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by Archaeology Newsroom

Audio-visuaI performances in the first centuries of Christianity

Α commonly held theory shows the Byzantines devoid of any affinity or relation to music. This argument is absolutely challenged. It identified with the intention of certain Church Fathers to put down any influence of the ancient world on contemporary historic reality. However, this historic reality was radically different from what was intended. As a matter of fact thymelic performances with mimes, musicians and dancers, had an immense effect on low and middle cIass people. Christian performances that according to Chrysostom involved noise, clatter, diabolic screams and schemes, limb movements and rotation of eyes, and were accompanied by music produced by flutes and syringes were very popular with believers who attended them piously and then tended to import the musical themes into their everyday life. Even St. Paul has described certain liturgies similar to Bacchic rites in which mimes, dancers and musicians replace the priests of Bacchus. Finally, Chrysanthos, a theorist of ecclesiastic music, has written that during the first centuries of Christianity, believers, knowing no other way to praise the new God than the traditional one of the ancient religion, employed pagan means and media such as chanting accompanied by the music of flute and lyre. These are regarded by Chrysanthos as diabolic vehicles.