Dithyramb

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Dithyramb'

Dithyramb Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    dithyramb n
  1. a wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing
  2. (ancient Greece) a passionate hymn (usually in honor of Dionysus)
Dithyramb Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Dithyramb \Dith"y*ramb\, n. [L. dithyrambus, Gr. ? a kind of lyric poetry in honor of Bacchus; also, a name of Bacchus; of unknown origin: cf. F. dithyrambe.] A kind of lyric poetry in honor of Bacchus, usually sung by a band of revelers to a flute accompaniment; hence, in general, a poem written in a wild irregular strain. --Bentley.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Dithyramb'


The dithyramb (διθύραμβος – dithurambos) was an ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility; the term was also used as an epithet of the god: Plato also remarks of dithyrambs in the Republic (394c) that they are the clearest example of poetry in which the poet is the only speaker.

Plutarch contrasted the dithyramb's wild and ecstatic character with the paean. A wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing is still occasionally described as dithyrambic.

Dithyrambs were sung by choruses at Delos, but the literary fragments that have survived are largely Athenian. In Athens dithyrambs were sung by a Greek chorus of up to fifty men or boys dancing in circular formation (there is no certain evidence that they may have originally been dressed as satyrs) and probably accompanied by the aulos. They would normally relate some incident in the life of Dionysus.

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