Amongst the earliest representations that are comprehensible, we have certain Egyptian paintings and some of these exhibit postures that evidently had even then a settled meaning, and were a phrase in the sentences of the art. Not only were they settled at such an early period (B.C. 3000) but they appear to have been accepted and handed down to succeeding generations, and what is remarkable in some countries, even to our own times.
A favourite figure dance was universally adopted throughout the country, in which two partners, who were usually men, advanced toward each other, or stood face to face upon one leg, and having performed a series of movements, retired again in opposite directions, continuing to hold by one hand and concluding by turning each other round.
Cyprian limestone group of Phoenician dancers, about 6½ in. high. There is a somewhat similar group, also from Cyprus, in the British Museum. The dress, a hooded cowl, appears to be of great antiquity.
Phoenician patera, from Idalium, showing a religious ritual dance before a goddess in a temple around a sun emblem.
From the Phoenicians we have illustrated examples, but no record, whereas from their neighbours the Hebrews we have ample records in the Scriptures, but no illustrations.
Dancing Bacchante. From a vase in the British Museum.
According to some authorities, one of the most primitive of the first class, attributed to Phrygian origin, was the Aloenes, danced to the Phrygian flute by the priests of Cybele in honour of her daughter Ceres. The dances ultimately celebrated in her cult were numerous: such as the Anthema, the Bookolos, the Epicredros, and many others, some rustic for labourers, others of shepherds, etc. Every locality seems to have had a dance of its own. Dances in honour of Venus were common, she was the patroness of proper and decent dancing; on the contrary, those in honour of Dionysius or Bacchus degenerated into revelry and obscenity.
Panathenaeac dance, about the 4th century B.C.
Grown up men and women did not dance together, but the youth of both sexes joined in the Hormŏs or chain dance and the Gěrănŏs, or crane. The Gěrănŏs, originally from Delos, is said to have been originated by Theseus in memory of his escape from the labyrinth of Crete It was a hand-in-hand dance alternately of males and females. The dance was led by the representative of Theseus playing the lyre.
The article upon the Velocipede in the " American Encyclopedia," commences by giving the well-known derivation of the word from the Latin velox, swift, and pes, a foot, and defines it as a carriage, by means of which the rider propels himself along the ground, and states that it was invented at Manheim.