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William Davis, A Day in Old Athens

 

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The Schoolboys of Athens

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Page 10

The Moral Character of Greek Music

 

    Whether it is singing, harp playing, or flute playing, a most careful watch is kept upon the character of the music taught the lads. The master who lets his pupils learn many soft, dulcet, languishing airs will find his charges' parents extremely angry, even to depriving him of their patronage. Very soft music, in "Lydian modes," is counted effeminate, fit only for the women's quarters and likely to do boys no good. The riotous type also, of the "Ionic mode," is fit only for drinking songs and is even more under the ban.[10] What is especially in favor is the stern, strenuous Dorian mode. This will make boys hardy, manly, and brave. Very elaborate music with trills and quavers is in any case frowned upon. It simply delights the trained ear, and has no reaction upon the character; and of what value is a musical presentation unless it leaves the hearers and performer better, worthier men? Let the average Athenian possess the opportunity, and he will infallibly stamp with disapproval a great part of both the popular and the classical music of the later ages.[11]

 

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