I find it interesting that this work is only around 2200 years old and it’s being claimed as the “oldest complete song in the world.” The Wikipedia version is much shorter and shows how the lyrics, the translation, and the melody are tied together. I’d love to see this performed and a dance choreographed. I think that dance is probably a more ephemeral art form than either words or music as dance notation is much younger and less widely used than either alphabets or musical notation. So, maybe poetry isn’t the lowest of the low, maybe dance is. I sure think I can dance and I suck at it too.
Words do not last forever though we’re all quite precious about them. Stone and bronze last longer. You have a better chance of being found and remembered if you take a chisel to a rock, or get your nails dirty by burying your fingers in the mud. Still, the Seikilos Epitaph is a lovely piece.
from Open Culture
“Hear the ‘Seikilos Epitaph, the Oldest Complete Song in the World: An Inspiring Tune from 100 BC‘
Its lyrics, liberally brought into English, exhort us as follows:
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.
The surface also bears an explanatory inscription about — and written in the voice of — the artifact itself: “I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.”