This is a video demonstration, performed at St. John’s College, Annapolis in 2001, of the way in which a six-measure modern Greek syrtós, a dactylic round dance descended from the ancient world, corresponds in its articulations to the Homeric hexameter. In particular, the trochaic caesura and the bucolic diaeresis exactly frame a distinctive retrogression in the rightward motion of the dance. There is no claim here of authentic performance practice. The piece was filmed indoors, on a wooden floor,  and hence with an unnatural volume (although Homer does speak of an unbreakable voice), and without a lyre to boot. But the correspondences are readily apparent, and the performance also demonstrates the new theory of the Greek accent, for which there is no scruple about claims of authenticity. Circling with heliacal retrogressions is the motion of the heavenly gods (the planets), as seen from the earth: the students who experienced the dancing of this dance know why it was called the dance of the Muses. I do not personally believe that the Iliad or the Odyssey were composed for dancing. But the catalogue poetry from which the Homeric art emerged surely was. Hence we danced here from the beginning of the Catalogue of Ships, with a supplement from a passage describing the dancing in the court of Alcinous, where a pair of soloists toss a ball (Odyssey 8.370-80). For a fuller discussion, click here.

high quality video available here

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