Terpander (Τέρπανδρος), of Antissa in Lesbos, was a Greek poet and citharode who lived about the first half of the 7th century BC.

About the time of the Second Messenian War, he settled in Sparta, whither, according to some accounts, he had been summoned by command of the Delphian oracle, to compose the differences which had arisen between different classes in the state. Here he gained the prize in the musical contests at the festival of Carneia (676-2 BC; Athenaeus, 635 a.).

He is regarded as the real founder of Greek classical music, and of lyric poetry; but as to his innovations in music our information is imperfect.

Τέρπανδρον δὲ τῆς αὐτῆς μουσικῆς τεχνίτην γεγονέναι φασὶ καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς νήσου, τὸν πρῶτον ἀντὶ τῆς τετραχόρδου λύρας ἑπταχόρδῳ χρησάμενον

According to Strabo (xiii. p. 618) he increased the number of strings in the lyre from four to seven; others take the fragment of Terpander on which Strabo bases his statement to mean that he developed the citharoedic nomos (sung to the accompaniment of the cithara or lyre) by making the divisions of the ode seven instead of four. The seven-stringed lyre was probably already in existence. Terpander is also said to have introduced several new rhythms in addition to the dactylic, and to have been famous as a composer of drinking-songs.

He was four times winner of the citharode contest in the Pythian Games.

Terpander was the first who gained the prize in the musical contests of the Carneia, and the musicians of his school were long distinguished competitors for the prize at this festival (Müller, Dor. iv. 6, § 3), and the last of this school who engaged in the contest was Perikleidas (Plut. de Mus. 6) William Smith A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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