Friday, February 26, 2010

Pyrrhic Dance: One of the Civilizing Activities

It represents modes of eluding all kinds of blows and shots by swerving and ducking and side-leaps upward or crouching; and also the opposite kinds of motion, which lead to active postures of offense, when it strives to represent the movements involved in shooting with bows or darts and blows of every description. From Plato, Laws 7.815a

The Korybantes (Ancient Greek: Κορύβαντες) were the crested dancers who worshiped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. They are also called the Kurbantes in Phrygia, and Corybants in an older English transcription. The Kuretes were the nine dancers who venerate Rhea, the Cretan counterpart of Cybele, Mother of the Gods.
These male dancers in armor, kept time to a drum and the rhythmic stamping of their feet. Dance, according to Greek thought, was one of the civilizing activities, like wine-making or music. The dance in armor (the "Pyrrhic dance" or Pyrriche (Πυρρίχη)) was a male coming-of-age initiation ritual linked to a warrior victory celebration. The French classicist Henri Jeanmaire has shown that both the Kouretes (Κουρῆτες) and Cretan Zeus (called "the greatest kouros (κοῦρος)" in Cretan hymns) were intimately connected with the transition of young men into manhood in Cretan cities. From Wikipedia: Korybantes

"The Kouretes are also, as all primitive magicians are, seers (μαντεις). When Minos in Crete lost his son Glaukos he sent for the Kouretes to discover where the child was hidden. Closely akin to this magical aspect is that fact that they are metal-workers. Among primitive people metallurgy is an uncanny craft and the smith is half medicine man." From Jane Ellen Harrison, Themis: the Social Origins of Greek Religion

A general name for dance in armor that is known generally as "Pyrrhiche" (Pyrrhic dance). These martial dances are part of the basic military education in both Athens and Sparta accompanied by the sound of a flute. The four divisions were, the Podism or footing a quick motion such as might be required for overtaking the enemy (or for fleeing from him) the Xiphism, or sham fight; the Kosmos with very high leaping or vaulting a training for the jumping of ditches or walls and the Tetracomos a square figure with slow majestic measure (L. Grove ). From Ancient Greek Dance

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