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Title: Thamyris  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aoidos, Oral poets, Dorio, Hyacinth (mythology), Titanomachy
Collection: Greek Mythology of Thrace, Music in Greek Mythology, Oral Poets
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


For the Ancient Greek woman artist see Timarete.

In Greek mythology, Thamyris (Greek: Θάμυρις), son of Philammon and the nymph Argiope, was a Thracian singer who was so proud of his skill that he boasted he could outsing the Muses. He competed against them and lost. As punishment for his presumption they blinded him, and took away his ability to make poetry and to play the lyre. This outline of the story is told in the Iliad.[1]

This allusion is taken up in Euripides' Rhesus, in the Library attributed to Apollodorus, and in the Scholia on the Iliad. These later sources add the details that Thamyris had claimed as his prize, if he should win the contest, the privilege of having sex with all the Muses (according to one version) or of marrying one of them (according to another); and that after his death he was further punished in Hades. The story legendarily demonstrates that poetic inspiration, a gift of the gods, can be taken away by the gods.[2]

According to Diodorus the mythical singer Linus took three pupils: Heracles, Thamyris, and Orpheus, which neatly settles Thamyris's legendary chronology.[3] When Pliny the Elder briefly sketches the origins of music he credits Thamyris with inventing the Dorian mode and with being the first to play the cithara as a solo instrument with no voice accompaniment.[4]

A lost epic attributed to Thamyris, Titanomachy, was mentioned in passing in the essay "On Music" that was once believed to be authored by Plutarch.

Thamyris is said to have been a lover of Hyacinth and thus to have been the first man to have loved another male.[5]

Thamyris is another name for the ancient Greek painter Timarete and also the name of a Theban who was killed by Actor.

Thamyris Glacier on Anvers Island in Antarctica is named after Thamyris.[6]


  1. ^ Iliad 2.594-600.
  2. ^  , p. 96.
  3. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 3.67.
  4. ^ Pliny. Natural History, 7.207.
  5. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, 1. 3.3.
  6. ^ Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica: Thamyris Glacier.

External links

  • Donatella Restani, "Music and myth in ancient Greece" with literary references to Thamyris
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