The Ancient Library

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ascribed to the Ephor is so characteristic of the state of Spartan feelings with reference to the ancient music, that we may easily believe such an incident to have occurred every time that the attempt was made to violate that feeling ; so that the two stories rather confirm one another ; and, moreover, they are mentioned together, as two distinct events, by Plutarch (Agis, 10). The tra­dition is also embodied, with other particulars of the innovations of Timotheus, in the alleged decree of the Spartans, preserved by Boethius (de Mus. I. c.}. It has been, however, very clearly proved, that this decree is the forgery of a grammarian of an unknown date. (See especially Muller, Dor. b. iv. c. 6. § 3, vol. ii. pp. 316—319, ed. Schnei-dewin). Still it is of importance, as embodying what the grammarian, who forged it, had collected from the ancient writers respecting the musical innovations of Timotheus. The substance of it is an order to the Ephors to censure Timotheus the Milesian, for that he had dishonoured the ancient music, and had corrupted the ears of the youth by deserting the seven-stringed lyre, and introducing a multiplicity of strings, and a novelty of melodies, in which ignoble and diversified strains took the place of the old simple and sustained movements, and by changing the genus from the Enharmonic to the Chromatic as an Antistrophic variation, and also for that, when invited to perform at the festival of the Eleusinian Demeter, he had given an indecent representation of the myth, and had improperly taught the youth the travail of Semele; and, besides this censure, he was to be ordered to cut away the strings of his lyre which exceeded seven.

Suidas (s. v.) describes his style in general terms as a softening of the ancient music (tt]v dp%afai/ povffiKrjV eTrl t& fA.a\aKWT€pov /aer^yayev). And Plutarch mentions him,with Crexus and Philoxenus, and the other poets of that age, as ^opTt/ccorepoi /ecu <pi\6Kcuvoi, and as especially addicted to the stvle called t^v (piXavOpuTcov Kal ^e/xcm/coV (de Mus. 12. p. 1135, d.).

With regard to the subjects of his compositions, and the manner in which he treated them, we have abundant evidence that he even went beyond the other musicians of the period in th^liberties which he took with the ancient myths, in the attempt to make his music imitative as well as expressive, and in the confusion of the different subjects and department of lyric poetry; in one word, in the application of that false principle, which also misled his friend Euripides, that pleasure is the end of poetry. Unfortunately the fragments of the poems of Timotheus and the other musicians of the period are insufficient to guide us to a full knowledge of their style ; but we can judge of its general cha­racter by the choral parts of the tragedies of Euripides, and by the description of Plato (de Legg. iii. p. 700, e.), aided by the ancient testimonies, and the few fragments collected by later writers. The subject is well, though briefly, treated by Muller (flint, of Lit. of Anc. Greece^ vol. ii. pp. 61, 62), who remarks that in the late dithyramb " there was no unity of thought ; no one tone pervading the whole poem, so as to preserve in the minds of the hearers a consistent train of feelings; no subor­dination of the story to certain ethical ideas ; no artificially constructed system of verses regulated by fixed laws ; but a loose and wanton play of lyrical sentiments, which were set in motion by the accidental impulses of some mythical story,


and took now one direction, now another ; pre­ferring, however, to seize on such points as gave room for an immediate imitation in tones, and admitting a mode of description which luxuriated in sensual charms." And a little above (p. 60)— " At the same time the dithyramb assumed a de­scriptive, or, as Aristotle says, a mimetic character ((UeragoA??'). The natural phenomena which it described were imitated \)j means of tunes and rhythms and the pantomimic gesticulations of the actors (as in the antiquated Hyporcheme) ; and this was very much aided by a powerful instru­mental accompaniment, which sought to represent with its loud full tones the raging elements, the voices of wild beasts, and other sounds. A parasite wittily observed of one of these storm-dithyrambs of Timotheus, that ' he had seen greater storms than those which Timotheus made in many a kettle of boiling water' (Ath. viii. p. 338, a.)." A striking example of this mimetic and sensuous mode of representation is furnished by the dithyramb of Timotheus, entitled " the Travail of Semele" (2e/x,eA-)7s clSiV), which is censured in the pseudo-Laceduemonian decree already quoted, and on one passage of which Stratonicus is said to have asked, " If she had been bringing forth a mechanic, and not a god, what sort of cries would she have uttered ?" (Ath. viii. p. 352, a.; comp. Dio Chry-sost. Oral. 77, p. 426, ed. Reiske.)

The language of Timotheus was redundant and luxuriant, as we see by a fragment from his Cyclops, preserved by Athenaeus (xi. p. 465, d.). Of the boldness of his metaphors we have a specimen, in his calling a shield (piahrji' "Apeos, for which he was attacked by the comic poet Antiphanes (Ath. x. p. 433, c.), and which Ari­stotle has noticed no less than three times (Poet. xxi. 12, Rhet. iii. 4, 11). There is another ex­ample of his bold figures in a fragment of Ana-xandrides (Ath. x. p. 455, f.). In the celebrated passage of Aristotle respecting the representation of actual and ideal characters, in poetry and paint­ing (Poet! 2), reference is made to " the Persae and Cyclopes of Timotheus and Philoxenus ;" but unfortunately there is nothing in the present text to show which of the two poets Aristotle meant to represent as the more ideal.

Like all the dithyrambic poets of the age, Timo­theus composed works in every species of lyric poetry, and that in such a manner as to confound the distinctions between the several species, mingling Threnes with Hymns, Paeans with Di­thyrambs, and even performing on the lyre the music intended for the flute (Plato, de Legg. I. c.). The crowning step in this process appears to have been that which is ascribed to Timotheus alone, namely, the giving a dithyrambic tone and ex­pression to the Nomes, which seem to have been hitherto preserved almost in their original form, and the adapting them to be sung by a chorus, instead of by a single performer (Plut. de Mus. 4, p. 1132, d.; Clem. Alex. Strom. i. p. 365).

The account which has now been given of the character of Timotheus as a musician and a poet must not be misunderstood. It is one thing to judge an artist by pure aesthetic standards, or by a comparison with the severe simplicity of an early stage of the development of his art; it is quite another thing to form a genial estimate of his cha­racter with reference to the prevailing taste of the times in which he lived, or io the impression lie

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