dithyramb

Definition

Theater

  • In the ancient Greek theater, a hymn sung and danced to thegod Dionysus. It was first recorded in the 7th century BC.According to Herodotus, the dithyramb was developed into a regularpoetic form in about 600 BC by Arion of Lesbos, who has beencalled the father of dithyrambic poetry. The early form, which wasimprovised, dealt only with the life of Dionysus; it later expandedin scope to include stories of heroes. Competitions for the compositionof dithyrambs were a feature of the Dionysia. The most celebratedcomposer of dithyrambs was Lasus of Hermione; only fragments remainof works by other writers.

    In his Poetics Aristotle states that tragedy evolvedfrom the dithyramb. It seems that the chorus leader became a soloist,the protagonist, and that his exchanges with the chorusled to the beginnings of dramatic dialogue.

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