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tviKJxiivia not a Bagpipe 



IN an interesting article in this Journal (vol. xxiii, 1904, 
pp. 180-190) Mr. Phillips Barry essays to prove that 
the musical instrument which was called in Greek av/i^xovia 1 
was a bagpipe. The extracts from Polybius give no indi- 
cation of the nature of the instrument. Mr. Barry has 
quoted at large a considerable number of passages from 
Latin writers in which symphonia is certainly, or probably, 
the name of an instrument ; but neither from these nor from 
those collected out of later authors by Du Cange does it 
appear what it was, further than that in some instances a 
wind instrument is meant. For the interpretation 'bag- 
pipe ' Mr. Barry relies in part upon the meaning of the 
borrowed words sumphonydh, sephonyd, in Aramaic, Hebrew, 
and Syriac, in part on the meaning of the derivatives of 
symphonia (zampogna, zampofla, etc.) in the Romance lan- 
guages. Upon closer examination it will be found that this 
evidence does not sustain his contention. 

In Dan. 3 s ( 10 - 15 >, in an Aramaic list of musical instruments, 
we find the Greek names kithros, gabled, psanterln, sumphonydh 
(/cidapt,?, KiOdpa, <ra/JifivKT), 2 ->]ra\rijpioP, <TV/KJ>covid). Of the 
last Mr. Barry writes : " Hebrew tradition has always held 
to the interpretation of sumponydh in Dan. 3 5 as a bagpipe." 

1 Polybius, xxvi, preserved by Athenseus, Deipnosoph. v. p. 193 ; x. p. 439, 
and Diodorus, xxix. 32 ; Dan. 3 6 (LXX. ; most mss. of Theod.) ; Luke 15 25 . 
On Luke 15 26 it may be observed that the Ethiopio version renders <rvfupwvla 
by 'enzera, the name of a musical instrument, by which elsewhere ai\6s, 
tpyavov, <ripiy((?), etc., are translated. The Coptic merely takes over the 
Greek words. 

2 An adopted word of Oriental origin. 

MOORE: TLvfufxovia NOT A BAGPIPE 167 

This definition is, indeed, given in modern Hebrew dic- 
tionaries with a unanimity which might pardonably be mis- 
taken for the consensus of tradition. When we inquire, 
however, how ancient this dictionary tradition is, it proves 
impossible to trace it farther back than the twelfth century 
of our era, when it appears in the commentary on Daniel 
printed in the Rabbinical Bibles under the name of "Saadia" : 3 
" sumphonydh, an instrument played by shepherds, resembling 
an inflated wine-skin ; compare be'th ha-simphdndth." i The 
currency of the interpretation ' bagpipe ' is due to the chap- 
ters on music in the Shilte" ha-gibborlm by Abraham di Porta 
Leone, published in 1612. 5 The author, a learned physician 
of Mantua, quotes and adopts the explanation of " Saadia," 
and follows it by a detailed description of a species of 
Italian bagpipe, the name of which Avas "piva sordino,." He 
surmises that the same instrument was meant in M. Kelim 
20 2 , where " the bag of pipes " (hemath halllln, see below, 
p. 169) is mentioned, and compares the Latin "tibia utri- 
cular is." 6 The substance of this passage in the Shilte 
ha-gibborlm is quoted by Joel Loewe (" Bril ") in his intro- 
duction to the Book of Psalms in the so-called Mendelssohn 
Bible. Many Christian scholars seem to have imagined — 
probably without having read the passage — that the author 
of the Shilte was giving a " traditional " description of the 
ancient Hebrew instrument, whereas he was illustrating 
what he thought it might have been like by describing an 
Italian instrument that he had seen. 

The older Jewish commentators on Daniel confine them- 
selves to the cautious statement that the airat; Xeyo/jteva in 
3 5 are names of musical instruments. Ibn Ezra dismisses 
some attempts at more specific identifications as "unproved 
guesses." The commentators on the Mishna (see below, 

'Not the Gaon Saadia (d. 942 a.d.), but a Trench or South German 
scholar two centuries later. 

* See below, p. 168. 

6 This part of the work was reprinted, with other dissertations on Hebrew 
music, in Ugolini Thesaurus, vol. xxxii. 

6 It should be noticed that he does not connect the name of the instrument 
with the Italian zqmpogna. 


p. 169) are not more explicit. In the sixteenth century 
Elias Levita wrote : " sumphonyah is the name of a musi- 
cal instrument which is called in Italian zampogna, in Ger- 
man Leier," 7 i.e. Drehleier, French viette, English "hurdy- 

The author of the "Saadia" commentary manifestly derived 
his interpretation 'bagpipe,' not from "tradition," but by 
etymological association with the Talmudic phrase which he 
quotes, beth ha-simphonoth. Simphon (afyav) is a tube or 
pipe ; specifically, the simphonoth are the ' tubes ' of the lungs, 
commonly taken to mean the great blood-vessels, but more 
correctly the bronchi 8 ; beth ha-simphonoth is the part of the 
lungs in which these vessels are situated. 9 Assuming that 
sumphonyah in Daniel was the same word as the Talmudic 
simphon, the lungs with the bronchi and trachea suggested 
the bagpipe. The whole combination, however, rests on a 
mistaken etymology: avpfyasvia is not o-fymv. 10 

The word sumphonydh occurs in the Mishna and Tosephta 
as the name of a musical instrument, in connection with 
hdlll, ' pipe,' and keren or hasdserdh, ' horn, trumpet.' u From 
the contexts it is evident that it was a wind instrument; 
that it might be of metal or (of wood) covered with metal ; 
and that it was kept in a case, which was sometimes open at 
one end, the instrument being slipped into it lengthwise, 
sometimes opened at one side. Nothing in these passages 
suggests a bagpipe, and the description of the cover or case 
seems clearly to exclude such an instrument. Further than 
this the texts do not lead us. 

The commentators on the Mishna offer nothing more 

7 Methurgeman, s.v. ; quoted by Drusius. 

• See Aruch, s.v. : "The hollow tubes In the midst of the lungs through 
which the air enters." Cf. Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, 36. The Tal- 
mudic anatomy did not distinguish between the air passages and the great 
arteries; see, e.g., Hullin, 45 6. 

9 Hullin 45 6. Cf'. M. Hullin 31 ; Hullin 47 b, 48 6, 49 a ; Succa 36 a, etc. 

10 The two words are associated in the inverse sense by the author of the 
Aruch ; the simphonoth are ' pipes,' like sumphonyah in Daniel. Some 
Christian scholars have in other ways connected the word in Daniel with 
simphon, 'pipe.' 

11 M. Kelim !!«"•, 16 8 ; Tos. Kelim, B.M. V (p. 579 Zuckermandel). 

MOORE: 1v(i<f>a)v(a HOT A BAGPIPE 169 

definite than a " kind of musical instrument " ; K so also 
R. Nathan in the Aruch. R. Asher b. Jehiel (d. 1328) 
adds : " It has a thick piece of wood at the top made to 
blow on." K The Jewish commentators recognize a refer- 
ence to the bagpipe in M. Kelim 20 2 (hemath hallliri), u but 
none of them connects this, as Abraham di Porta Leone 
does, with sumphonydh. 

According to several recent writers on Hebrew antiqui- 
ties, Jewish tradition ascribes the meaning ' bagpipe ' to 
another word in the Old Testament, viz. 'ugdb (Gen. 4 21 
Ps. 150* Job 21 12 30 31 ), making it equivalent to the Ara- 
maic sumphonydh. Thus Benzinger (1894) : " Der selten 
erwahnte 'fig&bh . . . wird von der Tradition als Sackpfeife 
(stimpdnj&h Dan. 3 5 ) erklart." 15 — Riehm (1884): "Nach der 
Uberlieferung ist 'ugdb die Sackpfeife (Dudelsack, Schal- 
mei), die auch unter dem . . . Namen sumponjah (Dan. . . . vorkommt." — Leyrer (1882): "Die Pfeife, 
3312 . . . (LXX opyavov . . .), nach Targ. Hier. ad Dard. 
Schilte haggib. die Sackpfeife." 16 — Diestel (1872): "Das 
'Ugab . . . war nach jiid. Interpreten ein Dudelsack oder 
ein Sackpfeife. . . . Genau so wird (vgl. Schilte bei 
Ugolini . . . XXXII. Kap. 11) das Instrument beschrieben, 
welches Dan. 3, 5; 10, 5 [N.B. !] vorkommt und sumephonja 
[«e] heisst." " — Winer (1848) : « 3312 Gen. 4, 21. Hiob 21, 
12. etc. nach den jiidischen Interpreten, Chald. und Hieron. 
die Sackpfeife, Dudelsack. TKNOSO chald. Dan. 3, 5. 10, 15 
[N.B.!]., a-v/ufxovia Polyb. bei Athen. 10. 439, wohl eben 
dasselbe, wie denn die hebr. Uebersetzung dafiir 3312 hat. 
Noch jetzt heisst die Schalmei im Ital. Sambogna," etc. 18 

12 Maimonides, Samson of Sens, Bertinoro. Hai Gaon unfortunately does 
not explain the word at all. 

13 13 man 1 ? : ."OH is the usual word for blowing a pipe (halll), etc. Rab- 
benu Asher probably means the mouthpiece of an instrument similar to the 
shawm. Cf. Maimonides on M. Arakin 2*. 

14 Maimonides, Samson of Sens, ete. 

16 Hebraische Archaologie, 276 ; cf. Nowack, Hebraische Archdologie, i. 
277. See also Benzinger in PBE S , s.v. "Musik." 

w PME 2 , x. 393. " Bibel-Lexikon, iv. 263. 

18 Mealworterbuch 3 , ii. 123. 

If the reader has patiently gone through these extracts, he will see 


When "Jewish tradition" is alleged in this easy and 
familiar way, it is not an unfair presumption that the writer 
does not know where to lay his hand on a definite reference. 
In the present instance this presumption is readily verified. 
The ancient versions render 'ugab in various ways, eithara, 
organon, etc., these variations showing that there was no 
fixed tradition. The only one of them which has been cited 
in support of the interpretation 'bagpipe' is the Aramaic 
Targums, which have uniformly 'abbubd, a pipe or flute. 19 
Grotius (on Gen. 4 21 ) quoted the scholiast on Horace : 
"Ambubaiae dicuntur mulieres tibicinae lingua Syrorum. 
Etenim Syris tibia sive symphonia ambubaia dicitur." In 
Bereshith Rabba on Gen. 4 21 (c. 23, 4), those who play on 
the kinnor and 'ugab are interpreted pTDTIK and pba^tt, 
i.e. vSpavXai, and %o/aau\at. In Jer. Succa 5 6 (ed. Zhitomir 
22") Simeon b. Lakish says : D^STM ."IT 3315(1. 'T«"), M the 
'ugab is a water organ" (uSpavXt?). 20 

The mediaeval commentators on the Old Testament are 
content to explain 'ugab as 'a musical instrument.' Abul- 

why I have thought it worth while to quote them in extenso, in chron- 
ological order. I might have added to the list the articles in Lichten- 
berger's Encyclopedie, the Calwer Bibel-Lexikon (Kittel), and others, but 
sapienti sat. These industrious compilers have copied one another with 
such credulous fidelity that not only the larger errors about Jewish 
" tradition " reappear in all of them, but even the false reference to Dan. 
10 16 in Winer is reproduced by Diestel, with a fresh misprint (?), 10 5 ! 
(I have observed that a man who does not verify his references usually 
has a touching confidence that his predecessor was more honest.) The 
climax of blundering is reached in Leyrer. The Targum renders consist- 
ently K312X, which nobody before or since has imagined to be a bagpipe. 
Jerome "ad Dard." [Ep. 129, Vallarsi, i. 960 ff.] contains no syllable 
on the subject; in Ep. 21, §29 (ad Damasum), Jerome controverts the 
opinion of some of the Latins who thought that symphonia (Luke 15 25 ) 
was genus organi: crvptlwvia. is equivalent to consonantia; cf. his Comm. 
on Is. 5 12 (referring to Dan. 3 5 ). In the Shilte ha-gibborlm the 'ugab is 
interpreted not as ' bagpipe,' but as ' viola da gamba ' ! The last strange 
error is preserved by Benzinger in PRE 8 , xiii. 593. 

19 Used in the Temple ; see M. Arakin 2 3 , 'Arakin 10>, in conjunction 
with halll ; of reed, ib. 

20 See Krauss, Lehnwdrter, ii. 13, 295 ; cf. Ber. Rabba, c. 50, 14. On 
the water organ see also Tos. 'Arakin l 18 , Arakin 10». 

MOORE: Zvftcjxovla NOT A BAGPIPE 171 

walid (with Saadia) renders it by kltdr (jciddpa). Solomon 
b. Abraham Parchon (twelfth century) in his Lexicon defines 
it as kithros, and describes the latter as a violin (strings of 
gut over a wooden sounding body, played by drawing a 
bow over them). Abraham di Porta Leone (seventeenth 
century) in the Shilte ha-gibborlm makes it a viola da gamba, 
which he describes, and calls by its Italian name. So much 
for the " Jewish tradition " that the 'ugab was a bagpipe ! 
The reader interested in the curiosities of learning may ask, 
How did this myth originate ? I think the mystery can be 
solved. Winer notes that the Hebrew translation of Daniel 
has 'ugab for sumphonydh; cf. Gesenius, Thesaurus, 988: 
" Apud Dan. Ill, 5. 10. 15 interpres eo [sc. 'ugab'] utitur pro 
chald. mttaiD." " The Jewish interpreters," " Jewish tradi- 
tion that 'ugab was a bagpipe," appear, thus, to have grown, 
like the three black crows in the story, out of the statement 
that the Hebrew translation of Daniel has 'ugab for sumpho- 
nydh. This Hebrew version does not figure in the apparatus 
of recent commentaries on Daniel, nor in the Bible Diction- 
aries, so far as I have observed. 21 It may not be superfluous, 
therefore, to say that Gesenius means a translation printed 
by Kennicott from a codex in Rome (No. 270 Kenn. ; see 
Dissert, generalis, p. 90). This folio manuscript with Tar- 
gum, Massora, commentaries, etc., has a Hebrew translation 
of the Aramaic parts of Ezra and Daniel in a column beside 
the text, corresponding to that occupied by the Targum in 
other books. The codex is dated a.m. 5087 = 1327 A.D. 
The age of the translation is undetermined. Its quality 
may be judged from the fact that Dl"lD|5 is rendered by ^in, 
HQSO by S^H. 22 

To return to sumphonydh. We have seen that there is no 
tradition that it was a bagpipe, and that the references to it 
in the Mishna exclude this interpretation. It is possible 
that some light may be thrown upon the nature of the in- 
strument by a passage in the Palestinian Talmud. In Jer. 

21 Moses Stuart (1850) is the last by whom I find it referred to. 

22 The same version is found in Kenn. 512. It was reprinted from Kenni- 
cott by J. L. Schulze, Halle, 1782 (Bertholdt, Einleitung, 1548 1). 


Megilla 1 9 (ed. Zhitomir 11 a) the question how the closing 
lines of a mezuzd should be written is under discussion. 
" Rabbi Aba in the name of R. Judah said : If they be written 
in the form of a half lozenge, the upper line of the last three 
should contain three words; the next, two; the last, only 
'al-hd-dres. R. Zeira in the name of R. Hisda: If they be 
written in the form of a sumphon, the upper line of the three 
should contain three words ; the last line, two [sc. 'al-hd- 
dres] ; about the middle line I am uncertain [whether it 
should have three or two]." We may compare with this 
Menahoth 31 b, where R. Aha bar bar Hannah cites R. Johan- 
nan as follows : " A mezuzd so written that three lines have 
respectively two, three, and one word is proper ; but three 
lines must not be written in the shape of a tent, 23 nor like a 
tail. 24 R. Hisda said, The words 'al-hd ares are written on 
the last line, some say at the beginning, others at the end." 25 
It would appear, therefore, that when the end of the mezuzd 
was in the form of a sumphon, the last lines, of unequal 
length, were brought into the same vertical column at one 
end or the other, and that this is the point of comparison. 26 
If this be so, we should infer that the sumphon or sumphon- 
ydh was composed of pipes of unequal length, fixed side by 
side in such a way that at one end they were in the same 
line. This would describe the Pan's pipes if there were 
several pipes, or the common Syrian double pipe if there 
were but two. The name o-vfi^cavia, in its etymological 
sense, would apply more properly to the double pipe, by 
which two tones are produced at once, than to the Pan's 
pipes, which are used to give notes only in succession ; it 

24 T f 

«8 I.e. le 

one word, two, three. three, two, one. 
25 i. e . — or 

Cf. Maim., Mishneh Torah, H. Tephillin 5 1 . 

26 The mezuzd is now usually written in twenty-two lines, the words 'al- 
hd-dres standing by themselves in the last line, at the beginning or at the 
end. See Mainion. I.e. 6 s , Jew. Encyclop. viii. 531. 

MOORE: IviufxovCa NOT A BAGPIPE 173 

might be added that the Pan's pipes had an old established 
name, o-vpiyl;, while for the peculiar double pipe supposed 
in the alternative there is no Greek term known. These 
considerations are, however, not decisive. In Syriac, as 
well as in the Romance languages, the name symphonia is 
given to the syrinx, and this use — an extension, perhaps, 
of the original application of the word — may have been 
established in the time of the Talmuds. 

In M. Kelim ll 6 we read : " If a sumphonyah has a 7l3p ITS 
D^fiiD, it is liable to contract defilement, whether the instrument 
be covered with metal or not " ; similarly, Tos. Kelim, B. M., V : 
"A sumphonyah covered with metal is clean; if there be made 
in it a D'BSS ?'D , p JT3> it contracts defilement . . . ; a pipe 
(71/11) covered with metal is clean; if there be made in it a 
D1D13 bop ]V3, it contracts defilement," etc. What is meant 
here by O'SW is not clear, and the commentators give little 
light. The D1D13 of the pipe (Tos., I.e.) are not improbably the 
conical or cup-shaped pieces inserted in the finger-holes of many 
Greek (and Roman) aiXoi 21 Similarly, we might surmise that 
the D'SID (lit. "wings") were the projecting pieces on some 
ovAoi, by means of which the rings were rotated which served to 
stop some of the holes (see the works cited in the last note). 
We have, however, no evidence that this apparatus was employed 
on Oriental pipes. Lipmann Heller (on M. Kelim ll 8 ) repro- 
duces a figure of the D^SiD from Meir of Eothenburg ; but the 
illustration does not help us much, inasmuch as we do not know 
what manner of instrument Meir imagined the sumphonyah to be. 

Mr. Barry arrays the Syriac among the witnesses to the 
meaning ' bagpipe ' ; but I find no evidence whatever that the 
word sephonya has this sense. The native lexicons give as 
equivalent of sephonya the Arabic and Persian names of a 
variety of wind instruments of the types represented by our 
flute, flageolet, oboe, clarinet, trumpet. 28 The only more 
definite description, repeated by several lexicographers, is as 

27 See Howard, Harvard Classical Studies, iv. 1893 ; v. Jan in Baumeister, 
i. 553 ff., Pauly-Wissowa, ii. 2416 fl. 

28 Sporadically also lyre. 


follows : " It is said that it resembles a crown, 29 and consists 
of several pipes which are blown upon." So Bar Ali (in 
Payne Smith, s.v.~) and Bar Bahlul. The latter adds : 
" The Greeks give the name avfKfxovia to a musical instru- 
ment which has seven bronze pipes ; the Syrians call it 
sephonyd; in Hebrew it is called sambuk." Another gloss 
interprets the word by the Greek avpiyye?. In some manu- 
scripts of Bar Bahlul drawings of the sephonya are given, 
in forms which seem to result from fusion and misunder- 
standing of the definitions, but nowhere is ' bagpipe ' 
suggested. 30 

The last point in Mr. Barry's argument is that the instru- 
ment called in Latin symphonia " can be no other than the 
bagpipe, still called by the same name in all of the Romance 
languages derived from the Latin." I fear that this evi- 
dence will not stand examination much better than the rest. 
Pedro of Alcala, in his Spanish-Arabic vocabulary, gives as 
the equivalent of campona the Arabic zummdra, zummdr, the 
usual modern name of a kind of double clarinet. To come 
to modern times, the Dictionary of the Spanish Academy 
defines: "Zampona. Instrumento rustico pastoril a modo 
de flauta, 6 compuesto de muchas flautas. Pipitana." The 
same definition is given in all the Spanish lexicons and 
encyclopaedias I have been able to consult, including Domin- 
guez, Donadiu y Puignan, and Zerolo; none of them rec- 
ognizes the meaning 'bagpipe.' The Portuguese-English 
dictionary of Lacerda defines "a pastoril [sic] pipe." 

In the Italian lexicons and encyclopsedias zampogna is de- 
fined as Pan's pipe, syrinx ; rustic whistle, made of the bark 
of the poplar, chestnut, etc. ; the valved pipe by which the 
wind is introduced into a bagpipe (Tommaseo e Bellini) ; 
the chanter and drones of a bagpipe (Broccardo) ; the nozzle 
of a syringe (obsolete). Fanfani (1865) defines the word 
as a whistle, but adds, "improperly confounded with the 
cornamusa (bagpipe)." Petrocchi (1891) defines as Pan's 

29 The comparison is perhaps to the radiate or crenellated crown ; the pro- 
jecting ends of the tubes being the point of resemblance. 

30 Bar Bahlul, ed. Duval, s.v. ; Payne Smith, s.v. 

MOORE: 2,V[l<f>a>Via NOT A BAGPIPE 1T5 

pipes, etc., adding, "In Southern Italy they call the corna- 
musa by this name." Anderoli, Voeabolario Napoletano- 
Italiano (1887) : " Zampogna. Strumento rusticale da fiato, 
composto di un otre e tre canne, Cornamusa, Piva, ed anche 
Zampogna o Sampogna, sebbene questa propriamente sia 
tutt' altro strumento, formato di sole canne disuguali uniti 

' Bagpipe ' is therefore not the common and accepted 
meaning of zampona, zampogna, but is unusual and pro- 
vincial. 31 It is also obviously secondary: a word meaning 
pipe or pipes might easily be applied to the bagpipe; 
first, as we actually see in Italian, to the pipes themselves, 
then to the instrument as a whole. It is less easy to see 
how the specific name of an instrument of so peculiar a 
kind as the bagpipe should be transferred to things so differ- 
ent as Pan's pipes and whistles, for which there were already 
names in plenty. While I think, therefore, that Mr. Barry 
is right in taking ov/MJxovia in Luke 15 25 as the name of a 
musical instrument, there is no ground whatever for identi- 
fying it with the bagpipe. 

81 In the Romauntsch dialect of the Upper Engadin zampuogn is a cow-