Suidas distinguishes three Greek musicians of this names of whom the first is mythical, and the last historical: the second probably owes his existence only to some mistake of Suidas, or the writer whom he copied, since Plutarch who is a much better authority only recognizes two musicians of the name; both of whom are connected with the auletic music which had its origin in Phrygia.1

The elder Olympus belongs to the mythical genealogy of Mysian and Phrygian flute-players — Hyagnis, Marsyas, Olympus — to each of whom the invention of the flute was ascribed, and under whose names we have the mythical representation of the contest between the Phrygian auletic and the Greek citharoedic music: some writers made him the father (instead of son, or disciple, and favorite of Marsyas), but the genealogy given above was that more generally received.

Olympus was said to have been a native of Mysia, and to have lived before the Trojan war. The compositions ascribed to him were νόμοι εἰς τοὺς Θεοὺς (nomoi eis tous Theous), that is, old melodies appropriated to the worship of particular gods, the origin of which was so ancient as to be unknown, like those which were attributed to Olen and Philannion.

Olympus not unfrequently appears on works of art, as a boy, sometimes instructed by Marsyas, and sometimes as witnessing and lamenting his fate.2

It may fairly be assumed that this elder and mythical Olympus was invented through some mistake respecting the younger and really historical Olympus.



  1. Pseudo-Plutarch. De Musica, p. 1133, d.e.
  2. Suidas, s.v.; Pseudo-Plutarch. De Musica, pp. 1132, e.; 1133, e.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 4.2; Hyginus. Fabulae, 165, 273; Ovid. Metamorphoses vi, 393; Elegies iii, 3.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.