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epithalamium (ĕpˌĭthəlāˈmēəm) [key], song or poem written to celebrate a marriage. An elaborate form of pastoral, the epithalamium usually tells of the happenings of the wedding day. Nymphs, shepherds, and appropriate mythological figures are present to share the poet's joy. Epithalamiums were written in ancient times by Pindar, Sappho, and Catullus. The biblical Song of Solomon is a classic of the genre as is Edmund Spenser's "Epithalamium" (1595), written to celebrate his own marriage.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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