The Song Of Linus

The Song Of Linus

A song performed in the ancient world that eventually became known as the “Linus Song” is an example of the one of the oldest known song and poem that was performed in various forms across much of the ancient world.
The origin and notation and words of the melody & poem is unknown. The song can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and then disappears into the mists of time.
The theme of the Linus song relates to death, both in the physical meaning, but also in the transformation meaning of change and rebirth in death and the transformations of seasons and the loss of youth to age.

The name “Linus” became the commonly known name of the song when the Greek version based on the myth of Linus was mentioned by Greek historians in their writing.
But before then, this song had made it’s way across much of the ancient world.

“They keep the customs of their forefathers. Among other notable customs of theirs is this, that they have one song, the Linus-song, which is sung in Phoenicia and Cyprus and elsewhere; each nation has a name of its own for this, but it happens to be the same song that the Greeks sing, and call Linus; so that of many things in Egypt that amaze me, one is: where did the Egyptians get Linus? Plainly they have always sung this song; but in Egyptian Linus [the song] is called Maneros. The Egyptians told me that Maneros was the only son of their first king, who died prematurely, and this dirge was sung by the Egyptians in his honor; and this, they said, was their earliest and their only chant.”
(Herodotus "The Histories," Book 2, Ch. 79, on the Egyptians

The idea of a lamentation song related to death and transformation has been known in almost all cultures.
The Celtic culture brought their versions to Europe. In Ireland it became known as the “keen” or “caoine” and up until very recent times was and sometimes still is chanted.
Some historians believe that the Irish keen is a modern incarnation of the Linus Song carried from the Celtic origins throughout Europe to Ireland.


I have prepared 13 MP3 examples of laments, mostly Irish keens, gathered from books published from the 17th to the 19th Centuries. There are also examples of laments from other countries.

MP3 example - Irish Keen

You can download the Song of Linus MP3s in the format of a "zip" file for $5.00. After your Paypal or Credit Card payment is processed, you will receive an email with the download links.

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