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PYRRHIC DANCE
Form: Gr. Pyrriche.
A mimic war-dance among the Greeks, representing attack and defence in battle. It originated with the Dorians in Crete, who traced it back to the Curetes, and in Sparta, where it was traced to the Dioscuri. In Sparta where boys of five years old were trained for it, it formed a chief part of the festival of the Gymnopoedia. The war-dance performed at Athens at the Panathenaic festival celebrated Athene as the victor over the Giants. In the Roman imperial times the Pyrrhic dance was a kind of dramatic ballet, which was performed by dancers, male and female, and represented (like the Roman pantomime) mythological subjects, taken frequently from the legend of Dionysus, such as the march of the god against the Indians, the doom of Pentheus, but also from other sources, such as the judgment of Paris and the fate of Icarus. For these performances the emperors frequently brought to Rome from Asia, the home of this dance, boys and girls of noble birth; but there wore also dancers, male and female, who were brought up to it as a regular trade. At times the Pyrrhic dance was performed in the amphitheatre by criminals especially trained for this purpose.
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