The Music of Ancient Greece – “Hymn To The Sun”


Channel: Michael Levy
Duration: 1:43
Description: This video features my arrangement of “HYMN TO THE SUN” – this ancient, hauntingly pagan-sounding melody by was written almost 2000 years ago, by Mesomides of Crete… Mesomedes of Crete was a Greek lyric poet and composer of the early 2nd century AD. I found the following information at: “He was a freedman of the Emperor Hadrian, on whose favorite Antinous he is said to have written a panegyric, specifically called a Citharoedic Hymn (Suidas). Two epigrams by him in the Greek Anthology (Anthol. pal. xiv. 63, xvi. 323) are extant, and a hymn to Nemesis that begins “Nemesis, winged balancer of life, dark-faced goddess, daughter of Justice”. The hymn is one of four which preserve the ancient musical notation written over the text. Two other hymns, one to the muse Calliope and [this one which I am playing], “Hymn to the Sun”, formerly assigned to Dionysius of Alexandria, have also been attributed to Mesomedes. A total of 15 poems by Mesomedes are known…Prior to the discovery of the Seikilos epitaph in the late 19th century, the hymns of Mesomedes were the only surviving written music from the ancient world. Three were published by Vincenzo Galilei (the Father of the Astronomer Galileo Galilei) in his Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (Florence, 1581), during a period of intense investigation into music of the ancient Greeks. These hymns had been preserved through the Byzantine tradition, and were presented to Vincenzo by Girolamo Mei”. This piece is written in the ancient Greek “Dorian” mode; E-E on the white note of the piano – not to be confused with the MEDIEVAL “Dorian” mode, which was D-D! Due to a misinterpretation of the Latin texts of Boethius, mediaeval modes were given the wrong Greek names! For the CORRECT names of the ORIGINAL ancient Greek modes, see: For what the great ancient Greek philosophers, Plato & Aristotle themselves had this to say about these ancient musical modes, please see this fascinating link: This lyre I am playing, is in fact a replica of the ancient Jewish Kinnor Lyre; the very lyre played by King David, 3000 years ago, as he danced before the Ark of the Covenant! My replica of King David’s Lyre is based on a contemporary illustration of the instrument on an ancient Jewish coin – photographs of this very coin can be seen all over my Youtube channel Page! The striking similarity between the ancient Greek Kithara & the ancient Hebrew Kinnor may be another example of the Hellenistic influence in Israel during the Second Temple Era…it is know that King Herod often imported Greek musicians for various festivals around Jerusalem. Indeed, to a certain extent, there was also a Jewish influence on ancient Greek music as well – it is well documented that there was an ancient Greek Hymn to Zeus,(the god of gods), the melody of which was taken directly from an ancient Jewish Hymn to the God of Israel, from c.600BC…what a tragedy, that THIS melody, like so much of the truly great Art Music of Antiquity, has been forever lost…
Published: February 3, 2008 9:18 pm

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