dance of death


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dance of death

n
(Art Terms) a pictorial, literary, or musical representation, current esp in the Middle Ages, of a dance in which living people, in order of social precedence, are led off to their graves, by a personification of death. Also called (French): danse macabre

Dance of death

1. Originated in the Middle Ages when it was believed that the dead rose up at night to dance over their graves, and lured people into the dance and then death. Also known as the “danse macabre.”
2. Also called “danse macabre,” an allegorical concept of the power of death over all mankind, even the most powerful. Probably inspired by the carnage of the Black Death 1346–52 and the Hundred Years’ War 1337–1453.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Dance of death - a medieval dance in which a skeleton representing death leads a procession of others to the gravedance of death - a medieval dance in which a skeleton representing death leads a procession of others to the grave
ceremonial dance, ritual dance, ritual dancing - a dance that is part of a religious ritual
References in classic literature ?
The dance of death he could picture in his mind's eye--for he had seen the thing many times in the past.
We shall kill you; but first we shall have a dance and you shall dance with us--the dance of death.
During the operation they questioned me, and I was mighty glad that the marked similarity between the various tribal tongues of Caspak enabled us to understand each other perfectly, even though they were unable to believe or even to comprehend the truth of my origin and the circumstances of my advent in Caspak; and finally they left me saying that they would come for me before the dance of death upon the morrow.
None was more stealthy in the mimic hunt, none more ferocious than he in the wild ferocity of the attack, none who leaped so high into the air in the Dance of Death.
And now, in joyless age, she felt that some withered partner should request her hand, and all unite, in a dance of death, to the music of the funeral bell.
To the stake they led him, and as they pushed him roughly against it preparatory to binding him there securely for the dance of death that would presently encircle him, Tarzan tensed his mighty thews and with a single, powerful wrench parted the loosened thongs which had secured his hands.
The two journeymen have left their two great saws sticking in their blocks of stone; and two skeleton journeymen out of the Dance of Death might be grinning in the shadow of their sheltering sentry-boxes, about to slash away at cutting out the gravestones of the next two people destined to die in Cloisterham.
The spectral figures in the Dance of Death, the most frightful shapes that the ablest painter ever portrayed on canvas, never presented an appearance half so ghastly.
You see, colonel," he said, "I was shut up in that small room there doing some writing, when I heard a pair of feet in this passage doing a dance that was as queer as the dance of death.
We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the formless coast bor- dered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted man- groves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair.
The Dance of Death, xxiv-xxxi; although belonging to group A, MS.
Their latest album may be called Dance of Death, but Iron Maiden were definitely alive and kicking during their first gig on Tyneside in a decade.