DITCHFIELD, Peter Hampaon, English author and clergyman : b. Westhoughton, Lan cashire, 20 April 1854. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, entered the Anglican priesthood, and has been rector of Barkham, Berkshire, from 1886. He is a prolific writer, especially in the field of ecclesiastical and gen eral antiquities; wrote in 10 volumes 'The Na tional Churches Series' (1891-97) ; contributed the volumes on Buckinghamshire, Oxford, Kent, London, Lancashire and Cheshire to the 'Me morials of County History Series,) and acted as general editor.
DITHYFtAMBUS, or DITHYRAMB, in Greek literature, a form of lyric or poem sung in honor of the god Dionysus (Bacchus) at his festivals. Since these festivals were celebrated with all the extravagance which would please the god of wine, the dithyrambs employed in his worship naturally breathed the same frenzy. The character of the dithyrambus therefore re quires bold images and lofty periods. The
more apparent disorder it contains, the more it partakes of the fire of intoxication, the better it sustains the true dithyrambic character. In the wild Phrygian music it was sung in choirs. Arion of Methymne, in the island of Lesbos, was the first to give a regular choral form to it, about 625 a.c. Lasos of Hermione is said to have been the first who introduced dithyrambic contests into the public pines. It was out of the mournful dithyrambic songs—later intro duced — that ancient Greek tragedy took its rise. The expression dithyrambic poem denotes, also, any lyric poem filled with a wild and impetuous enthusiasm, as is the case with many odes of Pindar. 'Alexander's Feast) by Dryden (1698) is the best example of the dithyramb in English.