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On this page: Thales – Thaletas – Thaletio – Thalia – Thallo



Thaletas, is altogether inadmissible ; for, if we reject Plutarch's account of the two musical schools at Sparta, the first founded by Terpander, and the second by Thaletas, the whole matter is thrown into hopeless confusion. Such a mistake, made by so eminent a chronologer, through following im­plicitly Eusebius and the Parian marble, is an excellent example of the danger of trusting to the positive statements of the chronographers in oppo­sition to a connected chain of inference from more detailed testimonies. On the other hand, Miiller, while pointing out Clinton's error, appears to us to place Thaletas much too low, in consequence of accepting the tradition recorded by Plutarch re­specting Olympus, whom also he places later than Terpander (Hist. Lit. vol. i. pp. 158, 159). The fact is that we have no sufficient data for the time of Olympus ; and even if we had, the tradition recorded by Plutarch is much too doubtful to be set up against the evidence derived from the relations of Thaletas to Archilochus and Alcman. When Muller says that Clinton " does not allow sufficient weight to the far more artificial character of the music and rhythms of Thaletas " (i. e. than those of Terpander), he seems to imply that a long time must necessarily have intervened between the two. Not only is there no ground for this idea, but it is opposed to analogy. There is no ground for it; for it is clear from all accounts that the second system of music was not gradually de­veloped out of the first, by successive improvements, but was formed by the addition of new elements derived from other quarters, of which the first and chief were those introduced by Thaletas from Crete. It is also opposed to analogy, which teaches us that the period of most rapid improvement in any art is that in which it is first brought under the do­minion of definite laws, by some great genius, whose first efforts are the signal for the appearance of a host of rivals, imitators, and pupils. More­over, if there be any truth in the tradition, it would seem probable that Terpander and Thaletas were led to Sparta by very similar causes at no very distant period ; and it seems most improbable that, after music had attained the degree of develope-inent to which Terpander brought it at Sparta, the important additional elements, which existed ,in the Cretan svstem, should not have been intro-

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duced for a period of forty years, which is. the interval placed by Muller between Terpander and Thaletas. Muller's mode of computing backwards the date of Thaletas from that of Sacadas (b. c. 590) is altogether arbitrary ; but if such a method be allowable at all, surely thirty years is far too short a time to assign as the period during which the second school of Spartan music chiefly flou­rished. On the whole, decidedly as Clinton is wrong as to Terpander, he is probably near the mark in fixing the period of Thaletas at b. c. 690 •—660 ; though it might be better to say that he seems to have flourished about B. c. 670 or 660, and how much before or after those dates cannot be determined. It appears not unlikely that he was already distinguished in Crete, while Terpan­der flourished at Sparta.

The improvement effected in music by Thaletas appears to have consisted in the introduction into Sparta of that species of music and poetry which was associated with the religious rites of his native country ; in which the calm and solemn worship of Apollo prevailed side by side with the more ani-


mated songs and dances of the Curetes, which resembled the Phrygian worship of the Magna Mater (Muller, p. 160). His chief compositions were paeans and hyporchemes, which belonged re­spectively to these two kinds of worship. In con­nection with the paean he introduced the rhythm of the Cretic foot, with its resolutions in the Paeons ; and the Pyrrhic dance, with its several variations of rhythm, is also ascribed to him. He seems to have used both the lyre and the flute, (See MUller, pp. 160, 161.)

Plutarch and other writers speak of him as a lyric poet, and Suidas mentions, as his works, jUeAi7 and Troir^aTci riva juv0t«:e£, and it is pretty certain that the musical compositions of his age and school were often combined with suitable original poems, though sometimes, as we are expressly told of many of the nomes of Terpander, they were adapted to the verses of Homer and others of the older poets. Be this as it may, we have now no remains of the poetry of Thaletas. (Fabric. Bill. Graec. vol. i. pp. 295 — 297 ; Muller, Hist, of the Lit. of Anc. Greece, vol. i. pp. 159 — 161 ; Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichikunst^ vol. ii. pp. 212, foil., a very valuable account of Thaletas ; Bernhardy, Geschichte der Griech. Lit. vol. i. pp. 267, 270, vol. ii. pp. 420, 421, 427.) [P. S.]

THALES (OaATjs) of Sicyon, a painter who is mentioned with the epithet ^yaXo^v^s by Diogenes Laertius (i. 38), on the authority of De­metrius Magnes. In the same passage, Diogenes speaks of another Thales, as mentioned in the work of Duris on painting ; and it may be pre­sumed, therefore, that this Thales was a painter ; but whether the two were different persons, or the same person differently mentioned by Demetrius and by Duris, cannot be determined.

A curious passage respecting an artist of this name has been discovered by Osann, in an oration of Theodoras Hyrtacenus, published in Bois-sonade's Anecdota Graeca, vol. i. p. 156: — "EA-\vjves QeiSiav ®o.xt\v re nal 'ATreAA^z/, rltv plv \i6oj-oiK7Js, rbv S5 av TrAcKrTi/oJs, 'ATreAAtjv Se ypa-

It is certainly remarkable to find a statuary, other­wise unknown (or, if he be the same person as the painter, little better than unknown), placed by a late Byzantine writer on a level with Pheidias and Apelles. There is probably some error ; but whether it rests with the author or the transcriber, and what is its correction, we have not the means of deciding. Perhaps Osann may have discussed the question, but we have no opportunity of refer­ring to his paper in the KunstKatt, which we men­tion on the authority of Raoul- Rochette, who only observes that " the difficulty is not serious, as there were many artists who practised at the same time statuary and painting," as if that were the diffi­culty ! (Osann, Kunstblatt, 1832, No. 74; Rochette, Lettre a M. Schorn, p. 415, 2d ed.) [P. S.]

THALETAS. [thales.]

THALETIO or THALA'TIO, C. JU'NIUS, a freedman of Maecenas, is mentioned on an ex­ tant inscription as flaturarius sigillaria- rius, that is, a maker of small bronze figures. (Gruter, p. dcxxxviii. 6 ; Muratori, Thes. vol. ii. p. cmlxi. 4 ; R. Rochette, Lettre a M. Schorn^ p. 414,2ded.) [P. S.]

THALIA. [thaleia.]

THALLO (0aAAc6), one of the Attic Home, who was believed to grant prosperity to the young

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