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Choric poem, chant, or hymn of ancient Greece. Dithyrambs were sung by revelers at the festival in honour of Dionysus. The form originated about the 7th century BC in extemporaneous songs of banqueters; it was a recognized literary genre by the end of the 6th century BC. Dithyrambs were composed by Arion and Pindar, among others. By c. 450 BC the form was in decline; most dithyrambs were bombastic and turgid.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dithyramb, visit Britannica.com.