2. The true Olympus was a Phrygian, and perhaps belonged to a family of native musicians, since he was said to be descended from the first Olympus. Muller supposes that there was an hereditary race of flute-players at the festivals of the Phrygian Mother of the Gods, who claimed a descent from the mythical Olympus. Hie is placed by Plutarch at the head of auletic music, as Terpander stood at the head of the citharoedic : and on account of his inventions in the art, Plutarch even assigns to him, rather than to Terpander, the honour of being the father of Greek music, ἀρχηγὸς τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς καὶ καλῆς μουσικῆς
pp. 1133, e., 1135, c.).
With respect to his age, Suidas places him under a king Midas, son of Gordis s; but this tells us nothing, for these were alternately the names of all the Phrygian kings to the time of Croesus. Müller places him, for satisfactory reasons, after Terpander and before Thaletas, that is, between the 30th and 40th Olympiads, B. C. 660-620. Though a Phrygian by origin, Olympus must be reckoned among the Greek musicians ; for all the accounts make Greece the scene of his artistic activity, and his subjects Greek; and he had Greek disciples, such as Crates and Hierax. (Plut. de Mus.
pp. 1133, e., 1140, d.; Poll. 4.79.)
He may, in fact, be considered as having naturalized in Greece the music of the flute, which had previously been almost peculiar to Phrygia.
This species of music admitted of much greater variations than that of the lyre; and, accordingly, several new inventions are ascribed to Olympus.
The greatest of his inventions was that of the third system, or genus,
of music, the Enharmonic, for an explanation of which see Diet of Ant. s. v. s. Music.
Of the particular tunes (νόμοι
) ascribed to him, the most important was the Ἁρμάτιος νόμος
, a mournful and passionate strain, of the rhythm of which we are enabled to form an idea front a passage in the Orestes
of Euripides, which was set to it, as the passage itself tells us.
A dirge, also, in honour of the slain Python, was said to have been played by Olympus, at Delphi, on the flute, and in the Lydian style. Aristophanes mentions a mournful strain, set to more flutes than one (ξυναυλία
) as well known at Athens under the name of Olympus. (Equit.
9; comp. Schol.
and Brunck's ote).
But it can hardly be supposed that his music was all mournful; the nome in honour of Athena, at least, must have been of a different character. Some ancient writers ascribe to him the Nonos Orthios, which Herodotus attributes to Arion.
Olympus was a great inventor in rhythm as well as in music. To the two existing species of rhythm, the ἴσον
, in which the arsis
are equal (as in the Dactyl and Anapaest), and the διπλάσιον
, in which the arsis
is twice the length of the thesis
(as in the lalmbus and Trochee), he added a third, the ἡμιόλιον
, in which the length of the arsis
is equal to two short syllables, and that of the thesis
to three, as in the Cretic foot (), the Paeons (, &c.), and the Bacchic foot (), though there is some doubt whether the last form was used by Olympus.
There is no mention of any poems composed by Olympus.
It is argued by some writers that the inseparable connection between the earliest compositions in music and poetry forbids the supposition that he composed music without words. Without entering into this difficult and extensive question, it is enough to observe that, whatever words may have been originally connected with his music, they were superseded by the compositions of later poets. Of the lyric poets who adapted their compositions to the nomes of Olympus, the chief was STESICHORUS of Himera. (Plutarch de Mus.
passim; Müller, Ulrici, Bode, and a very elaborate article by Ritschl, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyklopiidie.