December 13, 2006


dithyramb \DITH-ih-ram\ noun
1 : a usually short poem in an inspired wild irregular strain
2 : a statement or writing in an exalted or enthusiastic vein

In ancient Greece, the wine god Dionysus (or Bacchus) was feted several times throughout the year. Processions, feasts, dances, and dramatic performances, accompanied by poems recited or sung in the god's honor, were all part of the revelry. Not too surprisingly, the poems tended to be wild, irregular, and dissonant. We know that the Greeks used "dithyrambos" as the word for a poem in honor of Dionysus, but beyond that the origin of the word is unknown. The ancient Greeks also had an adjective, "dithyrambikos," which gave us our adjective "dithyrambic," meaning "pertaining to or resembling a dithyramb."

No comments: