I came across this interesting word used to describe poets in ancient Greece. According to piece from the web, dithyramb was introduced around the sixth century B.C. as a song dedicated to Dionysus. Early dithyrambs, which generally depicted Greek legends, were improvised and their staging was lively. In rural areas of Greece, members of the chorus went so far as to dress themselves in goatskins and dance around in an attempt to look like the animal. Eventually, the dithyramb began to take on a more sophisticated quality, and its presentation grew increasingly serious. This movement helped to develop Greek tragedy.
The AHD defines it as "a frenzied, impassioned choric hymn and dance of ancient Greece in honor of Dionysus; an irregular poetic expression...; or a wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing".
Has anyone seen dithyramb used to describe an impassioned speech or a wildly enthusiastic piece of writing? Or is it still only used as the Ancient Greeks used it?
as anyone seen dithyramb used to describe an impassioned speech or a wildly
enthusiastic piece of writing?
Dithyramb is a new word to me, but I will try and work it into a conversation today!
Seems that it would be useful for some of the political speeches we hear. Yet--I have never heard it used that way.
If perhaps museamuse is back (?), would you have any comments on this word? Has it been used to describe an impassioned speech in modern times, or is the original, ancient Greek definition the only one we see?
Yes, Kalleh I have seen this word used in this way, something along the lines of "the play received dithyrambic reviews." The word is also used in this way in modern Greek.
In reference to your remark about the pagan ritual of dressing up in goatskins, this custom is still enacted in some parts of Greece. "Bambougera" is what they call those who wear special costumes during the celebration of the Epiphany in the village of Kali Vrissi on the outskirts of the northern town of Drama. The act of dressing up is part of the three-day festivities that take place at that time. These also include the sprinkling of homes with ash to chase out pagan spirits and a ritualistic supper that every family has on the eve os the Epiphany (January 6). The festivites peak on the third and last day with the humorous enactment of a local wedding ceremony.
The animal-like costumes of the Bambougera are impressive. The costume consists of white trousers, a white shirt, a woman's black cape that looks like a sheepskin and five large cowbells tied round the waist. The head is covered with a mask made of white cloth woven on the local looms and is crowned with horns. Pieces of sheepskin form the eyebows and moustache and a long beard while two rows of white beans repesent the teeth. The Bambougera from Kali Vrissi are a local variation os the costumes worn of the twelve-day festivites that are common in northern Greece. I have also seen a variation of this costume worn during Mardi Gras on the island of Skyros.
[This message was edited by museamuse on Mon Sep 2nd, 2002 at 5:24.]
Thanks, museamuse, and welcome back. We missed you!
That sounds like a great way to use the word. I will look for it. As far as the celebration of Epiphany, is this something the public can watch? It sounds fascinating, and I would love to see it some day.
sprinkling of homes with ash to chase out pagan spirits
Now why would you want to go and do that? Those are the FUN ones, and they were there first!
I'll second Kelleh's welcome! I've missed you!
P.S: I'd long associated "dithyramb" with "dither," but a quick look at my dictionary shows no such connection. Those of you who are more sophisticated in searching etymologies, can you find a connection?
I can only find that "dither" comes from middle English, "didderen" meaning to tremble. However, it does sound like it could come from dithyrambic!
Thanks for the warm welcome back, Asa and Kalleh! I've missed you too! It's taking me a while to read all the messages that were posted while I was away! I had a great time by the way on the Greek islands of Samothrace, Icaria and Nisyros!
So good to hear your sweet soprano again, museamuse-goddess. Welcome back to the οι πολλοι (did I spell "hoi polloi" right?)
Icaria = Icarus?
I hope that dithyramb isn't used for modern speeches, because later Greek dithyrambs were performed with no clothes at all! In fact this is the better known form of the dithyramb.
And Welcome, autotheist! Great to have you aboard and posting!
Yes, welcome, Autotheist. Interesting name!
Now I hadn't seen that aspect in my reading!
Thanks for the warm welcome, shufitz! Yes, you get an A for spelling in Greek! (Where did you find the Greek fonts?) You have not included the accent marks or breathings, however, that were used in ancient Greek, part of the polytonic system. It was a very complicated system of accent marks which was subsituted with an easier one in the 1970s. The reason I mention this is because many of the of Greek words borrowed into English can be explained by the breathings (little curlique marks over initial vowel sounds in words indicating that the sound is aspirated). Thus, the article "οι" had a rough breathing mark which is the reason for the aitch in the transliteration 'hoi'. The same goes for many Greek origin words in English starting with aitch. Eg. hyperbole, Helen, heterogenesis, heuristic, hexagon, hierarchy etc.
As for the island of Icaria, yes, it is said to be the place where Icarus, son of Daedalus fell, after his unsuccessful attempt at flight. In the main port there is a fantastic modern sculpture, which must be at least 20 meters high, depicting the fall of Icarus into the sea. I was amazed by it and by the whole island. It was magical!
[This message was edited by museamuse on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 10:35.]
[This message was edited by museamuse on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 10:36.]