Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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10.3.8

But since even the historians, through the similarity of the name Curetes, have collected into one body a mass of dissimilar facts, I myself do not hesitate to speak of them at length by way of digression, adding the physical considerations which belong to the history. [Note] Some writers however endeavour to reconcile one account with the other, and perhaps they have some degree of probability in their favour. They say, for instance, that the people about ætolia have the name of Curetes from wearing long dresses like girls, (κόραι,) and that there was, among the Greeks, a fondness for some such fashion. The Ionians also were called tunic-trailers, [Note] and the soldiers of Leonidas, [Note] who went out to battle with their hair dressed, were despised by the Persians, but subjects of their admiration in the contest. In short, the application of art to the hair consists in attending to its growth, and the manner of cutting it, [Note] and both these are the peculiar care of girls and youths; [Note] whence in several ways it is easy to find a derivation of the name Curetes. It is also probable, that the practice of armed dances, first introduced by persons who paid so much attention to their hair and their dress, and who were called Curetes, afforded a pretence for men more warlike than others, and who passed their lives in arms, to be themselves called by the same name of Curetes, I mean those in Eubœa, ætolia, and Acarnania. Homer also gives this name to the young soldiers; selecting Curetes, the bravest of the Ach$eans, to carry from the swift ship, presents, which, yesterday, we promised to Achilles. [Note]

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And again; Curetes Acheei carried the presents. [Note]
Il. xvi. 617.
So much then on the subject of the etymology of the name Curetes. [The dance in armour is a military dance; this is shown by the Pyrrhic dance and by Pyrrichus, who, it is said, invented this kind of exercise for youths, to prepare them for military service.] [Note] 10.3.9

We are now to consider how the names of these people agree together, and the theology, which is contained in their history.

Now this is common both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, to perform their religious ceremonies with the observance of a festival, and a relaxation from labour; some are performed with enthusiasm, others without any emotion; some accompanied with music, others without music; some in mysterious privacy, others publicly; and these are the dictates of nature. [Note] For relaxation from labour withdraws the thoughts from human occupations, and directs the reflecting mind to the divinity: enthusiasm seems to be attended with a certain divine inspiration, and to approach the prophetic character; the mystical concealment of the sacred rites excites veneration for the divinity, and imitates his nature, which shuns human senses and perception; music also, accompanied with the dance, rhythm, and song, for the same reason brings us near the deity by the pleasure which it excites, and by the charms of art. For it has been justly said, that men resemble the gods chiefly in doing good, but it may be said more properly, when they are happy; and this happiness consists in rejoicing, in festivals, in philosophy, and in music. [Note] For let not the art be blamed, if it should sometimes be abused by the musician employing it to excite voluptuousness in convivial

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meetings at banquets, on the stage, or under other circum stances, but let the nature of the institutions which are founded on it be examined. [Note] 10.3.10

Hence Plato, and, before his time, the Pythagoreans, called music philosophy. They maintained that the world subsisted by harmony, and considered every kind of music to be the work of the gods. It is thus that the muses are regarded as deities, and Apollo has the name of President of the Muses, and all poetry divine, as being conversant about the praises of the gods. Thus also they ascribe to music the formation of manners, as everything which refines the mind approximates to the power of the gods.

The greater part of the Greeks attribute to Bacchus, Apollo, Hecate, the Muses, and Ceres, everything connected with orgies and Bacchanalian rites, dances, and the mysteries attended upon initiation. They call also Bacchus, Dionysus, and the chief Dæmon of the mysteries of Ceres. [Note] The carrying about of branches of trees, dances, and initiations are common to the worship of these gods. But with respect to Apollo and the Muses, the latter preside over choirs of singers and dancers; the former presides both over these and divination. All persons instructed in science, and particularly those who have cultivated music, are ministers of the Muses; these and also all who are engaged in divination are ministers of Apollo. Those of Ceres, are the Mystæ, torch-bearers and Hierophants; of Dionysus, Seileni, Satyri, Tityri, Bacchæ Lenæ, Thyiæ, Mimallones, Naïdes, and Nymphæ, as they are called.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.3.6 Str. 10.3.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.3.13

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