previous next

There were also some instruments besides those which were blown into, and those which were used with different strings, which gave forth only sounds of a simple nature, such as the castanets (κρέμβαλα), which are mentioned by Dicæarchus, in his essay on the Manners and Customs of Greece, where he says, that formerly certain instruments were in very frequent use, in order to accompany women while dancing and singing; and when any one touched these instruments with their fingers they uttered a shrill sound. And he says that this is plainly shown in the hymn to Diana, which begins thus—
Diana, now my mind will have me utter
A pleasing song in honour of your deity,
While this my comrade strikes with nimble hand
The well-gilt brazen-sounding castanets.
And Hermippus, in his play called The Gods, gives the word for rattling the castanets, κρεμβαλίζειν, saying—
And beating down the limpets from the rocks,
They make a noise like castanets (κρεμβαλιζουσι).
But Didymus says, that some people, instead of the lyre, are in the habit of striking oyster-shells and cockle-shells against [p. 1017] one another, and by these means contrive to play a tune in time to the dancers, as Aristophanes also intimates in his Frogs.1

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Charles Burton Gulick, 1927)
load focus Greek (Kaibel)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: