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Headword: *diqurambodida/skaloi
Adler number: delta,1029
Translated headword: dithyramb-directors
Vetting Status: high
[Dithyramb-directors] talk much about things in the sky and about the clouds, and they used to make up compound words and said endiaeriaierinechetous;[1] such a man was Ion of Chios,[2] the poet. He wrote a poem that began, "dawn star roaming the air, [crescent moon, white-winged precursor of the sun]."[3] In sport Aristophanes says that he was called "Dawn Star."[4] He became much talked about. He wrote comedies and epigrams; in prose also the work called Presbeutikon [On being an ambassador].[5] And there is a conversation of the philosopher Socrates with him.[6] And Callimachus mentions him in his Choliambics, that he wrote many things.[7]
Greek Original:
*diqurambodida/skaloi peri\ metew/rwn kai\ peri\ tw=n nefelw=n le/gousi polla\ kai\ sunqe/tous de\ le/ceis e)poi/oun kai\ e)/legon e)ndiaeriaierinhxe/tous: oi(=os h)=n *)/iwn o( *xi=os, o( poihth/s. e)poi/hse de\ poi/hma, ou(= h( a)rxh/: a)oi=on h)erofoi/tan a)ste/ra mh=na me\n a)eli/ou leukh=| pte/rugi pro/dromon. pai/zwn de\ *)aristofa/nhs a)oi=on au)to\n a)ste/ra fhsi\ klhqh=nai. peribo/htos de\ e)ge/neto. e)/graye de\ kwmw|di/as kai\ e)pigra/mmata: kataloga/dhn kai\ *presbeutiko\n lego/menon. kai\ *swkra/tous tou= filoso/fou e)sti\ lo/gos ei)s au)to/n. kai\ *kalli/maxos e)n *xwlia/mbois me/mnhtai au)tou=, o(/ti polla\ e)/graye.
This entry draws on material in several Aristiophanic scholia, and ultimately on Aristophanes' own mockery of the new school of writers and producers of dithyrambs at Clouds 328-340 (web address 1; 423 BC), Peace 827-837 (where he uses the image of Ion and others hovering in the air like stars, web address 2; 421 BC) and Birds 1373-1409 (web address 3; 414 BC). Their compositions were in competition with comedy as entertainment at Athens in the late fifth century and the fourth.
Aristophanes uses this name for them (elsewhere diqurambo/poioi, kuklio/poioi) at Peace 829 (see kappa 2647, alpha 1810; OCD(4) p.978 'Music §4' and References below). The second part of the compound noun should be taken, as in tragedy, to refer to the role of the writer as director of the chorus and composer of its music and words. The role of Cinesias as didaskalos is confirmed in a contemporary inscription (*kinhsi/as e)di/dace, IG 2². 3028). The directors of the new dithyramb known to the Suda as such are (1) Ion of Chios (iota 487; see n. 2 below), (2) Melanippides the younger of Melos (mu 454, cf. delta 523, phi 393; West 357-58; PMG frr. 757-66; Campbell vol.5.14-29), (3) Cinesias of Athens (kappa 1639, phi 459, pi 3225 cf. alpha 2657, alpha 2862, delta 1178, lambda 264, lambda 278, tau 693, kappa 822; PC2 44-45; PMG frr. 774-776; Campbell 44-45; OCD(4) p.319; RE 11.479-80), (4) Timotheus of Miletus (tau 620; PC2 48-51; PMG fr.777-804; Campbell 70-121; OCD(4) p.1484 'Timotheus 1'. The long fragment of his Persians is fr. 791, Campbell 91-111. See new edition of his fragments by James Hordern, 2002), and (5) Philoxenus of Cythera (phi 393, phi 397, sigma 1192; cf. alpha 2862, delta 1178, epsiloniota 291; PMG frr. 814-35; Campbell 138-75; RE 20.192ff. 'Philoxenus '). In addition, Hieronymus (RE 8.1564 'Hieronymos 14') son of Xenophantes (RE 9A.1564 'Xenophantes 2') is correctly mentioned as a melic poet at alpha 676 and as a dithyramb poet at kappa 1768, but in the latter inexplicably under the name of Cleitus. The playwright Dicaeogenes (OCD(4) p.447; RE 5.563 'Dikaiogenes 2') is mentioned as also a dithyramb poet (delta 1064), but without corroborating evidence. The five following known writers of dithyramb are mentioned in the Suda, but without acknowledgment of that fact: Phrynis of Mitylene (phi 761; cf. beta 488, delta 1650, chi 296, kappa 2647, as citharode and piper only, cf. Campbell 62-69), Pronomus of Thebes (pi 2527, alpha 385, as a piper and a butt of comedy for his beard, cf. PMG fr.768-73, Campbell 32-39), Telestes of Selinus [Myth, Place] (tau 265, probably the greatest of the later dithyramb poets, but listed, probably erroneously, as a comic playwright; PMG frr.805-12; Campbell 122-33; OCD(4) p.1437, RE 5A.391-92 'Telestes [6]'), Polyidos of Selymbria (pi 1965, without text, identified as a dithyramb poet in Etymologicum Magnum 164.20, from Tzetzes on Lycophron, Alexandra 879 p.2846 Scheer; PC2 52; PMG fr.837; Campbell 198-203; Aristotle, Poetics 1455a6; RE 21.1659-61 'Polyidos 9'), and Cleomenes of Rhegium (kappa 2647 and n. 6, only as an associate of Cinesias and Philoxenus; cf. PMG fr. 838; Campbell 204-05). The only poet of the "new dithyramb" known to us but not mentioned in the Suda is Licymnius of Chios (PMG frr.768-73; Campbell 32-39; OCD(4) p.836 'Licymnius 2'), also a rhetorician, of whom Aristotle says that his works were better to read than to hear (Rhetoric 1413b14).
The chief characteristics of the style are:
a) The invention by Melanippides of an astrophic (responsion-free) structure of "preludes" (a)nabolai/: alpha 1810, cf. epsilon 1174, well illustrated by Timotheus fr. 791), which could better express change of emotions than the older responsion-bound structure of strophe, antistrophe and epode and could mimic in song the actions of the chorus.
b) elaborate language with bold new compounds and strange periphrases (epsilon 1174, sigma 1192; cf. Birds 1373-1409, and the scholia and Dunbar's notes).
c) considerable innovation in the harmonics of musical composition and vocal melodies (cf. Dunbar). The verbs ka/mptw, kla/w, katakla/w are used for twists or deviations from traditional composition. For possible meanings of these verbs and related phrases see beta 488, kappa 2647, phi 761, delta 1650, chi 296; Pherecrates fr. 155 PCG vol. 7, Antiphanes fr. 207 PCG vol. 2, and the Bibliography below (esp. Anderson, Barker, Dunbar, Düring, West).
d) self-conscious pride and fearlessness in innovative licence (sigma 1192 note [4], cf. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Composition 18-19).
These poets were a rather common butt of parody and coarse jokes in comedy. Aristophanes mocks Cinesias gently as a poet and as "limewood Cinesias" (phi 459) in Birds (1373-1409, 414 BC). (The frustrated young husband of this name in Lysistrata [829-953, 411 BC, cf. alphaiota 101] is probably not intended as a comment on the dithyrambic poet [see Henderson in his edition on line 838], but the inevitable irony of a name identical with that of the poet is nothing more than humor.) The competition between the two forms of entertainment entered a new phase of vitriol shortly after 405 BC (see Strauss 134 on the role of Cinesias in the politics of the time) when Cinesias helped bring about legislation in Athens that deprived comedy of its right to public choregiai (OCD(4) pp.311-12; pi 3225, cf. scholia to Aristophanes, Frogs 404). The tone may be changing in the oblique reference to his unhappy case of diarrhoea at Frogs 366 (Lenaea, 405 BC; see kappa 822), and has changed definitively by the date of the reference in Ecclesiazusae (lines 329-30, cf. Gerytades fr. 156 PCG vol.3.2; see pi 3225, tau 693) in 392. Strattis devoted a comedy to him, Cinesias (frs. 14-22 PCG 7.631-4), and called him "chorus-killer" (fr. 16). He is portrayed in comedy as a skinny, gay man (lambda 264, lambda 278, pi 3225, cf. the proverb for homosexual acts, ta\ *kinhsi/ou dra=| 'he does the acts of Cinesias': Michael Apostolius, Proverbs 15.89) and lampooned for his gruesome appearance, covered with scabs of abscesses burned by the famous doctor Euryphon of Cnidus (Plato Comicus fr. 200 PCG vol. 7, quoted with diagnosis by Galen, on Hippocrates, Aphorisms 7.322), with a pig's snout for a face (Anaxilas, fr. 13 PCG vol. 2), and for his case of diarrhoea. Lysias also attacked him in two lost speeches (see kappa 1639 and notes).
[1] See Peace 831 (epsilon 1174). This form is yet another variant of this ridiculous compound adjective, with -aie- for -ane- or -aue-.
[2] See iota 487, iota 489 (cf. PMG frr. 740-46; Campbell vol. 4. 348-69; cf. TGF 1.96f.; OCD(4) p.741 'Ion 2'; Longinus, On Style 33) for this many-faceted writer. The entry here on Ion is abstracted from that to be found in scholia to Aristophanes, Peace 835-7b, and translated in Campbell vol. 4.351-53.
[3] This quotation occurs also in the scholia to Aristophanes: "Let us wait for the dawn star roaming through the air, the white winged precursor of the sun." It is given in this form as Ion, fr. 6 (745) in D.L. Page, Poetae Melici Graeci, p. 385, with Bentley's change of "let us wait" to "we waited" and support for other emendations.
It is notable that this dithyrambic fragment has the Doric form a)oi=on (see alpha 4404).
The bracketed part is omitted in codex A of the Suda. Where it does occur, it begins with mh=na, not with a form of the verb of waiting. This reading, although a priori less authoritative than that of the scholia, seems a likely lectio difficilior, for "air-roaming" (h)ero/foitos, h)ero/foitis) is elsewhere attested of the moon (web address 4). The word usually means 'month' (see LSJ I 2 and II mei/s, web address 5), but is occasionally used for the (crescent) moon. As such it also stands for the Anatolian god represented by the crescent moon (OCD(4) p.929) and associated with Dionysus and the Sun. This reference in the prelude to a dithyramb would invoke costumed characters in the accompanying dance team, dawn star, crescent moon (appropriately "white-winged") and sun.
[4] For using the Doric form, Aristophanes mocked Ion with it as a nickname "Dawn Star" (Peace 836: web address 2).
[5] We know nothing of this prose work. It may have some relationship to Ion's only well-known prose work, his reminiscences of famous men, Epidemiai, "Visits". Richard Bentley would follow the scholia in putting kai\ before kataloga/dhn.
[6] This is probably also a reference to the Epidemiai, which included a reminiscence of Socrates (OCD(4) p.741). It would not then be an erroneous reference to the conversation between Socrates and the rhapsodist Ion of Ephesus in Plato's Ion.
[7] This reference is unknown.
Anderson, W.D. Music and Musicians in Ancient Greece (1994) pp.126-34
Barker. = pseudo-Plutarch, De Musica, translated in A. Barker (ed.) Greek Musical Writings I: The Musician and his Art (1984) pp. 204-57, esp. notes, pp.236-40
Campbell = Greek Lyrics, ed. D.A. Campbell vol. 5 (Loeb. edn., 1993)
Dithyrambi Graeci, ed. D. Sutton (1989)
Dover = Aristophanes, Clouds, ed. K.J. Dover (1968) 145-46
Dunbar = Aristophanes, Birds, ed. N. Dunbar (1995) 660-73
Düring, I. "Studies in musical terminology in 5th. Century literature," Eranos 43 (1945) 176ff. (on Pherecrates fr. 155)
Hagel, S. Modulation in altgriechischer Musik: Antike Melodien im Licht antiker Musiktheorie (2000)
Lawler, L.B. "'Limewood' Cinesias and the Dithyrambic Dance," TAPhA 81 (1950) 78-88
Nesselrath, H-G. Die Attische Mittlere Komoedie (1990) 241-66 ("Dithyrambos und Anapaest")
P-C2 = A.W. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd. Edn. rev. T.B.L. Webster (1962) 38ff.
PCG = R.Kassel and C.Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci (in progress)
Restani, D. "Il Chirone di Ferecrate e la 'nuova' musica greca" in Rivista italiana di musicologia 18 (1983) 139-92
Richter, L. "Die neue Musik der griechischen Antike" in Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 25 (1968) 1-18, 134-47
Strauss, B.S. Athens after the Peloponnesian War (1987)
West, M.L. Ancient Greek Music (1992) 356-72 "The 'New Music'"
Zimmermann, B. Dithyrambos (Hypomnemata 98, 1992), esp. ch.7 "Der neue Dithyrambos" (117ff).
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: biography; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; meter and music; mythology; philosophy; poetry; religion
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 5 November 2001@09:46:35.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (corrected typo; other minor cosmetics) on 5 November 2001@10:20:41.
Robert Dyer (Correction of schoolboy error in note 5, additions to notes, an LSJ link and small alterations.) on 6 November 2001@14:24:04.
Robert Dyer (Substantial additions to notes, to bring together references to new dithyramb in Suda.) on 19 November 2001@04:12:08.
Robert Dyer (Update cross references) on 17 December 2001@02:27:22.
Robert Dyer (Added bibliography and references, corrected and standardized references to PCG - all vetting corrections due to private correspondence from Editor Carl Anderson) on 8 January 2002@08:05:35.
Robert Dyer (Upgraded entry to take account of other entries on the same topics) on 2 March 2002@17:38:05.
Robert Dyer (corrected two small omissions) on 3 March 2002@06:39:02.
Robert Dyer (Added reference to Hordern (2002). Raised my own status to remind me not to reedit.) on 3 March 2002@10:54:28.
Robert Dyer (Added references) on 10 December 2002@07:48:34.
David Whitehead (restorative and other cosmetics) on 27 August 2003@08:55:50.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 14 May 2008@13:47:28.
Catharine Roth (augmented note 5) on 14 May 2008@14:35:06.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 10 July 2012@05:39:56.
David Whitehead (updated some refs) on 1 August 2014@08:09:13.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 15 December 2014@15:34:09.
David Whitehead on 21 December 2014@04:19:35.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 9 November 2015@05:00:24.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 16 August 2016@22:15:41.


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