A Cretan dance

In this extract from the Iliad, Homer is describing the shield that The god Hephaistos is making for Achilles. There were several scenes engraved or inlaid onto the shield including this one of a dance. Crete was famous for its dances. We have frescos of the bull dances from Knossos but I don’t know whether we have artistic representations of dances like the ones described here. These dances could probably be compared to modern day traditional Greek dances. 

ἐν δὲ χορὸν ποίκιλλε περικλυτὸς ἀμφιγυήεις,
τῷ ἴκελον οἷόν ποτ᾽ ἐνὶ Κνωσῷ εὐρείῃ
Δαίδαλος ἤσκησεν καλλιπλοκάμῳ Ἀριάδνῃ.
ἔνθα μὲν ἠΐθεοι καὶ παρθένοι ἀλφεσίβοιαι
ὀρχεῦντ᾽ ἀλλήλων ἐπὶ καρπῷ χεῖρας ἔχοντες.
τῶν δ᾽ αἳ μὲν λεπτὰς ὀθόνας ἔχον, οἳ δὲ χιτῶνας
εἵατ᾽ ἐϋννήτους, ἦκα στίλβοντας ἐλαίῳ:
καί ῥ᾽ αἳ μὲν καλὰς στεφάνας ἔχον, οἳ δὲ μαχαίρας
εἶχον χρυσείας ἐξ ἀργυρέων τελαμώνων.
οἳ δ᾽ ὁτὲ μὲν θρέξασκον ἐπισταμένοισι πόδεσσι
ῥεῖα μάλ᾽, ὡς ὅτε τις τροχὸν ἄρμενον ἐν παλάμῃσιν
ἑζόμενος κεραμεὺς πειρήσεται, αἴ κε θέῃσιν:
ἄλλοτε δ᾽ αὖ θρέξασκον ἐπὶ στίχας ἀλλήλοισι.
πολλὸς δ᾽ ἱμερόεντα χορὸν περιίσταθ᾽ ὅμιλος
τερπόμενοι:
δοιὼ δὲ κυβιστητῆρε κατ᾽ αὐτοὺς
μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντες ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους.
The famous lame God engraved on the shield a dance like the one that Daidalus once made in wide Knossos for Ariadne with the beautiful tresses. There young men and maidens, worth many oxen in marriage, were dancing holding each other’s hands by the wrist. The girls were wearing light linen dresses and the boys well-spun tunics lightly shining with oil. And the girls had beautiful garlands and the boys had golden knives hanging from silver straps. Sometimes they were running lightly with practised steps; it was like when a potter sits with the wheel fitted in his hands and tries to make it run; and sometimes they were running in lines opposite each other. A great crowd stood in enjoyment around the beautiful dance….. And two acrobats led the dance spinning in the middle of them.

Iliad 12.590
Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s