Music is in all languages acknowledged, by its very name, to be a muse-inspired, muse-descended art. The Greek muses, later the guardians of all branches of art, were at first only three in number. Two of them embodied ideas characteristic of every art, study and memory; the third bore the name Song. Their first dwelling place was the Pierian plains at the foot of Mount Olympus, where they moved to Mount Helicon. The seat of the Apollo cult was the island of Delos and subsequently Delphi, in the shadow of Mount Parnassus. The myths suggested the controus of the primeval musical life of the Greek mainland, untouched by alien influences.
Greek musical practice centers around the lyre in its two main forms, the lyre proper, and its larger variety, the cithara. The lyre consisted of a hollow body, or sound chest, from which protruded two arms curved both outward and forward. These arms were connected near the top by a crossbar or yoke. Another crossbar, on the sound chest, formed a bridge to convey the vibrations of the strings to it. The cithara was similarly constructed, but was larger and more sonorous.
Greek vase with muse playing the phorminx, a type of lyre
The lyre (Greek: λύρα, lýra) is a string instrument弦乐器 known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later periods. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp竖琴 but with distinct differences显著差异. The word comes via Latin from the Greek. The earliest picture of a lyre with seven strings七弦 appears in the famous sarcophagus石棺 of Hagia Triada (a Minoansettlement in Crete克里特岛南海岸古城阿及亚·特里阿达). The recitations念诵 of the Ancient Greeks were accompanied伴奏 by lyre playing.
The lyre of classical antiquity was ordinarily played by being strummed with a plectrum拨片 (pick), like a guitar吉他 or a zither齐特琴〔东欧的一种弦乐器，用手指或拨子弹奏〕, rather than being plucked with the fingers as with a harp. The fingers of the free hand silenced the unwanted strings in the chord. However, later lyres were played with a bow in Europe and parts of the Middle East. One example from Wales that has been resurrected recently is the crwth克鲁特琴.
Lyre with tortoiseshell body (rhyton, 480–470 BC)
Apollo Citharoedus with kithara, 2nd century CE.
The cithara or kithara(Greek: κιθάρα, kithāra, Latin: cithara) was an ancient Greek musical instrument in the lyre or lyra family. In modern Greek the word kithara has come to mean "guitar", a word which etymologically词源的 stems from源于 kithara.
The kithara was a professional version of the two-stringed lyre. As opposed to the simpler lyre, which was a folk-instrument民族乐器, the kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes.
Greek vase drawing depicting a man playing a kithara with eight strings.