The Brahman or superintending priest; the Hotri or reciter of hymns and verses; the Udgatri or chanter; and the Adhvaryu or offerer, who looks after the details of the ceremonial, including the preparation of the offering-ground, the construction of fireplaces and altars, the making of oblations and muttering of the prescribed formulae.
Many have to be recovered from grammars, dictionaries, &c., where single lines or groups of lines are quoted to illustrate the proper use of words, phrases or idioms. Moreover, many a reciter was not content to declaim the genuine verses of ancient poets, but interpolated some of his own composition, and the change of religion introduced by Islam led to the mutilation of many verses to suit the doctrines of the new creed.1 The language of the poems, as of all the best Arabian literature, was that of the desert Arabs of central Arabia; and to use it aright was the ambition of poets and scholars even in the Abbasid period.
He was also distinguished as a reciter, and on a visit to the United States in 1871 read extracts from his works before large audiences.
Of these the first is etymologically correct (except that it should rather be " stitcher of verse "); the second was suggested by the fact, for which there is early evidence, that the reciter was accustomed to hold a wand in his hand - perhaps, like the sceptre in the Homeric assembly, as a symbol of the right to a hearing.3 The first notice of rhapsody meets us at Sicyon, in the reign of Cleisthenes (600-560 B.C.), who " put down the rhapsodists on account of the poems of Homer, because they are all about Argos and the Argives " (Hdt.
We can only suppose that the lyre in the hands of the epic poet or reciter was in reality a piece of convention, a " survival " from the stage in which narrative poetry had a lyrical character.
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