removing, the pains of the Sciatica; 
and that, independent of the greater or less skill of the musician. 
He supposes this may be effected in two different ways: first, by 
flattering the ear, and diverting the attention ; and, secondly, by 
occasioning oscillations and vibrations of the nerves, which may, 
perhaps, give motion to the humours, and remove the obstructions, 
which occasion this disorder. In this manner the action of musical 
sounds upon the fibres of the brain, and in animal spirits, may some- 
times soften and alleviate the sufferings of Epileptics and Lunatics, 
and even calm the most violent fits of these two cruel disorders. 
And if antiquity affords examples of this power, we can oppose 
to them some of the same kijid, sajcl to have been effected by music, 



not of the most exquisite sort. For, not only M. Burette, but many 
modern philosophers, physicians, and anatomists, as well as ancient 
poets and historians, have believed that music has the power of 
affecting, not only the mind, but the nervous system, in such a 
manner, as will give a temporary relief in certain diseases, and, at 
length, even operate a radical cure. 

In the Memoires of the Academy of Sciences for 1707, and 1708, 
we meet with many accounts of diseases, which, after having 
resisted and baffled all the most efficacious remedies in common 
use, had, at length, given way to the soft impressions of harmony. 
M. de Mairan, in the Memoires of the same Academy, 1737, 
reasons upon the medicinal powers of music in the following 
manner. "It is from the mechanical and involuntary connexion 
between the organ of hearing, and the consonances excited in the 
outward air, joined to the rapid communication of the vibrations 
of this organ to the whole nervous system, that we owe the cure of 
spasmodic disorders, and of fevers attended with a delirium and 
convulsions, of which our Memoires furnish many examples." 

The learned Dr. Bianchini, professor of physic at Udine, has 
lately collected all the passages preserved in ancient authors, 
relative to the medicinal application of music by Asclepiades; and 
it appears from this work (a), that it was used as a remedy by the 
ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, not only in 
acute, but chronical disorders. And this writer gives several cases 
within his own knowledge, in which music has been efficacious ; 
but the consideration, as well as the honour, of these, more properly 
belong to modern music, than to the ancient. 

And now, after an examination of the power attributed to 
ancient music over the human species, in softening the manners, 
governing the passions, and healing diseases, this section might be 
considerably swelled, by accounts of its influence over the brute 
creation. But I shall wave the discussion of these, as some of 
them belong to poetical fables, moral allegories, and mythological 
mysteries ; and others are too puerile and trivial to merit attention, 
unless among stories to be laughed at. 

Indeed, with respect to this boasted influence of music upon 
animals, though not only antiquity, but several eminent and 
philosophical modern writers seem to have entertained no doubt of 
it, yet the articles of my creed, upon this subject, are but very few. 
Even Birds, so fond of their own music, are no more charmed 
and inspired by ours, than by the most dissonant noise ; for I have 
long observed that the sound of a voice, or instrument of the most 
exquisite kind, has no other effect upon a bird in a cage, than to 
make him almost burst himself in envious efforts to surpass it in 
loudness ; and that the stroke of a hammer upon the wainscot, or a 
fire shovel, excites the same rival spirit. A singing-bird is as 
unwilling to listen to others, as a loquacious disputant. 

(a) La Medidna d'Asclepiade per ton curare malatie acute. Vca, 



As to quadrupeds, it is by no means certain, that music affects 
them naturally with any thing but surprize and terror. A dog and 
cat, not accustomed to hear music, wfll howl, when an instrument 
is touched in the same room with them, as if the sound were top 
much for their nerves to bear. Some have, indeed, construed this 
effect into ecstatic pleasure ; but, open the door, and they will run 
away from the music, as hastily as from a whip and a bell. By 
education and discipline, several animals have indeed been taught 
to attend to it : the sound of a trumpet will rouse a horse (&) ; and 
a pack of hounds will obey orders issued through a French horn. 

But if the truth of every strange story related by Mian, Pliny, 
and other authors, concerning the great sensibility of all kinds of 
animals for ancient music, could be ascertained, the power it had 
over them would by no means prove its superior excellence. 
Indeed, if it should be granted that any supernatural effects upon 
man were ever produced in former times by mere practical music, 
it would be so far from proving its superiority to the modern, that 
it seems to demonstrate the direct contrary. For, at present, it is 
not the most refined and uncommon melody, sung in the most 
exquisite manner, or the most artificial and complicated harmony, 
which has the greatest power over the passions of the multitude : on 
the contrary, the most simple music, sung to the most intelligible 
words, applied to a favourite and popular subject, in which the whole 
audience can occasionally join, will be more likely to rouse and 
transport them, than the most delicate or learned performance in an 
opera or oratorio. 

But in proportion as an age, or nation, grows refined, and 
accustomed to musical excellence, it becomes more difficult to 
please. The dose of any medicine must be doubled, if frequently 
taken ; an opiate, or cathartic, that would cause eternal sleep, or 
the most violent convulsions, if administered to a patient at first 
in a large quantity, would become mild and anodyne by use, and 
a gradual encrease of the quantity. The nearer the people of any 
country are to a state of nature, the fonder they are of noisy music : 
like children, who prefer a rattle and a drum to a soft and refined 
melody, or the artful combinations of learned harmony. 

It is not, therefore, difficult to conceive, that the music of the 
ancients, with all its simplicity, by its strict union with poetry, 
which rendered it more articulate and intelligible, could operate 
more powerfully in theatric, and other public exhibitions, than the 
artificial melody, and complicated harmony of modern times ; for 
though poetry was assisted by ancient music, it is certainly injured 
by the modern. 

And here I can believe great effects to have arisen from little 
causes, however, many hyperbolical accounts of its supernatural 
powers that have been handed down from age to age, are not 
only too improbable for belief, but too ridiculous to be treated 

(b) Fretnit eguus guum signa dedti tubicen. OVID. 


Poetical fables, and ingenious allegories, come not under this 
class. Amphion building the walls of Thebes with the sound of 
his lyre, may be solved into the sweetness of his poetical numbers, 
and the wisdom of his counsel prevailing upon a rude and 
barbarous people to submit to law and order, to live in society, and 
to defend themselves from the insults of savage neighbours, by 
building a wall round their town. 

It is not quite so easy to unfold the mysteries of singing Swans, 
or intelligent Grasshoppers. However, the chevalier de Jaucourt 
tells us, seriously, that " the Swan, whose sweet song is so 
celebrated by the poets, does not produce the sounds by his voice, 
which is very coarse and disagreeable, but by his wings, which, 
being raised and extended when he sings, are played upon by the 
winds, like the ^Eolian harp, and produce a sound so much the 
more agreeable, as it is not monotonous, which is the case in the 
warble of most other birds ; but on the contrary, this sound is 
continually chaiiging, being composed of many different tones, 
which form a kind of harmony, in proportion as the wind happens 
to fall on different parts of the wings, and in different positions 
(c)." But whoever heard this harmony? and why was it more 
remarkable and mellifluous in the dying swans of antiquity, than 
in those of youth and vigour? 

The story of a Grasshopper supplying the place of a broken 
string in the musical contest between Eunomes and Ariston, at 
the Pythian games, is gravely related by Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, 
Pliny, and Pausanias. The first of these authors gives a very 
plausible reason for one particular breed of grasshoppers singing 
better than another, though not for the sagacity of the individual 
insect in question. He says, that though the two cities of Rhegium 
and Locris were only separated by the river Alex, the grasshoppers 
sung on the side of Locris, and were utterly mute on that of 
Rhegium : for at Rhegium, the country being moist and woody, the 
insect is languid and dull: whereas on the Locrian side, which 
is diy and open, the grasshoppers are more lively, and fond 
of singing. 

The Dolphins seem, at all times, to have had a great attachment 
to human kind (d), but particularly to poets and musicians. I 
shall give the celebrated story of Arion from Herodotus, in the 
words of his English translator. 

" Periander, the son of Cypselus, was king of Corinth; and the 
Corinthians say, that a most astonishing thing happened there in 
his time, which is also confirmed by the Lesbians. Those people 
give out, that Arion of Methymna, who was second to^ none of his 
time in playing on the harp, and first inventor of dithyrambics, 
both name and thing, which he taught at Corinth, was brought 

of bread, and the sweet name of Simon, that he carried him every day 

Vox,, i. ii 


by a dolphin to Taenarus; and thus they tell the story : Arioh having 
continued long with Periander, resolved to make a voyage to Italy 
and Sicily, where, when he had acquired great riches, determining 
to return to Corinth, he went to Tarentum, and hired a ship of 
certain Corinthians, because he put more confidence in them than 
in any other nation. But these men, when they were in their 
passage, conspired together to throw him into the sea, that they 
might get his money; which he no sooner understood, than offering 
them all his treasure, he only begged they would spare his life. 
But the seamen being inflexible, commanded him either to kill 
himself, that he might be buried ashore, or to leap immediately into 
the sea. Arion seeing himself reduced to this hard choice, most 
earnestly desired that, as they had determined on his death, they 
would permit him to dress in his richest apparel, and to sing, stand- 
ing on the side of the ship, promising to kill himself when he had 
done. The seamen, highly pleased that they should hear a song 
from the best singer in the world, granted his request, and went 
from the stern to the middle of the vessel. In the mean time, Arion 
having put on all his robes, took up his harp, and began an Orthian 
ode, which, when he had finished, he leapt into the sea as he was 
dressed, and the Corinthians continued their voyage homeward. 
They say a Dolphin received him on his back, from the ship, and 
carried him to Taenarus, where he went ashore, and .thence pro- 
ceeded to Corinth, without changing his cloaths; that, upon his 
arrival there, he told what had happened to him; but that Periander, 
giving no credit to his relation, put him under a close confinement, 
and took especial care to find put the seamen: that when they were 
found, and brought before him, he enquired of them concerning 
Arion; and they answering, that they had left him with great riches 
at Tarentum, and that he was undoubtedly safe in some port of 
Italy, Arion in that instant appeared before them in the veiy dress 
he had on when he leaped into the sea; at which they were so 
astonished, that having nothing to say for themselves, they con- 
fessed the fact. These things are reported by the Corinthians and 
Lesbians; in confirmation of which, a statue of Arion, made of 
brass, and of a moderate size, representing a man sitting upon a 
dolphin, is seen at Taenarus (e)." 

Plutarch, in his Banquet of the seven Wise Men, puts a ridicu- 
lous account of the death of Hesiod into the mouth of Solon, who, 
after telling us that the poet was killed at the Nemean temple at 
Locris, seriously assures us, that his body being cast into the sea,: 
was instantly caught up by a shoal of Dolphins, and carried to 
Rhium, and Molycrium, where it was soon recognized, and buried 
by the inhabitants in the temple of Nemean Jove. 

All these stories, and many more, have frequently been quoted 
in favour of ancient music; yet, to realize or demonstrate its excel- 
lence now, seems out of the power even of those who have spent 
the greatest part of their lives in the study of it. Meibomius, 'the 

() Littlebury's Herod, vol. i p. 13. 


great and learned Meibomius, when prevailed on at Stockholm to 
sing Greek Strophes, set the whole court of Christina in a roar, 
as Naude did in executing a Roman dance (/); but who would 
venture to appear at court now, in a dress that was worn a thou- 
sand years ago? Yet men delight in the marvellous; and many 
bigoted admirers of antiquity, forgetting that most of the extra- 
ordinary effects attributed to the music of the ancients had their 
origin in poetical inventions, and mythological allegories, have given 
way to credulity ; so far as to believe, or pretend to believe, these 
fabulous accounts, in order to play them off against modem music; 
which, according to them, must remain in a state far inferior to the 
ancient, till it can operate all the effects that have been attributed 
to the music of Orpheus, Amphion, and such wonder-working 

(/) Vie de Christine, Reine du Suede.. 


HARMONY seems a part of nature, as much as light or heat ; 
and to number any one of them among human inventions 
would be equally absurd. Indeed nature seems to have 
furnished human industry with the principles of all science : for what 
is Geometry, but the study and imitation of those proportions, by 
which the world is governed? Astronomy, but reflecting upon and 
calculating the motion, distances, and magnitude, of those visible, 
but wonderful objects, which nature has placed before our eyes? 
Theology, but contemplating the works of the Creator, and adoring 
him in his attributes? Medicine, but the study of nature, or the 
discovery and use of what inferior beings instinctively find, in every 
wood and field through which they range, when the animal ceconomy 
is disturbed by accident or intemperance? 

The ancients, by experiments on a single string, or monochord, 
found out the relations and proportions of one sound 'to another ; 
but the moderns have lately discovered that nature,* in every 
sounding body, has arranged and settled all these proportions in 
such a manner, that a single sound appears to be composed of the 
most perfect harmonies, as a single ray of light is of the most 
beautiful colours ; and when two concordant sounds axe produced in 
just proportion, nature gives a third, which is their true and funda- 
mental base (a). 

This is only speaking of natural harmony, and the science of 
harmonical proportion : but even the art or practice of music cannot 
be said to have been invented by any one man, for that must have 
had its infancy, childhood, and youth, before it arrived at 
maturity (6). 

I shall not, therefore, amuse my readers with puerile accounts 
of the invention of music ; as I believe it may be asserted with 
truth, that no one man was the inventor of any art, science, or 
complicated piece of mechanism, without some pracognita, some 
leading principles, or assistance from others. 

(a) This will be explained hereafter. 

(b) Omnium rerum prindpia paroa sunt, sed suis fvogressionibus usu augentur. Cic. de Fin. bon 
et mal. Lib. v. 

* The harmonies of the human voice were noted by Rameau early in the eighteenth century, but 
in the seventeenth century Merseane notices them in connection with a string* .''.': 


Among the ancient Greeks, says Pausanias, rude and shapeless 
stones held the place of statues, and received divine honours. A 
stone was adored in Baeotia for Hercules ; at Thebes, for Bacchus : 
and Herodian pretends, that the image, or symbol, of the Venus of 
Paphos, was at first only a stone, in form of a landmark, or pyramid. 
The first house was, doubtless a cavern, or a hollow tree ; and the 
first picture, a shadow ; even temples at first were so small, that 
the Gods could hardly stand upright in them : 

Jupiter angusta vix totus stab at in ade (c). 

OVID, Fast. lib. i. 

and yet it has been thought necessary, in histories or architecture 
and of painting, to tell us who were the inventors of those arts. 

As in these, so in music, the first attempts must have been rude 
and artless: the first flute, a whistling reed (d), and the first lyre, 
perhaps, the dried sinews of a dead tortoise. However, particular 
persons have been mentioned as the inventors of such clumsy 
instruments as were made by nature, and found by chance ; and 
yet, notwithstanding the little probability there is that music could 
have been brought to perfection by those who first attempted it! we 
are told by the ancient poets, historians, and even philosophers, that 
the miraculous powers of this art were exercised \vith the greatest 
success by its first cultivators. 

Who these first cultivators were, and what region of the earth 
they inhabited, it is not easy to determine. According to Herodotus 
(e), it was long disputed by the Egyptians and Phrygians, which 
of them could boast the higher antiquity ; and we are told by the 
same writer, that it was put to a very weak and precarious issue, 
which turned put favourable to the Phrygians (/). But as all the 
most ancient historians speak of the stupendous and splendid remains 
of grandeur and civilization to be found in Egypt, at a time when 
Phrygia could produce no such vouchers ; and as Sanconiatho, the 
most ancient historian of the Phoenicians, a people, who have a 
just claim to a very high antiquity, confesses (g) his cosmogony to 
have been taken from that of Taautus, who was the same with 
the Egyptian Thoth, or Hermes ; I shall not enter upon a minute 
discussion of the point, but proceed immediately to the history of 
music in that country, where the most indisputable proofs and 
testimonies remain of the extreme high antiquity of its religion, 
government, arts, and civil policy. 

(c) No sumptuous temples are upon record, till the days of Solomon : new kingdoms then began 
to blind sepulchres to their founders, in a magnificent manner ; such were constructed by Hiram in 
Tyre, Sesac in all Egypt, and Benhadad in Damascus. Newton's Chron. 

(d) Et zephyr is cava per calamontmsibila_primum 
Agresteis docuere cavas inflare cicutas. Lucret. lib. v. 

() Euterpe. 

(/) In order to make the experiment. Psammetichus, king of Egypt, ordered two children, just 
born, to be shut up in a cottage with dumb nurses ; and these children, as they grew up, were always 
heard, when hungry, to pronounce the word bekkos, which, upon enquiry, was found to be the Phrygian 
name for bread. 

(g) Apud Evseb. de Prop. Ev. L i. c. 10. 



THAT Egypt was one of the first countries on the globe which 
cultivated arts and sciences, is certain, from the testimony of 
the most ancient and respectable historians. Indeed, we 
have no authentic accounts of any nation upon the earth, where a 
regular government was established, civilization advanced, the 
different orders and ranks of the people settled, property ascertained, 
and the whole regulated by long custom, and by laws founded upon 
wisdom and experience, in such high antiquity as in Egypt.* 

For all this, we have the testimony of the Jewish legislator and 
historian, Moses, who allows the Egyptians to have been a powerful 
and polished people, before the arrival of Jacob's single family 
among them, consisting of only seventy persons, in order to obtain 
corn, during the time of a great famine, which raged throughout 
Syria (/). And even much earlier, Abraham was obliged to visit 
that country upon a similar occasion (g), where he found the state 
settled under a king, the second of whom mention is made in the 
sacred writings, and who had ideas of justice and rectitude, and 
treated him with hospitality and kindness. 

That Architecture was known here in a grand and magnificent 
style, much earlier than in other parts of the world, is certain, from 
the wonderful remains of it still subsisting in the Pyramids, of which 
the antiquity was so remote in the days of Herodotus, the oldest 
historian of Greece, that he could neither discover the time of their 
construction, nor procure an explanation of the Hieroglyphics they 
contained, though he travelled through that country expressly in 
search of historical information. 

To the Egyptians has been assigned the invention of Geometiy, 
an art necessary for measuring and ascertaining the portions of land 
belonging to each individual, after the overflowing of the Nfle, by 
which all boundaries were obliterated. Now as it is allowed by all 
antiquity that Pythagoras travelled into Egypt, and was obliged to 
the priests of that country for the chief part of his science, particularly 
in music (h), it is natural to suppose that the doctrine of Harmonics, 

(/) Gen. xlvi. 6, 27. (g) Gen. xii. to. , . (h) SeeDiog. Laert. 

in the history of the development of science and arc. 


or the geometrical mensuration of sounds, and the laws of their 
proportions to each other, were the invention of these early 
geometricians, who had brought the science of calculation to great 
perfection, lorig before the arrival of the Samian sage among them. 

It is in vain, therefore, to endeavour to trace music from a higher 
source than the history of Egypt ; a country, in which all human 
intelligence seems ^to have sprung. Its ancient inhabitants boasted 
a much higher antiquity than those of any other country ; or, indeed, 
than .' has ever been granted them by any modern system of 
chronology ; for from the time of Osiris to Alexander the Great, they 
counted ten thousand years. However, there are no annals of their 
history, or computations of time, which do not allow them an extreme 
high antiquity : those who strictly adhere to the Hebrew chronology, 
are obliged to it, for the reasons assigned above ; and the followers of 
other systems can find no transactions concerning any other countries 
prior to those recorded of the Egyptians ; for they were a great 
people long before the use of letters was known, till which period, 
they had no other memorials of times past than Hieroglyphics, which 
being, at first, vague and fanciful, must soon have grown out of use 
and unintelligible, when the more simple, certain, and expeditious 
method of conveying their transactions and thoughts to distant 
places and times, was agreed upon, by writing. 

With respect to Music, I know it is asserted by Diodorus Siculus 
.(*);'' that the cultivation of it was prohibited among them ; for they 
looked upon it not only as useless, but noxious, being persuaded 
' that it rendered the minds of men effeminate." To this passage has 
been opposed one from Plato, by a writer who has well discussed 
the point (k) ; and as Plato travelled into Egypt with a view of 
getting acquainted with the arts and sciences that flourished there 
(7), and was particularly attached to music ; it is natural to suppose 
that his enquiries would be judicious, and his account of it accurate. 
The following quotation from him will, therefore, have the more 
weight. ' * 

Athen.' The plan which we have been laying down for the 
education of youth, was known long ago to the Egyptians, viz. 
that nothing but beautiful forms, and fine music, should be permitted 
to enter into the assemblies of young people. Having settled what 
those forms, and that music should be, they exhibited them in their 
temples ; nor was it allowable for painters, or other imitative artists, 
to innovate, or invent, any forms different from what were 
established ; nor is it now lawful, either in painting, statuary,, or 
any pf the branches of the music, to make any alteration. Upon 
examining, therefore, you will find, that the pictures and statues 
made ten thousand years ago, are, in no one particular, better or 
worse than what they make now. 

(*) Lib.L 

(k) Mr. Stillingfleet, in Principles and Power of Harmony, p. 123. 

(I) According to Strabo, he remained in that country thirteen years. 


Clin. What you say is wonderful. 

Athen. Yes, it is in the true spirit of legislation and policy. 
Other things practised among that people may, perhaps, be 
blameable ; but what they ordained about music is right ; and it 
deserves consideration, that they were able to make laws about 
things of this kind, firmly establishing such melody as was fitted 
to rectify the perverseness of nature. This must have been the 
work of the Deity, or of some divine man ; as, in fact, they say in 
Egypt, that the music which has been so long preserved, was 
composed by Isis, and the poetry likewise. Plato, p. 789. 

This testimony of Plato contains a sufficient answer to Diodorus ; 
but one still more full may be extracted from his own writings, 
as, in this particular, he is in contradiction with himself ; for he 
not only tells us that music, and musical instruments, were invented 
by the Egyptian deities, Osiris, Isis, Orus, and Hermes ; but that 
Orpheus had from Egypt the fable of his descent into hell, and the 
power of music over the infernals ; and enumerates all the great 
poets and musicians of Greece who had visited that country, in order 
to improve themselves in the arts. Herodotus too, who travelled 
into Egypt more than three hundred years before Diodorus, and a 
hundred before Plato, is so far from mentioning any prohibition 
against the practice of music there, that he gives several instances 
of its use in their festivals, and religious ceremonies. 

" The Egyptians/' says he (m), " were the first inventors of 
festivals, ceremonies, and transactions with the Gods, by the 
mediation of others. It is not thought sufficient in Egypt," 
continues this father of history, " to celebrate the festivals of the 
Gods once every year, but they have many times appointed to that 
end : particularly in the city of Bubastis, where they assemble to 
worship Diana, with great devotion. The manner observed in these 
festivals at Bubastis is this : men and women embark promiscuously, 
in great numbers ; and, during the voyage, some of the women beat 
upon a tabor, while part of the men, ply on the pipe ; the rest, of 
both sexes, singing, and clapping their hands together at the same 
time. At every city they find in their passage, they haul in the 
vessel, and some of the women continue their music." 

In the same book, he tells us, that in the processions of Osiris or 
Bacchus, the Egyptian women carry the images, singing the praises 
of the god, preceded by a flute. And afterwards, in speaking of 
funeral ceremonies, he has the following remarkable passage. 
" Among other memorable customs, the Egyptians sing the song of 
Linus, like that which is sung by the Phoenicians, Cyprians, and 
other nations, who vary the name according to the different 
languages they speak. But the person they honour in this song, 
is evidently the same that the Grecians celebrate: and as I confess 
my surprize at many things I found among the Egyptians, so I 
more particularly wonder whence they had this knowledge of Linus, 
because they seem to have celebrated him from time immemorial. 

(w) Euterp. 


The Egyptians call him by the name of Maneros, and say he was the 
only son of the first of their kings, but dying an untimely death, in 
the flower of his age, he is lamented by the Egyptians in this 
mourning song, which is the only composition of the kind used in 

Strabo (n) says, that the children of the Egyptians were taught 
letters, the Songs appointed by law, and a certain species of Music 
established by government, exclusive of all others. 

Indeed the Greeks, who lost no merit by neglecting to claim it, 
unanimously confess, that most of their ancient musical instruments 
were of Egyptian invention ; as the triangular Lyre, the Monaulos, 
or single Flute ; the Symbal, or Kettle-drum ; and the Sistrum, an 
instrument of sacrifice, which was so multiplied by the priests in 
religious ceremonies, and in such great favour with the Egyptians 
in general, that Egypt was often called, in derision, the country of 
Sistrums ; as Greece has been said to be governed by the Lyre. 

Herodotus (o), in tracing the genealogy of the Dorians, one of 
the most ancient people of Greece, makes them natives of Egypt : 
and as the three musical modes of highest antiquity among the 
Greeks, are the Dorian, Phrygian and Lydian, it is likely that the 
Egyptian colony, which peopled the Dorian province, brought with 
them the music and instruments of their native country. 

The profession of music was hereditary among the Egyptians, 
as was every other profession. This custom was imitated by 
the Hebrews; and Herodotus (p) tells us, that the Lacedaemonians, 
who were Dorians, agreed with their progenitors, the Egyptians, 
in this, that their musicians were all of one family. Their priests 
too, like those of Egypt, were at once taught medicine, to play 
on stringed instruments, and initiated into religious mysteries. 

The prohibition, therefore, mentioned by that excellent and 
judicious writer, Diodorus Siculus, inconsistent as it may seem 
with what he elsewhere says of the music and musicians of Egypt, 
may be accounted for, by the study of music, in very ancient 
times, having been confined there to the priesthood, who used it 
only on religious and solemn occasions. And, as we are told by 
Plato, that not only the music, but the sculpture of the Egyptians, 
was circumscribed by law, and continued invariable for many ages, 
which accounts for the little progress they made in both, it seems 
as if, during the time that arts were thus rendered stationary, only 
new music was prohibited; and that the old was sacred, and so 
connected with religion, that it was, perhaps, forbidden to be used 
on light and common occasions. 

But the Egyptians are mentioned by all writers, as if their 
government, customs, religion, laws, and arts, had remained the 
same through all the revolutions of time, and vicissitude of things. 
Yet it should be remembered that they became subjects of different 
invaders at different periods, who must have greatly changed, not 

(n) Bij5. i. (o) Erato. (p) Erato. 



only the form of their government, but their manners and amuse- 
ments: they were, by turns, after the reign of the Pharaohs, 
conquered by the Ethiopians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. In 
the time of the Ptolemies, it seems as if no other than Greek 
literature, arts, and sciences, were cultivated among them, and the 
musical games and contests instituted by those monarchs, were all 
of Greek origin, and chiefly supplied by Greek musicians. 

However, a sufficient number of passages have been cited from 
ancient authors, to evince the use of music, at all times, in Egypt; 
and there still remain, both at Rome, and at Thebes, in Upper 
Egypt, such proofs of its high antiquity, as appear to be wholly 

There are no memorials of human art and industry, at present 
subsisting in Rome, of equal antiquity with the obelisks that have 
been brought thither from Egypt; two of them, in particular, are 
supposed to have been erected at Heliopolis, by Sesostris, near four 
hundred years before the Trojan war (q). These Augustus, after 
reducing Egypt to a Roman province, caused to be brought to 
Rome. One of them he placed in the great Circus, and the 
other in the Campus Martius; this last, the largest of all those 
that have been transported from Egypt to Rome, was thrown down 
and broken, at the time of the sacking and burning of that city by 
the constable duke of Bourbon, general to the emperor Charles V. 
1527, and still lies in the Campus Martius. This column is known 
at Rome by the name of the Guglia rotta, or broken pillar. 
Upon this, among other hieroglyphics, is represented a musical 
instrument of two strings, with a neck to it (r), much resembling 
the Calascione, which is still in common use throughout the 
kingdom of Naples. The drawing of this instrument, which was 
made under my own eye, is of the exact size of the figure or 
hieroglyphic on the Obelisk, which is the most ancient piece of 
sculpture at Rome (s).* 

This instrument seems to merit a particular description here, 
not only from its great antiquity, but from its form; for by having 
been furnished with a neck, though it had but two strings, it was 
capable of producing from them a great number of notes; for 

(?) Not. ad Tacit. An, lib. iL cap. 60, p. 251. Edit. Gronav. Vales. Not. Ammian. lib. xvii. 
cap. 14, and the bishop of Gloucester on the Hieroglyphics. 

(r) See Plate I. 

(s) Figures of musical instruments have been found upon the Isiac table, particularly the Harp 
and Sistrwn ; but this obelisk is a monument of far more certain antiquity than the table of Isis, 
which has been supposed by the learned Jablonski, to be a calendar of Egyptian festivals, fabricated at 
Rome for the use of the Egyptians established there, during the time of the emperor Caracalla, in 
imitation of the figures and workmanship of Egypt. The Comte de Caylus, however, thinks that it 
certainly was engraved in Egypt, and brought into Italy about the end of the Republic, when the 
worship of Isis was first introduced there. Recuett d' Antiquities, 1767, torn. vii. p. 37. 

* The drawing of this instrument has been reduced to the scale of one-third of original. 

In his remarks upon the instrument, Plate V., No. 9, Burney calk it a Dichord. Actually 
it is a tamboura, or as the Egyptian called it, a nofre* In early representations it is usually 
.depicted with four pegs, but later two only are shown. It is difficult to be certain as to the number of 
strings employed on the noire. Engel in the Music of the Most Ancient Nations (1909, p. 204, et seq.) 
is inclined to the theory " that the number of strings varied " and that " three is believed to have been 
the usual number." In some representations of the nofre frets are clearly indicated. 



instance, 'if these two strings were tuned fourths to each other, 
they would furnish that series of sounds which the ancients called 
a heptachord, consisting of two conjunct tetrachords, as B, c, d, e; 
E, f, g, a; and if the strings of this instrument, like those on the 
Calascione, were tuned fifths they would produce an octave, or 
two disjunct tetrachords; an advantage which none of the Grecian 
instruments seem to have possessed for many ages after this 
column was erected. Indeed I have never yet been able to discover 
in any remains of Greek sculpture, an instrument furnished with 
a neck; and father Montfaucon says, that in examining the 
representations of near five hundred ancient lyres, harps, and 
citharas, he never met with one in which there was any contrivance 
for shortening strings, during the time of performance, as by a 
neck and finger board. 

This instrument, therefore, is not only a proof that music was 
cultivated by the Egyptians in the most remote antiquity, but 
that they had discovered the means of extending their scale, and 
multiplying the sounds of a few strings, by the most simple and 
commodious expedients. 

Proclus tells us (t), " That the Egyptians recorded all singular 
events, and new inventions, upon columns, or stone pillars." Now 
if this be true, as the guglia, or great obelisk, is said to have been 
first erected at Heliopolis, in the time of Sesostris, it will in some 
measure fix the period when this dichord, or two-stringed 
instrument, was invented. 

An exact chronology, however, in transactions of such remote, 
ages, can hardly be expected. Sir Isaac Newton,* whom I shall 
frequently follow, has more opponents to his Egyptian Chronology, 
than to any of his other writings. The bishop of Gloucester has 
attacked him with all his powers of learning and argument: it 
is not my business to enlist, on either side, in so learned and 
hopeless a dispute, in which both parties have the authority of 
ancient writers to confirm their opinions (u). 

Sir Isaac Newton supposes the elder Bacchus, Osiris, Sesac, 
and Sesostris, to be one and the same person (x) : the bishop of 
.Gloucester, on the contrary, denies their identity, especially that of 
Osiris and Sesostris, whom he makes totally different persons, and 
to have flourished at very different periods. To Osiris he gives 
the character of legislator, inventor of arts, andxivilizer of a rude 
and barbarous people; and to Sesostris that of a conqueror who 
carried those arts and that civilization into remote countries (y)' 
and Osiris whom sir Isaac Newton places but 956 years before 
Christ, the bishop makes cotemporary with Moses, and seven 

' (*) In Timaum, lib. i 

(u) When respectable authors differ very widely in fixing the periods of time in which any of the 
personages I have occasion to mention, lived, I shall give the several dates of these writers for my 
readers to please themselves, by causing among them that which they may think the most probable. 

(x) Chronol. of Ancient, Kingdoms, p. 193. 

Vy) Div. Leg. b. iv. sect v. : 

* The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, published posthumously in 1728. 



hundred years higher than Sesac or Sesostris, the cotemporaries of 
Solomon and Jeroboam. 

The Egyptian mythology, as well as the Grecian, is so much 
connected with the first attempts at music, and so many of the 
Pagan divinities have been said to be its first cultivators, that some 
slight mention of them is unavoidable. 

The sun, moon, and stars seem to have struck all mankind with 
wonder, awe, and reverence; and to have impressed them with 
the first idea of religious veneration. To the adoration of these 
succeeded hero-worship, in the deification of dead kings and 
legislators. This was the course of idolatry every where, as well 
as in Egypt: indeed the inhabitants of this country seem, from 
their early civilization, conquests, and power, to have spread their 
religious principles over the whole habitable earth; as it is easy to 
trace all the Pagan mythology of other countries, in the first ages 
of the world of which we have any account, from Egypt; and 
Isis and Osiris may be proved to have been the prototypes of almost 
every other God and Goddess of antiquity. For the Moon, or Luna, 
under the name of Isis, means all the most ancient female divinities 
of Paganism; as the Sun, under that of Osiris, does the male. 
Diodorus Siculus confesses, that there was ever a great confusion 
of sentiments concerning Isis and Osiris.* The former is called 
Ceres, Thesmophora, or Juno, Hecate, Proserpine, and Luna; 
Osiris has been likewise called Serapis, Dionysius, Helios, Pluto, 
Ammon, Jupiter, and Pan. 

However, the history of these does not so immediately concern 
the present enquiries, as that of Mercury or Hermes, one of the 
secondary Gods of Egypt, who received divine honours on account 
of his useful and extraordinary talents (z). This God must therefore 
be taken out of his niche, and examined. 

There is no personage in all antiquity more renowned than the 
Egyptian Mercury, who was surnamed Trismegistus, or thrice 
illustrious. He was the soul of Osiris's counsel and government 
and is called by sir Isaac Newton, his secretary; " Osiris/' says 
he, "using the advice of his secretary Thoth, distributes Egypt 
into thirty-six nomes (a); and in every nome erects a temple, and 
appoints the several Gods, festivals, and religions of the several 
nomes. The temples were the sepulchres of his great men, where 
they were to be buried and worshipped after death, each in his 
own temple, with ceremonies and festivals appointed by him; 
while he and his queen, by the names of Osiris and Isis, were to 
be worshipped in all Egypt; these were the temples seen and 

(*) By secondary divinities is here meant such princes, heroes, and legislators, as were deified after 
death, for the benefits they had conferred on mankind when living, in distinction to the heavenly 
luminaries, or sun, moon, and stars, which were the first divinities of paganism. 

(a) Districts, or provinces. 

* One of the chief aspects of Osiris was as a Corn God, and of Tsis, Frazer in The Golden Bough 
(abridged ed., 1922, p. 382, et seq.) writes : " The original meaning of the Goddess Isis is still more 
difficult to determine than that of her brother and husband, Osiris. Her attributes were so numerous 
that in the hieroglyphics she is called " the many named,'* " tb.e thousand named,'* and in the Greek 
inscriptions " the myriad named.** 



described by Lucian, who was himself an Egyptian, eleven hundred 
years after, to be of one and the same age: and this was the 
original of the several nomes of Egypt, and of the several Gods and 
several religions of those nomes (6)." -And Diodorus Siculus tells 
us, that Mercury was honoured by Osiris, and afterwards wor- 
shipped by the Egyptians, as a person endowed with extraordinary 
talents for every thing that was conducive to the good of society. 
He was the first who, out of the coarse and rude dialects of 
his time, formed a regular language, and gave appellatives to the 
most useful things: he likewise invented the first characters 
or letters, and even regulated the harmony of words and phrases : 
he instituted several rites and ceremonies relative to the worship 
of the Gods, and communicated to mankind the first principles of 
astronomy. He afterwards suggested to them, as amusements, 
wrestling, and dancing, and invented the lyre, to which he gave 
three strings, an allusion to the seasons of the year: for these 
three strings producing three different sounds, the grave, the mean, 
and the acute; the grave answered to winter, the mean to spring, 
and the acute to summer (c). 

Among the various opinions of the several ancient writers who 
have mentioned this circumstance, and confined the invention to 
the Egyptian Mercury, that of Apollodorus is the most intelligible 
and probable. " The Nile/' says this writer (d}, " after having 
overflowed the whole country of Egypt, when it returned within 
its natural bounds, left on the shore a great number of dead animals 
of various kinds, and, among the rest, a tortoise, the flesh of which 
being dried and wasted by the sun, nothing was left within the 
shell, but nerves and cartilages, and these being braced and con- 
tracted by desiccation, were rendered sonorous; Mercury, in 
walking along the banks of the Nile, happening to strike his foot 
against the shell of this tortoise, was so pleased with the sound it 
produced, that it suggested to him the first idea of a lyre, which 
he afterwards constructed in the form oi' a tortoise, and strung it 
with the dried sinews of dead animals." 

It is generally imagined that there were two Thoths, or 
Mercuries, in Egypt, who lived at very remote periods, but both 

(6) Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, p. 22. 

(A Not only the Egyptians, but the ancient Greeks, divided their year into no more than three 
seasons, spring, summer, and winter, which were called cbpot, or hours; Hesiod speaks of no more : 
. The Hours to Jove, did lovely Themis bear, 
Eunomia, Dice, and Irene fair : 
O'er human labours, they the pow'r possess, 
With seasons kind, the fruits of earth to bless. 


However, Oirwpa, Autumnus, occurs in Homer, Od. X. 191, in a Fragment of Orpheus, and in 
Xenophon- and RL de Boze has described, in the Mem. de Litteratun, an ancient marble monument 
found among the ruins near Athens, upon which the four seasons of the year are represented in sculp- 
ture. Indeed, according to Tacitus, the ancient Germans knew all the seasons of the year, except 
SSwwn of^uch theyhad no-idea." Hiems, et ver, el. astas inteUedum ac vocabula habent: autumnt 
perinde nomen ac bona ignorantur. De Morib. German, cap. xxvi. 

(d) BibUoth, lib. ii. 


persons of great abilities (e). From the small number of strings 
in this lyre, it is reasonable to suppose that the invention of- it 
was due to the first Egyptian Mercury : for that attributed to the 
Grecian had more strings, as will be shewn hereafter. Most of 
the writers on music among the ancients have supposed, that the 
three sounds of this primitive lyre were E, F, G; though Boethius, 
who makes the number of strings four, says they were tuned thus : 
E, A, B, e; but this tuning, if not invented by Pythagoras, was 
at least first brought into Greece by that philosopher. 

No less than forty-two different works are attributed to the 
Egyptian Hermes by ancient writers (/); of these the learned and 
exact Fabricius has collected all the titles (g). It was usual for 
the Egyptians, who had the highest veneration for this personage, 
after his apotheosis, to have his works, which they regarded as 
their Bible, carried about in processions with great pomp and 
ceremony: and the first that appeared in these solemnities was 
the Chanter, who had two of them in his hands, while others bore 
symbols of the musical art. It was the business of the Chanters 
to be particularly versed in the first two books of Mercury, one 
ot which contained the hymns to the Gods, and the other maxims 
of government: thirty-six of these books comprehended a complete 
system of Egyptian philosophy: the rest were chiefly upon the 
subjects of medicine and anatomy (h). 

These books upon theology and medicine are ascribed .by 
Marsham (i) to the second Mercury, the son of Vulcan, who, 
according to Eusebius (&), lived a little after Moses; and this authdr, 
upon the authority of Manetho, cited by Syncellus, regarded the 
second Mercury as the Hermes, surnamed Trismegistus. Enough 
has been said, however, to prove, that the Egyptian Mercuries, 
both as to the time when they flourished, and their attributes, were 
widely different from the Grecian Hermes, the son of Jupiter and 

Though so ancient and honourable an origin has been assigned 
to the Dichord and Trichord, which can both be fairly traced from 
Egypt, yet the single flute, or Monaulos, is said by several writers 
not only to be a native of that country, and of much higher 
antiquity than the lyre, but, according to Anthenaeus, from Juba's 

(e) The Egyptians themselves distinguish two Thoths, or Herpeses ; and yet the histories oi 
the .first and second are as much confounded together, as those of Osiris and Sesostris. Div. Leg. book 
iv. sect, 5. 

The Greek Christians had so high an opinion of the antiquity of the first Egyptian Hermes, who 
lived at Sais, that they supposed him, and the antediluvian patriarch, Enoch, to have been the same 
person, and give to both the same inventions. We are told likewise, that Manetho extracted his 
history and dynasties of the Egyptians from certain pillars in Egypt, on which inscriptions had been 
made "by Thoth, or the first Mercury, in the sacred letters, before the flood! Vid. Dodwell Dissert, de 
Sanchon. Fabric. Bib. Or. Stittingfleet. Orig. Soar, el olios. 

(fl Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. vi. fe) Bib. GrAc. torn. i. 

(h) Several of these works, however, if we may fudge by their titles, seem to have been upon the 
subject of music and poetry, as. i. 'Yjwot ewv. TO. Hept V/JU/CDV. 39. Hept bpyavvv, &c. and' 
among his inventions are enumerated, Musica, or the nature and properties of sound, <^wvtov ; and the 
use of the lyre. ....... 

(i) Chro. Sac. i. (A) In Cfuron* 


Theatrical History, to have been invented by Osiris himself ' (Z). 
The Egyptians called it Photinx* or crooked flute; its shape was 
that of a bull's horn, as may be seen in many gems, medals, and 
remains of ancient sculpture. Not only the form of this instrument, 
but the manner of holding it, is described by Apuleius, in 
speaking of the mysteries of Isis: "Afterwards," says this author, 
'.* came the flute players, consecrated to the great Serapis, often 
repeating upon the crooked flute turned towards the right ear, the 
airs commonly used in the temple (m)" All the representations 
which I have seen of this instrument, have so much the appearance 
of real horns, that they encourage a belief of its great antiquity; 
and that the first instruments in use of this kind, were not only 
suggested by the horns of dead animals, but that the horns 
themselves were long used as musical instruments, at least those 
sounded by the Hebrew priests at the siege of Jericho, we are 
repeatedly told, were trumpets made of ram's horns (n). 

Before the invention of the flute, music could have been little 
more than metrical, as no other instruments, except those of 
percussion, were known; and when the art was first discovered of 
refining and sustaining tones, the power of music over mankind 
was probably irresistible, from the agreeable surprize, which soft 
and lengthened sounds must have occasioned. But proofs can be 
given of the Egyptians having had musical instruments in use 
among them, capable of much greater variety and perfection than 
those hitherto mentioned, at a time when all the rest of the known 
world was in a state of the utmost barbarism. 
" Thebes or Diospolis, that is the city of Jupiter, in Upper 
Egypt, was built, according to Sir Isaac Newton, by Osiris., ana 
dedicated to his father Ammon, which was the original Egyptian 
name for Jupiter, who was the first mortal that can be found in 
profane authors, to whom temples were erected, and divine honours 
paid (o). Of this city, perhaps the most ancient in the world, 
amazing remains are still subsisting. It was chiefly built on the 
right side of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Its hundred gates 
celebrated by Homer (p) are well known. The Greeks and Romans 

(Z) Tov MowvXov 0<rtptSos etvat evpifluux, Ka.ea.irep KM TOV /coXovjutevov ^wnyya irXayiavXov, 
Deipnotopk, lib. iv. However, Plutarch says, that Apollo was not only the inventor of the Ctthara 
but likewise of the flute : ov U.QWI $e /ciflapa AiroXXcovo?, aXXa KOI avXrjTiwj?, icat *ctprtijs 
evperw o 0eos. Indeed it was a very common practice with antiquity, to attribute to the Gods aU the 
discoveries and inventions to which there were no lawful claimants among mortals. And though we 
mav now venture to doubt of all the marvellous facts, which have been so seriously related by the 
most respectable historians of Greece and Rome, yet we must allow that the giving the invention of 
music and musical instruments to the Gods, proves them to have been of the most remote 
antiquity, and held in the highest estimation by such as bestowed upon them so honourable an origin. 

(m) Ibant et dicati magno Serapidi tibicines, qui per ohliwum calamum ad aurem pertractum 
dextram, familiar** templi deiquc modulum frequentabant. Metamorpb. hb. xi. 

(n) Joshua, chap. vi. (o) Chronology, p. 18. 

(*) Book be. 

Not all proud Thebes unrival'd walls contain 

The 'world's great empress on the Egvptian plain, 

That spreads her conquests o'er a thousand states, 
And pours her heroes thro' a hundred gates. Pope. 

Hence this city obtained the epithet of Htcatompylos. 

* The Photinx was not a crooked flute, but the name given by the Greeks of Alexandria to the 
transverse flute. It is not to be confused with the Plagiaries, which was held transversely, 
but was played by means of a reed mouthpiece, 


have perpetuated its magnificence, though neither ever saw more 
than its ruins (q). 

Herodotus says, that Egypt in general surpassed all other 
countries in things admirable, and beyond expression remarkable 
(r); and Dr. Pococke, and captain Norden, who visited that country 
but lately (5), agree in giving such a splendid account of Egyptian 
antiquities, as confirms all that ancient writers have related of its 
former magnificence. 

It is agreed by all writers that the pyramids are works of the 
most remote antiquity, though the time and object of their 
construction still remain a mystery (t). 

The city of Thebes in the time of Strabo was ten miles long 
(u), and the magnificent tomb of Ismandes, or Osymanduas, so 
particularly described by Diodorus Siculus (x), Dr. Pococke thinks, 
from its stupendous ruins still remaining, which extend more than 
half a mile, must greatly have exceeded all that the Greek writers 
have said of it (y). But the circumstance of the greatest importance 
to the present purpose is, that the same author in his account of 
the remains of this sepulchre, tells us that the walls of its rooms axe 
still adorned with sculpture, and with instruments of music. 
M. Pau, a writer by no means partial to the Egyptians, is of opinion 
that the paintings in the grottos near Thebes are of undoubted 
antiquity (z). Now as the prince whose tomb this is imagined to 
be, reigned, according to Diodorus Siculus, and other authors, who 
mention him, many ages before Sesostris, we cannot allow less than 
3,000 years to the antiquity of these representations of such musical 
instruments as were then known and practised in Egypt (a). The 
mention of these in the books above cited, had awakened an ardent 
desire in me to know of what kind they could be ; but as neither 
Dr. Pococke had described them, nor captain Norden given them a 
place in his drawings from Egyptian Antiquities ; and as the death 
of both these travellers had put it out of my power to consult them, 

{q) The name of this city is not to be found in Scripture, and it is not known what it was called 
by the Hebzews. 

(f ) Euterpe. 

(s) Both these travellers were in Egypt at the same time ; that is, during the years 1737 and 1738, 
though neither of them was acquainted with the other's person or design ; however, there is no material 
difference in their accounts of the extraordinary things they saw in that country. 

(t) M. Diderot has ingeniously imagined that long before the invention of letters, they were the 
Bibles of Egypt and constructed as the receptacles and repositories of all human science, expressed 
in hieroglyphics ; which though time has effaced, yet the pyramids themselves have resisted the 
destructive power of the elements, to which they have been for so many years exposed. Encydop. 

{) L&."xviL p. 816. 

(x) Lib. i. sect. 2. 

(y) description of the East. 

(z) Indubitablement Antiques. Voyez Recherchez Phihs. sur les Egypt, et Us Chinojs. Tom. I 
p. 198, and 212. 

(a) According to Dr. Blair, the kingdom of Egypt, of the Diospolitan succession, had subsisted 
1663 years, when it was conquered by Cambyses, king of Persia, 525 years before the Christian sera. 
And as the same excellent chronologer fixes the reign of Sesostris 1485 years B.C. ; and Diodorus 
Siculus tells us that Osmanduas lived twenty-seven generations earlier than that conqueror, it throws 
the invention and use of musical instruments in Egypt, full 2000 years B.C. and near 4000 from the 
present period. 


I had no resource till the arrival of Mr. Bruce;* the celebrity of whose 
extensive knowledge of eastern countries, as well as of his excellent 
drawings, and philosophical reflections, made me hope for a full 
gratification of my wishes. And I was not disappointed ; for, upon 
application to this intrepid and intelligent traveller, who had 
explored so many regions of the earth unknown to the inhabitants 
of Europe, he not only furnished me with exquisite drawings of 
two instruments of the most curious kind, and of the greatest 
importance to my work, but honoured me with a letter relative to 
them, as well as to the state of music in Abyssinia, with a permission 
to publish it ; a circumstance the more flattering to myself, and 
which must afford my readers greater satisfaction, as Mr. Bruce, 
among his innumerable acquirements of other kinds, has, by study, 
practice, and experience, rendered himself an excellent judge of the 
subject of music. 

I shall therefore hasten to gratify the curiosity of my readers by 
laying before them the information with which I have been favoured 
relative to my particular subject, which will doubtless be the more 
acceptable to them, as it contains the first and only intelligence of 
any kind from Mr. Bruce, to which he has hitherto set his name, or 
that he allows to be authentic. 

Kinnaird, Oct. 20, 1774. 


I have employed the first leisure that bad weather has enabled 
me to steal from the curiosity and kindness of my friends, to make 
you two distinct drawings of the musical instruments you desired 
of me. I sit down now to give you some particulars relative to them 
and to other instruments of less consequence, which I found in my 
voyage in Abyssinia to the fountains of the Nile. 

I need not tell you that I shall think myself overpaid, if this, 
or any thing else in my power, can be of service to you, or towards 
the history of a science, which I have always cultivated, with more 
application than genius ; and to which I may say, however, that I 
owe some of the happiest moments of my life. 

I have kept both the lyre and harp of such a size as not to exceed 
the bounds of a quarto page ; but I hope you will find that all the 
parts appear distinctly. I did not choose to embarrass the harp 
with the figure which is playing upon it, because this would 
necessarily conceal great part of the instrument ; and your business 
is with the instrument, not with the figure. 

There are six musical instruments known in Abyssinia ; the 
Flute, the Trumpet, the Kettle-drum, the Tambourine, the Sistrum, 
and the Lyre. 

The four first are used in war, and are by much the most 
common ; the fifth is dedicated to the service of the church ; and the 
sixth is peculiarly an attendant on festivity and rejoicings. 

* The celebrated African traveller and discoverer of the source of the Nile (b. 1730, d. 1794)* 
There are many references to him in the EaarlyDiary of Fanny Burney. 

Hfeaccount of the antiquity of this instrument was received with such incredulity that he 
received the name of " Theban Lyre." 

VOI,. i. 12 *77 


There are two principal languages in Abyssinia, the JEthiopic, 
which is the literal, or dead language ; and the Amharic, or language 
of Amhara, spoken by the court. 

The flute, in the Jithiopic, is called Kwetz, a word difficult to 
be written or sounded in English: in the Amharic, it is called 
Ag^da ; it is about the shape and size of the German flute, but 
played upon long-ways, with a mouth-piece resembling that of the 
clarinet ; its tone is not loud, but accompanied with a kind of jar, 
like a broken hautbois ; not owing to any accidental defect, but to 
construction and design, as it would not be esteemed without it (6). 

The kettle-drum is called in both languages Nagareet, because 
all proclamations axe made by the sound of this dnim, (these are 
called Nagr) if made by governors, they have the force of laws 
in their provinces ; but if made by the king, they are for all 
Abyssinia. The kettle-drum is a mark of sovereign power : when- 
ever the king promotes a subject to be governor, or his lieutenant- 
general in a province, he gives him a kettle-drum, and standard as 
his investiture. The king has forty-five of these drums always 
beating before him when he marches. They are in shape and size 
like ours, only they are braced very disadvantageously ; for the 
skin is strained over the outer rim, or lip of the drum, and brought 
a third down its outside, which deadens it exceedingly, and deprives 
it of that dear, metallic sound which ours has. Each man has but 
a single drum, upon the left side of his mule, and beats it with a 
crooked stick, about three feet long. Upon the whole, its sound is 
not disagreeable, and I have heard it at an incredible distance. 

The third instrument is the small drum, called Kabaro, in 
^thiopic and Amharic ; though in some parts of Amhara it is also 
called Htmo. It is about half the diameter, and twice the length 
of our common drum ; it is just the tambourine of Provence, only 
rounded to a point at the lower end. This is beaten always with 
the hand, and carried sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, 
when any inferior officer, (not having a Nagareet) marches. 

The Trumpet is called M&eketa, or MSleket ; and Kenct in 
Amharic, but Keren in ^Ethiopic, (or horn) ; which shews of what 
materials it was anciently formed. It is now made of a cane that 
has less than half an inch aperture, and about five feet four inches 
in length. To this long stalk is fixed at the end, a round piece of the 
neck of a gourd, which has just the form of the round end of our 
trumpet, and is on the outside ornamented with small white shells ; 
it is all covered over with parchment, and is a very neat instrument. 
This trumpet sounds only one note, E, in a loud, hoarse, and terrible 
tone (c). It is played slow when on a march, or before an enemy 
appears in sight ; but afterwards it is repeated very quick, and with 
great violence, and has the effect upon the Abyssinian soldiers of 

(&) It is probable that the jar mentioned here, arises from the vibration of a reed, which consti- 
tutes the difference between the tone of a hautbois and a flute. 


(c) The New Zealand trumpet, though extremely sonorous, is likewise monotonous, when it is 
blown by the natives, though iti s capable of as great a variety of tones as an European trumpet. 


transporting them absolutely to fury and madness, and of making 
them so regardless of life, as to throw themselves in the middle of 
the enemy, which they do with great gallantry. I have, often in time 
of peace tried what effect this "charge would have upon them, and 
found that none who heard it could continue seated, but that all rose 
up and continued the whole time in motion. 

The fifth instrument is the Sistrum: it is used in the quick measure, 
or in Allegros, in singing psalms of thanksgiving. Each priest has 
a Sistrum, which he shakes in a very threatening manner at his 
neighbour, dancing, leaping, and turning round, with such an 
indecent violence, that he resembles rather a priest of paganism, 
whence this instrument was derived, than a Christian. I have 
forgot the name of the sistrum in ^Ethiopic, but on looking into my 
notes I shall find it. 

The sixth and last instrument is the Lyre, which is never played 
solo, but always in accompanying the voice, with which it plays 
constantly in unison ; nor did I ever hear music in parts, in any 
nation, savage or polished, out of Europe: this is the last refinement 
music received, after it was in possession of complete instruments, 
and it received it probably in Italy. 

The lyre has sometimes five, sometimes six, but most frequently' 
seven strings, made of the thongs of raw sheep or goat skins, cut 
extremely fine, and twisted ; they rot soon, are very subject to break 
in dry weather, and have scarce any sound in wet. From the idea, 
however, of this instrument being used to accompany and sustain a 
voice, one would think it was better mounted formerly. 

The Abyssinians have a tradition, that the Sistrum, Lyre, and 
Tambourine were brought from Egypt into Ethiopia, by Thot, in 
the very first ages of the world. The Flute, Kettle-drum, and 
Trumpet, they say, were brought from Palestine, with Menelek, the 
son of the queen of Saba, by Solomon, who was their first Jewish 

The lyre in Amharic is called beg, (the sheep) ; in Ethiopic, 
it is called mSslnko ; the verb sinko signifies to strike strings with 
the fingers : no plectrum is ever used in Abyssinia, so that mesinko 
being literally interpreted, will signify the stringed instrument played 
upon with the fingers. This would seem as if anciently there was 
no other stringed instrument in Abyssinia, nor is there any other still. 

Indeed the Guitar is sometimes seen in the hands of the 
Mahometans, but they have brought it with them from Arabia, where 
they go every year for trade or devotion. This instrument having 
a neck, is from that circumstance, surely modern. Necks were 
probably invented after strings of different lengths and sizes had 
been so multiplied upon the harp and lyre, that more could not be 
added without confusion. This improvement of producing several 
notes upon one string, by shortening it with the mpmentaneous 
pressure of the fingers was then introduced, and left little more to 
do, besides the invention of the bow, towards bringing stringed 
instruments to their utmost perfection, 



The sides which constitute the frame of the lyre were anciently 
composed of the horns of an animal of the goat kind, called Agzan, 
about the size of a small cow, and common in the province of Tigre, 
I have seen several of these instruments very elegantly made of such 
horns, which nature seems to have shaped on purpose. Some of 
the horns of an African species of this animal may be seen in 
M. Buffon's History of the King of France's Cabinet. They are 
bent, and less regular than the Abyssinian ; but after fire-arms 
became common in the province of Tigre, and the woods were cut 
down, this animal being more scarce, the lyre has been made of a 
light red wood: however it is always cut into a spiral twisted form, 
in imitation of the ancient materials of which the lyre was composed. 
The drawing I send you was from one of these instruments made 
of wood (d). 

The kingdom of Tigre, which is the largest and most populous 
province of Abyssinia, and was, during many ages, the seat of the 
court, was the first which received letters, and civil and religious 
government ; it extended once to the Red Sea : various reasons and 
revolutions have obliged the inhabitants to resign their sea coast 
to different barbarous nations, Pagan and Mahometan ; while they 
were in possession of it they say that the Red Sea furnished them 
with tortoise shells, of which they made the bellies of their lyres, 
as the Egyptians did formerly, according to Apollodorus, and 
Lucian ; but having now lost that resource, they have adopted, in 
its place, a particular species of gourd, or pumpkin, very hard and 
thin in the bark, still imitating with the knife the squares, 
compartments, and figure of the shell of the tortoise (e). 

The Lyre is generally from three feet, to three feet six inches 

high ; that is, from a line drawn through the point of the horns, to 

the lower part of the base of the sounding board. It is exceedingly 

light, and easy of carriage, as an instrument should naturally be, in 

: so rugged and mountainous a country. 

When we consider the parts which compose this lyre, we cannot 
deny it the earliest antiquity. Man, in his first state, was a hunter, 
and a fisher, and the oldest instrument was that which partakes most 
of that state. The lyre composed of two principal pieces, owes the 
one to the horns of an animal, the other to the shell of a fish. 

It is probable that the lyre continued with Ethiopians in this 
rude state, as long as they confined themselves to their rainy, steep, 
and rugged mountains ; and afterwards, when many of them 
descended along the Nile in Egypt, its portability would recommend 
Lit in the extreme heats and weariness of their way. Upon their 
arrival in Egypt, they took up their habitation in caves, in the 
sides of mountains, which are inhabited to this day. Even in these 
circumstances, an instrument larger than the lyre must have been 

(4) See PL V. No'. 6. 

(e) Pausanias, In Arcad. ad Caketn, says that " there was an excellent breed of tortoises, for the 
purpose of mating the bellies of Lyres, upon Mount Parthenius ; but that the inhabitants supposing 
these animals sacred to Pan, would neither use them, nor suffer strangers to take them away." This 
is a proof that the practice of applying the shell of the tortoise to the lyre, was once common in Greece,: 
as well as Abyssinia and Egypt. 



inconvenient, and liable to accidents, in those caverns ; but when 
these people encreased in numbers and courage, they ventured down 
into the plain, and built Thebes. Being now at their ease, and in a 
fine climate, aU nature smiling around them, music, and other 
arts, were cultivated and refined, and the imperfect 13716 was 
extended into an instrument of double its compass and volume. 
The size of the harp could be now no longer an objection, the Nile 
carried the inhabitants every where easily, and without effort: 
and we may naturally suppose in the fine evenings of that country, 
that the Nile was the favourite scene upon which this instrument 
was practised ; at least the sphinx and lotus upon its head, seem to 
hint that it was someway connected with the overflowings of that 

Behind the ruins of the Egyptian Thebes, and a very little to the 
N. W. of it, are a great number of mountains, hollowed into 
monstrous caverns ; the sepulchres, according to tradition, of the 
first kings of Thebes. The most considerable of these mountains 
thus hollowed, contains a large sarcophagus of granite, of which 
the lid only is broken. Pococke, I think, (for though I have 
sometimes looked into him, I never could read him) was in this 
grotto, and slept here, I Suppose, for he takes no notice of one of the 
few monuments from which we may guess at the former state of 
arts in Europe. 

In the entrance of the passage which leads, sloping gently down, 
into the chamber where is the sarcophagus, there are two pannels, 
one on each side ; on that of the right is the figure of the scarab&us 
Thebaicus, supposed to have been the hieroglyphic of immortality ; 
on the left, is the crocodile, fixed upon the apis with his teeth, and 
plunging him into the waves : these are both moulded in basso 
relievo, in the stucco itself. This is a sufficient indication of the 
grotto, to any one who ma}' wish to examine it again. At the end 
of the passage on the left-hand, is the picture of a man playing upon 
the harp, painted in fresco, and quite entire. 

He is clad in a habit made like a shirt, such as the women still 
wear in Abyssinia, and the men in Nubia. This seems to be white 
linen ot muslin, with narrow stripes of red. It reaches down to 
his ancles ; his feet are without sandals, and bare ; his neck and arms 
are also bare ; his loose, wide sleeves are gathered about his elbows ; 
his head is dose shaved ; he seems a corpulent man, of about fifty 
years of age, in colour rather of the darkest for an Egyptian. 

To guess by the detail of the figure, the painter should have had 
about the same degree of merit with a good sign-painter in Europe ; 
yet he has represented the action of the musician in a manner never 
to be mistaken. His left hand seems employed in the upper part 
of the instrument among the notes in alto, as if in an Arpeggio ; while 
stooping forwards, he seems with his right hand to be beginning with 
the lowest string, and promising to ascend with the most rapid 
execution ; this action, so obviously rendered by an indifferent 
artist, shews that it was a common one in his time, or, in other words, 



that great hands were then frequent, and consequently that music 
was well understood, and diligently followed. 

If we allow the performer's stature to be about five feet ten 
inches, then we may compute the harp, in its extreme length to be 
something less than six feet and a half. It seems to support itself 
in equilibrio on its foot, or base, and needs only the player's guidance 
to keep it steady. It has thirteen strings; the length of these, and 
the force and liberty with which they are treated, shew that they are 
made in a very different manner from those of the lyre. 

This instrument is of a much more elegant form than the 
triangular Grecian harp. It wants the fore-piece of the frame, 
opposite to the longest string, which certainly must have improved 
its tone, but must likewise have rendered the instrument itself 
weaker, and more liable to accidents, if carriage had not been so 
convenient in Egypt. The back part of the sounding-board, 
composed of four thin pieces of wood, joined together in form of a 
cone, that is, growing wider towards the bottom ; so that, as the 
length of the string encreases, the square of the correspondent space, 
in the sounding board, in which the tone is to undulate, always 
encreases in proportion. 

Besides that, the whole principles upon which the harp is 
constructed are rational and ingenious, the ornamental parts are 
likewise executed in the very best manner ; the bottom and sides of 
the frame seem to be vaneered, or inlaid, probably with ivory, 
tortoise-shell, and mother of pearl, the ordinary produce of the 
neighbouring seas and deserts. It would be even now impossible to 
finisfr an instrument with more taste and elegance. 

Besides the elegance of its outward form, we must observe, 
likewise, how near it approached to a perfect instrument; for it 
wanted only two strings of having two complete octaves in 
compass. Whether these were intentionally omitted or not, we 
cannot now determine, as we have no idea of the music or taste of 
that time; but if the harp be painted in the proportions in which 
it was made, it might be demonstrated that it could scarce bear 
more than the thirteen strings with which it was furnished. 
Indeed the cross bar would break with the tension of the four 
longest, if they were made of the size and consistence, and tuned 
to the pitch that ours are at present. 

I look upon this instrument, then, as the Theban harp, before 
and at the time of Sesostris, who adorned Thebes, and probably 
caused it to be painted there, as well as the other figures in the 
sepulchre of his father, as a monument of the superiority which 
Egypt had in music at that time, over all the barbarous nations 
that he had seen or conquered. . 

Astronomy, and, we may imagine, the other arts, made a 
rapid progress at this period in Upper Egypt, and continued to 
do so for fifty years after, between which time, and the Persian 
conquest, some catastrophe must have happened that reduced them 
to the lowest ebb, which historians have mistaken for their first 


We know about the time of Sesostris, if, as Sir Isaac Newton 
supposes, this prince and Sesac were the same, that in Palestine the 
harp had only ten strings; but as David, while he played upon 
it, both danced and sung before the ark, it is plain that the 
instrument upon which he played, could have been but of small 
volume, we may suppose little exceeding in weight our guitar; 
though the origin of this harp was probably Egyptian, and from 
the days of Moses it had been degenerating in size, that it might 
be more portable in the many peregrinations of the Israelites. 

The harp, that approaches the nearest to this in antiquity, is 
represented upon a basso-relievo at Ptolemais, in the Cyrenaicum, 
a city built by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and it is there twice 

It has fifteen strings, or two complete octaves; but the adding 
these two notes has occasioned likewise the addition of a fore- 
piece to sustain the cross-bar above, so that its form is triangular; 
the extremity of the base is rounded into a ram's-head, which 
seems to allude to its Theban original; and I should imagine that 
this instrument is likewise Egyptian, as no harp with such a number 
of strings has ever been seen, that I know of, in Grecian sculpture. 

As the application of pedals has enabled us to disengage the 
modern harp from its multiplicity of strings, and brought it nearer 
to Theban simplicity, I hope our artists, and Merlin in particular, 
will likewise endeavour to introduce into its form a little of the 
Theban elegance. It is the favourite of the fair sex, and nothing 
should be spared to make it beautiful; for it should be a principal 
object of mankind to attach them by every means to music, as it 
is the only amusement that may be enjoyed to excess, and the 
heart still remain virtuous and uncorrupted. 

I shall say nothing of the capabilities of this harp, nor what 
may be proved from it relative to -the state of music, at a time 
when men were able to make such an instrument; I shall with 
impatience expect this detail from you, better qualified than any 
one I know now in Europe for this disquisition; it is a carious 
one, and merits your utmost reflection and attention. 

It overturns all the accounts of the earliest state of ancient 
music and instruments in Egypt, and is altogether in its form, 
ornaments, and compass, an incontestible proof, stronger than a 
thousand Greek quotations, that geometry, drawing, mechanics, 
and music, were at the greatest perfection when this harp was 
made; and that what we think in Egypt was the invention of arts, 
was only the beginning of the aera of their restoration. 

I am, &c., 


With respect to the Lyre resembling a tortoise, which is now in 
common use in the particular province of Abyssinia, called Tigre, 
I have only two observations to make, after the full and satis- 



factory account that has been given of it by Mr. Bruce : the first is, 
that its form exactly resembles the Testudo, which is represented 
in the most ancient Greek sculpture, and described by the most 
ancient authors : the second is, that it does not appear from history 
that the Greeks ever penetrated into this country, or had any 
communication with its inhabitants : for even Alexander the Great 
never undertook an expedition against the Ethiopians, though 
when he consulted the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, one of the first 
enquiries he made, was after the sources of the Nile. Ptolemy 
Euergetes, indeed, one of his successors in Egypt, having a 
passionate desire, in common with almost all the greatest men of 
antiquity, to discover the fountains of the Nile, with this view made 
an irruption into Ethiopia; but as he soon retreated thence, it is 
hardly to be imagined, that during a short hostile visit, he intro- 
duced music, or any of the arts of peace among the inhabitants : 
consequently, this instrument seems to have been originally invented 
in this country, and to have continued in use there ever since. 

I have now to speak of the Theban Harp, the most curious and 
beautiful of all the ancient instruments that have come to my 
knowledge. The number of strings, the size and form of this 
instrument, and the elegance of its ornaments, awaken reflections, 
which, to indulge, would lead me too far from my chief enquiries, 
and indeed out of my depth. The mind is wholly lost in the 
immense antiquity of the painting in which it is represented; 
indeed the time when it was executed is so remote, as to encourage 
a belief, that arts, after having been brought to great perfection, 
were again lest, and again invented, long after this period; and 
there can be no doubt but that human knowledge and refinements 
have shared the same fate as the kingdoms in which they have 
been cultivated. They have had their gradual rise and declension; 
and in some of the countries first civilized, arts, by the arrival 
of new invaders, and establishment of new modes, new laws, and 
new governments, may be said to have experienced several deaths 
and regenerations; or, according to the Pythagoric doctrine, their 
souls may be said to have transmigrated through several bodies, 
since they have been inhabitants of this world. 

With respect to the number of strings upon this harp, if 
conjectures may be allowed concerning the manner of tuning them 
two might be offered to the reader's choice: the first idea that 
presented itself at the sight of thirteen strings was, that they 
would furnish all the semitones to be found in modern instruments, 
within the compass of an octave, as from C to c, D to d, or E to e. 
The second idea is more Grecian, and conformable to antiquity, 
which is, that if the longest string represented Proslambanomenos, 
or D, the remaining twelve strings would more than supply all 
the tones, semi-tones, and quarter-tones, of the Diatonic, Chromatic, 
and Enharmonic genera of the ancients, within the compass of an 
octave: but, for my part, I should rather incline to the first 
arrangement, as it is more natural, and more conformable to the 



structure of our organs than the second: for, with respect to the 
Genera of the Greeks, though no certain historic testimony can 
be produced concerning the invention of the Diatonic and 
Chromatic, yet ancient writers are unanimous in ascribing to 
Olympus, the Mysian, the first use of the Enharmonic (d); and 
though in the beginning, the melody of this genus was so simple 
and natural as to resemble the wild notes and rude essays of a 
people not quite emerged from barbarism, yet, in after-times, it 
became overcharged with finical fopperies, and fanciful beauties, 
arising from such minute divisions of the scale, as had no other 
merit than the difficulty of forming them. 

Another conjecture concerning the tuning of the thirteen strings 
of the Theban harp, is, that they furnished the four tetrachords,* 
Hypaton, Meson, Synemmenon, and Diezeugmenon, with 
Pfoslambanomenos at the bottom. Thus: 

i, 2> 3 4> 5 6, 7 8, 9, 10, n, 12,13. 

It seems a matter of great wonder, with such a model before 
their eyes as the Theban Harp, that the form and use of such an 
instrument should not have been perpetuated by posterity, but that 
many ages after, another, of an inferior kind, with fewer strings, 
should take place of it ; yet, if we consider how little acquainted 
we are at present with the use, and even construction of the 
instruments which afforded the greatest delight to the Greeks and 
Romans, or even with others in common use in a neighbouring part 
of Europe but a few centuries ago (e), our wonder will cease ; 
especially if we reflect upon the ignorance and barbarism into which 
it is possible for an ingenious people to be plunged, by the tyranny 
and devastation of a powerful and cruel invader. 

It is but of small importance to us now, perhaps, to know what 
kind of musical instruments were in use among the Egyptians, in 
times so remote from our own ; indeed it is a humiliating 
circumstance to reflect how little permanence there is in human 
knowledge and acquirements ; and, before we attempt to improve 
our intellects, or refine our reason, how long and laborious a work it 
is to devise expedients for supplying the wants, and defending the 
weakness of our nature. Some ages, and some countries, have been 
more successful in these endeavours than others: however, there 
seems to be a boundary set to the sum total of our perfectibility, and, 

(d) See Dissertation. 

(e) See, in the musical Tour through Germany and the Netherlands, an account of many modem 
musical instruments still subsisting at Antwerp, of which the use is wholly unknown, vol. i. p. 41. 

* Engel (op. cit.) says that " this determination of the 13 intervals in accordance with the Greek 
system might oe correct ii the harp dated from the time of the Ptolomies ; but it was a thousand years 
older. At that period the pentatomic series was, as we have seen, most likely the usual one in Egypt. 
Even the scale of Olympus of Mysias to which Burney alludes was of a rfmitai- character." This 
implies that the Theban frescoes must be at least 3,000 years old. 



like the stone of Sisyphus, when we are arrived with infinite toil at 
a certain height, we are precipitated back to the level whence we 
set off, and the work is to do again ! 

The arts and sciences of Egypt seem to have been long lost before 
prose was written in Greece, as no historian of that country ever saw 
Egypt in the time of its prosperity. Pythagoras was there a little 
before, and at the time of the Persian conquest, having been taken 
prisoner by Cambyses in Egypt, whence he was sent to Babylon : 
but of his writings nothing now remains, except a few apophthegms 
and fragments, which tradition has given to him. From the time 
that Psammenitus, the last native king of Egypt, was defeated by 
Cambyses, 525 years B.C. the inhabitants of that county were 
always under a foreign yoke, and consequently from that period may 
be dated their ruin, and the utter extirpation of science and liberty 
among them : for honours and emoluments being wholly lavished 
upon foreigners, all expansion of genius must have been restrained 
among the natives, now become abject and debased by neglect, or 
oppression. Indeed, after their voluntary submission to Alexander 
the Great, the dazzling glory of whose reign and character made 
them prefer his tyranny to that of the Persians, they had a race of 
splendid princes in the Ptolemies, that cultivated and encouraged 
arts and sciences, particularly Music ; but these arts and sciences 
were wholly Grecian, and their professors Greeks ; for the native 
inhabitants had long lost everything, but the superstitious rites and 
ceremonies of their religion. They had no books, but hieroglyphics, 
which were now no longer intelligible, even to the Egyptians them- 
selves ; and we do not find, after the time of Alexander, that any 
"were ever written, but in the Greek language. 

It may be therefore said that the Egyptians ceased to be a people, 
at least a great and free people, before the time of the first Ptolemy, 
who founded the kingdom, which subsisted near 300 years under 
him and his successors. The first three of these monarchs, Ptolemy 
Soter [Reigned B.C. 323-285], Ptolemy Philadelphia [Reigned . 
B.C. 285-247], and Ptolemy Euergetes [Reigned B.C. 247-222], 
were magnificent princes, who encouraged arts and sciences, and 
by their bounty attracted to their court at Alexandria, men of genius 
and learning from all parts of the world. By these their characters 
have been handed down to us with perhaps too much tenderness 
to their vices and infirmities. Augustus, Leo X. and Louis XIV. by 
rendering themselves favourites of the Muses in later times, found 
means to silence satire, and to have the fair side only of their 
characters turned towards posterity: however, nothing is more 
certain than that these princes were not wholly exempt from human 
frailties, over which the gauze of flattery has been spread by those 
who basked in their smiles ; but though such have been silent as to 
the defects of the Ptolemies in Egypt, their subjects in general were 
not blinded by that magnificence which was supported at their 
expence, as most of the cognomens given to these princes were 
ironical, and intended not to point out the virtues which they 
possessed, but those of which they stood most in need: as 


Philadelphus, the lover of his brother; Euergetes, beneficent; 
Philopator, the lover of his father ; Pkilomator, the lover of his 
mother ; titles that were given to sovereigns who had been so 
unnatural and cruel as to put to death their fathers, mothers, wives, 
brothers, sisters, and children ! 

During the reigns of these sumptuous and voluptuous princes it 
can hardly be doubted but that music was greatly cultivated and 
encouraged at Alexandria, Athenseus, in his (/) minute description of 
the celebrated Bacchic Festival, given by Philadelphus, tell us, 
that more than six hundred musicians were employed in the chorus, 
and that among these there were three hundred performers on the 

Under the seventh Ptolemy [Reigned B.C. 146-117], surnamed 
Physcon, from his corpulency, and Cacergetes, from his cruelty, 
the same author informs us (g), that every species of art and science 
was cherished and taught in Egypt. For this prince having put to 
death a great number of the citizens of Alexandria, and banished 
others who had been attached to his brother, from whom he had 
usurped the crown, filled his dominions with Grammarians, 
Philosophers, Geometricians, Musicians, School-masters, Painters, 
Physicians, and other persons capable of perfecting the arts ; and 
these having no other subsistence than the fruits of their labour and 
diligence, contributed greatly to the propagation of knowledge 
throughout Egypt (h). 

The father of Cleopatra, and the last of the Ptolemies [B.C. 
80-51], derived the title of Auletes, or the Flute-player, from his 
excessive attachment to that instrument. Strabo says of him (i), 
that besides his debaucheries, he applied himself in a particular 
manner to playing on the flute. He had such an opinion of his own 
abilities, as to institute musical contests at his palaces, and had there 
the courage to dispute the prize, publicly, with the first musicians of 
his time ; and as the dress of players on the flute among the ancients 
was peculiar to that profession (&), this prince submitted to wear 
the robe, the buskins, the crown, and even the bandage and veil 
of a Tibicen, as may be seen on a beautiful Amethyst in the king of 
France's possession, of inestimable value, which is supposed to have 
been engraved by command of this prince, and worn by him to 
gratify his vanity on account of his musical excellence. Indeed the 
surname of Auletes is seriously given to him by Cicero, and by 
Strabo. The first in his defence of Rabirius Posthumus (I) ; and 
the second, who was likewise his cotemporary, never mentions 

(/) Lib. v. Ed. Casattb. p. *oi. (g} Ib. lib. iv. p. 184. 

(h) It was perhaps during this period that the practice of music became sufficiently general 
among thewmmon people of Egypt, to render credible the following assertion of a Dipnosophist fc 
Athenaeus : " It does not appear by the writings of any historian, says he, that there ever was a people 
more skilled in music than those of Alexandria ; for the most wretched peasant or labourer among 
them, is not only able to play upon tht IJTO, but is likewise a perfect master o! the flute," Lib. iv. p. 176 

(t) Lib. xvii. (ft) There was one also for the lyrists. 

(J) Nam vt veniwn est Alexandria and Auletem, &c. 



him but by the title of Auktus (m) . He had likewise an opprobrious 
appellation given to him, by his own subjects, in the Egyptian 
language, of the same import, being called Phothingos, or 
Phothingios, from Phothinx, Monaulos, or single flute. His violent 
passion for music, and for the company of musicians, gained him 
the name of NEOS DIONYSOS, the new Bacchus. 

A melancholy truth forces itself upon the mind in reading the 
history of this prince, and that of the Emperor Nero, whom he very 
much resembled, which is, that, if the heart is depraved, music has 
not the power to correct it. And though these musical princes 
obtained prizes in the public games, they acquired no honour to 
themselves, nor did they reflect any upon the profession of Music. 
A musician is so distant in character and dignity from a sovereign 
prince, that the one must stoop too low, or the other mount too high, 
before they can approximate ; and the public suffers with equal 
impatience, a sovereign who degrades himself, or an artist who 
aspires at a rank above his station in the community. 

An inordinate love of fame, or a rapacious desire of monopolizing 
all the glory as well as goods of this world to themselves, must have 
incited these princes to enter the lists in competition with persons 
so much their inferiors : a passion that should always be distinguished 
from the love of music, which they might have gratified, either from 
their own performance, or from that of others, in private, much 
more commodiously than on a public stage. 

Notwithstanding all the proofs that have been already given, 
and which might be still produced of the cultivation of music by 
the Egyptians in very remote antiquity, as well as of the manner 
in which it was afterwards patronized by their sovereigns of Greek 
extraction, many ancient writers who visited Egypt after it was 
made a Roman province, speak of the habitants as the most 
melancholy and abject race of men upon the globe. According 
to Am. Marcellinus (ri), they were not formed for mirth and 
pleasure; they worshipped their Gods with sorrow and tears, while 
the Greeks and Romans made religion an object of joy and 
festivity: and we are not only told by Diodorus Siculus, but by 
Plutarch, that the cultivation of music, an art which the Greeks 
thought so necessary to humanize and soften mankind, and render 
them gentle and obedient to the laws, was prohibited by their 
government* Dio Chrysostom informs us that poetry was inter- 
dicted among them, as well as music; and Strabo says that the 
sound of instruments was not heard in their temples, but that their 
sacrifices were made in silence. 

All this is reconcileable and consonant to the nature of things : 
for when these writers visited Egypt, its inhabitants were in a state 
of slavery, and had been so for 500 years before; and though not, 

(m) AvXijTTjs 6 Kaff Jjj&as, ooirep rjv njs KXeoTrarpa? irarnp. Lib. xvii. 
(n) Lib. zxii. cap. 16. 


like the Jews, in a strange land, yet, like them, " they had hung 
their harps on the willows." 

M. Pau (o), however, boldly asserts, that " the Egyptians, 
from a defect in the construction of their organs, and a want of 
genius, have never had any music but what was as detestable as 
that of the inhabitants of Asia and Africa is at present. "If," 
continues this author, " we consider the formation of a sistrum, 
whether of gold or iron, we must conclude that nothing but noise 
could proceed from it, which being united with the sound of a 
coarse flute, and the bleating of the ox Apis, would constitute 
such dissonance and jargon, as no ear accustomed to real music 
could support. As to the other musical instruments of Egypt, 
such as the Flageolet, Horn, Syrinx, Castagnet, Triangle, and 
Tambourine, it is easy," says he, " to imagine what kind of 
melody could be produced from them. Indeed it was so contempt- 
ible, that the priests would not allow it admission within the walls 
of their temples, where they sung their sacred hymns without being 
accompanied by any kind of instrument. But with respect to the 
general use of such music as they had, it seems to have served, 
adds M. Pau, as a necessary stimulus to action among the 
inhabitants of this county in ancient times, who were as unable as 
most of the Asiatics and Africans are at present, to perform any 
kind of labour, without being excited by screaming and noise; 
for such is the natural sloth and indolence of these people, that 
they want to be roused and animated every instant by the 
shrilness of flutes, and din of drums; instruments that have ^been 
found in every region of the two hemispheres where the climate 
is hot. Soft tones and graceful melody have no effect upon their 
obtuse organs; and this is the reason why music never has been, 
nor ever can be successfully cultivated among them." 

This reasoning, however, does not appear to me so decisive as it 
does to the author. And there seems to be a want of candour in 
the supposition of M. Pau, with respect to the Sistrum, which 
was never regarded by the Egyptians as a musical instrument, but 
merely as a signal of religious ceremonies; for it may with equal 
justice be asserted that the modern Italians are deficient in the 
construction of their organs of voice, and in their genius for music, 
because a little tinkling bell is used in all their churches as signal 
for the performance of certain ceremonies in their religion. Nor 
does the use that was made of music by the Egyptians as a 
stimulus to action reflect any particular disgrace upon them; for 
Athenaeus (p) gives a list of songs that were sung, and tunes that 
were played by the Greeks of different professions; by which 
it appears that hardly any kind of work was performed by them 
without music. The Romans on many occasions made a like 
use of it: and the ancient Greeks and Romans were certainly a 

(o) Rechcrckes Philos. sur les Egypt, et Its Chinois. Tome i. p. 343, <* suivant. 
(/>) Lib. adv. p. 6x8. 



bold, manly, and robust people: the modern Scots are the same; 
however the bagpipe and song regulate all their operations. It 
seems to admit of but little doubt that the Egyptians had, in the 
most flourishing times of their empire, a music and instruments of 
their own, far superior to those of other countries less civilized 
and refined; that after their subjection by the Persians, this music 
and these instruments were lost: but under the Ptolemies, music, 
together with the other arts of Greece, were brought into Egypt, 
and encouraged at the court of Alexandria more than at any other 
place in the known world, till the captivity of Cleopatra, an event 
which terminated both the empire and history of the Egyptians. 



IT is not so much from the hope of being able to throw any 
new light upon the music of this ancient people, that I 
dedicated a chapter to the subject, as out of respect for the 
first and most .venerable of all books, as well as for the religion 
of my country, and for that of the most enlightened part of 
mankind, which has been founded upon it. 

For, notwithstanding the unremitting labours of the first fathers 
of the church, and the learning and diligence of innumerable 
translators and commentators, but few materials of great importance 
can be acquired for this part of my work, except what the Bible 
itself contains; as the first periods of the history of the ancient 
Hebrews, from its high antiquity, can receive no illustration 
from cotemporary historians, or from human testimony, 

The chief part of what I have to do, therefore, is to collect the 
passages relative to those early ages of the world, the transactions 
of which are recorded in the sacred writings with such true and 
genuine simplicity, and to arrange them in chronological order; 
a task which, however trivial and easy it may seem, will not be 
without its use in a General History of Music; as it will at least 
shew, that this art has always had admission into the religious 
ceremonies, public festivals, and social amusements of mankind. 

The construction and use of musical instruments have a very 
early place among the inventions attributed to the first inhabitants 
of tie globe, by Moses: for, Genesis, chap. iv. verse 21, Jubal, 
the sixth descendant from Cain, is called " the father of all such 
as handle the harp and organ/' 

But though this circumstance is mentioned so soon in the 
Pentateuch, yet it could have happened but a short time before the 
deluge, A.M. 1656; consequently the world must have been 
peopled many centuries before the invention took place (a). 

(a) With respect to the instrument called an Organ, in the English version of this passage, it must 
not be 'imagined that such a noble and complicated machine is there implied, as the present instrument 
of that name. In the Hebrew it is called hu%gab, which, say the commentators, was a kind of syrinx, 
or fistula. The Septuagint, instead of harp and organ, has \jnkmptov ru Ktfapov, psaUry and 

. , 

cith&ra ; the Syriac, cttharam et fides ; Chaldean paraphrase, ipsefuii mapistsr omnium catientium in 
nablio, scientium cantium cithara et organ*. Nablion is the Hebrew word for harp. The Arabic has 
tympanum et citharam ; and the French has Is VTOLON ales orgu&. 

Hence it appears, that the translators, ancient and modern, of all parts of the world, not knowing 
what were the real forms and properties of the Hebrew instruments, have given to them the names of 
such as were of the most common use in their own countries. ' 



No mention, however, is made in the Scriptures of the practice 
of music, till more than six hundred years after the deluge. But 
in Genesis xxxi. and 26th and 27th verses, about 1739 years before 
Christ, according to the Hebrews chronology, both vocal and 
instrumental music are spoken of as things in common use. 

"And Laban said to Jacob, what hast thou done, that thou 
has stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, 
as captives taken with the sword? 

" Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from 
me? and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with 
mirth and with songs, with tabret, and with harp!" 

Laban was a Syrian, and brother to Rebecca, Isaac's wife; 
so that the tabret and the harp should be ranked among Assyrian 

After this time the sacred text furnishes no musical incident, 
till the year 1491 before Christ, when we have the first hymn, or 
psalm, to the Supreme Being, upon record. It contains the pious 
effusions of Moses, after the passage of the Red Sea, at the head 
of the whole people of Israel, just escaped from bondage. 

" Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto 
the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he 
hath triumphed gloriously," &c. Exod. xv. 

Moses is seconded on this occasion by Miriam, the prophetess, 
and sister of Aaron, who " took a timbrel in her hand," ver, 20; 
"and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with 

"And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord," &c. 

Here is an early instance of women being permitted to bear a 
part in the performance of religious rites, as well as of vocal music 
being accompanied by instrumental, and by dancing. 

The dithyrambics, or hymns to Bacchus, of the Greeks, have 
been supposed to originate from Egypt (6).* These were constantly 
accompanied by instruments, and by dance, even after they were 
incorporated into tragedy. Now as Miriam was an Egyptian, 
and just escaped from the country where she had been educated, 
it is natural to suppose that the dance used now, and established 
afterwards by the Hebrews, in the celebration of religious rites, 
was but the continuation of an Egyptian custom. 

And we find music and dancing, soon after this ceremony, 
applied to another, that was indisputably of the same origin : for 
the people having obliged Aaron, in the absence of his brother, to 
make ,them a golden calf, in the likenesss of the Egyptian idol, 

(b) See Dissert, Sect. ii. 

The abbe* Vatry, in an excellent essay upon the Origin and Progress of Tragedy, Mem. de Lit*, 
torn* XV. says, that all the etymologies of the term dithyrambic, are so forced, that he is firmly of opinion 
the word is not Greek, and that both the name and thing were brought from Egypt with the worship of 
Bacchus ; for the Greeks are by no means agreed concerning the person who first made them acquainted 
with Bacchus ; some affirming it to have been Cecrops, some Melampus, and some Orpheus ; but all 
unite in deriving the worship of fofo God from the Egyptians. 

* The more developed form of dithyrambic is supposed to have grown out of some erotic hymns 
written by Arion at Corinth or Naxos about 620 B.C. For previous mention of Anon see ante p. 161. 



Apis, were found singing and dancing before it, by Moses, at his 
return to the camp (c). 

The trumpet of the jubilee is likewise ordered to be sounded so 
soon after the flight from Egypt (d), that it must have been an 
Egyptian instrument. 

St. Stephen tells us (e), that- Moses, having been educated by 
Pharaoh's daughter "as her own son, was learned in all the 
wisdom of the Egyptians." And Clemens Alexandrinus (/) parti- 
cularizes his acquirements by affirming that " he was instructed 
in his maturer age by the Egyptians in all liberal sciences, as 
arithmetic, geometry, rhythm, harmony, but, above all, medicine, 
and music." 

However, in the infancy of a state, a nation has but little 
leisure for cultivating music any otherwise than as it is connected 
with religious rites and the military art. Accordingly we find no 
other musical instrument mentioned during the administration of 
the great Hebrew legislator than trumpets, except the timbrel, 
used by Miriam. Numb. chap. x. 2, he is ordered by divine 
command to make two trumpets of silver of a whole piece, " for 
assembling together the people, and for journeying the camps/' 
And in the eight following verses all the signals to be sounded by 
one and by two trumpets are regulated. But these instruments 
seem to differ from that of the jubilee, mentioned before, in 
nothing but the materials of which they were made : as the Hebrew 
text, and the several versions, agree in calling them all by one 
common name. 

The feast of trumpets instituted by Moses, Numb. xxix. 1, in 
the month of September, is imagined to have been the celebration 
of harvest home. "And in the seventh month, on the first day 
of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no 
servile work; it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you." The 
rigid observance of the Sabbath upon every seventh day, rendered 
seven a sacred number among the Hebrews. Hence, not only the 
seventh day, but the seventh week, the seventh month, the seventh 
year, and seven times seventh year, were kept holy: " And on 
the fiftieth year thou shalt cause the trumpet of the jubilee to 
sound throughout the land." Levit, xxv. 9. 

The trumpets of rams horns used at the siege of Jericho, seem 
to have been less musical instruments, than military signals for 
the assailants to march and shout by, in order, by their noise, to 
terrify and dismay the enemy. 

Upon this occasion all the powers of the number seven were 
put in practice. " Seven priests shall bear before them seven 
trumpets, and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven 
times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets." Josh. vi. 4, 

(c) Exod. xxxii ver. 18 and 19. (<9 Levit. xxv. 9. 

() Acts viL ver. ax, 22. (/) Stromat. W. i. 

Vox,, i. 13 - X W. 


No further mention is made of music, till the song of Deborah 
and Barak, Judges v. which seems to have been sung in dialogue, 
and wholly without instruments. It was about fifty years after 
this period, and eleven hundred and forty-three years before Christ, 
that the unfortunate daughter of Jephtha, upon hearing of her 
father's victory over the Ammonites, went out to meet him with 
timbrels and with dances: Judges ii: 34. From this time, till 
Saul was chosen king, 1095, B.C. the sacred text is wholly silent 
about every species of music, except that of the trumpet in military 

But here an incident occurs, which seems to merit particular 
attention. It appears from many passages in Scripture, that music 
was as nearly allied to prophesy as to poetry. 

When Samuel, after secretly anointing Saul king, instructs the 
new monarch in the measures he is to pursue for establishing 
himself on the throne, he says, "And it shall come to pass, when 
thou art come to the city (Beth-el), that thou shalt meet a company 
of prophets coming down from the high place, with a psaltery 
and tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them, and they shall 
prophesy. And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and 
thou shalt prophesy with them (g)." 

Who is ignorant, says Quintilian, that music in ancient times 
was so much cultivated, and held in such veneration, that musicians 
were called by the names of prophets and sages (h) ? * 

Vates, in Latin, is a common term for prophet, poet, and 
musician. Clemens Alexandrinus (&), describing the different kinds 
of Egyptian priests, and their functions, says, that the principal 
of them were called Prophets. The oracles of the ancients were 
delivered in song; and the Pythian priests, who composed into 
hexameter verse the loose and disjointed expressions of the 
agonizing Pythia, were styled prophets, neotpijTai (j). These 
according to Plutarch (), " were seated round the sanctuary, in 
order to receive the words of the Pythia, and inclose them 
immediately into a certain number of verses, as liquors are enclosed 
in bottles." 

Olen, one of the first priests of Apollo, was at once poet and 
prophet ; and Phemonoe, the first priestess at Delphos, is related to 
have delivered her oracles in verse by inspiration only, without study 
or assistance. 

(g) i Sam, ch. x, 5. 

(h) Nam quis ignorat musicen, ut de hoc primum lo-juar. tantum jam antiquis temporibus non 
studii modo, verwn etiam vencrationis habuisse, ui iidem musici, et votes, et sapientes indicarentur ? 
last m. L cap. 16. 

(t) Strom, v. p. 634. (j) Pausanias, in Phoc. 

(ft) In his Treatise on the Cessation of Grades. 

* Frazer in The Golden Bough (op. cit., p. 335) says : "... the influence of music on the develop- 
ment of religion is a subject which would repay a sympathetic study. For we cannot doubt that this, 
the most intimate and affecting of all the arts, has done much to create as well as to express the religious 
emotions, thus modifying more or less deeply the fabric of belief to which at first sight it seems only to 
minister. The musician has done his part as well as the prophet and the thinker in the making of 
religion. Every faith has its appropriate music, and the difference between the creeds might almost 
be expressed in musical notation." 



The improvvisatori of Italy are still accompanied by an instru- 
ment, like the prophets of old ; and Italian poets, who write down 
verses, sing at the time of composing them (/). 

The examples in Scripture of this union of music and prophecy 
are numerous (m)7~^Ttoreover, David, and the captains of the 
host, separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, 
and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, 
and with cymbals. Of the sons of Asaph, four, who prophesied 
according to the order of the King: Of Jeduthun, six, who 
prophesied with a harp, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord. 
And of the sons of Heman, the king's seer, in the words of God, 
fourteen, to lift up the horn (n)." 

By the most striking example of the custom practised by the 
prophets, of tranquillizing their minds, and exciting in themselves 
divine inspiration, by means of music, is in the second book of 
Bangs (0). 

The three sovereigns of Israel, Judah, and Edom, marching 
with their armies through a wilderness, were all upon the point of 
being destroyed by thirst, as there was no water to be found in their 
passage, either for man or beast. 

" And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called 
these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Mo x ab. 
But Jehoshaphat said, is there not here a prophet of the Lord, 
that we may enquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king 
of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha, the son of 
Shaphat. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, and the king of 
Edom, went down to him. And Elisha said, bring me a minstrel. 
And it came to pass when the minstrel played, that the hand of the 
Lord came upon him, and he said, Thus saith the Lord, make 
this valley full of ditches/' &c. 

Prophet, in some parts of the Scripture, seems to imply little 
more than a mere poet, or psalmodist, who sung extempore verses 
to the sound of an instrument, as the improvvisatori of Italy and 
Spain do at present. Sometimes, indeed, such inspiration was not 
likely to be of great service to the person upon whom it was conferred, 
nor on his hearers ; for we are told, 1 Sam. chap, xviii. 10 " that 
the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the 
midst of the house." 

It is supposed by many of the fathers and commentators, that 
the ancient Hebrews had a college, or school, of prophets, which 
must likewise have been a school of music ; as the passages already 
cited from the sacred writings fully prove, that the prophets either 
accompanied themselves, or were accompanied by others with 
musical instruments, in the exercise of their functions. 

David, by having cultivated music so. early, seems to have been 
intended by his family for the profession of a prophet. St. Ambrose 

(Z) This circumstance having been doubted, the Abate Metastasio himself was asked, whether 
the poets of his country sung at the time of writing verses ? and his answer was, sicwo! 

(m) See particularly i Kings, chap. xix. with the commentary of Don Calmet. 
() i Chron, chap. v. (a) Chap.fiL 15, 


says, that he had always the gift of prophesy, and was chosen by 
God himself, in preference to all other prophets, to compose 
psalms (p). 

And, according to Eusebius, David carried his harp, or, as this 
prelate calls it, his lyre, with him, wherever he went ; to console 
him in his affliction, and to sing to it the praises of God. And in 
his preface to the Psalms, he asserts, that this prince, as head of 
the prophets, was generally in the tabernacle, with his lyre, amidst 
the other prophets and singers, and that each of them prophesied and 
sung his canticle as inspiration came on (q). 

The Chaldean paraphrase understands by prophesying, 
" adoring God, and singing praises unto him." 

The great Sanhedrim, says the bishop of Gloucester (r), seems 
to have been established after the failure of prophesies. And 
concerning the members of this body, the Rabbins tell us, there was 
a tradition, that they were bound to be skilled in all sciences. 

But in order to preserve the chronological chain of musical events, 
furnished by the sacred text, it will be necessary to resume the 
narrative at the time when David, on account of his great skill in 
music, was first called in to administer relief, by the power of his 
harp, to Saul, afflicted with an evil spirit. 

If it be possible for music to operate medicinally with success, it 
may be imagined a palliative, at least, if not a cure, for a troubled 
spirit. The human mind, under the pressure of affliction, or warped 
and agitated by the contention of warring passions, seems a fit 
subject for soft and soothing strains to work upon, as powerful 

Without having recourse to a miracle in the case of Saul, who had 
offended the Divinity by his disobedience, the whole of David's 
power over the disorder of that unfortunate prince, might be 
attributed to his skilful and affecting manner of performing upon 
the harp. 

" And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit 
from God troubleth thee. Let our lord command now thy servants 
which are before thee, to seek out a man who is a cunning player on 
a harp (s). And it shall come to pass when the evil spirit (t) from 
God is upon thee, and he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt 
be well. And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man 
that can play well, and bring him to me. Then v answered one of 
the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the 
Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, 
and a man of war ; and prudent in matters, and a comely person, 
and the Lord is with him/ 1 

() Pnzrf. in Psal. i. 

(q) It seems from a passage in i Chron. xxv. 2. as if Asaph used to prophesy, that is, sing praises 
to the accompaniment of David's harp. 

(?) Div. Leg. vol. iii. p. 352. 

(s) It should seem from this passage, that music was regarded by the Hebrews as a common cure 
for madness. 

(t) That is, the fit. of -insanity. 


" Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me 
David thy son, which is with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass, 
laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by 
David his son unto Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before 
him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armour-bearer. 
And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, let David, I pray thee, stand before 
me ; for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, 
when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an 
harp, and played with his hand : so Saul was refreshed, and was well, 
and the evil spirit departed from him (u)." 

It was very natural for the power of this medicine to cease, when 
the patient had no more faith in him who administered it, but, on 
the contrary, regarded him with a jealous eye, as one aspiring at 
his crown; and who, if he did not conspire against his life, must look 
upon it as an impediment to his exaltation, and impatiently wish for 
its termination : for Saul not to have had these ideas forced upon his 
mind, he must have been more, or less, than mortal. The human 
passions, those. gales of life, must either have been annihilated, or 
sublimed by angelic refinement. But the history of this prince 
furnishes too many instances of human weakness and frailty, to allow 
us to suppose him either insensible, or superior to his situation. We 
must therefore suppose his disease now to have become too powerful 
for so gentle a remedy as music. Nor ought we to imagine that a 
disease, or " an evil spirit from the Lord, with which he was 
troubled," was intended to be radically cured by human means, 
though it had at first given way to them. 

Soon after David had manifested by this instance his musical 
skill, we find him a volunteer in the army of Saul, and giving 
extraordinary proofs of his military prowess, by his victory over 
Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, who had struck such a 
terror into his countrymen, that they all declined to accept his 
challenge, regarding him as invincible. David returning from the 
field of battle after his victory over the giant, was met by the women 
of all the cities of Israel, " singing and dancing, with tabrets, with 
joy, and with instruments of music." 1 Sam. xviii. 6 (#). " And 
the women answered one another as they played, and said," &c. 
This is an indubitable proof of a chant in dialogue, or, a dui con, 
being in early use : and it was this which probably gave rise to the 
manner of chanting the Psalms in the cathedral service. Psalm 
Ixviii. 25, the damsels play with timbrels in the procession before 
the ark. Women, even, says Don Calmet, whom the apostle forbids 
to speak in church, had the privilege to sing there in company with 
the men. But many proofs might be alledged of a permission being 
given for females to assist in the performance of sacred rites. In 
I Chron. chap. xxv. where the musical establishments for religious 
purposes are aU enumerated, we are told, that " God gave to Heman 

(u\ i Sam. chap. xvi. This event happened, according to the Bible chronology, 1063 years before 
Christ. The harp tfiat David used upon the occasion, is called in the Hebrew Kinor. 

(*) In tywpemis latitus et sistris, says the Septuagint. But the ancient rabbins, and modern 
Jews, are not agreed among themselves with respect to the instruments mentioned in the Old Testa- 
ment; so that it is as vain to attempt at reconcihng, as at converting them. 



fourteen sons and three daughters. And all these were tinder the 
hands of their father for song, in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, 
psalteries, and harps." But Miriam, Deborah, Judith, and Anne, 
the mother of Samuel, are all regarded by the Jews, not only as 
singers, but as poetesses and prophetesses. 

In the reign of king David, music was held in the highest 
estimation by the Hebrews. The genius of that prince for music, and 
his attachment to the study and practice of it, as well as the great 
number of musicians appointed by him for the performance of 
religious rites and ceremonies, could not fail to extend its influence, 
and augment its perfections : for it was during this period that music 
was first honoured, by being admitted in the ministry of sacrifice, 
and worship of the ark ; as well as by being cultivated by a king. 

" And David, and all the house of Israel, played before the 
Lord, on all manner of instruments, made of firwood (y), even on 
harps and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on 
cymbals." 2 Sam. chap. vi. 5 (z). 

This is related 1 Chron. chap xiii. 8, in nearly the same words : 

" And David and all Israel played before God with all their 
might, and with singing and with harps, and with psalteries, and 
with timbrels, and with cymbals and with trumpets (a)." 

In all the translations these instruments are differently named. 
In the Syriac we are told, that David and all Israel sung before the 
Lord, accompanied by the cithara, psaltery, cymbal, andsistrum (6). 

The joy which David shewed, upon this occasion, in leaping, 
dancing, -singing, and playing, almost naked before the ark, seemed, 
in the eyes of his queen Michal, to exceed the bounds of moderation, 
so much, that when she saw him from the window, " she despised 
him in her heart," 2 Sam. vi. 16. and, afterwards upbraided him, in 
terms not very honourable to musicians in general. 

" And Michal, the daughter of Saul, came to meet David, and 
said, How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered 
himself in the eyes of the hand-maids of his servants, as one of the 
vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! " 

Now it is much to be feared, that by the vain fellows, the queen 
meant Levitical singers, musicians by trade, who, perhaps, like 
the ancient priests of the Syrian goddess, the Galli, used to sing 
and play in the processions naked. 

(y) This species of wrod, so soft in its nature, and sonorous in its effects, seems to have been 
preferred by the ancients, as well as the moderns, to every other kind, for the construction of musical 
instruments, particularly the bellies of them, upon which their tone chiefly depends. Those of the 
harp, lute, guitar, harpsichord, and violin, in present use, are constantly made of firwood. 

(*) Heb. Nablis, A cinyris, et cymbalis, et tympanis. Septuag. fr opyavoi* KCU ev wS-u?, ev 
vajSXats, ev Tv/jtrravaw, tv icv|U.8aAais, K<U ey avAois. Vulg. Citharis et lyris, et tympanis, et 
sistris, et cymbalis. Syr. David autem omnes Israelite ludebant coram Domino lignis cedrinis et 
abiegnis, nablis, citharis, tympanis, sistris, ac cymbalis. The Targum, or Chaldee paraphrase, men- 
tions an instrument not to be found in the original, or in any of the translations : in chinans, in 
nablis, in tympanis, et in quadruplicibus, et cymbalis. Arab. Fidibus, nablis, tympanis quadratis, et 
cymbalis. Here it should seem to be a square drum. 

a) Don Calmet observes, that by the titles of many of the Psalms, it appears as if David, though 
a great king, did not disdain to perform himself the part of maestro di capetta, or director of the sacred 
band of musicians ; and, penetrated as be was with the grandeur of the Supreme. Being, he never 
thought he degraded himself by singing before the Lord, any more than by conducting the musical 
performers on great and solemn occasions. 

(*) In the Arabic it is with flutes, cymbals, bells, and harps. 


In the fifteenth, sixteenth, and twenty-third chapters of the first 
book of Chronicles, there is a particular account and enumeration 
of all the musicians appointed bv David in the service of the ark, 
before a temple was erected. 1 Chron. xxiii. 5. David appoints four 
thousand of the Levites to praise the Lord with instruments ; and 
chap. xxv. ver. 1. the number of such as were instructed, and were 
cunning in song, is said to have been two hundred fourscore and 

And, 1 Chron. ix. 33. we are told of " the singers, chief of the 
fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers, were free : 
for they were employed in that work day and night." 

Before this time, it does not appear from the sacred writings, that 
any other instruments than trumpets, or singing, than in a general 
chorus of the whole people, was used in the daily celebration of 
religious rites ; though others are mentioned in processions, and on 
occasions of joy and festivity. 

It has ever been the custom of legislators and founders of religion, 
in compliance with the prejudices of mankind, to retain part of the 
former laws and religious institutions. The Egyptians, as has 
been already related, in the preceding chapter, divided the 
inhabitants of their country into Castes, or tribes, confining each 
profession to one family. And as music was many ages confined 
by them to the priesthood, and to religious purposes, the Hebrews, , 
who had their arts and sciences from the Egyptians, and who 
adopted many of their religious rites, as the primitive Christians 
did afterwards those of the pagans, in order to conciliate parties, 
and facilitate the establishment of a new worship, made both priests 
and musicians hereditary in the tribe of Levi. " And the sons of 
Aaron the priests shall blow with the trumpets, and they shall be 
to you for an ordinance -for ever, throughout your generations (c)." 
Accordingly, during the life of Moses, none but the priests blew 
the trumpets, whether in peace or war : as, afterwards, in Joshua's 
administration, both at the siege of Jericho, and upon all other 
occasions, we find the office of blowing the trumpets was still 
confined to the priesthood: and, when David first regulated the 
musical establishments, for the service of religion, it appears, that 
not only the select band of singing men and singing women, but 
all the four thousand performers upon instruments, were chosen 
from the families of priests and Levites. 

Of the Musical Instruments Mentioned 
in the Psalms 

To collect and expound all the passages relative to music in the 
Psalms of David, would be a useless labour. So many learned 
commentators have already done this work ; and these divine 
canticles may be imagined to be so deeply impressed in the hearts 
of all such as profess the Christian religion, both by education, and 

(c) Numb. x. 8. 



by constantly hearing them in the service of their several churches, 
that it would be the highest presumption in me to suppose myself 
capable of offering any thing new on the subject. However, the 
musical instruments so frequently mentioned in them, and the 
address prefixed to a great number of the Bible Psalms, shall have 
a few remarks bestowed upon them here ; as the subject, in a 
particular manner, seems to belong to the reign of the royal 
Psalmist, from whose piety, and poetic genius, so many of them 
are supposed to have flowed. 

The fathers and commentators, however, are of opinion, that 
David neither was, nor could have been, the author of the whole 
book of Psalms ; as many of them were evidently written upon 
occasions that happened after his death. The learned and diligent 
Don Calmet, after the most deliberate investigation of the subjects 
of the several Psalms, has arranged them under the following 
heads : 

I. Psalms of which the chronology cannot be fixed : these are 
eight in number: the 1st, 4th, 19th, 81st, 91st, 110th, 139 and 
145. It is not known whether David, or Asaph, was author of 
the first Psalm. The 81st, attributed to Asaph, was sung in the 
temple upon the Feast of Trumpets, at the beginning of the year, 
and at the Feast of Tabernacles. The 110th is given to David ; 
the authors of the rest are wholly unknown (d) . 

II. Psalms composed by David, during the persecution of Saul, 
in number seventeen: these are the llth, 31, 34, 56, 16, 54, 52, 
109, 17, 22, 35, 57, 58, 142, 140, 141, 7. 

III. Such as he composed at the beginning of his reign, and 
after the death of Saul, sixteen which are the 2d, 9, 24, 68, 101, 
29, 20, 21, 28, 39, 40, 41, 6, 51, 32, 33. 

IV. Others written by David, during the rebellion of Absalom, 
amounting to eight these are the 3d, 4th, 55, 62, 70, 71, 143, 145. 

V. From the death of Absalom to the captivity, ten ; of which 
David was the author of only three: the 18th, 30th, and 72d. 
This last was written upon the establishment of his son Solomon on 
the throne, and was probably the last of which he was the author. 

VI. The Psalms composed during the captivity, which amount 
to forty, were chiefly by the descendants of Asaph and Korah. 

VII. Those of joy and thanksgiving, for the permission obtained 
from Cyrus to return to Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple, as 
well as those composed for its dedication, fifty-one, 

So that, according to this account, David was author of no more 
than forty-five of the hundred and fifty Psalms that are usually 
attributed to him. 

As to the instruments mentioned by the severaf Psalmists, they 
are chiefly such as have already occurred in the Bible, concerning 

(<*) The English translators have followed the Hebrew distribution of the Psalms, by dividing 
the gth Psalm into two ; so that from that to the ii4th our numbers differ from those of the Roman 
Catholics, who have followed the Greek of the Septuagint, which has made but one Psalm of the oth 
and loth. The Hebrew text likewise, and the English version, differ in the same manner from the 
Septuagint and Vulgate, by dividing what they call the usth Psalm into two, which are the 4th 
and iisth in our Psalter ; so that our n6th Psalm is only their ii4th. Here, however, they approxi- 
mate again, and only differ by one number till the 146th, after which all parties agree. 



the names of which, specimens have repeatedly been given in the 
notes of the chapter, to shew the disagreement of translators. 
However, as almost all the Hebrew instruments are enumerated in 
the last Psalm, I shall here insert six different translations of the 
third, fourth, and fifth verses, to shew, once for all, that there is no 
dependence upon any one of "them, or hope that these points can 
ever be cleared up. 

Psal. cl. ver. 3, 4, 5. " Praise him in the sound of the trumpet, 
praise him upon the lute and harp. 

" Praise him in the cymbals and dances, praise him upon the 
strings and pipe. 

" Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals, praise him upon the 
loud cymbals." 

Latin version of the Hebrew. Laudate eum in clangor e buccinae : 
laudate eum in nebel et cithara : laudate eum in tympano et chorp : 
laudate eum in chordis et organo : laudate eum in cymbalis auditis : 
laudate eum in cymbalis ovationis. 

Targum paraph. Chad. Laudate eum clangore buccina 
psalteriis et citharis tympanis et choris tibiis et organis 

Syr. Laudate eum voce comu citharis ac lyris tympanis et 
sistris chordis jucundis cymbalis sonoris voce et clamore. 

Vulg. Laudate eum in sono tubae in psalterio et cithara 
tympano et choro in chordis et organo in cymbalis benesonanti- 
bus in cymbalis jubilationis. 

Arab. Sonitu buccina psalterio et cithara tympano et sistro 
chordis et organo ftdibus dulcisonis instruments psalmodice. 

The Septuagint agrees with the English version, except in "the 
word lute, which is rendered vaftfa, nablon. 

If the least ray of hope remain, that a true idea of Jewish instru- 
ments can ever be acquired, it must be from the arch of Titus at 
Rome, where it is supposed that the spoils brought by that emperor 
from Jerusalem, have been exactly represented in sculpture. Among 
these are several musical instruments, particularly the silver 
trumpets, called by the Hebrews chatzotzeroth ; and horns, 
supposed to resemble the shawms, mentioned so often in the 
Scripture, called in Hebrew, keranim, or sacerdotal trumpets. 

But the arch upon which these instruments are sculptured, 
though, according to Venuti, of excellent workmanship, was not 
erected till after the death of Titus ; and, to say the truth, the 
instruments are of no uncommon form. The trumpets are long, 
strait tubes, as modern trumpets would be, if not folded up, for the 
convenience of the player ; and the horns are such as frequently 
occur in ancient sculpture. Examples of both may be seen in 
Blanchini, Bartholinus, Montfaucon, Padre Martini, and all the 
writers upon ancient music ; as well as in plate IV. No. 6 and 8, 
and plate V. and VI. of this work, engraved after original drawings, 
from Titus's arch, from Trajan's pillar, and bas-reliefs of still 
more ancient sculpture. 



Of the Titles Prefixed to the Bible Psalms 

Not only many of the fathers of the church, and commentators 
of the Psalms, but the Jews themselves, are so perplexed to find 
a meaning to these titles, that they are obliged to confess their 
utter ignorance and inability to expound them. However, some of 
the most learned and respectable interpreters of the sacred writings 
were of opinion, that as several of these titles were found in the 
ancient Hebrew manuscripts, they must have been of divine 
authority, and coeval with the Psalms themselves. They believed 
likewise, that each was a key to the true sense and intention of the 
poem, and therefore should be inviolably retained, and studied with 
all possible care and veneration. St. Theodoret, who was learned 
in the Hebrew tongue, has proved, that these titles were not 
interpolations of the Septuagint interpreters, but that they found 
them in the original, which is come down to us from Ezra, to whose 
care the collecting the sacred writings is said to have been due. 

It is as difficult, however, now, to determine which of these 
titles are genuine, as to explain their true meaning ; for many 
have been added since the Septuagint translation was made, and 
some since the time of the fathers. The 90th Psalm, for instance, 
has none in the Hebrew ; nor was there one in the Septuagint 
during the time of Eusebius and Theodoret ; and yet there is one 
now in the Septuagint, and in the Vulgate. 

Don Calmet, and before him Flaminius, frankly declare, that 
they are utterly unable to expound, or interpret, the titles of some 
of the Psalms. All the information that can be acquired from the 
rabbins on the subject is, that they suspect most of the terms which 
are involved in so much darkness, were the names of instruments, 
or of the melodies, which the Levites sung to these hymns in the 
temple. And this has determined many translators to preserve 
these words in the original Hebrew language, without attempting 
to give equivalents to them in any other. And it was the opinion 
even of several of the fathers, as well as of the most learned rabbins, 
that there was no hope of discovering the meaning of some of these 
words, as the ancient Hebrew music was then absolutely lost ; so 
that neither the instruments they used, nor the force of the other 
words in the titles, which may relate to the melody or measure, can 
be divined. 

Genebrard is of the same opinion. He says, the Hebrew words 
in the titles of the Psalms, are generally terms of the ancient 
Hebrew music, at present unknown to us : and that they served as 
keys for. the tones in which the several canticles were sung. 

However, maister William Tindale, one of the first translators 
of the Bible into -English, had more courage, if not more learning 
and sagacity than other expounders ; for he boldly tells us that 
Neginoth, used in the title to the 4th, 54th, 55th, 61st, 67th, and 
76th Psalms, signifieth the tune, or note of the instrumentes, 
wherafter the Psalmes before whyche it is prefyxed were songe 



For the Psalmes were songe at certen instrumentes, but so that the 
swete tune and instrument prepared the mynde more perfectly to 
receyue the worde of the holy Dictie. 

This should seem something like the present custom of giving 
out a psalm-tune upon the organ, in our parish churches. 

The same expounder informs us, that the Hebrew word Nehiloth, 
used in the title to Psalm 5, signifyeth, by interpretation, 
beretrages*, or, as some wyll, a certen instrumente of musicke. 

Psaim vi. Sheminith This worde signifyeth an eight, or an 
instrumente of musicke that hathe eight stringes. 

Psalm viii. To the chief musician upon Gitith. After some this 
worde signifyeth, an instrumente of musicke. 

Psalm xvi. Michtam of David. Heaneth nobilitie, or honour o] 
chivalrie, or an instrumente of musicke. 

Psalm xxii. Aijeleth Shahar. A certen instrumente of musicke, 
or as some wyll, a certayn kind of melodie ; divers authours do 
diver sly expound it, &c. (e). 



Most of the modern commentators join the rabbins in thinking, 
that Lamnaizeach implies, to the music master, or chief of the 
band ; to the principal of the Levites who sung in the temple. 
The Hebrew word Mnatzeach is used for the overseer, or 
superintendant of any body of workmen; to preside over, or conduct 
a band of. singing men and singing women, or performers upon 

In the J ewish temple, a great number of Levites were employed 
wholly in singing, and playing upon instruments. All the Levitical 
families either filled these offices, or others about the temple. Each 
family had a president, or chief, who had a great number of 
officers under his direction. A list of these has been already given : 
the principal were, Asaph, Heman, Ethan, and Jeduthun. Asaph, 
and his brethren, not only sung these divine canticles, but composed 
others themselves. For we are informed that they were prophets 
and inspired, as well as excellent musicians. Every band, there- 
fore, in the service of the temple, was distinguished from the rest, 
by the instruments upon which they played ; and a performer of 
distinguished abilities was placed at the head of each. This leader 
was called Mnatzeach. Cheneniah is highly extolled in Chronicles 
for the power and sweetness of his voice ; he was the president, 
or master of melody, and led off the canticles. 

In the Bible Psalms, the title of the fourth Psalm runs thus: 
" To the chief musician on Neginoth." Tindale's title of this same 
Psalm is, " To the C haunter in Neginoth: " which in his notes he 
expounds as follows: " The which is here translated, to the 

(e) This Bible was printed in black letter, 1549. 

it This is a mistake. In the edition of the Bible referred to (first ed. of Edmund Becke's Bible, 
1549) the word is heritages. 



chaunter, is in Hebrue Lamnatzeach, which word after Esra and 
David Kimki (expositoures in Hebrue) signifyeth to the chief of 
the syngars, whom we commonly cal in Englishe, the father of the 
quyre or chaunter. This interpretation also do boeth the moste 
number, and the best lerned of the Latinistes, best alowe." 

Dr. WaUis defines Lamnatzeach, magistro symphonic, aut 
prafecto musiccs (ft. And he thinks that some of the other titles 
were intended to point out the kind of music, or instruments, which 
the particular Psalms require ; but as both the Hebrew music and 
instruments are now lost, he confesses that it is difficult to expound 
these words. 


This term occurs no less than seventy times in the Hebrew text 
of the Psalms, and formerly it must have been used there still 
more frequently, as we find it in several places of the Septuagint, 
where the Hebrew has it not. It is, like other literary stumbling- 
blocks, grown bigger by time. The commentators have most of 
them given it up as an opake expression, upon which they are 
utterly unable to throw a single ray of light ; and Don Calmet, 
among the rest, after a great display of erudition, in giving the 
several clashing opinions of rabbins, fathers, translators, and com- 
mentators, concerning the true import of this impenetrable word, 
and carrying us through the land of conjecture upon his great 
polemical horse, sets us down just where he took us up : for, 
thinking it impossible 'to get at the true meaning of the word, he 
inclines to suppose it of so little consequence,, that it may well be 
omitted, without injuring the sense of the text (g). If it had, 
however, any meaning, it seems to have been that which the 
Septuagint has given to it, by rendering it diayalpa, a pause in 
singing, which must frequently have been wanted before the Psalms 
were divided into verses.* The word Selah indeed occurs three 
times in the third chapter of the prophet Habakkuk ; but the 
connexion between poetry, music, and prophesy, has been already 
shewn ; and there can be no doubt that Habakkuk uttered his 
revelations in song ; for he begins this chapter, by calling it a 
prayer upon Sigionoth, which lie Bible expounds in the margin, 
" according to the variable songs or tunes, called in Hebrew 
Shigionoth ; " and ends, by addressing it "to the chief singer on 
my stringed instruments," or Neginoth. 

The reign of Solomon, so long, so pacific, and so glorious to 
the Hebrews, may be regarded as the Augustan age of that people ; 

(/) De Psalmorum Tifalis, p. 298. 

(g) M. Fourmont, Mem. de Litt. torn. iv. has not only discovered that the Psalms, and other 
pieces of Hebrew poetry, are in rhyme, but that Sela had the same force in Hebrew Music, as bis, or a 
double bar pointed, has in modem Christian music. This perspicacious critic-, with equal sagacity, has 
found out, that in order to make matters even in the versification, in which he unwillingly allows the 
lines to be of different lengths, the Hebrews sung their poetry in Fugue / 

* In a translation of Bucer's Psalms (1530) : " This worde Selah signifyeth ye sentence before 
to be pond'red with a deep affecte, longe to be rested upon and the voyce there to be exalted." (Murray, 
English Dictionary.) 



whose prosperity, during this period, not only enabled them to 
cultivate arts and sciences among themselves, but stimulated 
foreigners to visit and assist them. And as we find that the 
Romans, during the time of Augustus, and his successors, were 
indebted to the Greeks for a great part of their knowledge in the 
polite arts, so the Hebrews, under Solomon's government, had 
assistance from Egypt and from Tyre. Riches and renown never 
fail to attract talents into a country 'from neighbouring kingdoms. 
As to music and poetry, which were put upon so respectable a 
footing in the former reign, they seem to have had their share of 
attention in this ; particularly in the service of the temple, at the 
dedication of which, if we may credit Josephus, " Solomon made 
two hundred thousand trumpets, according to the ordinance of 
Moses: (Moses was ordered to make two trumpets of silver only. 
Numb. x. 2.) and forty thousand instruments of music (as if 
trumpets were not instruments of music) to record and praise God 
with, as the psaltery and harp of Electrum (h)," a mixed metal, of 
which, according to Pliny, four parts were gold, and the fifth part 
was silver. Josephus has often been accused of inaccuracy in other 
things ; and with respect to music, his accounts neither bear the 
marks of judgment nor fidelity ; but we have information from 
much better authority, " That Solomon appointed, according to 
the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their 
service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister 
before the priests, as the duty of every day required (t)." 

It is the opinion of many expounders and commentators of the 
sacred writings, that Solomon was author of some of the Psalms 
that are attributed to David. Of this we are certain, that he was 
no less fond of poetry than his father. In the first of Kings, iv. and 
xxv. we are told that " he spake three thousand proverbs: and his 
songs were a thousand and five." But whether, like the royal 
Psalmist, he was a practical musician, does not appear in the 
records of his reign. However, in Ecclesiastes, ii. 8. we find music 
mentioned by this voluptuous prince among the vain luxuries and 
vexations of spirit, with which he found himself satiated : " I gat me 
men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of 
men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts: " which is all 
that can be gathered on the subject of music during this splendid 
reign (ft). 

A century passed from the dedication of the temple, without the 
mention of any thing remarkable in Scripture concerning the music 
of the Hebrews, except the passage already cited, where Elisba 
calls for a minstrel to awaken inspiration, previous to his 

In the year 896, B.C. the singers are said to have contributed 
greatly towards obtaining a singular advantage in favour of 
Jehoshaphat, over the Ammonites and Moabites ; the musicians 

(h) Lib. 33, cap. 4. (*) 2 Chron. viii. 14. 

(k) Solomon was made king during the life-time of his father, 10x5 B.C. and reigned forty years. 


following the camp in the same order as thev served in the temple, 
marched as a vanguard in the field with their instruments: " And 
the Levites of the children of the Kohathites, and the children of 
the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud 
voice on high And when Jehoshaphat had consulted with the 
people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise 
the beauty of holiness as they went out before the army, and to 
say, Praise the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever. And when 
they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against 
the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, which were come 
against Judah, and they were smitten (I)." 

The Hebrews frequently -attributed their success in battle to the 
animation given the troops by the trumpets, which were always 
blown by priests and Levites, whom the people highly reverenced, 
and regarded as inspired persons. 

" And behold, God himself is with us, for our captain, and 
his priests with sounding trumpets, to cry alarm against you. 
And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and 
behind, and they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with 
the trumpets. Then the men of Judah gave a shout ; and it 
came to pass as the men of Judah shouted, that God smote their 
enemies (m)." 

It was, in like manner, the part of the ancient Gallic, German, 
and British druids, who were not only priests, but musicians, to 
animate their countrymen to the fight. 

Thus far we have only had to speak of the cultivation and 
improvement of music among the Hebrews ; we have little more 
to add, except what will indicate its neglect and decline. 

But few memorials remain concerning it, from the victory 
obtained by Abijah, till the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem 
and the temple, by the Babylonians, in the reign of Jehoiakim. 
Before this period, music, and other sacred rites, had been 
frequently much corrupted, during the wars, and by intercourse with 
foreign nations ; and at every attempt to restore them to their 
former purity and splendor, we find the number of those employed 
in the service of the temple diminished, and their efforts more 
feeble and ineffectual. At the restoration of the royal family, after 
the crown had been usurped by Athaliah, we are told that " the 
princes and trumpets stoo'd by the king: and afl the people of the 
land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with 
instruments of music ; and such as taught to sing praise." And 
Jehoiada, during the minority of Joash, " appointed the ofiices with 
rejoicing, as it was ordained by David." 878 B.C. And in this 
reign we find that " the singers, the sons of Asaph," were restored 
to their places. 

These continued, ^however, but a short time in the ministry, 
before they were driven out, and the king and people became 
proselytes to another form of worship. But after various revolutions 

(J) * Ottoo. xx. 19. (m] 3 Chioo. xiii. i*. 



both in religion and government, a powerful attempt was made, 
during the reign of Hezekiah, about 726 years B.C. to restore the 
temple to all its ancient splendor. 

' ' And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, 
with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of 
David. And the Levites stood with the instruments ot David, and 
the priests with the trumpets. But the priests were too few " to 

g^rform all the ceremonies formerly solemnized in the temple, 
owever, " there was now great joy in Jerusalem ; for since the 
time of Solomon, there was not the like in Jerusalem (n)." 

But this happy period was of short continuance ; new schisms 
and new misfortunes soon put an end to it. And in the year 606, 
B.C. the Hebrew nation was subdued ; the temple plundered and 
destroyed ; and, soon after, both King and people were, by 
Nebuchadnezzar, sent captives to Babylon. 

During the seventy years captivity, it is natural to suppose that 
the Hebrews were denied the celebration of their religious rites ; 
nor could they have much time, or inclination, for domestic amuse- 
ments or festivity ; so that music, the child of leisure and happiness, 
and parent of innocent pleasure, must have been neglected, and 
shut out of their houses, as an unwelcome guest. The idea of 
everything that awakened recollection of former felicity, must have 
been painful in a state of slavery. " By the waters of Babylon we 
sat down and wept : when we remembered thee, Sion. As for 
our harps we hanged them up, upon the trees that are therein. For 
they that led us away captives, required of us then a song, and 
melody in our heaviness : Sing us one of the songs of Sion. How 
shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 
O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning (o)." 

These are the natural sentiments and feelings of a people but 
lately fallen from a state of prosperity and happiness, into that of 
bondage and misery. 

It is reasonable to imagine, however, that a nation so prone to 
luxury and magnificence as that of their masters, the Chaldeans, 
would, like dther eastern nations, encourage every thing that con- 
tributed to the gratification of the senses. And we find, during 
this early period, from the accounts which the prophets Ezekiel 
and Daniel have transmitted to us, that the most vivid colours were 
displayed to the sight, in the vestments and paintings, and the most 
grateful and flattering sounds conveyed to the ear, by means of 
voices and instruments. 

There are two instances in Ezekiel of painting having made 
some progress among the Chaldeans, before Greece was rendered 
illustrious by the works of any great master in that art. Chap. iv. 
1. we -have the following passage: " Thou also, son of man, take 
thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray .upon it the city 
Jerusalem." And chap, xxiii. 14. the same prophet, in accusing 
his nation of inconstancy in religion, says: " For when she saw 

(n) 3 Chron. TCXI*. 25. () ?&&& crocvfi. 



men pourtrayed upon a wall, the images of the Chaldeans 
pourtrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, 
exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads ; all of them princes to 
look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land 
of their nativity: she doated upon them." 595 B. C. 

A well known passage in Daniel puts it likewise out of all doubt 
that music was cultivated, and brought to a considerable degree of 
.perfection among them, if we may judge by the number and variety 
of the instruments mentioned in it, of which the names of two 
occur now, for the first time in the sacred writings. 

" Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose 
height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits 
Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, 
nations and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the 
cornet, flute, harp, sacbut, psaltery, dulcimer (p), and all kinds of 
music, ye fall down and worship the golden image which 
Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set us." Dan. ch. iii. 

But to return to the unfortunate Hebrews: At the end of the 
captivity, 536 B. C. an effort was made, by permission of Cyrus, to 
rebuild the temple, restore it to its former grandeur, and to 
re-establish its worship upon the ancient footing. But when the 
number of " the singers, the children of Asaph," was taken, it 
amounted to no more than a hundred and twenty-eight, and with 
their assistants, out of fifty thousand people, they could only muster 
" two hundred singing men and singing women; " among whom the 
instrumental performers must have been included, as no mention 
is made of them among the other Levites and servants of the temple. 

Indeed, though the Jews from this period, till the destruction 
of the Temple by Titus Vespasian, and their total dispersion, 
continued to be a distinct nation, they were not only tributary, by 
turns, to the Persians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, and the Romans, 
but incessantly torn by intestine sects and factions, whose inveterate 
rancour never subsided in the midst of the most imminent dangers 
from a common and foreign foe ; a calamity peculiar to this wretched 
people! who thus contributed more to their own destruction, than 
all tiie efforts of their most determined and powerful enemies. 

Though there is no condition so abject, or bodily labour so 
oppressive to the spirits, if the mind is undisturbed, but music 
will burst through, and soothe ; yet it is not among the turbulent 
and unhappy that we must seek the arts of peace, and consequences 
of that contentment, which arises from public and private felicity. 

During the civil wars of Rome, no science was improved but 
that of destruction: and at home, in more modem times, during 
the struggles of York and Lancaster, and of the royalists and 
republicans, or the religious massacres of France, what else was in 
meditation, except rapine, rage, revenge, and slaughter! But, the 

(p) So various have been the conjectures of commentators concerning the sacbut and psaltery, as 

not furnished names for them. These learned expounders seem to advance opinions merely* to 
confute them ; and after carrying the reader into a sea of trouble, leave him without sail or rudder to 
get out as well as he can. ' 



temple of Janus once shut, what strides did not mankind make 
towards that degree of perfection of which they are capable, in the 
reigns of Augustus, of Leo the tenth, of Louis the fourteenth, and 
of our own Charles the second! Nay, keep but the enemy at a 
distance, with union at home, and even war will not stop the 
progress of the human mind; since the brightest constellation of men 
of genius, that ever enlightened our own country, confessedly 
appeared in the reign of queen Anne, when we supported with 
dignity a long and glorious war on the continent. 

A few words will suffice to remind the reader of the deplorable 
situation of the Jews, when they had lost their liberty and 

After remaining seventy years at Babylon, in a state of slavery, 
at the expiration of that time, though Cyrus, the Persian monarch, 
treated them with mildness, suffered them to return to their native 
country, and even contributed himself towards the 'rebuilding of 
their city and temple, yet they continued a tributary province to 
that empire, till the year 320 B. C. when the city was taken and 
plundered by Ptolemy, one of Alexander's captains, who carried 
captive into Egypt a hundred thousand of its inhabitants. From 
that time, till 170, they continued to be oppressed and plundered . 
by the kings of Egypt and Syria by turns, when Antiochus 
Epiphanes, the sovereign of Syria, took the city by storm, stripped 
the temple, slaughtered upwards of forty thousand people, and sold 
as many more for slaves. 

Soon after this period the brave family of the Maccabees began 
to exert uncommon prowess and abilities in attempts to recover their 
country's long lost independency ; but the powers with which they 
had to contend were so superior in strength and resources, that 
nothing but a constant succession of miraculous efforts, and 
unexpected events, could keep the conflict alive, and protract their 
misery, merely by postponing destruction, more than a hundred 
years. At length, this heroic family, still more distressed, and 
persecuted by their own countrymen, than by the common enemy, 
sunk under the pressure of accumulated woes ; when the Jews, 
seeing the extensive power of the Romans over almost every part 
of the globe then known, called in Pompey to their assistance, 
against Antiochus ; who, after draining their public treasures and 
private purses, by the bribes and contributions, which he extorted 
from them, became their open foe; and in the year 63 B. C. besieged 
and took Jerusalem, whicE, with all Judea, remained ever after 
dependent on the tyranny and oppression of the Roman government. 

For more than twenty years after this event, the Jews were 
under the jurisdiction of the Roman governors of Syria and Egypt ; 
but, in the year 40 B. C. Herod, by taking a journey to Rome, and 
by flattering and bribing Mark Anthony, during the triumvirate, 
had the address to acquire from the "Roman senate the nominal 
dignity of king of the Jews. His long reign was one continued 
tissue of crimes that are shocking to humanity ; the least of which 
was stripping his people of all their most valuable possessions, to 

Voi,. i. 14 2 9 


satiate the inordinate rapacity of his tyrant masters at Rome. But 
Herod, finding money insufficient for this purpose, had recourse to 
a species of adulation unknown before in his own country: for, 
in the year 26 B.C. in order to ingratiate himself with Augustus, 
he instituted public games, in honour of that emperor, after the 
Pagan manner ; a measure so repugnant to the Mosaic laws, and 
customs of the Jews, that, instead of affording them pleasure, they 
were regarded with the utmost horror and detestation. 

We have an account of Josephus both of these games and others, 
instituted by this prince, seven years before the nativity, but in so 
slight and imperfect a manner, that all we can learn is, that besides 
wrestlers, gladiators, wild beasts, &c. the most skilful musicians 
were invited from all parts of the world to perform at them. 
However, as these exhibitions were manifestly in imitation of the 
public games of Greece, it is natural to suppose that the musicians 
were chiefly from that country, and from Alexandria, in Egypt, 
where arts and sciences were then much cultivated and cherished 
by the Ptolemies. The Jewish musicians, who were all among the 
priesthood, certainly neither could nor would assist at these 
contests: so that whatever glory may have been derived to the 
victors, the Jews were entitled to no share of it, either as a nation 
or as individuals. Indeed little could be acquired by conquests, to 
winch no native of Judea could aspire, without offending against the 
religion, laws, usages, and public opinion of his country. 

The sequel of the Jewish history from this period, to the total 
dispersion of the nation, seventy-three years after the birth of our 
Saviour, is too generally known to render the extension of this 
summary necessary. And with respect to music, the particular 
subject of my enquiries, the little mention made of it -in the New 
Testament is but just sufficient to authorize its use in the church, 
where its establishment and progress will be traced hereafter. I 
should therefore terminate the account of ancient Hebrew music 
in this place, but that it seems necessary to add a few remarks 
upon some passages in the book of Job, of which the chronology 
is so doubtful, that I was unable to determine where, in the course 
of my narrative, to give them a place. 

This venerable book has been supposed by many of the fathers 
to be the production of Moses: by some it is called the most ancient 
book in the world ; the first Arabian regular history ; the oldest 
poetical composition in a dramatic form : and as to the time when 
Job flourished, great pains have been taken to shew the probability 
of its being but little later than that of Abraham. The language 
too in which it was originally written, has given birth to many 
different opinions: whether Syriac, Chaldaic, Hebrew, or Egyptian. 
But the bishop of Gloucester is of opinion that it was the work of 
Ezra (q). Now as the Bible chronology places Job 1,520 years 
before Christ, and Ezra but 457, this opinion occasions a difference 
of near eleven hundred years: however, the prophet Ezekiel, chap. 



14, mentions Job twice, after Noah and Daniel (r) : and chronolc 
fix the time when Ezekiel flourished, near one hundred and 
years before Ezra. 

However doubtful it may be who was the author of the book 
of Job, or when it was written, it is very certain that music is 
frequently mentioned in it, as an art in general use. 

" They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children 
dance ; they take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound 
of the organ," xxi. 11, 12. "My harp also is tuned to mourning, 
and my organ to the voice of them that weep." xxx, 31. (s). 

This seems to allude to funereal music : and of the use that was 
made of music at the funerals of the Jews, we have a proof in 
Matthew, ix. 23. "While he spake these things unto them, there 
came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is 
even now dead ; but come and lay thy hand on her, and she shall 
live. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the 
minstrels (t), and the people making a noise, he said unto them, 
Give place, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." 

Besides the use of flutes in funeral ceremonies, a female was 
hired to weep, whence the title of chief mourner. The rabbin 
Maimonides tells us, c. 14, sect. 23, that "The husband, upon the 
death of a wife, was obliged to provide mourners to weep at her 
funeral, according to the custom of the country. That the poorest 
persons among the Israelites, never engaged less than two flutes and 
one mourner ; and, if rich, the expence and pomp of the ceremony 
was proportioned to the dignity of the husband." This account is 
confirmed by the Talmud, which orders that " The poorest among 
the Israelites should never at the funeral of a wife engage less than 
two flutes and one mourner ()." 

Josephus tells us that the pomp and expence of funerals among 
the Jews were carried to a ruinous excess, 1. iii. c. 9. The number 
of flute players who led the procession amounting sometimes to 
several hundred : and guests were invited, not only among their 
relations, but friends and neighbours, for thirty days successively, 
in order to attend those solemnities. 

As early even as the death of Jacob, funeral rites were splendid, 
and of long duration. His son Joseph, "With all his brethren, with 
all the servants of Pharaoh, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 
attended this funeral, which lasted, with a great and very sore 
lamentation, for seven days." Gen, L. And we find, that the 
Egyptians mourned for this patriarch threescore and ten days. 

(r) " Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it (the land) they should deliver 
but their own souls, by their righteousness, saith the Lord God." 

(s) One circumstance is necessary to be remembered with respect to the word organ, used here, 
and frequently in the Psalms, which is, that the term was taken from the Greek translation ; but the 
ancient Greeks had no particular musical instrument called an organ, for bpyavov, with them, was a 
general name for an instrument, a work, or an implement of any kind : hence 6pyavt*o?, instrumental ; 
op-yap iroto, an instrument maker ; and opyaiwroua, the fabrication of an instrument. And in all the 
Greek musical theorists, organic is a general term applied to instrumental music. 

(t) Heb. Vulg. Syr. Arab. Tibicines. Persic, flentes. ^Ethiopia Lamentatoices. 
(w) In CMkulbotn cap. 4. sect. 6. aptid Spencer. 


The Ncenia, or dirge, which David composed on the death of 
Saul and Jonathan, is imagined by the commentators to have been 
sung at the funeral of those princes. 

Thus, at the decease of Josiah, " All Judah and Jerusalem 
mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, and all 
the singing men and singing women spake of Josiah m their 
lamentations unto this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel 


All that has hitherto been collected relative to the music of the 
Hebrews, only shews that it was in general use among them, from 
the time of their quitting Egypt, till they ceased to be a nation ; but 
what kind of music it was with which they were so much delighted, 
no means are now left to determine. That they had their first 
music and instruments, whatever they were, from the Egyptians, 
appears to admit of no doubt ; but these seemed to have remained 
in a very rude state till the reigns of David and Solomon, when, 
perhaps, they were more improved in quantity than quality ; for 
the great number of Levites, of singing men and singing women, 
as well as of trumpets, shawms, cornets, sacbuts, cymbals, and 
timbrels, could only augment the noisy cry of joy, or the clamour 
of petition. 

For if the Hebrew language had originally no vowels, it must 
have been very unfavourable to music (3;): and after the 
introduction of vowel points, the many strong aspirates used instead 
of the clear and open vowels of other languages, must have 
corrupted sound, which, by the difficulty of producing it from such 
harsh words, would, of necessity, be very coarse and noisy. The 
music of the ancient Hebrews must, therefore, have been rough, 
not only from their language, but musical instruments, chiefly of 
percussion ; from the number of performers, amounting by the 
order of David to four thousand, and, according to Josephus, at 
the dedication of Solomon's temple, to two hundred thousand ; and 
from the manner of singing at present in the synagogues, of which 
the chorus is composed of clamour and jargon. These circumstances 
must, therefore, have escaped those who have highly extolled the 
ancient Hebrew music, or they must have been utterly ignorant of 
the art of singing. 

However, we have no authentic account of any nation, except 
the Egyptians, where music had been cultivated so early as the 
days of David and Solomon, the brightest period of the Jewish 
history, the Greeks at that time having hardly invented their rudest 
instruments : for Homer and Hesiod, the refiners, if not the 


J - - - . 

/ (*) a Chron. rxxv. 24. 

y (y) This supposition must appear very strange without the support of authority ; for it seems 
impossible for any language to subsist without vowels. " The Hebrew alphabet," says the author of 
the Encyclopedie, Art. HEBRAIQUS, " is composed of twenty-two letters, all regarded as consonants, 
without excepting even the aleph, ke, van, and /of, which we call vowels, hut which among the Hebrews 
have no fixed sound or power, without punctuation ; for that alone contains the true vowels of this 
language." Now as points are generally allowed to be of modern invention, if, in times anterior to 
their use, it was doubtful to which of the consonants the power of a vowel was given, or, indeed, 
whether any such power existed, the language must have been very harsh and unmusical : which is all 
that is intended to be said on the subject 


inventors, of Greek poetry ; and Orpheus, Musseus, and Linus, to 
whom they attribute the invention of their music and instruments, 
all flourished, according to Sir Isaac Newton, after these Hebrew 

Basnage says "the Jews had nothing to distinguish them from 
other nations: they wholly applied themselves to till the ground, 
and feed their flocks ; but neglected the study of arts and sciences. 
Whereas the Egyptians, under whose bondage they groaned, had 
wit, learning, and ingenuity, and pretended to an origin of much 
higher antiquity (*)." But this writer should have expected music. 
Sculpture and painting were, indeed, utterly precluded by the 
Mosaic law, which was so rigid against that idolatry, to which all 
other nations were then addicted. But it was, perhaps, by this 
idolatry, and by the frequent representations of those divinities, 
with which the temples and houses of the Greeks were filled, that 
they acquired their excellence in those arts. 

Neither the ancient Jews, nor the modern, have ever had 
characters peculiar to music ; so that the melodies used in their 
religious ceremonies, have, at all times, been traditional, and at the 
mercy of the singers. The Canonico Cavalca of Florence, is, 
however, of opinion, that the points of the Hebrew language were 
at first musical characters : and this conjecture has been confirmed 
by a learned Jew, whom I have consulted on that subject, who says 
that the points still serve two purposes: in reading the prophets 
they merely mark accentuation, but, in singing them, they regulate 
the melody, not only as to long and short, but high and low notes. 

With respect to the modern Jewish music, I have been informed 
by a Hebrew high priest, that all instrumental, and even vocal 
performances, have been banished the synagogue ever since the 
destruction of Jerusalem : that the little singing now used there is 
an innovation, and a modern licence ; for the Jews, from a passage 
in one of the prophets, think it unlawful, or at least unfit, to sing 
or rejoice before the coming of the Messiah, till when they are 
bound to mourn and repent in silence: but the only Jews now 
on the globe, who have a regular musical establishment in their 
synagogue, are the Germans, who sing in parts ; and these preserve 
some old melodies, or species of chants, which are thought to be 
very ancient. At Prague they have an organ. The same priest 
says that, being at Petersburg some years since, the grand caliph 
of Persia was there likewise on an embassy, and had the service 
of his religion regularly performed in a kind of mosque fitted up in 
the Czar's palace for his use. That when he first heard this service 
performed, he found the singing so like that in the German 
synagogues, that he thought it had been done in derision of the Jews, 
and on that account soon left it. But, upon enquiry, finding it to 
be nothing more than the manner of singing common in Persia, he 
concluded that the Persians had borrowed this kind of chant from 
the ancient Oriental Jews. At present, he says, they sing it first 

HisL des Jmfs, 1. i. c. i. 


single, and then add parts to it, in a kind of chorus, like the 
German Jews. 

Padre Martini has inserted from the Estro-Poetico-Armonico of 
Marcello, 1724, and from an inedited MS. by the cavaglier Ercole 
Bottrigari, called II Trimerone de' Fondamenti Armonici, 1599, a 
great number of such Hebrew chants as were sung in the synagogues 
of different parts of Europe, at the time when these works were 
composed. But as no two Jewish congregations sing, these chants 
alike, if tradition has been faithful in handing them down from the 
ancient Hebrews to any one synagogue, who shall determine to 
which such permanence can be attributed? 

I shall, however, select a few of them to gratify the curiosity 
of my readers, without a hope of their being either edified or 
delighted by such music. The notes are to be read from right to 
left, after the manner of the Hebrew language ; and in those chants 
which are printed in Gregorian notes, it is to be observed, that the 
square characters are long, and those in the lozenge form, short. 


Chapter I 

Of Music in Qreece during the Residence 

of Pagan Divinities, of the first 

Order, upon Earth 

THERE are no human transactions upon record, however 
ancient, in which a love for music does not appear. For, 
as the first musicians were also poets, philosophers, and 
historians, no fragments of ancient poetry, philosophy, or history, 
can be found, without some vestiges of the passion which mankind 
had for music, at the time when they were written. 

" It is well known, that the origin of every people, empire, and 
kingdom, in prophane history, is involved in darkness, which no 
human light can penetrate: so that the fables to which national 
vanity has given birth, and the poetical fictions with which they 
have been embellished, are all the materials which high antiquity 
has left us to work upon. 

However, as the fables of ancient historians, and the wild 
imaginations of mythologists, have employed the sagacity of the 
wisest and most respectable writers of modern times, to digest into 
system, and to construe into something rational and probable, I 
shall not wholly neglect them, but, with the assistance of such 
guides, shall travel through the dark labyrinth of remote antiquity, 
with all possible expedition. 

It has already been observed (a) that the Theogony of the 
Egyptians is, in some measure, connected with my subject: and 

() See p. 172. 


that of the Greeks, from their passion for arts and sciences in 
general, will appear to be still more so; for there are very few of 
their divinities who have not been regarded as inventors or pro- 
tectors of music (6). But as Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Cicero, 
and many other of the most venerable writers of antiquity, have 
spoken of their divinities as mere human beings, who, having 
while they resided on earth, either taught mankind the necessary 
arts of life, or done them some other important service, were 
deified after death, and regarded as protectors of those arts which 
they had invented when living, as well as of their professors, I 
shall likewise venture to humanize them (c) : and if they are only 
supposed to have been powerful and benign terrestrial princes, we 
may strip their history of the marvellous, and imagine mankind 
under their reigns, emerging from ignorance and barbarism by 
natural and slow degrees, in much the same manner, and without 
the interposition of miraculous assistance, as every other people 
have since done, who have arrived at wealth and power, and have 
afterwards had leisure to attend to luxury and refinement. 

Diodorus Siculus tells us, that according to the mythology of 
the Cretans, most of the Gods of the Greeks were born upon 
their island, especially those that have acquired divine honours 
by the benefits they have conferred on mankind : however, as to the 
existence of these personages, the whole is doubtful now. New 
systems of mythology are but a series of new conjectures, as 
difficult to ascertain and believe as the old legends. And as these 
legends have been long received by the wisest men, and greatest 
writers of antiquity, and are at least as probable as the hypotheses 
of modern mythologists, I shall adhere to them, not only as being 
more amusing and ingenious than fancied analogies and 
etymologies, drawn from Phoenician and Hebrew roots by Bochart, 
the Abb6 de la Pluche, and others; but, because the minds of most 
readers will have accommodated themselves by long habit to classic 

(&) The bestowing these inventions upon their divinities by the Pagans, is abundantly sufficient, 
says the bishop of Gloucester, to prove their high antiquity ; for the ancients gave nothing to the Gods, 
of whose original they had any records ; but where the memory of the invention was lost, as of seed, 
com, wine, writing, music, &c. then the Gods seized the property, by that kind of right, which gives 
strays to the lord of the manor. Div. Leg. vol. iii. 

(c) Pope has admirably described the origin of these first deifications. 

Twas virtue only, or in arts or arms, 
Diffusing blessings, or averting harms, 
The same which in a sire the sons obey'd, 
A prince the father of a people made. 
On him, their second providence, they hung, 
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue. 
He from the wond'ring furrow call'd the food, 
Taught to command the fire, controul the flood, 
Draw forth the monsters of th* abyss profound. 
Or fetch th' aerial eagle to the ground. 

Essay on Man, Ep. iii. 



opinions, imbibed during their tender years of education and 
credulity (d). 

Sir Isaac Newton tells us from Herodotus (e) that " the 
Phoenicians who came with Cadmus brought many doctrines into 
Greece; for among those Phoenicians were a sort of men called 
Curetes, who were skilled in the arts and sciences of Phoenicia, 
above other men, and (/) settled some in Phrygia, where they 
were called Corybantes*, some in Crete, where they were called 
I dm dactyli; some in Rhodes, where they were called Telchines; 
some in Samothrace where they were called Cabin, &c. And by 
the assistance of these artificers, Cadmus found out gold in the 
mountain Pangaeus in Thrace, and copper at Thebes; whence 
copper ore is still called Cadmla. Where they settled they 
wrought first in copper, till iron was invented, and then in iron; 
and when they had made themselves armour, they danced in it at 
the sacrifices with tumult and clamour, and bells, and pipes, and 
drums, and swords, with which they struck upon one another's 
armour, in musical times, appearing seized with a divine fury; 
and this is reckoned the original of music in Greece (g)." 

(d) The bishop of Gloucester has a passage so replete with wit, humour, and satire, that I shall 
make no apology for inserting it at full length. In speaking of I'Histoire du Cut, by de la Pluche, he 
asks, " on what, then, is this author's paradox supported ? On the common foundation of most 
modern philologic systems, Etymologies ; which, like fungus excrescences, spring up from old Hebrew 
roots, mythologically cultivated. To be let into this new method of improving barren sense, we are 
to understand, that in the ancient Oriental tongues, the few primitive words must needs bear many 
different significations, and the numerous derivatives be infinitely equivocal. Hence any thing may 
be made of Greek proper names, by turning them to Oriental sounds, so as to suit every system, past, 
present, and to come. To render this familiar to the reader, by example, M. Pluche's system is, that 
the Gentile Gods came from agriculture : all he wants, then, is to pick out (consonant to the Greek 
proper names) Hebrew words which signify a plough, tillage, or ears of corn ; and so his business is done. 
Another comes, let it be Fourmont, and he brings news that the Greek Gods were Moses or Abraham, 
and the same ductile sounds produce from the same primitive words, a chief, a leader, or a true believer ; 
and then, to use his words, Nier ou'il s'agisse id du seul Abraham, c'cst tire aveugte ff esprit, <$ d*un 
aveuglement irremediable. A third and fourth appear upon the scene, suppose them Le Clerc and 
Banier ; who, prompted by the learned Bochart, say that the Greek Gods were only Phoenician 
voyagers ; and then, from the same ready sources, flow navigation, ships, and negotiators ; and when 
any one is at a loss in this game of crambo, which can never happen but by being duller than ordinary, 
the kindred dialects of the Chaldee and Arabic lie always ready to make up deficiences. To give an 
instance of all this in the case of poor distressed Osiris, whom hostile critics have driven from his 
family and friends, and reduced to a mere vagabond upon earth, M. Pluche derives his name from 
Ochos'ierets, domains de la Terre ; M. Fourmont from HoscJieiri, habitant de Seir, the dwelling of Esau, 
who is his Osiris. And Vossius from Scliicker or Sior, one of the Scripture names for the Nile. I have 
heard of an old humourist, and great dealer in etymologies, who boasted That he not only knew whence 
words came, but whither they were going. And indeed, on any system-maker's telling me his scheme, I 
will undertake to shew whither all his old words are going ; for in strict propriety of speech, they cannot 
be said to be coming from, but going to, some old Hebrew root. There are certain follies, of which this 
seems to be in the number, whose ridicule strikes so strongly, that it is felt even by those who are 
most subject to commit them. Who that has read M. Huet's Demonstrate Evangelica, would have 
expected to have seen him satirise with so much spirit the very nonsense with which his own learned 
book abounds ? Le veritable usage de la connoissance des langues etanl perdu, I'abus y a succtdi. On 
s'en est servi pour etymologiser ; on veut trouver dans FHebrett et ses dialecies la source de tons les mots, 
et de toutes les langues, pour barbare et etranges qu'elles puissent Sire. Se pres&ite t-il un nom de quelque 
roi d'Ecosse, ou de Norvege ; on se met aux champs avec ses conjectures ; onenva chercher rorigine dans 
la Palestine. A-t-on de la peine a Py rencontrer ? On passe en Babylone. Ne s'y trouve-t-il point; 
PArabie n'est pas loin : et en besoin mime, on pousseroit jusqu'en Ethiopie, plutot que de se trouver court 
f etymologies ; et Von bat tant de pais, qu'il est impossible enfin qu'on ne trouve un mot qui ait welque 
convenance de lettres et de sons avec celui dont on cherche rorigine. Par cet art on trouve dans I'Hebreu 
ou ses dialectes, I'origine des noms du roi Artur, et de tous les chevaliers de la table ronde ; de Charlemagne, 
et des douze pairs de France ; et m&me en un besoin, de tous les Yncas de Perou. Par cet art, un Allemand, 
que fai connu, prouvoit que Priam avoit && le m&ne qu' Abraham : et Mneas le m&me que Jonas." 
Lettre au Bochart. Div. Leg. book iv. sect. 4 

() Lib. v. c. 58. 

(/) Strabo, lib. x. p. 464, 465, 466. 

(g) So Solinus, Polyhist. c. xi. Studium Musicum inde captum cum Jdai dactyli modulos crepito & 
tinnitu arts deprehensos in versisicum ordinem transtulissent ; & Isiodorus, originxim, 1. xi. c. 6. 
Studium Musicum ab idais dactylis Captum, 



" Clemens Alexandrinus calls the Idaei Dactyli, barbarous, that 
is strangers; and says that they were reputed the first wise men, 
to whom both the letters which they call Ephesian, and the 
invention of musical Rhythms are referred (h). It seems, that when 
the Phoenician letters, ascribed to Cadmus, were brought into 
Greece, they were at the same time brought into Phrygia and 
Crete, by the Curetes, who settled in those countries, and called 
them Ephesian, from the city Ephesus, where they were first 
taught (*).'' 

CADMUS is a name much celebrated by antiquity. According 
to Fabricius there were three persons so called, who flourished at 
very different periods. The eldest, and the most renowned, is 
Cadmus, the son of Agenor, king of Phoenicia; who being sent 
by his father into Greece, in search of his sister Europa, whom 
Jupiter had stolen away, brought with him sixteen letters, and the 
art of making brass (K). Archbishop Usher, the authors of the 
Universal History, and Dr. Blair, agree in placing this event in 
the time of Joshua, that is, 1450 years before Christ; though 
Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Priestly allow Cadmus to have flourished 
but 1045 years before the Christian MTQ.. Sir Isaac imagines 
that the emigration of the Phoenicians and Syrians was occasioned 
by the conquests of David, " These people," says he (Z), " fleeing 
from Sidon and from David, come under the conduct of Cadmus, 
and other captains, into Asia Minor, Crete, Greece, and Lybia, 
and introduce letters, music, poetry, metals, and their fabrication, 
and other arts, sciences, and customs of the Phoenicians. This 
happened about one hundred and forty years before the Trojan 
War. It was about the sixteenth year of David's reign that Cadmus 
fled from Sidon. At his first coming into Greece, he sailed to 
Rhodes, and thence to Samothrace, an island near Thrace, on the 
north side of Lemnos, and there married Harmonia, the sister of 
lasius and Dardanus, which gave occasion to the Samothracian 
mysteries (m)." 

I shall not enter upon a long discussion concerning HARMONIA, 
of whom, though many ancient authors make her a princess, of 
divine origin (), there is a passage in Athenaeus from Euhemerus 
the Vanini of his time, which tells us, that she was by profession, 
a player on the flute, and in the service of the prince of Sidon, 
previous to her departure with Cadmus. This circumstance, 
however, might encourage a belief, that, as Cadmus brought letters 
into Greece, his wife brought Harmony thither, as the word 
aepovta, Harmonia, has been said to have no other derivation 
than from her name (o); which makes it very difficult to ascertain 

a typographical 6xror y though it is not among the errata. 

(*) Strom.LL (fc) Tacit. L ii. e. 14, and Plin. vii. 56. 

(2) ChronoL p. 13. (m) Ib. p. 131. 

AtlM According to Died. Sic. L 5, she was daughter of Jupiter and Electra, and grand-daughter of 



the sense annexed to it by the Greeks in their music; for it has 
no roots by which it can be decompounded, in order to deduce it 
from its etymology. 

This derivation is given by some to Plato, in whose works, 
however, I have not been able to find it ; but there is a passage in 
the Phcedon of that author, in which he evidently gives his sanction 
to the common etymology of the word, that is given by lexico- 
graphers, and generally adopted by the learned ; who deduce it 
from aepoa), which is derived from the old verb, &QQI, astro), to fit, 
to join (p). And yet, as the flute upon which Harmonia played was 
a single instrument, capable of melody only, and as she was said 
to be ^the first who performed upon that instrument in Greece, the 
inhabitants of that country perhaps called by her name the art 
which she had introduced among them, as the metal which her 
husband invented received his name. Agenor, the father of 
Cadmus, was an Egyptian ; and Cadmus is said by many ancient 
writers to have received his education in Egypt. Harmonia may 
likewise have come from that country ; however, her wild flute has 
never been said to have furnished the Greeks with their musical 
scale ; but there is nothing more extraordinary in a barbarous people 
having music without a gamut, than language without an alphabet. 

Diodorus Siculus (q) t has given a very circumstantial account of 
the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia in Samothrace, at which all 
the Pagan divinities were present ; and tells us, that this was the 
first hymenaeal festival which the Gods deigned to honour with 
their presence. " Ceres, who was tenderly attached to Jasion, the 
brother of the bride, presented corn to the new married couple ; 
Mercury, brought his lyre ; Minerva, her famous buckler, her veil, 
and her flute ; Electra, the mother of the bride, celebrated there 
the mysteries of Cybele, the mother of the Gods, and had the orgies 
danced to the sounds of drums and cymbals. Apollo afterwards 
played on the lyre, the Muses accompanied him with their flutes, 
and all the other divinities ratified their nuptials with acclamations 
of joy." This seems to be the outline of a dramatic representation, 
which was perhaps exhibited by the priests at some festival, or 
mystical celebration, in order to commemorate the wedding of 
Cadmus and Harmonia. 

No ancient authors dispute letters and arts having been brought 
out of Phoenicia by Cadmus, and the Idaei Dactyli ; but Diodorus 
Siculus is not of opinion that Cadmus invented the letters which he 
brought into Greece, or that the Grecians had no letters before his 
arrival. He rather supposes that Cadmus introduced a new 
alphabet amongst them, which they prefixed to the ancient Pelasgian 
characters, that had been in use long before. However that may 
have been, many great inventions are attributed to the people of 
Phoenicia, a province of Syria, best known in the Hebrew authors 
of Scripture by the name of Canaan. Bochart, with incredible 

Plato's words are the foUowing: 7; "APMONIA aoparov n bra 'HPM02MENHI \vpa 

cap. 6, 




labour, has endeavoured to prove, that they have sent colonies, 
and left vestiges of their language, in almost all the islands of the 
Mediterranean. They first opened the commerce of the British 
isles. Some moderns, indeed, give this honour to the Greeks ; 
but, besides the uncertainty of the Greeks ever having been there, 
Strabo says, in express terms, that the Phoenicians began this trade, 
and carried it on alone, without rivals, which destroys all conjecture 
to the contrary. 

Lucan (r) has celebrated their invention of letters in verses that 
have been often translated and paraphrased. 

Phcenices primi, fam& si creditur, ausi 
Mansuram rudibus vocem signare figuris. 

Phoenicians first, if ancient fame be true, 

The sacred mystery of letters knew ; 

They first by sound in various lines designed, 

Express'd the meaning of the thinking mind ; 

The power of words by figures rude convey 'd, 

And useful science everlasting made. ROWE. 

C'est de lui (s) que nous vient cet art ingenieux, 

De peindre la parole et de parler aux yeux, 

Et par les traits divers de figures tracees, 

Donner de la couleur, et du corps aux pensees. BREBEUF. 

The noble art from Cadmus took its rise, 
Of painting words, and speaking to the eyes : 
He first in wond'rous magic fetters bound 
The airy voice, and stopt the flying sound ; 
The various figures by his pencil wrought, 
Gave colour and a body to the thought. 


Cadmus appears to have been cotemporary with the Cretan 
Jupiter, from the fable, which makes him carry away his sister 
Europa from Sidon, in the shape of a bull, by which the expounders 

sailed together. The Phoenicians, upon their first coming into 
Greece, gave the name oijao-paler, Jupiter, to every king, as every 
Egyptian monarch was called Pharaoh, and Roman emperor 
Caesar ; and thus both Minos and his father were Jupiters. But 
though Cadmus and his companions were called Idaei Dactyli, and 
Curetes, they seem not to have been the first who came into Greece ; 
for both Strabo and Diodorus Siculus tell us that " the Curetes, 
who introduced music, poetry, dancing, and arts, and attended on 
the sacrifices, were no less active about religious institutions ; and 
for their skill, knowledge, and mystical practices, were accounted 
wise men and conjurers by the vulgar ; that these, when Jupiter was 
born, in Crete, were appointed by his mother Rhea, to the nursing 

(r) Lib. in. 

(s) Cadmus. 


and tuition of him in a cave of mount Ida, where they danced about 
him in armour, with great noise, that his father Saturn might not 
hear him cry (). And when he was grown up, these assisted him 
in his conquests, were appointed his priests, and instituted mysteries, 
in memory of the share which they had in his education." 

This wild story, collected from all the best prose writers of 
Greece, is told by Sir Isaac Newton in his Chronology. It served 
his purpose, in support of his chronological hypothesis ; and it is 
quoted here, in order to shew the simple state which music was in 
at its first introduction into Greece. No instruments are mentioned 
to have been used by the Idaei Dactyli, who attended Jupiter in 
Crete, but drums and cymbals, instruments of percussion, which 
affording but one tone, require little art in the player, or knowledge 
in the hearer (u). 

These represent the armed priests, who strove 

To drown the tender cries of infant Jove ; 

By dancing quick they made a greater sound, 

And beat their armour as they danc'd around. CREECH. 

But Virgil applies this rude and artless music to a less noble 
purpose than quieting the infant Jupiter in his cradle (#). 

Now listen, while the wond'rous powers I sing, 

And genius giv'n to bees, by Heav'n's almighty king, 

Whom, in the Cretan cave, they kindly fed, 

By cymbal's sound, and clashing armour led. WARTON. 

Aristotle has thought it worth recording, that Archytas of 
Tarentum, the famous mathematician, invented a rattle for children; 
and Perrault says, if we consider the music of the ancients accord- 
ing to the idea which the early writers give us of it, we shall find 
it to have been a kind of noise suitable to the infancy of the world, 
as the first instruments were certainly little better than rattles, or 
corals, fit only for children. 

And, indeed, the Phoenicians may be said to have brought into 
Greece Time, rather than Tune : but Rhythm is of such consequence 
both to poetry and to music, that this was no inconsiderable 

As the first music mentioned in the Grecian history, is that of 
the Idcei Dactyli, after the birth of Jupiter, which consisted of a 
rhythmical clash of swordSj as modern inorice-dancers delight in 
the clash of staves; it is not unnatural to suppose, when this 
prince was grown up, had conquered his enemies, and was 

(f) There is something so peculiarly disgusting in the quarrels between Jupiter and his father 
that I have purposely refrained from mentioning them. 

(*) Dictceos referunt Curetas : qui Jovis ilium 
Vagtown In Crete quondam occultasse feruntur ; 
Cum pueri circum puerum pernice chorea, 
Artnaii in nttmerum pulsarent arflnts ara. Lucret. 1. ii. v. 633. 

{x) Nunc age, naturas aptous quas Jupiter ipse 
Addidit, expediam : pro qua mercede, canoros 
Ouretum sonitus crepvtontiaqite ara secttta, 
JDictao c&h rf$em ptwere sub antro. Georg. 1. iv. v. 149. 


peaceably established on his throne, that arts and sciences were 
cultivated and rendered flourishing, particularly music, through 
the skill and influence of Apollo, and his other sons; and this 
perhaps was found to be the most effectual means of taming and 
polishing a rude and savage people. 


Among the Dii majorum gentium, some of the female divinties 
laid claim to a share in musical discoveries. Of this number was 
Minerva, or Pallas, the daughter of Jupiter, who is sometimes 
called Musica, or the musician, a name she acquired from her 
statue made by Demetrius, in which, when the serpents of the 
Gorgon were struck, they resounded like a lute (y). She is also 
honoured with the invention of chariots, together with having first 
used trumpets, and invented the flute (z). The vouchers for her 
musical talents are Pausanias, Plutarch, and Fulgentius, among 
the prose writers; and Pindar, Nonnus, Ovid, Hyginus, Propertius, 
and Claudian, among the poets. The flute that she invented, is 
said by Ovid to have been made of box (a), and by Hyginus of 
bone (6). 

-- Foramina rara, with few holes, it is natural to suppose. Indeed 
the Syrinx, see plate IV. No. 6, said to have 'been invented by 
Pan, was found inconvenient. It consisted of a number of pipes 
of different lengths, tied together, or fastened by wax, which were 
played on, according to Lucretius (c), by blowing in them one 
after the other, moving the instrument sideways, for the admission 
of wind into the several tubes; and it was by the sagacity and 
penetration of Minerva, that it was found practicable to produce 
the same variety of tones with a single pipe, by means of ventiges 
or holes, which had the effect of lengthening or shortening the 
tube, by a quick alteration of the column of air which was forced 
through it. 

Two other circumstances are related of Minerva with respect to 
the flute; she is said by Hyginus to have found herself laughed 
at by her mother and sister, Juno and Venus, whenever she 
played the flute in their presence : this suggested to her the thought 
of examining herself in a fountain, which serving as a mirror, 
convinced her that she had been justly derided for the distortion 
of her countenance, occasioned by swelling her cheeks in the act 
of blowing the flute. This is one reason given for her throwing 

(y) Banicr, torn. iL p. 308. () Ib. 309. 

(a) Prima terebrato per rara foramina buxo, 

Ut daret, effect, tibia longa sonos. Fast. 1. vi. 
By met at first the boIlowM box was found, 
When pierc'd. to give variety of sound. f Minerva speaks. 

(6) Minerva tibias^dicitur prima ex osse cenrinofecisu. 

(c) Et supra, caiamos unco percurrere labro. 
With carving lip run swiftly o'er the reeds. 


aside that instrument, and adopting the lyre (d). However, a 
better cause, and one more worthy of her wisdom, is assigned for 
her throwing aside the flute, upon seeing Apollo perform on the 
lyre; for by having his mouth at liberty, she found that it enabled 
him to sing at the same time as he played, which afforded an 
opportunity of joining instruction to pleasure. 

There is nothing improbable or puerile in these accounts. Indeed 
many of the ancient fables and allegories are so ingenious, and 
conceal so delicate a moral, that it would discover a taste truly 
Gothic and barbarous, to condemn, or reject them. Of such as 
these must our history consist, during the dark ages of antiquity, 
which furnish few authentic materials : for as yet we have no other 
records to consult, than those of poets and mythologists. 

Having traced the use of the instruments of percussion as high 
as the birth of Jupiter, and shewn that the ancient Greeks attributed 
the origin of wind instruments to Minerva, it now remains to speak 
of the third species of instruments, the tones of which are 
produced by strings; and among these, the first in order and 
celebrity is the lyre, of which the invention is given, both by the 
Egyptians and Greeks, to Mercury. Of the Egyptian Mercury 
ample mention has been already made, in speaking of the music 
of that country : it now remains to give some account of the Hermes 
of Greece. 


Most of the actions and inventions of the Egyptian Mercury, 
have likewise been ascribed to the Grecian, who was said to be 
the son of Jupiter and Maia, the daughter of Atlas. No one of 
all the heathen divinities had so many functions allotted to him 
as this God: he had constant employment both day and night, 
having been the common minister and messenger of the whole 
Pantheon, particularly of his father, Jupiter, whom he served 
with indefatigable labour, and sometimes, indeed, in a capacity of 
no very honourable kind. Lucian is very pleasant upon the 
number and variety of his vocations; yet, according to the con- 
fession of emperor Julian, Mercury was no hero, but rather one 
who inspired mankind with wit, learning, and the ornamental arts 
of life, than with courage (e). The pious emperor, however, omits 
some of his attributes; for this God was not only the patron of 
trade, but also of theft and fraud. 

Amphion is said, by Pausanias (/), to have been the first that 
erected an altar to this God, who, in return, invested him with 
such extraordinary powers of music (and masomy), as to enable 
him to fortify the city of Thebes in Boeotia, by the mere sound 
of his lyre. 

(d) Plutarch. Delracohib. 

(e) 'Epjuiq? fie TO. owenarcpa paXXoy, 17 ToX^porepa. Jip. 5. CyriL CotU. Jill. 


Horace gives us the best part of his character (g). 

Thou god of wit from Atlas sprung, 
Who by persuasive power of tongue, 
And graceful exercise, refin'd 
The savage race of human kind, 
Hail, winged messenger of Jove, 
And all th' immortal pow'rs above. 
Sweet parent of the bending lyre, 
Thy praise shall all its sounds inspire. 

Artful and cunning to conceal 
Whatever in sportive theft you steal, 
When from the God who gilds the pole, 
E'en yet a boy, his herds you stole; 
With angiy voice the threatening pow'r 
Bad thee thy fraudful prey restore, 
But of his quiver too beguiTd, 
Pleas'd with the theft, Apollo smil'd. 

You were the wealthy Priam's guide, 
When safe from Agammemnon's pride, 
Through hostile camps, which round him spread 
Their watchful fires, his way he sped. 
Unspotted spirits you consign 
To blissful seats and joys divine, 
And, powerful with thy golden wand, 
The light unbodied crowd command; 
Thus grateful does thy office prove 
To Gods below, and Gods above. 


This Ode contains the substance of a very long hymn to 
Mercury, attributed to Homer. Almost all the ancient poets relate the 
manner in which the Grecian Mercury discovered the lyre ; and 
tell us that it was an instrument with seven strings ; a circumstance 
which makes it essentially different from that said to have been 
invented by the Egyptian Mercury, which had but three. However 
there have been many claimants besides Mercury to the seven 
stringed lyre, of which there will be occasion to speak hereafter ; 
all that seems necessary to be added here is, that the great number 
of different musicians, to whom the same inventions been 
given in Greece, is but a proof that instruments resembling each 
other in form and properties, may have had many inventors. A 
syrinx, or Fistula Panis, made of reeds tied together, exactly 
resembling that of the ancients, has been lately found to be in 
common use in the island of New Amsterdam, in the South Seas, as 
flutes and drums have been in Otaheite and New Zealand; which 
indisputably prove them to be instruments natural to every people 
emerging from barbarism. They were first used by the Egyptians 
and Greeks, during the infancy of the musical art among them ; and 

(g) Od. x. Kb. i. Mercuri, facunde nepos Atlantis, &c. 


they seem to nave been invented and practised at all times by 
nations remote from each other, and between whom it is hardly 
possible that there ever could have been the least intercourse or 

The Greeks, however, when they deified a prince or hero of 
their own country, usually had recourse to the Egyptian theogony 
for a name, and with it adopted all the actions, attributes, and 
rites of the original, which they generously bestowed upon their 
new divinity. And not only the Greek and Roman poets, but 
historians, speak of their Mercury as the inventor of music and the 
lyre. Apollodorus, as related before, p. 200, is almost the only one 
who lays the scene of this transaction in Egypt.* 

Don Calmet, in his Dissertation on the Musical Instruments of 
the Hebrews, has given us an account of this discovery from Homer's 
hymn to Mercury, in which he translates ntyxTQov, plectrum, by 
the French word archet, a bow, without citing a single authority for 
it from ancient authors. What kind of implement the plectrum 
was, will be discussed hereafter ; but it is most certain that the bow 
now in use was utterly unknown to the ancients. Vincenzio 
Galilei (K) has collected the various opinions of the several Greek 
writers who have mentioned the invention of the chelys or testudo ; 
and the late Mr. Spence has done the same in a very circumstantial, 
but ludicrous manner (i). 

The most ancient representations of this instrument agree very 
well with the account of its invention : the lyre, in particular on the 
old celestial globes, was represented as made of the entire shell of a 
tortoise, and that of Amphion in the celebrated groupe of the Dirce, 
or Toro f in the Famese palace at Rome, which is of exquisite Greek 
sculpture, and very high antiquity, is figured in the same manner. 
I had a front and side view of this lyre drawn under my own eye, 
and have since had them engraved for this work, Plate V. No. 1 
and 2, in order to furnish the reader with an idea of the form given 
to the instrument by ancient sculptors, upon the strength of this 


There is something pleasing in the idea of realizing, or even of 
finding the slightest foundation in history for the fables with which 
we have been amused in our youth. I believe there are few of my 

(h) Dial, delta Musica Ant. 6 Mod. 

(i) " Horace talks of Mercury as a wonderful musician and represents hfm with a lyre. There is a 
ridiculous old legend relating to this invention, which informs us that Mercury, after stealing some 
bulls from Apollo, retired to a secret grotto, which he used to frequent at the foot of a mountain, ii 
Arcadia. Just as he was going in, he found a tortoise feeding at the entrance of his cave ; he killec 
the poor creature, and, perhaps, eat the flesh of it ; as he was diverting himself with the shell, he was 
mightily pleased with the noise it gave from its concave figure. He had possibly been cunning enougl 
to find out that a thong pulled strait, and fastened at each end, when struck by the finger, made a sor 
of musical sound. However that was, he went immediately to work, and cut several thongs out o: 
the hides be had lately stolen, and fastened them as tight as he could to the shell of this tortoise 
and, in playing with them, made a new kind of music with them to divert himself in his retreat. This 
considered only as an account of the first invention of the lyre, is not altogether so unnatural" Poly- 
met. Dial. viii. - 

* The legend related by Apollodorus is not the Nile Legend but the one associated with Moun 
-Kyllene. It is probable that Burney got his story from a corrupt version of Diodorus Siculus. 

VOX,, i. 15 '22; 


countrymen who have not, during childhood, read the Life of 
Robinson Crusoe, and the Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, as 
authentic histories, and who have not relinquished that thought, in 
riper years, with some degree of reluctance. It has, doubtless, 
been the same with the ingenious fables of antiquity, so elegantly 
told, and embellished with all the flowers of poetry, and warm 
colouring of imagination. 

Of all the divinities of Paganism, there was no one by whom 
the polite arts were said to have been, in so particular a manner, 
cherished and protected, as by Apollo ; who had a variety of names 
given to him that were either derived from his principal attributes, 
or the chief places where he was worshipped. ^He^was called the 
Healer, from his enlivening warmth and chearing influence ; and 
P&on, from the pestilential heats ; to signify the former, the ancients 
placed the Graces in his right hand; and for the latter, a bow and 
arrows in his left: Nomius, or the shepherd, from his fertilizing the 
earth, and then sustaining the animal creation ; Delius, from his 
rendering all things manifest ; Pythius, from his victory over 
Python ; Lycias, Phcebus, and Phanes, from his purity and 
splendor. As Apollo is almost always confounded by the Greeks 
with the Sun, it is no wonder that he should be dignified with so 
many attributes. It was natural for the most glorious visible object 
in the universe, whose influence is felt by all creation, and seen by 
every animated part of it, to be adored as the fountain of light, heat, 
and life. 

The emperor Julian, in his defence of Paganism, says, " It is 
not without cause that mankind have been impressed with a religious 
veneration for the sun and stars. As they must, at all times, have 
observed that no change ever happened in celestial things ; that 
they were subjected neither to augmentation nor diminution ; and 
that their motion and laws were always equal, and proportioned 
to their situation in the heavens. From this admirable order, 
therefore, men have reasonably concluded that the Sun itself was 
either a God, or the residence of some divinity (ft)." 

The power of healing diseases being chiefly given by the ancients 
to medicinal plants, and vegetable productions, it was natural to 
exalt into a divinity the visible cause of their growth. Hence he 
was styled the God of physic ; and that external heat which chears 
and invigorates all nature, being transferred from the human body 
to the mind, gave rise to the idea of all mental effervescence coming 
from this God; hence, likewise, poets, prophets, and musicians, 
are said to be Numine afflati, inspired by Apollo. 

To the other perfections of this divinity, the poets have added 
beauty, grace, and the art of captivating the ear and the heart, no 
less by the sweetness of his eloquence, than by the melodious sounds 
of his lyre. However, with all these accomplishments, he had not 
the talent of captivating the fair, with whose charms he was 

(*} Ap. S. Cyril, cont. Julian. 


enamoured ; but we have nothing to do with his amours, nor with 
the other adventures related of this God during his residence on 
earth, which are indeed too numerous, and too well known to be 
inserted here: however, such as concern his musical contests, in 
which he was always victorious, seem too much connected with our 
subject, to be wholly unnoticed. 

To begin, therefore, with the dispute which he had with Pan, 
that was left to the arbitration of Midas. 

Pan, who thought he excelled in playing the flute, offered to 
prove that it was an instrument superior to the lyre of Apollo. 
The challenge was accepted, and Midas, who was appointed the 
umpire in this contest, deciding in favour of Pan, was rewarded 
by Apollo, according to the poets, with the ears of an ass, for 
his stupidity. This fiction, which seems founded upon history, 
must be explained. 

Midas, according to Pausanias (2), was the son of Gordius and 
Cybele, and reigned in the Greater Phrygia, as we learn from Strabo 
(m). He was possessed of such great riches and such an inordinate 
desire of increasing them by the most contemptible parsimony, 
that, according to the poets, he converted whatever he touched 
into gold. However, his talent for accumulation did not extend to 
the acquirement of taste and knowledge in the fine arts; aiid, 
perhaps, his dulness and inattention to these, provoked some musical 
poet to invent the fable of his decision in favour of Pan against 
Apollo. The scholiast upon Aristophanes, to explain the fiction 
of his long ears, says that it was designed to intimate that he kept 
spies in all parts of his dominions. 

MARSYAS, another player on the flute, was still more unfortunate 
than either Pan, or his admirer, Midas. I shall collect the history 
of this personage, so celebrated by antiquity, chiefly from Diodorus 
Siculus, and from M. Burette's notes to the Treatise of Music, by 
Plutarch (n). 

Marsyas was of Cekenae, a town in Phiygia, and son of Hyagnis, 
who flourished, according to the Oxford Marbles, 1506 years before 
Jesus Christ. 

The Oxford Marbles (o) inform us, that HYAGNIS, a native 
of Celsenae, the capital of Phiygia, and cotemporary with 
Erichthonius, who instituted the Panathensean games at Athens, 
1506 B.C. was the inventor of the Flute, and Phrygian mode; as 
well as of the Nomes, or airs, that were sung to the mother of the 
Gods, to Bacchus, to Pan, and to some other divinities and heroes 
of that country. Plutarch (p) and Nonnus (q) both tell us that he 

(Z) In Atticis. 

(m) L. xiv. p. 680. 

(n) Mem. de 1'Acad. des Inscrip. torn. x. 

(o) Epoch 10, p. 160. 

0>] De Musica. 

($) Dionys. Kb. x. 


was the father of Marsyas; Athenaeus (r), from Aristoxenus, says 
that he invented the Phrygian mode; and Apuleius (s) ascribes 
to him not only the invention of the single flute, but of the 
double (*). 

The connection of Marsyas with Cybele, afterwards so cele- 
brated as the mother of the Gods, makes it necessary to give some 
account of her, before we proceed in the history of that unfortunate 

The Phrygians, says Diodorus Siculus (u) affirm, that they had 
formerly a king named Meon, who was likewise sovereign of 
Lydia. " This king took to wife a princess of the name of Dindyma, 
by whom he had a daughter. Enraged at the disappointment 
of not having a son, he exposed her upon mount Cybele. However 
the Gods permitted her to be suckled by wild beasts; which being 
afterwards discovered by some shepherdesses in the neighbourhood, 
they stole her from her savage nurses, and upon carrying her home 
called her Cybele, from the name of the mountain where she had 
been found. This child surpassed as she grew up all her com- 
panions, not only in beauty, but wisdom and talents; for she 
invented a flute, composed of many pipes, and was the first of 
that country who introduced drums and cymbals into choruses. 

" The chief of her friends was Marsyas, a man commendable 
for his wisdom and temperance : he manifested great genius in the 
invention of a flute, which, by means of holes, like that of Minerva, 
expressed all the sounds of the several pipes, of which the syrinx 
was composed; and his attachment to Cybele must have been of 
a very pure and Platonic kind; for we are told that he preserved 
his chastity to the last hour of his life. 

" Cybele transported with love for a young man, named Atys, 
who had been put to death by her parents, became insane, and 
ran wildly up and down the country, beating the cymbals. Marsyas 
taking pity of her misfortunes, and preserving his former friend- 
ship for her, followed her in all her rambles, till she arrived at 
Nysa, the residence, at that time, of Bacchus, or Osiris, where 
they found Apollo, who had acquired great reputation by his 
manner of playing the lyre. For it is said, that though Mercury 
invented this instrument in the manner already related, he after- 
wards gave it to Apollo, who was the firsf that played upon it 

(r} Lib. xiv. c. 5, p. 624. Ed. Lndg. 
(s) Florid lib. i. sect. 3. 

(t) The double Flute, however, is more generally given to his son Marsyas. Julius Pollux, 
lib. iv. cap 10, speaks of two kinds of single flute, the invention of which was attributed to 
the Libyans: the Oblique Flute, irXa-ywwAos, so called, perhaps, from being blown at the side, 
like the modern Fife, or German Flute; and a very shrill flute, made of laurel wood, after 
the pith and bark were removed, that was used in breaking horses, wnro^oppos. The natives 
of every quarter of the globe seem to have invented their own flutes; and if Hyagnis and his 
son Marsyas furnished the Asiatics with those instruments, Africa may have had her's from 
Libya, or its neighbouring country, Egypt. 

(*) Lib. ui. cap 10. 


with method; and, by singing to it, made it the constant 
companion of poetry (x)." 

Marsyas having engaged in a musical dispute with Apollo, chose 
the people of Nysa for judges. Apollo played at first a simple air 
upon his instrument; but Marsyas taking up his pipe, struck the 
audiences so much by the novelty of its tone, and the art of his 
performance, that he seemed to be heard with more pleasure than 
his rival. Having agreed upon a second trial of skill, it is said 
that the performance of Apollo, by accompanying the lyre with 
his voice, was allowed greatly to excel that of Marsyas upon the 
flute alone, Marsyas, with indignation, protested against the 
decision of his judges, urging, that he had not been fairly 
vanquished according to the rules stipulated, because the dispute 
was concerning the excellence of their several instruments, not their 
voices; and that it was wholly unjust to employ two arts against 

Apollo denied that he had taken any unfair advantage of his 
antagonist, since Marsyas had employed both his mouth and fingers 
in performing upon his instrument; so that if he was denied the 
use of his mouth, he would be still more disqualified for the 
contention. The judges approved of Apollo's reasoning, and 
ordered a third trial. Marsyas was again vanquished; and Apollo, 
inflamed by the violence of the dispute, flead him alive for his 

Pausanias relates a circumstance concerning this contest, that 
had been omitted by Diodorus, which is, that Apollo accepted the 
challenge from Marsyas, upon condition that the victor should use 
the vanquished as he pleased. 

Diodorus informs us, that Apollo soon repenting of the cruelty 
with which he had treated Marsyas, broke the strings of the lyre, 
and by that means put a stop, for a time to any further progress 
in the practice of that new instrument. 

The next passage in this author being wholly applicable to the 
history of ancient music, I shall transcribe it: " The Muses/' says 
he, " afterwards added to this instrument the string called Mese; 
Linus, that of Lichanos; and Orpheus and Thamyras, those strings 
which are named Hypate and Parhypate/' 

It has been already related, that the lyre invented by the 
Egyptian Mercury had but three strings; and by putting these two 
circumstances together, we may perhaps acquire some knowledge 
of the progress of music, or, at least, of the extension of its scale, 
in the highest antiquity. 

(*) According to Homer's account of this transaction, in his hymn to Mercury, it was 
given by that^God to Apollo, as a peace offering and indemnification for the oxen which, he had 

To Phoebus Maia's son presents the lyre, 

A gift intended to appease his ire; 

The God receives it gladly, and essays 

The novel instrument a thousand ways. 

With dext'rous skill the plectrum wields, and sings 

With voice accordant to the trembling strings 

Such strains as Gods and men approv'd, from whence 

The Sweet alliance sprung of sound and sense. 


Mese, in the Greek music, is the fourth sound of the second 
tetrachord of the great system, and first tetrachord invented by 
the ancients, answering to our A, on the fifth line in the base. If 
this sound then was added to the former three, it proves two 
important points: first, that the most ancient tetrachord was that 
from E in the base, to A; and that the three original strings in the 
Mercurian and Apollonian lyre were tuned E, F, G, which the 
Greeks called Hypate Meson, Parhypate Meson, and Meson 
Diatonos. The addition therefore of Mese to these, completed the 
first and most ancient tetrachord, E, F, G, A (z). 

The string Lichanos then being added to these, and answering 
to our D, on the third line in the base, extended the compass 
downwards, and gave the ancient lyre a regular series of five 
sounds, in the Dorian mode, the most ancient of all the Greek 
modes; and the two strings called Hypate, and Parhypate, 
corresponding with our B and C in the base, completed the 
heptachord, or seven sounds, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, a compass that 
received no addition, till after the time of Pindar, who calls the 
instrument then in use, the seven-tongued lyre (a). But to return 
to Apollo and Marsyas.* 

It is natural to suppose that great provocation had been given 
on both sides, previous to a trial of skill, big with such serious 
consequences. And it appears from a passage in Apuleius, that 
the champions had tried their strength at invective and sarcasm, 
before the musical contest began. According to this writer, 
Marsyas was so foolish as to irritate the God, by opposing his own 
entangled hair, his frightful and shaggy beard, to the flowing locks, 
the finical effeminacy, and dainty ^cleanliness of his rival; for 
which he was hissed by all the Muses and company present (6). 

It is difficult to acquire a true idea of the character of this 
musician, as some ancient writers, in speaking of him, tell us that 
he was a man of talents and wisdom, while others represent him 
as an ignorant clown; just as Polonius, in our Shakespeare's 
Hamlet, is in some scenes a wise man, and in others an idiot. 

(*} Captain Norden says, the sepulchral urn on the first pyramid near Memphis, though it rest 
intirely upon its base, sounds like a bell ; and Dr. Shaw believes the sound emitted to be E-la-m*. 
Now if it be true that the Greeks had their first musical knowledge from Egypt, we may suppose this 
sound to be the standard pitch, and fundamental note of the Mercurian lyre, and first tetrachord, 

(*) Though Pindar calls the Lyre seven-tongued, yet we are told that Pythagoras, who lived before 
him j added an eighth string to that instrument. But, perhaps, this new string was not in general use, 

in Pindar's 

(6) Marsyas, quod stuUitue maximum specimen est. non intelligent se de ridicuh haberi, priusquam 
tibias occiperet inflare, prius deseet Apolline quadam deliramenta barbate effutimt : laudans sese quod 
erat et coma relitinus, et barba squalKdus, et pectore hirsvtus, et arte tibicen, et fortuna egenus, contra 
ApoJUnem ridiculum didv, adoersis virtotibus culpabat. Quod ApoUn esset et coma intonsus t et gents 
&atus> et corpora glabettus, et arte mvttiscius, ft fortuna opulentus. - Risere Musee, cum audtrent hoc 
genu* crimina. Apuleius Floridor. p. 341. 

* This heptachord for the seven stringed lyre must not be confused with the original octave scale 
of the Greeks. The Dorian tetrachord B, C, D, E is considered to have been the original tuning of the 
four stringed lyre but it is not possible to prove the truth of this belief. 

The original octave scale consisted of the two disjured tetrachords Meson and Diezeu&nenon. 
Another early scale consisted of the two conjured tetrachords Meson and Synemmenon (i.e., E, F, G, 

t . , . ^ M A A 
. cit., p. 304) thinks it probable that 
thus tuned, could be employed most 

the strings were tuned to C, F, G, C, and remarks, 

effectively for accompanying the voice. 



Plato (c) tells us tihat we are indebted to Marsyas and Olympus 
for wind-music; and to these two musicians is likewise attributed 
the invention of the Phrygian and Lydian measure. Marsyas is 
also said by some to have been the inventor of the double flute, 
though others give it to his father Hyagnis. 

Antiquity has furnished us with several monuments of the 
punishment inflicted upon him by Apollo. He may be seen in 
Berger, in Maffei, and in Du Choul. The story is likewise well 
and fully represented in one of the ancient pictures dug out of 
Herculaneum (d). Here the vanquished musician is bound to a 
tree, the executioner standing by with a knife in his hand, only 
waits for orders from the victor to slay him alive. Apollo is seated 
at a distance, with a lyre in one hand, and a plectrum in the 
other, and a Muse by his side, preparing a garland for him in 
token of victory. A young man, on his knees, appears to implore 
his mercy : this is thought to be Olympus, the scholar of Marsyas, 
asking pardon for his master, or, perhaps, permission to give him 
funeral obsequies, which, as we learn from Hyginus, he obtained. 

OLYMPUS is a name spoken of with such reverence by the 
greatest writers of Greece, as well as the best judges of music, 
that is seems to merit particular notice. 

There were two great musicians in antiquity of the name of 
Olympus, and both celebrated performers on the flute. One of 
them flourished before the Trojan war, and the other was 
cotemporaiy with Midas, who died 697 B.C. The first was a 
scholar of Marsyas, and a Mysian; the second, according to 
Suidas, was a Phrygian, and author of several poems, which were 
by some attributed to the first Olympus. But the most important 
addition which the disciple of Marsyas made to the musical know- 
ledge of his time, was the invention of the Enharmonic Genus, 
as already described in the Dissertation. Plato and Aristotle, as 
well as Plutarch, celebrate his musical and poetical talents, and 
tell us that some of his airs were still subsisting in their time. 
Religion only can give permanence to music. The airs of Olympus 
used in the temple worship during the time of Plutarch, were not 
more ancient than the Chants, or Canto Fermo, to some of the 
hymns of the Romish church : and the melodies now sung to many 
of the hymns and psalms of the Lutherans and Calvinists, are 
such as were applied to them at the time of the Reformation. 

Plato says the music of Olympus was, in a particular manner, 
adapted to affect and animate the hearers (e)i Aristotle, that it 
swelled the soul with enthusiasm (/); and Plutarch (g), that it 
surpassed, in simplicity and effect, every other music then known. 
According to this Biographer, he was author of the Cumle song, 
which caused Alexander to seize his arms, when it was performed 
to him by Antigenides. To his musical abilities he joined those 
of poetry; and, according to Suidas, and Jul. Pollux, he composed 

(c) De Legib. (d) Antich. d'Ercolano, torn, ii- too. 19. 

() In Mince. In lone. De Legit, lib. iii. (/) Politic, lib.vm. rap. 5. (g) De Music*. 


Elegies, and other plaintive songs, which were sung to the sound 
of the flute; and the melodies of these poems were so much 
celebrated in antiquity for their pathetic and plaintive cast, that 
Aristophanes, in the beginning of his comedy called the Knights, 
where he introduces the two generals, Demosthenes and Nicias, 
travestied into valets, and complaining of their master., makes them 
say, " Let us weep and wail like two Flutes, breathing some air 
of Olympus." Plutarch ascribes to him several Nomes or Airs, that 
are frequently mentioned by ancient writers : such as the Minerva; 
the Harmatian, Curule, or Chariot air, just mentioned ; and the 
Spondean, or Libation air. 

There is a magnificent statue at Rome, where Marsyas, the 
master of Olvmpus, is represented fastened to a tree, with his arms 
extended. Others may be seen where Apollo holds a knife in his 
right hand, and the skin of Marsyas in his left, which serves to 
confirm the opinion, that some of the ancients thought Apollo was 
himself the executioner that flead him. In some of the statues, 
.Marsyas is sculptured with the ears and tail of fauns and satyrs; 
of this kind is the figure in the grand duke's gallery at Florence. 
There was anciently to be seen in the citadel at Athens, a statue of 
Minerva chastising the satyr Marsyas, for appropriating to himself 
the flutes which the goddess had rejected with contempt. These 
flutes of Marsyas had been consecrated in the temple of Apollo at 
Sicyon, by a shepherd who had collected them. At Mantinea, in 
the temple of Latona, was also to be seen a Marsyas playing upon 
the double flute: and he was not forgotten in the famous picture of 
Polygnotus, described by Pausanias (ft). 

Among the inventions of Marsyas is numbered likewise the 
bandage made of leather thongs, used by the ancients in playing 
the flute, in order to keep the cheeks and lips firm, and to prevent 
the distortion of the countenance, so common in playing upon 
wind-instruments. This contrivance, which left only a small 
aperture between the lips, just sufficient to receive the mouth-piece 
of the flute, augmented likewise the force of the performer (i). 

Servius, the grammarian, asserts, that most free towns had in 
the public places a statue of Marsyas, which was a symbol of their 
liberty, because of the dose connection between Marsyas, taken for 
Silenus, and Bacchus, known to the Romans by the name of Liber. 
There was in the Forum at Rome one of those statues, with a 
tribunal erected by it, where justice was administered. 

However, notwithstanding the many testimonies of ancient 
authors concerning Marsyas having been flead alive, among which 
is that of Herodotus, who says he saw the skin of this unfortunate 
musician hanging up at Celsenae, in the public square, in the form 
of a bladder or foot-ball ; there are authors who take the whole 
story to be an allegory, founded upon the river Maisya, which ran 

(A) Lib* x. cap. 30. 

(*) This bandage was called ^opScto, or -n-epto-ro/xtov, capistrum. .It is mentioned in 
Plutarch's Symposiacs, in the Scholiast of Aristophanes, and elsewhere; and may be seen in some 

ancient sculpture, wMcb ~ -- 

VI. No. z of this work. 



through the city Celaenae, making a harsh and disagreeable noise to 
the ear; or, rattier, if we may believe Fortunio Liceti (&), the fable 
had its rise from this, that, before the invention of the lyre, the 
flute was in higher favour than any other musical instrument, and 
enriched all those who were able to play upon it ; and as the lyre 
brought the flute into such discredit that nothing was to be gained 
by it, Apollo was said to have stripped off the skin of Marsyas, the 
best performer on the flute of his time ; which was the better 
imagined, as the money of those days was of leather (J). The 
punishment has frequently been inflicted in modern times upon 
inferiority, not only by rival musicians of great talents, but by 

The next incident to be mentioned in the history of Apollo is 
his defeat of the serpent Python. 

The waters of Deucalion's deluge (m}, says Ovid (n), which had 
overflowed the earth, left a slime, from which sprung innumerable 
monsters, and among others the serpent Python, which made great 
havock in the country about Parnassus. Apollo, armed with his 
darts, put him to death ; which, physically explained, implies that 
the heat of the sun having dissipated the noxious steams, those 
monsters soon disappeared ; or, if this fable be referred to history, 
the serpent was a robber, who haunting the country about Delphos, 
and very much infesting those who came thither to sacrifice, a 
prince, who bore the name of Apollo, or one of the priests of that 
God, put him to death. 

This event gave rise to the institution of the Pythian games, 
so frequently mentioned in the Grecian history. They were 
celebrated at first once in eight or nine years ; but in process of time 
were repeated every four [or five] years. Music and poetry were, 
in a particular manner, subjects of contention in these games, which 
were instituted in honour of that divinity, who was the immediate 
patron and protector of those arts. And if, as Ovid informs us, 
they owe their institution to Amphictyon, the son of Deucalion, soon 
after the deluge, which bears the name of his father, they were the 
most ancient of all the four great games of Greece : for Pausanias 
tells us that the Olympic games were first celebrated by Clymenus, 
a descendant of Hercules, fifty years after the deluge of Deucalion. 
However, the same writer, who", in his travels through Greece, was 
particularly solicitous to inform himself of every circumstance 
relative to these institutions, tells us, that Diomedes, the son of 
Tydeus, having escaped a dangerous tempest in returning from 
Troy, dedicated a temple to Apollo, and founded the Pythian games 
in his honour. After being discontinued for some time, they were 
renewed by the brave Euiylochus of Thessaly, whose valour and 

(fc) Aierog. cap. 109. (Q Pollux, lib. iv. cap. 10. 

(m) This event happened, according to the Parian Marbles, and Dr. Blair, 1503 years before the 
Christian &ra, though, according to Sir Isaac Newton, and Dr. Priestley, but 1046. 

(n) Met. lib. i. 

* The legend of Marsyas is dealt with very fully in Eraser's Adonis, Attis and Osiris (chapter vi). 


exploits acquired him the name of the new Achilles. This renewal 
of the Pythic games happened in the third year of the forty-eighth 
Olympiad, 586 B.C. ; after which time they served as an sera to the 
inhabitants of Delphos, and the neighbourhood. 

These musical contests will be particularly discussed hereafter, 
with the other games of Greece, when we have quitted the 
mythological maze of fable and allegory, and are arrived at the 
strait road of history. 

It was from the legend of Apollo's victory over the Python, 
that the God himself acquired the name of Pythius, and his priestess 
that of Pythia. The city of Delphos, where the famous oracles 
were so long delivered, was likewise frequently styled Pytho. 

The decrees of this oracle were not only uttered in hexameter 
verse, but, if we may believe Lucan, were sung (o). 

And, according to Plutarch, in his discourse on the Pythian 
Priestess no longer rendering her prophecies in verse, the ancient 
oracles were not only delivered in verse, and in a pompous style, 
but were sung likewise to the sound of the flute (p). 

The same author likewise tells us that oracles were generally 
delivered in verse, preceded by the sound of kettles ; which furnishes 
no very exalted idea of the state of music in remote antiquity, any 
more than what one of the interlocutors in his Dialogue on the 
Pythia, says of her verses, does of poetry. "I have often wondered," 
said Diogenian> "at the meanness, and aukward roughness of the 
verses, which conveyed the ancient oracles to mankind. And yet 
Apollo is called the feader of the Muses, and God of poetry, as well 
as of music; and therefore it seems natural to suppose, that he 
would attend as much to elegance and beauty in the style and 
language of poetry, as to the voice and manner of singing it." All 
that Pagan piety could offer in defence of Apollo, was to say, that 
the God only furnished inspiration with respect to the knowledge 
of future events, but gave himself no trouble about the voice, 
sounds, words, or metre, that this knowledge was delivered in, all 
which proceeded from the priestess. And yet how the God of music 
could bear the sounding brass, and worse than tinkling cymbals, 
with which he was constantly stunned, is not easy to imagine. 

In after-times the Pythia had in her ministry professed prophets; 
and these had poets under them, whose business was to put the 
orades into verse. However, poets had no such employment in 
earlier times. Herodotus tells us, that Olen of Lycia was at once 
both prophet and poet : the most ancient hymns known to have 
been used at Delos, in honour of Apollo, were of his composition ; 
and the Greeks acknowledge ham to have been the first 
that applied poetry to the purpose of praising the Gods ; 

(o) Siw canet/fen, sett quodjubet itte canendo Fitfatum. 

() Hutaich in this passage uses the term irXacyaa, for a florid modulation of voice, and 
Qointflianlatimzes the^same word to express a soft and delicate modulation. Lib. i cap. 14. Nee 
plasmate effemtnata ; which is a confirmation of poetry being always sung. See an excellent criticism 
upon the term irAao-fia, Div. Leg. book iv. sect. 4. 



indeed it seems as if hymns were the most ancient of all poetical 
compositions (q). 

Olen was the first priest of Apollo at Delos, in the temple 
erected there to this God, by the northern people called 
Hyperboreans. Who these Hyperboreans were, ancient authors are 
not very well agreed. Diodorus Siculus calls them a people of Asia, 
near the north, who inhabited a most fertile island, equal in size 
to that of Sicily. This was the birth-place of Latona, the mother 
of Apollo, on which account the islanders had a particular veneration 
for her son. They were almost all priests of that God, and 
continually singing hymns to his honour. They consecrated an 
extensive territory to him upon the island, in the midst of which 
was a magnificent temple, in an oval form, always abounding with 
rich offerings. Their city was even consecrated to the God, and 
filled with musicians of all kinds, who every day celebrated his 

The particular worship of Apollo in that island, is supposed to 
have originated from the arrival of the Egyptian conqueror, 
Sesostris. The birth of a God in any country, says Herodotus, 
denoted only the introduction of his worship there. Thus Jupiter 
was said to have been born in Crete, and Apollo in Delos. 

But to return to the oracle at Delphos. The most celebrated 
of all the Pythias was Phoemonoe, who was not only the first priestess 
of Apollo, but, according to Plutarch and Pausanias, the first who 
pronounced oracles in hexameter verse. 

In after-times there were five principal priests of sacrifice 
appointed. They were called 60101, holy ; and whatever was 
sacrificed at their reception was called ootwyQ, the victim. These 
ministries were perpetual, and hereditary in their children. They 
were believed to be descended from Deucalion. Besides a great 
number of inferior priests, there were many players upon musical 
instruments, and heralds, who proclaimed the public feasts, to 
which, sometimes, all the inhabitants of Delphos were invited. 
To these were joined chorusses of youths and virgins, who sung and 
danced at the festivals of Apollo. 

Plutarch, in his Dialogue on Music, tells us, that Philammon had 
celebrated the birth of Latona, Apollo, and Diana, in lyric verses ; 
and that he was the inventor of the dances that were used in the 
temple of Apollo. 

As Apollo was the God of the fine arts, those who cultivated 
them were called his sons. Philammon of Delphos, who being a 
great poet and musician, was reported to be the offspring of the 
God who presided over those arts. He is one of the first, after 
Apollo, upon fabulous record, as a vocal performer, who 

(q) The rhetorician Menander enumerates eight different species of hymns. In this author, and 
in the notes oi the learned Spanheim upon CaUimachus, it appears, that the most ancient of these 
canticles were thought to have been dictated by the Gods themselves, or, at least, by men truly 
inspired. Some of them received their names from the different divinities to whom they were addressed 
and the occasions upon which thev were sung ; and to others were prefixed the names of the most 
ancient poets, who had signalized themselves in this species of writing : such as Olen, Pamphus, 
Thamyris, Orpheus, Anthes, and Homer. Burette's Notes on Plutarch. 

Longimis, in a beautiful simile, compares the effects of reading the best ancient authors, to the 
sacred vapours with which the Pythian priestess was inspired on the tripod. 



accompanied himself .with the sound of the lyre ; his son was the 
celebrated Thamyris. Tatian ranks Philammon among the writers 
who flourish before the time of Homer ; and the scholiast of 
Apollonius Rhodius, from Pherecydes, affirms, that it was this 
musical poet, and not Orpheus, who accompanied the Argonauts 
in their expedition. If this circumstance could be depended upon, 
there would be no difficulty in fixing the time when he lived, as 
the chronologists place this expedition in the century immediately 
preceding the Trojan war. 

There can be no doubt but that Apollo was more generally 
revered in the Pagan world, than any other deity ; having in almost 
every region of it, temples, oracles, and festivals, as innumerable 
as his attributes : the wolf and hawk were consecrated to him, as 
symbols of his piercing eyes ; the crow and the raven, because these 
birds were supposed to have by instinct the faculty of prediction; 
the laurel, from a persuasion that those who slept with some branches 
of that tree under their heads, received certain vapours, which 
enabled them to prophesy. The cock was consecrated to him, 
because by his crowing he announces the .rising of the sun ; and the 
grasshopper, on account of his singing faculty, which was supposed 
to do honour to the God of Music. Most of the ancient poets have 
celebrated this tuneful insect, but none better than Anacreon, Ode 43. 

Plato says that the Grasshopper sings all summer without food, 
like those men who, dedicating themselves to the Muses, forget the 
common concerns of life. 

The Swan was regarded by the ancients as a bird sacred to 
Apollo in two capacities ; first, as being like the crow and raven, 
gifted with the spirit of prediction (r) ; and, secondly, for his 
extraordinary vocal powers. The sweetness of his song, especially 
at the approach of death, was not only extolled by all the poets of 
antiquity, but by historians, philosophers, and sages (s) ; and to 
call a great writer the swan of his age and nation, was a full 
acknowledgement of his sovereignty. Thus Horace calls Pindar, 
the Theban swan (t). We do not, however, find that Jupiter, when 
he assumed the figure of a swan, acquired the good graces of Leda 
by his vocal powers. 

The universality with which the talent of this bird for song was 
allowed by antiquity, has furnished M. Morin with the subject of 
a pleasant Dissertation upon this question. Why swans sung so 
well formerly, and why they sing so ill, or rather why they have 
wholly ceased to sing, now (u) ? The author asks if it is the want 
of hearing music as they formerly did, on the banks of the Cayster 

= (r) Commemorat (Socrates) ut cygnis, qui non sine causa ApoUini dicati sunt, sed quod ab co 
dtwnationem habere videantur, qua pravidentes quid in morte boni sit ; cum canto et volu-btate moriantur - 
Cicero TuscuL Quaest lib. t 59. ^ . 

(s) Wi quidem (Cygni) quando se brevi sentvunt morituros, tune magis admodum dukius canunt, 
quamantea consuevennt, confratulantes quod ad Deum sint, cujus erant famuli, jam migrate*. Sed 
quta Pfuebo sacn sunt, ut vrbiiror, dtmnatione praditi, prasagiunt aUerius vita bona ; ideoque cantant 
alacnus, gesbuntque ea die quam superiors tempore. Plato in Phadone, vel de Anima, p. 505. 

(<) Dirceum levat aura cygnum. Lib. v. Ode 2. v. 25. 
' ) Mem. de VAcad. des Inscrip. torn. v. 


and Meander? But, if they had imitative powers, the concerts so 
frequently performed on the Seine and the Thames, are surely 
sufficient to provoke them to the exercise of those powers. Are they 
degenerated in northern climates? This question is fully answered 
by ^Slian (w), who asserts, that among the Hyperboreans, or 
inhabitants of the most northern parts of the globe, who had a 
celebrated temple to Apollo, at a solemn festival in honour of the 
God, which was annually kept at a great expence, as soon as the 
priest had begun the ceremony, by a procession, aspersions, and 
lustrations, a large flock of swans instantly descended from the top 
of Mount Riphseus and after having croaked and cackled in the 
air round the temple, to make a kind of lustration, in their manner, 
they entered the choir, and gravely took their places among the 
priests and musicians, who were preparing to sing a sacred hymn 
in honour of this festival ; after which they performed their parts 
with the utmost precision, neither singing out of tune, nor breaking 
time ; and when this was done, they retired in great order from the 

" Here are swans for you," says M. Morin, "who sung psalms 
in a northern climate, as weU as in Greece, in the presence of a whole 
people, and an infinite number of spectators of all nations, who 
were drawn together by the solemnity ; which shews, that, 
according to the opinion of those times, swans always, and in every 
place, retained the power and dignity of songsters, inseparable from 
their kind. However, JElian confesses that he had the story from 
tradition, having never been able to acquire any proof of their 
musical powers from experience ; and that all he knew of ^ this 
matter was, that the ancients held it as a certainty, that these birds, 
before they died, sung a kind of air, which was on that account 
called the swan's air." 

Perhaps the idea of swans having the power of singing, was 
originally suggested by the magnificent length of their necks, which 
seem as capable of divisions, trills, and shakes, as any of our wind- 
instruments. Lucian (x) is the ooly ancient writer who 
has dared to doubt of the musical abilities of swans. He tells us, 
with his usual pleasantry, that he tried to ascertain the fact, by 
making a voyage on the coasts of Italy ; and relates, that being 
arrived at the mouth of the Po, he and his friends had the curiosity 
to sail up that river, in order to ask the watermen and 
inhabitants concerning the tragical fate of Phaeton ; and to examine 
the poplars, descendants of his sisters, whom they expected to shed 
amber instead of tears ; as well as to see the swans represent the 
friends of this unfortunate prince, and hear them sing lamentations 
and sorrowful hymns, night and day, to his praise, as they used 
to do, in the character of musicians, and favourites of Apollo, before 
their change. However, these good people, who never had heard 
of any such metamorphoses, freely confessed, that they had indeed 
sometimes seen swans in the marshes near the river, and had heard 



them croak and scream in such a disagreeable manner, that crows 
and jays would be sirens, compared with them, in a musical 
capacity ; but that they had never even dreamed of swans singing 
a single note that was pleasing, or fit to be heard. 

But to return once more to Apollo. Plutarch, who was himself 
a priest of that God, impressed with the highest respect and 
veneration for him and for music, in his Dialogue upon that art, 
makes one of his interlocutors say, that an invention so useful and 
charming could never have been the work of man, but must have 
originated from some God ; such as Apollo, the inventor of the 
flute and lyre, improperly attributed to Hyagnis, Marsyas, Olympus, 
and others ; and the proofs he urges in support of this assertion, 
shew, if not its truth, at least that it was the common and received 

All dances and sacrifices, says he, used in honour of Apollo, are 
performed to the sound of flutes : the statue of this God at Delos, 
erected in the time of Hercules, had in its right hand a bow, and 
on the left stood the three Graces, who were furnished with three 
kinds of instruments : the lyre, the flute, and syrinx. The youth also, 
who carries the laurel of Tempe to Delphos, is accompanied by one 

? laying on the flute : and the sacred presents formerly sent to Delos 
y the Hyperboreans, were conducted thither to the sound of lyres, 
flutes, and shepherds' pipes. He supports these facts by the 
testimonies of the poets Alcseus, Alcman, and the poetess Corinna. 

It seems as if the account of Apollo could not be concluded by 
anything that is left to offer on the subject, so properly, as by part 
of the celebrated hymn of Callimachus, which during many ages 
was performed and heard by the most polished people on the globe, 
with the utmost religious zeal, at the festivals instituted to this God. 
What has already been said may, perhaps, throw some light upon 
this beautiful composition, which, in return, will explain and confirm 
the reasons already assigned for the high veneration in which this 
divinity was held by antiquity. 

Hymn to Apollo 

Hah! how the laurel, great APOLLO'S tree, 
And all the cavern shakes ! far off, far off, 
The man that is unhallow'd : for the God 
Approaches. Hark! he knocks: the gates 
Feel the glad impulse: and the fever'd bars 
Submissive clink against their brazen portals, 
Why do the Delian palms incline their boughs, 
Self-mov'd: and hov'ring swans, their throats releas'd 
From native silence, carol sounds harmonious? 

Begin, young men, the hymn: let all your harps 
Break their inglorious silence ; and the dance, 
In mystic numbers trod, explain the music. 


But first by ardent pray'r, and clear lustration 
Purge the contagious spots of human weakness: 
Impure no mortal can behold Apollo. 
So may you flourish, favoured by the God, 
In youth with happy nuptials, and in age 
With silver hairs, and fair descent of children; 
So lay foundations for aspiring cities, 
And bless your spreading colonies' encrease. 

Pay sacred reverence to Apollo's song; 
Lest watchful the far-shooting God emit 
His fatal arrows. Silent Nature stands; 
And seas subside, obedient to the sound 
Of lol lo Paean! nor dares Thetis 
Longer bewail her lov'd Achilles' death: 
For Phoebus was his foe. Nor must sad Niobe 
In fruitless sorrow persevere, or weep 
Even thro' the Phrygian marble. Hapless mother! 
Whose fondness could compare her mortal offspring 
To those which fair Latona bore to Jove, 
lo ! again repeat ye, lo ! Paean ! 

Recite Apollo's praise till night draws on, 
The ditty still unfinish'd ; and the day 
Unequal to the Godhead's attributes 
Various, and matter copious of your songs. 

Sublime at Jove's right hand Apollo sits, 
And thence distributes honour, gracious king, 
And theme of verse perpetual. From his robe . 
Flows light ineffable : his harp, his quiver, 
And Lyctian bow, are gold: with golden sandals 
His feet are shod. How rich ! how beautiful ! 
Beneath his steps the yellow min'ral rises; 
And earth reveals her treasures. Youth and beauty 
Eternal deck his cheek : from his fair head 
Perfumes distil their sweets and chearful Health, 
His duteous hand-maid, through the air improved 
With lavish hand diffuses scents ambrosial. 

The spearman's arm by thee, great God, directed, 
Sends forth a certain wound. The laurel' d bard 
Inspir'd by thee, composes verse immortal. 
Taught by thy art divine, the sage physician 
Eludes the urn, and chains, or exiles death. 

Perpetual fires shine hallow' d on thy altars. 
When annual the Carnean feast is held: 


The warlike Libyans, clad in armour, lead 

The dance, with clanging swords and shields, they beat 

The dreadful measure : in the chorus join 

Their women, brown but beautiful ; such rites 

To thee well pleasing. 

The mon'strous Python 

Durst tempt thy wrath in vain ; for dead he fell, 
To thy great strength, and golden arms unequal. 

To \ while thy unerring hand elanc'd 
Another and another dart, the people 
Joyful repeated lo I lo Pean \ 
Elance the dart, Apollo: for the safety 
And health of man, gracious thy mother bore thee ! 


The Muses 

After the enquiries that have been made, perhaps with too much 
minuteness, concerning the origin of that worship which antiquity 
paid to Mercury and Apollo, it seems necessary to say something 
of other Pagan divinities, among whose attributes music has a place. 
Of this class, as most intimately connected with the God of Song, 
are the Muses, those celebrated female musicians, so dear to men 
of genius, and lovers of art, that it is hardly possible for them to 
hear their names mentioned, without feeling a secret and refined 

These are the only Pagan divinities whose worship has been 
continued through all succeeding changes in the religion and 
sentiments of mankind. Professors of every liberal art in all the 
countries of Europe, still revere them, particularly the poets, who 
seldom undertake the slightest work, without invoking their aid. 

It has been asserted by some ancient writers, that at first they 
were only three in number ; but Homer, Hesiod, and other profound 
mythologists, admit of nine (y). In his Hymn to Apollo, Homer says : 

By turns the Nine delight to sing. 

And Hesiod, in his Theogony, names them all. They are said 
severally to preside over some art or science, as music, poetry, 
dancing, astronomy. And each of their names has been supposed 
to include some particular allegory: Clio, for instance, has been 
thus called, because those who are praised in verse, acquire 
immortal fame ; Euterpe, on account of the pleasure accruing to 
those who hear learned poetry, &c. 

(y) It has been said, that when the citizens of Sicyon directed three skilful statuaries to make 
each of them statues of the three Muses, they were all so well executed, that they did not know which 
to chttSEj but erected all nine, and. that Hesiod and Homer only gave t^*frn names. 



An Epigram of Callimachus, in the Anthologia, gives the 
attributes .of the Nine Muses in as many lines. 

Calliope the deeds of heroes sung; 

The choral lyre by Clio first was strung; 

Euterpe the full tragic chorus found; 

Melpomene taught lutes their soothing sound; 

Terpsichore the flute's soft pow'r displayed; 

By Erato the pious hymn was made ; 

Polymnia to the dance her care applied; 

Urania wise, the starry course descried; 

And gay Thalia's glass was life and manners' guide (z). 

This epigram does not, however, exactly correspond with the 
ideas of other poets, or with those of the ancient painters, in 
characterising the attributes of the Muses. 

v Among the capital pictures dug out of Herculaneum, are 
portraits of Apollo, and the Muses, his companions: from which 
engravings have been published in the second volume of Le 
Pitture antiche d'Ercolano. 

Portrait I. The God is seated on a throne, with a cithara of 
eleven strings in his left hand, in the character of Musagetes, or 
conductor of the Muses (a). 

II. Clio seated, her head crowned with laurels ; in her left hand 
she holds an open volume, in which she appears to be reading. On 
the outside is written KAEIQ. I2TOPIAN. Clio invented History. 
At her feet are six other rolls, or antique volumes, inclosed in a 
cylindrical case. 

(2) KoXXtom? tro^afv ^pwiSos evpe? aoi&} 
XXeuo, KaXAtxopov /ciflapij? /jteXojSea / 

, rpay jeoto xP v ToAwjx** ^xavTjv. 
j dn}rot<ri ueXu^pow jSapjStroi' flpe" 
? X a P lCrcra Topev Tex^/iovas avXov?, 
Yjavovs aJQaLva.riav Epara> iroXvrepjreas evpe" 
Tepijaas opxqtifioio Ho\vp.via. Trawo^o? evpev. 
[Ap/M>v}i> ircur<u<n. IIoAv/xvta Bcucev aotSats'l 
Ovpaviij rroXov evpe -yat bvpavitav xooov darptav' 
Kft>/jttKOv evpe aXeta /Siov re icai -^dea KeSva. 

Ther is a redundant line in this epigram, which, though it was evidently intended to convey the 
attributes of the nine Muses in as many lines, yet Polymnia occupies two, which characterize her very 
differently. 1 have preferred that which I thought the most intelligible. Natalis Comes has given a 
Latin version of these-mythological verses, in which he has not adhered very closely to the original 

Calliope repent sapientes prmnda cantus 

Heroum. Clio citharam darissima. Vocem M imorum Euterpe tragicis Icetata 

Melpomene dulcem mortalifats ipsa Barbiton. Et suauis tfbi tradtia 

tibia fertur. 

Terpsichore. Divumque Erato max protulit kymnos. 
Harmonium cundisque Polymnia cantibus addit. 
Euranie ceeli motus atque astro, notavtt. 
Comica vita tibi est, Moresque Thalia reperti. 

(a) Mythology chose Apollo to preside over arts and sciences, but gave him the nine Muses for 
his companions, because the ancients were persuaded, that without the concurrence of a sex, which 
every where diffuses grace and pleasure, arts and sciences would have been productive of nothing but 
disgust and melancholy to mankind. 

Voi,. i. 16 241 


The picture of Euterpe had been so much injured by time, that 
it could not be engraved. But the poets usually give her the flute, 
as her symbol. 

Dulciloquos calamos Euterpe flatibus urget. 

Auson. Idyl. 20. 

III. 8AAEIA KcoMOAIAN (6). Thalia invented Comedy. This 
Muse is represented with a comic mask in her left hand. See Plate 
IV. No. 3. 

IV. MEAHOMENH TPATo>AIAN. Melpomene invented 
Tragedy. A tragic mask is placed in her left hand. 

V. TEPWIXOPH AYPAN. Terpsichore presides over the Lyre. 
The instrument which she holds is small, and has but seven strings. 
The belly of it is in a round form. It is disputed whether this lyre 
is the same as the cithara or testudo. The belly and sides are some- 
thing like those of the latter. But whatever name this kind of 
instrument had in early times, there can be no doubt of lyre being 
the general appellation for it when it was painted. See Plate V. 
No. 3. 

VI. EPATo) ^FAATPIAN. Erato invented the Psaltery, or long 
lyre of nine strings. This instrument is more than twice the length 
of that in the hand of Terpsichore. See Plate V. No. 4. The Muse 
holds a plectrum in her right hand, and seems playing with the 
fingers of her left. 

VII. HOAYMNIA MY8OY2. Polhymnia the Fabulist. She 
is here represented as the patroness of mimes, with her finger on 
her mouth, in token of silence. The painter differs in characterising 
this Muse from most of the poets and mythologists, who make her 
the inventress of hymns to the Gods. However, there are 
etymologists, among whom are Plutarch and Nonnus, who derive 
her name from MVT^??, tradition, alluding to the fables and tales of 
antiquity, which the mimes and dancers usually made the subjects 
of their performance. Nonnus Dionys. V. v. 104, et seq. says, 

Sweet Polhymnia, see advance, 
Mother of the graceful dance : 
She who taught th' ingenious art, 
Silent language to impart: 
Signs for sentiment she found, 
Eloquence without a sound : 
Hands loquacious save her lungs, 
All her limbs are speaking tongues. 

VIII. OYPANIA. Urania, with a globe in her hand, as the 
patroness of astronomy. 

IX. KAAAIOHH nOIHMA. Calliope invented Poetry ; she 
is painted with a roll of paper, or volume, in her hand, as the Muse 

(&) This should be written Kwjuuufiiav The word, however, has been faithfully transcribed 
from the plate in the Antiquities of Herculaneum, where it is said to be erroneously written in the 
original inscription upon the base of the statue ; a proof that there were artists among the ancients 
who could not spett, as well as among the moderns. 



who presides over heroic verse, or epic poetry ; the invention of 
which was given to her by Callimachus in the epigram just cited : * 

KaAAtoai; oo<ptijv rjgcoidog SVQSV aot<5i?c. 
Calliope th' heroic canto found. 

The ancients had numberless ingenious and fanciful ideas 
concerning the Muses ; and some very whimsical and diverting: 
Fulgentius informs us that Apollo was painted with a cithara of ten 
strings, as a symbol of the union of the God with the nine Muses, and 
to shew that the human voice is composed of ten parts ; of which 
the four first are the front teeth, placed one against the other, so 
useful for the appulse of the tongue, in forming sounds, that, 
without any one of them, a whistle would be produced instead of a 
voice ; the fifth and sixth are the two lips, like cymbals, which, by 
being struck against each other, greatiy facilitate speech ; the 
seventh is the tongue, which serves as a plectrum to articulate 
sounds ; the eighth is the palate, the concave of which forms a belly 
to the instrument ; the ninth is the throat, which performs the part 
of a flute ; and the tenth the lungs, which supply the place of 

Pythagoras, and afterwards, Plato, make them the soul of the 
planets in our system ; whence the imaginary music of the 
spheres (c). 

The Pythagoreans and Platonists, says Mr. Stfllingfleet (d), 
supposed the universe itself, and all its parts, to be formed on the 
principles of harmony. And this supposition does not seem to have 
been merely figurative ; there are traces "of the harmonic principle 
scattered up and down, sufficient to make us look on it as one of 
the great and reigning principles of the inanimate world ; and 
though we have no proof, or indeed any reason to believe, that the 
Greeks were acquainted with the foundation of some of their 
philosophical opinions, yet what that very sagacious philosopher, 
Mr. Maclaurin, observes (e), concerning the astronomy of 
Pythagoras, seems highly probable. "When we find/* says he, 
"their accounts (i.e., of the Greeks) to be very imperfect, it seems 
reasonable to suppose they had some hints only, from some more 
knowing nations, who had made greater advances in philosophy." 

Those more knowing nations I suppose to have been the 
Egyptians, from whom the first and great outlines of every art and 
science originally came. Maclaurin gives us one instance of the 
Pythagorean doctrine, which could hardly be supposed to be of 

(c) The comparison and union of the elements of astronomy and music are of much higher 
antiquity than, the time of Pythagoras, if the hymn to Apollo, which is attributed to Orpheus, be 
genuine. See Op^eoj? Yftvoi, p. 226. 

(<Q Principles and Power of Harmony. 
(e) Phil. Discov. of Newton, &c. p. 35- 

* EUTERPE is often called the muse of Poetry ; 
TERPSICHORE, the muse of Choral Song and Dance; 
ERATO, the muse of Erotic Poetry and Mime ; 
POLHYMNIA, the muse of the sublime Hymn; 
CALLIOPE, the muse of Epic Poetry. 

(Dr. Smith's Classical Dictionary). 



Greek original, the harmony of the spheres, and which, in con- 
formity with Dr. Gregory, he explains as follows: " If we should 
suppose musical chords extended from the sun to each planet, that 
all these chords might become unison, it would be requisite to 
encrease or diminish their tensions, in the same proportions as. 
would be sufficient to render the gravities of the planets equal; and 
from the similitude of those proportions, the celebrated doctrine 
of the harmony of the spheres is supposed to have been derived;" 
Certainly as this harmonic coincidence is now become, till Sir 
Isaac Newton demonstrated the laws of gravitation in relation 
to the planets, it must have passed for the dream of an 
Utopian philosopher (/). 


This personage seems to have acted too important a part in 
musical mythology to be omitted: for though he is seldom named 
in modern times, but as a sensual encourager of feast and jollity, 
he was regarded in a more respectable light by the ancients, who 
worshipped him in different countries under different appellations. 

It is natural to suppose that the Greeks and Romans, as usual, 
bestowed upon the one Bacchus which they worshipped, the several 
actions and attributes of the many divinities known by that name, 
and by other equivalent denominations in different countries. 
However, antiquity chiefly distinguished two Gods under the title 
of Bachus: that of Egypt, the son of Ammon, and the same as 
Osiris; and that of Thebes in Bceotia, the son of Jupiter and 

The Egyptian Bacchus was brought up at Nysa, a city of 
Arabia Felix, whence he acquired the name of Dipnysius, or the 
God of Nysa; and this was the conqueror of IndiaT Though this 
Bacchus of the Egyptians was one of the elder Gods of Egypt, 
yet the son of Semele was the youngest of the Grecian deities. 
Diodorus Siculus tells us, that Orpheus first deified the son of 
Semele by the name of Bacchus, and appointed his ceremonies in 
Greece, in order to render the family of Cadmus, the grandfather of 
the Grecian Bacchus, illustrious. 

The Great Bacchus, according to Sir Isaac Newton (g), flourished 
but one generation before the Argonautic expedition. This 
Bacchus, says Hermippus (h), was potent at sea, conquered east- 
ward as far as India, returned in triumph, brought his army over 
the Hellespont, conquered Thrace, and left music, dancing, and 
poetry there. And, according to Diodorus Siculus, it was the son 
of Semele who invented farces and theatres, and who first established 

(/) See Principles and Power of Harmony, p. 146. 

(g) Chron. p. 191. (h} Athenaus, lib. i. 

* The Egyptian and the Greek Bacchus are now regarded as the same person. He is known also 
as Dionysus but was not one of the original divinities. In Homer he is mentioned as one of the minor 
gods whose mission was to teach mankind the art of wine avtnpr, The cult of Dionysus is very 
finely expounded in Walter Pater's Greek Studies. *""6 onysus is very 



a music school, exempting from all military functions such 
musicians as discovered great abilities in their art; on which 
account, says the same author, musicians formed into companies, 
have since frequently enjoyed great privileges. 

It has already been observed, that the dithyrambics which gave 
birth to dramatic representations, are as ancient as the worship of 
Bacchus in Greece; and there is little doubt but that the ceremonies 
of his mysteries gave rise to the pomp and illusions of the theatre. 
Many of the most splendid exhibitions upon the stage, for the 
entertainment of the people of Athens and Rome, being performed 
upon the festivals of Bacchus, gave occasion to the calling all those 
that were employed in them, whether for singing, dancing, or 
reciting, servants of Bacchus. 

Pausanias, in his Attics, speaks of a place at Athens, consecrated 
to Bacchus, the singer; thus named, he says, for the same reason 
as Apollo is called. the chief, and conductor of the Muses. Whence 
it should seem that Bacchus was regarded by the Athenians not 
only as the God of wine, but of song; and it must be owned, that 
his followers, in their cups, have been much inclined to singing 
ever since. Indeed we are certain, that in none of the orgies, 
processions, triumphs, and festivals, instituted by the ancients to 
the honour and memory of this prince of bons vivans, music was 
forgotten, as may be still gathered from ancient sculpture, where 
we find not only that musicians, male and female, regaled him 
with the lyre, the flute, and with song; but that he was accom- 
panied by fauns and satyrs playing upon timbrels, cymbals, 
bagpipes, and horns; these Suidas calls his minstrels; and Strabo 
gives them the appellations of Bacchi, Sileni, Satyri, Baccha, 
Lence, Thya, Mamillones, Naiades, Nymphce, and Tityri. 

These representations have furnished subjects for the finest 
remains of ancient sculpture (i); and the most voluptuous passages 
of ancient poetry are descriptions of the orgies and festivals of 

The Orgia, or feasts and sacrifices performed in honour of this 
God in Greece, were chiefly celebrated on the mountains of Thrace 
by wild distracted women called Bacchce (k). 

They had certainly their rise in Egypt, where Osiris was the 
model of the Grecian Bacchus; from thence they passed into 
Greece, Italy, Gaul; and were adopted almost throughout the 
whole pagan world. They were at first performed with simplicity 
and decorum; but afterwards they degenerated into so much folly 
and licentiousness, that historians assure us the debaucheries 
practised in them during the night time were so enormous, as to 
oblige the Roman senate, in the 556th year of the city, 186 B.C., to 
abolish them entirely throughout the Roman dominions (I). 

(*) See Mich. Angelo ; de la Chaussie; Montfaucon; &> Gori. 

(k) The Orgies of Bacchus have furnished 
7 be acquired a truer idea of them, before ti 

(Z) Livy, Dec. 4. lib. xxiz. cap. 8. et seq. 

(k) The Orgies of Bacchus have furnished ^Eschylus with a subject for one of his tragedies, whence 
maybe acquired a truer idea of them, before their corruption, than from any other remains of antiquity 


Modern writers upon mythology pretend to inform us in" what 
these orgies consisted, as minutely as if they had been initiated; 
but it is hardly possible for credulity itself to imagine, that what 
was so great a mystery to the ancients themselves, should be no 
secret now. 

All we can be certain of, at this distance of time, is, that Greece 
had three solemnities known by the name of Orgia, which were 
dedicated to Bacchus, to Cybele, and to Ceres: and that each of 
them had many ceremonies peculiar to itself : the present enquiries, 
however, shall be confined to the music which accompanied the 
public processions of Bacchus. 

The orgies being a commemoration of the march of the elder 
Bacchus into India, and that prince having had in his train 
musicians of both sexes, satyrs, and fauns, or men equipped like 
fauns and satyrs, these were afterwards employed hi the processions 
and orgies, and formed into bands of music, playing upon drums 
and cymbals, and crying out Evoke Bacche I 

In the Justinian garden at Rome there is a marble vase of most 
precious workmanship, upon which is a representation of these 
Orgies of Bacchus. This vase, from the beauty of the sculpture, 
is supposed to be by the hand of Saurus (m). The whole pomp of 
one of these processions is there admirably represented; in which 
are introduced Bacchus, the Bacchanals, the Maenades, the players 
on flutes, matrons and virgins, with the Crotalum, or cymbalum, 
and tympanum; fauns and satyrs, holding in their hands vases 
and cups; priests leading the victims destined for sacrifice, such 
as the boar, the he-goat, and the bull; and, lastly, old Sflenus, 
drunk, upon his ass, which he is hardly able to guide. 

With respect to Bacchanalian songs, as the ancient Greeks, and 
modern French have at all times had the best wine to drink, they 
seem to have been the most happy in singing its praises. Anacreon 
will authorise this opinion with respect to the Greeks, and the 
French have many Anacreons; among whom may be numbered 
the abb6 de Chaulieu, La Chapelle, La Fare, and St. Aulaise. 

But Bacchus is said by Diodorus (n) to have invented Beer, for 
the use of mankind in such parts of the globe as are unfit for the 
culture of the grape; and our gluey potations, with the black 
juice of Oporto, have sometimes inspired the bards of this island 
with wit and jollity in their drinking songs. And indeed our 
Catches, by the ingenuity of the musical composer, are perhaps 
fraught with more pleasantry, and are productive of more genuine 
mirth, than the Bacchanalian hymns of any other people on the 

(*) It is from thence the drawings of the instruments, Plate IV. No. 6, and several in Plate V. 
have been taken. 

() Lib. iv. 

Chapter II 
Of the Terrestial, or Derni-Qods 

HAVING tried to trace the opinions of the wisest men among 
the Greek historians, philosophers, and poets, concerning 
the musical dispositions and abilities of the greater order 
of divinities during their mortal state upon earth, my next attempt 
will be to collect what has been thought most consonant to reason 
and probability, concerning the Demi-Gods. 

Among these, Pan seems to merit the first place (o). The abb6 
Banier remarks, that if ever the Greeks corrupted ancient history, 
it was in fabricating the fable of Pan. According to them, says 
Herodotus, Hercules, Dionysius or Bacchus, and Pan, were the last 
of all the Gods: however, in the opinion of the Egyptians, Pan 
was one of the eight great divinities that formed the first class in 
their theology, which were the most powerful and the most ancient 
of all. 

Diodorus makes him one of the attendants upon Osiris, in his 
Indian expedition. " Osiris," says this author, " took with him 
Pan, a person much respected throughout his dominions; for he had 
not only his statue afterwards placed in all the temples, but a city 
was built in the Thebaid, which, in honour of Pan, was called 
Chemmis* or Chammo, a word that signifies in the Egyptian 
language, the city of Pan." 

The same author, however tells us, that he was the leader of a 
troop of fauns and satyrs, or wild and rustic men, much addicted 
to singing, dancing, and feats of activity, who were presented to 
Osiris in Ethiopia; and with whom that prince was so much pleased, 
that he retained them in his service. 

He was also the inventor of the instrument called the syrinx, 
or fistula; which invention has given birth to a fable in Ovid's 
Metamorphoses (). 

A nymph of late appear' d, as Dian chaste, 
Whose beauteous form all other nymphs surpassed; 
The pride and joy of fair Arcadia's plains. 
Belov'd by deities, ador'd by swains, 
Syrinx her name; by sylvans oft pursu'd, 
As oft would she the wanton Gods delude. 
Descending from Lycaeus, Pan admires 

(o) Jirftan. Aurdius de Cognontinib. Dew. Gentil. Lit. Gyraldus Hist. Deor. Synt. XV. Ab. Dedaustre 
Dision. Mitolog. torn. iii. p. 41. 

tp] Lib. i. 



The matchless nymph, and burns with new desires. 

A crown of pine upon his head he wore, 

And vainly strove her pity of implore: 

For ere he could begin, she took her flight, 

And, wing'd by fear, she soon was out of sight, 

Nor stay'd to hear the courtship of the God, 

But bent her course to Ladon's gentle flood; 

There by the river stopt, and tir'd before, 

Relief from water-nymphs her pray'rs implore. 

Now while the am'rous God, with speedy pace 

Just thought to strain her in a fond embrace, 

He fills his arms with reeds, new rising on the place. 

And while he sighs, his ill success to find, 

The tender canes were shaken by the wind; 

And breath'd a mournful air, unheard before, 

Which greatly Pan surpris'd, yet pleas'd him more. 

Admiring this new music, Thou, he said, 

Who can'st not be the partner of my bed, 

At least shalt be the consort of my mind, 

And often, often to my lips be join'd! 

The tuneful reeds he form'd, and wax'd with care, 

Which still retain the name of his ungrateful fair. 


Pan was regarded by the Egyptians, after his apotheosis, as 
the God who presided over the whole universe, as Uav, omne, 
implies. He represented nature and festivity, and was God of the 
woods and fields, wholly taken up with the pleasures of a country 
life; dancing constantly with the fauns and satyrs, and running 
after the nymphs, to whom he was such a terror, that it is supposed 
the word Panic is derived from Panici terrores, with which those 
who were said to have seen him were seized. Apuleius (q) t how- 
ever, gives an agreeable description of him. " By chance the 
God, Pan, happened to be seated on a little eminence near a river, 
and, always constant in his love to the nymph Syrinx, transformed 
into a reed, he taught her to produce all kinds of agreeable sounds, 
while his goats were skipping round him, and feeding on the 

Lucian describes him as the companion, minister, and counsellor 
of Bacchus. He was a kind of Scrub, a drudge, fit for all work, 
having been occasionally employed in the capacity of shepherd, 
musician, dancer, huntsman, and soldier. In short, he served not 
only as maestro di capella, in directing the Bacchanals, but was 
so expert in playing upon flutes, and was such an excellent piper 
on the fistula, that Bacchus was never happy without him. We 
have the authority of the grave Virgil (r) and of the sentimental 
and pious Plato (s), for his attributes. 

(q) Metamorph. lib. v. (r) Eclogue 2. 

(s) Platonis Carmina apud Nat. Comit. Myibolog. lib. vii. cap. 15. 


After Pan, it seems necessary to speak of the satyrs, of whom 
the oldest, according to Pausanias, were called Sileni, from Silenus, 
the governor of Bacchus in his youth, as a hymn, attributed 
to Orpheus, informs us. Silenus was so notable a musician, that he 
is not only said to have invented musical instruments, but to have 
had the courage, like Marsyas, to challenge even Apollo himself 
to a trial of skill: though we find by the catastrophe that he 
escaped with a whole skin (). 

Shepherds dressed in goats' skins have been thought by some 
to have furnished the idea of satyrs with goats' feet. But it is 
the opinion of a modem writer (v), that the Orang-outang has been 
the prototype of all the fauns, satyrs, Pans, and Sileni, described 
by the ancient poets, and whose forms are come down to us in the 
works of the painters and sculptors of antiquity; embellished or 
disfigured, according to the fancy or genius of the authors; who, 
having no real models, have given an unbounded scope to 
imagination in representing them. And yet these animals seem to 
have been much more numerous formerly than at present; witness 
the large troops to which Alexander, when in India, prepared to 
give battle; and the attack made by Hanno on another large body 
of them, in an island on the coast of Africa, where he took three 
of the females, whose skins were deposited in the temple of Juno, 
and found there by the Romans at the taking of Carthage (x). 

Satyr is a name given by some authors, says M. de Buffon, to 
the Orang-outang, or man of the woods, an animal that differs in 
form less from man than from the Ape, and is only to be found 
in Africa, and the southern parts of Asia (y). Dr. Tyson, and the 
celebrated anatomist Cowper, who jointly dissected one of these 
animals, found in him more specific marks of resemblance to man, 
than to any other creature (z). 

Since the interior parts of Africa and India have been better 
known, this large species of Ape, equal in size and strength to 
man, and as fond of women as of his own females, has been 
frequently seen. This animal arms himself with stones in attack- 
ing his enemies, and sticks in defending himself; and, besides his 
being without a tail, and having a flat face, his arms, hands, 
fingers, and nails, are like those of human creatures, and he always 
walks upright upon his two hinder legs. He has a kind of face and 
features much resembling those of man, with ears of the same 
form, hair upon his head, and a beard on his chin: so that the 
civilized Indians make no scruple of ranking him among the 
human species by the name of Orang-outang, or wild man; though 
the Negroes, almost equally wild, and quite as ill-favoured, not 
reflecting that man is more or less exalted, in proportion as his 

(i) Pausanias Corinth, cap. 22. 

(u) The author of Reckerches Philosophiques sttr les Americains. 

(*) Strabo, lib. xv. and Hannonis Periplutn. 

(y) Hist. Nat. torn. ix. 

() Anat. of the Ourang-outang, London, 1699, 4to. 



reason is cultivated, have given them the name of Pongo, which 
implies a beast, and not a man. But vices in men similar to those 
of goats and monkeys, have more frequently furnished ideas of a 
resemblance between them and those animals, than their figures. 
This Orang-outang, or Pongo, is indeed only an animal of the 
brute kind, though of so singular a nature, that man can never 
behold him without a secret horror, in comparing him with himself, 
or without being convinced that his own body is not the most 
essential part of his nature. 

Next to the Satyrs, it seems requisite to say something of the 
Sirens, those celebrated songstresses of Sicily, who were ranked 
among the Demi-gods, as well as Demi reps, of antiquity. Hyginus 
places their birth among the consequences of the rape of Proserpine. 
Others make them daughters of the river Acheloiis, and one of the 
Muses (a). 

O ye nymphs that from the flood descend, 

What fault of yours the Gods could so offend, 
With wings and claws your beauteous forms to spoil, 
.Yet save your maiden face, and winning smile? 
Were you not with her, in Pergusa's bow'rs, 
When Proserpine went forth to gather flow'rs? 
Since Pluto in his car the goddess caught, 
Have you not for her in each climate sought? 
And when on land you oft had search'd in vain, 
You wish'd for wings to cross the pathless main. 
The earth and sea were witness to your care : 
The Gods were easy, and retuni'd your pray'r; 
With golden wings o'er foamy waves you fled, 
And to the sun your plumy glories spread: 
But lest the soft enchantment of your songs, 
And the sweet music of your flattering tongues, 
STiould quite be lost, as courteous fates ordain, 
Your voice and virgin beauty still remain. 

GARTH'S Ovid. 

The number of the Sirens was three, and their names Parthenope, 
Lygea, and Leucosia. Some make them half women and half fish; 
others, half women and half birds. There are antique representa- 
tions of them still subsisting, under both these forms. 

On an Etruscan vase, in the grand duke's collection at Florence, 
the middle Siren holds a syrinx, with seven pipes; another plays 
on the lyre with the plectrum, and the third on a monaulos, or 
single pipe. These have wings, and birds feet (&); and in the 
Museo at Portici, there is a fine piece of antique Mosaic, dug out 
of Herculaneum, which represents one of the Sirens in the act of 
singing, another playing upon the flute, and the third upon the 

(a) Ovid Mt. lib. v. (&) See Gori Mus. Zstruc. Class ii p. 288. 



Pausanias tells us that the Sirens, by the persuasion of Juno, 
challenged the Muses to a trial of skill in singing; and these having 
vanquished them, plucked the golden feathers from the wings of 
the Sirens, and formed them into crowns, with which they adorned 
their own heads. And it was, perhaps, in allusion to this circum- 
stance, that the proverbial phrase originated, of one person pluming 
himself with the feathers, or talents, of another. 

The Argonauts are said to have been diverted from the enchant- 
ment of their songs, by the superior strains of Orpheus : Ulysses, 
however, had great difficulty in securing himself from seduction. 
Circe prepares him for the conflict by the following picture 
and precepts (c). 

Next where the Sirens dwell you plow the seas, 
Their song is death, and makes destruction please. 
Unblest the man, whom music wins to stay 
Nigh the curst shore, and listen to the lay : 
No more that wretch shall view the joys of life, 
His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife! 
Fly swift the dangerous coast ! let every ear 
Be stop'd against the song! 'tis death to hear! 
Firm to the mast thyself with chains be bound, 
Nor trust thy virtue to th' enchanting sound. 
If mad with transport, freedom thou demand, 
Be every fetter strain'd, and added band to band. 

And the hero himself, upon his arrival on the coast of Sicily, 
addresses his companions in the following admirable lines : 

O friends! ever partners of my woes! 
Attend, while I what heav'n foredooms disclose, 
Hear all ! fate hangs o'er all ! on you it lies 
To live or perish ; to be safe, be wise! 
In flow'ry meads the sportive sirens play, 
Touch the soft lyre, and tune the vocal lay ; 
Me, me alone, with fetters firmly bound, 
The Gods allow to hear the dangerous sound. 

Then follows the account which Ulysses himself gives of 
them (d). 

While yet I speak the winged galley flies, 
And lo! the siren shores like mists arise. 
Sunk were at once the winds ; the air above, 
And waves below, at once forgot to move ! 
Some daemon calm'd the air, and smooth'd the deep, 
Hush'd the loud winds, and chann'd the waves to sleep. 
Now ev'ry sail we furl, each oar we ply, 
Lash'd by the stroke, the frothy waters fly ; 
The ductile wax with busy hands I mold, 

(c) 04ys. lib. xii. ver. 51. (d) Ibid. 


And cleft in fragments, and the fragments rolTd ; 
Th* aerial region now grew warm with day, 
The wax dissolved beneath the burning ray ; 
Then every ear I barr'd against the strain, 
And from access of phrenzy lock'd the brain. 
Now round the mast, my mates the fetters rolTd, 
And bound me limb by limb, with fold on fold. 
Then bending to the stroke, the active train, 
Plunge all at once their oars, and cleave the main. 

While to the shore the rapid vessel flies, 
Our swift approach the siren choir descries ; 
Celestial music warbles from their tongue, 
And thus the sweef deluders tune the song. 

O stay! pride of Greece, Ulysses stay, 
stop thy course, and listen to our lay! 
Blest is the man ordain'd our voice to hear, 
The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear. 
Approach ! thy soul shall into raptures rise, 
Approach! and learn new wisdom from the wise ! 
We know whatever the kings of mighty name 
Achiev'd at Ilion in the field of fame ; 
Whate'er beneath the sun's bright journey lies, 

stay, and learn new wisdom from the wise! (e). 

Thus the sweet charmers warbled o'er the main, 
My soul takes wing to meet the heav'nly strain ; 

1 give the sign, and struggle to be free : 
Swift row my mates, and shoot along the sea ; 
New chains they add, and rapid urge the way, 
Till dying off, the distant sounds decay ; 

Then scudding swiftly from the dang'rous ground, 
The deafen'd ear unlocked, the chains unbound. 

Pope, in his note on this passage, says, " there are several 
things remarkable in this short song of the sirens; one of the first 
words they speak is the name of Ulysses ; this shews that they had 
a kind of omniscience ; and it could not fail to raise the curiosity 
of a wise man to be acquainted with persons of such extensive 
knowledge. The song is well adapted to the character of Ulysses ; 
it is not pleasure or dalliance with which they tempt that hero, 
but a promise of wisdom, and a recital of the war of Troy, and 
his own glory. Homer, says Cicero, saw that his fable could not 
be approved, if he made his hero to be taken with a mere song: 
the Sirens therefore promise knowledge, the desire^ of which might 
probably prove stronger than the love of his country. To desire 
to know all things, whether useful or trifles, is a faulty curiosity ; 

(e\ There is a remarkable similitude between this promise of wisdom made by the Sirens to 
Ulysses, and that of knowledge from the tree of life, which was offered to our first parents, by the 
serpent. Gen. iii. In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened ; and ye shall be as Gods, 
knowing good and evil. 



but to be led by the contemplation of things great and noble, to a 
thirst of knowledge, is an instance of greatness of soul." 

Again, in his notes to the twelfth book of the Odyssey, " The 
critics have greatly laboured to explain what was the foundation 
of this fiction of the Sirens. We are told by some that the Sirens 
were queens of certain small islands, named Sirenusce, that lie near 
Capreae in Italy, and chiefly inhabited the promontory of Minerva, 
upon the top of which that Goddess had a temple, as some affirm, 
built by Ulysses. Here there was a renowned academy, in the reign 
of the Sirens, famous for eloquence and the liberal sciences, which 
gave occasion to the invention of this fable of the sweetness of 
the voice, and attracting songs of the Sirens. But why then are 
they fabled to be destroyers, and painted in such dreadful colours. 
We are told that at last the students abused their knowledge, to 
the colouring of wrong, the corruption of manners, and the subver- 
sion of government: that is, in the language of poetry, they were 
feigned to be transformed into monsters, and with their music to 
have enticed passengers to their ruin, who there consumed their 
patrimonies, and poisoned their virtues with riot and effeminacy. 
The place is now cajled Massa. Some writers tell us of a certain 
bay, contracted within winding streights and broken cliffs, which, 
by the singing of the winds, and beating of the waters, returns a 
delightful harmony, that allures the passenger to approach, who is 
immediately thrown against the rocks, and swallowed up by the 
violent eddies. Thus Horace moralising, calls idleness a Siren, 

Vitanda est improba siren Desidia. 

But the fable may be applied to all pleasures in general, which if 
too eagerly pursued, betray the incautious into ruin ; while wise 
men, Uke Ulysses, making use of reason, stop their ears against 
their insinuations." 

All ancient authors agree in telling us, that Sirens inhabited 
the coast of Sicily. The name, according to Bocharfc, who derives 
it from the Phoenician language, implies a Songstress. Hence it 
is probable, that in ancient times there may have been excellent 
singers, but of corrupt morals, on the coast of Sicily, who by 
seducing voyagers, gave rise to this fable. And if this conjecture 
be well founded, I was too hasty in declaring that the Muses 
were the only Pagan divinities who preserved their influence over 
mankind in modern times ; for every age has its Sirens, and every 
Siren her votaries ; when beauty and talents, both powerful in 
themselves, are united, they become still more attractive. 

Chapter III 

Concerning the Music of Heroes and Heroic Times 

Inventus aut qui vitam excoluere per artes, 
Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo (/). 

IT has been the opinion of the greatest poets, and the most 
ancient historians, that in the early ages of the world the chief 
employment of princes was to tend their flocks, and to amuse 
themselves with rustic songs, accompanied by rude and artless 

The poetical descriptions of the golden age are pleasing pictures 
of an innocent life, and simplicity of manners ; Ovid and Lucretius 
seem to have exhausted the subject. 

But the pastoral kings of Egypt, and the shepherds of Arcadia, 
have furnished themes for a more elegant and polished species 
of poetry, without the admission of vice or luxury. 

After this, when mankind, not content with the natural and 
spontaneous productions of the earth, obtained an artificial 
encrease by tillage, 

The ploughman then, to sooth the toilsome day, 
Chanted in measured feet his sylvan lay; 
And seed-time o'er, he first hi blithsome vein, 
Pip'd to his houshold Gods the hymning strain (g). 


In process of time, when the human mind was more enlarged 
and cultivated; when the connexions and interests of men and 
states became more complicated, music and poetry extended their 
influence, and use, from the field to the city; and those who before 
only amused themselves while tending a flock of sheep, or herd 
of cattle, were now employed to sing either with the voice alone, 
or accompanied with instruments, the mysteries of religion, or the 
valiant deeds performed by heroes hi defence of their country. 
Of this use of poetry and music, innumerable instances may be 

(/) Worthies, who life by useful arts refin'd, 
With those, who left a deathless name behind, 
Friends of the world, and fathers of mankind! 

PITT'S Mneid of Vir&l, Book VI. 

(g) Agricola assiduo primum satiatus arakro. 
Caniavit certo rustica verba pede. 
Et satur arenti primum est modulatus avena, 
Carmen, vt ornatos diceref ante Deos. 

Tibul. lib. ii. EUg. x 


found in Homer and Virgil. Indeed singer was a common name 
among the Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and other ancient people, 
for poet and musician, employments which, with them, were 
inseparable, as no poetry was written but to be sung, and little 
or no music composed, but as an accompaniment to poetry (h). 

Hence the difficulty of discriminating the effects attributed to 
music, from those of poetry and the other arts, which were then 
so much connected with music, as to constitute an essential and 
indispensable part of it. Every thing that depended on propor- 
tion, was included in the science of Harmony. Hence every man 
of science was necessarily a musician, as the study of Harmony, 
according to its ancient and extensive signification, must have 
employed a very considerable part of the time spent in the education 
of those who were intended to fill important and conspicuous 
employments in the temple, the senate, or the field. This being 
premised, I shall proceed to speak of the use of music in the times 
which the Greeks distinguished by the epithet heroic, which may 
more properly be called poetic times ; for, though little better 
than a blank in history and chronology, they have notwithstanding 
been filled up by the poets and fabulists with wonderful events, in 
the same manner as the vacuity in parts of the Pacific ocean have 
been filled up by navigators and geographers with whales, with 
dolphins, and with sea monsters. 

In this chapter I shall consider what ancient authors furnish 
relative to our subject in the times of the Theban chiefs, the Argo- 
nauts, and the Trojans, the richest and most fertile periods in all 
antiquity for poetic and dramatic events, though they are some- 
what barren with respect to music. But as little can be said with 
certainty concerning the music of this period, I shall chiefly 
confine my enquiries to musicians, whose names are upon record; 
and stripping their biography of fiction and allegory, I shall relate 
only the few historical facts which are to be found concerning 
them, in authentic remains of antiquity. 

So many fables have been devised concerning the first poets and 
musicians, that a doubt has been thrown even upon their existence. 
Chiron, Amphion, Orpheus, Linus, and Musaeus, are spoken of 
by the poets and mythologists so hyperbolically, that the time 
when, and place where they flourished, will appear to many as 
little worth a serious enquiry as the genealogy of Tom Thumb, or 
the chronology of a fairy tale. However, though I am ready to 
part with the miraculous powers of their music, I am unwilling 
that persons, whose talents have been so long celebrated, should 
be annihilated, and their actions cancelled from the records of past 

Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries, 
Ev'n in the ashes live their wonted fires. 

(h) Aristotle, in his Poetics, cap. 5. Quintil d& Ins*. Orator, lib. L cap. xo, and Cicero dt Orat 
lib. Hi. are very full upon this subject. 


But there are characters in history superior to the devastations 
of time; like those high rocks in the ocean, against which the 
winds and waves are for ever, in vain, expending their fury. 
Nor can the fame of Orpheus, Linus, and Musaeus, ever be wholly 
consigned to oblivion, as long as any one alphabet remains in 
use among mankind. Their works may be destroyed, and their 
existence doubted, but their names must be of equal^ duration with 
the world. The memory of few transactions of importance to 
mankind, has been lost since letters have been found^: and if 
we are ignorant of the history of the Egyptian, Assyrian, and 
Persian monarchies, it is from their having preceded that period. 
The first preceptors of mankind, such as are now the subject^ of 
my enquiries, had too much business upon their hands in civilizing 
their savage cotemporaries, to write either the history of their 
ancestors, or their own. Learning was then in too few hands for 
all its departments to be filled; but since its general diffusion, 
nothing worth recording has been left untold. 

It is impossible to particularize within the limits of this work, 
or even to enumerate in a General History of an art which has 
subsisted so many ages as music, all those who have been success- 
ful in its cultivation. This would require a biographical work, 
more voluminous than that of Moreri, or Bayle; for as all the 
first poets were likewise musicians, they cannot be separated during 
the union of their professions. Indeed antiquity has left ample 
materials scattered throughout all literature, for writing the lives 
of its favourite bards, many of which have been collected by the 
indefatigable labour of the learned Fabricius (t), and M. Burette 
(&), who have both greatly facilitated and abridged my enquiries: 
the chief difficulties now remaining, are to select such as are most 
interesting, and to digest them into my work, without allowing 
them to occupy too large a portion of it, to the exclusion of more 
important concerns. 

Though the Egyptian Thebes is of much higher antiquity than 
the Grecian, yet this last is so ancient, and its history is so much 
involved in darkness and poetic fiction, that nothing can be 
depended upon concerning it, but that it is recorded to have been 
built by Cadmus, long before the Trojan war, or even the 
Argonautic expedition; Pausanias, indeed, gives a list of sixteen 
kings, who reigned at Thebes in Bceotia, but they are rather the 
heroes of tragedy, than real history. Among these is 

AMPHION, the twin brother of Zethus, 'who usurped the 
crown from Laius, the father of the unfortunate Oedipus. But 
though Amphion is the first and only Theban musician upon 
record in these early ages, I shall be the less minute in my account 
of him, as it is very doubtful whether music had any of those 
obligations to his genius and talents, which the poets, many ages 
after the time when he is said to have reigned, bestowed upon him. 
Homer, indeed, tells us, that to secure the crown which he had 

(*) Bib. Grac. (k) Mem. des Inscrip. 


isurped, he inclosed the city of Thebes with a wall, fortified with 
;even gates, and many stately towers: the poet, however, does 
lot say a word of the miraculous power of Amphion's music, or 
)f his building the wall by the sound of his lyre. " For my part, 
says Pausanias, I believe that Amphion only acquired his musical 
reputation from his alliance with the family of Tantalus, whose 
laughter, Niobe, he had married." Pliny (Z) ascribes to him, 
however, the invention of music, and of the cithara; and both these 
authors say, that Amphion learned music in Lydia, and bringing 
from that country into Greece, was called the inventor of the 
Lydian mode. 

CHIRON is styled by Plutarch, in his Dialogue upon Music, 
the wise Centaur. Sir Isaac Newton places his birth in the first 
age after Deucalion's deluge, commonly called the Golden Age; 
and adds, that he formed the constellations for the use of the 
Argonauts, when he was eighty-eight years old, for he was a 
practical astronomer, as well as his daughter Hippo (m) : he may 
therefore be said to have flourished in the earliest ages of Greece, 
as he preceded the conquest of the Golden Fleece, and the Trojan 

He is generally called the son of Saturn and Philyra, and is 
said to have been born in Thessaly among the Centaurs, who were 
the first Greeks that had acquired the art of breaking and riding 
horses ; whence the poets, painters, and sculptors, have described 
and represented them as a compound of man and horse ; and 
perhaps it was imagined by the Greeks, as well as the Americans, 
when they first saw cavalry, that the horse and the rider con- 
stituted one and the same animal. 

Chiron was regarded by the ancients as one of the first inventors 
of medicine, botany, and chirurgery (n) ; a word which some 
etymologists have derived from his name. He inhabited a grotto, 
or cave, at the foot of mount Pelion, which from his wisdom, and 
great knowledge of all kinds, became the most famous and 
frequented school throughout Greece. Almost all the heroes of his 
time were ambitious of receiving his instructions ; and Xenophon, 
who enumerates them, names the following illustrious personages 
among his disciples: Cephalus, Esculapius, Melanion, Nestor, 
Amphiaraus, Peleus, Telamon, Meleager, Theseus, Hypolitus, 
Palamedes, Ulysses, Mnestheus, Diomedes, Castor and Pollux, 
Machaon and Podalirius, Antilochus, uEneas, and Achilles. From 
this catalogue it appears, that Chiron frequently instructed both 
fathers and sons ; and Xenophon has given a short eulogium upon 
each, which may be read in his works, and which redounds to 
the honour of the preceptor. The Greek historian, however, has 
omitted naming several of his scholars, such as Bacchus, Phoenix, 
Cocytus, Aristseus, Jason, and his son Medus, Ajax, and Protesilaus. 

(I) Lib. vii. cap. 56. (m) Chron. p. 25. 

(n) Schol. Horn, II. iv. v. 219. Schol. Arat. Phcenom. v. 43. Hygin. Fab. 274. Plin. lib. vii. 
ip. 56, sect. 57- 

Voi,. i. 17 257 


It is not my intention to characterize all these ; I shall only mention 
such as interest Chiron more particularly. 

It is pretended that the Grecian Bacchus was the favourite 
scholar of the Centaur, and that he learned of this master the revels, 
orgies, Bacchanalia, and other ceremonies of his worship. 

According to Plutarch, it was likewise at the school of Chiron 
that Hercules studied music, medicine, and justice ; though 
Diodorus Siculus tells us that Linus was the music-master of this 
hero. These are points which it is now not easy to settle ; nor are 
they of any other consequence to our enquiries, than serving as 
proofs, that ancient authors all agreed in thinking it natural and 
necessary for heroes to have been instructed in music. Nee fides 
didicit, nee naiare, was, in antiquity, a reproach to every man 
above the rank of a plebeian. 

But among all the heroes who have been disciples of this 
Centaur, no one reflected so much honour upon him as Achilles, 
whose renown he in some measure shared, and to whose education 
he in a particular manner attended, being his grandfather by the 
mother's side. Apollodorus tells that the study of music employed 
a considerable part of the time which he bestowed upon his young 
pupil, as an incitement to virtuous actions, and a bridle to the 
impetuosity of his temper. One of the best remains of antique 
painting now subsisting, is a picture upon this subject, dug out of 
Herculaneum, in which Chiron is teaching the young Achilles to 
play on the lyre. 

The death of this philosophic musician was occasioned, at an 
extreme old age, by an accidental wound in the knee with a poisoned 
arrow, shot by his scholar, Hercules, at another. He was placed 
after his death by Musaeus among the constellations, [as Sagittarius] 
through respect for his virtues, and in gratitude for the great services 
which he had rendered the people of Greece (o). 

The ancients have not failed to attribute to him several writings; 
among which, according to Suidas (p), are precepts, vno&ijxae, 
in verse, composed for the use of Achilles ; and a medicinal treatise 
on the Diseases incident to Horses, and other quadrupeds, 
faxiaTQixov ; the lexicographer even pretends, that it is from this 
work he derived his name of Centaur. 

Fabricius (q) gives a list of thie works attributed to Chiron, and 
discusses the claims which have been made for others to the same 
writings ; and in vol. xiii. he gives him a distinguished place in his 
Catalogue of ancient Physicians. 

Next to Chiron, LINUS, and Orpheus, seem to have been the 
most ancient poets and musicians of Greece ; but to determine 
whether Linus was the master of Orpheus, or Orpheus of Linus, 
would be as vain to attempt, as difficult to accomplish. All that can 
be done at this distance of time, is to compare the opinions of ancient 

(o) Sir Isaac Newton says, in proof of the constellations being formed by Chiron and Mussus 
lor the use and honour of the Argonauts, that nothing later than that expedition was delineated on 
the original sphere ; according to the same author, Chiron lived till after the Argonautic expedition, 
in which he had two grandsons. Chronol. p. 151. 

(p) Voc. Xpw. (q} Sib. Grtec. vol. i. 


writers upon lie subject, and to incline to the most numerous and 
respectable evidence: and in pursuing this method, it appears that 
the majority are in favour of the superior antiquity of Linus. No 
testimony places him in a more remote period, or does more honour 
to his memory, than that of Herodotus, already cited (r). Accord- 
ing to archbishop Usher, he flourished about 1280 B.C., and he is 
mentioned by Eusebius (s) among the poets who wrote before the 
time of Moses. Diodorus Siculus, who is very diffusive in his 
account of Linus (Q, tells us, from Dionysius of Mitylene, the 
historian, who was cotemporary with Cicero, that Linus was the first 
among the Greeks who invented verse and music, as Cadmus first 
taught them the use of letters. The same writer likewise attributes 
to him an account of the exploits of the first Bacchus, and a treatise 
upon Greek Mythology, written in Pelasgian characters, which 
were also those used by Orpheus, and by Pronapides, the preceptor 
of Homer. Diodorus says that he added the string Lichanos to the 
Mercurian lyre, and gives to him the invention of rhythm and 
melody, which Suidas, who regards him as the most ancient of 
lyric poets, confirms (u). He is said by many ancient writers to 
have had several disciples of great renown, among whom were 
Hercules, Thamyris, and, according to some, Orpheus. 

Hercules, says Diodorus, in learning of Linus to play upon the 
lyre, being extremely dull and obstinate, provoked his master to 
strike him, which so enraged the young hero, that instantly seizing 
the lyre of the musician, he beat out his brains with his own 
instrument. Heroes are generally impatient of controtd, and not 
often gifted with a taste for refined pleasures ; hence, relying 
merely on corporal force, their mental faculties, feeble perhaps by 
nature, are seldon fortified by education. 

With respect to the dirges, which Plutarch, from Heraclides of 
Pontus, mentions as written by Linus,* I find no account of them 
in any other ancient author. It appears, however, that his death 
has given birth to many songs of that kind, which have been com- 
posed in honour of his memory. A festival was likewise instituted 
by the name of Lmia t for the celebration of his virtues ; and so 
numerous were his inventions, and various the periods and places 
in which different authors fix them, that some have tried to 
reconcile these jarring accounts, by supposing that there were three 
several illustrious personages of that name ; a supposition which I 
shall not pretend either to affirm or deny. 

" The Thebans," says Pausanias (#), " assure us, that Linus 
was buried in their city; and that Philip, the son of Amyntas, after 
the battle of Chseronsea, which was fatal to the Greeks, excited 

(r)P.i69 (s) Pr &p. Evang. (*) Lib. iii. cap. 35. 

() Mr. Marpurg tells us, I know not from what authority, that Linus invented cat-gut strings for 
the use of the lyre, which, before his time, was only strung with thongs of leather, or with different 
threads of flax twisted together. Geschichte der MUSIK, page 17. 

(x) In Bteatic. 

* According to Fraaer it is probable that the dirge known as the linos-song was a lamentation for 
the departure of summer. It was chanted, he observes, at the vintage and probably at the harvest. 
The Linos song was sung in Syria, Egypt and in other countries. 


by a dream, removed his bones into Macedon, whence, by counsel 
received in another dream, he sent them back to Thebes; but time 
has so defaced his tomb, that it is no longer discoverable." 

Homer (y) has paid a tribute to the memory of Linus, in his 
description of the shield of Achilles. 

To these a youth awakes the warbling strings, 
Whose tender" lay the fate of Linus sings ; 
In measured dance behind him move the train, 
Tune soft the voice, and answer to the strain (z). POPE. 

ORPHEUS is one of the most ancient and venerable names 
among the poets and musicians of Greece. His reputation was 
established as early as the time of the Argonautic expedition, in 
which he was himself an adventurer; and is said by Apollonius 
Rhodius, not only to have incited the Argonauts to row by the 
sound of his lyre, but to have vanquished, and put to silence the 
Sirens, by the superiority of his strains (a). Yet, notwithstanding 
the great celebrity he had so long enjoyed, there is a passage in 
Cicero, which says, that Aristotle, in the third book of his Poetics, 
which is now lost, was of opinion that such a person as Orpheus 
never existed (6); but as the work of Cicero, in which this passage 
occurs, is in dialogue, it is not easy to discover what was his own 
opinion upon the subject, the words cited being put into the mouth 
of Caius Cotta. And Cicero, in other parts of his writings, men- 
tions Orpheus as a person of whose existence he had no doubts. 
There are several ancient authors, among whom is Suidas, who 
enumerate five persons of the name of Orpheus, and relate some 
particulars of each. And it is very probable that it has fared with 
Orpheus as with Hercules, and that writers have attributed to one 
the actions of many. But however that may have been, I shall 
not attempt to collect all the fables that poets and mythologists 
have invented concerning him; they are too well known to need 
insertion here. I shall, therefore, in speaking of him, make use 
only of such materials as the best ancient historians, and the most 
respectable writers among the moderns, have furnished towards 
his history. 

Dr. Cudworth, in his Intellectual System (c), after examining 
and confuting the objections that have been made to the being of 

(y) Lib. rviii. ver. 569. 

(z) Lib. xviii. In bis notes upon these verses, Mr. Pope says, " there are two interpretations of 
them in the original. That which I have chosen is confirmed by the testimony of Herodotus lib iL 
and Pausanfes, Bceatitis. Linus was the most ancient name in poetrv, the first upon record who 
invented verse and measure amongst the Greeks. There was a solemn custom among them of 

. em o 

bewailing annually the death of their first poet. Pausanias informs us, that before the yearly sacrifice 
to the Muses on Mount Helicon, the obsequies of Linus were performed, who had a stetue and altar 
erected to him in that place. Homer alludes to that custom in this passage, and was doubtless fond 
of paying this respect to the old father of poetry." ououess icraa 

(a) This celebrated voyage, which is the first epoch in the Grecian history, upon which any stress 
can belaid, was undertaken, according to archbishop Usher, and the authors of the Universal Histon 
1280 B.C, Dr. Blau- places it 1263 ; and Sir Isaac Newton, and Dr. Priestley, 936 years beforette 
same period ; but all chronologers agree in fixing this *nterprize near a century before the Trojan war, 
.. (&) Orpheum Poetam facet Aristoteles nunquamfuisse. De Nat. Deor. I. i. sec. 38. 
(c} Page 294. 2d Edition. 



an Orpheus, and, with his usual learning and abilities, clearly 
establishing his existence, proceeds, in a very ample manner* to 
speak of the opinions and writings of our bard, whom he regards 
not only as the first musician and poet of antiquity, but as a great 
mythologist, from whom the Greeks derived the Thracian religious 
rites and mysteries. 

" It is the opinion/' says he, " of some eminent philologers (d) 
of later times, that there never was any such person as Orpheus, 
except in Fairy land; and that his whole history was nothing but a 
mere romantic allegory, utterly devoid of truth and reality. But 
there is nothing alledged for this opinion from antiquity, except 
the one passage of Cicero concerning Aristotle, who seems to have 
meant no more than this, that there was no such poet as Orpheus, 
anterior to Homer, or that the verses vulgarly called Orphical, were 
not written by Orpheus. However, if it should be granted that 
Aristotle had denied the existence of such a man, there seems to 
be no reason why his single testimony should preponderate against 
the universal consent of all antiquity, which agrees, that Orpheus 
was the son of Oeager, by birth a Thracian, the father, or chief 
founder of the mythological and allegorical theology amongst the 
Greeks, and of all their most sacred religious rites and mysteries; 
who is commonly supposed to have lived before the Trojan war, 
that is, in the time of the Israelitish judges, or at least to have 
been senior both to Hesiod and Homer, and to have died a violent 
death, most affirming that he was torn in pieces by women. For 
which reason, in the vision of Herus Pamphylius, in Plato, 
Orpheus' s soul passing into another body, is said to have chosen 
that of a swan, a reputed musical animal, on account of the great 
hatred he had conceived for all women, from the death which they 
had inflicted on him. And the historic truth of Orpheus was not 
only acknowledged by Plato, but also by Isocrates, who lived 
before Aristotle, in his oration in praise of Busiris; and confirmed 
by the grave historian Diodorus Siculus (e) who says, that Orpheus 
diligently applied himself to literature, and when he had learned 
ra pv&oloyoviieva, or the mythological part of theology, he 
travelled into Egypt, where he soon became the greatest proficient 
among the Greeks, in the mysteries of religion, theology, and 
poetry. Neither was this history of Orpheus contradicted by 
Origen, when so justly provoked by Celsus, who had preferred him 
to our Saviour; and, according to Suidas, Orpheus the Thracian was 
the first inventor of the religious mysteries of the Greeks, and that 
religion was thence called Threskeia, as it was a Thracian invention. 
On account of the great antiquity of Orpheus, there have been 
numberless fables intermingled with his history, yet there appears 
no reason that we should disbelieve the existence of such a man/" 

The bishop of Gloucester (/) speaks no more doubtfully of the 
existence of Orpheus, than of Homer and Hesiod, with whom he 

(4) G. I. Vossius De Ar. Po. cap. 13. () Lib. iv. cap. 25. 

(/) Div. Leg. book ii. sect. i. 



ranks him, not only as poet, but also as a theologian, and founder 
of religion. This learned author has thrown new lights upon the 
character of Orpheus; our pursuits are somewhat different; it was 
his business to introduce him to his readers as a philosopher, a 
legislator, and a mystagogue; and it is mine, after establishing his 
existence, to rank him among the first cultivators of music and 
poetry, and to give him that exalted and respectable station among 
illustrious bards, which has been allowed him by almost all 

The family of Orpheus is traced by Sir Isaac Newton for several 
generations : " Sesac passing over the Hellespont, conquers Thrace, 
kills Lycurgus, king of that country, and gives his kingdom, and 
one of his singing women to Oeagrus, the son of Tharops, and father 
of Orpheus; hence Orpheus is said to have had the Muse Calliope 
for his mother." 

He is allowed by most ancient authors to have excelled in poetry 
and music, particularly the latter; and to have early cultivated the 
lyre, in preference to every other instrument; so that all those who 
came after him were contented to be his imitators; whereas he 
adopted no model, says Plutarch; for before his time no other 
music was known, except a few airs for the flute. Music was so 
closely connected in ancient times with the most sublime sciences, 
that Orpheus united it not only with philosophy, but with theology. 
He abstained from eating animal food, and held eggs in abhorrence 
as aliment, being persuaded that the egg subsisted ^ before the 
chicken, and was the principle of all existence : both his knowledge 
and prejudices, it is probable, were acquired in Egypt, as well as 
those of Pythagoras, many ages after. 

With respect to his abstaining from the flesh of oxen, Gesner 
supposes it to have proceeded from the veneration shewn to that 
animal, so useful in tillage, in the Eleusinian mysteries, instituted 
in honour of Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture. He might have 
added that, as these mysteries were instituted in imitation of those 
established in Egypt, in honour of Osiris and Isis, this abstinence 
from animal food was of the like origin, and a particular compliment 
to Apis. But the abb6 Fraguier, in an ingenious Dissertation upon 
the Orphic Life (g), gives still more importance to the prohibition; 
for as Orpheus was the legislator and humanizer of the wild and 
savage Thracians, who were canibals, a total abolition of eating 
human flesh could only be established by obliging his countrymen 
to abstain from that of everything that had life. 

With respect to theology, Diodorus Siculus tells us, that his 
father Oeagrus gave him his first instructions in religion, imparting 
to him the mysteries of Bacchus, as they were then practised in 
Thrace. He became afterwards a disciple of the Idsei Dactyli in 
Crete, and there acquired new ideas concerning religious ceremonies. 
But nothing contributed so much to his skill in theological matters 
as his journey into Egypt, where being initiated into the mysteries 

(g) Mem. des Inscrip. torn. v. p. 117 


of Isis and Osiris, or of Ceres and Bacchus, he acquired a knowledge 
concerning initiations, expiations, funeral rites, and other points of 
religious worship, far superior to any one of his age and country. 
And being much connected with the descendants of Cadmus, the 
founder of Thebes in Bceotia, he resolved, in order to honour their 
origin, to transport into Greece the whole fable of Osiris, and apply 
it to the family of Cadmus. The credulous people easily received 
this tale, and were much flattered by the institution of the cere- 
monies in honour of Osiris. Thus Orpheus, who was held in great 
veneration at the Grecian Thebes, of which he was become a citizen, 
admirably adapted this fable, and rendered it respectable, not only 
by his beautiful verses, and manner of singing them, but by the 
reputation he had acquired of being profoundly skilled in all 
religious concerns. 

At his return into Greece, according to Pausanias (k), he was 
held in the highest veneration by the people, as they imagined he 
had discovered the secret of expiating crimes, purifying criminals, 
curing diseases, and appeasing the angry Gods. He formed and 
promulgated an idea of a hell, from the funeral ceremonies of the 
Egyptians, which was received throughout all Greece (i). He 
instituted the mysteries and worship of Hecate among the Eginetes 
(k), and that of Ceres at Sparta. 

Justin Martyr says, that he introduced among the Greeks near 
three hundred and sixty Gods; Hesiod and Homer pursued his 
labours, and followed the same clue, agreeing in the like doctrines, 
having all drank at the same Egyptian fountain. 

Profane authors look upon Orpheus as the inventor of that 
species of magic, called evocation of the manes, or raising ghosts; 
and indeed the hymns which are attributed to him are mostly pieces 
of incantation, and real conjuration. Upon the death of his wife 
Eurydice, he retired to a place in Thesprotia, called Aornos, 
where an ancient oracle gave answers to such as evoked the dead. 
He there fancied he saw his dear Eurydice, and at his departure 
flattered himself that she followed him; but upon looking behind 
him, and not seeing her, he was so afflicted, that he soon died of 
grief (Q.* 

There were persons among the ancients who made public 
profession of conjuring up ghosts, and there were temples where the 
ceremony of conjuration was to be performed. Pausanias (m) 
speaks of that which was in Thesprotia, where Orpheus went to 
call up the ghost of his wife Eurydice. It is this very journey, 

(K) Lib. ix. cap. 30. (t) Diod. Sic. lib. i. (k) Pausan. lib. ii. cap. 30. 

(Z) Ib. lib. ix. (m) In Boat. 

* The Orphic beliefs are well worth study and amongst modem writers may be mentioned : 
BURY. History of Greece, Chapter VII. 
STEWART. -The Myths of Plato. 
JEVONS. Introduction to the History of Religion. 
ADAM'S. Religious Teachers of Greece. 

Cotterill in Ancient Greece (p. 282) says : " The Orphic teachings doubtless were associated with 
much superstition and priestcraft, but, together with Pythagorean mysticism, they helped by their 
imaginative parables to keep alive in the hearts of many the beliefs that lie at the root of all true 



and the motive which put him upon it, that made it believed he 
went down into hell. 

But it is not only the poets who speak of conjuring up spirits; 
examples of it are to be found both in sacred (n) and profane history. 
Periander, the tyrant of Corinth [fi 625 B.C., 585 B.C.] visited 
the Thesprotians, to consult his wife about something left with her 
in trust; and we are told by the historians, that the Lacedaemonians 
having starved Pausanius their general to death [470 B.C.] in the 
temple of Pallas, and not being able to appease his manes, which 
tormented them without intermission, sent for the magicians from 
Thessaly, who, when they had called up the ghosts of his enemies, so 
effectually put to flight the ghost of Pausanias, that it never more 
chose to shew its face. 

The poets have embellished this story, and given to the lyre of 
Orpheus, not only the power of silencing Cerberus, and of suspend- 
ing the torments of Tartarus, but also of charming even the 
infernal deities themselves, whom he rendered so far propitious to 
his entreaties, as to restore to him Eurydice, upon condition that 
he would not look at her, till he had quitted their dominions; a 
blessing which he soon forfeited, by a too eager and fatal affection. 

All dangers past, at length the lovely bride 
In safety goes, with her melodious guide; 
Longing the common light again to share, 
And draw the vital breath of upper air: 
He first, and close behind him follow* d she, 
For such was Proserpine's severe decree, 
When strong desires th' impatient youth invade, 
By little caution, and much love betray'd : 
A fault which easy pardon might receive, 
Were lovers judges, or could hell forgive. 
For near the confines of etherial light, 
And longing for the glimmering of a sight 
Th' unwary lover cast a look behind, 
Forgetful of the law, nor master of his mind. 
Straight all his hopes exhal'd in empty smoke; 
And his long toils were forfeit for a look. 

DRYDEN'S Virgil (o). 

Tzetzes (p) explains the fable of his drawing his wife Eurydice 
from hell by his great skill in medicine, with which he prolonged her 
life, or, in other words, snatched her from the grave, ^sculapius, 
and other physicians have been said to have raised from the 
dead those whom they had recovered from dangerous diseases. 

The bishop of Gloucester, in his learned, ample, and admirable 
account of the Eleusinian mysteries, says, " While these mysteries 

(n) Witch of Endor, i Sam. chap, xrviii ver. n aad 12. 

(o) Georgic IV. 

() Chiliad. I. Hist. 54- He flourished about 1170. 



were confined to Egypt, their native country, and while the 
Grecian law-givers went thither to be initiated, as a kind of designa- 
tion to their office, the ceremony would be naturally described 
in terms highly allegorical. This way of speaking was used by 
Orpheus, Bacchus, and others; and continued even after the 
mysteries were introduced into Greece, as appears by the fables of 
Hercules, Castor, Pollux, and Theseus's descent into hell; but} 
the allegory was so circumstanced, as to discover the truth con- 
cealed under it. So Orpheus is said to get to hell by the power 
of his harp. 

Threicia fretus cithara, fidibusque canons. 

VIRG. Mn. VI. ver. 119. 

that is in quality of law-giver; the harp being the known symbol 
of his laws, by which he humanized a rude and barbarous people 
Had an old poem, under the name of Orpheus, entitled A 
Descent into Hell been now extant, it would perhaps have shewn 
us, that no more was meant than Orpheus's initiation." 

Many ancient writers in speaking of his death, relate, that the 
Thracian women, enraged at being abandoned by their husbands, 
who were disciples of Orpheus, concealed themselves in the woods, 
in order to satiate their vengeance; and, notwithstanding they 
postponed the perpetration of their design some time through fear, 
at length, by drinking to a degree of intoxication, they so far 
fortified their courage as to put him to death. And Plutarch (q) 
assures us, that the Thracians stigmatized their women, even in 
his time, for the barbarity of this action (r). 

Our venerable bard is defended by the author of the Divine 
Legation, from some insinuations to his disadvantage in Diogenes 
Laertius. "It is true," says he, " if uncertain report was to be 
believed, the mysteries were corrupted very early; for Orpheus 
himself is said to have abused them. But this was an art the 
debauched mystae of later times employed to varnish their enormi- 
ties; as the detested pederasts of after-ages, scandalized the blame- 
less Socrates. Bes ; des, the story is so ill-laid, that it is detected 
by the surest records of antiquity : for in consequence of what they 
fabled of Orpheus in the mysteries, they pretended he was torn in 
pieces by the women; whereas it appeared from the inscription on 
his monument at Dium in Macedonia, that he was struck dead with 
lightning, the envied death of the reputed favourites of the Gods." 

This monument, at Dium, consisting of a marble urn on a 
pillar, was still to be seen in the time of Pausanias. It is said, how- 
ever, that his sepulchre was removed from Libethra, upon mount 

(?) De Ser. Num. Vind. 

(r) It is related, that after he had been torn to pieces by the Thracian women, his lyre, happen- 
ing to fall into the Hebrus during the scuffle, was carried to Lesbos, where it was taken op 
and deposited in the temple of Apollo. But, according to Lucian, Neanthus, the son of Pittacus the 
tyrant, bought it af terwaids of the priests, imagining, that by merely touching this instrument, be 
should draw after him trees, and rocks ; it is true he succeeded no otherwise than by provoking the 
dogs ia the neighbourhood to tear him to pieces. But though he could not share the fame, he shared 
the fate of the unfortunate Orpheus. 



Olympus, where Orpheus was born, and was thence transferred 
to Dium by the Macedonians, after the ruin of Libethra, by a 
sudden inundation, which a dreadful storm had occasioned. This 
event is very minutely related by Pausanias (s). 

Virgil bestows the first place in his Elysium upon the legislators, 
and those who brought mankind from a state of nature into society : 

Magnanimi heroes, nati melioribus annis. 

At the head of these is Orpheus, the most renowned of the European 
law-givers; but better known under the character of poet : for the 
first laws being written in measure, to allure men to learn them, 
and, when learnt, to retain them, the fable would have it, that by 
the force of harmony, Orpheus softened the savage inhabitants of 

-Threlcius longa cum veste sacerdos 

Obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum: 
Jamque eadem digitis, jam pectine pulsat eburno (t). 

lib. vi. ver. 645. 

The seven strings given by the poet in this passage to the lyre 
of Orpheus, is a circumstance somewhat historical. The first Mer- 
curian lyre had, at most, but four strings. Others were afterwards 
added to it by the second Mercury, or by Amphion; but, according 
to several traditions preserved by Greek historians, it was Orpheus 
who completed the second tetrachord, which extended the scale to 
a heptachord, or seven sounds, implied by the septem discrimina 
vocum: for the assertion of many writers, that Orpheus added two 
new strings to the lyre, which before had seven, clashes with the 
claims of Pythagoras to the invention of the octachord, or addition 
of an eighth sound to the heptachord, which made the scale consist 
of two disjunct, instead of two conjunct tetrachords, and of which 
almost all antiquity allows him to have been the inventor. Nor is 
it easy to suppose, that the lyre should have been represented in 
ancient sculpture with four or five strings only, if it had had nine so 

(s) Z&.ix. 

m (t) It is curious to observe how inaccurately the most elegant writers, and sublime poets, speak of 
subjects for which they have no taste, and in which they have acquired no knowledge. Our great 
poet, Dryden, though he has extended Virgil's three lines 'into four, has but ill expressed the original. 

The Thracian bard surrounded by the rest, 

There stands conspicuous in his flowing vest ; 

His flying fingers, and harmonious quill, 

Strike seven distinguished notes, and sev'n at once they fill 

The latter part of this last verse says nothing to a musician, and, indeed, but little to any one else 
the four fingers and thumb of one hand, and the plectrum in the other, could fill at most but six notes 
Mr, Pitt is still more unhappy in his version : 

There Orpheus, graceful in his long attire, 

^ Now, a dfoision is, unluckily, a technical term in music which implies a rapid flight, either with a 
voice <*r instrument: when applied to singing, it tells us that a great number of notes are given to one 
syllable ; but we are as certain as we can be about anv thing that concerns ancient music, that neither 
{h Greek lS2L? 0mans A ad d er ** ? ord thing ih the sense which we annex to diSSl^SdS* 
but an aukward way of describing an instrument with seven distinct strings, or sounds, to say that it 
tod seven divisions. It seems as if the poet meant no more, bv the whole passage, than that " the 




early as the time of Orpheus, who flourished long before sculpture 
was known in Greece (u). 

Orpheus is mentioned by Pindar in his 4th Pythic. The passage 
is curious: " Orpheus/' says he, speaking of the Argonauts, "joins 
these heroes; Orpheus father of the lyre and of song; Orpheus whom 
the whole universe celebrates, and whose sire is Apollo." Herodotus 
likewise speaks of the Orphic mysteries (x). His hymns, says 
Pausanias, were very short, and but few in number; the Lycomides, 
an Athenian family, knew them by heart, and had an exclusive 
privilege of singing them, and those of their old poets, Musaeus, 
Onomacritus, Pamphus, and Olen, at the celebration of the Eleu- 
sinian mysteries; that is, the priesthood was hereditary in this 
family (y). 

lamblicus tells us, that the poems under the name of Orpheus 
were written in the Doric dialect, but have since been trans- 
dialected, or modernized. It was the common opinion in antiquity 
that they were genuine; but even those who doubted of it, gave 
them to the earliest Pythagoreans, and some of them to Pythagoras 
himself, who has frequently been called the follower of Orpheus, 
and been supposed to have adopted many of his opinions (z). 

If I have selected with too much sedulity and minuteness what- 
ever ancient and modern writers furnish relative to Orpheus, it 
has been occasioned by an involuntary zeal for the fame of this 
musical and poetical patriarch; which, warm at first, grew more 
and more heated in the course of enquiry; and, stimulated by the 
respect and veneration which I found paid to him by antiquity, I 
became a kind of convert to this mystagogue, and eagerly aspired 

(*) What is here said concerning the progressive improvements of instrumental music, must be 
wholly confined to Greece ; for proofs have already been given of the Egyptians having been in posses* 
sion of more perfect instruments than those just mentioned, long before the time when Orpheus is 
supposed to have nourished. 

(x) Pindar was born 521 B.C. and Herodotus 484. Euripides and Aristophanes both quote 
Orpheus ; the tragedian was born 477 years B.C. and the comic poet was his cotemporary. Besides 
these, Apolonius Rhodius, Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Valerius Flaccus, among the poets ; and Plato, 
Isocrates, Diodorus Siculus, Pausanias, Apollodorus, Hyginus, Plutarch, and many other philosophers 
historians, and mythologists, cite his works, and speak of him, without throwing the least doubt upon 
his existence. 

(y) Suidas gives to Orpheus a son, of the name of Leos, whom Pausanias makes the head of one 
of the great Athenian tribes ; who, by the counsel of the oracle, devoted his three daughters, 
Aecueopat, Pasithea, Theope, and Eubule, to the safety of the state. 

(x) Of the poems that are still subsisting under the name of Orpheus, which were collected and 
published at Nuremberg, 1702, by Andr. Christ. Eschenbach, and which have been since reprinted at 
Leipsic, 1764, under the title of OP*EQ2 AQANTA, several have been attributed to 
Onomacritus, an Athenian, who nourished under the Pisistratida, about 500 years B.C. Their titles 

I. The Argonautics, an epic poem. 

II. Eighty-six hymns, which are so full of incantations and magical evocation, that Daniel 
Heinsius has called them veram satana liturgiant the true liturgy of the devil. Pausanias, who made 
no doubt that the hymns subsisting in his time were composed by Orpheus, tells us, that, though less 
elegant, they had been preferred, for religious purposes, to those of Homer. 

III. De Lapidibus, a poem on precious stones. 
TV. Fragments, collected by Henry Stevens. 

Orpheus has been called the inventor, or at least the propagator, of many arts and doctrines 
among the Greeks. 

i. The combination of letters, or the art of writing. z. Music, the lyre, or cithaza, of seven strings, 
adding three to that of Mercury. 3. Hexameter verse. 4. Mysteries and Theology. 5. Medicine. 
6. Magic and Divination. 7. Astrology. Servius upon the sixth Mneid, p. 450, says Orpheus first 
instituted the harmony of the spheres. 8. He is said likewise to have been the first who imagined a 
plurality ofworlds t or that the moon and planets were inhabited. 



at initiation into his mysteries in order to reveal them to my 

MUS^EUS is more celebrated by ancient writers as a philosopher, 
astronomer, epic poet, and priest of Ceres, than as a musician; how- 
ever, he lived in so remote a period, and has so far survived his 
contemporaries, that he is one of the few melancholy remains of his 
age, of which posterity has cherished the memory; he therefore 
cannot, without injustice, be omitted: for whoever looks into the 
ingenious and well-digested biographical chart of Dr. Priestley, will 
find Linus, Orpheus, and Musseus, placed in such barren regions of 
history, that, like the once beautiful cities of Palmyra and Balbec, 
they now stand in a desert; but great and exalted characters are 
buoyed up by time, and resist the stream of oblivion, which soon 
sweeps away all such as have not eminently distinguished 

Musaeus, according to Plato and Diodorus Siculus, was an 
Athenian, the son of Orpheus, and chief of the Eleusinian mysteries, 
instituted at Athens in honour of Ceres; or, according to others, 
he was only the disciple of Orpheus; but from the great resemblance 
which there was between his character and talents, and those of his 
master, by giving a stronger outline to the figure, he was called 
his son, as those were styled the children of Apollo, who cultivated 
the arts, of which he was the titular God. 

Musseus is allowed to have been one of the first poets who 
versified the oracles. He is placed in the Arundelian marbles, 
Epoch 15, 1426 B.C., at which time his hymns are there said to 
have been received in the celebration of the Eleusiniaji mysteries. 
Laertius tells us (a), that Musseus not only composed a Theogony, 
but formed a Sphere for the use of his companions; yet, as this 
honour is generally given to Chiron, it is more natural to suppose, 
with Sir Isaac Newton, that he enlarged it with the addition of 
several constellations after the conquest of the Golden Fleece. The 
sphere ^itself shows that it was delineated after the Argonautic 
expedition, which is described in the asterisms, together with several 
other more ancient histories of the Greeks, and without any thing 
later: for the ship Argo was the first long vessel which they had 
built; hitherto they had used round ships of burthen, and kept 
within sight of the shore: but now, by the dictates of the oracle, 
and consent of the princes of Greece, the flower of that country 
sail rapidiy through the deep, and guide their ship by the stars (6). 

MUSCBUS is celebrated by Virgil in the character of Hierophant, 
or priest of Ceres, among the most illustrious mortals who have 
merited a place in Elysium. Here he is made the conductor of 
^Eneas to the recess, where he meets the shade of his fether, 
Anchises (c). 

A hill near the citadel of Athens was called Musseum, according 
to Pausanias, from Musaeus, who used to retire thither to meditate, 

(a) Proem. K6. i. (b ) Chronol. of the Greeks, p. 84. 

(c) Mus&um ante omnes.En. lib. vi ver. 667. 



and compose his religious hymns, and at which place he was after- 
wards buried. The works which went under his name, like those of 
Orpheus, were by many attributed to Onomacritus. Nothing 
remains of this poet now, nor were any of his writings extant in 
the time of Pausanias, except a hymn to Ceres, which he made for 
the Lycomides (d). And as these hymns were likewise set to 
music, and sung in the mysteries by Musaeus himself, in the 
character of a priest, he thence, perhaps, acquired from future 
times the title of musician, as well as of poet, the performance of 
sacred music being, probably, at first confined to the priesthood in 
these celebrations, as it had been before in Egypt, whence they 
originated. However, he is not enumerated among ancient 
musicians by Plutarch ; nor does it appear that he merited the 
title of son and successor to Orpheus for his musical abilities, so 
much as for his poetry, piety, and profound knowledge in religious 
mysteries. But notwithstanding the numberless testimonies come 
down to us from the best and most ancient writers of Greece and 
Rome, concerning Linus, Orpheus, and Mus&us, Vossius, in the 
true spirit of system, and licentiousness of an etymologist, as well 
as from an ambition of being thought deeply versed in the Eastern 
languages, particularly the Phoenician, pretends to resolve those 
names, which have been known and revered by all antiquity, into 
words signifying things, not persons: as Linos, a Song ; Mosa, 
art, discipline ; Orpheo, Science. But if this fancy were generally 
practised upon ancient authors, there would be little chance of one 
among them escaping annihilation (e). 

Though Eumolpus and Melampus are names which frequently 
occur among those of the first poets and musicians of Greece, it 
does not appear that they rendered music any particular service ; 
they were both, indeed, priests of Ceres, and both wrote hymns 
for the use of her worship, which, perhaps, they likewise set to music, 
and sung themselves, in the celebration of the mysteries ; but 
there are no memorials of their performance upon the instruments 
then in use, or cultivation of music, apart from its affiance with 
poetry and religion. 

Eumolpus, according to the Oxford marbles, was the son of 
Musseus*, and, at once, priest, poet, and musician, three characters 
that were constantly united in the same person, during the first 
ages of the world. He was the publisher of his father's verses, 

(d) There were two other poets in antiquity of the name of Musaeus, of which one was a Theban 
the son of Philammon and Thamyra, who, according to Suidas, flourished before the Trojan war ; the 
other, who was much younger, and an Ephesian, is supposed by many to have been the author of a 
poem still extant, called Hero and Leander, from which Ovid enriched his epistle, that bears the same 

(e) De Art. Poet. Nat. cap. xiii. 3. Ptfto .enim, triumviros tsfos po&tos, Orphea. Musaaum, 
Linum, non fuisse : sed esse nomina ab awtitua Phanicum lingua, qua, usi Cadmus, et ali -uandiu 
posteri. Sane Aivo? carmen, sive canticum, ac precipue lugubre : vt ex Athenao, Evstatio, Suida 
constat. Nomen, vt puto, non quia Linum eo deplorarent quod grammaticum est commentum ; sed ab 
Hebrao btl, helin, murmurare, unde rOlPfl, telounah, querela munnuratio. Vt Linus nomen 

Poet* sit lugubria canentis. Musseus absque dubio d Musa, swe Mwro, quod 4 ^D1 D, Mosar, ars, disd- 
plina. Orfrwttidem devote nomen Jtabuerit, a Orseo. 

* According to other accounts the son of Poisedon (Neptune) and Chidne.. His name means 
" the good singer." _j_ 


and, like him, having travelled into Egypt for the acquisition of 
knowledge, afterwards became so eminent at Athens, as hierophant 
in the Eleusinian mysteries, that, as Diodorus Siculus informs us, 
the priests and singers, at Athens, were afterwards called 
Eumolpides, from Eumolpus, whom they regarded as the founder 
of their order. 

And we learn from the same writer, that Melampus* was 
enumerated among those early civilizers of Greece, who thought it 
necessary to travel into Egypt to qualify themselves for the high 
employments at which they aspired in their own country. Orpheus 
proceeded thence a legislator and philosopher ; and Melampus, who 
had different views, commenced, at his return, physician and 
diviner, arts which in Egypt were professed together. Apollodorus 
says, that he was the first who cured diseases by medicinal potions. 
Physic had its miraculous powers during the infancy of the art, 
as well as music ; and life and health being esteemed more precious 
and solid blessings than the transient pleasures of the ear, bore 
a much higher price: for though bards were often distinguished 
by royalty, and their talents recompensed by gifts and honours, 
yet we do not find in ancient records that any one of them ever 
experienced such munificence as Melampus. It is related by 
Pausanias, that having cured the daughters of Praetus, king of 
Argos, of an atrabilarious disorder, with hellebore, he was rewarded 
with one of his royal patients for wife, and a third part of her 
father's kingdom in dowry. 

I now come to the TROJAN WAR,** the second important 
epoch in the Grecian HistotTtJ^Antiquity has paid such respect 
to the personages mentioned in the poems of Homer, as never to 
have doubted of the real existence of any one of them. The poets 
and musicians, therefore, who have been celebrated by this great 
sire of song are ranked among the bards of Greece who flourished 
about the time of the Trojan War, and of whose works, though 
nothing entire remains, yet the names, and even fragments of some 
of them are to be found in several ancient authors posterior to 
Homer (g). 

(f) In settling the time of this memorable event, though there is a considerable disagreement 
among tie chronologexs, yet, hy stating the difference, and taking the mean, an idea may be formed 
of the distance between that period and the Christian aera, when certain chronology begins, and the 
disputes of historians concerning the dates of great events and transactions upon the globe, are 

Dionysms HaUicarnassensis, book the first, tells us, from Cato, that Rome was built 432 years 
after the taking of Troy, and the interval from the building of Rome to the birth of Christ according 

4 * ^^S 15 ^i 3 ^' ? t j l ? ? 5 , tb ? sie S e of Tr J Il8 5 ac - which nearl y reconciles the chronology 
' f ^^o^marbles, Archbishop Usher, and Dr. Blair. However, Sir Isaac Newton, who is followed 
by Dr. Priestley, fixes this period only 904 B.C. and the building of Rome 627. 

(|) Dr. Blair places the time when Homer nourished, about 900 B.C. Dr. Priestley 850 The 
Arondelian marbles 300 after the taking of Troy, and near 1000 B.C. and all agree that he lived* above 
400 years before Plato and Aristotle. 

* The son of Amythapnand the introducer of the cult of Dionysus into Greece. He under- 
stood the language of birds and by their help was able to foretell events. 

have demonstrated some historical 

ounaton or te omec epc. e ruins of several cities have been laid bare and some of th* MI-IV 
settlements date so far back as 2500 B.C. The epic Fall of Troy under Priam is to^tionSly ?ut 



Homer was, in general, so accurate with respect to costume, 
that he seldom mentioned persons or things that we may not 
conclude to have been known during the times of which he writes ; 
and it was Pope's opinion that his account of people, princes, and 
countries, was purely historical, founded on the real transactions 
of those times, and by far the most valuable piece of history and 
geography left us concerning the state of Greece in that early period. 
His geographical divisions of that country were thought so exact, 
that we are told of many controversies concerning the boundaries 
of Grecian cities, which have been decided upon the authority 
of his poems. 

The works of Homer were the bible of the Greeks : and what 
classical reader will be so sceptical now as to doubt of what Homer 
says? Indeed, as the first written memorials of human transactions 
were in verse, Poetry must be History, till Prose can be found. 
I shall, therefore, give a short account of each bard that is mentioned 
in the Iliad and Odyssey, in order to fill up the interval between the 
Argonautic expedition, and the regular celebration of the Olympic 
games. But, previous to this, it may be necessary to take a 
view of the state of Grecian arts and sciences in general, during this 
early period, and, afterwards, to consider the use of music in par- 
ticular, as far as it was connected with Religion, War, Poetry, 
public Feasts and Banquets, and Private Life. 

In the Odyssey, book the 17th, Homer speaks of arts in such 
terms of respect and enthusiasm, as could only flow from a mind 
truly sensible to their charms and utility. 

Round the wide world are sought those men divine, 
Who public structures raise, or who design ; 
Those to whose eyes the gods their ways reveal, 
Or bless with salutary arts to heal ; 
But chief to Poets such respect belongs, 
By rival nations courted for their songs ; 
These states invite, and mighty kings admire, 
Wide as the sun displays his vital fire. 

" This is an evidence," says Mr. Pope, " of the great honour 
anciently paid to persons eminent in mechanical arts: the archi- 
tect and public artisans, 6ij?j,ioveyot, are joined with the prophet, 
physician, and poet, who were esteemed almost with a religious 
veneration, and looked upon as public blessings." 

Homer certainly gives us higher ideas of the arts than the 

Progress which the Greeks had made in them at the time of the 
rojan war, or even in his own time, will allow: particularly 
Painting. Pope, in speaking of the shield of Achilles, seems to 
consider it as a complete idea of that art, and a sketch for what 
may be called a universal picture ; but he is obliged to confess that 
Homer in this, as in other arts, comprehended whatever was known 
in his own time, and that it is even highly probably that he extended 
his ideas yet further, and gave a more enlarged notion of it. For 



there is scarce a species or branch of this art which is not to be found 
in the description of this shield (A). 

In support of this reasoning, Pope was obliged to oppose his 
own opinion to that of all antiquity; forgetting that there was an 
easier solution of the difficulties which lay in the way of his 
hypothesis: for as Homer had travelled into Egypt, it may be 
supposed that he had there acquired ideas of the arts in general, 
far superior to those which his own country furnished; particularly 
of painting, sculpture, and architecture, which we are certain, 
from what still remains of them in Egypt, were cultivated, and 
greatly advanced towards perfection, before the time of Homer, 
or even the Trojan war; and this author, on another occasion, 
allows him to have drawn his knowledge from that source. 
" Magic," he says, " is supposed to have been first practised in 
Egypt, and to have spread afterwards among the Chaldeans: It 
is very evident that Homer had been in Egypt, where he might 
hear an account of the wonders performed by it (i)." 

With respect to music, we find it mentioned with a degree of 
rapture in more than fifty places of the Iliad and Odyssey. How- 
ever it is in such close union with poetry, that it is difficult 
to discriminate to which the poet's praises belong. The lyre 
indeed is constantly in the hands of the bard, but merely as an 
instrument of accompaniment to the voice. So that I fear, music 
and the lyre were frequently only vehicles through which Homer 
celebrated the power of poetical numbers. Singing there is with- 
out instruments, but of instrumental music without vocal, there 
does not appear the least trace in the writings of Homer. Even 
dancing was accompanied by the voice, according to the following 

Then to the dance they form the vocal strain, 
Till Hesperus leads forth the starry train (k). 

It seems as if nothing would convey to the reader a more 
just and clear idea of the state of music in the time of the Trojan 
war or at least of Homer, than a list of the instruments mentioned 
in the original; these are the lyre, the flute, and the syrinx (J). 
The lyre has been called by translators, lute, harp, cithara, and 
testudo, just as the convenience of versification required; and if 
these and the lyre were not in ancient times one and the same 
instrument, they were certainly all of the same kind (m). 

(k) See Pope's Observations on the Shield of Achilles. Iliad. B. 18. 

(t) Notes to the Odyssey, b. x. 

(#) Odyssey, b. xv. See likewise b. iv. v. 25. 

(/) Indeed the word Avpa, lyre, never occurs in the Iliad or Odyssey. $0p/uv. iciflaoa veXv? 
ars in Homer the Greek names for stringed instruments answering to lyre, harp, oitfara, chelys or 
testudo. Avpo, however occurs in the hymn to Mercury, attributed to Homer. ' 

(m\ Eustathius tells us that the appellation of Xupa came from Avrpa, a payment, or 
indemnification, alluding to its having been given by Meicury to Apollo, to make him amends for the 
oxen that he had stolen from him. The instrument, long before it received this name, was called 
XiAw, chelys, testudo. This seems to furnish a fanciful etymology for the lute, which is certainlv 
a much more modern instrument than, the harp or lyre. * 



The flute and syrinx have already been said to be of Egyptian 
origin, and of great antiquity. These instruments are specified 
by Homer in a passage where they do not appear in Pope's 

Now o'er the fields, dejected, he surveys 
From thousand Trojan fires the mounting blaze; 
Hears in the passing wind the music blow, 
And marks distinct file voices of the foe (n). 

Under whatever idea or denomination the public worship of 
the Supreme Being has been established, music appears, at all 
times and in every place, to have been admitted in the celebration 
of Religious Rites and Ceremonies. That the Greeks, and before 
them the Egyptians and Hebrews, used music in solemn sacrifices, 
as well as in festivals of joy, is so certain and well known, that 
proofs are here unnecessary. A passage has already been cited 
from the Iliad, on another occasion, page 158, which puts the 
use of hymns and songs of piety in supplicating Apollo, out of 
doubt; and, according to a passage given from JEschylus, by 
Eustathius, notwithstanding the multiplicity of the Grecian divini- 
ties, " Death was the only God who could neither be moved by 
offerings, nor conquered by sacrifices and oblations; and therefore 
he was the only one to whom no altar was erected, and no hymns 
were sung (o)." 

With respect to Military Music, the trumpet is mentioned by 
Homer in a simile; yet it is agreed by all the critics, that it was 
unknown to the Greeks during the Trojan war, though it was in 
common use in the time of the poet. According to archbishop 
Potter (p), before the invention of trumpets, the first signals of 
battle in primitive wars were lighted torches; to these succeeded 
shells of fishes, which were sounded like trumpets. " Nothing 
is more useful/* says Plutarch, " than music, to stimulate man- 
kind to virtuous actions, particularly in exciting that degree of 
courage, which is necessaiy to brave the dangers of war. To this 
end some have used the Flute, and others the Lyre. The 
Lacedaemonians, in approaching the enemy, played upon the Flute, 
the air or melody that was set to the song or hymn addressed to 
Castor; and the Cretans played their military marches for many 
ages on the Lyre.' 1 The Thebans and Lacedaemonians had a Flute 
upon their ensigns; the Cretans, a Lyre; and many ancient nations 
and cities have impressed the Lyre upon their coins, as their parti- 
cular symbol. The city of Rhegium, for instance, had a woman's 
head on one side, and on the reverse a Lyre. In a medal inscribed 
Caleno, the Minotaur is seen, with the addition of the Lyre. The 

(n) "AvXwv, crvpiyycov r'evoinjv, 6/iaSov roLvdpunruv. U. K, 13. 

(o) Movos 0ea>v ov fiwpwv epa, 

OvS* av TI Qwv, ovB eirunrevStdv XajSots, 
Ov8* eon <>/>?, ovSf 7raw<rr<u. 

(P) Archesologia Gresca, vol. II, ch. ix. 
VOL. i. 18 


Thespians had one of the Muses and a Lyre\ the Lapithae, a Diana, 
and on the reverse a Lyre] the isle of Chios, Homer on one side, 
and on the other a Sphynx, with a Lyre in its paw. The inhabi- 
tants of the isle of Tenedos had on one side of their coins a head 
with two faces, and on the reverse an ax with a bunch of grapes, 
the symbol of Bacchus, near it on one side; and a Lyre, the symbol 
of Apollo, on the other. The Lyre with thirteen strings is likewise 
to be seen on two Roman coins in Montfaucon (q). We find, 
during the siege of Troy, that Heralds gave the signals of battle. 
Nestor says to Agamemnon before an engagement: 

Now bid thy Heralds sound the loud alarms, 
And call the squadrons sheath' d in brazen arms (r). 

The vociferous Stentor is celebrated by Homer as the most 
illustrious Throat-performer, or herald of antiquity : 

Stentor the strong, endued with brazen lungs, 
Whose throat surpass d the noise of fifty tongues (s). 

Pope observes on this passage, that " there was a necessity 
for cryers whose voices were stronger than ordinary, in those 
ancient times, before the use of trumpets was known in their 
armies. And that they were in esteem afterwards, may be seen 
from Herodotus, where he takes notice that Darius had in his 
train an Egyptian, whose voice was louder and stronger than that 
of any other man of his age." 

That Poetry was inseparable from Music, has already been 
frequently observed; and in the time of Homer as a poet was 
constantly styled a singer, so there was no other appellation for a 
poem, but that of song. I shall only select one passage here, from 
among the many that are to be found in the Iliad and Odyssey, 
relative to the union of sound and sense. Agamemnon meeting 
with Achilles in the shades, relates to him how much his fall had 
been lamented by the Grecians at Troy : 

Round thee, the Muses, with alternate strain, 

In ever consecrating verse complain. 
Each warlike Greek the moving music hears, 
And iron-hearted heroes melt in tears (). . 

Among the numerous public feasts and banquets described by 
Homer, there is not one without music and a bard. And, accord- 
ing to the ideas of that poet, the Gods themselves upon such 

(?) Suppl. p. M. 
(r) II. book ii. 
(s) Ibid, book v. 
(0 Odyss. book xxiv. ver. 77. 


occasions, receive delight from the voice and lyre of Apollo and the 


Thus the blest Gods the genial day prolong 
In feasts ambrosial, and celestial song; 
Apollo tun'd the lyre (w), the Muses round 
With voice alternate aid the silver sound (x). 

Again, in the last book of the Iliad, Juno, speaking of the 
wedding of Peleus and Thetis, and exercising her irrascible 
disposition upon almost all the celestial synod, says, 

To grace those nuptials, from the blest abode 
Yourselves were present where this minstrel God (y), 
Well pleas'd to share the feast, amid the choir 
Stood proud to hymn, and tune his youthful lyre. 

The banquet, on the arrival of Telemachus at the palace of 
Menelaus in Sparta, is thus described. 

While this gay friendly troop the king surround, 

With festival and mirth the roofs resound: 

A bard amid the joyous circle sings 

High airs, attemper 'd to the vocal strings (z). 

To these I shall only add the following comprehensive panegyric 
upon poetry and music, which Homer has put into the mouth of the 
wise Ulysses. 

How sweet the products of a peaceful reign 1 
The heav'n-taught poet, and enchanting strain: 
The well filTd palace, the perpetual feast, 
A land rejoicing, and a people blest. 
How goodly seems it ever to employ 
Man's social days in union and in joy! 
The plenteous board, high heap'd with cates divine, 
And o'er the foaming bowl, the laughing wine (a). 

It is true, that these verses are addressed to the voluptuous king 
of an effeminate people; but Pope has so well defended our author 
from the attacks of sour critics, that I shall give an extract from 
'his note on this passage, as his sentiments correspond exactly with 
my own feelings. 

" It is not impossible," says he, " but there may be some com- 
pliance with the nature and manners of the Phaeacians, especially 
because Ulysses is always described as an artful man, not without 

() It is worthy of remark, that the instrument assigned by the poet to Apollo is, in the original, 
invariably called $opiu.y$, which is the appellation given to it by Pindar. This has been sup- 
posed to be an Egyptian word, and perhaps was that by which the Theban harp, or lyre, was called. 
See p. 182. 

(V) Iliad, lib. I 

(y} Apollo. In modern language she would hayejqaJIed him the fiddling God. 

fa) Ojyssey, book iv. ver. jji. (a) Odyssey* book ix. ver. 3. 


some mixture of dissimulation : but it is no difficult matter to take 
the passage literally, and yet give it an irreproachable ^ sense. 
Ulysses had gone through innumerable calamities; he had lived to 
see a great part of Europe and Asia laid desolate by a bloody war; 
and after so many troubles, he arrives in a nation that was unac- 
quainted with all the miseries of war, where all the people were 
happy, and passed their lives in ease and pleasures: this calm life 
fills him with admiration, and he artfully praises what he found 
praiseworthy in it; namely, the entertainments and music, and 
passes over the gallantries of the people, as Dacier observes, with- 
out any mention. Maximus Tyrius fully vindicates Homer. " It is 
my opinion," says that author, " that the poet, by representing 
these guests in the midst of their entertainments delighted with the 
song and music, intended to recommend a more noble pleasure 
than eating and drinking; such a pleasure as a wise man may 
imitate, by approving the better part, and rejecting the worse, and 
chusing to please the ear rather than the belly." Dissert, xii. If 
we understand the passage otherwise, the meaning may be this. 
" I am persuaded," says Ulysses, " that the most agreeable end 
which a king can propose, is to see a whole nation in universal joy. 
When music and feasting are in every house, when plenty is on 
every table, and there are wines to entertain every guest : this to 
me appears a state of the greatest felicity." In this sense Ulysses 
pays Alcinous a very agreeable compliment; as it is certainly the 
most glorious aim of a king to make his subjects happy, and diffuse 
an universal joy through his dominions : he must be a rigid censor 
indeed, who blames such pleasures as these, which have nothing 
contrary in them to virtue and strict morality; especially as they 
here bear a beautiful opposition to all the horrors which Ulysses 
had seen in the wars of Troy, and shew Phaeacia as happy as Troy 
was miserable. I will only add, that this agrees with the oriental 
way of speaking; and in the poetical parts of the Scriptures, the 
voice of melody, feasting and dancing, are used to express the 
happiness of a nation (6)." 

The use of music, in private life, occurs so frequently in Homer, 
that, beautiful as his descriptions of it are, I should fear to tire 
the reader if I gave them all. However, some of them are of too 
much importance to the subject to be past unnoticed. Among 
these, for the honour of music, it must be remarked, that he 
thought it so much an accomplishment for princes, as to make both 
Achilles and Paris performers on the lyre. 

r _ _ rf _ f , . z chose to pass for a friend and admirer of music. He wrote 

a charming ode on StCecilia, because his model, Dryden, had written one before on the same subject : 
Si!? ?*- a * ^P^^y * music in his note on Homer, out of regard and veneration for his author^ 
wnom he is to defend on all occasions. But nothing is more certain than that Pope was by nature 
wholly insensible to the charms of music, and took every opportunity of throwing contempt upon 
those who either cultivated, or listened to it with delight. HVasked his friend Dr. ArbuthnoL whose 
nerves were more tuneable than his own, whether at lord Burlington's concerts, the rapture which 
SS^^Sf 117 S XP T? U P\ hearin 8 u the r compositions and performance of Handel, did Sot proceed 
wrftl^ST?? ^ 11 \ J ?? y there ore a PP lv to p Pe defence of music, what this admirable 
wror himself says of de la Mott^when he speaks favourably of Homer : that " no praise can be more 
glorious than that which comes from the mouth of an enemy." Iliad, book ix. note on verse 395. 

2 7 6 


In the solemn embassy sent by Agamemnon to Achilles, during 
his retirement, after he had quitted the Grecian camp in disgust, 
it is said by Homer of the delegates, that 

Amus'd at ease, the godlike man they found, 
Pleas' d with the solemn harp's harmonious sound. 
(The well-wrought harp from conquer 'd Thebae came, 
Of polish'd silver was its costly frame;) 
With this he sooths his angry soul, and sings 
Th' immortal deeds of heroes and of kings (c). 

Paris when he declined the combat with Menelaus, is upbraided 
by Hector for his beauty, effeminacy, and fondness for dress, and 
for music. 

Thy graceful form instilling soft desire, 
Thy curling tresses, and thy silver lyre (). 

"It is ingeniously remarked by Dacier," says Pope, " that 
Homer, who celebrates the Greeks for their long hair, and Achilles 
for his skill on the harp, makes Hector hi this place object them 
both to Paris. The Greeks nourished their hair to appear more 
dreadful to the enemy, and Paris to please the eyes of women. 
Achilles sung to his harp the acts of heroes, and Paris the amours of 
lovers. The same reason which made Hector here displeased at 
them, made Alexander afterwards refuse to see this lyre of Paris 
when offered to be shewn to him, as Plutarch relates the story 
in his oration of the fortune of Alexander." 

Not only the heroes of Homer are musical, but some of his 
divinities, particularly Calypso and Circe; both of whom are found 
singing by Hermes and Ulysses (e). And a still further confirma- 
tion of the importance of music in the opinion of Homer is, that 
it has a place in four of the twelve compartments into which his 
description of the shield of Achilles has been divided by the critics. 

1. A town in peace : 

Here sacred pomp, and genial feast delight, 
And solemn dance, and hymeneal rite: 
Along the street the new made brides are led, 
With torches flaming to the nuptial bed ; 
The youthful dancers in a circle bound 
To the soft flute, and cittern's silver sound (/). 

(c) Iliad, book ix. 

(d) Ibid, book iii. I know not whether it has ever been remarked, that in the original the instru- 
ment used by Achilles is called by the same name, 4opfuy, as that which the poet always gives to 
Apollo ; and that with which Hector upbraids Paris, which in the translation is styled the silver lyre, 
is called *i0apa by Homer. This distinction may perhaps be thought of small importance, and 
yet it seems to constitute the same kind of difference between the two instruments, as there was 
between the two heroes who used them ; the ritJiara may hi ancient times have been thought inferior 
to the phorwinx, as the modern guitar is esteemed at present a trivial and effeminate instrument, 
when compared with the double harp. 

(,?) Odys. book v. and x. 
{/) Iliad, book xviiL 



2. Shepherds piping on reeds (g) : 

S. Song and dance accompanied by the lyre, during the time 
of vintage (h). 

4. A figur'd dance succeeds : such one was seen 
In lofty Gnossus, for the Cretan queen, 
Form'd by Daedalean art ; a comely band 
Of youths and maidens, bounding hand in hand ; 
The maids in soft cymarrs of linen drest ; 
The youths all graceful in the glossy vest ; 
Of those, the locks with fiow'ry wreath enroll' d ; 
Of these, the sides adorn' d with swords of gold, 
That, glitt'ring gay, from silver belts depend. 
Now all at once they rise, now all descend, 
With well-taught feet: now shape, in oblique ways, 
Confus'dly regular the moving maze: 
Now forth at once, too swift for sight they spring, 
And undistinguish'd blend the flying ring: 
So whirls a wheel, in giddy circle tost, 
And rapid as it runs, the single spokes are lost. 
The gazing multitudes admire around ; 
Two active tumblers in the centre bound ; 
Now high now low, their pliant limbs they bend, 
And general songs the sprightly revel end (f). 

Dancing, like poetry, has been at all times, and in all places, 
so inseparable from music, that the history of the one necessarily 
involves that of the other. It was this union which tempted me 
to insert the whole description of a dance from Homer, as it paints 
in so ample and animated a manner, the state of dancing in Greece 
during his time. 

Pope, in his notes on this passage, says, that " there were 
two sorts of dances, the Pyrrhic, and the common dance : Homer 
has joined both in this description. We see the Pyrrhic, or military, 
is performed by youths who have swords on, the other by virgins 
crowned with garlands. 

" Here the ancient scholiast says, that whereas before it was the 
custom for men and women to dance separately, the contrary 
custom was afterwards brought in by seven youths, and as many 
virgins, who were saved by Theseus from the labyrinth ; and that 
this dance was taught them by Daedalus: to which Homer here 

" It is worth observing, that the Grecian dance is still performed 
in this manner in the oriental nations : the youths and maids dance 
in a ring, beginning slowly ; by degrees the music plays a quicker 
time, till at last they dance with the utmost swiftness : and, towards 
the conclusion, they sing, as it is said here, in a general chorus." 
In this manner, likewise, the religious dance of the dervishes is 
performed in the Turkish mosques. 

fe) Svpiyt. (ft) Iliad, book xviii. (i) Ibid. 

2 7 8 


^ I have now to speak of the Bards, or Rhapsodists, whom the 
writings of Homer have immortalized. Fabricius has given a list 
of more than seventy poets, who were supposed to have flourished 
before the time of Homer. Of twenty among these, fragments of 
their writings are still to be found dispersed through Greek litera- 
ture ; and near thirty of them have been celebrated by antiquity 
as improvers of the art of music, and of musical instruments. I 
should here insert the names of all these ante-Homerian musicians, 
and relate what has been recorded concerning them in ancient 
authors ,* but as the plan of my work is limited to two volumes, it 
would be encroaching on that place which must be reserved for 
persons and transactions of more modern times, and of greater 
certitude. Indeed several of them have been mentioned already, 
and as the rest may force themselves in my way during the course 
of my narrative, I shall here confine myself to the bards of the 
Iliad and Odyssey. 

Among these, the seer TIRESIAS* seems the most ancient, 
though he is only mentioned in the Odyssey, which relates no 
events but such as happened to Ulysses after the Trojan war. 
Music, Poetry, Prophecy, and the Priesthood, seem inseparable 
employments in high antiquity (k). The Egyptians, Hebrews, and 
early Greeks certainly united them : and, among the last, Orpheus, 
Musaeus, Eumolpus, and Melampus, have been instanced already. 
Tiresias was the most celebrated prophet in the Grecian annals. 
Ulysses is ordered by Circe to consult him in the shades. 

There seek the Theban bard deprived of sight, 
Within irradiate with prophetic light (Z). 

But, besides' the honour done to him by Homer, Sophocles 
makes him act a venerable and capital part in his tragedy of 
Oedipus. Callimachus ascribes to Minerva the gift of his superior 
endowments; the pre-eminence of his knowledge is likewise 
mentioned by Tully, in his first book of Divination (m). And not 
only Tiresias is celebrated by Diodorus Siculus (), but his daughter 
Daphne,** who, like her father, was gifted with a prophetic spirit, 
and was appointed priestess at Delphos. She wrote many oracles 
in verse, whence Homer was reported to have taken several lines, 
which he interwove in his poems. As she was often seized with a 
divine fury, she acquired the title of Sibyl, which signifies enthusiast. 
She is the first on whom it was bestowed: in after-times this 

(ft) The priests in Roman catholic countries are still obliged by their function to cultivate music 
as well as theology ; and most of the numerous musical treatises that have been printed in Italy, have 
been composed by churchmen ; as those of Franchi'nus, Pietro Aaron, Zarlino, and Eircher. 

(I) Odys. book ii. 

(m) Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, gives a very jocular reason for the blindness and prophetic 
knowledge of Tiresias, deriving them from a matrimonial contest between Jupiter and Juno. 

(n) Lib. iv. 

* Dr. Smith (Classical Dictionary) says : "The blind seer Tiresias, acts so prominent a part in 
the mythical history of Greece, that there is scarcely any event with which he is not connected in some 
way or other. There is a fine poem, " Tiresias," by Tennyson. 

** Better known as Manto. 



denomination was given to several other females, that were sup- 
posed to be inspired, and who uttered and wrote their predictions 
in verse, which verse being sung, their function may be justly 
said to unite the priesthood with prophecy, poetry, and music. 

THAMYRTS is called bv Homer Ki&aoiaTys, one who plays on the 
Citkara. Plutarch, in his Dialogue on Music, tells us, that he was 
bom in Thrace, the country of Orpheus, and had the sweetest and 
most sonorous voice of any bard of his time. He was the son of 
Fhilammon, of whom mention has already been made. Homer, 
in his Catalogue of Ships, where he speaks of the cities under the 
dominion of Nestor, mentions Dorion as the place where Thamyris 
contended with the Muses, whom he had the arrogance to challenge 
to a trial of skill in poetry and music. The conditions and conse- 
quences of this contention are fully described by the poet. 

And Dorion, fam'd for Thamyris' disgrace, 
Superior once of all the tuneful race, 
Till, vain of mortals empty praise, he strove 
To match the seed of cloud-compelling Jove! 
Too daring bard ! whose unsuccessful pride 
Th* immortal Muses in their art defy'd: 
Th' avenging Muses of the light of day 
Depriv'd his eyes, and snatch'd his voice away ; 
No more his heav'nly voice was heard to sing, 
His hand no more awak'd the silver string (o). 

Homer availed himself of the popular story concerning the 
blindness of Thamyris, and embellished it by his versification. 
Probably the whole allegory of this blindness had its rise from his 
having injured the organ of sight by too intense an application to 
the study of music and poetry. And it is the opinion of Pausanias, 
that there was no other difference between his misfortune and that 
of Homer, than that Thamyris was wholly silenced by it, and 
Homer, without being discouraged, continued his poetical and 
musical occupation long after his blindness. 

The same writer, however, informs us, that the painter 
Polygnotus, in his celebrated picture of Ulysses* descent into hell, 
which was preserved in the temple of Delphos, had represented 
the wretched Thamyris with his eyes put out, his hair and beard 
long and dishevelled, and his lyre broken and unstrung, lying at 
his feet. It is certain too, according to Pausanias, that this bard 
was not only the subject of painting and poetry, but of sculpture; 
for he tells us, that among the statues with which mount Helicon 
was decorated, he saw one of Thamyris, represented blind, and 
holding a broken lyre in his hand. 

According to Diodoras Siculus, he learnt music at the school of 
Linus. Pliny tells us that he was the first who performed on an 
instrument without the voice, or the first Solo player (p); and, if 

(o) IZwd, book ii. 

#) C tikard sine vpce cedn# primus. Canere with the Romans, applied to instruments, implied 
only to play. To say, however .that a performer makes his instrument : &*, is at present thi highest 
encomium that can be bestowed upon hfrp. 


we may credit Suidas, he was generally regarded as the eighth 
among the epic poets who preceded Homer. 

As to his works, which are wholly lost, antiquity has preserved 
the names of several. Tzetzes mentions a Cosmogony, or creation 
of the world, in 500 verses, and Suidas a Theogony in 3000; 
perhaps both these writers speak of one and the same poem. He 
was said chiefly to have excelled in the composition of hymns; 
on which account the fanciful philosopher, Plato, compares him 
with Orpheus; and as he makes the soul of this bard, after death, 
pass into that of a swan, he fixes the residence of that of Thamyris 
in a nightingale. 

We only know his poem upon the War of the Titans by what 
Plutarch tells us of it from Heraclides of Pontus. Clemens 
Alexandrinus attributes to him the invention of the Dorian mode 
or melody, which, if it could be proved, would be of more 
importance to the present enquiries than the ascertaining his poetical 
works. But this mode, it has been suggested already, was so 
ancient, that it may well be imagined to have been brought out 
of Egypt by the first invaders of Greece, who settled in that part 
of it which was called Doria. 

In speaking of DEMODOCUS, Homer has taken occasion to 
exalt the character of poet and bard toTEe summit of human glory. 
The hospitable king of the Phaeacians, in order to entertain 
Ulysses, says, 

Let none to strangers, honours due disclaim; 
Be there Demodocus, the bard of fame, 
Taught by the Gods to please, when high he sings 
The vocal lay responsive to the strings (q). 

Pope observes upon this passage, that Homer shews in how 
great request music was held in the courts of all the eastern princes : 
he gives a musician to Ithaca, another to Menelaus at Lacedsemon. 
and Demodocus to Alcinous. 

The herald now arrives, and guides along 

The sacred master of celestial song: 

Dear to the Muse! who gave his days to flow 

With mighty blessings, mix'd with mighty woe : 

With clouds of darkness quench'd his visual ray, 

But gave him skill to raise the lofty lay. 

High on a radiant throne, sublime in state, 

Encircled by high multitudes he sate: 

With silver shone the throne; his lyre well strung 

To rapturous sounds, at hand Pontonous hung. 

Before his seat a polish'd table shines, 

And a full goblet foams with gen'rous wines: 

His food a herald bore (r). 

(q) Odyssey, book vffi. (r) Ibid. 



It has been generally thought, says Pope, that Homer 
represents himself in the person of Demodocus. It is remarkable, 
at least, that he takes very extraordinary care of his brother poet, 
and introduces him as a person of great distinction. He calls him 
in his book, the hero Demodocus: he places him on a throne 
studded with silver, and gives him an herald for his attendant: 
nor is he less careful to provide for his entertainment; he has a 
particular table, and a capacious bowl set before him to drink 
from, as often as he had a mind, as the original expresses it. 
Some merry wits have turned the last circumstance into raillery, 
and insinuate that Homer in this place, as well as in the former, 
means himself in the person of Demodocus; an intimation that he 
would not be displeased to meet with the like hospitality. 

Then fir'd by all the Muse, aloud he sings 
The mighty deeds of demi-gods and kings 
Touch* d at the song, Ulysses strait resigned 
To soft affliction all his manly mind (s). 

Homer several times in this book ascribes the song of Demodocus 
to immediate inspiration ; and this supernatural assistance 
reconciles it to human probability, says Pope, and the story 
becomes credible, when it is supposed to be related by a Deity. 
Aristotle, in his Poetics, commends this conduct as artful and 
judicious; Alcinous, says he, invites Ulysses to an entertainment, 
in order to amuse him, where Demodocus sings his actions, at 
which he cannot refrain from tears, which Alcinous perceives, and 
this brings about the discovery of Ulysses. 

To cite all the praise which Homer in his Odyssey has 
bestowed upon Demodocus, would be to transcribe the whole 
eighth book. It may be worth observing that he sung and played 

The bard, advancing, meditates the lay (t). 

And again: 

more than man ! thy soul the Muse inspires, 
And Phoebus animates with all his fires : " 
For who by Phoebus uninformed could know 
The woe of Greece, and sing so well the woe? 
Just to the tale, as present at the fray, 
Or taught the labours of the dreadful day: 
The song recalls past horrors to my eyes, 
And bids proud nion from her ashes rise (). 

Here Ulysses himself ascribes the songs of Demodocus to 
immediate inspiration; and Apollo is made the patron of the poets, 
Eustathius observes, because he is the God of prophecy. He adds, 

(s) Odyssey, book viiL (*} Ibid. (u) Odyssey^ book viii 



that Homer in this passage, likewise, represents himself in the 
person of Demodocus: it is he who wrote the war of Troy with 
as much faithfulness, as if he had been present at it; it is he who 
had little or no assistance from former relations of that story, and 
consequently receives it from Apollo and the Muses. This is a 
secret, but artful insinuation, that we are not to look upon the 
Iliad as all fiction and fable, but in general as a real history, 
related with as much certainty as if the poet had been present 
at those memorable actions. 

Homer, it is certain, has neglected nothing which can give 
dignity and importance to this Bard. He never moves without a 
herald; he has a distinguished place at the king's table; is helped 
by Ulysses to the first cut; and 

For him the goblet flows with wines, umnixt. 

The following lines are so beautiful, and applicable to the 
present subject, that I cannot help inserting them, though I have 
already, perhaps, been too profuse of quotations; not with the 
design of swelling the volume, or from a scarcity of other materials, 
but because the passages interested me, and inclined me to hope, 
that they would be equally striking to the reader (#). 

The Bard a herald guides : the gazing throng 
Pay low obeysance as he moves along: 
Beneath a sculptur'd arch he sits enthron'd, 
The peers encircling form an awful round. 
Then from the chine, Ulysses carves with art 
Delicious food, an honorary part; 
This, let the master of the lyre receive, 
A pledge of love ! 'tis all a wretch can give. 
Lives there a man beneath the spacious skies, 
Who sacred honours to the Bard denies? 
The Muse the Bard inspires, exalts his mind; 
The Muse indulgent loves th' harmonious kind. 

If music be degenerated in these times, the honours conferred 
upon musicians are likewise diminished : for though a vocal per- 
former may acquire the trifling reward of fifty guineas a song, yet 
we never hear of one being seated at a king's table, or even that any 
modern Hero, or General, however inferior in fame and merit to 
Ulysses, condescends to carve for him. 

Indeed Homer, through the whole Odyssey, speaks with the 
highest respect of the art which he himself loved, and in which he 
so eminently excelled. Poets, says Eustathius, were ranked in the 

(x) History can only consist of quotations, when, we write of times anterior to our own, or con* 
ceming things of which we have not been eye-witnesses. In treating, therefore, every subject which 
relates to antiquity, it is necessary to give the sentiments of those who have written upon it before, 
either in support of our own assertions, or to confute those of others. And indeed all that is left for 
an historian of ancient music, is to collect the scattered fragments, hints, and allusions, relative to it, 
which occur in old authors ; to arrange them in chronological order, and to connect and explain them 
by reflection and conjecture. 



class of philosophers; and the ancients made use of them as pre- 
ceptors in music and morality (y). 

Demodocus is supposed by me same critic, and by others, to 
have been the Bard, already mentioned (z), with whom Agamem- 
non left Clytemnestra in charge. He was blind, as well as Tiresias, 
Thamyris, and Homer. The instrument he played upon is called 
in the Odyssey Phorminx. Plutarch (a) says, that he wrote the 
destruction of Troy in verse, and the nuptials of Vulcan and Venus. 
And Ulysses is said, by Ptolemy Hephaestion, to have gained the 
prize at the Tyrrhene games, by singing the verses of Demodocus. 
The last Bard of whom I shall give any account, among the 
musicians that are celebrated by Homer, is PHEMIUS, whom 
Eustathias calls a philosopher; a title lavished on the poets and 
musicians of antiquity. The same scholiast calls him brother of 
Demodocus, and says that he accompanied Penelope into Ithaca, 
when she went thither to espouse Ulysses, in the same character of 
Bard, as that in which his brother attended Clytemnestra. He was 
the father-in-law of Homer, having married his mother Crytheis, 
after the illegitimate birth of the great poet. This stoiy is circum- 
stantially related by the author of the Life of Homer, ascribed to 
Herodotus by Plutarch and others : though unjustly, according to 
the opinion of Fabricius, and the best modern critics. But Eusta- 
thius informs us, that under the name of Phemius, Homer meant to 
celebrate one of his friends who was so called, and who had been 
his preceptor; thence, figuratively, styled his father. 

What kind of poets Homer saw in his own time, says Pope (6), 
may be gathered from his description of Demodocus and Phemius, 
whom he has introduced to celebrate his profession. Homer 
seems particularly solicitous to preserve the honour of Phemius, by 
informing us that he was pressed into the service of the suitors of 
Penelope, for the amusement of whom he was obliged to exercise 
his talents in the midst of riot and debauchery. 

To Phemius was consigned the chorded lyre, 
Whose hand reluctant touch' d the warbling wire: 
Phemius, whose voice divine could sweetest sing 
High strains responsive to the vocal string (c). 

From the instructions which Penelope gives to the Bard, we 
may, however, form some idea of the kind of songs that were 
usually performed at the banquet of princes. 

Phemius ! let acts of Gods, and heroes old, 
What ancient Bards in hall and bow'r have told, 
Attemper 1 d to the lyre, your voice employ; 
Such the pleas' d ear will drink with silent joy (d). 

(y) But he tells TIS likewise, that these aotSoi were said by some writers to have had their 
names from this circumstance ; is aifiota JXTJ e^oi/res ; exactly resembling the Italian singers. 
" If this be true," says Pope, " it makes a great difference between the ancient and modern poets, and 
is the only advantage that I know of which we have over them." This idea sufficiently qualifies a 
Bard fox the office of guardian to the chastity of a frail princess, and puts him upon a footing with the 
Chamberlains, the Ewovxot of ancient Persia, and other eastern countries. 

(*) See page 152. (a) De Musica. (6) Essay on Homer, sect. ii. 

(c) Odyssey, book i. (Q Odys. book i. 



That poetry was regarded, during the time of Homer, as imme- 
diate inspiration from the Gods, has been already remarked in 
the preceding article : and it is evident that his bards sung extem- 
pore, either upon a given subject, or one of their own choice; nor 
does it ever appear that any of the poets or musicians, mentioned 
by Homer, sung verses which had been previously written or 
composed. And yet Homer makes Ulysses himself inform us, that 
there was no convivial assembly without a Bard: 

I see the smokes of sacrifice aspire, 

And hear, what graces every feast, the lyre (e). 

And in the twenty-second book of the Odyssey, 

Phemius alone the hand of vengeance spar'd, 
Phemius the sweet, the heav'n-instructed Bard. 

The speech which he makes to the avenging Ulysses, in order 
to deprecate his wrath, is so fine an eulogium upon poetry and 
music in general, that I cannot better close this chapter than by 
transcribing it entire. 

king! to mercy be thy soul inclin'd, 

And spare the Poet's ever gentle kind. 

A deed like this thy future fame would wrong, 

For dear to Gods and men is sacred song. 

Self-taught I sing, by Heav'n, and Heav'n alone 

The genuine seeds of poesy are sown; 

And, what the Gods bestow, the lofty lay 

To Gods alone, and God-like worth, we pay. 

Save then the Poet, and thyself reward, 

'Tis thine to merit, mine is to record (/). 

(*) Ibid, book xviL 

(/) It may be of some importance to music to remark here, that Pope, in his Life of Homer* 
informs us, " The word Poet does not occur in all the writings of this author, nor was it known during 
his time." We see it, however, very frequently in the translation, where the original only 
Bard, Minstrel, Singer. 

Chapter IV 

Of the State of Music in Qreece, from the time 
of Homer, till it was subdued by the Romans, 
including the Musical Contests at the Public Qames 

IT has been imagined, with great appearance of truth, that the 
occupation of the first Poets and Musicians of Greece, very much 
resembled that of the Bards among the Celts and Germans, 
and the Scalds in Iceland and Scandinavia; Chanters, who 
sung their works in great cities, and in the palaces of princes, where 
they were treated with much respect, and regarded as inspired 
persons. Such, at first, were likewise the Troubadours of Provence 
and Languedoc, and the Minstrels of other countries, till they 
became too numerous and licentious to create wonder or esteem. 
However, it is well known that a great number of historical events 
are preserved in the writings of these ancient poets; and that the 
pictures they have left of the times when they flourished, are simple 
and genuine. If the writings of the ancient Romancers, or 
Troubadours of Greece, possessed the same merit, which we have 
great reason to believe they did, the historians of after-times, who 
had no other source to draw information from than their songs, did 
well to avail themselves of such materials. 

Unfortunately, for my present enquiries, from the time of Homer 
till that of Sappho, there is almost a total blank in literature; for 
though several names of poets and musicians are recorded between 
those periods, yet, of their works, only a few fragments remain. 
Nor are any literary productions preserved entire, between the time 
of Sappho and Anacreon, who flourished at the distance of near a 
hundred years from each other; and between the poems of Anacreon 
and Pindar, there is another chasm of near a century. After this, the 
works which still subsist of the three great tragic poets, ^Eschylus, 
Sophocles, and Euripides; and of the historians, Herodotus, 
Thucydides, and Xenophon; together with those of Plato, Aristotle, 
Aristoxenus, Euclid, Theocritus, Callimachus, Polybius, and many 
others, all produced within the space of less than three hundred 
years; mark this as one of those illustrious and uncommon periods, 
in which all the powers of human nature and genius seem to have 
been called forth and exerted, in order to furnish light and instruc- 
tion to mankind, in intermediate ages of Darkness, indolence, 
calamity, and barbarism. 



With respect to the arts, we learn from Pausanias, that sculp- 
ture was brought to the highest perfection between the fifty-second 
or fifty-third Olympiad, and the eighty-third; that is, in about a 
hundred and twenty years, from Daedalus to Phidias, in which state 
it continued till the time of Alexander the Great, the celebrated 
epoch of perfection in all the arts and sciences; after which they 
began to decline (g). It was then that Eloquence, Poetry, History, 
Music, Architecture, Painting, and Sculpture, like flowers of the 
climate, sprung up, and bloomed at once, seemingly without labour 
and without attention, till the artists were no more; after which 
the whole universe agreed in admiring their productions, and 
deploring their loss. 

As poetry and music, in the early ages of those arts, were so 
much united, that all the lyric, elegiac, and even epic Bards, were 
necessarily and professedly musicians, I shall give an account of 
the principal of them, in chronological order. Indeed, the diligence 
of editors and commentators has made the literary world, in 
general, so well acquainted with the most interesting circumstances 
relative to the lives and writings of every poet whose works are 
preserved, that I shall have little occasion to swell the biographical 
part of my History with further particulars concerning them. But 
there are other ifiustrious names upon record, of Bards, who, 
though dear to their cotemporaries, and long respected by succeed- 
ing ages, have survived the ravages of time, only in a few scattered 
fragments. And as antiquity has preserved several incidents relative 
to the lives, talents, and productions of these, I shall endeavour 
to collect them; and from the scanty materials to be gathered in 
ancient authors, assign to each the inventions and improvements 
attributed to him, in Poetry and Music, while those two arts 
continued so inseparable, as to constitute one and the same 

THALETAS* of Crete is the next Poet-musician upon record, 
after Hesiod and Homer. This Bard has been confounded by 
some writers with Thales, the celebrated Milesian philosopher; but, 
according to Plutarch (h), he was cotemporary with Lycurgus, 
the Spartan legislator, and lived about three hundred years after 
the Trojan war. Plutarch also informs us, that though Thaletas 
was only styled a lyric poet and musician, he was likewise a great 
philosopher and politician; in so much that Lycurgus brought him 
from Crete, when he returned from his travels, to Sparta, in order 
to have assistance from him, in establishing his new form of govern- 
ment. His Odes, continues Plutarch, were so many exhortations 
to obedience and concord, which he enforced by the sweetness of 
his voice and melody. Plato, likewise, describes his captivating 

(g) Phidias died 432 years B.C. and Alexander 323. So that the whole period of perfection in 
the arts was but of 109 years duration. 


* If Thaletas was a contemporary of Lycuigus he flourished not later than 825 B C. Some 
authorities identify him as a native of Gortyna in Crete who flourished shortly after Terpander 
(probably after 650 B.C.). jr 



manner of singing; and Plutarch, in his Dialogue on Music, ascribes 
to Thaletas many musical compositions and inventions: such as 
Paans, and new Measures in verse, as well as Rhythms in music, 
which he had acquired from the flute-playing of Olympus, whom 
he at first had imitated. Porphyry, in his Lite of Pythagoras, says 
that this philosopher used to amuse himself with singing the old 
P&ans of Thaletas; and Athenaeus likewise tells us (i), that the 
Spartans long continued to sing his Airs; and, according to the 
Scholiast on Pindar, this poet-musician was the first who composed 
the Hyporchemes for the armed, or military dance (k). 

There was another poet and musician of the name of Thaletas, 
likewise a Cretan, who flourished much later than the cotemporary 
and friend of Lycurgus. Sir Isaac Newton has named him among 
the early victors at the Pythic games, and Dr. Blair places him 
673 B.C. This is the Thaletas whom Plutarch makes cotemporary 
with Solon, and of whom it it related, that he delivered the 
Lacedaemonians from the pestilence, by the sweetness of his lyre (/). 

The name of EUMELUS occurs next among the early poets of 
Greece, though but little is known concerning his talents or pro- 
ductions. He is quoted, indeed, both by Pausanias and Athenaeus; 
by the former, to shew the great antiquity of musical contests 
among the Messenians, and, by both, as an Historian. But if he 
was author of a history of his own country, Corinth, as these writers 
have said, it must have been composed in Verse, an historical 
Ballad; prose-writing having been unknown in Greece, so early as 
744 years B.C., the time when he is said, by G. Vossius, to have 
flourished. Philosophy and history had no other language than 
poetry, till the time of Cadmus Milesius, and Pherecydes of Scyros, 
who were cotemporaries, and the first who wrote concerning either 
history or philosophy, in Prose.* Epimenides of Crete, Abaris 
the philosopher, and Anacharsis the legislator, both Scythians, as 
well as Eumelus of Corinth, and innumerable others, are said to 
have made verse the vehicle of their instructions and records. 
These all acquired the title of Sage (m), which, originally, was 
bestowed not only on the wise and learned, who held commerce 
with the Muses, but on all those who had distinguished themselves 
by their abilities in any art or science. 

ARCHILOCHUS has been already mentioned (), as the inven- 
tor of Dramatic Melody, or the melody used in Declamation; which, 
in modern language, might be termed Recitative to strict measure, 
such as the voice-part observes in many modern pieces of 

(*) Lib. xv. 

(ft The Greeks called vjropxwto, a kind of poetry composed, not only to be sung to the sound 
of flutes and citharas, but to be danced, at the same time. The Italian term Ballata, the French 
Ballade, and the English word Ballad, had formerly the same import ; implying, severally, a song, 
the melody of which -was to regulate the time of a dance. And the different measures of poetry being 
called feet, both in ancient and modern languages, suggests an idea that dancing, if not anterior to 
Poetry and Music, had a very early and ultimate connection with them both. The poet Simonides 
denned Poetry an eh'jueiii Dance ; and Dancing, a silent Poetry. 

(I) See p. 158. (m) 2o$os. (n) P. 137. 

* It is doubtful if Cadmus of Miletus existed. Dionysius of Halicaranssus states that the work 
ascribed to him was a forgery. One of the earliest prose writers was Hecataus of Miletus who died 
about 476 B.C. 



accompanied recitative. Herodotus makes him cotemporary with 
Candaules and Gyges, kings of Lydia, who flourished about the 
fourteenth Olympiad, 724 B.C. But modern chronology places him 
much later (0). According to Plutarch, there is no Bard of 
antiquity, by whom the two arts of Poetry and Music have been so 
much advanced, as by Archilochus. He was born at Paros, one 
of the Cyclades. His father Telesicles was of so high a rank, that 
he was chosen by his countrymen to consult the oracle at Delphos, 
concerning the sending a colony to Thasos: a proof that he was 
of one of the most distinguished families upon the island. However, 
he is said to have sullied his birth by an ignoble marriage 
with a slave called Enipo, of which alliance our poet-musician was 
the fruit. 

Though Archilochus shewed an early genius and attachment to 
poetry and music, these arts did not prevent his going into the 
army, like other young men of his birth; but in the first engagement 
at which he was present, the young poet, like Horace, and like our 
own Suckling, lost his buckler, though he saved his life by the help 
of his heels; neither of which, luckily, had fared so ill in the 
battle, as that of Achilles at Troy. It is much easier, said he, to 
get a new buckler, than a new existence. This pleasantry, how- 
ever, did not save his reputation; nor could his poetry or prayers 
prevail upon Lycambes, the father of his mistress, to let him marry 
his daughter, though she had been long promised to him. After 
these mortifications, his life seems to have been one continued tissue 
of disgrace and resentment (). There is a great resemblance 
between the incidents of his life, and those of the poet Rousseau; 
both were equally unfortunate in love, friendship, and in death; 
both were at war with the world, and the world with them; nor was 
either admired, till he ceased to be feared. A peevish, satirical, 
and irascible disposition, soured the public, and embittered their 
own existence. A general satirist, like Codes on the bridge, stands 
alone, against a whole army of foes. 

All the particular circumstances of this Greek satirist, which 
cannot with propriety have admission here, have been carefully 
collected in the course of the present century by three able 
biographers (q). His musical and poetical discoveries are what 
chiefly concern this History; and among these, Plutarch (r) 
attributes to Mm the Rhythmop&ia of Trimeter Iambics; the sudden 
transition from one rhythm to another of a different kind (s); and 
the manner of accompanying those irregular measures upon the 
lyre; with several other inventions of the same kind, which, to 

(o) Blair 686 ; Priestley 660 B.C. 

(p) Archilochum proprio rabies armavit lambo. HOR. 

The rage of A rchilochus was proverbial in antiquity ; which compared the provoking this satyrist, 
to the treading upon a serpent. A comparison not very severe, if it be true that Lycambes, and, as 
some say, histhree daughters, were so mortified by his satire, as to be driven to the consolation ot a 

(q) Bayle, in his Dictionary ; the Abb6 Sevin ; and M. Burette, in Mem. de Litt. t. x. 

(r) De Musica. 

(s) That is of a different time ; as from Iambic rhythm, or triple time, to Dactylic, or common time. 

VOI,. i. 19 289 


transcribe, would only be giving the reader words without ideas, or 
ideas which it is not certain the words were intended to convey. 
Now, as the measure of verse rigorously governed the melody to 
which it was set and sung, new Numbers in poetry must have 
generated new Airs in music. Heroic poetry, in hexameter verse, 
seems to have been solely in use among the more ancient poets 
and musicians; and the transition from one rhythm to another, 
which lyric poetry required, was unknown to them; so that if 
Archilochus was the first author of this mixture, he might with 
propriety be styled the Inventor of Lyric Poetry, which, after 
his time, became a species of versification wholly distinct from 
heroic (t). 

To Archilochus is likewise ascribed the invention of Epodes: 
the word, in its most common acceptation, implies a number of 
lyric verses of different construction, comprised in a single stanza, 
which, in odes, were sung immediately after the two other stanzas, 
called 'Strophe and Antistrophe (u). But the name of Epode was 
likewise given to a small lyric poem, composed of Trimeter- 
Iambics, of six feet, and Dimeters of four feet, alternately. Of this 
last kind were the Epodes of Archilochus, mentioned by Plutarch; 
and those of the fifth book of Odes of Horace. And, in after- 
times, the signification of the word Epode was extended to every 
poem which had a short verse placed at the end of several longer 
verses (x). 

Our poet-musician is generally ranked among the first victors 
at the Pythic games; and we learn from Pindar (y} 3 that his Muse 
was not always a Termagant: for though no mortal escaped her 
rage, yet she was, at times, sufficiently tranquil and pious to 
dictate hymns in praise of the Gods, and Heroes. One, in parti- 
cular, written in honour of Hercules, acquired him the acclamations 
of all Greece; for he sung it in full assembly at the Olympic 
games, and had the satisfaction of receiving from the judges the 
crown of victory, consecrated to real merit. This hymn, or ode, 
was afterwards sung in honour of every victor at Olympia, who 
had no poet to celebrate his particular exploits. 

The names of Homer and Archilochus were equally revered and 
celebrated in Greece, as the two most excellent poets which the 
nation had ever produced. This appears from an epigram in the 
Anthologia, and from Cicero, who ranks him with the poets of 
the first class, and in his Epistles tells us, that the grammarian 
Aristophanes, the most rigid and scrupulous critic of his time, 
used to say, the longest poem of Archilochus always appeared, to 
him,, the most excellent. 

The Lacedaemonians, though a military people, of austere 
manners, appear at all times, notwithstanding their inhospitable 
law against the admission of strangers (z), to have invited eminent 

(t) See Dissert, p. 82, note (*). {) Idem ibidem, p. 160. 

(x) Recherckes sur la, Vie et sur Us Ouvrages d'Archtioqut. Par TAbbg Sevin. 



musicians into their country, and to have encouraged music; not 
only in order to regulate the steps, and animate the courage of 
their troops, but to grace their festivals, and fill their hours of 
leisure in private life (a). TYRT-3JUS, an Athenian General, 
and Musician, is celebrated by all antiquity for the composition of 
military songs and airs, as well as the performance of them. He 
was called to the assistance of the Lacedaemonians, in the second 
war with the Messenians, about 685 B.C. and a memorable victory 
which they obtained over that people, is attributed by the ancient 
scholiasts .upon Horace, to the animating sound of a new 
military Flute, or Clarion, invented and played upon by Tyrtaus. 
Plutarch tells us that they gave him the freedom of their city; and 
that his military airs were constantly sung and played in the 
Spartan army, to the last hour of the republic. And Lycurgus, 
the orator, in his oration against Leocrates, says, " The Spartans 
made a law, that whenever they were in arms, and going 'out 
upon any military expedition, they should all be first summoned 
to the king's tent, to hear the songs of Tyrtaeus;" thinking it 
the best means of sending them forth with a disposition to die 
with pleasure for their country (6). He was likewise the author 
of a celebrated song and dance performed at festivals by three 
choirs; the first of which was composed of old men, the second of 
such as were arrived at maturity, and the third of boys. The first 
chorus began by this verse : 

In youth our souls with martial ardor glow'd. 
The 2d. We present glory seek point out the road. 
The 3d. Though now with children we can only class, 

We hope our future deeds will your's surpass (c). 

All ancient writers who mention the progressive state of music 
in Greece, are unanimous in celebrating the talents of 
TERPANDER [fl. c. 700-650 B.C.]; but though there is such an 
entire agreement among them concerning the obligations which the 
art was under to this musician in its infant state, yet it is difficult 
to find any two accounts of him which accord in adjusting the 
time and place of his birth. It does not, however, seem neces- 
sary to lead the reader over hedge and ditch with chronologers, 
after a truth, of which the scent has so long been lost. The Oxford 
Marbles, which appear to me the best authority to follow, tell us, 
in express terms, that he was the son of Derdeneus of Lesbos, and 
that he flourished in the 381st year of these records (d\; which 
nearly answers to the twenty-seventh Olympiad, and 671st year 
B.C. The Marbles inform us likewise, that he taught the Nomes, 

(a) Athenasus, lib. xiv. tells us that they had a Flute upon their Ensigns and Standards. 

(b) Fragments of this poetry, in elegiac verse, are preserved in Stdbesus, Lycurgus Orat. In 
Fulvius Ursinus, at the end of Poems by iUustrious Women ; and in the Oxford Edition of Eleg. & 
Lyric* Frag. & Scolia. printed 1759. Ta 2a>o/xeva, &c. 

(c) The abb Savin has likewise collected all the most interesting particulars to be found in ancient 
authors, relative to the life and writings of Tyrtau$. See Mem. d* Lilt. torn. viii. 

($ te'afm* Oxen. Epoch, 35, p. 166. 



or Airs, of the Lyre and Flute, which he performed himself upon 
this last instrument, in concert with other players on the Flute 
(e). Several writers tell us that he added three strings to the lyre, 
which before his time had but four; and in confirmation of this, 
Euclid (/) and Strabo (g) quote two verses, which they attribute 
to Terpander himself (h). 

The Tetrachord's restraint we now despise, 

The seven-stringed Lyre a nobler strain supplies. 

If the hymn to Mercury, which is ascribed to Homer, and in 
which the seven-stringed Lyre is mentioned, be genuine, it robs 
Terpander of this glory. The learned, however, have great 
doubts concerning its authenticity (i). But if the lyre had been 
before his time furnished with seven strings, in other parts of 
Greece, it seems as if Terpander was the first who played upon 
them at Lacedsemon. The Marbles tell us that the people were 
offended by his innovations. The Spartan discipline had deprived 
them of all their natural feelings; they were rendered machines; 
and whether Terpander disturbed the springs by which they used 
to be governed, or tried to work upon them by new ones, there 
was an equal chance of giving offence. The new strings, or new 
melodies, and new rhythms, upon the old strings, must have been 
as intolerable to a Lacedaemonian audience, at first hearing, as an 
Organ, and chearful music would have been, to a Scots congre- 
gation some years ago, or would be at a Quaker's meeting now. 
" It is not at aU surprising," says Alcibiades, "that the 
Lacedaemonians seem fearless of death in the day of battle, since 
death would free them from those laws which make them so 
wretched (k)." 

Plutarch, in his Laconic Institutions, informs us, that Terpan- 
der was fined by the Ephori for his innovations. However, in his 


{/). Introd Harm. p. 19. Edit. Meibom. (g) Lib. xiii. 

(fc) *Hj&t? rot Terpa-yijpw a7ro<reparreff aotSrjv, "EirTaroi^) ^op/uyyt veow JceAafiTjoro/jtev V/APOV?. 

(*) See Clarke's notes oil Homer. The Hymn to Apollo has indeed better authority ; for it is 
quoted by Thucydides, whose testimony is of great weight ; but as neither the word yeXw, nor 
Aupa, are to be found in the Iliad, Odyssey, or in this Hymn, and as both occur in that to Mercury, 
it seems to furnish a proof of its being spurious, which has hitherto escaped the commentators. The 
mention .of seven concordant strings "Eirra. Se <rv/uufcwow OUDJ> xop6a<? v. 51. in this last 
Hymn, is a curious circumstance ; but unless the time when it was written could be ascertained, no 
conclusions can be drawn Irom it. It may be worth observing, however, that the words o'iow Yop&w, 
in this verse, tell us, that the strings of the Mercurian lyre were sheep strings, that is, made of sheep's 

of ffiH? Hymn, that the Tortoise-shell was covered with Leather * a/i^i fie BEQUM. rowvtrt Boos' and 
it is frequently mentioned that it was held in the left Hand : err' apurepa xpos. ' 

(k) ffflian, lib. xiii. c. 38. These people seem to have made life one continued penance, from the 
beginning to the end of it, by constantly counteracting nature in all her operations. They were 
inveterate Fanatics, equally enemies to comfort and elegance in their way of living, with the most 
gloomy Methodists of modern times. It is given by Plutarch, as a ben mot of one of their kings, that 
when a musician was highly extolled for his skill, he said, " how much you must admire a brave man 
who can bestow such praise upon a harper ? " And when a musician was recommended to the same 
prince, as a man who composed excellent music, he said, turning to his cook, " and this "n can make 
good broth." The particular kind of merit in which persons of narrow minds excel, is, with them the 
first of all qualifications. The Spartans had brought that art of killing their neighbours and of 
defending themselves, to great perfection, and they were unwilling to allow that any ot er 
accomplishment was necessary. Plutarch, hi his Life of Lycurgus, tells us, however, that they would hot 
suffer their slaves to smg either the songs of Terpander or Alcman. And that some of the Helots nor 
slaves, being taken prisoners by the Thebans, and asked to sing them, said, they are the songs of, our 
re not szn them. ' * J 



Dialogue on Music, he likewise tells us, that the same musician 
appeased a sedition at Sparta, among the same people, by the 
persuasive strains which he sung and played to them on that occasion. 
There seems no other way of reconciling these two accounts, than 
by supposing that he had, by degrees, refined the public taste, or 
depraved his own to the level of his hearers. 

Among the many signal services which Terpander is said to 
have done to music, none was of more importance than the 
Notation that is ascribed to him for ascertaining and preserving 
melody, which was before traditional, and wholly dependent on 
memory (/). The invention, however, of Musical Characters has 
been attributed by Alypius and Gaudentius, two Greek writers 
on music, and, upon their authority, by Boethius, to Pythagoras, 
who flourished full two centuries after Terpander. It will be 
necessary therefore to tell the reader upon what grounds this useful 
discovery has been bestowed upon him. 

Plutarch (m), from Heraclides of Pontus (n), assures us that 
Terpander, the inventor of Nomes for the Cithara, in Hexameter 
verse, set them to music (o), as well as the verses of Homer, in 
order to sing them at the public Games. And Clemens Alexan- 
drinus (p), in telling us that this musician wrote the laws of 
Lycurgus in verse, and set them to music, makes use of the same 
expression as Plutarch, which seems clearly to imply a written 
melody (q). 

After enumerating the Airs which Terpander had composed, 
and to which he had given names, Plutarch (r) continues to speak 
of his other Compositions, among which, he describes the 
Proems (s), or Hymns for the Cithara, in heroic verse. These 
were used in after-times, by the Rhapsodists, as prologues, or 
introductions to the poems of Homer, and other ancient writers. 
But Terpander rendered his name illustrious, no less by his 
Performance, both upon the Flute and Cithara, than by his 
Compositions. This appears by the Marbles, already mentioned; by a 
passage in Athenaeus, from the historian Hellanicus, which informs 
us that he obtained the first prize in the Musical Contests at the 
Carnean Games (t); and by the testimony of Plutarch, who says, 

(I) What this Notation was, has been already explained in the Dissertation, sect.I. 

(m) De Music*. () See Note (p) page 62. 

(o) MeXir 7repm0ra, literally, ckathed them in melody. (p) Strom, lib. i. 

(q) MeXos av wpwros irepiefcjKe rots Troojjuuwrt first set melody to poems. Athenaeus tells us, 
however, lib. viii. cap, 12, that Stratonicus, a musician, whom he frequently celebrates for his wit and 
humour, invented Diagrams, or Gamuts, and gives for his authority Ereaus Phamas, the Peripatetic ; 
but the invention of musical characters seems to include the formation of a scale, and Stratonicus 
flourished long after both Terpander and Pythagoras, to whom different writers have ascribed the 
first use of alphabetic characters, as types of musical sounds. 

(r) Ubi supra. (*) Hpoo-t/ita ictdap^acKa. 

) These were instituted at Sparta about the 26th Olympiad, 676 B.C. in order to avert the anger 
of Apollo for the death of Camus, one of his priests, murdered by the Dorians. Athenaeus, - * 
tells us, that Hellanicus, in his Treatise upon Versification, had inserted an exact list of the several 
victors at the Carnia, from the first celebration of those festivals, to his own time : and that Terpander 
was at the head of them. Hellanicus died 411 B.C. He was a Lesbian, and the first Historian who 
computed time according to the years of the priestesses ofArgos ; as Timseus was the first who reckoned 
by Olympiads. 



that " no other proof need be urged of the excellence of Terpander, 
in the art of playing upon the Cithara, than what is given by 
the Register of the Pythic Games, from which it appears that he 
gained four prizes, successively, at those solemnities ()." 

After speaking of the victories obtained by this venerable Bard, 
at the Public Games, it seems necessary to be somewhat minute in 
describing these memorable institutions, as far as they concern 
music. And, in order to convey to the reader as clear an idea as 
I am able, of the rank which Music and Musicians held at these 
assemblies, I shall give some account of each of the four principal, 
or Sacred Games, separately : and first, 

Of theJDlympic Qames 

Though it is not my design to insert all the irreconcileable 
accounts of ancient authors, concerning the origin of these institu- 
tions, yet I shall be the more particular in tracing them, not only 
as many Poets and Musicians displayed their skill and abilities at 
them, but as they constitute the most memorable JEiB. of Pagan 
antiquity, upon which all Chronology and History depend. 
Historians have, indeed, the greatest obligations to these Epochs, 
which have thrown a light upon the chaos of remote events, and 
enabled them to distinguish and ascertain them. 

All the Grecian Games seem to have originated from the honours 
paid to deceased heroes by their surviving Mends at their Obsequies. 
Homer, who mentions not the Olympics, is very minute in 
describing the Funeral Games, celebrated in honour of Patrodus 
and Achilles (#). They are likewise to be found in the Argonautics, 
attributed to Orpheus; and in Apollonius Rhodius. Games of a 
different kind are, however, described by Homer, not only such as 
were exhibited for the amusement of mysses at the court of 
Alcinous (y), but others at Delos, that were connected with religion, 
in which it seems as if Homer himself had performed. Thucydides 
(z) tells us, that in very remote antiquity, there were " Games 
of bodily exercise, and of Music, in which cities exhibited their 
respective Choruses;" and, in testimony of this, he quotes the 
following verses from Homer's Hymn to Apollo : 

" To thee, O Phoebus, most the Deliau isle 
Gives cordial joy, excites the pleasing smile; 
When gay lonians flock around thy fane; 
Men, women, children, a resplendent train, 
Whose flowing garments sweep the sacred pile, 

(u) Ibid. These must have been obtained at the casual celebration of the Pytbic games, long 
before their regular establishment. 

(*) II. book xxit. and Odyss. book rriv. 
(y) Odyss. book viii 
(*} Lib. iii. cap. 104. 



Whose grateful concourse gladdens all the isle, 

Where champions fight, where dancers beat the ground, 

Where chearful Music echoes aU around, 

Thy feast to honour and thy praise to sound." 

"That there was also," continues Thucydides, "a Musical 
Game, to which artists resorted to make Trials of skill f Homer fully 
shows in other verses to be found in the same Hymn : for having 
sung the Delian chorus of females, he closes their praise with these 
lines, in which he makes some mention of himself: 

" Hail! great Apollo, radiant God of day! 

Hail Cynthia, Goddess of the lunar sway ! 

Henceforth on me propitious smile! and you, 

Ye blooming beauties of the isle, adieu ! 

When future guests shall reach your happy shore, 

And refug'd here from toils, lament no more; 

When social talk the mind unbending chears, 

And this demand shall greet your friendly ears 

Who was the Bard, e'er landed on your coast, 

That sung the sweetest, and that pleased you most? 

With voice united, all ye blooming fair, 

Join in your answer, and for me declare; 

Say The blind Bard the sweetest notes may boast, 

He lives at Chios, and he pleas'd us most/ 9 

SMITH'S Thucydides. 

I cannot help. pointing out another circumstance in this Hymn, 
which is really curious, as it implies the cultivation of a talent 
for imitation, at a time when simplicity and original genius seem 
most likely to have subsisted, pure and untainted, by ludicrous 

Homer, in verse 162, describing the employment of the Delian 
priestesses, or Nuns of the order of Saint Apollo of Delos, tells 
us, that they were great adepts in the art of Mimickry; and that 
part of the entertainment which they afforded to the numerous 
people of different nations, who formed their congregation, was, 
as the poet expresses it, from their being skilled to imitate the 
voices and the pulsation (a), or measure, of all nations: and so 
exactly was their song adapted, that every man would think he 
himself was singing (b). 

Homer seems to sketch out the order of the performance in these 
old Pagan Conservatories, v. 158 : first they sung a hymn in praise 
of Apollo: then another in praise of Latona and Diana: then 
they descended to the celebration of human Heroes and Heroines 

(a) Kpe/Aj3oXio<rrw, Strepitom. 

. (b) By the expression iravrwv Mpwrw $a>w*, literally, the voices of att men, is hardly meant 
that these ladies were in possession of Mr. Foote's talent, and took off individuals. *w seems only 
to imply national melody, or, at most, national dialects, and inflexions of speech : and Kpenpt&uurrvs, 
National Rhythm, which, in all probability was the most striking characteristic in those early ages of 



ot ancient times; and it seems to have been in this part of their 
performance that they exerted their mimetic powers, and charmed 
the nations (c). 

It appears, even from the discordant accounts of chronclogers, 
that the Olympic Games had at first been only celebrated 
occasionally, at very distant and irregular periods, in order to 
solemnize some great events; but as no two writers are agreed 
concerning either the times or occasions of these early exhibitions, 
I shall enter upon no discussion concerning them, anterior to the 
year 776, B.C., at which time they first began to be regularly 
celebrated once in fifty months, or the second month after the 
expiration of four years, and to serve as epochas to all Greece. 
Corsebus, the Elean, was the victor in this Olympiad, which 
chronologers have unanimously agreed to call the firet. These 
Games were particularly dedicated to Olympian Jupiter, and had 
their name either from that circumstance, or from the city Olympia, 
near which they were celebrated. 

With whatever design they were at first instituted, whether for 
religious or civil purposes, in process of time they became of such 
general importance to all the states and cities of Greece, that there 
was no one of them which dfd not think itself deeply interested in 
their celebration; and which, as each of them furnished com- 
batants of one kind or other, did not eventually participate of 
the honour they acquired, when victorious, or the disgrace, when 

Mr. West, in his Dissertation on the Olympic Games, published 
with his translation of some of the Odes of Pindar, has described 
most of the gymnastic exercises there, and clearly demonstrated 
that these institutions were at once religious and political, in both 
which senses they were productive of much public benefit. 
Respect and veneration for the Gods, but particularly for Jupiter, 
he observes, were impressed by the noble and magnificent temple 
and statues erected to him at Olympia, as well as by religious rites 
and ceremonies. By the Horse-race, the breed and management 
of that useful animal was promoted; in the Foot-race, manly 
speed and activity. In other athletic and gymnastic exercises, a 
noble ambition of excelling in feats of manhood and dexterity, 
before all the princes and people of Greece, was stimulated by 
every incitement that was likely to operate upon the passions of 
men. But though Mr. West tells us, that " these assemblies were 
frequented by persons of the greatest eminence in all the arts of 
peace, such as Historians, Orators, Philosophers, Poets and 
Painters; who perceiving that the most compendious way to fame 
lay through Olympia, were there induced to exhibit their best 
performances, at the time of the celebration of the Olympic 
games"; yet, he has wholly omitted to mention Poetical and 
Musical Contests, though both can be proved to have had frequent 
admission there. Indeed these were not the principal contentions 



at Olympia, as they were at Delphos, and in some other public 
Games; being subordinate to the athletic and gymnastic exercises, 
and no part of the Pentathlon, or five bodily exercises, of leaping, 
running, throwing the quoit or dart, boxing and wrestling; though 
even these were accompanied by the Flute; for Pausanias (d) says 
that Pythocritus of Sicyon played six times upon the Flute during 
the exercise of the .Pentathlon, at Olympia; and in testimony of 
the skill and abilities which he manifested in his art, a pillar and 
statue were erected to him with this inscription : 



To the Memory of Pythocritus, Victor upon the Flute. We 
have the same authority for the horse-race being accompanied by 
the Trumpet (e): and many ancient writers tell us that the chariot- 
race was likewise accompanied by the Flute. 

Pausanias also remarks, that there was a Gymnasium near 
Olympia, called Lolichmium, which was open at all times to those 
who were desirous of trying their powers in literary combats of 
every kind, where Music, as the constant companion of Poetry, 
could not have been excluded. 

^Blian (/) tells us likewise, that in the 91st Olympiad (g), f 
Xenocles and Euripides disputed the prize of Dramatic Poetry at 
the Olympic games. Now Dramatic Poetry was at this time always 
set to music, sung, and accompanied by instruments, when 
performed on the stage; it is probable, therefore, that the case was 
the same at a public recital; at least with respect to the lyric part 
of the Drama. 

In the 96th Olympiad, 396 B.C. a prize was instituted at the 
Olympic games for the best performer on the Trumpet. It has 
been already observed (h}> that the Trumpet was not in use among 
the Greeks at the time of the Trojan war; and when it became 
common, it may well be imagined to have served at first only as a 
rough and noisy signal of battle, like that at present in Abyssinia, 
and New Zealand, and, perhaps, with only one sound. But when 
even more notes were produced from it, so noisy an instrument 
must have been an unfit accompaniment for the voice and for 
poetry: so that it is probable the Trumpet was the first solo 
instrument in use among the ancients. 

The first performer upon this instrument, who gained the prize 
at the Olympic games, was Timaeus of Elis (f). His countryman, 
Crates, obtained one there the same year, on the Cornet, or Horn 
(ft). Archias of Hybla, in Sicily, was victor on the Trumpet at 

() Lib. vt (e} Ibid. {/) Lib. ii. cap. 8. (g) 416 B.C. 

(fc) P. 273. () Avaypaf. Olyinp. ad Cak. CJtron. Eustto. 

(k) Jut. Pottux Onomastic. lib. iv. cap. xii, segm. 92. 



three several Olympiads, after this period (Q. These premiums 
seem not to have been temporary, but to have been continued 
long after their first establishment; for Athenaeus informs us, that 
the famous Trumpeter, Herodorus of Megara, already mentioned 
in this work (m), was victor at the Olympic games ten several 
times. Jul. Pollux says fifteen. These writers must mean that he 
obtained so many prizes at the different games of Greece; as 
Athenaeus informs us, that he was victor in the whole circle of 
sacred games, having been crowned at the Olympian, Pythian, 
Nemean, and Isthmian, by turns (n). 

These performers on the Trumpet appear to have been Heralds 
and public cryers; who not only gave the signals at the games 
for the combatants to engage, and announced their success, but 
proclaimed peace and war, and sounded signals of sacrifice and 
silence, at religious ceremonies (o). 

As Herodorus is allowed to have been cotemporary with 
Demetrius Poliorcetes, he may be placed about the 120 Olymp. 
300 B.C. According to the authors already cited, he was as 
remarkable for his gigantic figure and enormous appetite, as for the 
strength of his lungs, which were so powerful in blowing the 
trumpet, that he could not be heard with safety, unless at a great 
distance. But, upon these occasions, the danger was not always 
confined to the Hearers ; the Performers themselves, sometimes, 
seem to have exulted, and to have been very thankful that they 
found themselves alive and well, when their Solos were ended. An 
epigram of Archias, the Hyblaean trumpeter, mentioned above, is 
preserved in Jul. Pollux, in which he dedicates a statue to Apollo, 
in gratitude for his having been enabled to proclaim the Olympic 
games with his trumpet, three times, without bursting his cheeks, 
or a blood-vessel, though he sounded with all his force, and without 
a Capistrum, or Muzzle (p). 

Even the Flute had its dangers, if Lucian may be credited, who 
relates, with the appearance of great gravity, that Harmonides, a 
young Flute-player, and scholar of Timotheus, at his first public 
performance, in order to astonish his hearers, began his solo with so 
violent a blast, that he breathed his last breath into his flute, and 
died upon the spot (q). 

Plutarch, and several ancient writers, speak of a kind of Pasticcio 
performance at the public games, among the Rhapsodists, who 

(Z) P. Corsini Fasti Attic. Olymp. 96. (m) Page 155. 

() Casaub. Animad. in Athen. lib. x. cap. 3, est igitvr ireptoSw VIKO.V, orbem implere ludorum 
sacrorum : qui in Gr&cia erani quaiuor. 

(o) Jul. Pollux, loc. tit. seg. 91. 

(p) See p. 232. I shall insert here, for the satisfaction of the learned reader, the original epigram 
from the Qnomastican of Julius Pollux, lib. iv. cap. 12. as it is not, I believe, in the Anthologia of 
Stephens, nor has it been cited by any modern author that I know of, except Isaac Vossius. 

"Y/3X<uft> jeflpwct TO* Apx'f Ev/cXeo? vtw 

A<rac ayaAju.' cvQpw Qot.p eir* amjfMxrwij, 

*Os rpts ejeapvev TOV 'OAv/tirta? avros a-ytova, 

*0v0* * * 

words : /a/reirveweTa> avAw, breathed I 
died upon the stage. 



used to collect together favourite passages of poetry and music of 
different Styles and Masters, and sing them to the Cithara. 
Cleomenes the Rhapsodist, however, according to Anthenseus (r}> 
sung, by memory, at the Olympic Games, an entire poem called the 
Expiations, composed by Empedocles (s). 

As a further proof of musical contests forming a part of the 
exhibitions at the Olympic Games, I shall only observe that the 
emperor Nero, who regarded every great musician as his rival, 
disputed the prize in music there, in all its forms (t) : fret, entering 
his name with the common candidates, and submitting to all the 
usual preparatory discipline, as well as to the rigour of the theatrical 
laws, during performance ; and, afterwards, supplicating the favour 
of the Nomodictai (u), or umpires, by all the seeming submission and 
anxiety of a professed musician ; as if an emperor, and such an 
emperor, had any thing to fear from the severity of his judges ! 

But, besides the contests, in which Poetry and Music were the 
principal objects of attention, at these numerous and splendid 
a^emblies, those arts must have been cultivated and practised there, 
with equal zeal and success, in the secondary employment of 
celebrating the achievements of others. Honour was the chief incite- 
ment to the candidates in all the Sacred Games. Indeed, though 
the victors in the Pentathlon were entitled to a reward of about 
500 Drachma, 161. 2s. lid. yet it does not appear, that in the 
horse, or chariot-race, any other prize was bestowed on the 
conqueror than an olive-crown ; for as kings and princes were 
frequently the combatants, what lucre, but that of glory, could tempt 
them to enter the lists? 

The victors, in every species of combat, were, however, 
distinguished upon all occasions, and had every where the most 
honourable reception : Poets and Musicians of the greatest eminence, 
were ambitious of celebrating their praise ; and it is to their triumphs 
that we owe the Odes of Pindar. Other panegyrics of this kind 
have not come down to us, though every successful hero had a 
bard to record his victory, and to chant his virtues. Both Simonides 
and Bacchylides composed Hymns in honour of king Hiero, as 
well as Pindar ; but I shall give sufficient testimony hereafter of 
innumerable compositions of the like species having been produced, 
and sung upon similar occasions, by the greatest Poets and 
Musicians of antiquity. 

(r) Lib. xiv. p. 620. 

(s) The import of the word Rhapsodist underwent several changes in antiquity ; it was first 
appropriated to Bards, who sung their own verses from town to town, or at the tables of the great ; 
in this sense Homer was called a Rhapsodist. It was next bestowed on those who sung the verses of 
Homer on the stage, usually for a prize, allotted to the best performer of them ; and, lastly, to such 
singers of Centos, as have been just described. A Rhapsody, in modern language, conveys no other 
meaning than that of an incoherent jumble of ideas. This sense of the word, undoubtedly, took its 
rise from the notorious folly and absurdity of the Khapsodists, in their rapturous comments upon their 
favourite poets ; for they undertook to explain as well as to recite. Hence it is that hi Suidas, the 
word pa^u&a, is defined by ^Xvpta, nonsense. 

(t) Suet, in Neronc, cap. xxi, and Dio Cassius, tell us, that this prince wore the Olympic Crown, 
after his return into Italy ; and entered every great city in his way home, by a breach in the walls, 
according to the ancient custom of a conqueror at Olympia. 

(tt) No/xoSei/cTOA. 



Mr. West, in his Dissertation, has enumerated, among the 
honours conferred on Olympic victors, the Odes that were composed 
for them, and performed in processions and temples, with a religious 
zeal and solemnity. Indeed, these happy mortals were exalted 
above humanity ; they had nothing to fear from the humiliating 
vicissitudes of fortune ; the public provided for their subsistence, 
and immortalized their fame, by monuments which seemed to brave 
the injuries of time. The most celebrated statuaries were ambitious 
of representing their figures in brass and marble, and binding their 
brows with the emblems of victory, in the sacred Grove of Olympia : 
a place which alone, in the time of Pausanias, contained more than 
five hundred statues of Gods and Heroes of the first class, without 
including those that had been placed there in honour of less 
important personages. How rapid must have been the progress of 
statuary, in consequence of emulation, and the public judgment, 
rendered fastidious by the variety of comparison! And what an 
admirable school must these exquisite works have been, both for the 
history and practice of that art ! 

The Olympic Games, according to St. Chrysostom, continued to 
be celebrated with splendor till the end of the fourth century; 
and it may be said, that though the chief attention and honours 
in these assemblies were bestowed on feats of activity and bodity 
exercises ; yet literature, and the fine arts, were virtually 
encouraged, cultivated, and refined, in consequence of the victories 
obtained in the Stadium by mere athletics, who, themselves, must 
frequently be supposed to have had neither skill nor taste, in works 
of fancy and imitation, or in any thing that depended on the 
operations of the mind (x). 

Of the Pythic Qames 

The event upon which these Games, the second in rank, among 
the four called Sacred, were founded, has been already related in 
the History of Apollo (y) ; and I find no account of their progress 
in remote antiquity, previous to their regular establishment at stated 
intervals, more full and satisfactory than that given by Pausanias (z) . 
" The Pythic Games/' says this writer, " consisted, in ancient 
times, of only Poetical and Musical Contests ; and the prize was 
given to him who had written and sung the best hymn in honour of 
Apollo. At their first celebration, Chrysothemis of Crete, the son 

(#) Hiero of Syracuse, whose achievements Pindar has so much extolled, was in his youth 
according to JElian, lib. iv. cap. 15, the most ignorant of mankind, his brother Gelo excepted. But 
want of health obliging him to remain inactive, he began to think, and to acquire information from the 
learned. As for his brother, he remained in ignorance to the end of his life. Of this prince, Plutarch 
tells us, in his Apophthegms, that he devoted his whole time to athletic exercises. One day. at a 
festival, in which all the guests " ' ' " ' - - - - 

his talents, called for a horse, in order to shew with what address he could vault upon his back. An 
English athletic, some years ago, upon hearing the late Mr. Miller much applauded at Vauxhall, for 
hfe performance on the Bassoon, cried out, " What signifies his Bassoon ? Why I could break it with 
my oaken stick." 

(y) P. 333- (*) Lib. x. cap. 7. 


of Carmanor, who purified Apollo, after he had killed the Python, 
was victor. After him Philammon, the son of Chrysosothemis, won 
the prize; and the next who was crowned, was Thamyris, the son 
of Philammon. Eleutherus is recorded to have gained the prize 
there, by the power and sweetness of his voice; though the hymn 
which he sung was the composition of another. It is said, likewise, 
that Hesiod was refused admission among the candidates, on account 
of his not having been able to accompany himself upon the lyre ; and 
that Homer, though he went to Delphos to consult the Oracle, yet, 
on account of his blindness and infirmities, he made but little use 
o:C his talent of singing and playing upon the lyre at the same tune." 

Hence it appears, that though Musical Contests were, perhaps, 
not ranked among the regular and established exercises of the 
Olympic Games, yet all antiquity agrees, that no others were 
admitted into the Pythic, during the first ages of their celebration. 

The Temple of Apollo, at Delphos, a city placed at the foot of 
mount Parnassus, in Phocis, where the famous oracle was founded, 
and where these games were celebrated, had, on account of 
the great treasures it contained, been long the object of desire, to 
ambition and rapacity; and had frequently been attempted with 
success. However, the most remarkable sacrilege upon record, 
was committed by the inhabitants of Crissa, or Cirrha, a small 
republic in the neighbourhood, who, grown already rich, insolent, 
and licentious, by a prosperous commerce, seized upon the Temple 
of Apollo, and not only stripped it of all its treasures, but robbed 
and plundered all those who were occupied hi the service of religion, 
in the Sacred Grove; pilgrims from all parts of Greece, priests, 
priestesses, and virgins, committing every kind of outrage, both 
upon their property and persons. Such crimes as these could 
not long remain unnoticed, or unpunished; and the Amphictyonic 
council, the Parliament and Synod of Greece, shuddering at these 
impieties, resolved, unaminously, to revenge the cause of religion 
by making war upon the Crissseans. Plutarch, in his life of Solon, 
tells us, that this legislator, who had already acquired great reputa- 
tion for wisdom, rendered his name still more illustrious and 
respected, by exciting the Amphictyonic assembly to make this 
decree. The Crissaean war, which was called Sacred, and which 
lasted as many years as that of Troy, ended by the utter extirpa- 
tion of the Crissseans; and it was at the close of this long and 
bloody war, 591 B.C. that Eurylochus, the general of the 
Amphictyons, who from his valour, and the length of the siege of 
Crissa, was called the New Achilles, instituted the several kinds 
of Pythie combats at Delphos, which were afterwards constantly 
repeated, on the second year of each Olympiad (a). 

(a) According to Diodorus Siculus, the second sacred war was declared by the Amphictyonic 
council, against the Phocians themselves, for cultivating the forfeited lands of the sacrilegious 
Crissseans which had been decreed, by the Oracle of Apollo, to lie eternally waste. In this war the 
Phocians took from the temple of Delphos, the Loretto of ancient times, more spoils than Alexander the 
Great did afterwards from Darius, at Susa and Persepolis, amounting by the wonderful computation 
of Quintus Curtius, to 150,0*6 talents; or, according to Arbuthnot,- twenty-nrne mdhons^terhng ! 
TbS-war- was begun 355 B.C, and, after continuing nine years, ended in th$ ruin of the phooans, 
though they haditbe^Athenians and'I^ceaamc^atis'lor.iaBJr affies. ..->.- 



Pausanias, in his enumeration of the Musical Contests that were 
added to the ancient Pythic Games, at the close of the Crissaean 
war, tells us, that the Amphictyons proposed prizes, not only for 
those Musicians who sung best to the accompaniment of the Cithara, 
the only combat at the first institution of these Games, but others, 
both to such as should sing best to the accompaniment of the 
Flute, and to those who, with the greatest precision and taste, 

played on that instrument alone, without Singing (b) Here 

began the separation of Music and Poetry. All the Trials of skill, 
all the performances at banquets, festivals, and sacrifices, have 
hitherto been confined to Vocal Music, accompanied by instruments 
indeed, but where Poetry had an important concern; at least, no 
instrumental Music, without vocal, since the contest between 
Apollo and Marsyas, is mentioned in ancient authors, before this 
time, except that of the Trumpet (c); the Lyre and Flute having, 
in public exhibitions, been mere attendants on the voice, and on 

This was soon after the time when Sacadas is recorded to have 
played his Pythic Air, on the Flute, at Delphos, which reconciled 
Apollo (or his priest), to that instrument; who, till then, was said 
to have had it in abhorrence ever since the contest with Marsyas. 
This Musician was not crowned the first time he played at the 
Pythic Games,* but in the two subsequent Pythiads he obtained the 
prize, which furnishes a proof that instrumental Music, separated 
from vocal, began now to be successfully cultivated among the 

After this, the same Games and Combats were established at 
Delphos, as at Olympia. The Amphictyons retrenched the Flute 
accompaniment, on account of that instrument being too plaintive, 
and fit only for lamentations and elegies, to which it was chiefly 
appropriated. A proof of this, says Pausanias, is given in the 
offering which Echembrotus made to Hercules of a bronze Tripod, 
with this inscription: 

" Echembrotus, the Arcadian, dedicated this Tripod to 
Hercules, after obtaining the prize at the Games of the Amphictyons, 
where he accompanied the elegies that were sung in the assembly 
of the Greeks, with the Flute." 

At the 8th Pythiad, 559 B.C. a crown was given to players 
upon stringed instruments, without singing, which was won by 
Agelaus of Tegea. 

The prize given to the victors at the Pythic Games, consisted 
either of Apples, consecrated to Apollo, or, as Pindar informs us, 

(b} Pausanias, in pursuing his account of the renewal of these games, tells us, that Cephallen the 
son of Lampus, distinguished himself by singing to his own accompaniment on the lyre ; the Arcadian 
Echembrotus, by accompanying upon the flute; and Sacadas of Argos, by playing upon that 
instrument, atone, 

(c) Ubi supra. 

* Was connected with the second great school of music established at Sparta. Some authorities 
say that he wonthe prize at the first Pythian games in 590 B.C. and also at toe next two series in 586 
ands82B,. The first school had been established by Terpander. 



of Laurel Crowns, which, according to Pausanias, were peculiar to 
the Pythic Games, in allusion to Apollo's passion for Daphne. 

Strabo, speaking of the different kinds of contests established by 
the Amphictyons, at the first Pythic Games, after the Crissaeans 
were subdued, mentions a particular species of Composition, which 
was sung to the Hymn in praise of Apollo, and accompanied by 
instruments. It was called the Pythian Nome (d); and was a kind 
of long Cantata, consisting of five parts, or Movements, all alluding 
to the victory obtained by the God over the serpent Python.* The 
first part was called the Prelude, or preparation for the fight; the 
second, the Onset, or beginning of the combat; the third, the Heat 
of the Battle] the fourth, the Song of Victory, or the insults of 
Apollo over the serpent Python, composed of Iambics and 
Dactyls; and the fifth, the hissing of the dying monster. 

This Air, Pausanias tells us, was composed, and first played at 
Delphos, by Sacadas, who, according to Plutarch (e), was an 
excellent Poet, as well as Musician, and author of "Lyric Poems, of 
Elegies, and of a Composition consisting of three Strophes or 
Couplets, performed successively in the three Modes chiefly used 
in his time, the Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian; and this air was 
called Trimeles, on account of its changes of modulation (/). Both 
Plutarch and Pausanias mention his having been celebrated by 
Pindar; but as we are not in possession of all that poet's works, this 
honourable testimony cannot be found at present. The reputation 
of Sacadas must doubtless have been very great, for Plutarch says, 
that his name was inserted in the Pythic list of good Poets, and 
Pausanias, that he found his statue, with a Flute in his hand, on 
Mount Helicon, and his tomb at Argos. 

I am the more particular in speaking of this personage, as he 
is the first upon record who detached Music from Poetry, and who 
though a good Poet himself, engaged the^ public attention in 
favour of mere instrumental Music] a Schism that has been as 
severely censured as any one in the church. The censurers, however, 
have forgotten that such Schisms, in the Arts, are as much to 
be desired, as those of religion are to be avoided; since it is by such 
separations only, that the different Arts, and different branches^ol 
the same Art, becoming the objects of separate and exclusive 
cultivation, are brought to their last refinement and perfection. 

After Sacadas had pointed out the road to fame, by means 
of instrumental Music, it was so successfully pursued by Pythocritus, 
of Sicyon, whose statue was erected at Olympia, that he gained 

IIv0weos' irevre 5* avrow /wpq rtv, waic/aovaw, a/wreipa, JcaT<wceAw/to*, 
/cat SewcrvXoi <ru/Myye*. Strab. Geog. p. 431. 

(e) DeMusica. 

,'/) See Dissert, p. 66. 

* A dance was also introduced, and in the forty-eighth Olympiad a flute was added to the 
" orchestra." The association of the flute with dirges roused opposition to the innovation and caused 
il to be withdrawn. The flute was felt to be out of place at a period of merry making. 



the prize at Delphos, as a Solo player on the Flute, six different 
times (g). 

Sir Isaac Newton (h) observes, that by the encouragement of 
the Pythic Games, after their regular celebration was established 
several eminent Musicians and Poets flourished in Greece, and gives 
a catalogue of more than twenty, concerning several of whom parti- 
cular mention has been made already, in the course of this work : 
of others, whose names are familiar to the eyes and ears of classical 
readers, I shall give such information as ancient authors, and their 
commentators, furnish; confining my biographical researches, 
however, chiefly to such heroes of the Pipe and String as seem in 
a particular manner to belong to the Pythic Games, or to have 
merited notice from their early cultivation of Lyric Poetry. 

ALCMAN, the first of these ancient Bards, was a native of 
Sardis, and flourished about 670 B.C. [or 631 B.C.]. Heraclides 
of Pontus assures us, that he was a slave in his youth at Sparta; 
but that by his good qualities and genius, he acquired his freedom, 
and a considerable reputation in Lyric Poetry. He was conse- 
quently an excellent performer on the Cithara; and, if he was not a 
Flute player, he at least sung verses to that instrument. Clemens 
Alexandrrnus makes him author of Music for choral dances (); 
and, according to Archytas Hannoniacus, quoted by Athenseus (), 
Alcman was one of the first and most eminent composers of songs 
upon love and gallantry. If we may credit Suidas, he was the 
first who excluded Hexameters from verses that were to be sung 
to the Lyre, which afterwards obtained the title of Lyric Poems. 
And -Sftian tells us, that he was one of the great Musicians who 
were called to Lacedaemon, by the exigencies of the state, and that 
he sung his airs to the sound of the Flute. All the evolutions in 
the Spartan army were made to the sound of that instrument; and 
as patriotic Songs accompanied by it were found to be excellent 
incentives to public virtue, Alcman seems to have been invited to 
Sparta in order to furnish the troops with such compositions. 

Cicero says that a Lacedaemonian Orator was never heard of (I) : 
And Lilian tells us (m) that the Lacedaemonians had no idea of 
literature; applying themselves merely to gymnastic exercises, and 
to the art of war: whenever they wanted the assistance of the 
Muses they called in strangers. Thus they had recourse to Thaletas, 
Tyrtaeus, Terpander, Alcman, and others. 

Plutarch (n) likewise tells us, that though they banished Science, 
as inconsistent with their military polity, yet they were much 
addicted to Poetry and Music, such as raised their minds above the 

g) This Musician must have been near thirty years in collecting these honours, and consequently 
aslong superior to all his competitors ; let any one figure to himself such an institution inEngland, 
and he will recollect the names of Musicians whose talents so clearly surpassed those of ali itheir 
cotemporaries, that they must have merited the prize for nearly an equal number of years. 

(*} ChronoL p. 60. (*) Xopi s . (k) Lib. xiii. cap. 8. p. 600. 

(Q Ltuzdamanium verb usque ad hoc tempus audivi fuisse neminem. In Bratum. 
m} Var. Hist. lib. xii. cap. 50. ( n ) Laconic Instit. 



ordinary level, and inspired them with a generous ardour and 
resolution for action. Their compositions, consisting only of grave 
and moral subjects, were easy and natural, in a plain dress, and 
without embellishment, containing nothing but the just commenda- 
tions of those great personages, whose singular wisdom and virtue 
had made their lives famous and exemplary, and whose courage 
in defence of their country had rendered their deaths honourable 
and happy. They made use of a peculiar measure in these songs, 
when their army was in march towards an enemy, which being 
sung in a full chorus to their Flutes, seemed proper to excite in 
them a generous courage and contempt of death. Lycurgus was 
the first who brought this militaiy Music into the field. 

This agrees with what has already been related of the 
Lacedaemonians and Arcadians in general, from Polybius (0); and 
though there can be no doubt remaining of their use of Music in 
militaiy discipline (p), in religious ceremonies and at public festivals, 
yet it seems inconsistent that a people so selfish, and abound- 
ing so much in national prejudices as the Spartans, should encourage 
Music and Poetry in other countries, by being at the expense of 
tempting such strangers as had cultivated those arts with the most 
success, to come and practise them in their own (q). 

The Musician Alcman, according to Athenaeus, was not more 
remarkable for a musical genius, than for a voracious appetite; 
and jElian numbers him among the greatest gluttons of antiquity (r). 
The same author tells us of Aglais, a musical lady, who had no other 
talent or occupation than that of sounding the Trumpet, and of 
eating; however, the account of her usual repast is too marvellous 
to be related, even after ^Elian. 

But these are not the only musical personages in antiquity, 
whose insatiable appetite is recorded by Athenaeus and Julian. 

The disease called Bulimia (s), has not been confined to ancient 
Musicians; it is not uncommon among the modern: but why a 
sedentary employment, in which neither air, nor exercise, contri- 
butes to sharpen the appetite of its professors, should be remarkable 
for producing great hunger, and precipitating digestion, is not easy 
to comprehend. 

The tomb of Alcman was still subsisting at Lacedaemon, in the 
time of Pausanias. But nothing, except a few fragments, are now 
remaining of the many poems attributed to him by antiquity. 

(o) P. 149 of this voL 

(p) Agesilaus, being asked why the Spartans marched and fought to the sound of Flutes? 
answered.that when all moved regularly to Music, it was easy to distinguish a brave man from a coward. 
Plut. Lac. Apoph. 

(a) Indeed, this is the case with respect to Singers in England ; we love good singing, but will not 
be at the trouble or expence of establishing a school where our natives might be taught ; which a 
little resembles the conduct of those men of pleasure, who, not having time or patience to mate low, 
seek it where it can be purchased ready made. 

(r) Perhaps he foresaw how great a family he should have to feed in future, for he is said to have 
died like Pherecydes the philosopher, and preceptor of Pythagoras, of the pedicular disease. 

(s) BovXtjuua vel jSovXtjLios the appetite of one that could eat as much as an ox. 
VOL. i. 20 305 


The celebrated Bard ALC^SUS was born at Milylene, the capital 
of Lesbos. He flourished, according to the Chronicle of Eusebius, 
in the 44th Olympiad, that is to say, about 604 B.C., and was conse- 
quently the countryman and cotemporary of Sappho, with whom, 
it is pretended, he was violently enamoured (t). 

Alcaeus was no more a hero than his predecessor Archilochus : 
like him, he was a votary of Mars before he entered into the service 
of the Muses; and, like him, he lost both his buckler and his honour 
in the first engagement. He is much commended by Horace, not 
the less, perhaps, from their similarity of genius, pursuits, and 
military achievements (). If all his adventures had come down 
to us, they must have been curious. After playing the lover, he 
became a patriot; caballed with discontented citizens; subverted 
the government; contributed to place Pittacus, one ^>f the seven 
sages, at the head of it (*); then, regarding him as a rival, with 
still more zeal and activity, joined the adverse party; composed 
satires and libels against him, filled with the most bitter invectives, 
and abusive language (y); attacked him in a pitched battle, in 
which, his party being defeated, he became the prisoner of Pittacus, 
who made no other use of the power which fortune had given him 
over his life and liberty, that) generously to restore to him both. 
Alcaeus, in setting up for a reformer of the state, undertook the 
redress of grievances, not because they were grievances, but because 
he himself was not the author of them. He seems to have been 
possessed of a perturbed spirit; how such a spirit could be united 
with the tranquil pleasures attending the study of Poetry and Music, 
is difficult to say (z). After the failure of his political enterprises 
he travelled into Egypt; but where his terrestrial troubles and 
travels ended, is uncertain. With respect to those talents, which 
entitle him to a place in this work, they have never been disputed; 

(*} A verse of Alcsus, in which he insinuated to her his passion, is preserved in Aristotle, Rket. 
A. L cap. 9. together with the fair damsel's answer. 


I fain to Sappho would a wish impart, 
But fear locks up the secret in my heart. 


Thy down-cast looks, respect, and timid air, 
Too plain the nature of thy wish declare ; 
If lawless, wild, inordinate desire. 
Did not with thoughts impure thy bosom fire, 
Thy tongue and eyes, by innocence made bold, 
Ere now the secret of thy soul had told. 

M. le Fevre observes, that Sappho was not in her usual good humour, when she gave so cold an 
answer to a request, for which, at another time, perhaps, she would not have waited. 

() Relid& t non bcne, Od. ii. vii z. 

(*) In ancient times, philosophers did not dfadafa to undertake the cause of the people, in pulling 
down tyrants nor did they forget their own, so far as to refuse taking their place, when opportunity 
offered ; for it appears, that, however, even a primitive patriot may have had the interest of the 
public at heart, he seldom was unmindful of his own. 

(y) Diog. Laert. lib. i. sect. 76. Val. Max. lib. iv. cap. L ex. 6. 

(z) There is an instance, however, in our own times, of one of the most military and tyrannical 
characters in Europe, not only cultivating both those arts, but extending his wish for universal 
monarchy, to every *>g whence power, profit, or fame can be acquired. 


for he is generally allowed to have been one of the greatest lyric 
poets in antiquity; and as he lived before the separation of the 
twin-sisters, Poetry and Music, this character must imply that he 
was the friend and favourite of both. His numerous poems, on 
different subjects, were written in the -3Eolian dialect, and chiefly 
in a measure of his own invention, which has, ever since, been 
distinguished by the name of Alcaic. Of these only a few frag- 
ments remain. He composed Hymns, Odes, and Epigrams^ upon 
very different subjects; sometimes railing at tyrants, and singing 
their downfall; sometimes his own military exploits; his misfortunes; 
his sufferings at sea; his exile; and all, according to Quintflian, 
in a manner so chaste, concise, magnificent, and sententious, 
and so nearly approaching to that of Homer, that he well merited 
the Golden Plectrum bestowed upon him by Horace. Sometimes 
he descended to less serious subjects, singing chearfully the praises 
of Bacchus, Venus, Cupid, and the Muses. But however pleasing 
his pieces of the lighter kind were thought, they were inferior to 
his other poems, in the opinion of Quintilian (a). 

The adventures of S^gHO, and the remains of her poetical 
works, are too well known to require recital here. A musical 
invention has, however, been attributed to her, of which it seems 
necessary to take some notice. 

This celebrated poetess is said by Plutarch, from Aristoxenus, 
to have invented the Mixolydian Mode. It has already been shewn 
in the Dissertation (&), that Lydian mode was the highest of the 
five original modes, having its lowest sound, Proslambanomenos, 
upon F#, the fourth line in the base. The Mixolydian was still 
higher, by half a tone; the Hypermixolydian a minor third higher, 
and the Hyperlydian a fourth higher. Plato, desirous of simplify- 
ing music, and of keeping the scale within moderate bounds, 
complains, in the third book of his Republic, of the licentiousness of 
these acute modes. Now if the only difference in the modes was 
the place they occupied in the great system, with respect to gravity 
or acuteness, the invention, as it was called, of this Mixolydian 
mode, may have been suggested to Sappho, by her having a voice 
of higher pitch than her predecessors; she was, perhaps, the 
Agujari of her time, and could transcend the limits of all former 
scales with equal facility (c). But though nature may have enabled 
this exquisite poetess to sing her verses in a higher key than any 
one had done before, yet as it is allowed but to few to surpass 

(a) Instit. lib. x. W R 53- 

(c) Here the reader will probably reflect how much curious information, and how many interest- 
ing gratifications of curiosity are, and ever have been, lost to posterity, from the unwillingness of 
authors to inform the present generation of what it is supposed to know already, or to wnte as if they 
expected their books would ever become obscure. It is from this cause that we are now in such doubt 
concerning the Enharmonic Genus, Music in Parts, Modes, &c> which a word or two might have 
cleared up; and if this History should reach a distant period, wfll not its readers wish to know some 
particulars concerning Agujari ? how high she went ? and what were the other peculiarities of her 
talents ? an opportunity will, perhaps, offer itself in the second volume, of ^^^^^T^ 
respect to the powers of this particular performer ; I wish it were as easy to satisfy it in other instances 
where the scafltfoP?* 9? information may awaken it in vain! 



the common boundaries of human faculties and talents, it is 
probable that her successors, by attempting, with inferior organs, to 
ascend those heights, had given offence to Plato, and determined 
him to prohibit the use of this mode in his Republic, as indecorous, 
and too effeminate even for women. If, however, it be true, that 
the characteristic of the modes depended partly, if not principally, 
upon the Rhythm or Cadence (d), it seems not an improbable 
conjecture, that besides the difference of pitch, the novelty of 
Sappho's Mixolydian mode might, in a great measure, consist in 
her first applying to melody the measure called Sapphic* from her 
invention of it (e). 

This mode, as Plutarch informs us, was adopted by the tragic 
poets, as proper for pathos, and lamentation (f); a character for 
which it is not easy to account, without supposing other differences 
besides those of mere Rhythm, or Pitch; though both Plato and 
Plutarch evidently ascribe this character, in part, at least, to the 
circumstance of acuteness (g). 

About the beginning of the sixth century, before the Christian 
zera, MIMNERMUS [//. c. 634-600 B.C.], according to Plutarch, 
had rendered himself remarkable, by playing upon the Flute a 
Nome called Cradias, which, Hesychius tells us, was an air for that 
instrument, usually performed at Athens, during the march, or pro- 
cession, of the victims of expiation. Mimnermus was a lyric poet, 
and consequently a musician, of Smyrna, cotemporary with Solon. 
Athenaeus gives to him the invention of Pentameter verse. His 
Elegies, of which only a few fragments are preserved, were so much 
admired in antiquity, that Horace preferred them to those of 
Callimachus (h). He composed a poem of this kind, as we learn from 
Pausanias, upon the battle fought between the people of Smyrna, 
and the Lydians, under Gyges. He likewise was author of a poem 
in elegiac verse, quoted by Strabo (*), which he entitled Nanno, 
and in which we may suppose he chiefly celebrated a young and 
beautiful girl of that name, who, according to Athenaeus, was a 
player on the Flute, with whom he was enamoured in his old age. 
With respect to love matters, according to Propertius, his verses 
were more valuable than all the writings of Homer (ft). And 
Horace bears testimony to his abilities, in describing that seducing 

(d) See Dissertation. 

W Integer trite scelerisaue pu'rus. HOR. Three verses of this kind, closed with an Adonic verse 
consisting of a Dactyl and Spondee, form the Sapphic stanza. 

(/) ^pijw&js. Plut. and Plato Rep. lib. iii. 
(g) o|ta icat en-tnjfieio? Trpos Bptfvov. Pint, de Mils. 

^That is,.awJe, and fit fnrfunend dirges. That the idea of grief should be connected with that of 
high and shrieking tones, will not appear strange, when we recollect the ancient custom of Urine 
women to lament at funerals. Feigned grief is ever louder than real ; but grief, both feigned and -boM 
for, may easily be supposed to have forced its powers of execution and compass, beyond all the common 
boundaries of scales and modes. ...... . . 

(ft) Epist. lib. ii. Ep. 2. v. 101. 

{) L&. xiv. p. 633, 634. Ed. Par. 

(A) Plus in amors valet Miwnermi versus Homero. Lib! i.'Eleg. 9^ v. n. 



passion (Z); alluding to some much admired lines of this Greek 
poet, which have been preserved by Stobseus (m). 

Poetry, and such music as the Greeks thought would most con- 
tribute to its embellishment, must now, from all the improvements 
which these arts had received since the time of Homer, a period 
of more than two hundred years, have been arrived at a great 
degree of perfection; and yet we find no lyric poets, whose works, 
or names, have survived, between Mimnermus and STESICHORUS 
[632-552 B.C.], a much respected Bard, who, according to 
Athenaeus, was born at Himera in Sicily. His first name was Tisias; 
but he acquired the tide of Stesichorus (n) from the changes he 
made in the manner of performing the Dithyrambic chorus, which 
was sung and danced round the altar or statue of Bacchus, during 
the worship of that God. In what these changes consisted, it is 
difficult to discover; luckily, it is a piece of knowledge of which 
we stand in no great need at present (o). 

Our latest chronologers agree in fixing the time of his death to 
have been 556 B.C. A character of his numerous poems may be 
seen in Quintilian (p), who speaks of them as subsisting in his time. 
At present, only a few fragments of them remain. Among his 
musical improvements, Plutarch enumerates the changes which he 
made in the Harmatian, or chariot air, composed by Olympus (q). 

SIMONIDES, who flourished about this time, is so frequently 
celebrated by ancient writers, that it seems necessary to be some- 
what particular in my account of him. There were in antiquity 
many poets of that name; but by the Marbles it appears, that the 
eldest and most illustrious of them was born in the 55th Olympiad, 
538 B.C. [556-467 B.C.], and that he died in his ninetieth year; 

(/) S Mimn&rmits uti censet, sine amore jocisque, 
Nil est jucundum, vivas in canore jocisgue. 

Epist. vi. lib. L v. 65. 
If, as wise Mimnermus said. 
Life unblest with love and joy, 
Ranks us with the senseless dead, 
Let these gifts each hour employ. 

(tn) Tts fie 0ios, n fie repirov arep xpucnj? 'A^poSt-njs, &c. 

What is life and all its pride, 

If love and pleasure be denied ? 

Snatch, snatch me hence, ye Fates, whene'er 

The am'rous bliss I cease to share. 

Oh let us crop each fragrant flow'r 

While youth and vigour give us pow'r; 

For frozen age will soon destroy 

The force to give or take a joy ; 

And then, a prey to pain and care, 

Detested by the young and fair, 

The sun's blest beams will hateful grow, 

And only shine on scenes of woe! 

(} Indeed Suidas says that he was so called, from being the first who accompanied a chorus with 
KiQaptaSuj. singing to the Lyre or, for instituting a chorus that danced to the Lvre, accompanied 
by singing. But whether the novelty was in the singing, or in the lyre, or both, is still to be inquired. 

(o) Several of the epistles which go under the name of Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum, which 
occasioned the well known dispute between Boyle and Bentley, in the beginning of the present century, 
are addressed to Stesichorus. 

{p) Instit. lib. x.cap.i. 

(q) 'Ap/xarios vo/ios, so called, according to Hesychius, for its imitating the rapid motion of a 
chariot wheel ; or, as being, from its fire and spirit, proper to animate the horses that draw the chariot, 
during battle. 



which nearly agrees with the chronology of Eusebius. He was a 
native of Ceos, one of the Cyclades, in the neighbourhood of Attica, 
and the preceptor of Pindar. Both Plato and Cicero give him the 
character not only of a good poet and musician, but speak of him 
as a person of great virtue and wisdom. Such longevity gave 
him an opportunity of knowing a great number of the first characters 
in antiquity, with whom he was in some measure connected (r). 
He is mentioned by Herodotus; and Xenophon, in his Dialogue 
upon Tyranny, makes him one of the interlocutors with Hiero king 
of Syracuse. Cicero (s) alleges, what has often been quoted in 
proof of the modesty and wisdom of Simonides, that when Hiero 
asked of him a definition of God, the poet required a whole day 
to meditate on so important a question; at the end of which, upon 
the prince putting the same question to him a second time, he 
asked two days' respite; and, in this manner, always doubled the 
delay, each time he was required to answer it; till, at length, to 
avoid offending his patron by more disappointments, he frankly 
confessed tie found the question so difficult, that the more he 
meditated upon it, the less was his hope of being able to solve it. 

In his old age, perhaps from seeing the respect which money 
procured to such as had lost the charms of youth, and power of 
attaching mankind by other means, he became somewhat 
mercenary and avaricious. He was frequently employed by the 
victors at the Games to write Panegyrics and Odes in their praise, 
before his pupil Pindar had exercised his talents in their behalf; 
but Simonides would never gratify their vanity in this particular, 
till he had first tied them down to a stipulated sum for his trouble; 
and, upon being upbraided for his meanness, he said that he had 
two coffers, in one of which he had, for many years, put his 
pecuniary rewards; the other was for honours, verbal thanks, and 
promises; that the first was pretty well filled, but the last remained 
always empty. And he made no scruple to confess, in his old 
age, that of all the enjoyments of life, the love of money was the 
only one of which time had not deprived him. 

He was frequently reproached for this vice; however, he 
always defended himself with good humour. Upon being asked by 
Hiero's queen, whether it was more desirable to be Learned or 
Rich, he answered, that it was far better to be rich; for the learned 
were always dependent on the rich, and waiting at their doors; 
whereas he never saw rich men at the doors of the learned. When 
he was accused of being so sordid, as to sell part of the provisions 
with which his table was furnished by Hiero, he said he had done 
it, in order " to display to the world the magnificence of that 
prince, and his own frugality." To others he said, that his reason 
for accumulating wealth was, that " he would rather leave money 

(r} This may want explanation: And it appears in Fabricius, from ancient authority (Bib. 
Greec. vol. i. p. 591) that Simonides was cotemporary, and in friendship with Pittacus of Mitylene ; 
Hipparchus, tyrant of Athens; Pausanias, king of Sparta; Hiero, tyrant of Syracuse ; with 
Themistodes ; and with Akuades, king of Thessaly. 

{*) De Nat. Deor. 


to his enemies, after death, than be troublesome to his friends, 
while living." 

He obtained the prize in poetry at the Public Games when he 
was fourscore years of age.* According to Suidas, he added four 
letters to the Greek alphabet; and Pliny assigns to him the eighth 
string of the lyre; but these claims are disputed by the learned. 

Among the numerous poetical productions, of which, accord- 
ing to Fabricius, antiquity has made him the author, are many 
songs of victory and triumph, for athletic conquerors at the 
Public Games. He is likewise said to have gained there, himself, 
the prize in elegiac poetry, when JiLschylus was his competitor 
[489 B.C.]. 

His poetry was so tender and plaintive, that he acquired the 
cognomen of Melicertes, sweet as honey (t)\ and the tearful eye 
of his Muse was proverbial. 

" Simonides," says an elegant modern writer, and excellent 
judge of every species of literary merit, "was celebrated by the 
ancients for the sweetness, correctness, and purity of his style, and 
his irresistible skill in moving the passions Dionysius places 
him among those polished writers, who excel in a smooth volubility, 
and flow on, like plenteous and perennial rivers, in a course of 
even and uninterrupted harmony ()." 

It is to Dionysius that we are indebted for the preservation of 
the following fragment of this poet.** Danae being, by her merciless 
father, inclosed in a chest, and thrown into the sea with her child, 
when night comes on, and a storm arises, which threatens to 
overset the chest, weeping, and embracing the young Perseus, 
she cries out : 

Sweet child ! what anguish does thy mother know, 
Ere cruel grief has taught thy tears to flow! 
Amidst the roaring wind's tremendous sound, 
Which threats destruction, as it howls around, 
In balmy sleep thou liest, as at the breast, 

Without one bitter thought to break thy rest 

While in pale, glimmering, interrupted light 
The moon but shews the horrors of the night. 
Didst thou but know, sweet innocent ! our woes, 
Not opiate's pow'r thy eye-lids now could close. 
Sleep on, sweet babe! ye waves in silence roll, 
And lull, O lull to rest! my tortur'd soul. 

There is a second great poet of the name of Simonides, recorded 
on the Marbles, supposed to have been his grandson, and who 
gained in 478 B.C. the prize in the Games at Athens. 

(t) Mastitis laerimis Simonides. CATULLUS. 
() See the Adventurer, No. 89. 

* The fifty-sixth prize which he had 7011. He was given the surname " Melicertes " on account 
of the sweetness and polish of his verse. 

** Some others have since been discovered inscribed on an Egyptian papyrus. 


BACCHYLIDES was the nephew of Simonides, and the 
coteraporary and rival of Pindar. Both sung the victories of Hiero 
at the Public Games. Besides Odes to athletic victors, he was 
author of Love Verses; Prosodies; Dithyrambics; Hymns; Paans; 
Hyporchemes, and Partfienia, or songs to be sung by a chorus of 
virgins at festivals. The chronology of Eusebius places the birth 
of Bacchylides in the 82d Olympiad, about 450 B.C. 

We are now arrived at that period of the Grecian musical 
history when PIl^B^R became the poetical historiographer of the 
champions at the Sacred Games; and his records of their achieve- 
ments are more durable, than if they had been inscribed upon 
Adamantine tables. The marble statues, towering columns, and 
massive monuments, erected to the honour of these heroes, have 
perished; and oblivion has swept away all memorials of them, 
except those contained in the songs of this great poet. 

Pindar* was born at Thebes in Baeotia, about 520 B.C. He 
received his first musical instructions from his father, who was a 
Flute-player by profession; after which, according to Suidas, he 
was placed under Myrtis, a lady of distinguished abilities in 
lyric poetry. It was during this period, that he became acquainted 
with the poetess Corinna, who was likewise a student under 
Myrtis. Plutarch tells us, that Pindar profited from the lessons 
which Corinna, more advanced in her studies, gave him at this 
school. It is very natural to suppose, that the first poetical 
effusions of a genius so full of fire and imagination as that of 
Pindar, would be wild and luxuriant; and Lucian has preserved six 
verses, said to have been the exordium of his first essay, in which 
he crowded almost all the subjects for song, which ancient history 
and mythology then furnished. Upon communicating this attempt 
to Corinna, she told him, smiling, that he should sow with the 
hand, and not empty his whole sack at once. Pindar, however, 
soon quitted the leading-strings of these ladies, his poetical nurses, 
and became the disciple of Simonides, now arrived at extreme old 
age; after which he soon surpassed all his masters, and acquired 
great reputation throughout Greece; but, like a true prophet, was 
less honoured in his own country, than elsewhere; for at Thebes he 
was frequently pronounced to be vanquished, in the musical and 
poetical contests, by candidates of inferior merit. 

The custom of having these public Trials of skill, in all the 
great cities of Greece, was now so prevalent, that but little fame 
was to be acquired by a Musician or Poet, any other way than 
by entering the lists; and we find that both Myrtis and Corinna 
publicly disputed the prize with him at Thebes (x). The love of 
fame produces more rancorous rivalry, than the love of money, or 
even of woman. A public contention with Myrtis, his alma 

(x) Apollon. Alexan. Lib. de Pronomtn. MS. ex Bib. Reg. Paris. No. 3243, d Fabric. Laud. 
Bib. Grcec. torn, i p. 578. 

* Early in life Pindar received lessons in flute playing from Scopelinus, a famous flute player 
He was sent to Athens to study the art of poetry and became a pupil of Lasus of Hennione a noted 
dithyxanibic poet. 



mater, and with his sister student, Corinna, seems unnatural; but 
there are few ties which can keep ambition within due bounds. 
He obtained a victory over Myrtis, but was vanquished five 
different times by Corinna (y). The judges, upon occasions like 
these, have been frequently accused of partiality or ignorance, not 
only by the vanquished, but by posterity: and if the merit of 
Pindar was pronounced inferior to that of Corinna five several 
times, it was, says Pausanias, because the judges were more 
sensible to the charms of beauty, than to those of Music and Poetry 
(z). Was it not strange, said the Scythian Anacharsis, that the 
Grecian artists were never judged by artists, their peers? 

Mortifications are at least as necessary to a young poet, as to a 
young sinner. Pindar, before he quitted Thebes, had the vexation 
to see his Dithyrambics traduced, abused, and turned into 
ridicule, by the comic poets of his time; and Athenseus tells us 
that he was severely censured by his brother Lyrics, for being a 
Lipogrammatist, and composing an ode from which he had 
excommunicated the letter S. Whether these censures proceeded from 
envy, or contempt, cannot now be determined; but they were 
certainly useful to Pindar, and it was necessary that he should 
be lashed for such puerilities. Thebes seems to have been the 
purgatory of our young Bard; when he quitted that city, as his 
judgment was matured, he avoided most of the errors for which 
he had been chastised, and suddenly became the wonder and 
delight of all Greece. Every hero, prince, and potentate, desirous 
of lasting fame, courted the Muse of Pindar. 

He seems frequently to have been present at the four great 
festivals of the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian Games, 
as may be inferred from several circumstances and expressions in 
the odes, which he composed for the victors in them all. Those at 
Olympia, who were ambitious of having their achievements 
celebrated by Pindar, applied to him for. an ode, which was first sung 
in the Prytaneum, or town-hall of Olympia, where there was a 
banquetting-room, set apart for the entertainment of the 
conquerors. Here the ode was rehearsed by a chorus, accompanied 
by instruments. It was afterwards performed in the same manner 
at the triumphal entry of the victor into his own country, in 
processions, or at the sacrifices that were made with great pomp 
and solemnity on the occasion (a). 

But, as some conquerors were not so fortunate as to have Poets 
happened to be no Musician present, the leader of the chorus 
chanted forth, and was answered by the rest of the chorus, in 
for their friends, or so rich as to be able to purchase odes on their 
particular victories, which were rated very high by Bards of the 

(y) .Elian. Var. Hist. lib. xxiii, cap. 25. 

(z) Lib. ix. cap. 22. Pausanias says, that Corinna was one of the most beautiful women of her 
time, as he judged by a picture of her which he saw at Tanagris, in the place where the public exercises 
were performed. She was represented with her head ornamented by a riband, as a memorial of the 
victories she had obtained over Pindar at Thebes. 

(a.) West's Dis. on the Olymp. Games, 16. 



first class; in honour of such, the old Hymn to Hercules, of 
Archilochus, was sung by the friends of the conquerors only, if 
they could not afford to engage a band of professed musicians. 
The scholiast on Pindar's 9th Olympic tells us, that to supply the 
want of a Citharoedist, Archilochus framed a word in imitation 01 
the sound of a Cithara, which word (Tenella, TyreMa), when there 
the words of the Hymn, Q KaMwixs, ZO.IQS, glorious Victor, 
hail I at every comma, or pause of which, this burden was again 
repeated (6). 

Pindar, in his second Isthmian Ode, has apologized for the 
mercenary custom among Poets, of receiving money for their 
Compositions. " The world," says he, "is grown interested, and 
thinks in general with the Spartan philosopher Aristodemus, that 
money only makes the man : a truth which this sage himself 
experienced, having with his riches lost all his friends." It is 
supposed that Pindar here alludes to the avarice of Simonides, who 
first allowed his Muse to sell her favours to the best bidder. But if 
the rich want wit and fame, and the Poet wants money, the 
commutation seems as fair asany that is carried onupon the Exchange 
of London or Amsterdam. It is in the true spirit of commerce to 
barter superfluities for things of which we stand most in need; and 
it can never be called a ruinous or losing trade, but when the rich, 
for want of judgment or taste, purchase bad Poetry, or the Poet is 
ill paid, for good. Gratian, among his maxims for raising a man 
to the most consummate greatness, advises him to perform 
extraordinary actions, and to secure a good Poet. 

There is no great Poet or Musician in antiquity, whose moral 
character has been less censured than that of Pindar. Plutarch has 
preserved a single verse of his Epicedium, or Dirge, that was sung 
at his funeral, which, short and simple as it is, implies great praise. 
This man was pleasing to strangers, and dear to his fellow citizens 
(c). His works abound with precepts of the purest morality; 
and it does not appear that he ever traduced even his enemies; 
comforting himself, for their malignity, by a maxim which he 
inserted in his first Pythic, and which afterwards became proverbial, 
That it is better to be envied than pitied (d). 

(b) Ibid. Are we to suppose from this Trisyllable serving as a representation of the twang of a 
lyre, that the instrument had only three strings in the time of Archilochus ? Indeed, as this poet lived 
before either Terpander or Pythagoras had loaded it with seven or eight strings, a Tetrachord, or four 
sounds, were its utmost extent in his time. Now it would be a research truly worthy the curiosity of 
some profound musical antiquary, to try to discover which three sounds of the Tetrachord were 
imitated, and by what intervals, and tone of voice, the word TeneUa could have been made a true 
ArpeggieOura I Suidas tells us that this word had no signification, but was used as an imitation of a 
particular way of striking the lyre (a kind of tol-de-rol flourish) when a victor was declared at the Games; 
and the words -npeAAa, xoXXiwice, seem to have become, from this Hvmn of Archilochus, a common 
form of congratulation, or rather acclamation ; the bravitsimo ! of the Greeks. Schmidt, in a note 
upon the 9 Olymp. of Pindar, says the word rjjveAAa, after so many ages, is come down to his 
countrymen the Germans, and is still in common use among musicians. Walthern in his Musical 
Dictionary says the same, with this addition, that the ancient Germans made the same use of the 
word Rondatinella, as the Romans did of io Triumph* ; singing it as a burden to songs of victory and 
praise, and beating upon their shields. If the Germans use such a term in the same way as the ancients 
in the time of Archflochus the coincidence is curious, though no derivation be allowed. 

(c) 'Awxsvos fa eiwurtv aviyp 68e, icat ^tXos <wrro. De AnwtJProc. 
W) Kpcovw -yap oucnppw 



Pausanias says, that the character of Poet was truly consecrated, 
in the person of Pindar, by the God of verse himself, who was 
pleased, by an express oracle, to order the inhabitants of Delphos 
to set apart, for Pindar, one half of the first-fruit offerings, brought 
by the religious to his shrine, and to allow him a conspicuous 
place in his Temple; where, in an iron chair, he used to sit and 
sing his Hymns in honour of that God. This chair was remaining 
in the time of Pausanias, several centuries after, and shewn to 
him as a relic, not unworthy of the sanctity and magnificence of 
that place. 

Such a Singer as Pindar would be heard with the same rapture 
in a pagan Temple, as a Farinelli in an Italian church : and as 
both would draw together crowded congregations, both would be 
equally caressed and encouraged by the priests. 

^But though Pindar's Muse was pensioned at Delphos, and well 
paid by princes and potentates elsewhere, she seems, however, 
sometimes to have sung the spontaneous strains of pure friendship. 
Of this kind were, probably, the verses bestowed upon the Musician 
Midas of Agrigentum, in Sicily, who had twice obtained the 
palm of victory, by his performance on the Flute, at the Pythic 
Games (e). It is in his 12th Pythic Ode, that Pindar celebrates 
the victory of Midas over all Greece, upon that instrument which 
Minerva herself had invented (f). 

Fabricius tells us that Pindar lived to the age of ninety; and, 
according to the chronology of Dr. Blair, he died in 435 B.C. [442 
B.C.] aged eighty-six. His fellow-citizens erected a monument to 
him, in the Hippodrome at Thebes, which was still subsisting in 
the time of Pausanias; and his renown was so great after his death, 
that his posterity derived very considerable honours and privileges 
from it. When Alexander the Great attacked the city of Thebes, 
he gav'e express orders to his soldiers to spare the house and family 
of Pindar. The Lacedaemonians had done the same before this 
period; for when they ravaged Baeotia, and burned the capital, 
the following words were written upon the door of the Poet : forbear 
to turn this house, it was the dwelling of Pindar. Respect for 
the memory of this great Poet continued so long, that 
even in Plutarch's time, the best part of the sacred victim, at the 
Theoxenian festival, was appropriated to his descendants. 

All the registers, in which the names and victories of the success- 
ful candidates at the sacred Games were recorded, have been so 
long lost, that no regular series of events at these solemnities can 
be now expected : I shall, however, resume the subject, and give 
the reader such farther information concerning them, as I have 

() This Midas is a very different personage from his long-eared majesty of Phrygia, whose 
decision in favour of Pan had given such offence to Apollo (see p. 227 of this vol.) as is manifest, 
indeed, from his having been cotemporary with Pindar. 

(/) The most extraordinary part of this Musician's performance, that can be gathered from the 
scholiast upon Pindar, was his finishing the Solo, without a Reed, or Mouth-piece, which broke accident- 
ally while he was playing. The legendary account given by the Poet in this Ode, of the occasion upon, 
which the Flute was invented by Minerva, is diverting; "it was/' says he, "to imitate the howling of the 
Gorgons, and the h's^ing of their snakes, which the Goddess had heard when the head of Medusa (one 
of these three Anti-Graces) was cut off by Perseus." 



been able to glean from ancient authors. Indeed the names and 
feats of Musicians, that have been crowned at the public Games, 
are not so difficult to find, as the time when they flourished; ana, 
an event without a date to hang it upon, does but litter the mind 
of the reader; it is a kind of vagabond, without a settlement, which 
no one is willing to take in. 

Plutarch, who on many occasions seems to have consulted the 
registers of the sacred Games, tells us, in his life of Lysander the 
Spartan general, that the Musician Aristonoiis, who had six times 
obtained the prize for singing to the Cithara (g), in the Pythic 
Games, flattered Lysander so far as tell him, that if ever he 
gained another victory, he would be publicly proclaimed his disciple 
and servant. This was after the Spartan had taken the city of 
Athens, beaten down the walls, and burned all the ships in the 
harbour, to the sound of Flutes; an event which happened in the 
94th Olympiad, 404 years B.C. 

Indisputable testimonies are to be found in ancient authors, of 
the continuation of Musical Contests at these Games, till their final 
abolition after the establishment of the Christian religion. I shall 
only mention the victory which Pausanias (h) informs us was 
gained there by Pylades, upon the Cithara, about the 94th Pythiad, 
211 years before Christ: the Pythic Laurel, which both Suetonius 
and Dio Cassius inform us, Nero, as a Citharcedist, who had been 
victor at those Games, brought out of Greece, 66 years after the 
same ^Era : and the two Pythic victories, recorded in the Oxford 
Marbles, among innumerable others, which C. Ant. Septimius! 
Publius, the Citharoedist, obtained during the reign of the emperor 
Septimius Severus, about the end of the second century. 

To the musical premiums given at Delphos, according to 
Plutarch (*), was added, in later times, one for Tragedy; and, by 
degrees, various other contests were admitted; among which, an 
exhibition for Painters appears to have had a place (k) : and if 
no premium was given to be disputed by Sculptors, the great 
number of victors, whose statues they had to erect at the public 
cost, must have been a sufficient incitement to them to aim at 
excellence in their profession (I). But an account of any other art 
or artists, than Music and Musicians, would lead me far beyond 
the limits of my plan. 

I shall close this article, therefore, by observing, that Games in 
honour of Apollo, and called Pythic, were instituted, not only at 
Delphos, but at Miletus in Ionia, at Magnesia, Sida, Perga, and 
Thessalonica; and in all these, Music and Poetry were the chief 
subjects of contest (m). 

fe) Ei0ap<p&>; (h) In Arcad. lib. viiL 

(*) Sympas. (ft) Plin. 35. 9- 

(Z) Nero took thence five hundred bronze statues of Gods and illustrious personages ; and yet, 
after this robbery, in the time of Pausanias, the number still remaining was prodigious, without 
enumerating those which had been placed there to commemorate the merit of Athletics, Musicians 
and Poets, in their particular professions. 

() Meursius, Gratia feriata. 


Of the Nemean Qames 

These Games, which had their name from Nemea, a village and 
grove in Arcadia, were of such high antiquity, that the ancients 
themselves, in the time of Pausanias, were not agreed concerning 
the origin of their institution. Some assert them to have been a 
funeral solemnity, instituted in honour of Archemorus, by the 
seven champions who led the army to Thebes: others, that they 
were founded by Hercules, in honour of Jupiter, after he had 
slain the Nemean lion. The exercises were nearly the same as at 
Olympia, as appears from the subjects of the Nemean Odes of 
Pindar. However, that Musical Performances usually constituted 
a part of*the exercises and amusements at this solemnity, is a fact 
so fully ascertained by a passage in Plutarch's life of Philopcemen. 
and corroborated by Pausanias, that I shall give the narration 
entire, and leave it to speak for itself. 

" Philopoemen being elected a second time general of the 
Achasans, soon after he had gained the celebrated battle of Mantinea, 
entered the theatre at the Nemean Games, while the Musicians 
were disputing the Musical Prize. At the moment that Philopoemen 
entered, the Musician Pylades, of Megalopolis, happened to be 
singing to the Lyre, the beginning of a song composed by 
Timotheus, called the Persians: 

Behold the hero, from whose glorious deeds 
Our greatest blessing, liberty, proceeds (n)\ 

The subject of the verse, the energy with which it was uttered, 
and the beauty of the singer's voice, struck the whole assembly. 
They instantly cast their eyes on Philopoemen, and, with the most 
violent applause and acclamation, animated with the hopes of 
recovering their former dignity, they assumed their ancient spirit 
and confidence of victory. Pausanias adds, that they unanimously 
cried out, that nothing could be more applicable than this poem 
was to the brave general, who had undertaken to command their 
aimy (o)." 

Though no other particulars are preserved concerning the 
Musician Pylades, than what Plutarch and Pausanias furnish, in 
relating this circumstance, yet concerning Timotheus, whose verses 
he sung, many incidents are come down to us, to some of which I 
shall give a place here. 

(ft) It is remarkable that the original of these lines is an Hexameter. 

: ' ' . KXetvov e\v0e/uaff rvXw /xeyw EXAaSt teoa-fiov. 

which confirms what has been advanced (p* sgoV concerning, the priority .of this verse, and, conse- 
quently, of regular and unmixed Musical Rhythms, to metres of unequal feet> and Music of unequal 
bars. Indeed, Plutarch asserts, expressly (4e Ms.) that the Nomes made to be sung to the.Cithara 
were originally composed entirely of Hexameters ; and he alleges, Timotheus, the very author of the 
verse in question, as a proof of it ; who/ though he was an innovator, yet did not venture to compose 
his first Nomes entirely in Dithyrambic, or irregular -measures, but mixed them with Hexameters, 
hoping to take, as it were by sap, the ears of old connoisseurs, so vigilant and well fortified against the 
irruption of new pleasures. 

(o) This event happened in the third year of the i43d Olympiad, 206 B,C.' 



TIMOTHEUS, one of the most celebrated Poet-Musicians of 
antiquity, was born at Miletus, an Ionian city of Caira, 346 B.C. 
[446-357 B.C.]. He was cotemporary with Philip of Macedon, 
and Euripides, and not only excelled in Lyric and Dithyrambic 
Poetry, but in his performance upon the Cithara. According to 
Pausanias (p), he perfected that instrument, by the addition of four 
new strings to the seven which it had before; though Suidas says it 
had nine before, and that Timotheus only added two, the tenth and 
eleventh to that number. 

The historical part of this work has hitherto consisted more of 
biographical anecdotes, than dry discussions concerning the dark 
and disputable points of ancient Music, which were purposely 
thrown into the Dissertation, to keep off, as much as possible, that 
lassitude and disgust which minute enquiries into matters, usually 
thought more abstruse than interesting, produce in the generality 
of readers. I must, however, now beg leave to stop the narrative 
a little, in order to state the several claims made in favour of 
different persons, who have been said to have extended the limits 
of the Greek Musical Scale. 

Many ancient and respectable writers tell us, that before the 
time of Terpander, the Grecian Lyre had only four strings; and, 
if we may believe Suidas, it remained in this state 856 years, from 
the time of Amphion, till Terpander added to it three new strings, 
which extended the Musical Scale to a Heptachord, or seventh, and 
supplied the player with two conjoint Tetmchords. 

It was about 150 years after this period, that Pythagoras is said . 
to have added an eighth string to the Lyre, in order to complete 
the octave, which consisted of two disjunct Tetrachords. 

These dates of the several additions to the Scale, at such distant 
periods, though perhaps not exact, may, however, if near the 
truth, show tie slow progress of human knowledge, and the 
contented ignorance of barbarous times. But if we wonder at the 
Music of Greece remaining so many ages in this circumscribed 
state, it may be asked, why that of Ch&ia and Persia is not better 
now, though the inhabitants of those countries have long been 
civilized, and accustomed to luxuries and refinements. 

Boethius gives a different history of the scale, and tells us, that 
the system did not long remain in such narrow limits as a 
Tetrachord. Choraebus, the son of Athis, or Atys, king of Lydia, 
added a fifth string, Hyagnis a sixth, Terpander a seventh, and, at 
length, Lychaon of Samos, an eighth. But all these accounts are 
ineconcileable with Homer's Hymn to Mercury, where the Chelys, 
or Testudo, the invention of which he ascribes to that God, is said 
to have had seven strings (q). There are many claimants among 
the musicians of ancient Greece, to the strings that were afterwards 
added to these, by which the scale, in the time of Aristoxenus, was 
extended to two octaves. Athenaeus, more than once, speaks of 

(p) Lib. ffi. cap. 12, (q} See p. 292. 



the nine-stringed-instrument (r); and Ion of Chios, a tragic and 
lyric poet, and philosopher, who first recited his pieces in the 82d 
Olympiad, 425 B.C. mentions, in some verses quoted by Euclid, 
the ten-stringed Lyre (s); a proof that the third conjoint tetrachord 
was added to the scale in his time, which was about fifty years 
after Pythagoras is supposed to have constructed the octachord (t). 

The different claimants among the Greeks to the same musical 
discoveries, only prove that music was cultivated in different 
countries; and that the inhabitants of each country invented and 
improved their own instruments, some of which happening to 
resemble those of other parts of Greece, rendered it difficult for 
historians to avoid attributing the same invention to different 
persons. Thus the single Flute was given to Minerva, and to 
Marsyas; the Syrinx, or Fistula, to Pan, and to Cybele; and the 
Lyre, or Cithara, to Mercury, Apollo, Amphion, Linus, and Orpheus. 
Indeed, the mere addition of a string or two to an instrument 
without a neck, was so obvious and easy, that it is scarce possible not 
to conceive many people to have done it at the same time. 

With respect to the number of strings upon the lyre of Timotheus, 
the account of Pausanias and Suidas is confirmed in the famous 
Senatus-Consultum against him, already slightly mentioned in the 
Dissertation, but of which I shall here give a more particular 

This curious piece of antiquity is preserved at full length in 
Boethius (). Mr. Stillingfleet (*) has lately given an extract 
from it, in proof of the simplicity of the ancient Spartan music. 
The fact is mentioned in Athenaeus; and Casaubon, in his notes 
upon that author (y), has inserted the whole original text from 
Boethius, with corrections, to which I refer the learned reader. I 
shall here, however, give a faithful translation of this extraordinary 
Spartan Act of Parliament. 

" Whereas Timotheus the Milesian, coming to our city, has 
dishonoured our ancient music, and, despising the Lyre of seven 
strings, has, by the introduction of a greater variety of notes, 
corrupted the ears of our youth; and by the number of his strings, 
and the novelty of his melody, has given to our music an effeminate 
and artificial dress, instead of the plain and orderly one in which it 
has hitherto appeared; rendering melody infamous, by composing 

(r) Ew<xxop$ov opyavov. Lib. iv. & xiv. Theocritus, Id. viii. speaks of a Syrinx with nine 
notes, (rvptyya ewea^ww ; but considering the extention of the Scale in his time, 262 B.C. it is 
no great wonder if the simplest of instruments had a compass of nine sounds. 

(S) Acaxop5<p Xvpa. 

(t) Ion died, according to Fabricius, vol. i. p. 681, 419 B.C. and 78 years after Pythagoras. 
Besides Tragedies and Dithyrambics, Ion composed Odes, Paans, Hymns and ScoKa, or convivial 
songs. The three conjoint Tetrachords, Mes. Synem. and Diez. with which the Decachordon was furnished 
consisted, perhaps, of these sounds : BCDE, EFGA, A Bj> c d. 

(it) De Musica, cap. i. 

(*) Pnn. and Power of Harm. 185. 

(y) Animad. in Athen. p. 386. 



in the Chromatic, instead of the Enharmonic (z);- 

The Kings and the Ephori have, therefore, resolved to pass censure 
upon Timotheus for these things: and, farther, to oblige him to cut 
all the superfluous strings of his eleven, leaving only the seven tones; 
and to banish him from our city; that men may be warned -for the 
future, not to introduce into Sparta any unbecoming customs." ] 

The same story, as related in Athenaeus, has this additional 
circumstance, that when the public executioner was on the point of 
fulfilling the sentence, by cutting off the new strings, Timotheus, 
perceiving a little statue in the same place, with a lyre in its hand, 
of as many strings as that which had given the offence, and 
showing it to the judges, was acquitted. 

Indeed the decree only informs us, that the use of a lyre, with 
more than seven strings, was not allowed at this time by the 
Lacedaemonians; but does not prove that the rest of Greece had 
confined their music within the compass of seven notes; nor, 
consequently, ascertain how many of the eleven strings were 
additions peculiar to Timotheus. That the outcry against the 
novelties of this musician was, however, not confined to Sparta, 
appears from a passage in Plutarch's Dialogue, where he gives a 
list of the innovators, who had corrupted and enervated the good 
old melody, by additional notes both upon the Flute and Lyre (a). 

" Lasus of Hennione,' ' says he, "by changing musical Rhythms 
to the Dithyrambic irregularity of movement, and, at the same 
time, emulating the compass and variety of the Flute, occasioned 
a great revolution in the ancient music. Melanippides, who 
succeeded him, in like manner, would not confine himself to the old 
music, any more than his scholar Philoxenus, or Timotheus." 

The same thing also appears from the bitter invectives to which 
the comic poets at Athens, especially Pherecrates and Aristophanes, 
gave a loose; not, perhaps, from understanding music, or being at 
all sensible of its effects, but from that envy, which the great 
reputation of the musician had excited. An exalted character is a 
shooting butt, at which satirists, and wicked wits, constantly point 
their arrows; and the stage at all times wages war against whatever 
calls off the public attention from itself. 

The abuse, therefore, of this musician, which abounds in 
ancient authors, is perhaps, as great a proof of his superiority, as 
the praise. A Greek epigram, preserved in Macrobius, informs us, 
that the Ephesians gave him a thousand pieces of gold for 
composing a poem in honour of Diana, at the dedication of the 
temple of that Goddess; and was not that a sufficient reason for 
hungry authors to rail? 

(s) This part of the original is very corrupt ; the meaning, however, appears to be, that in a 
contest at the Caruean festival, he had sung a poem upon the labour of Semele at the birth of Bacchus, 
in which he had not sufficiently attended to decency and decorum. 

(a) Plutarch accuses Lasus of imitating the many sounds, the iroXv^wwa of Flutes. And 
Plato, in his Rep. Kb. in. inveighing against instruments of many strings, calls them imitations of the 
Flute: avyow juro/iara; and in his third book, De Leg. he complains of the Lyre imitating the 



Plutarch tells us, that the comic poet Pherecrates introduced 
Music on the stage, under the figure of a woman, whose body was 
terribly torn and mangled. She is asked by Justice, under the 
figure of another woman, the cause of her ill-treatment? when she 
relates her story in the following words: " The first source of all 
my misfortunes was Melanippides, who began to enervate and 
debilitate me by his twelve strings. However, this would not have 
reduced me to the deplorable condition in which I now appear, if 
Cinesias, that cursed Athenian, had not contributed to ruin and 
disfigure me in his Dithyrambic Strophes, by his false and untune- 
able inflexions of voice. In short, his cruelty to me was beyond 
all description; and next to him, Phiynis took it into his head to 
abuse me by such divisions and flourishes, as no one ever thought 
of before, making me subservient to all his whims, twisting and 
twirling me a thousand ways, in order to produce from five strings, 
the twelve different modes (b). But still, the freaks of such a man 
would not have been sufficient to complete my ruin, for he was 
able to make me some amends. Nothing now was wanting but the 
cruelty of one Timotheus to send me to the grave, after maiming 
and mangling me in the most inhuman manner." " Who is this 
Timotheus?" says Justice. 


" 'tis that vile Milesian blade, 
Who treats me like an arrant jade; 
Robs me of all my former fame; 
And loads me with contempt and shame : 
Contriving still, where'er he goes, 
New ways to multiply my woes : 
Nay more, the wretch I never meet, 
Be it in palace, house, or street, 
But strait he strips off all my things, 
And ties me with a dozen strings (c)." 

(b) This passage seems manifestly to imply an instrument with a neck, by which the sounds of 
five strings only, were multiplied to those of all the twelve modes ; and this was, probably, the first 
attempt of the kind in Greece ; at least it is the first that I have seen upon record. 

(c) This is a fragment from a comedy written by Pherecrates, called Chiron, and the only remains 
of that poet ; and as Timotheus is accused by him "of multiplying the strings of the lyre to twelve, as 
that instrument had ten before his time, it is probable that the two sounds he added were B; for the 
Chromatic Genus, which he stands accused, by the Senatits-ConsuUum, of having introduced at Sparta ; 
and the Nete Diezeugmenon, or sound , upon the first line in the treble, which, though supposed to 
have been added to the Scale by Pythagoras, may, perhaps, never have been heard by the Spartans, 
before the arrival of Timotheus among them. If this conjecture be right, his Scale must have been 
the following : 

It appears from the above fragment, that Timotheus was not the first who used eleven strings, since the 
Lyre of Melanippides was furnished with twelve, before his time. There were two Poet-musicians of 
the name of Melanippides, both anterior to the elder Timotheus. 

VOX. i. 21 321 


It has already been remarked, that the word Enharmonic appears 
in the copy of the Senatus-Consultum, inserted in the Oxford Edition 
of Aratus, though no notice is taken of it by some translators. It 
is likewise to be found, not only in the copy of this decree, which 
Casaubon has given in his notes upon Athenaeus, but in a beautiful 
MS. of the eleventh century, in the British Museum (d). If then 
it is certain that the Lacedaemonians admired the Enharmonic 
Genus for its simplicity, and yet reprobated the Chromatic for its 
difficulty and effeminacy, does it not fortify the hypothesis 
hazarded in the Dissertation, concerning the plainness and dignity 
of the ancient Enharmonic? 

It appears from Suidas, that the poetical and musical com- 
positions of Timotheus were veiy numerous, and of various kinds. 
He attributes to him nineteen Names, or Canticles, in Hexameters; 
thirty-six Proems, or Preludes; eighteen Dithyrambics; twenty- 
one Hymns] the poem in praise of Diana; one Panegyric; three 
Tragedies, the Persians, Phinidas, and Laertes; to which must be 
added a fourth, mentioned by several ancient authors, called 
Niobe, without forgetting the poem on the birth of Bacchus. 
Stephen of Byzantium makes him, author of eighteen books of 
Nomes, or airs, for the Cithara, to eight thousand verses, and of a 
thousand nQooipia, or Preludes, for the Nomes of the Flute. 

A musician so long eminent as Timotheus, must have excited 
great desire in young students to become his pupils; but, accord- 
ing to Bartholinus, he used to exact a double Price from all such 
as had previously received instructions from any other master; 
saying, that he would rather instruct those who knew nothing, for 
half price, than have the trouble of ^teaching such as had already 
acquired bad habits, and an incorrect and vicious manner of 

Timotheus died in Macedonia, according to Suidas, at the age 
of ninety-seven; though the Marbles, much better authority, say at 
ninety; and Stephen of Byzantium fixes his death in the fourth 
year of the 105th Olympiad, two years before the birth of 
Alexander the Great; whence it appears, that this Timotheus was 
not the famous player on the Flute, so much esteemed by that 
prince, who was animated to such a degree by his performance, 
as to seize his arms; and who employed him, as Athenaeus informs 
us (e), together with the other great musicians of his time, at his 
nuptials. However, by an inattention to dates, and by forgetting 
that of these two musicians of the same name, the one was a 
Milesian, and the other a Theban (/), they have been hitherto 
almost always confounded. 

(4) Bib. R$. 15 B. ix. 

(/) Lucian Hannonid. 


Of the Isthmian Qames [instituted c. B.C. 1326] 

These Games were so called from the Isthmus of Corinth, where 
they were celebrated. In their first institution, according to 
Pausanias (g), they consisted only of funeral rites and ceremonies, 
in honour of Melicertes; but Theseus afterwards, as Plutarch informs 
us, (h), in emulation of Hercules, who had appointed Games at 
Olympia, in honour of Jupiter, dedicated these to Neptune, his 
reputed father, who was regarded as the particular protector of 
the Isthmus, and commerce, of Corinth. The same trials of skill 
were exhibited here, as at the other three Sacred Games, and 
particularly those of Music and Poetry (i). 

Livy relates a very interesting event which happened during 
the celebration of these Games, after the Romans had defeated 
Philip king of Macedon, one of the successors of Alexander the 
Great, who had been in possession of the chief part of Greece. 

The time, says this author, for celebrating the Isthmian Games 
was now come. There was always a great concourse of people at 
them, from the natural curiosity of the Greeks, who delighted in 
seeing all kinds of combats and bodily exercises, as well as from 
the convenience of the situation, between two seas, for the 
inhabitants of different provinces to assemble. But being at this 
time anxious to know their own fate, and that of their country, all 
Greece flocked thither, the greater part silently foreboding the 
worst, and softie not scrupling openly to express their fears. At 
length the Romans took their places at the Games and a herald, 
with a trumpet, in the usual manner, advanced into the middle of 
the Arena, as if to pronounce the common form of words; but, 
when silence was ordered, he proclaimed, " that the Roman 
senate and people, and T. Quinctius Flamininus their general, after 
vanquishing Philip and his Macedonians, declared the Corinthians, 
Phocaeans, all the Locrians, the island Eubcea, the Magnesians, 
Thessalonians, Perrhaebi, Achseans, and Phthiotes, all which states 
had been possessed by Philip, free, independent, and subject only 
to their own laws." The joy which this proclamation occasioned 
in the assembly was, at first, too great to be expressed. The 
spectators could scarce credit what they heard; they regarded each 
other with astonishment, as if they had waked out of a dream. 
Each diffident of his own ears, with respect to what particularly 
concerned himself and his own country, asked his neighbour what 
had been said. The herald was even called again, so strong a 
desire had they all, not only to hear, but to see the messenger of 
their liberty, and they had the satisfaction of hearing him repeat 
the decree. When their joy was fully confirmed, they expressed 
it in such loud and reiterated shouts of applause, that it was evident 

(g) Initio Corintkiac. 

(k) In Theseo. 

(i) Plutarch, Sympos. lib. v. Quasi. 2. Julian, Epist. pro Argto. p. 408 D. Edit. Lips, 



liberty was dearer to them than all the other advantages of life (ft). 
After this the Games were celebrated, but with the greatest huny 
and confusion; no one had eyes or attention for the spectacle; 
every avenue of inferior pleasure was obstructed by joy (Z). 

These Games, in which the victors were only rewarded with 
garlands of pine-leaves,* were celebrated with great magnificence 
and splendor, as long as paganism continued to be the established 
religion of Greece; nor were they omitted even when Corinth 
was sacked and burned by Mummius, the Roman general, at which 
time the care of them was transferred to the Sicyonians, but was 
restored again to the inhabitants of Corinth, when that city was 

Though every Grecian province had its peculiar Games, and 
every great city its festivals, in many of which Poets and Musicians 
contended for pre-eminence; yet, after bestowing so many pages 
upon the four Sacred Games, I should extend my enquiries 
concerning these institutions no farther, if a celebrated establishment 
of this kind, among the Athenians, the most elegant, refined, 
ingenious, and voluptuous people of Greece, did not, from the 
frequent mention that is made of it in ancient authors, and the 
renown of the combatants, seem to require particular notice. 

Of the Panathencean Qames 

There were two solemn festivals under this denomination at 
Athens, the greater and the less; both of which were celebrated 
there in honour of Minerva, the patroness of that city. They 
must have been of very high antiquity, as their first institution 
was ascribed to Orpheus (m), and to king Erichthonius (n)\ and their 
renewal and augmentation to Theseus (0). The greater Panathenaa 
were exhibited every five years, the less every three, or, 
according to some writers, annually (). Though the celebration 
of neither, at first, employed more than one day, yet in aftertimes 
they were protracted for the space of many days, and solemnized 
with greater preparations and magnificence than at their first 

Prizes were established there for three different kinds of combat : 
the first consisted of Foot and Horse-races; the second, of Athletic 
exercises; and the third of Poetical and Musical contests. These 
last are said to have been instituted by Pericles: and that great 
patron of arts and literature may have been the first who excited 
emulation in Poets and Musicians, at this festival, by bestowing 
rewards upon the most excellent; but, according to Plutarch (g), 

(ft) Ptot. Vit. Flamin. says, the shouts of the people were so loud, that some crows which happened 
to be flying over their heads, fell dead, into the Stadium, 

(Z) Dec. 4. K&. zxxiii, cap. 32- (*) Theodora, Therapeut. lib. i. 

() Suidas, voc. Hayofcjwua. (o) Suid. ibid. () Tkucydid. lib. vi (q) De Mvsica. 

* Later a crown of withered paisley was substituted. 



who had consulted the Panathensean Register, Musical Perform- 
ances were of much earlier date there than the time of Pericles. 
Rhapsodists were appointed to sing the verses of Homer at these 
Games, by Hipparchus, the son of Pisistratus. 

Singers of the first class, accompanied by performers on the 
Flute and Cithara, exercised their talents here, upon subjects 
prescribed by the directors of these exhibitions. And while the 
Athenian state was free and independent, the noble and generous 
actions of Hannodius and Aristogiton, who had opposed the power 
of the Pisistratidse, and of Aristobulus, who had delivered the 
Athenians from the oppression of the thirty tyrants, imposed upon 
them by the Lacedaemonians, were celebrated in these songs. 

The first who obtained the prize here, on the Cithara, according 
to the Marbles, was Phrynis,* of Mitylene, about 457 [probably 
445] B.C. But this Musician was not equally successful when he 
contended in these Games with Timotheus, who boasts, himself, of 
a victory he had obtained over him, in some verses preserved, by 
Plutarch (r). 

There were premiums likewise given to players on the Flute, 
an instrument long in the highest estimation throughout all Greece, 
but in particular request at Athens; perhaps from the legendary 
account of its invention by Minerva, the protectress of that city. 
For though the pagan religion seems to have had but little effect in 
restraining vice, and held out but few allurements to virtue, yet it 
furnished its votaries with reasons for innumerable follies. 

Aristotle (s) tells us, that the Flute, after its first invention, was 
used by mean people, and thought an ignoble instrument, unworthy 
of a free man, till after the invasion and defeat of the Persians 00; 
when ease, affluence, and luxury soon rendered its use so common, 
that it was a disgrace to a person of birth not to know how to 
play upon it. Callias and Critias, celebrated Athenians, Archytas 
of Tarentum, Philolaiis, and Epaminondas, were able performers 
on the Flute. Indeed Music, in general, was in such favour, and 
the study of it was thought so essential a part of education, at 
Athens, in the time of Pericles an,d Socrates, that Plato (u) and 
Plutarch (x) have thought it necessary to inform us of whom those 
two great personages received instructions in that art. DAMON, 
the Athenian, was the music master of both. The philosopher calls 
him his friend, in a Dialogue of Plato, where Nicias, one of the 
interlocutors, informs the company, that Socrates had recom- 
mended, as a music master to his son, Damon, the disciple of 
Agathocles, who not only excelled in his own profession, but 

(r) De Laud. Sui. (s) De Repub. cap. vi. 

(f\ Strabo says, it was the general opinion, that the Greeks had the chief part of their Music, and 
Musical Instruments, from Asia and Thrace. And, according to Athenaeus, lib. xiii. p. 607, Music was 
thought a necessary female accomplishment in the time of Darius : for this author tells us, that, 
Pannenio wrote Alexander word, he had taken at Damascus three hundred and twenty-nine of the 
Persian monarch's concubines, who were all skilled in Music, and performers on the Flute, and other 

() In primo Alcibiad. (*) In Perid. 

* He is said to have added two strings to the heptachord. 



possessed every quality that could be wished in a man to whom the 
care of youth was to be confided (y). 

Damon had chiefly cultivated that part of Music, which 
concerns Time or Cadence; for which he is highly commended 
by Plato (z), who seems to have regarded Rhythm as the most 
essential part of Music, and that upon which the morals of a people 
depended, more than upon Melody, or, as the ancients called it, 
Harmony. He is also mentioned by Aristides Quintilianus, as 
having excelled in characterizing his Melodies, by a judicious choice 
of such sounds and intervals as were best adapted to the effects 
he intended to produce (a). 

Pericles [.d. 429 B.C.], the most accomplished character in 
antiquity, was not only a consummate judge, but a great encourager 
of all the arts. And in his life, written by Plutarch, we are told 
that the Muses bore a principal share in all the public spectacles 
with which he entertained the people. He not only regulated and 
augmented the Poetical and Musical contests at the Panathenaean 
festivals, but built the Odeum (6), or Music-Room, in which Poets 
and Musicians daily exercised themselves in their art, and rehearsed 
new compositions, before they were exhibited in the theatre. 

It was Pericles, likewise, who invited to Athens ANTIGE- 
NIDES, one of the most renowned Musicians of antiquity; of whose 
life and talents such honourable mention is made in ancient authors, 
that it seems necessary to give the reader some account of them. 
According to Suidas, he was a native of Thebes, in Boeotia, and 
the son of Satyrus, a celebrated Flute-player, who, as ^Elian tells 
us, was so charmed with the lectures of the philosopher Ariston, that 
upon quitting them, he said, " If I do not break my Flute, I hope 
I shall have my head cut off." Antigenides was not the only one 
of his country whose abilities upon that instrument had rendered 
famous. The Thebans in general piqued themselves much upon 
being great performers on the Flute. This is manifest from a 
passage in DionChrysostom. "The pre-eminence," says he, "which 
all Greece unanimously allows to the Thebans, in this particular, 
has been constantly regarded by them as a point of great import- 
ance, of which I shall give an instance. After the total ruin of 
their city, which has never yet been rebuilt, no part of it being 
now inhabited but the small quarter, called Cadmea, they gave 
themselves but little trouble in restoring any of the public 
monuments that had been thrown down or destroyed, one statue only 
of Mercury excepted, which they took great pains to dig out from 

(y) Lack. It was thought disgraceful for a gentleman not to be able to play upon the Flute. 
Cornelius Nepos ranks it among the accomplishments of Epaminondas, that he could dance well, and 
play on the Flute. But he was a Theban. It seems that Theban Flute-players, and Lesbian Lyrists 
were always the most celebrated throughout Greece. 


(a) Damon, according to Plutarch, was a profound politician, and, under the mask of a Musician 
he tried to conceal from the multitude this talent. He was, however, involved with his patron 
Pericles, in the political disputes of his time, and banished as a favourer of tyranny. The period when 
he flourished, may be gathered from his connections. 

(6) Plut. in Perid, 


among the rubbish, and to erect again, on account of the following 
inscription: '#AAac t usv O^pae vwav ngovxQivev av/.oig. Greece 
has declared that Thebes wins the prize upon the Flute. So that 
this statue is still standing in the old public square, among the 
ruins (c)." 

Pronomus,* mentioned already (d}> as the inventor of a Flute, 
upon which he could play in three different Modes, was a Theban. 
Before his time, there was a particular Flute for every Mode or 
Key: and so out of tune are the generality of modern Flutes, it 
were almost to be wished that the custom had still continued. The 
words and Music of a Hymn, composed by Pronomus for the 
inhabitants of Chalcis, when they went to Delos, were subsisting in 
the time of Pausanias, as was likewise the statue of this Musician, 
erected by the citizens of Thebes, near that of Epaminondas (e). 

Antigenides being, therefore, originally an inhabitant of a city 
in which the Flute was held in such honour, and the son of a person 
who had distinguished himself upon it, was the more likely to 
become eminent in the same art; and he is said to have brought 
it to greater perfection than any one of his time, by the lessons he 
received from PHILOXENUS [435-380 B.C.], "This celebrated 
Poet-Musician, was a native of Cythera, and author of a great 
number of Lyric poems, which are entirely lost. His innovations 
in Music are stigmatized by Plutarch, and the comic Poets of his 
own time. He was so great an epicure, that he is said to have 
wished for a throat as long as that of a crane, and all palate, in 
order to prolong the relish of the delicious morsels he swallowed. 
He was, however, as much celebrated for his jests as his gluttony. 
Being served with a small fish, at the table of Dionysius of Syracuse, 
and seeing an enormous turbot placed before the tyrant, he put 
the head of the little fish close to his mouth, and pretended to 
whisper it : then placed it close to his ear, as if to receive the 
answer more distinctly. Upon being asked by Dionysius for an 
explanation of this mummery, he said, "I am writing a poem, 
Sir, upon Galatea, one of the Nereids; and as I want information 
concerning several particulars relative to her father Nereus, and 
the watry element, that are quite out of my ken, I was in hopes 
of obtaining some satisfaction from this fish; but he tells me, that 
he is too young and ignorant to be able to satisfy by curiosity, and 
refers me to that grown-gentleman before your majesty, who is 
much better acquainted with aquatic affairs." The tyrant under- 
stood him, and had the complaisance to send him the turbot (/). 
But though, from this instance, he appears to have been high in 

(c) Oral. 7. p. 123. EdiL Paris. (rf) P. 66. (*) Pausan. in Bteoiic. cap. xii. 

(/) It was of this glutton, that Machon, the comic Poet, cited by Athenams, told the story which 
has furnished la Fontaine with a subject for one of his tales, and Pope with a point, at the end of one 
of his characters. 

A salmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate ; 

The doctor call'd, declares all help too late ; 

" Mercy ! cries Helluo, mercy on my soul ! 

Is there no hope ? Alas then bring the jowL" 

it Gave lessons in flute playing to Alcibiades. 



favour with Dionysius, he afterwards proved so aukward a courtier, 
that he preferred the labour of carrying stones from a quarry, to 
the disgust of praising the bad verses of his patron. 

Antigenides was, in his youth, according to Suidas, Flute-player 
in ordinary (g) to Philoxenus, and accompanied him in the musical 
airs which he had set to his own verses. Instructed by such a 
master, it was no wonder that he should have, in his turn, disciples 
of the first class himself, and be caressed by the greatest princes. 
Pericles, who had undertaken the education of his nephew 
Alcibiades, appointed Antigenides for his Flute-master. But Aulus 
Gellius relates, from the History of Music, in thirty Books, by 
Pamphila,* that his scholar Alcibiades setting up for a fine gentle- 
man, and taking the utmost care of his person, was soon disgusted 
with his instrument, as Minerva herself had been ^before; for 
happening to see himself in a mirror, while he was playing, he was 
so shocked at the distortion of his sweet countenance, that ^he 
broke his Flute, in a transport of passion, and threw it away, which 
brought this instrument into great disgrace among the young 
people of rank at Athens. However, this disgust did not extend 
to the sound of the Flute itself, since we find by Plutarch, that 
the great performers upon it continued long after to be much 
followed and admired (A). 

It was Antigenides, according to Athenseus (i), who played upon 
the Flute at the nuptials of Iphicrates, when that Athenian general 
espoused the daughter of Cotys, king of Thrace: and Plutarch 
attributes to him the transporting Alexander to such a degree, by 
his performance of the Harmatian Air, at a banquet, that he 
seized his arms, and was on the point of attacking his guests. The 
same story has been told of Timotheus. The Lacedaemonians had 
a song which said, that "a good performer on the Flute would 
make a man brave every danger, and face even iron itself" 

Notwithstanding this Musician was so high in reputation, he 
seemed to regard public favour as a precarious possession, and 
was never elated by the applause of the multitude. He endeavoured 
to inspire his disciples with the same sentiments; and in order to 
console one of them, who, though possessed of great abilities, had 
received but little applause from his audience, " the next time you 
play," said he "shall be to me and the Muses (k}." Antigenides was 
so fully persuaded of the coarse taste of the common people, that 
one day, hearing at a distance a violent burst of applause to a 


(ft) Aristotle* after speaking of the introduction and progress of the Flute in Greece, and of its 
universal use, gives a different reason for its being less in repute during his own time, than formerly. 
" The Flute is now/* says he, " regarded as unfit tor young gentlemen, because not a moral instrument, 
but adapted to enthusiastic and passionate Music, such as is improper for the sober purposes of educa- 
tion.** Perhaps by moral, he meant such an instrument as the Lyre, to which Poetry and Morality 
could be united by the person who performed upon it. But if we reflect upon the influence of fashion, 
and the vanity of imitating the great, the cause assigned by A. Gellius for the disgrace of the Flute, is 
more likely to have been the true one, than that given by Aristotle. 

(t) Lib. iv. (ft) Cic. Brut. Vol. Max. 

* Flourished during the reign of Nero. His History of Music in 33 volumes has been lost. 



player on the Flute, he said, " there must be something very bad 
in that man's performance, or those people would not be so lavish 
of their approbation." 

Antigenides was author of many novelties upon the Flute. He 
encreased the number of holes, which extended the compass of 
the instrument, and, probably, rendered its Tones more flexible, 
and capable of greater variety. Theophrastus, in his History of 
Plants, has recorded how and at what season Antigenides cut the 
reeds for his Flute, differently from former players on that instru- 
ment, in order to have such as would express all the delicacy 
and refinements of his new Music; and Pliny has translated the 
passage (Z). 

This Musician had great occasion for flutes, upon which he 
could easily express minute intervals and inflexions of sound, since 
according to Apuleius, he played upon them in all the modes: 
upon the uEolian and Ionian, remarkable the one for simpGcity, 
the other for variety; upon the plaintive Lydian; upon the 
Phrygian, consecrated to religious ceremonies; and upon the Dorian, 
suitable to warriors (m). 

The innovations of Antigenides were not confined to the flute 
only: they extended to the robe of the performer; and he was 
the first who appeared in public with delicate Milesian slippers, 
and a robe of saffron-colour, called Crocoton (n). Plutarch has 
preserved a bon mot of Epaminondas, relative to Antigenides. 
This general, upon being informed, in order to alarm him, that 
the Athenians had sent troops into the Peloponnesus, equipped 
with entire new arms; asked " whether Antigenides was disturbed 
when he saw new flutes in the hands of TeUis?" who was a bad 

DORION is mentioned by Plutarch as a Flute-player who had 
made several changes in the Music of his time, and who was head 
of a sect of performers, opponents to another sect of practical 
musicians, of which Antigenides was the chief; a proof that 
these two masters were cotemporaries and rivals (o). Dorion, 
though much celebrated as a great Musician, and Poet, by 
Athenaeus, is better known to posterity as a voluptuary. Both his 
Music and Poetry are lost; however, many of his pleasantries are 
preserved. Being at Milo, a city of Egypt, and not able to procure 
a lodging, he enquired of a priest who was sacrificing in a chapel, 
to what divinity it was dedicated, who answered to Jupiter and 
to Neptune. How should I be able, says Dorion, to get a lodging 
in a place where the Gods are forced to lie double? Supping one 

(Z) Lib. xvi. 

(m) Tibicen quidam fuit Antigenides, omnis vocula. meUeus, et idem omnis modi pTitus modificator ; 
seu tu velles Molium simplex, seu Asiwn varium, sen Lydium querulum, seu Pkrygwm religiosum, sev 
Dorium betticosum. Florida, 4. 

(n) Suidas Antigenid. 

(o) It appears, from a passage in Xenophon, Memor iv. p. 4. that it was no uncommon thing fen 
the Athenians to be divided into, what we should call, Fiddling Factions. Socrates discoursing upon 
the advantages of concord in a state, says, " by concord, I mean that the city should agree, not in 
causing the same Poet, or praising the same Flute-player, but in obeying the same laws. 



night with Nicocreon, in the island of Cyprus, and admiring a 
rich gold cup that was placed on the side-board, the goldsmith 
will make you just such another, says the prince, whenever you 
please; " he'll obey your orders much better than mine, sir," says 
Dorion; " so let me have that, and do you bespeak another." 
The remark of Athenaeus (p) upon this reply is, that Dorion acted 
against the proverb, which says, that 

To Flute-players, nature gave brains there's no doubt, 
But alas! 'tis in vain, for they soon blow them out (q). 

Upon hearing the description of a tempest, in the Nauplius of 
Timotheus, Dorian said, he had seen a better in a boiling cauldron. 

Having lost a large shoe at a banquet (r}> which he wore on 
account of his foot being violently swelled by the gout, " the only 
harm I wish the thief," said he, " is, that my shoe may fit 

His wit and talents made amends for his gluttony, and he was 
a welcome guest wherever he went. Philip of Macedon, in order to 
enliven his parties of pleasure, used frequently to invite him with 
Aristonicus the citharcedist. 

How great a demand there was at this time for Flutes, at Athens, 
may be conceived from a circumstance mentioned by Plutarch, in 
his Life of Isocrates. This orator, says he, was the son of 
Theodoras, a Flute-maker, who acquired wealth sufficient by his 
employment not only to educate his children in a liberal manner, 
but also to bear one of the heaviest public burdens to which an 
Athenian citizen was liable; that of furnishing a Choir or Chorus 
for his tribe, or ward, at festivals and religious ceremonies (5). 

The wealth of Theodoras will not, however, appear very extra- 
ordinary, if we judge of the price of Flutes by that of ISMENIAS, 
the celebrated Musician of Thebes, who, according to Lucian (t), 
gave three talents, or 581Z. 5s. for a Flute, at Corinth. But this 
celebrated Musician was as eminent for his extravagance, as for 
his genius. He is recorded by Pliny (), as a prodigal purchaser 
of jewels, which he displayed with great vanity; and was once very 
angry that an emerald had been bought, in Cyprus, for less than 
he thought the value of it, though purchased for himself; and said 
to the person to whom he had given the commission, " You have 

(p) Lib. viii. p. 338. 

(q) AvSpt fLev avXTj-njpe etc voov eiaeve^vcrav : AXV a/xa TW <j&waz> x' "<w>S K*rerarat. 

Most of the eminent Flute-players were Bseotians : Crasso in cure nati ; which seems to have given 
rise to this epigram. 

(r] This would be a strange accident, indeed, at a modern feast ; but was not extraordinary when 
it was the custom to eat in a reclining posture, and when all the guests pulled off their shoes, that the 
couches might not be dirtied. 

te) Each tribe furnished their distinct Chorus ; which consisted of a band of vocal and instru- 
mental performers, and dancers, who were to be hired, maintained, and dressed, during the whole 
time of the festival ; an expence considerable in itself, but much encreased by emulation among the 
richer citizens, and the disgrace consequent to an inferior exhibition. The fluctuations of trade and 
public favour have rendered the business of boring Flutes far less profitable at present, than it was in 
the time of Theodoras ; but then we have, in our own country, a Harpsichord-maker, as able to 
maintain a Choir, as any dean and chapter of a cathedral 

(t} Ad Indo'tom. (} Lib. acaocvii i. 



done your business like a fool, and disgraced the gem." Plutarch 
(x) relates the following story of him: being sent for to accom- 
pany a sacrifice, and having played some time without the appear- 
ance of any good omen in the victim, his employer became 
impatient, and snatching the Flute out of his hand, began playing 
in a very ridiculous manner himself, for which he was reprimanded 
by the company; but the happy omen soon appearing, there ! said 
he, to play acceptably to the Gods, is their own gift! Ismenias 
answered with a smile, " While I played, the Gods were so 
delighted, that they deferred the omen, in order to hear me the 
longer; but they were glad to get rid of your noise upon any terms." 
Thus we see that neither vanity nor impiety are peculiar to modern 

Indeed, according to Xenophon, the Flute-players of these 
times must have lived in a very splendid and magnificent manner. 
" If," says he (y), "a bad performer on the Flute wishes to pass 
for a good one, how must he set about it? Why he must imitate the 
great Flute-players in all those circumstances that are extraneous 
to the art itself. And, principally, as they are remarkable for 
expending great sums in rich furniture, and for appearing in public 
with a great retinue of servants, he must do the same." 

With respect to the salaries of great public performers, a circum- 
stance mentioned by Dr. Arbuthnot (z), from Athenseus, shews 
that the profusion and extravagance of the present age in gratifying 
the ministers of our pleasures, is not equal to that of the Athenians 
during the times of which I write. For it is asserted that Amcebeus 
the Harper, whenever he sung on the stage, was paid an Attic talent, 
or 193 1. 15s. a day for his performance, though he lived, it is added, 
close by the theatre (a). 

The importance of the Flute is manifested by innumerable pas- 
sages in ancient authors; among which there is one in Pliny that 
is diverting and curious. In speaking of Comets, he says that 
there were some in the shape of Flutes, which were imagined to 
forebode some ill to Music and Musicians (&). And Montfaucon 
proves by several inscriptions from ancient marbles, that the 
sacrificial Tibicen, at Athens, was always chosen, and his name 
recorded, with the officers of state (c). This Musician was called 
Auletes, and sometimes Spondaula. His office was to play on the 
Flute, close to the ear of the priest, during sacrifice, some pious 
air, suitable to the service, in order to keep off distraction and 
inattention during the exercise of his function (d). Indeed, there 

(x) Sympos. lib. ii. q* r. (y) Metnor. Socrat. 

(z) Tables of ancient coins, weights, and measures, p. 199. 

(a) Roscius could gain only five hundred sestertia, or 40362. os. id. a year ; and when he acted 
by the day, but four thousand nummi, or 322. 55. xod. 

(b) Tibiarum specie, Mitsica carti porUndere. lib. ii. cap. 25. 

(c) Suppl. torn. ii. p. 186. 

(d) A similar custom is still preserved in the Greek church. " For, while the priest stands with 
his face towards the east, and repeats the prayers, the choir is almost constantly singing hymns, and 
he reads in so low a voice, for the most part, that the congregation is not supposed to pray themselves, 
or to hear the prayers he offers ug on their behalf." Rites and Cerem. of the Creek Church, by Dr. 
King, p. 46. Perhaps too, the musical performance in the churches of Italy, during the Mussttandi, or 
Mssa-bassa, had the same origin. 



is no representation of a sacrifice, procession, banquet, or festive 
assembly, either in ancient Painting, or Sculpture, without a 
Musician. And the attendance of Flute-players at sacrifices was 
so common in Greece, that it gave rise to a proverb, which was 
usually applied to such as lived at the tables of others : You live 
the life of a Flute-player (e). Because, as Suidas says, these 
performers being constantly employed at sacrifices, where the 
victims furnished them with a dinner, were at little or no expence 
in housekeeping. 

The list of illustrious Flute-players in antiquity is too numerous 
to allow a separate article to each. However, a few, besides those 
already mentioned, still hold their heads above the crowd, and 
seem to demand attention. And among these, as a particular 
respect seems due to Inventors, who, by genius or study, have 
extended the limits of theoretical or practical Music, Clonas must 
not be passed by unnoticed. 

Plutarch (/), the only author by whom he is mentioned, tells 
us, that Clonas lived soon after the time of Terpander [c. 620 
B.C.], and was the first who composed Nomes for the Flute^ of 
which he specifies three that were much celebrated in antiquity, 
under the names of Apothetos, Schcenion, and Trimeres. This last 
air, which was sung by a chorus, must have been much celebrated; 
as Plutarch says that though the Sicyon Register gave it to Clonas, 
yet others, among whom was Plutarch himself, had ascribed it 
to Sacadas (g\. 

Polymnestus, of Colophon in Ionia [fl. c. 675-644 B.C.], was 
a composer for the Flute, as well as an improver^ of the Lyre; and 
it appears to have been no uncommon accomplishment for these 
ancient Musicians to perform equally well upon both these instru- 
ments. Polymnestus is said to have invented the Hypolydian 
Mode. This Made being half a Tone below the Dorian, which was 
the lowest of the five original Modes (h), was, perhaps, the first 
extension of the scales downwards, as the Mixolydian was, 
upwards. Plutarch, who assigns to him this invention, accuses 
him of having taken greater liberties with the scale than any one 
had done before, though it is not now easy to discover in what 
those liberties consisted (i). 

(e) AvAirnw &iw &p. Suid. wee AuAip-ov. (/} DC Musica. 

(g) The custom of giving names to times in antiquity, has long been adopted in France ; all the 
harpsichord lessons of Rameau, and several other composers in that country, having particular 
denominations affixed to them ; such as La Timide, La Pantomime, V Indiscrete, la Complaisant*, &c. 

(h) See p. 53- 

(*) What Plutarch says of him is, that he made the ocXvtrt? and the c/3oAij much greater 
than, they had been before his time. M. Burette, Mem. de LiU. torn. xv. has expended much learning 
upon the words eicAwis and c/3oAi7 to very little purpose. He has likewise, in his lon note 
upon this passage, changed the place of all the Modes, without giving a reason for it, by making the 
Dorian Mode correspond with natural, instead of D ; so that the Lydian, which this author has 
himself frequently told his readers was F#, is now mounted up to G#. EjeAwis and ejc/SoAij, it 
must be owned, are most perplexing words, as many Greek technical terms are now become. At the 
time they were used, they could only have been familiar to artists ; few else, at present, know the 
modern terms of art. From the definitions of Bacchius, and Axist. Quint, it appears that these terms 
were peculiar to the Enharmonic ; that e/cAwis was a particular kind of tuning in the Enharmonic 
Genus, in which, from a certain sound, the singer or player^ by an interval of three quarter-tones ; 
and exjSoAq, when he rose by five quarter-tones. The words, at least, express something very violent 
and unusual: ejcAvort?, dissolution; acjSoAij, throwing out, disjointing; it was the technical term 
in ancient surgery for dislocation. 



Telepkanes was a celebrated performer on the Flute in the time 
of Philip of Macedon. According to Pausanias, he was a native 
of Samos, and had a tomb erected to him by Cleopatra, the sister 
of Philip, in the road between Megara and Corinth, which was 
subsisting in his time (&). Telephones was closely united in 
friendship^ with Demosthenes, who has made honourable mention of 
him in his harangue against Midias, from whom he received a 
blow, ^ in public, during the celebration of the feast of Bacchus. 
As this was a kind of musical quarrel, I shall relate the cause 
of it. 

Demosthenes had been appointed by his tribe to furnish a 
Chorus (Z), to dispute the prize at this festival; and as this Chorus 
was to be instructed by a master (m), Midias, in order to disgrace 
Demosthenes, bribed the music master to neglect his function, 
that the Chorus might be unable to perform their several parts 
properly before the public, for want of the necessary teaching 
and rehearsals. But Telephanes, who had discovered the design 
of Midias, not only chastised and dismissed the music-master, but 
undertook to instruct the Chorus himself. 

After speaking of so many Flute-players of the male sex, it is 
but justice to say that they did not monopolize the whole glory 
arising from the cultivation of that instrument; as the perform- 
ing upon it was ranked, in high antiquity, among female 
accomplishments. Its invention was ascribed by the Poets to a 
Goddess; it was the Symbol of one of the Muses; and it was never 
omitted in the representation of the Sirens. However, the same 
reason which provoked Minerva to throw it aside, has luckily 
inclined modern ladies to cultivate instruments, in performing upon 
which, their natural charms, instead of being diminished, are but 
rendered still more irresistible. 

The most celebrated female Flute-player in antiquity, was 
LAMIA; her beauty, wit, and abilities in her profession, made 
her regarded as a prodigy. The honours she received, which are 
recorded by several authors, particularly by Plutarch and 
Athengeus, are sufficient testimonies of her great power over the 
passions of her hearers. Her claim to admiration from her 
personal allurements, does not entirely depend, at present, upon 
the fidelity of historians; since an exquisite engraving of her head, 
upon an Amethyst, with the veil and bandage of her profession, 
is preserved in the king of France's collection, which, in some 
measure, authenticates the accounts of her beauty. 

(ft) The Epitaph upon this Musician, which is preserved in the Anthologia, equals his talents to 
those of the greatest names in antiquity. 

Orpheus, whom Gods and men admire, 

Surpassed all mortals on the Lyre: 

Nestor with eloquence could charm, 

And pride., and insolence disarm : 

Great Homer, with his heav'nly -strain, 

Could soften rocks, and quiet pain : 

Here lies Telephanes, whose Flute 

Had equal pow'r o'er man and brute, 
(1) See p. 330. 
(m) Ai&MricaXo?. 



As she was a great traveller, her reputation soon became very 
extensive.* Her first journey from Athens, the place of her birth, 
was into Egypt, whither she was drawn by the fame of the Flute- 
players of that country. Her person and performance were not 
long unnoticed at the court of Alexandria; however, in the conflict 
between Ptolemy Soter, and Demetrius, for the island of Cyprus, 
about 312 B.C. Ptolmey being defeated in a sea-engagement, 
his wives, domestics, and military stories fell into the hands of 

Plutarch, in his life of this prince, tells us, that " the 
celebrated Lamia was among the female captives taken in this 
victory. She had been universally admired, at first, on account of 
her talents, for she was a wonderful performer on the Flute; but, 
afterwards, her fortune became more splendid, by the charms of 
her person, which procured her many admirers of great rank." The 
prince, whose captive she became, and who, though a successful 
warrior, was said to have vanquished as many hearts as cities, 
conceived so violent a passion for Lamia, that, from a sovereign 
and a conqueror, he was instantly transformed into a slave; 
though her beauty was now on the decline, and Demetrius, the 
handsomest prince of his time, was much younger than herself. 

At her instigation, he conferred such extraordinary benefits 
upon the Athenians, that they rendered him divine honours; and 
as an acknowledgment of the influence, which she had exercised 
in their favour, they dedicated a temple to her, under the name 
of Venus Lamia. 

Athenaeus has recorded the names of a great number of 
celebrated Tibicina, whose talents and beauty had captivated the 
hearts of many of the most illustrious personages of antiquity; and 
yet the use of the Flute among females seems to have been much 
more general in Persia than in Greece, by the account which 
Parmenio gives to Alexander of the female Musicians in the service 
of Darius. 

Horace speaks of bands of female Flute-players, which he calls 
Ambubaiarum Collegia (n), and of whom there were still colleges 
in his time (o). But the followers of this profession became so 
numerous and licentious, that we find their occupation prohibited 
in the Theodosian code; however, with little success : for Procopius 
tells us that in the time of Justinian, the sister of the empress 
Theodora, who was a Tibicina, appeared on the stage without any 
other dress than a slight scarf thrown loosely over her. And these 
performers were become so common in all private entertainments, 
as well as at public feasts, obtruding their company, and placing 
themselves at the table, frequently unasked, that, at the latter end 

(n) Antbubcaa is said, by the commentators, to be a Syrian word, which in that language implies 
a Flute, or ihe sound of a Flute. 

[o) See p. 325, Note (/). 

* It is probable that het reputation was based mere upon her profession of courtesan than upon 
her ability as a flute player. 



of this reign their profession was regarded as infamous, and 
utterly abolished. 

Among the most renowned Lyrists and Citharcedists of antiquity, 
to whom a particular article has not been allowed, many have 
been omitted for want of materials, as well as for want of room. 
Anon has, however, already had a place in the Dissertation (p), 
where the invention of Dithyrambic Poetry is ascribed to him. 
Epigonius, a mathematician of Sicyon, and native of Ambracia, 
is celebrated by the ancients for the invention of an instrument of 
forty strings, which was called after his name, Epigonium. When 
he lived is uncertain, but as it was in times of simplicity, we may 
suppose that these strings did not form a scale of forty different 
sounds, but that they were either tuned in Unisons and Octaves 
to each other, or accommodated to different Modes and Genera. 
The twelve Semitones of our three-stopt, octave-harpsichords, 
include thirty-six different strings. The Magadis of twenty strings, 
mentioned by Anacreon, had, probably, a series of only ten 
different sounds, the name of the instrument implying a series of 
octaves.* Magadizing was a term used, when a boy, or a woman, 
and a man, sung the same part (q). The Simicum of thirty-five 
strings, mentioned by Athenaeus, must have been of this kind, 
like the arch-lute, double-harp, or double-harpsichord. 

Crexus, perhaps, should have an honourable place here, being 
recorded by Plutarch as the author of a considerable Invention; 
that of an instrumental accompaniment, under the song (r): 
whereas, before, says Plutarch, the accompaniment was note for 
note (s). 

Phrynis has already been mentioned (t) as the first who gained 
the prize on the Cithara at the Panathensean Games. According 
to Suidas, he was originally king Hiero's cook; but this prince, 
chancing to hear him play upon the Flute, placed him, for 
instructions, under Aristoclides, a descendant of Teipander. Phrynis 
may be regarded as one of the first Innovators upon the Cithara 
in antiquity (). He is said to have played in a delicate and 
effeminate style, which the comic Poets, Aristophanes and 
Pherecrates, ridiculed upon the stage. The former in his comedy 

() P. 161. 

(q) See p. 125. Athenaeus, lib. adv. p. 635, has fully discussed the use and properties of the 
Magadis, and confirmed the opinion, that magadizing is singing, or playing in reciprocal sounds, or in 
the octave, as Casaubon understands it. ^faJ^tov avntyoyyov. Aia TOO-OW. 

(r) Kpouais inro TIJV uSi)v. 

(s) HpotrvopSa. As Plutarch plainly opposes this accompaniment to that which was in use 
before the time of Crexus, it can only be* understood as a kind of Bourdon, or Drone-Base, under the 
voice part. A sense which appears to be supported by the use of the same phrase, in a Prob. of 
Aristotle (the 4Oth) where he speaks of this accompaniment and the voice ending together. It could 
not therefore have been a mere Ritornello, or Echo, to the voice part, as M. Burette interprets it, 
taking inro to mean after, not under the voice. 

(<) P. 3*5. 

() See p. 321. 

* It is not definitely known whether the magadis was a wind or stringed instrument. It is 
usually understood to have been a many stringed harp so arranged that the octave passages could be 
performed upon it. 



of the Clouds, and the latter in the piece already mentioned (x). 
Plutarch, who frequently applies the same story and apophthegm 
to different persons, tells us (y), that when Phrynis offered himself 
as a candidate at the public Games in Sparta, he had two strings 
cut off his Lyre by the magistrates, in order to reduce them to 
the ancient number. A similar disgrace to that which had 
happened to Terpander before, and to which Timotheus was 
forced to submit soon after. 

Having now given an account of the principal, and most 
celebrated Poet-Musicians of ancient Greece, it does not seem 
necessary to interrupt the history of the Musical art with more 
biographical articles, as too much or too little is known of all that 
have been omitted. For such as Anacreon, /Eschylus, Sophocles, 
Euripides, and Theocritus, who all flourished before the total 
separation of Music and Poetry, though they must have been 
Musicians, are omitted by design, as their lives have been so 
frequently published in their works. And of such obscure names 
as Anthes, Polyides, Xenodemus, Xenocritus, Telesilla, Rhianus, 
Ibycus, and other Lyrics, no memorials remain that are sufficiently 
interesting to entitle them to a particular niche in the Delphic 

Between the time of Alexander the Great, and the conquest of 
Greece by the Romans, but few eminent Musicians are upon record. 
The Grecian states never enjoyed true liberty and independence 
after the victory obtained over them at Cheronea, by Philip, the 
father of Alexander: the chief of these states remaining after the 
death of these princes, under the Macedonian yoke, till they called 
in the Romans to their assistance; who, under Flaminius, as already 
related, restored to them the shadow of liberty, which was gradu- 
ally diminished by the victories and devastations of Mummius, 
Sylla, and other commanders, till the time of Vespasian, who 
reduced all Greece to a Roman province. 

The result of such enquiries as I have been able to make, is, 
that Music was progressive in Greece, as well as Painting, Poetry, 
and Sculpture; though it advanced towards perfection by much 
slower degrees than any of the other arts. Our curiosity, 
however, concerning Greek Music is stimulated, and our patience 
is enabled to pursue its improvements through a dull detail of 
circumstances, by its being connected with those efforts of ancient 
genius, taste, an,d refinement in other arts, of which sufficient 
specimens remain to authenticate the accounts of what is lost. For 
if no more substantial proofs were now subsisting of the excellence 
of the Poetry, Eloquence, Sculpture, and Architecture of ancient 
Greece,than of its Music, we should, probably, be as incurious and 


incredulous about them, as we are, at present, concerning the Music 
of the Spheres. 

Before I conclude this chapter, perhaps a short recapitulation 
of the most remarkable events in the history of this art in Greece, 
of which the chain has been often unavoidably broken by 
biographical articles, may save the reader the trouble of recollection. 

It is natural to suppose that the first attempts at Music in 
Greece, as well as in other countries, must have been rude and 
simple (y); and that Rhythm, or Time, was attended to before 
Tone or Melody. We accordingly find that instruments of percus- 
sion preceded all others, and that the steps in the dance, and the 
jeet in Poetry, were regulated and marked with precision long 
before sounds were sustained or refined. When these two circum- 
stances first engaged attention, the Flute imitated, and the Lyre 
accompanied the voice in its inflexions of joy and sorrow. In 
singing poetry, as little more was at first attempted than to prolong 
the accents of the language, and of passion, the Flute required 
but few holes, and the Lyre but few strings. As the Flute was the 
eldest, and long the favourite instrument of the Greeks, its compass 
was first extended; and the Lyre seems to have been confined, 
during many ages, to a Tetrachord, after the Flute had multiplied 
its sounds. 

One of the most extraordinary circumstances in the history of 
this art, to modern comprehension, is, that the Enharmonic Genus, 
even with the diesis, or quarter-tone, was almost exclusively in use 
before the time of Aristoxenus, the cotemporary of Alexander the 
Great; in so much that it was customary with the old masters to 
give their scholars Diagrams to practise of condensed scales, divided 
into quarter-tones, as necessary exercises for the hand or voice (z). 
These scales are mentioned in Aristoxenus, and examples of them are 
still remaining in the writings of Aristides Quintilianus (a). 

The artificial and difficult Enharmonic, however, seems to have 
been lost soon after the time of Alexander the Great; at least 
when Aristoxenus wrote, it appears to have been upon the decline, 
while the Chromatic was daily increasing in favour (6). 

The most important event in the history of Music, was the 
establishment of Instrumental contests at the Pythic Games (c). 
The Abbe Arnaud, in an excellent Dissertation on the Accents of 
the Greek Tongue (d), is of opinion, that the irregularities we find 
in the versification of the later Greek Poets, particularly the Lyric, 
of a redundancy , or deficiency of one or two syllables in a verse, 

(y) Nihil est enim simul inventum et perfedum. Cic. in Brutum. 

(z) KaTttiruKvoMrts' and KumruKvuxrcu TO Staypajtifia. Aristox. p. 7. 

(a) My own astonishment at the use of this Genus, and the execution of these Scales, in antiquity, 
is considerably abated by a letter, which the zeal and kindness of Dr. Russel has lately procured me 
from Aleppo, in answer to some queries which he was so obliging as to send for me to that city, 
concerning the present state of Music in Arabia. In this letter, besides many other curious particulars, 
I find that the Arabian Scale of Music is divided into Quarter tones', and that an Octave, which upon out 
keyed instruments is only divided into twelve Semi-tones, in the Arabian Scale consists of twenty- 
four, for all which there are particular denominations. 

(6) Aristox. p. 23- W See P- 302- 

(<*) Mem. de Litterature, torn, xxrii. p. 432- 

Vor,. i. 22 357 


were admitted in order to indulge the instrumental performer, who 
would naturally discover new measures, as his hand and instru- 
ment advanced towards perfection. 

While instruments were confined to the measure of the verse, 
these liberties produced some variety in the Rhythm, without destroy- 
ing the accent of the language; but as soon as Musicians were freed 
from the laws of Prosody and metre, they multiplied the strings of 
the Lyre, and the holes of the Flute, introducing new movements 
more complicated and varied, with new intervals and uncommon 
modulations. Lasus, Melanippides, Timotheus, Phrynis, and some 
others, are mentioned by Plutarch among the first who dared to 
apply these licences to song. However, they could only have been 
suggested to them by great practice in instrumental Music, infi- 
nitely more free than vocal, in every country, be the language what 
it will, but especially in Greece, where the Measures and accents 
of the language were governed by such rigid laws. 

* c I disapprove/' says Aristotle, " of all kinds of difficulties in 
the practice of instruments, and indeed in Music in general. I call 
artificial and difficult, such tricks as are practised at the public 
Games, where the Musician, instead of recollecting what is the true 
object of his talent, endeavours only to flatter the corrupt taste of 
the multitude (e)." 

These were the sentiments of the learned, long after the separa- 
tion of Music and Poetry, and these are the objections that still 
recur, and ever will recur, to those who regard Music as a slave to 
syllables, forgetting that it has a language of its own, with which 
it is able to speak to the passions, and that there are certain 
occasions when it may with propriety be allowed to be a free agent. 

From this time Music became a distinct art; the Choruses, which 
till now had governed the melody of the Lyrist and Tibicen, 
became subordinate to both (/). Philosophers in vain exclaimed 
against these innovations, which they thought would ruin the morals 
of the people, who, as they are never disposed to sacrifice the 
pleasures of the senses to those of the understanding, heard these 
novelties with rapture, and encouraged the authors of them. This 
species of Music, therefore, soon passed from the Games to the 
Stage, seizing there upon the principal parts of the drama, and 
from being the humble companion of Poetry, becoming her 

With respect to the period of greatest perfection in the Music 
of Greece, it is a subject which merits some discussion. 

Plato, Aristotle, Aristoxenus, and Plutarch, were for ever com- 
plaining of the corruption and degeneracy of Music. The pious 
Plato, indeed, regarded it as fit only for the Gods, and their 
celebration in religious ceremonies, or as a vehicle for religious and 

(e) Repub. lib. viiL cap. 6. 

8 *** preserv * Uttle VS? b ? Patinas, of theff#orcAKflkind, where he gives vent 
""if $****** performance, in which, instead of tfaeftftfeftMt 
s had accompanied the Tibicines ; TOVS avXijTuj w oWfietv rot* 


moral lectures in the education of youth; and with a methodistical 
spirit censured all such as was used in theatres, social festivity, or 
.domestic amusement: but modern divines might, with equal 
propriety, declaim against the profane use of bread as an aliment, 
because it is administered in the most solemn rite of our religion. 
A line should certainly be drawn between the Music of the church 
and of the theatre; but totally to silence all musical sound, except 
upon solemn occasions, seems to border upon downright fanaticism. 

With respect to perfection and depravity, there is nothing so 
common among musical disputants, as for the favourers of one 
sect to call that Degeneracy, which those of another call Refine- 
ment. But Plato seems to have been always too fond of ideal 
excellence in everything, to be satisfied with any other (g). 

It has been said by many writers, both ancient and modern, 
that Plato was deeply skilled in the Music of his time; but it does 
not appear that his claims to skill in this art extend further than 
to mere Theory, or a very little more. Plutarch, indeed, in his 
Dialogue, proves his profound musical science; but how? By a 
long passage from his Timseus, in which he applies musical ratios 
to the soul (h) I 

However this may have been, it is difficult to refrain from 
numbering this philosopher, together with Aristotle, Aristoxenus, 
and Plutarch, though such illustrious characters, and, in other 
particulars, such excellent writers, among the musical Grumblers 
and Croakers of antiquity. They all equally lament the loss of 
good Music, without considering that every age had, probably, 
done the same, whether right or wrong, from the beginning of 
the world; always throwing musical perfection into times remote 
from their own, as a thing never to be known but by tradition. 
The golden age had not its name from those who lived in it. 

Aristotle, indeed, complains of degeneracy in a more liberal 
way : " Every kind of Music," says he, " is good for some purpose 
or other; that of the theatres is necessary for the amusement of 
the mob; the theatrical transitions, and lie tawdry and glaring 
melodies (i) in use there, are suited to the perversion of their minds 
and manners, and let them enjoy them." 

(g) His complaints of the degeneracy of Music, may be seen in his third Book of Laws. The 
Poets, indeed, never fafl to charge the corruption of Music upon its professors, yet Plato throws the 
blame upon the Poets themselves. " The Music of our forefathers," says he, " was divided into 
certain species and figures. Prayers to the Gods were one species of song, to which they gave the 
name of Hymns ; opposed to this was another species, which, in particular, might be called Thread ; 
another, Paepnes ; and another, the birth of Dionysius, which I hold to be the Dithyrambus ; there 
were also Citharcedic Nomi, so called, as being still another song. These, and some others, being 
prescribed, it was not allowable to use one species of Melos for another. But, in process of time, the 
Poets first introduced an unlearned licence, being poetic by nature, but unskilled in the rules of the 
science, trampling upon its laws, over attentive to please, mixing the Threni with the Hymns, and the 
Paeones with the Dithyrambi, imitating the Music of the Flute upon the Cithara, and confounding 
all things with all." Plat de Legibus, as translated by Sir F. H. E. Stiles. Though it was Plato's 
opinion that the government of a state, and the morals of a people, would be affected by a change 
in the national music, yet this was not the opinion of Cicero, who in many other particulars is a rigid 
Platonist : " Change," says this orator, "the government or customs of a city, and it will certainly 
change the music." De Legib. lib. iii. 

(K) What connection is there between Dr. Smith's Harmonics, and his taste and knowledge in 
PraaicaL Music 1 

(*) MeAij ira/xwexp07ij*. Ppttt. 8 r 



The complaints of Aristoxenus are more natural than those oi 
Plato and Aristotle; for he was not only less a Philosopher, but 
more a Musician; and, as a professor, and an author on the subject 
of Music, he must have had rivals to write down. Hesiod says 
that bards hate bards, and beggars beggars (k). And it has been 
the practice for writers on Music, in all ages, ^ to treat their 
cotemporaries with severity and scorn. Gaspar Printz (I) inserts in 
his book a canzonet in four parts, in which every rule of composi- 
tion is violated, and calls it modem; as if error was always^ new. 
But besides a natural tendency in human nature, or at least in the 
nature of authors, towards envy and malignity, Aristoxenus had 
a system to support, which is usually done at the expence of 
moderation, truth, and everything that stands in its way (m); for, 
like the tyrant Procrustes, the builder of a system, or the defender 
of an hypothesis, cuts shorter what is too long, and stretches to 
his purpose whatever is too short. 

The music of the Greeks, in the time of Aristoxenus, was too 
remote from perfection to be much injured by innovation and 
refinement; and yet Athenaeus (ri) gives a passage from a work of 
this writer, now lost, in which he makes the following complaints: 
" I, and a few others, recollecting what Music once was, and 
considering what it now is, as corrupted by the theatre, imitate 
the people of Possidonium, who annually celebrate a festival after 
the Greek manner, in order to keep up the memory of what they 
once were; and before they depart, with tears deplore the 
barbarous state into which they are brought by the Tuscans and 
Romans (o)." 

Plutarch frequently speaks of Music having been corrupted by 
the Theatre, particularly in his Dialogue, where he says, " If we 
look back into remote antiquity, we shall find that the Greeks 
were unacquainted with theatrical music. The only use they made 
of this art, was in praising the Gods, and educating youth. The 
idea of a theatre had not then entered their thoughts, and all their 
Music was dedicated to sacrifices, and to other religious ceremonies, 
in which they sung Hymns in honour .of the Gods, and Canticles 
in praise of great and good men." 

It should be remembered here, that Plutarch was a priest of 
Apollo : and, moreover, that what he, Plato, and Aristoxenus say, 
concerning the injuries which Music had received from the theatre, 
favours very much of cant and prejudice. Anthenaeus, on the 
contrary, teUs us, that notwithstanding the complaints of 

(ft) Life and Writings of Plato. 

(Q Phrynidis, drifter Theil, p. 26. 

(m) " Neither Gods nor men can stand before a system." Div. Leg. vol. iii. 

(ri) Lib. adv. p. 632. 

(o) Though Aristoxenus lived -with Alexander the Great, with Plato, and with Aristotle, when all 
other arts and sciences had arrived at their greatest degree of force and refinement ; yet Music, from 
whatever cause, does not seem, at that, or at any time, to have kept pace with other arts in its improve- 
ments ; at least, it did not in Italy ; nor, indeed, in England or France, if we compare the Poetry of 
Milton with the Music of Henry Lawes, or the writings of Racine and Boileau, with the compositions 



Aristoxenus against theatrical corruption, others were of opinion, 
that Music derived its principal improvements in Greece from the 
theatre: and it seems natural, that the hope of applause, and the 
fear of censure should operate more powerfully on the industry 
and faculties of a composer or performer, than the idea of private 
praise, or blame. And, if we may judge of ancient times by the 
present, the theatre seems the place to develope all the powers of 
Music, and to expand the talents of its professors. For it is at the 
Musical Theatre, the modern Temple of Apollo and the Muses, that 
perfection of various kinds is more frequently found, than any 
where else. But old things do get violently praised, particularly 
Music, after it ceases to give pleasure; or even to be heard; and 
old people exclusively praise what pleased them in their youth,