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Chapter Two

Greek Dancing. Bacchanalian Dance, by the Ceramic Painter Hieron. Description of some Greek Dances, the Geranos, the Corybantium, the Hormos. Dancing Bacchante from a Vase and from Terra Cotta. The Hand-in-hand, and Panathenaeac Dance from Ceramic Ware. Military Dance from Sculpture in Vatican, Greek Dancer with Castanets. Illustration of Cymbals and Pipes from the British Museum. The Chorus. Greek Dancers and Tumblers.

Page Two

Fig. 13: A military dance, supposed to be the Corybantum. From a Greek bas-relief in the Vatican Museum.

Of the second class, the gymnastic, the most important were military dances, the invention of which was attributed to Minerva; of these the Corybantum was the most remarkable. It was of Phrygian origin and of a mixed religious, military, and mimetic character; the performers were armed, and bounded about, springing and clashing their arms and shields to imitate the Corybantes endeavouring to stifle the cries of the infant Zeus, in Crete.

The Pyrrhic (fig. 13), a war dance of Doric origin, was a rapid dance to the double flute, and made to resemble an action in battle; the Hoplites of Homer is thought to have been of this kind. The Dorians were very partial to this dance and considered their success in battle due to the celerity and training of the dance.
In subsequent periods it was imitated by female dancers and as a pas seul. It was also performed in the Panathenaea by Ephebi at the expense of the Choragus, but this was probably only a mimetic performance and not warlike.

Greek dancer
Fig. 14: Greek dancer
with castanets (British Museum).
See also Castanet dance by Myron,
fig. 63a.

There were many other heroic military dances in honour of Hercules, Theseus, etc.
The chorus, composed of singers and dancers, formed part of the drama, which included the recitation of some poetic composition, and included gesticulative and mimetic action as well as dancing and singing. The Dorians were especially fond of this; their poetry was generally choral, and the Doric forms were preserved by the Athenians in the choral compositions of their drama.

The tragic dance, Emmelia, was solemn; whilst that in comedy, Cordax, was frivolous, and the siccinis, or dance of Satyrs, was often obscene. They danced to the music of the pipes, the tambour, the harp, castanets, cymbals, etc. (figs. 14, 15, 16).
In the rites of Dionysius the chorus was fifty and the cithara was used instead of the flute. From the time of Sophocles it was fifteen, and always had a professed trainer. The choric question is, however, a subject in itself, and cannot be fairly dealt with here.

Cymbals and double flute
Fig. 15: Cymbals (about 4 in.)
and double flute.
(British Museum.)

The social dances, and those in honour of the seasons, fire and water, were numerous and generally local; whilst the chamber dances, professional dancing, the throwing of the Kotabos, and such-like, must be left to the reader's further study of the authors mentioned in the bibliography at the end of the work.
It may astonish the reader to know that the funambulist or rope-dancer was very expert with the Greeks, as also was the acrobat between knives and swords. Animals were also taught to dance on ropes, even elephants.

Greek dancers
Fig. 16: Greek dancers.
From a vase in the Hamilton Collection.

The important religious and other dances were not generally composed of professionals. The greatest men were not above showing their sentiments by dancing. Sophocles danced after Salamis, and Epaminondas was an expert dancer.
There were dancers of all grades, from the distinguished to the moderate. Distinguished persons even married into excellent positions, if they did not already occupy them by birth. Philip of Macedon married Larissa, a dancer, and the dancer Aristodemus was ambassador to his Court. These dancers must not be confounded with those hired to dance at feasts, etc. (figs. 9, 14 and 18).

Bacchanalian dancer
Fig. 17: Bacchanalian dancer.
Vase from Nocera, Museum, Naples.
Greek dancers and tumblers
Fig. 18: Greek dancers and tumblers.

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