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On this page: Rhapsodist – Rhea

542

RHAPSODIST——RHEA.

virtue and wisdom. In Homer [Od. iv 564] he is described as dwelling in the Elysian fields. Here Alcmene, after her decease, ia said to have been wedded to him anew. Later legend made him the judge of the dead in the under-world, together with jEacus and Minos.

Khapsodist (Gr. rhapsodds). The Greek term originally designated the man who adapted the words to the epic song, i.e. the epic poet himself, who in the earlier time recited his own poetry. Afterwards the term specially denoted one who made the poems of others a subject of recitation.

At first such rhapsodists were generally poets themselves; but, with the gradual dying out of epic poetry, they came to hold the same position as was afterwards held by the actors, professionally declaiming the lays of the epic poets. Epic verses were originally sung to musical accompaniment, but after the time of Terpander, as lyric poetry became more independently culti­vated, the accompaniment of stringed instru­ments fell into disuse; and then gradually, instead of a song-like recitation, a simple declamation, in which the rhapsodist held a branch of bay in his hand, came to be gener­ally adopted. This had happened even before the time of Plato and Aristotle [see espe­cially Plato's Ion]. As in earlier times the singers moved from place to place, in order to get a hearing at the courts of princes or before festive gatherings, so the rhapsodists also led an unsettled and wandering life. In Athens [Lycurgus, Lcocr. § 102] and many other towns [as at Sicyon, before the time of the tyrant Clisthenes (Herod., v 67)], public recitations of the Homeric poems were appointed, at which the rhapsodists competed with one another for definite prizes, and thus found opportunity to display their art. It is true that other epic poems, and even the iambic poetry of Archll5chus and Slmonldes of Amorgus, were also recited by rhapsodists; still at all times the labours of such reciters continued to be devoted in the first place to Homeric poetry [Pindar, Nem. ii 2; Plato, Ion 530 D, Rep. 599 E, Phcfdr. 252 B]. Hence they were also called Homerldoe and HOmeristce [Aristotle in Athencms, 620 B]. It was to the older rhapsodists that the Homeric poems primarily owed their wide diffusion among the Greeks. In the course of time the high esteem in which the rhapsodists originally stood began to decline, because many practised their art as a matter ! of business, and in a purely mechanical fashion. Still their employment survived

long beyond the classical time, and not only did the public competitions continue to exist, but it was also the custom to intro­duce rhapsodists at banquets and on other occasions.

Rh&a. Daughter of Uranus and Gaea, wife of her brother, the Titan Cr5nus, by whom she gave birth to the Olympian gods, Zeus, Hades, Pfiseidon, Hera, Hestia, Demeter. For this reason she was generally called the Mother of the yods. One of her oldest places of worship was Crete, where in a cave, near the town of Lyctus or else on mounts Dirce or Ida, she was said to have given birth to Zeus, and to have hidden him from the wiles of Cronus. The task of watching and nursing the newborn child she had entrusted to her devoted servants the Curetls, earth-born demons, armed with weapons of bronze, who drowned the cry of the child by the noise which they made by beating their spears against their shields. The name of Curetes was accordingly given to the priests of the Cretan Rhea and of the Idaean Zeus, who executed noisy war-dances at the festivals of those gods. In early times the Cretan Rhea was identified with the Asiatic Cyblle or C'ybebe, " the Great Mother," a goddess of the powers of nature and the arts of cultivation, who was wor­shipped upon mountains in Mysia, Lydia, and Phrygia.

In the former character she was a symbol of the procreative power of nature; in the latter, she originated the cultivation of the vine and agriculture, together with all other forms of social progress and civi­lization, which depend upon these. Thus she was regarded as the founder of towns and cities, and therefore it is that art re­presents her as crowned with a diadem of towers.

The true home of this religion was the Phrygian Pesslnus, on the river Sangarius, in the district afterwards known as Galatia, where the goddess was called Agdistis [Strabo, p. 567] or Angdistis, from a holy rock named Agdus upon Mount Dindymus above the town. Upon this mountain, after which the goddess derived her name of DindymSne, stood her earliest sanctuary, as well as her oldest effigy (a stone that had fallen from heaven), and the grave of her beloved Attis (q.v.). Her priests, the emas­culated Galli, here enjoyed almost royal honour. In Lydia she was worshipped, principally on Mount Tmolus, as the mother of Zeus and the foster-mother of Dionysus. There \vas also a temple of Cybele at Sardis.

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