Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Music in Ancient Greece

When we refer to the music of Ancient Greece we mainly study it from the 8th century B.C., since before that the data that currently exists is limited. Music for the ancient Greeks had divine origins, as did many aspects of their lives, hence we have the birth of the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. According to Hesiod, they were born in Pieria, however they lived on Mount Olympus in order to entertain the Gods during their symposiums. Their leader was Apollo, i.e. the God of light, prophecy, music and poetry. Nevertheless, despite living with the Gods they often secretly visited mortals in order to inspire them. 



It is unfortunate that only a few musical passages have been saved to this day, however it is believed that Byzantine Music, i.e. the ecclesiastical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the continuation of the ancient Greek music. The importance of its existence, however, is immense since it did not only affect Greek culture but also the whole musical philosophy and culture of Europe and the Middle East. From various sources we learn that in ancient Greece, music exalted to the level of a free and independent art form. Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers analysed the aesthetics and psychological aspects of music forming the ethical side of music, which deals with the effect that music has on the mental and emotional realm of man.   

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