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Skolion (from from Ancient Greek: σκόλιον) (pl. skolia), also scolion (pl. scolia), were songs sung by invited guests at banquets in ancient Greece. Often extolling the virtues of the gods or heroic men, skolia were improvised to suit the occasion and accompanied by a lyre, which was handed about from singer to singer as the time for each scolion came around.[1] "Capping" verses were exchanged, "by varying, punning, riddling, or cleverly modifying" the previous contribution.[2]

Skolia are often referred to as 'banquet songs', 'convivial songs", or 'drinking songs'. The term also refers to poetry composed in the same form.[3] In later use, the form was used in a more stately manner for chorus poetry in praise of the gods or heroes.

Terpander is said to have been the inventor of this poetic form, although that is doubtful. Instead, he may have adapted it for musical accompaniment. That these skolia were written, not only by poets like Alcaeus of Mytilene, Anacreon, Praxilla, Simonides of Ceos, but also by Sappho and by Pindar,[4] shows in what high esteem skolia were held by the Greeks. "The gods of Olympos sang at their banquets".[5]

The Skolion of Seikilos, dated between 200 BCE and 100 CE, found with the original music in the ancient Greek notation, is the oldest complete example of ancient Greek music.[6][7]

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