Tag Archives: Ancient Rome

Dancing elephants in ancient Rome

In his De natura animalium, Claudius Aelianus described the training of dancing elephants.

“To begin with, [the trainer] introduced them in a quiet, gentle fashion to his instructions, supplying them with delicacies and the most appetizing food, varied so as to allure and entice them into abandoning all trace of ferocity…So what they learned was not to go wild at the sound of the flutes (auloi), not to be alarmed at the beating of drums (tympanon), to be charmed by the pipe (syrinx), and to endure the beat of marching feet and the singing of crowds.”

Noting that elephants have a keen sense of music and an aptitude for learning, Aelian reported that they successfully mastered “the movements of a chorus, the steps of a dance, how to march in time, how to enjoy the sound of auloi, and how to distinguish different notes.”

This according to “Vox naturae: Music as human-animal communication in the context of animal training in ancient Rome” by Rodney Martin Cross (Greek and Roman musical studies V/2 [2017] pp. 147–58).

Below, two elephants enjoying a serenade.

Related article: The Thai Elephant Orchestra

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Filed under Animals, Antiquity, Curiosities, Dance

Greek and Roman musical studies

greek & roman musical studies

In early 2013 Brill launched Greek and Roman musical studies, the first specialist periodical in the fields of ancient Greek and Roman music.

The journal will publish papers offering cultural, historical, theoretical, archaeological, iconographical, and other perspectives on music in Classical antiquity, and on its reception in later times (especially the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also more recent periods).

The Editorial Board will also consider contributions on music elsewhere in the Mediterranean region, including Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. Cross-disciplinary approaches are particularly appreciated.

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Filed under Antiquity, New periodicals