Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Dithyramb (Gk. dithyrambos, perhaps originally a name of the god Dionysus), originally a hymn sung by a chorus round the altar of Dionysus, celebrating his sufferings and triumph. (Most probably Dionysus in one aspect is the productive powers of Nature, which are overpowered in winter but triumph again in spring and summer.) Its invention is ascribed by Herodotus to Arion (q.v.), but most probably he only gave it a more artistic form. While it gave rise to tragedy (q.v.) it was developed into an independent branch of poetry, chiefly by Lasos of Hermione. who was the court poet of the Pisistratidee at Athens. Pindar (q.v.) and Simonides were important dithyrambic poets. Contests of dithyrambic choruses were held at Athens till after the Peloponnesian war, and dithyrambic poets are known till the middle of the 4th century B.C. Their subjects were mythological, but had long ceased to be confined to the sufferings of Bacchus. But the style, we are told, declined and became turgid and bombastic.