Dithyramb: Use in Tragedy

Also Read

      A Dithyramb was a choral hymn sung by fifty men or boys, under the leadership of an exarchon, to honor Dionysus. The dithyramb became a feature of Greek tragedy and is considered by Aristotle to be the origin of Greek tragedy, passing first through a satyric phase. Its wild and ecstatic character was often contrasted with that of the paean: just as Paean was both a hymn and a title of Apollo. Dithyrambos was also a title of Dionysus as well as a song in his honor. According to Aristotle, the dithyramb was the origin of the Ancient Greek Theatre. Richard Bentley writes that the Dithyramb was an old Bacchic Hymn and too old to be dated. Dithyrambs were sung by a Greek chorus of up to 50 men or boys dancing in circular formation (there is no certain evidence that they may have originally been dressed as satyrs) and probably accompanied by the aulos. They would normally relate some incident in the life of Dionysus. The leader of the chorus later became the solo protagonist, with lyrical interchanges taking place between him and the rest of the chorus. Competitions between groups singing dithyrambs were an important part of festivals such as the Dionysia and Lenaia. Each tribe would enter two choruses, one of men and one of boys, each under the leadership of a choragos. The results of dithyrambic contests in Athens were recorded with the names of the winning teams and choregos recorded, but not the poets, most of whom remain unknown. The successful choregos would receive a statue which would be erected - at his own expense - on a public monument to commemorate his group’s victory.

Previous Post Next Post