The water organ features in our current read, Last Act in Palmyra, the Marcus Didius Falco mystery by Lindsey Davis.
I’ve been reading Lindsey Davis’s Falco series, and as the Roman History Reading Group is due to read Last Act in Palmyra in December, I thought I’d blog a few items.
One reason for our hero travelling to the Eastern edges of the Empire is to track down a missing hydraulis player. The hydraulis or water organ is said to have been invented by Ctesibius in the 3rd century BC. In Ctesibius’s version, water was used to regulate the flow of air through pipes to produce music from a keyboard, but as time went by the use of bellows became as popular as water. Both versions of the instrument died out in the West after the fall of the Western Empire, but survived in the East.
The above photo comes via the Wikipedia link. Click on image for larger view.
Note: The server of LacucCurtius may be tempoarary down, here is Smith's Dictionary on the subject.