Εγκυκλοπαίδεια της αρχαίας ελληνικής μουσικής

Michaelides, Solon

(b Nicosia, 12 Nov 1905; d Athens, 9 Sept 1979). Greek composer. He studied at Trinity College, London (1927–30), where he was made an honorary fellow in 1952. In Paris he was a pupil of Boulanger (harmony, counterpoint and fugue) and of Maize and Cortot (piano) at the Ecole Normale de Musique (1930–34) and of Lioncourt (composition) and Labey (conducting) at the Schola Cantorum. He then took a leading part in promoting musical life and music education in Cyprus and Thessaloniki. He was director of the Limassol Conservatory (1934–56) and professor of music at the Lanitis Communal High School in that city (1941–56). On moving to Thessaloniki he was appointed director of the state conservatory (1957–70) and director-general and principal conductor of the state orchestra. He also appeared as a guest conductor in Europe and the USA, and lectured on Greek music for the BBC (1946–8) and at American universities (1963). A composer of the national school, he made use of modal cantilena and folk or Byzantine elements, soberly harmonized in a manner slightly suggestive of Franck, Fauré or Vaughan Williams. His orchestration includes Impressionist touches.


Synchroni angliki moussiki [Modern English music] (Nicosia, 1939)

I kypriaki laiki moussiki [Cypriot folk music] (Nicosia, 1944, 2/1956)

Harmonia tis synchronis moussikis [Modern harmony] (Limassol, 1945)

The Neo-Hellenic Folk-Music (Limassol, 1948)

I neo-elleniki moussiki [Modern Greek music] (Nicosia, 1952)

The Music of Ancient Greece: an Encyclopaedia (London, 1978; Gk. trans., 1982)

Articles on Greek composers in Grove5


A.S. Theodoropoulou: ‘Synchronoi ellenes moussikoi: 6. Solon Michaelides’, Angloelleniki epitheorissi, iii/6 (1947), 179–80

F. Anoyanakis: ‘I moussiki stin neoteri Ellada’ [Music in modern Greece], in K. Nef: Eisagogi eis tin mousikologian (Gk. trans., Athens, 1958), 598–9

G. Balta: Solon Michaelides (Thessaloniki, 1980)

S.D. Houliaris: Oi kantates tou Solona Michaelidi (1905–1979) [The cantatas of Solon Michaelides (1905–1979)] (diss., U. of Thessaloniki, 1994)

E. Lamari-Papadopoulou: Solon Michaelides, i zoi ke to érgo tou [Solon Michaelides, his life and work] (Nicosia, 1994)

George Leotsakos

Menander [Menandros]

(b Athens, 342 BCE; d Athens, c290 BCE). Greek comic poet. The most famous playwright of Greek New Comedy, he wrote more than 100 plays, domestic comedies in which intrigues, reversals and recognition scenes abound. The plays, of which few survive, have little metrical variety, being mostly in iambic trimeters. However, in a long scene (880–958) from the Misanthrope, Menander changed the metre to the 15-syllable catalectic iambic tetrameter which was recited to an aulos accompaniment. Two brief fragments of another play, the Possessed Girl, contain an invocation to Cybele and a corybantic dance and song in hexameters. For the latter the aulos modality would almost certainly have been Phrygian. A mosaic (100 bce) from the Villa of marcus tullius Cicero at Pompeii shows three actors in this comedy playing (or pretending to play) the double aulos, small cymbals and hand-held tympanum.

The characters represented as musicians in these comedies were usually young women of slave status skilled in playing the double aulos or psaltērion (a harp-like instrument; see Psaltery, §1). Apparently the psaltria was more respectable than the aulētris, who was often a prostitute (see Aulos, §II, 4). One psaltria, Habrotonon, had a major role in the Arbiter. Phanias, the main character of the Citharistes, was apparently a successful concert performer, freeborn and wealthy. One fragment of this play (Sandbach, no.7) refers to someone (presumably not Phanias) who through instruction (paideuesthai) is acquiring or perhaps imparting an affected taste for music; but little more than 100 lines have survived.

The male aulete who provided the accompaniment played the music that was supposedly being performed by an aulētris, but his principal task was to accompany the chorus (by convention a group of drunken revellers, votaries of Pan, huntsmen etc.), who were irrelevant to the plot. Only their initial appearances were even acknowledged in dialogue; otherwise a mere stage direction ‘chorus’ (chorou) sufficed, or occasionally ‘aulos music’ (aulei, ‘[someone] plays the aulos’), as in the manuscripts of Aristophanes. These entr'acte performances were probably a combination of song, dance and mime.


F.G. Allinson, ed. and trans.: Menander: the Principal Fragments (London and Cambridge, MA, 1921, 2/1930/R)

E.W. Handley, ed.: The Dyskolos of Menander (London, 1965), esp. 171ff, 210–11, 282ff

F.H. Sandbach, ed.: Menandri reliquiae selectae (Oxford, 1972)


T.B.L. Webster: Studies in Menander (Manchester, 1950, 2/1960)

A.D. Trendall and T.B.L. Webster: Illustrations of Greek Drama (London, 1971), 145

A.W. Gomme and F.H. Sandbach: Menander: a Commentary (Oxford, 1973)

G. Comotti: ‘L'aulo ghingras in una scena menandrea del mosaico di Dioscuride’, Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica, xx (1975), 215–23 and 4 pls.

Warren Anderson/Thomas J. Mathiesen

Meibom [Meiboom, Meibomius], Marcus

(b Tönning, Schleswig-Holstein, 1620–21; d Utrecht, 15 Feb 1710). Danish polyhistor. He is first heard of at Königsberg, where he enrolled at the university on 20 June 1644 to study law. On 29 September 1645, however, he matriculated as a student of medicine at Leiden. Here his age is given as 24 and his birthplace as Tönning, which at that time was under the Danish crown. However, it was as a philologist and mathematician that he was to make his mark. He dedicated his Antiquae musicae auctores septem (Amsterdam, 1652) to Queen Christina of Sweden, and in May of that year he arrived at her court at Stockholm. He became assistant royal librarian, but his stay in Sweden was cut short because of a violent altercation with Bourdelot, the queen’s personal physician and favourite.

In 1653 Meibom went to Copenhagen, where he was taken under the protection of King Frederik III and granted a pension as a deserving scholar. On the title-page of his book Dialogus de proportionibus (Copenhagen, 1655) he is described as ‘consiliarus regius’, though it is not known whether any civil service duties were attached to the title. A number of archival references after 1660 show the king was using Meibom’s great learning to order and catalogue the expanding royal library, though apparently he was not given the coveted official appointment of librarian. In 1661 he declined an approach made to him on behalf of Queen Christina to become her librarian in Rome, but at the same time he made it clear that he was not satisfied with his position. His next post was director of customs at Elsinore, from 1664 to 1668. After this he emigrated with his family to Holland, where, apart from three years (1674–7) in England, he spent the rest of his life. Except for a teaching appointment which he held for a year after arriving in Amsterdam, he seems to have occupied no official position, and he refused an invitation to become professor of Hebrew at Leiden. In 1691 it was reported that he was living in poverty, supporting himself by reading proofs. In 1705 he was obliged to sell part of his library by auction; he himself prepared the auction catalogue, in which no fewer than 5848 items are carefully classified, and on the title-page he described himself, after nearly 40 years, as ‘sometime councillor to Frederik III, King of Denmark’. The rest of his library was sold in May 1711, after his death.

Antiquae musicae auctores septem is his most important contribution to musical scholarship. In its two quarto volumes he provided an edition of the Greek texts of Aristoxenus, Cleonides (under an attribution to Euclid), Nicomachus, Alypius, Gaudentius, Bacchius, Aristides Quintilianus and Martianus Capella (Satyricon, bk 9), with a Latin translation and commentary. Dialogus de proportionibus, the only other work in which he discussed music, is in the form of a dialogue between a number of Greek mathematicians, who discuss not only mathematical proportions but the musical proportions as well.



J. Moller: Cimbria literata (Copenhagen, 1744), iii, 443ff

A. Hammerich: Dansk musikhistorie indtil ca.1700 (Copenhagen, 1921)

C.S. Petersen: ‘Marcus Meibom og Villem Lange’, Fund og forskning, i (1954), 1–39

John Bergsagel

Mathiesen, Thomas J(ames)

(b Roslyn Heights, NY, 30 April 1947). American musicologist. He earned the BA in 1968 from Willamette University, Oregon and completed his graduate studies at the University of Southern California, where his professors included Pierre Tagmann, Halsey Stevens, Ingolf Dahl and Arthur Ness (MM 1970; DMA 1971). He taught at the University of Southern California (1971–72), then joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, where he was professor of music (1972–88) and associate dean (1986–8). He was made professor of music at Indiana University in 1988 and named Distinguished Professor of Music in 1996.

Mathiesen’s academic interests include textual criticism, editorial technique, bibliography and codicology. He has done much work on the music and music theory of ancient Greece and other ancient cultures, and he has written on the history of music theory, particularly Latin theory of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Mathiesen is project director of Thesaurus musicarum latinarum, a full-text database of Latin music theory from the Augustine era up to the 16th century. In 1982 he founded Greek and Latin Music Theory, a series of critical editions of ancient texts with translations and annotations.


A Bibliography of Sources for the Study of Ancient Greek Music (Hackensack, NJ, 1974)

‘An Annotated Translation of Euclid’s Division of a Monochord’, JMT, xix (1975), 236–58

‘Problems of Terminology in Ancient Greek Music Theory: APMONIA’, Festival Essays for Pauline Alderman, ed. B.L. Karson (Provo, UT, 1976), 3–17

‘Towards a Corpus of Ancient Greek Music Theory: a New Catalogue raisonné Planned for RISM’, FAM, xxv (1978), 119–34

‘New Fragments of Ancient Greek Music’, AcM, liii (1981), 14–32

‘The Office of the New Feast of Corpus Christi in the Regimen animarum at Brigham Young University’, JM, ii (1982), 13–44

‘Aristides Quintilianus and the Harmonics of Manuel Bryennius: a Study in Byzantine Music Theory’, JMT, xxvii (1983), 31–47

ed. and trans.: Aristides Quintilianus on Music in Three Books (New Haven, CT, 1983)

‘Harmonia and Ethos in Ancient Greek Music’, JM, iii (1984), 264–79

‘Rhythm and Meter in Ancient Greek Music’, Music Theory Spectrum, vii (1985), 159–80

‘Ars critica and Fata libellorum: the Significance of Codicology to Text Critical Theory’, Music Theory and its Sources: Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Notre Dame, IN, 1987, 19–37

Ancient Greek Music Theory: a catalogue raisonné of Manuscripts, RISM, B/XI (1988)

‘Music, Aesthetics, and Cosmology in Early Neo-Platonism’, Paradigms in Medieval Thought Applications in Medieval Disciplines: Northridge, CA, 1987, ed. N. van Deusen and A.E. Ford (Lewiston, NY, 1990), 37–64

‘Silent Film Music and the Theatre Organ’, Indiana Theory Review, xi (1990), 81–118

‘Hermes or Clio? The Transmission of Ancient Greek Music Theory’, Musical Humanism and its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Claude V. Palisca, ed. N.K. Baker and B.R. Hanning (Stuyvesant, NY, 1992), 3–35

‘Transmitting Text and Graphics in Online Databases’, Computing in Musicology, ix (1994), 33–48

ed. with B.V. Rivera: Festa Musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow (Stuyvesant, NY, 1995)

ed.: Greek Views of Music, Source Readings in Music History, ed. O. Strunk, i (New York, rev. 2/1998 by L. Treitler)

Apollo’s Lyre: Greek Music and Music Theory in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Lincoln, NE, forthcoming)

Paula Morgan


(Gk.: ‘tragedy’).

An ancient Greek musical-dramatic form in which a mythical or, occasionally, an historical story is treated in a serious (as opposed to comic) manner in dialogue, song and dance. The most acclaimed composers of ancient Greek tragedy were Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, all of whom lived in Athens in the 5th century bce. Although major developments in the form and conventions of tragedy are associated with the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, and the authors of the surviving tragedies are Athenian, there is no reason to suppose that tragedy originated exclusively in that city. The ancient writers who commented on the origins of tragedy attribute important innovations to poets from other parts of the Greek world. For example, Arion of Methymna is credited in the Suda with developments in early drama, although such developments also appear to be bound up with early dithyramb; and Aristotle (Poetics) noted that the practice of composing plots reportedly came from Sicily.

Despite a lack of clarity surrounding its origins, classical commentators nevertheless agree that the genre arose out of choral performance. The word tragōidia is derived from tragōidoi, which originally signified the members of a chorus in a tragedy and later came to mean, variously, all the performers, the tragic performance or contest as a whole, or tragic poets. Moreover, Aristotle reported that tragedy was originally all choral and that Thespis was the first to add an actor; Aeschylus later added a second actor and then Sophocles a third (Themistius, 26.316d). The higher proportion of choral music in the earlier tragedies also supports choral origin. Over time, however, as dramatic and musical possibilities opened up (the presence of two or three actors on the stage at a given time created new opportunities for action and dialogue between characters), speech and monody gradually increased, the number of choral segments diminished, and the main action also tended to shift away from the chorus, which would sometimes function as spectator and commentator rather than as a real participant in the drama. In fact, from the late 5th century bce, the choral interludes (stasima) of authors such as Agathon and his imitators were unconnected with the plot; known as embolima, these interludes could be transferred from one play to another. The number of choral portions also diminished as melodic and rhythmic complexity increased. It appears that the changes in musical style affecting other genres originating in the later 5th century bce also found their way into tragedy. Complex melodies are more easily sung by single professional actors than by amateur choruses. Nevertheless, the choral portions were not wholly unaffected by this new style of music. Much of the evidence for musical change survives in the comments and discussions of philosophers such as Damon, Plato and the author of the Hibbeh Papyrus. Agathon and Euripides are two names often mentioned with regard to the new style of music in tragedy.

In the tragedies that survive complete or virtually so, the cast would usually consist of two or three actors, an aulos player to accompany the musical portions and a chorus of between 12 and 15 performers. The limited number of actors did not mean that there were only two or three speaking characters in the drama, but rather that two or three would be on stage at any given time. A single actor might play the parts of two or more characters, the use of masks precluding the possibility of confusion of identity. The leader of the chorus, the koruphaios, was responsible for the rhythm of the chorus and for giving the first note (endosimon). Sometimes the koruphaios or the chorus might be treated almost as an extra character and exchange dialogue with main characters. There were also various kinds of non-speaking character (attendants, captives etc.), as individual dramas required.

The following is a basic outline of the structure of a Greek tragedy. The drama would often begin with a prologue, consisting of monologue or dialogue, that provided a background to the action. The chorus, led by the aulos player and performing in a marching rhythm (usually anapaestic), would then make its entrance (parodos) and take up position, in square formation, within the orchēstra (i.e. the performing area; seeTheatron). A lyric ode was sung immediately afterwards. The bulk of the dramatic action took place in a series of episodes, which were not usually set to music but were composed in iambic trimeters (considered closest to the natural rhythm of speech). The episodes were separated by choral stasima, of which a typical tragedy would include at least three to five. The word stasimon, despite its derivation (from histēmi: ‘to stand’), does not indicate that the performers were standing still but that they were performing ‘in position’ rather than entering or exiting the performing area. The lyrical metres of stasima suggest dance rhythms, in contrast to the marching rhythm of the parodos and exodos. The usual metrical structure of a stasimon, in which a strophe and its exactly corresponding antistrophe are followed by an epode, indicates that the performers probably danced as well as sang, repeating the music and steps of the strophe exactly in the antistrophe. Unfortunately, ancient writers provide few details about the specific dances (emmeleia) or dance steps used in tragedy. Normally the chorus sang and danced as a whole, but it was sometimes divided into two semichoruses. There may have been other variations: for example, the third stasimon of Euripides' Hippolytus is thought by some to have been performed antiphonally by a main chorus of women and an extra chorus (parachorēgēma) of men. At or near the end of the play, the chorus departed, again led by the aulos player, while singing the exodos (‘exit’). As with the parodos, the exodos was set to a marching rhythm (anapaestic). Playwrights sometimes made the same exodos serve more than one play, perhaps indicating that the audience had begun to leave their seats before the play was quite over.

There was a greater variety of types of musical number than the foregoing general description might suggest. Actors often performed in recitative or lyrical monody (solo singing), such as in songs of lament or celebration; and the singing of a stasimon or other lyrical segment might alternate between character(s) and chorus rather than being confined to one or the other. As for the music itself, the few extant examples from ancient Greek tragedy, including fragments of Euripides' Orestes and Iphigenia in Aulis plus some unidentified and uncertain later fragments, provide but a few intriguing hints. The fragment from Orestes is in the enharmonic genus and Dorian or Phrygian mode; that from Iphigenia in Aulis is in the enharmonic genus and probably the Mixolydian mode. The musical scales found in these fragments are consistent with classical descriptions of the modes and genera predominant in 5th-century tragedy.


A.W. Pickard-Cambridge: Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy (Oxford, 1927, rev. 2/1962 by T.B.L. Webster)

A.W. Pickard-Cambridge: The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens (Oxford, 1946)

A.W. Pickard-Cambridge: The Dramatic Festivals of Athens (Oxford, 1953, rev. 2/1968 by J. Gould and D.M. Lewis)

W.C. Scott: Musical Design in Aeschylean Theater (Hanover, NH, 1984)

J. Herington: Poetry into Drama: Early Tragedy and the Greek Poetic Tradition (Berkeley, 1985)

J.J. Winkler and F.I. Zeitlin: Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context (Princeton, NJ, 1990)

Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis: Nottingham 1990, ed. A.H. Somerstein and others (Bari, 1993)

E. Csapo and W.J. Slater: The Context of Ancient Drama (Ann Arbor, MI, 1995)

W.C. Scott: Musical Design in Sophoclean Theater (Hanover, NH, 1996)

Denise Davidson Greaves

Symposium [comissatio]

(Lat.; from Gk. sumposion). In ancient Greece and Rome, a drinking party, often with musical entertainments, after the deipnon or evening meal; weddings, birthdays, victors’ feasts and the arrival and departure of friends were typical occasions on which a symposium would have been held. The order of events generally followed a prescribed plan; they included libations (drink-offerings) and a paean sung to the accompaniment of the aulos each time a fresh kratēr of mingled wine and water was brought. There were numerous entertainments: the guests might sing skolia (see Skolion) or solo drinking-songs; female aulos players were generally in attendance (although women of good character and children were most often excluded); and dancers, either professionals or individual guests, could perform individually or in groups. Other entertainments included games and puzzles. Later, when the popularity of the symposium increased, the mime and the pantomime were an important part of the entertainment. The occasion might end as a Kōmos, from which the symposium was not always sharply distinguished, or, alternatively and more informally, as a brawl.

Music was inseparably associated with the symposium: even when some writers attacked the usual pastimes of the symposium as frivolous, suggesting that wiser people might entertain themselves with serious conversation, the topic thus discussed seems often to have been music (as it was by Aristoxenus, according to Athenaeus, xiv, 632a–b). Plato’s Symposium, Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages and his nine books of Table-Talk, and Athenaeus’s Sophists at Dinner convey a sense of the range and nature of the topics pursued at the symposium.


A. Mau: ‘Comissatio’, Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, iv (Stuttgart, 1901), 610–13

A. Hug: ‘Symposion’, Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 2nd ser., iv (Stuttgart, 1932), 1266–70

Geoffrey Chew/Thomas J. Mathiesen