Schematic of a cithara.

Another donkey item (often that means I’m actually preparing something else, a large item, in the background, which I am): the article Cithara from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Now one can reasonably wonder why on earth put a bland article from a 98-year-old encyclopedia, commonly accessible in libraries thruout the world; and sure enough, from time to time I get some acid-penned e-mail to that effect. And that article is available elsewhere online: in one place, scanned and unproofread, with none of its 6 woodcuts; in another, as a photocopy, the citations unlinked, and itself unlinkable. OK well maybe Wikipedia’s article now supersedes it, since they often start by grabbing the 1911 (about which Wikipedians by and large have nothing good to say), then improve or degrade it, as the mood strikes ’em over there — mostly the latter, as in this case: the article Cithara at Wickedpedia has been dumbed down, has seen some errors introduced, and is next to worthless. But what of “my” own Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities? Well, what of it indeed: no separate article, the cithara covered mixed in with the lyre, really a different instrument, and in an unsatisfactory and confusing way: Smith’s is often not as good as it could be, its writers being classicists and not technical experts in the topic in question. So — now at least there’s a basic article on the instrument out there, written by a historian of musical instruments, and properly done.

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