Magadis

The magadis was an ancient Greek instrument, knowledge of which is almost wholly derived from a passage in the fourteenth book of Athenaeus, in which the scattered references to it in Greek literature are brought together.

Athenaeus, died in A.D. 194. The instrument had then long been obsolete, and the doubts which existed as to its exact form and structure are no nearer solution at the present day.

From the conflicting statements of the authorities quotes, some of whom identify it with the Pectis, others with the Sambuca and others again with the Psaltery, it would seem that the magadis was an instrument of the dulcimer type, provided with a bridge (magas) or bridges so placed that octaves could be played on adjoining strings.

It was introduced from the East through the Lydians, and was in use in Greece as early as the 6th century B.C., when Anaereon speaks of playing on a magadis of twenty strings.

According to Aristoxenus it was played without a plectrum.

The characteristic of the instrument was the production of sounds in octaves, and consequently we find the name also applied to a species of double flute, also said to be of Lydian origin, on which octaves could be played, and a verb magadizein signifying to play in octaves on any instrument.