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Scolion

σκόλιον, sc. μέλος). A short lyrical poem, usually consisting of a single strophe, and intended to be sung after dinner over the wine. The ancients ascribed its invention to Terpander, and it received its first development among the Lesbians, and was written by such masters of song as Alcaeus, Sappho, Praxilla, Timocreon, Simonides, and Pindar. The last mentioned, however, gave it a more artistic form, with several strophes, in accordance with the rules of Dorian lyric verse. This class of poetry found a congenial home in the brilliant and lively city of Athens, where, to the very end of the Peloponnesian War, it was the regular custom at banquets, after all had joined in the paean, to pass round a lyre with a twig of myrtle, and to request all guests who had the requisite skill to sing such a song on the spur of the moment. To judge from the specimens that have been preserved, their contents were extremely varied: invocations of the gods, gnomic sayings, frequently with allusions to common proverbs and fables, and the praises of the blessings and pleasures of life. The most famous scolion was that by a certain Callistratus on Harmodius and Aristogiton, who had killed the tyrant Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus. It consists of four strophes, but the last three are only variations of the first. See Harmodius.

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