History of the Literature of Ancient Greece  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In 1841 appeared Karl Otfried Müller posthumous Geschichte der griechischen Literatür. It was translated into English as History of the Literature of Ancient Greece and published the previous year in London: chapters i.-xxii. were translated by Sir George Cornewall Lewis; chapters xxiii.-xxxvi. by J. W. Donaldson, who carried the work down to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. It remained one of the best books on the subject for many years.

Excerpt on phallophoria:

With the Bacchic comus, which turned a noisy festal banquet into a boisterous procession of revellers, a custom was from the earliest times connected, which was the first cause of the origin of comedy. The symbol of the productive power of nature was carried about by this band of revellers, and a wild, jovial song was recited in honour of the god in whom dwells this power of nature, namely, Bacchus himself, or one of his companions. Such phallophoric or ithyphallic songs were customary in various regions of Greece. The ancients give us many hints about the variegated garments, the coverings for the face, such as masks or thick chaplets of flowers, and the processions and songs of these comus singers. 3 Aristophanes, in his Acharnians, gives a most vivid picture of the Attic usages in this respect : in that play, the worthy Dicseopolis, while war is raging around, alone peacefully celebrates the country Dionysia on his own farm ; he has sacrificed with his slaves, and now prepares for the sacred procession; his daughter carries the basket as Canephorus; behind her the slave holds the phallus aloft; and, while his wife regards the procession from the roof of the house, he himself begins the phallus song, ' O Phales, boon companion of Bacchus, thou nightly reveller V with that strange mixture of wantonness and serious piety which was possible only in the elementary religions of the ancient world.
1 See the quotations chap. XXI. 5.6 KtD/ios Kal ol Ku/j.q>5oi. The feast of the great or city Dionysia is thus described, but it is obvious that the connexion proceeded from the country Dionysia.
3 From Kdifj,rj. The Peloponnesians, according to Aristotle, Poet. c. 3, used this etymology to support their claim to the invention of comedy, because they called villages Ktlifj-ai, but the Athenians 5TJfj.oi.
3 Athenseus, xiv. p. 621, 2, and the lexicographers Hesychius and Suidas, in various articles relating to the subject. Phallophori, Ithyphalli, Autokabdali, Limb is tie, are the different names of these merryandrews.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History of the Literature of Ancient Greece" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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