Dancing is often associated with magic, and we will consider several typical examples of dancing described by ancient authors.
ARKS Not only king David, but also Egyptian monarchs danced. Vide II Samuel V: 14: David danced before the Lord, girded with a linen ephod.
Why dance before an ark? I hope that the answer to the question will emerge later, after a general review of what was done.
Histriones were the Etruscan mimes who performed their dance ritual when summoned in times of danger. Histrio may contain hia, the Etruscan and Albanian for a shadow, Greek skia. The aim would have been to resurrect the dead, who would appear as a ghostly image, and to ask the dead person's advice. The histrio may even have played the part of a shade that was the 'fire of Set' i. e. an 'electrical' spirit.
There is support for this interpretation of histrio. The early form was hister, e. g. in Livy VII: 2: 6. Skia, shadow, is used by Circe for the spirits of the dead in Odyssey X: 495, when she advises Odysseus on his journey to the Cimmerians and the land of the dead.
The chief actor and choreographer was Larth Matves. Larth, or Lars, means high, or chief. Matves may be mat, dead, and ves, knowing, as in netsvis. He would thus be the one who knew how to communicate with the dead and elicit their advice.
The tanasar, or thanasar, raised the Di Manes, the Good Ones, the departed spirits. His title is probably related to the German tanzen, to dance, but a fuller explanation will be attempted in a later chapter.
It may be that the special shoes worn by senators were originally dancing shoes, resembling the Greek phaikades, worn by gymnasiarchs and dancers, and the white shoes worn by Egyptian priests. The Etruscan lucairce, priest, is one who raises [Greek airo] the light [Latin luc-].
The Lydians were famous shoemakers. Cothurni, actors' boots, were of Lydian origin. The word may mean 'doorway of ka', ka + thura.
The title tanasar of the Etruscan spirit raiser resembles the name of the Egyptian chthonic deity Thanasa-Thanasa.
Thanasa-Thanasa is a name of Amen, an Egyptian hidden god. Vide Budge, Egyptian Magic, p. 172; Book of the Dead, p. 542. The word Thanasa suggests not only the Etruscan tanasar but also the Greek thanatos, death.
The Greek schematizo, create dance figures, may be related to the Egyptian sekhem, power.
Board games were played in Ancient Egypt, Crete and Greece. The men on the draughts board were called dancers, or dogs, by the Egyptians. The ark before which David danced had three main uses: it revealed the presence of the divine power, it was an oracle that made sounds and gave a visual display, and it could be used as a war machine.
Diodorus Siculus, 40 B. C., tells the story of the goats dancing and the conclusion that Delphi must be a home of an earth deity. Plutarch, 1st century A. D., gives the name of the goatherd, Koretas, and tells of the accident to the Pythia when the goat needed extra drenching to make it indicate, by shivering, that the deity was present and ready to inspire the Sibyl.
Skirtao is a Greek word meaning to make movements like a goat.
Hebrew natar is to tremble, or to leap. It shares the same consonants with Egyptian neter, divine, and Greek antron, cave.
The god Pan is half goat. Grottos were sacred to him, and the horns symbolise the electrical god in the sky. The leaps of a goat reveal the divine presence in the earth as felt where there were split rocks and caves.
A goat is in Latin caper. Per is Egyptian for a house. Was a goat thought of as a ka-container? The German Kaefer is a beetle, and in Egypt the scarab was sacred. Scarab is another of the words based on the letters scr or sqr.
In Rome the Arval brothers, an ancient priestly college, danced the tripodatio, a solemn stamping of the earth to ensure the fertility of the fields, arva.
In the hymn of the Salii, there occur the words "limen sali". This probably means 'leap over the threshold', as an invitation to the Manes to cross the threshold between the world of the departed and the world of the living, and to appear and give advice.
The Hebrew shal means transgression. The Hebrew letters shin, sh, and sin, s, are almost identical, and shal could be the Latin salio.
THE DANCING FLOOR
At Delphi, the drama of Apollo and the snake was performed on a threshing floor next to the Sibyl's Rock, a rock which may have been chosen by the Sibyl Herophyle because it was split, and showed a difference of electrical potential, presumably as a result of an earthquake.
DANCING WITH KNIVES
The Cretan sikinnis was a dance in honour of Sabazios [Dionysus], danced by satyrs. The root skn means knife.
GREEK DANCE VOCABULARY
In the Prometheus Vinctus of Aeschylus, l. 599, Io's skirtemata, dancing movements, are irregular.
At Samothrace there was a frieze of dancing girls at the entrance to the precinct. Plato, in his Euthydemus, tells of thronosis, corybantic dances round a seated figure. According to Nonnos, Dionysiaca, Kadmos saw a dance at Samothrace in which the diaulos was played and spears were clashed on bronze shields. A bronze shield and iron knives have been found there.
The Karpaia was a Spartan dance in honour of Artemis. Karyatizein was to dance at a festival of Artemis at Karyae.
Iliad XVIII: 590: The dance at Knosos begins as a round dance like a dithyramb, then becomes confrontational like a tragic choros, with two acrobats loose in the company.
Odyssey VIII: 264: The dancers strike the holy floor [choron theion] with their feet. Odysseus marvels at the flashing movements [marmarugas] of their feet. According to Hesychius, choros is the same as kuklos and stephanos, circle and crown. Choros is especially the round dance of the dithyramb, or the floor where it is performed. Choros kuklikos is a dithyramb.
We have already mentioned the Greek halma, leap. It may conceivably be a reversal of the Hebrew melekh, king. Kings were leapers. But melekh may also mean 'he who has the honey', like the infant Zeus.
At the court of King Alkinous, the dancing floor is an agon, a place for a contest. In Odyssey VIII: 260ff., it is cleared for dancing, and Demodocus sings of the love affair between Ares and Aphrodite.
Agon can be the sky, and should be understood thus in the passage where Hephaestus is described in his workshop, putting the finishing touches to his tripods, which have wheels so that they may be able to travel and enter the agon.
There was considerable sharing of vocabulary and technique.
Reversals indicate the meeting of Indo-European and Semitic