A lyre of ancient Greece and Rome consisting of a wooden sound box with two arms rising up and supporting a cross bar to which the strings (all equal length, anywhere from 3 to 11 in number) are attached. It was held vertically and played by strumming the strings with a plectrum in the right hand and damping or plucking them with the left. It is not a harp because its strings are parallel to the soundboard, while the strings of a harp are perpendicular to the soundboard.
This is the instrument played by cartoon characters after they explode when they are rising up to heaven. "Cithara" is the Roman spelling of the Greek "kithara".

Cith"a*ra (?), n. [L. Cf. Cittern, Guitar.] Mus.

An ancient instrument resembling the harp.


© Webster 1913.

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