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Related to dithyramb: Dionysus, Thespis


(dĭth`ĭrăm), in ancient Greece, hymn to the god Dionysus, choral lyric with exchanges between the leader and the chorus. It arose, probably, in the extemporaneous songs of the Dionysiac festivals and was developed (according to tradition, by ArionArion
, Greek poet, inventor of the dithyramb. He is said to have lived at Periander's court in Corinth in the late 7th cent. B.C. A legend repeated by Herodotus tells how, having been thrown overboard by pirates, Arion was saved by a dolphin charmed by his music.
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) into the literary form to be found, for example, in the dithyrambs of BacchylidesBacchylides
, fl. c.470 B.C., Greek lyric poet, b. Ceos; nephew of Simonides of Ceos. A contemporary of Pindar, he was patronized by Hiero I. His poetry is noted for its narrative powers, clarity, and lucidity.
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. In its later development by such poets as Philoxenus and TimotheusTimotheus
, c.450–c.357 B.C., Greek poet and musician of Miletus. An innovator in music, he added a string to the kithara. Fragments of his dithyrambs and nomes remain. Euripides wrote the prologue for his Persae, a lyric nome.
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 it became freer in its meter and more musical. The tragedytragedy,
form of drama that depicts the suffering of a heroic individual who is often overcome by the very obstacles he is struggling to remove. The protagonist may be brought low by a character flaw or, as Hegel stated, caught in a "collision of equally justified ethical aims.
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 seems to have come out of the dithyramb, but the dithyramb was also cultivated after tragedy was invented.


See A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy (1927, repr. 1962).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genre of ancient lyric poetry; it appears to have originated in ancient Greece as a choral song and hymn in honor of Dionysus (Bacchus), the god of the grapevine and wine-making. It later honored other gods and heroes. The dithyramb, accompanied by frenzied orgiastic dance, had the rudiments of dialogue between the lead singer and the chorus and contributed to the development of Greek drama. The dithyramb was given a literary form in the seventh century B.C. by Arion, a poet and musician from the island of Lesbos. During the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. the dithyramb flourished in the poetry of Simonides of Ceos, Pindar, and Bacchylides. Only fragments have been preserved.

Imitations of the ancient dithyramb are encountered in modern European literature (Schiller, Möller, and Herder), and satirical imitations have been written by Nietzsche. The word dithyramb is used figuratively to signify excessive praise.


Golosovker, la. E. Lirika drevnei Ellady. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935. (Translations from ancient Greek; includes a translation of Bacchylides’ dithyramb Theseus.)
Radtsig, S. I. Istoriia drevnegrecheskoi literatury, 2nd ed., Moscow, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. (in ancient Greece) a passionate choral hymn in honour of Dionysus; the forerunner of Greek drama
2. any utterance or a piece of writing that resembles this
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
625-585 B.c.) Pindar's lines have been thought to allude.(15) But the curious specificity of Pindar's description suggests that the change in the dithyramb fell within living memory rather than the distant past.(16) The virtually unavoidable supplement [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in line 2 (if not the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII][.] of the damaged line 3) also seems to point to a recent innovation in the genre.
Dithyramb may also refer to any poem in an inspired wild irregular strain, or to a statement or piece of writing in an exalted impassioned style usually in praise of a particular subject.
(13) `This epigram would appear to show that Mnasalces wrote dithyrambs as well as epigrams' 68 test I (1989).
The awestruck sailors might have granted a second request to live since Arion's performance convinced them that "some god was present there." But Arion no longer needs his physical body; he leaves his art to the world--to the wolfish sailors, to those whom he taught the dithyramb in Corinth, and to those who will use his art form generations after his death.
Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927); and for Rozik n.
(1) This mega event, as we see now with the Euro-zone dithyramb, has multiple consequences on both the inner-European cultural, socio-economic and political balance as well as on China's (overheated) growth.
Rozewicz presents a lighter and much less characteristically dark view in his "Tale of Old Women." The poem holds out gentle hope and affection: "old women / are indestructible / they smile indulgently." He also takes up the cause of rehabilitating maligned mothers-in-law with deep appreciation and affection in "Dithyramb in Honor of a Mother-In-Law." I am fortunate to have a kind and thoughtful mother-in-law, and enjoyed this poem.
Included among them, was a directive that each of the ten tribes must send one men's chorus and one boy's chorus to sing and dance a dithyramb and compete in the annual City Dionysia.
In contrast with the Apollonian realm of image and semblance, the Dionysian aesthetic is associated with the "imageless art of music" grounded in the Dionysian dithyramb, a hymn to the god Dionysus (Tragedy 14, 51).
This mega event, as we see now with the Euro-zone dithyramb, has multiple consequences on both the European inner cultural, socioeconomic and political balances as well as on the China's (overheated) growth.
William Archer penned a remarkable dithyramb to Death, and denied that Mr.
(20) It is worth observing that satire is so confused in Frye's thought at this stage that he actually forgets to include it in a list of the different forms of the lyric, "which is of four general types: poem, elegy, idyll & dithyramb (no, five: the 'satiric')" (NBAC 78).