Last modified December 16, 2012. The lyre—which is perhaps his most well-known symbol—signifies that Apollo is the god of music. The lyre was a stringed musical instrument played by the ancient Greeks and was probably the most important and well-known instrument in the Greek world. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Over time, the name in the wider Hellenic space came to be used to label mostly bowed lutes such as the Byzantine lyra, the Pontic lyra, the Constantinopolitan lyra, the Cretan lyra, the lira da braccio, the Calabrian lira, the lijerica, the lyra viol, the lirone. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Complete lyres survive from the Hellenistic period, a notable example being the bronze lyre from the Antikythera shipwreck. (In Euripides’ lost Antiope the two young men There is no clear evidence that non-Greco-Roman lyres were played exclusively with plectra, and numerous instruments regarded by some as modern lyres are played with bows. Mythology. It was their constant practice to represent the strings as being damped by the fingers of the left hand of the player, after having been struck by the plectrum held in the right hand. At Akrotiri on Thera, a fresco shows a small triangular lyre played by a blue monkey. , The term is also used metaphorically to refer to the work or skill of a poet, as in Shelley's "Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is" or Byron's "I wish to tune my quivering lyre, / To deeds of fame, and notes of fire". Apollo's lyre has the power to turn items—like stones—into musical instruments. In organology, lyre is defined as a "yoke lute", being a lute in which the strings are attached to a yoke that lies in the same plane as the sound-table and consists of two arms and a cross-bar. While it is the symbol of the Olympian Apollo, he did not invent it but he did barter for it. Orpheus Plays the Lyre Apollo is the Greek god of music and poetry, and he is most famously known for playing the lyre, a musical instrument made of strings, and a tortoise shell. Lyres appearing to have emerged independently of Greco-Roman prototypes were used by the Germanic and Celtic peoples over a thousand years ago (sometimes called psalterys). Those who differ with that opinion counter by calling the lute, violin, guitar, banjo, and other such instruments "independent fingerboard lyres," as opposed to simply "fingerboard lyres" such as the Welsh crwth, which have both fingerboards and frameworks above their resonators. Some of the cultures using and developing the lyre were the Aeolian and Ionian Greek colonies on the coasts of Asia (ancient Asia Minor, modern day Turkey) bordering the Lydian empire. Cartwright, Mark. Depending on the region where they were celebrated, both the names and the number of Muses varied. A stringed musical instrument used in ancient Greece. Others view the lyre and zither as being two separate classes. Plato considered only the lyre or kithara as suitable instruments for musical education. The deepest note was that farthest from the player's body; since the strings did not differ much in length, more weight may have been gained for the deeper notes by thicker strings, as in the violin and similar modern instruments, or they were tuned by having a slacker tension. Apollo, figuring out it was Hermes who had his cows, confronted the young god. Other mythical figures often seen with a lyre include Eros and the Muses. Apollo offered to trade the herd of cattle for the lyre. The name kissar (cithara) given by the ancient Greeks to Egyptian box instruments reveals the apparent similarities recognized by Greeks themselves. Locales in southern Europe, western Asia, or north Africa have been proposed[by whom?] Music, and specifically playing the lyre, was an integral part of Greek education. He played the lyre and was said to be able to tame lions and tigers with his music. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Greek Mythology. Amphion and Zethus, in Greek mythology, the twin sons of Zeus by Antiope. Unsurprisingly, considering its association with Apollo, the silver drachma of Delos had a lyre on its reverse in the 6th century BCE. Zeus sent an eagle to get the lyre and placed both of them in the sky. When only a child, he pulled a cow-gut across a tortoise shell, and thereby created the lyre. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. In Greek mythology, the swan is a bird sacred to Aphrodite and Apollo. Books At Knossos on Crete a small alabaster lyre is decorated with a swan’s head on each arm of the instrument. ", This page was last edited on 28 December 2020, at 02:32. , The lyre of classical antiquity was ordinarily played by being strummed with a plectrum (pick), like a guitar or a zither, rather than being plucked with the fingers as with a harp. The lyre is one of the most ancient of musical instruments. He charmed Pluto into allowing his dead wife to come back to the living world to be with him by using his talent in playing the lyre. Along the way, Hermes slaughtered one of the cows and offered all but the entrails to the gods. If it were… , The so-called lyres of Ur, excavated in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), date to 2500 BC and are considered to be the world's oldest surviving stringed instruments.. Extending from this sound-chest are two raised arms, which are sometimes hollow, and are curved both outward and forward. Other instruments known as lyres have been fashioned and used in Europe outside the Greco-Roman world since at least the Iron Age. As so often happens In Greek mythology though, tragedy struck when Eurydice was bitten by a snake in the forest and died. [original research?]. In the same period, coins of Thespiai - where there was a temple dedicated to Apollo and another to the Muses - carried a three-stringed lyre on their reverse sides. In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus. Some mythic masters like Musaeus, and Thamyris were believed to have been born in Thrace, another place of extensive Greek colonization. Greek Lyre: For school, we had to do a project on Greek mythology and I decided to do mine on Orpheus, a hero and musician. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The lyre was originally invented by the new-born Hermes, making use of a tortoise shell. His parents were the king of Thrace Oeagrus and the muse Calliope. According to ancient Greek mythology, Hermes was the one who invented the lyre in the first place. This group they usually refer to as the lute class, after the instrument of that name, and include within it the guitar, the violin, the banjo, and similar stringed instruments with fingerboards. Calymna Silver Staterby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). Played sitting or standing, the instrument was held in the hand and sometimes supported with a carrying strap worn over the shoulder of the player. When he died, his lyre was thrown into a river. The strings were of gut. Lyres frequently appear on later Greek pottery - geometric, red- and black-figure pottery - from the 8th century BCE. Decorated ivory fragments of lyres survive from Mycenae. #2: “Rising Crete against their shore appears. Lyres were also used as decorative motifs on late Minoan pottery. From the entrails and a tortoise/turtle shell, he created the Lyre. Greek mythology and the Constellation Lyra. In addition, Minoan hieroglyphs had a unique symbol for musicians, and a Linear B tablet from Thebes (1250-1200 BCE) mentions lyre players as members of the Mycenaean palace staff. According to a source, his music had the ability to charm the animals and make the trees dance. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Apollo, from that point on, was considered the player par excellence of the lyre. There came to be two broad classes of bowed European yoke lyres: those with fingerboards dividing the open space within the yoke longitudinally, and those without fingerboards. The first examples of the lyre were discovered at the ancient Sumerian city of Ur (2025-1738 BC) in ancient Mesopotamia, yet according to Greek mythology the lyre was a musical instrument created by Hermes. Apollo, byname Phoebus, in Greco-Roman mythology, a deity of manifold function and meaning, one of the most widely revered and influential of all the ancient Greek and Roman gods. The deepest note was that farthest from the player's body; since the strings di… ... T61.7 Marsyas. Apollo discovered the theft and was only placated by Hermes’ offer of the lyre. Cartwright, M. (2012, December 16). It is a bird associated with love, music, poetry; it is often pictured singing to a lyre. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Hera, Ares, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, Artemis, Hephaestus Later Hestia gave her position of one of the ruling gods to Dionysus because she became tired of the petty problems between the other gods. The lyre was a stringed musical instrument played by the ancient Greeks and was probably the most important and well-known instrument in the Greek world. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. Even mythical figures enjoyed the benefits of a musical education; for example, Achilles was taught to play the lyre by the wise centaur Cheiron. Made by Hermes from a tortoise shell, given to Apollo as a bargain, it was said to be the first lyre ever produced. There too, in living sculpture, might be seen The mad affection of the Cretan queen; Then how she cheats her bellowing lover’s eye; The rushing leap, the doubtful progeny, The lower part a beast, a man above, The monument of their polluted love.” #3: “But there is one other important similarity between the schoolboy and ourselves. For example, in the royal city of Ur (circa 3000 BC) musicians played the lyre for royalty, according to excavated artifacts. Hercules - A son of Zeus and the greatest hero in Greek Mythology, Hercules had many labors he had to perform. The last of the bowed yoke lyres with fingerboard was the "modern" (c. 1485–1800) Welsh crwth. Greek Vase Paintings 3. Apollo also taught that other great mythical musician, Orpheus, how to play the instrument which would become his emblem. It is said to have been invented by Hermes, messenger of the gods, though it is probably more often associated with the mythical poet Orpheus, master of the lyre.  Extending from this sound-chest are two raised arms, which are sometimes hollow, and are curved both outward and forward. From shop Statuescrafts. Examples of that difference include a piano (a keyed zither) and a violin (referred to by some as a species of fingerboard lyre). In reference to design, the lyre is a tool of transformation meant to correspond with the symphonic tones/frequencies of a vibratory universe. The instrument is frequently depicted in all forms of Greek art and the earliest examples date from the middle Bronze Age (c. 2000 BCE) in the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations. The lyre was played either alone or as an accompaniment to singing or lyric poetry at all manner of occasions such as official banquets, symposia (private drinking parties), religious ceremonies, funerals, and in musical competitions such as those held at the great Panathanaia, Pythia, and Karneia festivals. Bestiary. The lyre (lyra) is a musical instrument from Ancient Greece. Greek mythology considers the slender, agile and jovial Terpsichore as the Muse of dance and choirs. "Lyre." There were a group of twelve ruling gods who ruled after the Titans were overthrown. It had several predecessors both in the British Isles and in Continental Europe. Coins of Kos from the 2nd to 1st century BCE carried the head of Apollo on the obverse and a five-stringed lyre on the reverse. They were used without a fingerboard, no Greek description or representation having ever been met with that can be construed as referring to one. When Orpheus fell in love with Eurydice, he wooed her with his song.  The instrument is still played in north-eastern parts of Africa. DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images. Sep 5, 2019 - Greek Lyre: For school, we had to do a project on Greek mythology and I decided to do mine on Orpheus, a hero and musician. He played the lyre in such a way that stones were made to move. "A Short Note on African Lyres in Use Today. Hence, the creation of the lyre is attributed to Hermes. They are connected near the top by a crossbar or yoke. O: Lyre... Music and creativity in Ancient Greece - Tim Hansen, Clay dancing figures including a rare female. [clarification needed] The accuracy of this representation cannot be insisted upon, the vase painters being little mindful of the complete expression of details; yet one may suppose their tendency would be rather to imitate than to invent a number. There are various accounts of five, The last surviving examples of instruments within the latter class were the Scandinavian talharpa and the Finnish jouhikko. A Muse sits beside a palm tree holding a lyre. Pitch was changed on individual strings by pressing the string firmly against the fingerboard with the fingertips. Dates of origin, which probably vary from region to region, cannot be determined, but the oldest known fragments of such instruments are thought to date from the fifth century England with the Discovery of the Abingdon Lyre.  Material evidence suggests lyres became more widespread during the early Middle Ages, and one view[whose?] Each of the Muses is lovely, graceful and alluring, and gifted with a particular artistic talent. They were called Olympians because, according to tradition, they resided on Mount Olympus. Amphion became a great singer and musician, Zethus a hunter and herdsman. License. Lyra, the Lyre, is a constellation said to represent the Lyre of Orpheus. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. 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