Dancing With the Heroes

Schol ad Pind. Pyth 2:

 “He used the word Kastorian because of the account of some that the Dioskouri invented the dance in armor. For some say that the Dioskouroi are dancers. Epicharmus, however, says that Athena played the martial song for the Dioskouri on an Aulos and for this reason the Lakonians march against the enemy to the same sound. But others claim that he Kastorean is a certain rhythm and that the Laconians use it when attacking the enemy.

There is also a distinction between the dance of the pyrrikhê for which the hyporkhêmata were composed. For some say that the Kouretes invented dancing in armor and performed this dance, or that Pyrrikhos of Krete or Thaletas first created them. But Sosibios argues that all hyporkhêmata are Cretan.

Still, some say that the pyrrhic dance is not named from Pyrrikhos of Crete but from Achilles’ son Pyrrhos who danced in his arms over his victory over Telephos, which the Kyprians call the prulis, making the name pyrrikhê from the pyre.”

Καστόρειον εἶπε διὰ τὸ τὴν ἔνοπλον ὄρχησιν κατ᾽ ἐνίους τοὺς Διοσκούρους εὑρεῖν· ὀρχηστικοὶ γάρ τινες οἱ Διόσκουροι. ὁ δὲ Ἐπίχαρμος τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν φησι τοῖς Διοσκούροις τὸν ἐνόπλιον νόμον ἐπαυλῆσαι, ἐξ ἐκείνου δὲ τοὺς Λάκωνας μετ᾽ αὐλοῦ τοῖς πολεμίοις προσιέναι. τινὲς δὲ ῥυθμόν τινά φασι τὸ Καστόρειον, χρῆσθαι δὲ αὐτῶι τοὺς Λάκωνας ἐν ταῖς πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους συμβολαῖς. διέλκεται δὲ ἡ τῆς πυρρίχης ὄρχησις, πρὸς ἣν τὰ ὑπορχήματα ἐγράφησαν. ἔνιοι μὲν οὖν φασι τὴν ἔνοπλον ὄρχησιν πρῶτον Κούρητας εὑρηκέναι, καὶ ὑπορχήσασθαι, αὖθις δὲ Πύρριχον Κρῆτα συντάξασθαι, Θαλήταν δὲ πρῶτον τὰ εἰς αὐτὴν ὑπορχήματα. Σωσίβιος δὲ τὰ ὑπορχηματικὰ πάντα μέλη Κρηταικὰ λέγεσθαι. ἔνιοι δὲ οὐκ ἀπὸ Πυρρίχου τοῦ Κρητὸς τὴν πυρρίχην ὠνομάσθαι ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τοῦ παιδὸς τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως Πύρρου ἐν τοῖς ὅπλοις ὀρχησαμένου ἐπὶ τῆι κατὰ Εὐρυπύλου τοῦ Τηλέφου νίκηι. ᾽Αριστοτέλης δὲ πρῶτον Ἀχιλλέα ἐπὶ τῆι τοῦ Πατρόκλου πυρᾶι τῆι πυρρίχηι κεχρῆσθαι, ἣν παρὰ Κυπρίοις φησὶ πρύλιν λέγεσθαι, ὥστε παρὰ τὴν πυρὰν τῆς πυρρίχης τὸ ὄνομα θέσθαι.

Paradoxographus Vaticanus 58

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with one another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

Zenobius 3.71

“To dance in darkness”: A proverb applied to those who toil over unwitnessed things—their work is invisible.”

᾿Εν σκότῳ ὀρχεῖσθαι: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀμάρτυρα μοχθούντων, ὧν τὸ ἔργον ἀφανές.

 A war-dance was performed in honor of Athena’s birth in full-armor at the Panathenain festival (pyrrhiche). See Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985, 102.

Image result for hero dancing vase

Homer, Odyssey 7.250-253

Come, however so many are the best dancers of the Phaeacians.

Dance, so that our guest may tell his family

once he gets home how much we surpass

the rest of mankind in sailing, running, dancing and song!

 

ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε, Φαιήκων βητάρμονες ὅσσοι ἄριστοι,

παίσατε, ὥς χ᾽ ὁ ξεῖνος ἐνίσπῃ οἷσι φίλοισιν

οἴκαδε νοστήσας, ὅσσον περιγιγνό μεθ᾽ ἄλλων

ναυτιλίῃ καὶ ποσσὶ καὶ ὀρχηστυῖ καὶ ἀοιδῇ.

 

Alkinoos tells this and then the Phaeacians perform their dance, part of which involves the use of a ball passed and forth between two princes. (Some ancient form of hacky-sack?) In way, this ritual has something to do with Greece in the World Cup, right? Here’s the full text.