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Culture Mythology Eastern Macedonia and Thrace

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02/12/2007
Thamyris

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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Thamyris was a Thracian singer. He is said to be a son of Philammon and Argiope, a nymph of Parnassus. According to the myth, when Thamyris was about to be born, Argiope moved to the Thracian Odrysi, where she raised him in an environment that loved music, like Orpheus. Thamyris comes from the verb , which means to frequent in Greek, and represents the poor, yet skilled bard that sang the deeds of the heroes at the courts of the kings and during religious festivals. Actually, he is the mythicized figure of the rhapsode or the singer of the Submycenaean times. Numerous singers gathered in the important festivals and had the chance to participate in competitions and gain a prize. It is known that during the Delphic games, one of the disciplines was a hymn addressed to the god. According to Pausanias, the disciplines of playing the Kithara, an ancient Greek music instrument and the flute with singing were added later, around 586 BC, while the road races and the rest athletic nude contests were introduced at an even later period of time.

In the Delphic games, Chrysothemis from Crete won the first singing contest, Philammon, who was Thamyris father won the second contest and Thamyris himself the third. The fast-growing fame for his singing skills made Thamyris an extremely arrogant man. It was his arrogance that led him not only to challenge the Muses in a singing contest but also to threaten them with additional humiliation in case he won. The Muses, which are known for revenging upon any kind of hybris, overcame Thamyris and as a punishment, they blinded him, derived him from his music skills and condemned him after death to the underground place of punishments together with other impertinent men.