Wednesday, April 13, 2016
This is why Aristoxenus says in his Sympotic Miscellany (fr. 124 Wehrli): We act like the inhabitants of the Posidonia located on the Tyrrhenian Gulf. What happened to them is that they were originally Greeks but have turned into barbarians and become Etruscans or Romans, and their language has changed, along with all their other practices. They continue today to celebrate only one Greek festival, in which they get together and imitate their ancient way of speaking and behaving; after they wail about them with one another and cry their hearts out, they go back home. We are actually in the same situation, he says; for our theaters have been barbarized, and popular music itself has been utterly degraded, and only a few of us recall privately what music was once like.Posidonia or Poseidonia (a colony of Sybaris) = Roman Paestum. On the fragment see Angelo Meriani, "La festa greca dei Poseidoniati e la nuova musica (Aristox. fr. 124 Wehrli)," Seminari Romani di Cultura Greca 3.1 (2000) 143-163.
διόπερ Ἀριστόξενος ἐν τοῖς Συμμίκτοις Συμποτικοῖς, ὅμοιον, φησί, ποιοῦμεν Ποσειδωνιάταις τοῖς ἐν τῷ Τυρσηνικῷ κόλπῳ κατοικοῦσιν. οἷς συνέβη τὰ μὲν ἐξ ἀρχῆς Ἕλλησιν οὖσιν ἐκβεβαρβαρῶσθαι Τυρρηνοῖς ἢ Ῥωμαίοις γεγονόσι, καὶ τήν τε φωνὴν μεταβεβληκέναι τά τε λοιπὰ τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων, ἄγειν δὲ μίαν τινὰ αὐτοὺς τῶν ἑορτῶν τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν ἔτι καὶ νῦν, ἐν ᾗ συνιόντες ἀναμιμνήσκονται τῶν ἀρχαίων ἐκείνων ὀνομάτων τε καὶ νομίμων καὶ ἀπολοφυράμενοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους καὶ ἀποδακρύσαντες ἀπέρχονται. οὕτω δὴ οὖν, φησί, καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὰ θέατρα ἐκβεβαρβάρωται καὶ εἰς μεγάλην διαφθορὰν προελήλυθεν ἡ πάνδημος αὕτη μουσική, καθ᾿ αὑτοὺς γενόμενοι ὀλίγοι ἀναμιμνησκόμεθα οἵα ἦν ἡ μουσική.
Stephen Pentz discusses this passage from Athenaeus in connection with John Addington Symonds and C.P. Cavafy.