minstrel: Greek or Phrygian Aulos

Fred Ross fred at horace.ls.net
Mon Sep 11 07:00:10 PDT 2000

I don't know about derived instruments, modern makers, or even the real
origin, but there is a mythical origin to the aulos.  If I have confused
this with something else, someone please tell me.

Athena made double pipe so she could play two melodies at once.  Delighted
with her creation, she hurried off to show it to the other gods.  To her
horror they all broke into laughter as she played.  Needless to say she
was mightily annoyed.  Then, later, she caught a glimpse of herself in a
mirror as she played and understood why: her cheeks puffed out and
her face turned red as she played.  In disgust she cast away the pipes.

That might have been the end of things, but Pan discovered them where they
fell, and was equally delighted with the ability to play two melodies at
once.  His music was beautiful, and he was so proud of it as to contest
Apollo for his position as the god of music.

Apollo was understandably furious, and challenged Pan to a contest, with
the other gods judging.  They both played, and the judges could not decide
which they thought was the greater.  To break this deadlock, Apollo turned
his lyre over and played it upside down, then challenged Pan to do the
same.  Pan attempted and (since Greek gods were anatomically correct)
found he could not.  Apollo was judged the winner.

This is the mythical origin of the aulos.  Likewise, the lyre is
attributed a mythical origin.  I did learn the best guess of history of
the lyre, but for the life of me I cannot remember it right now.

Fred Ross
s.k.a. Philippe de Minerve
a.k.a. Sgath

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