Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 10.3.11

But in Crete both these, and the sacred rites of Jupiter in particular, were celebrated with the performance of orgies, and by ministers, like the Satyri, who are employed in the worship of Dionysus. These were called Curetes, certain youths who executed military movements in armour, accompanied with dancing, exhibiting the fable of the birth of Jupiter, in which Saturn was introduced, whose custom it was to devour his children immediately after their birth; Rhea attempts to conceal the pains of childbirth, and to remove the new-born infant out of sight, using her utmost endeavours to preserve it.

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In this she has the assistance of the Curetes who surround the goddess, and by the noise of drums and other similar sounds, by dancing in armour and by tumult, endeavour to strike terror into Saturn, and escape notice whilst removing his child. The child is then delivered into their hands to be brought up with the same care by which he was rescued. The Curetes therefore obtained this appellation, either because they were boys (κόροι), or because they educated Jupiter in his youth (κουροτροθεῖν), for there are two explanations, inasmuch as they acted the same part with respect to Jupiter as the Satyri (with respect to Dionysus). Such then is the worship of the Greeks, as far as relates to the celebration of orgies. 10.3.12

But the Berecyntes, a tribe of Phrygians, the Phrygians in general, and the Trojans, who live about Mount Ida, themselves also worship Rhea, and perform orgies in her honour; they call her mother of gods, Agdistis, and Phrygia, [Note] the Great Goddess; from the places also where she is worshipped, Idæa, and Dindymene, [Note] Sipylene, [Note] Pessinuntis, [Note] and Cybele. [Note] The Greeks call her ministers by the same name Curetes, not that they follow the same mythology, but they mean a different kind of persons, a sort of agents analogous to the Satyri. These same ministers are also called by them Corybantes. 10.3.13

We have the testimony of the poets in favour of these opinions. Pindar, in the Dithyrambus, which begins in this manner; formerly the dithyrambus used to creep upon the ground, long and trailing. After mentioning the hymns, both ancient and modern, in honour of Bacchus, he makes a digression, and says, for thee, O Mother, resound the large circles of the cymbals, and the ringing crotala; for thee, blaze the torches of the yellow pine; where he combines with one another the rites celebrated among the Greeks in honour of Dionysus with those performed among the Phrygians in honour of the mother of the

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gods. Euripides, in the Bacchæ, does the same thing, con joining, from the proximity of the countries, [Note] Lydian and Phrygian customs. "Then forsaking Tmolus, the rampart of Lydia, my maidens, my pride, [whom I took from among barbarians and made the partners and companions of my way, raise on high the tambourine of Phrygia, the tambourine of the great mother Rhea,] my invention.

Blest and happy he who, initiated into the sacred rites of the gods, leads a pure life; who celebrating the orgies of the Great Mother Cybele, who brandishing on high the thyrsus and with ivy crowned, becomes Dionysus' worshipper. Haste, Bacchanalians, haste, and bring Bromius Dionysus down from the Phrygian mountains to the wide plains of Greece.

And again, in what follows, he combines with these the Cretan rites. Hail, sacred haunt of the Curetes, and divine inhabitants of Crete, progenitors of Jove, where for me the triple-crested Corybantes in their caves invented this skin-stretched circle [of the tambourine], who mingled with Bacchic strains the sweet breath of harmony from Phrygian pipes, and placed in Rhea's hands this instrument which re-echoes to the joyous shouts of Bacchanalians: from the Mother Rhea the frantic Satyri succeeded in obtaining it, and introduced it into the dances of the Trieterides, among whom Dionysus delights to dwell. [Note]



























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And the chorus in Palamedes says, Not revelling with Dionysus, who together with his mother was cheered with the resounding drums along the tops of Ida.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.3.8 Str. 10.3.12 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.3.16

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