Here you can take a taste of its 18string version on the hands of world’s most well known ancient lyre player Michael Levy:
f you ever thought of having a unique ancient artefact in your home or even learn how to play an ancient music instrument, then you never had an opportunity like this before… This listing is for one of our ancient Greek harps, invented by a legendary musician and instrument inventor: Epigonus of Ambracia.
Its name, Lethe, is a central concept in the Ancient Greek Philosophy meaning oblivion.
Manufactured at the premises of the ancient Europos (Northern Greece) by a family of musicians and luthiers, the “Ancient Harp of Epigonus” is made of (and only) natural materials available during the antiquity. This ancient artifact was evolved to become a modern music instrument ready to be used by both amateur and professional musicians (for example, a modern tuning method was chosen instead of the ancient hard-to-use one). For all the minor (but very important) alterations, latest technologies were used during the prototyping phase (such as 3d Modeling).
This epigonion has 18 strings. Almost all the parts are made by mahogany wood (soundbox, arms etc.), the tuning are made by ebony and mulberry wood, the bottom part of the strings are attached to animal skin, while the plectrum is manufactured by wood.
The ancient Greek harp’s height is 50 cm with 48 cm width, while its thickness is 6 cm. The length of the strings that are vibrating is from 18 to 43 cm (starting from the far side of the instrument (when the musican is playing the instrument).
Along with every harp, a handbook is provided including all the different ancient Greek scales (for tuning the harp) in the Aristoxenian tradition such as the Mixolydian, the Phrygian, the Dorian etc. What’s more, the oldest music melodies that had survived are also included such as the Hellenistic “Seikilos Epitaph” (2.000 years old, the oldest known complete melody of the human kind), and further descriptions regarding what modes were used in the antiquity for evoking specific feelings such as sorrow, happiness, bravery etc.
Since the beginning of 2015, every Luthieros harp comes with a wooden plectrum, an extra set of nylon strings and a unique hand-strap (in Greek: “τελαμών”). A premium package, for a premium and authentic music instrument! A beautifully handmade premium wooden case for storing and moving around the instrument is also available here.
The harps available for purchase are very limited. Needles to say that no animals were harmed…
Historical Note – Ancient Sources
An epigonion was an ancient stringed instrument mentioned in Athenaeus (183 AD), probably a psaltery.
It is a wooden string instrument that musicians have likened the sound to something similar to a modern harp or a harpsichord.
According to ancient sources, epigonion was during the antiquity the instrument with the largest number of strings, sometimes as many as forty (Polydeuces). Luthieros version of the ancient instrument has 18 strings for practical reasons (in order to make it less complicated), as it is intended to help musicians to introduce themselves to the ancient Greek music tradition.
Epigonion may owe its name to the fact that it was played ‘on the knee’ – Greek ‘epi gonu’.
Its alternative name is Psaltery, which derives from the Ancient Greek ψαλτήριον (psaltērion), “stringed instrument, psaltery, harp” and that from the verb ψάλλω (psallō), “to touch sharply, to pluck, pull, twitch”.
The epigonion was invented, or at least introduced into Greece, by Epigonus of Ambracia, a Greek musician of Ambracia in Epirus, who was admitted to citizenship at Sicyon as a recognition of his great musical ability and of his having been the first to pluck the strings with his fingers, instead of using the plectrum.
Juba II, king of Mauretania, who reigned from 30 BC, said that Epigonus brought the instrument from Alexandria and played upon it with the fingers of both hands, not only using it as an accompaniment to the voice, but introducing chromatic passages, and a chorus of other stringed instruments, probably citharas, to accompany the voice. Epigonus was also a skilled citharist and played with his bare hands without plectrum.
* Minor alterations might be present in the final instrument (regarding the colour or the kind of wood that was used for smaller parts) that you will receive in comparison with our website’s images. For this reason, every instrument from the Luthieros team is undoubtedly unique. In case though you want the exact model that was photographed, please state it during the checkout! 🙂