After the abortive attempts of the bishop Hilarius of Poitiers, Ambrosius, bishop of Milan, created with the metrum Ambrosianum the starting point for Latin Hymnody by using a familiar pagan meter, the iambic dimeter, as the basic line. Combining four such lines into a stanza he followed the type of the four-line stanzas of Horace. With eight such stanzas he found a model for Christian hymnody for centuries. The text of four of the innumerable Ambrosian hymns is attested for Ambrosius by Augustine. As the ancient notation fell into disuse in the 6th century ad, the melodies of the Ambrosian hymns were transmitted orally until the 10th century. They appear in the medieval manuscripts with neumatic or alphabetic notation, but without rhythmical values and adorned by rich melismata, which mirror the predilections of each monastic community. Five of them are attributed to Ambrosius, from which this inquiry has to begin.
Animal choruses are familiar in ancient Greek comedy. Besides Aristophanes, there are 13 examples of them. Vase paintings provide evidence from the beginnings of Old Comedy. They had to sing the traditional melic parts of the agon and the parabasis. Aristophanes used the comic animal chorus in Knights (424 bc), Wasps (422), Birds (414), Frogs (405) and Storks (395-387). Moreover, with the song of the Hoopoe in the Birds 227-62, Aristophanes presents an animal as soloist which sings an extended monody, a perfect example of the astropha, the structure of which is defined by content, changes of metre and probably of music, but not by alternating strophes and antistrophes. It can be demonstrated that the Hoopoe’s monody follows the model of the late astrophic monodies of Euripides and mirrors the astrophic structures of the New Dithyramb, later parodied by Aristophanes (Birds 1373-1409) in the person of the dithyrambic poet Cinesias.
On 13. and 14. May 1981, in the course of emergency excavations in Odos Olgas 53 in Daphne, Athens, two tombs were excavated, the second of which was heralded as the Tomb of the Musician by the press. The contents were transferred to the National Archaeological Museum and later, after restoration, to the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus. In Tomb I there were found the bones of an adult person in his or her 40s, together with four lekythoi, which can be dated by their shape and the style of the paintings to about 430 B.C. In Tomb II there were found the bones of a young adult in his or her early 20s, together with toys, tools, a writing case with stylus and inkpot, fragments of a papyrus scroll and five leaves of two different wooden note-books (polyptycha), together with the remains of a lyre, a harp and one tube of a pair of auloi with mouthpiece. On the papyrus fragments and the polyptycha scanty remains of writing in the Ionian alphabet can be read. Some mythical names point to poetry; musical notation, alleged by the inventory books to be detectable, could not be seen. The harp is an example of the type called the ‘spindle harp’, which is represented on vase pictures from 430 to 410.
The citharode Mesomedes of Crete was one of the poets at the court of Hadrian. In late antiquity a selection of his poetry was assembled, and this corpus survived in transmission until medieval times, partly with musical notation. But of course the oeuvre of Mesomedes was much greater, as we see from two poems transmitted by the Greek Anthology and a lost encomium on Antinous, Hadrian’s paidika, as the Suda informs us. In his publication of the inscriptions of Courion (10 km west of Limassol) Mitford recognized clearly that the Antinous in Courion no. 104 must be the paidika of the Emperor Hadrian, and that the hymn in the inscription must be an encomium to Antinous, who drowned in the waters of the Nile in 130 AD. By comparing the metrics and the style of the encomium with the preserved poetry of Mesomedes, I shall argue that the hymn on Antinous is the encomium attested by the Suda for Mesomedes.