Ancient Greek sources are full of references to the music of peoples who are not Greek, stereotyped as ‘barbarian’. Qualifications such as ‘effeminate’ and ‘lascivious’ are often applied to the musical paradigm of the East, especially during and after the Persian crises of the early 5th century BCE. The purpose of this paper is to explore the construction of Hellenic identity through the notion of mousikē, mainly by analyzing those literary and iconographic references in which ‘Greek’ and ‘foreign’ elements are presented as opposites, and by trying to interpret them as indicators of cultural and political changes in society.
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