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Large lyre of Classical antiquity, the principal stringed instrument of the Greeks and later of the Romans. It had a box-shaped resonating body from which extended two parallel arms connected by a crossbar to which 3–12 strings were attached. It was held vertically and plucked with a plectrum; the left hand was used to stop and damp the strings. It was played by singers of the Greek epics, as well as by later professional accompanists and soloists.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on kithara, visit Britannica.com.