song of Seikilos is one of the few preserved compositions of
ancient Greek music. It is engraved into a grave pillar that
was found 1883 in Aydin in Turkey and is dated between 200 BC
and 100 AD.
On the tombstone is an indication that
the music composition and poem were composed and written by one
Seikilos, for his wife, who presumably is buried there. The opening
I am a portrait in stone.
I was put here by Seikilos,
where I remain forever, the
symbol of timeless remembrance.
The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around
AD 100. While older western music with notation exists (for example
the Delphic Hymns), all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph
is unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition.
music for Song of Seikilos is inscribed with a short poem.
Here are are two different translations of the poem:
1. While you live,
dance and sing,
For life is short,
And Time carries away his prize.
2. As long as you live,
Let nothing grieve you beyond measure.
For your life is short,
and time will claim its toll.
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