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On this page: Dithyrambos – Dius Fidius – Divinatio



Saturnus,and a subterranean altaron the Cam­pus Martius in common with Proserpina. This was only opened when, as at the secu­lar games, sacrifices were offered to both. The victims offered thus were black animals. Dlthjrambds. A hymn sung at the festivals of Dionysus to the accompaniment of a flute and a dance round the altar. The hymn celebrated the sufferings and actions of the god in a style corresponding to the passionate character of his worship. In the course of time it developed into a special class of Greek lyric poetry. It was in Corinth that it first received anything like a definite artistic form, and this at the hands of Arlon, who was therefore credited by the ancients with its actual invention. The truth probably is that he was the first who divided the festal song of the chorus into strjphe and antistrophe, an arrange­ment from which tragedy took its rise. (See tragedy.) Dithyrambs were sung at Athens twice in the year—at the great Dionysia in the spring, and at the Lensea in the beginning of winter. The chorus consisted of fifty persons, who stood in a circle round the altar. The dithyramb was further developed by LasBs of HermlSne, ihe lyric poet and musician who lived about 507 b.c. at the court of the Pisistratldse. By several innovations in music and rhythm, especially by a stronger and more complete instrumentation, this artist gave it greater variety and a more secular character. He also introduced the prize contests for the best dithyramb, and apparantly abolished the antistrophical division. Of the dithyrambs of his pupil Pindar fragments only have sur­vived. With Lasos and Pindar, Simonldes and Bacchylldes may be named as among the foremost dithyrambic poets of the time. At the dithyrambic contests the poets and the different tribes contended for the prize. Each had their chorus, brilliantly fitted out at great expense by the richer citizens. Besides the honour of the victory, the poet received a tripod; the chorus, and the people which he represented, an ox for the sacrificial feast. Theae performances were very popular for a long time; but as the new tendency developed itself, voices of authority made themselves heard, con­demning them as involving a serious de­generacy in art. And there is no doubt that in the form which it assumed after the time of the Peloponnesian War, the dithy­ramb did violence to the older taste. More and more it lost the inner unity and beau­tiful proportion which that feeling required.

A continuous and rapid change of rhythm and mode was accompanied by an extra-

I ordinary boldness of diction, in keeping with the wild character of the composition. In the hands of inferior poets this often passed into turgidity and bombast, if not into mere nonsense. Solo pieces were in­serted to relieve the choruses, the text was gradually subordinated to the music, and the dithyramb was thus gradually trans­formed into a kind of opera. Though the subjects of the poems had long ceased to be taken exclusively from the cycle of Diouy-siac myths, they were never, of course, entirely out of harmony with the lyrical spirit of the dithyramb.

There was a very considerable number of

j dithyrambic poets. The best known are

| Melanippides of Mel6s (about 415 B.C.), who is generally held responsible for the degeneracy of the dithyramb, and the excess of instrumental music; his disciple Phi-loxfinus of Cythera, who died in 380; Timo-theus of Miletus, who died in 357, and his contemporaries P61yeidus and Telestes.

• Of the whole literature we possess nothing but fragments.

DIus FIdlus (Italian). The god of oaths and protector of the laws of hospitality and international dealing. (See sancus.) Divinatio (prevision of the future).

(1) In general the word is applied to all prophecy or foretelling in the simplest sense of the word. Among the Romans prophecy was based, not on inspiration, as with the Greeks, but on the observation of definite signs, such as the Otnen (or voice), the prodigies and the auspices taken note of by the augurs (see actoures). The science of the h&ruspice's (or the foretelling of events from the inspection of the carcases of sacrificial victims) was a later importa­tion from Etruria. The ancient Romans were not familiar with the divinatio from sortls or lots, which was common in many parts of Italy. The Sibylline books threw no light on future events. (See sibyls.) Towards the end of the republican period the sciences of the augurs and haruspices lost their significance, and the Greek oracles, in the various forms of their craft, with the Chaldsean astrology, came into vogue, and carried the fashion in the society of the Empire. (Cp. mantic art.)

(2) In the language of Roman law, divinatio meant the legal inquiry for deciding who, among many advocates pro­posing themselves, was the fittest to under­take a prosecution, and the speeches by

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