Music filled the lives of the Romans -- from private nightly dining to festive public celebrations, from serious musical performances to military parades, and from solemn to wildly erotic religious rituals. Here are their instruments, sans muzique, except for what your imagination might provide.


    The Roman lute predates the Medieval lute, the true forerunner of the guitar, but was itself preceded by the Greek and the Egyptian lute. Click on the title above for more info.


    Organs powered by bellows were commonly played at the games, and also in more serious settings. Click on the title above for more info.


    The kithara, the "guitar" of the ancient Romans, was the premier musical instrument and was played in both serious and popular music. Click on the title above for more info.

    Perhaps the most ancient of stringed instruments, the lyre appears in endless forms, in all settings, and everywhere from Greece, to Troy, to Persia and Egypt. Click on the title above for more info.


    The most ancient tonal musical instrument of all, flutes appear throughout Etruscan, Greek, and Roman, art. They most commonly appear in the form of the twin reeds. Click on the title above for more info.

    The tympani, or tambourine, appears everywhere that celebrations, theatre, or dancing is illustrated. Click on the title above for more info.



    Trumpets and French horns appear both in the military, parade, and in band-style settings. Click on the title above for more info.



    Operatic style singing co-existed with popular songs, and Roman Choral music was famous all across the Mediterranean. Click on the title above for more info.

    Named after Pan, the panpipes were a familiar and ancient sound to the Romans, who felt that the talent of musicians was inspired by Pan and the muses. Click on the title above for more info.

    The harp, like the lyre and the lute, dates back beyond Greece to the ancient Egyptians. Click on the title above for more info.


    Drums and percussion instruments like castanets were common in dancing styles of music. Click on the title above for more info.

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