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Tag Archives: music

Benedict, Liber 2.172

“On the eve of the Kalends, late at night, the youths get up and carry around a shield, and one of them is masked, with a club, hanging from his neck. Hissing and sounding the drum, they go around to the houses and surround the shield: the drum sounds and the one with the mask hisses. This game over, they receive a reward from the master of the house according to what pleases him. Thus they do in each and every house. On that day, they eat all kinds of vegetables. Early in the morning, two of the youths get up; they are given olive branches and salt and they enter the houses. They greet the household, ‘Joy and gladness be in this house!’ They throw handfuls of leaves and salt into the fire and say, ‘So many children, so many piglets, so many lambs!’ They wish for all good things. Before the sun rises, they eat their honeycomb or something else sweet, so that the whole year will go well with them, without disputes or great labor.” – Benedict, Liber 2.172

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St. Boniface, Epistolae 49

“Even now in Rome one can see, quite near the Basilica of Saint Peter, at the beginning of the Kalends of January, people executing choral dances in the squares in Pagan fashion, day and night, to the accompaniment of loud shouting and sacrilegious song.” – Boniface, Epistolae 49

Mauro and Immonide, Cena 184-87

“The Roman pope amuses himself thus at the Albs of Easter, when the master of the choir school comes, crowned with horns, like Silenus with a little ass amid songs and mockery, which priestly amusement denotes a mystery.” – Mauro and Immonide, Cena 184-87

Giorgio Baglivi, Dissertatio de anatome, morsu et effectibus tarantulae pg. 313

“Those who have been bitten by the tarantula shortly thereafter fall to the ground half-dead, with a loss of strength and senses, with difficult breathing or moaning, often immobile and lifeless. With the beginning of the music, little by little these symptoms are attenuated, and the patient begins to move his fingers, his hands and then his feet, followed by other limbs; as the melodic rhythm becomes more pressing, the movement of his limbs gradually increases. If the patient is lying on the floor, he springs up to start the dance, sighs, and begins to contort himself in very strange ways. These first dances often last two or three hours: and after having rested briefly on the bed to wipe away his perspiration and to restore his strength, the patient resumes dancing with the same vigor. This can take place as many as a dozen times per day. The dances begin around dawn and continue without pause until around one in the afternoon. Sometimes they are compelled to stop, not because of their tiredness, but because they have perceived some dissonance in the musical instruments, a dissonance which, when it is perceived, provokes deep sighs and stabs of pain in the patient’s heart. They sigh and grieve at length until they resume dancing, the harmony having been reestablished. Around midday they rest from the music and dance. They put themselves to bed until their perspiration is over and then they refresh themselves with broth or over light food, given that the very serious lack of appetite which afflicts them would not permit them to take more substantial food. Around one o’clock in the afternoon, or at the latest around 2, they resume their dances with the same vigor. These dances last until evening, whereupon they have another light meal and then finally fall asleep. These dances usually continue for four days; rarely do they go beyond the sixth day. It is uncertain when the end will occur, since many continue to dance until they feel free of the symptoms, which usually takes place after the third or fourth day.” – Giorgio Baglivi, Dissertatio de anatome, morsu et effectibus tarantulae pg. 313

Anna Caggiano, Folklore Italiano 6.72ff

“All the wives offer – understood as a loan – handkerchiefs, shawls, scarves, petticoats and linens of every color, pots of basil, lemon verbona, mint and rue, mirrors and baubles, and last but not least a great tub full of water. The surroundings are decorated in this way, and when everything is ready the victim of the bite, dressed in gaudy colors, chooses as she pleases ribbons, handkerchiefs and shoes that remind her of the colors of the tarantula and she adorns herself with them while waiting for the musicians.” – Anna Caggiano, Folklore Italiano 6.72ff

Ludovico Valletta, De Phalangio Apulo 92

“The families of the tarantati hire the musicians, to whom many gifts are given and a great deal of drink is offered in addition to the daily compensation agreed upon, so that they may take some refreshment and thus play the musical instruments with greater vigor. It follows that a man of modest conditions, who laboriously earns a living with the diligent fatigue of his arms, in order to be cured of this illness, is often forced to pawn or sell objects of fundamental necessity, even if his household furnishings are shabby, in order to pay the aforementioned payment. It must be considered that no one would want to expose himself to this misfortune if he could combat the poison in another way, or if he did not feel compelled to dance from the bottom of his heart. I will spare the details of the many other aids and expedients the poison victims use to raise and cheer their melancholy spirits during the dance, items also needed for one reason or another. For instance there are artificial springs of limpid water constructed in such a way that the water is gathered and always returns to flow anew; these springs are covered and surrounded by green fronds, flowers and trees. Further, lasses dressed in sumptuous wedding gowns have the task of dancing with the tarantati, festively singing and playing the same melody with them during the dance; then there are the weapons and the multicolored drapery hung on the walls. All of these, and many others, cannot be procured without payment.” – Ludovico Valletta, De Phalangio Apulo 92

Nicola Caputo of Lecce, De Tarantulae anatomie et morsu pg. 201

“They customarily adorn the bedroom dedicated to the dance of the tarantati with verdant branches outfitted with numerous ribbons and silken sashes in gaudy colors. They place similar drapery throughout the room; sometimes they prepare a sort of cauldron or tub full of water, decorated with vine leaves and green fronds from other trees; or they make pretty fountains of limpid water spout, capable of lifting the spirits, and it is near these that the tarantati perform the dance, seeming to draw the greatest delight from them, as well as the rest of the setting. They contemplate the drapes, the fronds, and the artificial rivulets, and they wet their hands and heads at the fountain. They also remove damp bands of vine leaves from the cauldron and strew them all over their bodies, or – when the vessel is large enough – they plunge themselves inside, and in this way they can more easily bear the fatigue of the dance. It often happens that those who go dancing through the towns and hamlets accompanied by the usual music are brought to an orchard, where, in the shade of a tree, near a pond or brook offered by nature or prepared through craft, they abandon themselves to the dance with the greatest delight, while groups of youths in search of pleasure and pranks gather near. Among the latter mingle more than a few who are approaching old age and who, contemplating with serious curiosity the melodic frolicking, seem to exhort the youths with unspoken admonishment.” – Nicola Caputo of Lecce, De Tarantulae anatomie et morsu pg. 201

Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

“What wickedness takes place during this feast; fortune-tellings, divinations, deceptions and feigned madnesses. On this day, having been seized up by the furies of their bacchant-like ravings and having been inflamed by the fires of diabolical instigation, they flock together to the church and profane the house of god with vain and foolish rhythmic poetry in which sin is not wanting but by all means present, and with evil sayings, laughing and cacophony they disrupt the priest and the whole congregation applauds for the people love these things.” – Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

Isidore of Seville, De eccliasticis officiis 1.41

“On the Kalends of January even the faithful assume monstrous appearances and are changed into the character of wild animals; others make feminine gestures and feminize their male faces … They all make a great noise, with leaping and clapping dances and what is still more shameful, both sexes dance together in sung dances, with dulled senses, intoxicated with much wine.” – Isidore of Seville, De eccliasticis officiis 1.41

Asterius of Amasa, Homily 38-43

“The common vagrants and the jugglers of the stage, dividing themselves into squads and hordes, hang about every house. The gates of the public officials they besiege with especial persistence, actually shouting and singing and dancing and some clapping their hands until he that is beleaguered within, exhausted, throws out to them whatever money he has and even what is not his own. And these mendicants going from door to door follow after one another, and until late in the evening, there is no relief from this nuisance. Even soldiers, whom you would think would be more disciplined, have come to learn vulgarity and the vile practices of the actors. They make sport of the laws and the government of which they have been appointed guardians. For they ridicule and insult the august officials. They mount a chariot as though upon a stage; they appoint pretended lictors and publicly act like buffoons. This is the noble part of their processions – I shudder to mention what else they get up to! For instance, the noble and brave champion loosens his tunic to his ankle, twines a girdle about his breast, puts on a woman’s sandals, dons a feminine wig and begins plying a distaff full of wool. He even sinks so low as to change the tone of his voice and utter words in a sharp, womanly treble.” – Asterius of Amasa, Homily 38-43

John Chrysostom, On the Kalends 48.95-62

“We deplore the demons marching in procession in the marketplace, the all-night devilish celebrations, the tauntings, the invectives, the nightlong dances, the ridiculous comedies and the drunkenness of the revelers that one sees everywhere on the Kalends.” – John Chrysostom, On the Kalends 48.95-62

Saint Augustine, Sermon 6.73-76

“I condemn the din of silly and shameful songs, the disgraceful junketing and dances that characterize this false feast day. Are you, who are supposedly Christians, going to join in the celebrations of good luck presents like a Pagan, going to play at dice and get yourself drunk? To do so is to associate with demons, for demons take pleasure in idle songs, in the trifling spectacle, in the manifold indecencies of the theaters, in the mad frenzies of the chariot races. Everything having to do with the Kalends of January is thoroughly Pagan and not fit for a decent Christian.” – Saint Augustine, Sermon 6.73-76

Maximus of Turin, Sermon 63.1

“How can you who have accepted the holy eucharist then celebrate a banquet of superstition during the Kalends of January? Befuddling the mind with wine, distending the belly with food, twisting the limbs in dances and engaging in depraved acts so that you are forced to forget what are the things that belong to god and instead pay dues to an idol – this is not what Christians do, but rather Pagans!” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 63.1

Maximus of Turin, Sermon 98.1

“What sensible person who understands the sacraments of the lord’s birth does not condemn the Saturnalia nor reject the lechery of the Kalends? For there are many who still carry on with the superstitious old customs of the foolishness of the Kalends. They celebrate this day as the highest feast. Where they look thus for happiness they find, rather, sorrow. They wallow in wine and sicken themselves on feasting so that he who is chaste and moderate all year gets drunk and pollutes himself; and if he does not do so, he thinks that he has been deprives of the feast.” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 98.1

Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 193.1-3

“I rebuke the demented customs of those who for the sake of foolish gaiety observe the Kalends of January or the folly of other superstitions which men think give them license to get drunk and indulge in obscene chanting and games. Worse still is the indecent flaunting of men in women’s clothing and make-up grotesque enough to make the demons themselves blanch. They sing bawdy songs in praise of vice, sung with shameless gusto and accompanied by disjointed gestures and mumming in the likeness of she-goats and stags. The inventor of evil makes his entry through these in order to master souls ensnared by the appearance of play. I call upon the sober and upright members of this congregation to reprimand your neighbors and subordinates, to forbid them to use indecent language or sing those bawdy songs, and especially to deny alms to those who by sacrilegious custom are carried away by insanity rather than playfulness. And unless you want to share in their guilt I tell you: do not allow a little stag or a little yearling or monstrosities of any other sort to appear before your houses, but rather chastise and punish them and, if you can, even tie them up tightly. Admonish your household not to follow the sacrilegious customs of the unhappy Pagans.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 193.1-3

St. Eligius, MGH SRM 4.705

“Let no one perform solstice rites nor dances, leapings or devilish songs on the Feast of St. John the Baptist or some other solemnity of the saints.” – St. Eligius, MGH SRM 4.705

The Edict of King Childebert, 1.2-3

“Because it is necessary that our authority be used to correct the common people who do not observe the priests’ teaching as they should, we order that this charter be sent out generally into every locality, commanding that those persons who were warned about their land and other places where statues were put up or man-made idols dedicated to a demon, and who did not immediately cast them down, or who forbade the priests from destroying them, should be arrested and brought into our presence for trial … A report has reached us that many sacrileges occur among the population whereby god is injured and the people sink down into death through sin: night watches spent in drunkenness, obscenity and song even on the holy days of Easter, the Nativity and other feasts, with dancing women promenading through the villages. In no way do we permit the performance of any of these deeds which injure god. We command that whoever dares to perpetuate these sacrileges after having been warned by the priest and our edict shall receive an hundred lashes – unless he be a freedman or of higher status.” The Edict of King Childebert, 1.2-3

Rabanus Maurus, Homily 44

“A Pagan will drink until he vomits and once he gets himself completely drunk, jumps up like a madman in a frenzy to dance diabolically, leaping about and singing filthy, amorous and lewd verses.” – Rabanus Maurus, Homily 44

Pirmin of Reichenau, Dicta Pirmini 28.188-90

“Flee dancing, vaulting, and indecent and bawdy songs as you would the devil’s arrows; do not dare to perform them either by the church nor in your houses, nor in the roads nor in any other place, for they are remnants of Pagan custom. Avoid as well jokes, diabolical games and the gestures or words of mimes and prostitutes and generally any other sort of merrymaking.” – Pirmin of Reichenau, Dicta Pirmini 28.188-90

Acts of the Council of Rome 35

“There are certain people, chiefly women, who are happy to attend holy days and the feasts of saints, not for the right reasons but rather to dance, sing indecent verses, participate in round dances and generally to behave like Pagans so that even if they come to church with minor sins, they leave with major ones.” – Acts of the Council of Rome 35

Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 13.5

“There are unhappy wretches who neither fear nor blush to perform dances and vaults before the basilicas of the saints themselves and who, if they are Christians when they come to church are Pagans when they leave it, for this custom of dancing is left over from Pagan custom. And now see what kind of Christian he is, who had come to church to pray, forgets prayer and does not blush to mouth the sacrileges of the Pagans. But just consider, brothers, whether it is right that lewd song should flow like poison from lips which Christ’s body entered.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 13.5

Atto of Vercelli, Sermon 134.849-51

“A custom has developed concerning the Annunciation of St. John the Baptist which is deplorable. Certain little trollops abandon the churches and the divine offices; they pass the whole night wherever they will, in the streets and crossroads, by springs and in the countryside; they form round dances, compose songs, draw lots and pretend that people’s prospects are to be predicted from things of this sort. Their superstition has given rise to madness to the point that they presume to baptize grass and leafy boughs, and hence they dare to call the turf and trees their godparents and good friends. And for a long while afterwards they strive to keep them hung up in their houses, as though for the sake of piety.” – Atto of Vercelli, Sermon 134.849-51

Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 52.3

“And what is this, when foolish men think that they have to run to the rescue of the moon as if it is in distress! When its fiery globe is covered at fixed times, as a result of the natural movement of the air, or is suffused with the burning color of the setting sun nearby, they believe that it is as it were some assault of spells against the heavens, which they think they can defeat by a blast of the trumpet or rediculous jangle of ringing bells – using their faulty Pagan reasoning, they think that they win the moon’s favor by their sacrilegious uproar.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 52.3

Prolegomena to Theokritos, Bucolicorum Graecorum 2.5

“Concerning the Thalusia: At one time there were troubles at Syracuse which it was deemed were caused by Artemis. So the farmers brought gifts and sang a joyful hymn to the goddess and later on this became a customary event. As the rustics sang they would carry loaves of bread with figures of wild beasts on them, purses full of every type of seed, and a goat-skin with wine; they poured out libations for all those they met, wore a garland and deer antlers, and carried a shepherd’s rabbit-prod in their hands. The winner of the competition receives the bread of the defeated. They also sing other songs of a playful, funny nature, first saying in reverent tones, Receive good fortune, receive good health, which we bring from the goddess, by which she gave her command.” – Prolegomena to Theokritos, Bucolicorum Graecorum 2.5

The Martyrdom of Saint Theodotus 14

“It was the custom among them yearly to bathe the images of the gods in the nearby lake, and on that day was the chance for them to be cleansed along with their idols. Each of the idols was set up on a wagon, and they were led through the city and into the countryside where the lake was. The whole populace of the city went out with them to see the sight, for the sound of the pipes and cymbals attracted attention, as did the dancing women with hair let loose like maenads, and there was a great pounding of their feet striking the ground and lots of musical instruments accompanying them.” – The Martyrdom of Saint Theodotus 14

Censorinus, De die natali 12.2

“If music were not welcome to the immortal gods, theater spectacles would not have been established to conciliate the gods, the flute-player would not be used in all sacrifices in sacred temples, nor would a triumphal parade be conducted with the flute and horn player in honor of Mars, nor the lyre to Apollo, nor the flute and similar instruments to the Muses.” – Censorinus, De die natali 12.2

Lucian, On Sacrifices 10-13

“That is the way the gods live, and as a result, the practices of men in the matter of divine worship are harmonious and consistent with all that. First they fenced off groves, dedicated mountains, consecrated birds and assigned plants to each god. Then they divided them up, and now worship them by nations and claim them as fellow-countrymen ; the Delphians claim Apollo, and so do the Delians, the Athenians Athena (in fact, she proves her kinship by her name), the Argives Hera, the Mygdonians Rhea, the Paphians Aphrodite. As for the Cretans, they not only say that Zeus was born and brought up among them, but even point out his tomb. We were mis­taken all this while, then, in thinking that thunder and rain and everything else comes from Zeus ; if we had but known it, he has been dead and buried in Crete this long time! Then too they erect temples, in order that the gods may not be houseless and hearthless, of course; and they fashion images in their likeness, sending for a Praxiteles or a Polycleitus or a Phidias, who have caught sight of them somewhere and represent Zeus as a bearded man, Apollo as a perennial boy, Hermes with his first moustache, Poseidon with sea-blue hair and Athena with green eyes ! In spite of all, those who enter the temple think that what they behold is not now ivory from India nor gold mined in Thrace, but the very son of Cronus and Rhea, transported to earth by Phidias and bidden to be overlord of de­serted Pisa, thinking himself lucky if he gets a sacrifice once in four long years as an incident to the Olympic games. When they have established altars and formulae and lustral rites, they present their sacrifices, the farmer an ox from the plough, the shepherd a lamb, the goatherd a goat, someone else incense or a cake ; the poor man, however, propitiates the god by just kissing his own hand. But those who offer victims (to come back to them) deck the animal with gar­lands, after finding out far in advance whether it is perfect or not, in order that they may not kill some­thing that is of no use to them; then they bring it to the altar and slaughter it under the god’s eyes, while it bellows plaintively—making, we must suppose, auspicious sounds, and fluting low music to accom­pany the sacrifice! Who would not suppose that the gods like to see all this ? And although the notice says that no one is to be allowed within the holy-water who has not clean hands, the priest himself stands there all bloody, just like the Cyclops of old, cutting up the victim, removing the entrails, plucking out the heart, pouring the blood about the altar, and doing everything possible in the way of piety. To crown it all, he lights a fire and puts upon it the goat, skin and all, and the sheep, wool and all; and the smoke, divine and holy, mounts upward and gradually dissipates into Heaven itself.” – Lucian, On Sacrifices 10-13

Stela of King Wahankh Intef II

“My body says, my lips repeat: holy music for Hathor, music a million times, because you love music, million times music.” – Stela of King Wahankh Intef II

P.Anastasi 4.56

“I hear that you are neglecting your writing and spending all your time dancing, going from tavern to tavern, always reeking of beer … If only you realized that alcohol is a thing full of evil spirits … You sit in front of the wench, sprinkled with perfume; your garland hangs around your neck and you drum on your paunch; you reel and fall on your belly and are filthied with dirt.” – P.Anastasi 4.56

I.Strat. 1101

“When Ptolemaios was the chief magistrate, in the month of Artemisios, with Sosandros, son of Diomedes, secretary of the town council, the following was proposed: In former times the city has been saved from many great and constant dangers by the providence of its protective and mighty deities, Zeus of Panamara and Hekate, whose sanctuaries were recognized by a decree of the sacred Roman Senate as being inviolable and possessing the right to receive suppliants, on account of the manifest miracles which they performed for the safety of the eternal empire of our Roman lords. It is right to apply all possible zeal to honoring Zeus and Hekate and not neglect any opportunity to honor and entreat them. Statues of the aforementioned deities stand in the august council-chamber, producing miracles which manifest their divine power. On account of these miracles the whole populace offers sacrifice, burns incense, prays and gives thanks without ceasing to these deities who manifest themselves. It is right to honor them with a hymn-singing procession. The council has decided to select thirty boys from among the well-born, whom the supervisor of education and the public guardians of boys shall lead each day to the council-chamber, dressed in white, wearing crowns made of olive branches, likewise carrying olive branches in their hands and accompanied by a lyre-player and herald. Moreover the annually chosen priest of Hekate is to select boys from within the precinct of the goddess’ temple and from the neighborhood every year and they are to sing the customary hymn to the goddess.” – I.Strat. 1101