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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Ancient Pyrrhic and Its Female Dancers

On Attic vases of the second half of the fifth century B.C. and in many scenes representing armed dances, and especially the pyrrhic, the performers are not men but women. These scenes evidence a special female pyrrhic, unknown otherwise, even from literary sources. The female pyrrhic dancers were usually performing in the nude and only occasionally appear dressed with the attire of the goddess Athena. Their dance was accompanied with the music of a flute, played by a woman. It seems that the female pyrrhic was probably the focus event of entertainment in big and expensive banquets. The vase-painters preferred to represent the choice of a pyrrhic female dancer for a banquet by a rich Athenian as well as the teaching of this peculiar dance.