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Le statut de l'acteur dans l'Antiquité grecque et romaine

 | 
Christophe Hugoniot
, 
Frédéric Hurlet
, 
Silvia Milanezi

II. Identifier l'acteur : méthodologie, terminologie, typologie

Where are the Actors ?

William Slater

Texte intégral

My thanks to the colleagues at Tours, especially Drs. Hugoniot and Milanezi, for the kindness extended to me there and for the invitation to present my ideas. This is largely the paper written for presentation, but which was much shortened in its French version. Many of the themes treated here will have to be treated at greater length elsewhere. In my references, I have usually indicated the number of the inscription on the PHI disc to facilitate research as well as the IK number of Şahin.

« Que l’on n’objecte pas que pour quelque raison énigmatique, par exemple par la malignité classicisante des secrétaires, les pauvres acteurs et auteurs de mimes dramatiques ont été écartés des documents officiels... » A. Körte, N. Jbb. 1903, 543, cited by L. Robert.

1The purpose of this paper is not primarily to give a definitive answer to the question of the status of actors, or even to produce evidence for their status, but rather to illustrate why it is so difficult to answer the question at all. There is a tendency, sometimes amounting to a fallacy, to believe that epigraphy can answer questions of ancient social history, which cannot be tackled effectively on the basis of our available literary texts. While of course epigraphy does give us insights into the life of antiquity denied us by ancient authors, these are only individual snapshots, and more important, they raise the same kinds of interpretative problems as texts do. There are two central reservations about epigraphic evidence. Most obviously, there are facts that the author of an inscription simply does not want to tell his readers, and those same facts are exactly what a modern historian will want to know. There is consequently always a danger that our questions will be dictated by the availability of facts. We study amphora-handles because we have lots of them. We cannot study slavetrading data, because we know almost nothing of it. We have therefore a journal devoted to amphora handles and none to slavetrading. But we should be very foolish if we concluded that there was any direct relationship between the amount of scholarship and the importance of what is studied. Data distort. We are required to be alert always for what is not there. Secondly, the «facts» available in epigraphy and «written in stone» may need to be interpreted to bring out their value. If I read on a stone that an athlete has competed brilliantly in Pisa, it will take some experience of such utterances before I conclude with some certainty that this means that he did not win. Data are distorted, or in extreme cases, as we say nowadays, modified by spin-doctors, whereby one should remark that the notion of spinning is an ancient Greek metaphor also. In any inscription we are likely to find that both of these reservations will affect the use we make of the evidence.

2When we ask questions about the history of drama, we soon run into these and other problems. Recently in her valuable study of the Dionysiac guild, Professor Le Guen laments repeatedly the absence of information we require concerning central matters of finance and organization, and this despite an extraordinary wealth of epigraphic evidence. Why does no inscription tell us about the fees to be paid to join the guild? Yet many inscriptions refer ostentatiously to the rights of those who had paid those invisible fees. We should I think reasonably conclude that the guild wished the general public to know about the rights and not the fees.

3Like Professor Le Guen, I am not happy with our evidence, and in what follows, I shall try to justify this in more general terms. My unhappiness is based on the extent of what I call « black holes » in my own attempt to write a history of the ancient theatre, – i. e. areas where any respectable history should have something to say, but I have no relevant data, – and in addition I find myself unduly preoccupied with the problems of interpreting the existing evidence. I should add that though I am dealing here with epigraphy, I have the strongest doubts about stories regarding actors and acting which are retailed by our ancient sources and still accepted far too readily by modern scholars, unwilling to abandon what little evidence they have. But that is a separate issue. I have focussed in this article on the many long and often repetitious inscriptions of Stratonicea, which list the euergetic benefactions of the priests of the great festivals in Carian Stratonicea and the nearby temples of Panamara and Lagina, and often of the imperial cult. They should contain important information about drama and about the theme of this conference; I thought I should ask why they largely fail to do so, in order to illustrate the problems I have set out above. Here is an example from the second century: [IStrat. 685~ PHI7 Lagina Caria 79]:

ҡαὶ τοὺς δε[η]θέντας ҡαὶ θεατριҡοὺς ἐτίµησα[ν.

  • 1 Epainetos Ouliades and Epainetos Pamphilos are father and son and both use this same formula (I. S (...)

4That is: «<the priests> honoured those who were in need and the θεα-τρὶҡοί ». This formula1 would certainly seem to suggest that theatre people are in the same class as beggars, and we should be able to feel that we had answered the main question of our conference. But of course it is never quite so simple, and this strange connection appears in a longer form.

[IStrat 256 ~ Panamara Caria 189]:

»ҡ]αὶ παρ’ ὅλoν τòv ἐνίαὺτòυ ὑπεδέξαvτo τὰ ἐπιδημήσαντα ἀҡρoάματα ҡαὶ ἐμί ἐμσθώσαντo, ҡαὶ πoλλoὺς δεηθέντας [ἐτείμησαν.

5i. e. « throughout the entire year they formally entertained the visiting performers, and hired them; and gave honours to many people in need... »

6which though perhaps oddly expressed, certainly seems to confirm the first passage. Likewise we can suspect that sometimes the theatrical types are just one category of those in need [IStrat 672 ~ Lagina Caria 66]:

• ἐχαρισάμεθα ҡαὶ τoὺς θύo[ν]σιν τὰ ἱερὰ ҡαὶ τὰ ἐπιδημήσαντα ἀҡρoἀματα ἐμίσθώσἀματα ἐμισθωσάμεθα, ҡαὶ τoὺς δεoμένoυς ἐτει[μή]σαμεv •

7« We were generous with those sacrificing the victims, (i. e. we helped to supply victims for those who did not have any to sacrifice?), hired the visiting entertainers, and gave honours to those in need... »

8The longest formula of this type is [IStrat 668 ~ Lagina Caria 62]:

τò [1] μισθώσασθαι πάντα πὰ ἐπιδημήσαντα ἀҡρoάματα παρ’ ὄλoν τò ἔτoς ҡαὶ [2] τò χαρὶσασθαι τoῖς θύoνσιν τὰ ἱερὰ ҡαὶ 3 τò ἐπαρҡέσαι δημoσὶὰ τoῖς ἐπιҡoυρὶας δεoμένoις

9where the same three benefits of the previous inscription appear in a different order, but the theatre people are now separated from «those in need of help» by subventions for sacrifices, though these also would be people in need. There seems therefore no doubt that the «theatre folk» from the viewpoint of the euergetes of Stratonicea are considered to belong to a general group of needy people.

  • 2 Laumonier 1958, 382 and 383, cf. 378 at Lagina : « secours aux indigents ».
  • 3 Laumonier 1958, 268.
  • 4 As is specified in I. Strat. 668 ~ Lagina Caria 62.1. Another inscription (I. Strat. 248 ~ Panamar (...)

10So let me first say a word about « those who are in need ». Laumonier2 had no doubts, and translated « honorent les indigents et les hommes de theater ». But elsewhere3, he says, « ils ont reçu les compagnies des musiciens en tournée et ont assuré un salaire à ceux qui en avaient besoin ». That doesn’t sound quite right, since all of them presumably « avaient besoin d’un salaire ». Those who are in need are not necessarily beggars wanting alms, but people needing a helping hand,– ἐπιҡoυρία4. That makes them similar to the θεατριҡoί, who come on passage throughout the year in the hope of work. So it was easy to link mentally those who could not afford the extra expenses of the mysteries or sacrifices with the theatre people.

11Now to the θεατριҡoί! This is a word used four times only in Caria to describe theatre folk, and nowhere else in Greek epigraphy. (The word also means « pretentious » [LSJ s. v.] in the Hippocratic corpus, i. e. « stagy »). They are in these inscriptions and elsewhere usually called ακροάματα, and it is also possible that dancers can be separated out of the θεατρικοί as special performers, as in [IStrat 199 ~ Panamara Caria]:

… [μισθωσάμεvoι ҡαὶ τòν ἐπ]ιδημήσαντα ὀρληστὴv ҡαί τἄλλα ἀҡρoάματα τάvτα [τoὺς δὲ παρεπιδημήσαετας] ἐν τoῖς γεoμένoις ҡυνηγίoις ξένoυς ὑπεδέξαvτo [μεγαλoπρεπῶς

12This seems to refer to the imperial festival which was attached every four years to the Hekate festival as the rare mention of uenationes shows, and probably a « visiting pantomime » of any note was equally special at such an occasion. That is – as here – why ξέvoι who come from out of town are also special; they are always invited and welcome; but one can suspect that they prefer to come for special festivals where they can see extraordinary munera. In fact, the other group who are associated mentally with the theatre folk, are these same visitors from outside the area. Ξένoι and θεατριҡoί go together as ἐπιδημήσαντες, creatures in passage, just as in [IStr 309 ~ Panamara Caria 243]:

τoῖς ἐπιδη[μ]ήσασιν ξέν[ο]ι[ς κ]αὶ θεατρικοῖς.

13and we find the same in an inscription from Kaunos, where the travelling athletes are thrown in for good measure: [OAth 10, 1971, 36-39 ~ PHI Kaunos Caria 4]:

τοὺς ἐπιδημήσαντας ξένους καὶ θεατρικοὺς και ἀθλητάς

14Our θεατρικοί or ἀκροάματα are to be thought of as either in the company of tourists or the needful, it would seem, and they are hired, welcomed, honoured, etc. when they come into town.

  • 5 Bremen 1996, 73, in her excellent study of euergetic women in Asia, suggests that Tata may be an a (...)

15Can we be more precise about these ακροάματα? Can ακροάματα mean all non-athletic performers? We shall see that the answer to this question is much more tricky than it seems. First, an inscription of Aphrodisias seems to settle the issue, where a woman Tata5 who held among other positions the post of imperial chief priestess, makes this claim [MAMA 8, no. 492b ~ PHI Aphrodisias Caria 328]:

ἔν τε τoῖς θυμελικοῖς καὶ σκηνικοῖς ἀγῶσιν τὰ πρωτεύοντα ἐν τῇ Άσιᾳ ἀκροάματα αὐτὴν πρώτως ἀγαγοῦσαν καὶ δείξασαν τῇ πατρίδι, ὡς ἐπὶ τὴν δεῖξιν τῶν ἀκροαμάτων συνελθεῖν καὶ συνεορτάσαι τὰς ἀστυ-γειτνιώσας πόλεις.

  • 6 L. Robert OMS 2, 1106-8; Drew-Bear R., Glotta 50, 1972, 194: «an official, subordinate to the agon (...)

16(Once again incidentally we see that attracting ξένοι by the special attractions of a festival is worth recording as a euergetic achievement.) The word, ἄγω « introduce », suggests more particularly εἰσάγω denoting the function of a munerarius as eisagogeus6, a role which she could not as a woman have actually performed; or at least we have no example. Cf. [IStr 248 ~ Pan Caria 181]: μι<σ>θωσάμενοὶ και εἰσ[αγαγ]όντες τὰ ἐπιδημήσαντα ἀκροάματα.

  • 7 Consider SEG, XLIV (1994), 1174 which says that Iulius Lucius Pilius Arestus at Oenoanda was the f (...)
  • 8 e. g. SEG 1998, 1040: «he gave games from his own money and gave prizes»
  • 9 E. g. IvPerge, nos. 47 and 48 speak of « archiereis and agonothetai ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων », while in 60, 6 (...)

17These ἀκροάματα at Aphrodisias certainly seem to be performers of all sort including all those who come to the musical and dramatic competitions of the (imperial?) festival. But in fact reflection suggests that this may be a false deduction. Perhaps she just went out of her way to get famous pantomimes and mimes as extras –– παραμισθώματα –– to perform in addition to the regular thymelic and skenic festivals, for whose financing she would not be personally liable! After all, it would seem odd that she was the very first woman ever to bring first rate performers of all kinds to an unspecified festival! But what is really suspicious, as with all claims7 to be « first », is that she does not claim to have hired or paid or honoured them « from her own money », as we should expect;8 I believe therefore that we are only entitled to conclude that she was proud that she had managed to get some famous performers to come, but that the money actually came from city funds9 with or without the subvention of her husband, the chief priest. We still do not know for certain who the ἀκροάματα are.

18In the well known hellenistic inscription from Magnesia concerning the festival of Zeus Sosipolis, the ακροάματα do indeed belong to respectable categories such as pipe – and kithara – players:[SIG3 589, 45 ~ IvMagnesia 98]:

παρεχέτω δὲ καὶ ἀκρóαματα αύλητὴν συριστὴν κιθαριστήν.

  • 10 L. Robert, « Archaiologos », REG, 1936, 235ff.= OMS, 1, 671ff., with the doubts and corrections of (...)

19But of course this is not a competition, and since they are not actually competing, as we shall see, it can be appropriate to call them just entertainers. L. Robert10 also showed that comedians could be considered ἀκροάματα in a fragmentary Attic inscription which is a « liste des artistes » of the 2nd or 3rd century AD, though the text is more dubious than he thought. Perhaps more tellingly, when the Delphians honour the τεχνῖται of Dionysus – I shall call them simply Artists after this – for their second Pythiad in 128/7 B.C., and for the first time send along a number of their own Artists, the Delphians refer to the large entire group of genuine Athenian Artists of Dionysus as ἀκροάματα [FD III 2. 47, 20 = Le Guen no. 10 line 20]:

ἐξαπέστειλαν δὲ καὶ ἀκροάματα τὰ συναυξήσοντα τὰς τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμέ-’ρας.

20These artists are being sent there to « contribute to the days of the god ». They are not said to be competing in a festival. They are ὲπιδεδαμηκότας, « visitors » and λειτουργηκότας, « performing an official office ». Therefore it is all the more important to observe that in the third and fourth Pythiad of 106 and 98, this phrase has been deliberately altered. [FD III 2. 48, 42= p. 119 LeGuen]:

ἐξαπέστειλαν δὲ καὶ τοὺς συναγωνιξαμένους τòν θυμελικòν ἀγῶνα καὶ τòν σκανικòν ἐν ταῖς τοῦ θεοῦ [ἁμ]έραις.

21Now the guild is thanked for having sent those who will compete (ἀγωνίζομαι) in the thymelic and scenic contests on the days of the god. If we want to account for the considerable change in the wording, it would be reasonable to consider that the guild of the Artists did not like an official decree referring to them as ἀκροάματα, and accordingly the Delphians also raised the level of the festival to that of a competition. But the reality was that it was not a true competition, because of course it was only put on by the Athenian artists on these two occasions nine years apart. We can infer that ἀκροάματα may have been in common use for entertainers generally, but that the Artists distanced themselves from this general designation by their general claim, whether well founded or not, to be competitors in festivals. More on this aspect in a moment.

  • 11 There is an English translation by Sherk 1988, 32, which is not quite accurate; better is the Germ (...)

22Finally, we have another apparent exception in the famous sacred law11 for the establishing of the early imperial festival in Gythion in 15 AD, and detailing the duties of the agoranomos [SEG XI 923]:

έπιμελείσθω της των αγωνιζομένων εύκοσμίας. φερέ{ρε}τω δέ και πάσης της μισθώσεως τών ακροαμάτων -και της διοικήσεως τών Ιερών χρημάτων τον λόγον τη πόλ[ει] μετά τον αγώνα τη πρώτη εκκλησία.

  • 12 Chandezon Chr., « Foires et Panégyries dans le monde grec classique et hellénistique », REG, 2000, (...)
  • 13 On the term ἱερὰ χρήματα as a means of supporting festivals, see IG, IX, 12 2,583 with the extensi (...)
  • 14 For the term, see L. Robert, Hellenica, 5, 21-4.

23The beginning of the inscription is missing, and we do not know the name of the festival, perhaps Kaisareia. The agoranomos, who is equivalent to the later panegyriarch,12 is to organize the festival, and to make the ἀκροάματα put on another two extra days of θυμελικοί ἀγῶνες after the initial six days. This agoranomos, not a priest of any cult, is to look after the hiring (misthosis) of the ἀκροάματα, which, with the whole cost of the festival and statues, comes from sacred funds managed by the city – ἱερὰ χρήματα13 – and he is to be accountable to the city for all expeditures. The inscription (line 12) refers to the contests as θυμελικοί ἀγῶνες, the competitors as θυμελικοί ἀγῶνες, and the agoranomos is to look after their εὐκοσμία,14 their hiring, their performances, and the running of the festival. Otherwise we are told that the ephors are to contract out wooden seating for the chorus and four, μιμικαὶ θύραι interpreted as doors for mimes, and a (wooden) platform for musicians (symphonia).

24The anomaly is that though the agoranomos hires the ἀκροάματα, they are also said to be competitors, and so should get prizes, though none are mentioned; since this is a financial inscription, there probably were no prizes. It is therefore not likely, despite the language, that they were genuine competitors. The extra days suggest that we are not dealing with an extension of the number of competition categories, but repetition of entertainments. Finally the apparent special presence of mimes, as well as a stage for a chorus and musicians, suggests something other than a regular Greek festival, where competitors come in the hope of prizes, and mimes would not be permitted as festival categories; and it is notable that this is a special early imperial festival, dedicated to Augustus as god, which seems to consist of choruses and mimes singing praises of individual members of the imperial family and their local friends, with no mention of prizes, or drama, but of alleged competition by hired ἀκροάματα. It resembles in this our Stratonicea inscriptions. On the whole it certainly is not a normal festival, and no provision is made for its repetition.

  • 15 Cl. Prêtre, BCH 124, 2000, 263ff. who discusses usefully whether the archon himself may have paid (...)

25One might be tempted here to consider that this kind of festival is influenced by Roman ideas, where an aedile would hire (but also perhaps give personally palm branches and prizes!) to the successful entertainers, so that they could be considered to be competing. We have evidence for what we might consider a clash between two incompatible kinds of festival: those where entertainers were hired, and those where they came to win prizes. But perhaps the anomalous hiring/prizewinning has earlier Greek precedents. A recent inscription from Delos15 for the Apollonia of 168 BC gives the accounts for the entertainers. We read that 2 pipe-players were hired, though it is not clear by whom or with what, and one won the men’s Py (thian pipe?) competition, and the other won the boys’. We have the anomaly of αὐληταί being hired but also competing; in fact this is the first mention of the pipe-players in this series of inscriptions. But it would seem that this « competition » is unlikely to be genuine, if both the people hired win prizes.; we shall look at this in a moment.

26On the whole therefore, we find that ἀκροάματα are not the words normally used of the regular professional artists in competition, though others may have not felt the same need to make the distinctions that they considered important. With this in mind, let us turn back to Caria: for another late imperial inscription – and only one [IStrat 266 + II p. 13 ~ Panamara Caria 200] – tells indirectly a very different story; it deals with the Panamara festival, presumably that held in the theatre of the city of Stratonicea, not in the sanctuary far from the city:

ὑπεδέξατο δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἰς ἀγῶνα ἐλθόντας θυμελικούς τε κα[ὶ] ξυστικοὺς άθλητάς, καθὼς καὶ [τα ύ]π’ ὲκείνων γενόμενα ψηφίσματα περιέχει·

  • 16 For inscriptional recollection by euergetes of such previous civic decrees, see Quass 1993, 395. F (...)
  • 17 Laumonier 1958, 276: « Des décrets en témoignent » would suggest that the decrees were civic, when (...)

27These do not look like wandering indigent players, and the mention of athletes is rare in Stratonicean inscriptions. These come to town, they do not just visit au passage (endemesai). They come specially for a contest, not to perform as entertainers by themselves. Thirdly, and most importantly, they vote and pass decrees16 thanking the agonothete, who sponsored the games; he is pleased to be able in his own record to refer to their decrees thanking him, since they are testimonials to his munificence. These people do not fit into the picture of needy θεατρικοί, that all the other inscriptions suggest. They can in fact only be members of the great guilds of the τεχνῖται Διονύσου and the ξυστικοὶ ἀθληταί, to whom we have innumerable reference in the inscriptions of Magnesia, Iasos and other cities of the area. We find them specified in this inscription, only by the accident that they passed their own decrees and the agonothete wanted to commemorate this.17 Are we to understand that these professional thymelic Artists are included under the general terms ἀκροάματα and θεατρικοί in the other inscriptions?

28Clearly the Artists could be subsumed under ἀκροάματα, and even θεατρικοί, so far as I see. At Kaunos, not far away, Agreophon is praised [OAth 10, 1971, 36-39 ~ PHI Kaunos Caria 4]:

καὶ ἀγωνοθέτης γενόμενος ἐν πένταετηρίδι πρός τε τὴν πόλιν καὶ τοὺς ἐπιδημήσαντας ξένους καὶ θεατρικοὺς καὶ ἀθλητὰς ἐνιαυσίοις ἀναλώμασιν ὑπεβάλετο.

  • 18 P. Hermann, « Zwei Inscriften von Kaunos und Bab Dag », Opusc. Athen X= Scrifter Utgivna ar Svensk (...)

29I give the translation of this difficult – and I suspect, deliberately obscure – passage by Peter Hermann: « Als er in dem Jahr des penteterischen Spiele Agonothet geworden war, nahm er die Aufwendungen eines vollen Jahres auf sich wie auch gegenueber den anwesenden Fremden, den Schauspieler und Athleten »18. Here θεατρικοί ought to mean Artists for the penteteric (imperial?) competition and incidentally perhaps other artists. This same agonothete is said to have provided constant « staffing of the theatres » thereby apparently demonstrating his liturgical spirit:

διηνεκή δὲ τὴν τῶν θεάτρων παρεῖχεν ὑπηρεσίαν καὶ ἐν τoῖς ἰδιωτικοῖς καιροῖς ἐπιδεικνύμενος λειτουργοῦ μεγαλοψυχίαν.

30The staffing of the theatres (« Theaterbetrieb » Hermann) must have involved hiring these, θεατρικοί and also others if the theatres were to be staffed « constantly »; we cannot tell from the language if he hired with his own money or not. Similarly at Ilium in 77 BC [Inschr. Ilion 10; PHI Skam. Neb. Taeler Mysia Troas 170] the cities organizing the Panathenaia agree that ἀγωνοθέτης and σύνεδροι are to manage, in line with existing revenue, the thymelic contest and the ἀκροάματα.

τὰ περὶ τοῦ θυμελικοῦ καὶ τῶν α<κ>ροαμάτων ο[ἰκονομειν τούς τε ἀγωνοθε]τ[α]ς [κ]αὶ τοὺς συνέδρους ἀρτιζομένους πρòς τ<η>[ν μέλλου-σαν πρόσο]δον τòν [δὲ ἀγῶ]να τòν <γ>υμνικòν καὶ ἱππικòν γίνεσθαι ἐν το<ι>[ς εγάλοι]ς Παναθην[αί]ο<ις>.

31There is be no drama here at the Panathenaia, because of the impoverished condition of the city. The agonothetes with public funds are to look after the mainly musical ἀκροάματα and organize the annual thymelic competitions, though it is not clear that these are two totally different things. It would seem that ἀκροάματα here should include Artists.

  • 19 But I have not touched on those where ἀκροάματα as itinerant entertainers appear in gymnasiums or (...)

32If we stand back and look at these disparate data, – and I have mentioned all the important inscriptions that deal with ἀκροάματα, θεατρικοί, σκηνικοί or θυμελικοί19 – and ask what they tell us about the status of the professional performers, we must be puzzled by the absence of exactly the competition performers, the Artists, from the epigraphical record. Instead we have general references to « welcoming and paying ἀκροάματα and θεατρικοί ». We saw that the Artists never appear at Stratonicea, save in a quotation from their own decrees, so that we know they were there in the city competitions of the Panamareia, and so presumably in other festivals as well. Yet it is obvious that they staffed festival competitions, and that an agonothete, as in Kaunos, or some organization provided the ὑπερεσία for the theatres. We may also ask the related question: who paid for the prizes in the competitions? for we have no victor lists from Stratonicea as for Aphrodisias. We now realize that there is a great silence about the central aspects of the festivals even in these verbose inscriptions, where the priests list their annual benefactions. Why is it so difficult to find the Artists in euergetic decrees? It is certainly not difficult to find them in their own decrees.

  • 20 Laumonier 1958, 303

33One can never explain totally why something is not there. But one can at least recognize, as I have tried to show, that its absence is a fact. Laumonier20 could say that there were no dramatic artists at the festivals of Stratonicea, and indeed there is no evidence for them. But the city has a theatre, and it is scarcely credible that when so many of the neighbouring cities like Iasos have theatres and stages and also dramatic artists, that there should be absolutely no drama there. There are even Dionysiac mysteries, a strong sign of drama in the area. So while it is true to say that we have no epigraphic evidence for theatre, we do have a theatre; and where Artists should be, we have obscure words (θυμελικοί, θεατρικοί and ἀκροάματα). The only special mention of an artist was of a dancer in Hadrianic times, and he would not be in an official competition, because there were no pantomime competitions at the time, even though pantomimes enjoyed great popularity; nor were they members of the Artists’guild.

  • 21 Le Guen 2001, 31-2
  • 22 Robert, OMS, 6.83; BE 1968 442; W.C. West, « Marcus Ulpius Domestikos and the athletic synod at Ep (...)
  • 23 e. g. Ankyra, SEG, VI 58, 59.

34First, any answer must start from some general considerations. There is normally assumed by scholars to be a distinction between the professional Artists of the guilds – I leave aside the athletic guild here – and the performers who were not normally part of these guilds. But this is a distinction made by the Artists. We would suppose that the guild thought of themselves as an elite association and would not wish to be called by the less exclusive term of either ἀκροάματα or θεατρικοί. We have of course another short-lived but related association21 in Asia called the κοινòν τῶν συναγωνιστῶν, which is separate from the τεχνιται, and indicative of the situation: there are the real ἀγωνιζόμενοι – the Artists – and then those that accompany their competing; perhaps the distinction was less clear in reality, and we find a guild22 of ieronikai, who are obviously more, not less, exclusive. Better evidence comes from an imperial inscription of Gerasa. It is a decree of the Artists recording their gratitude for the generosity of an imperial agonothete, such as we find in several places23. But here the Artists ally themselves with another grouping, but also distinguish themselves from these « others ». [Inscr. Gerasa 190]:

οἵ τε ἀγωνιζόμενοι πάντες καὶ oἱ κατὰ καιρòν θεατρίζοντες.

  • 24 L. Robert, OMS, 1.601ff. The philological difficulty in defining theatre folk can be illustrated b (...)

35Robert in his magisterial comments24 on this inscription showed that θεαρίζω or ἐκθεατρίζω used mainly of miming. In fact it first appears, not as he says in Diodorus Siculus, but already in Polybius (XI, 8, 7) and Posidonius (apud Diod Sic.) and means « to mime in such a way as to make fun of ». It is a word that has as long a history as the artists themselves, in fact even longer, because it is used in the New Testament, and so appears extensively in Christian litterature. But the Gerasa inscription composed by Artists and not agonothetes is a locus classicus for the mentality of the Artists themselves; the guilds of the Artists i. e those who compete consider themselves to be different from the general θεατρίζοντες who entertain sporadically, i. e. whenever they find work; and we can assume that these are mainly mime artists, which is a very broad category.

36Plutarch, I think, and not the Artists themselves, makes the same distinction. This passage also is listed by Prof. Le Guen in her extremely helpful collection of literary references to the Artists, and I am reading more into it than she does:

Plut., Agis and Cleomenes 33.3 = Le Guen no 10:

τέλος δὲ τους περὶ τον Διόνυσον τεχνίτας ἐκ Μεσσήνης διαπορευομένους λαβών, καὶ πηξάμενος θέατρον ἐν τῇ πολεμίᾳ καὶ προθεὶς ἀπò τετταράκοντα μνῶν ἀγῶνα, μίαν ἡμέραν ἐθεάτο καθήμενος, ου δεόμενος θέας, ἀλλ’ οἷον ἐντρυφών τοῖς πολεμίοις καὶ περιουσίαν τιν του κρα-τειν πολύ τω καταφρονεί ν ἐπιδεικνύμενος. έπεί ἄλλως γε τῶν Ελληνικῶν καὶ βασιλικῶν στρατευμάτων ἐκείνο μόνον ού μίμους παρακολοῦθοΰντας εἶχεν, οὐ θαυματοποιούς, οὐκ όρχηστρίδας, οὐ ψαλτρίας, ἀλλά πάσης ἀκολασίας καί βωμολοχίας καί πανηγυρισμού καθαρòν ἦ ν ·

  • 25 I shall have more to say about military mimes elsewhere.

37Cleomenes invades Arcadia, meets with a bunch of Dionysiac Artists and shows his contempt for the usual frivolity of generals by hiring these artists, giving them prize money, building them a theatre and setting up a competition. By doing this, he demonstrates that other armies25 are addicted to mimes and θαυματοποιοί who accompany them. It seems to me evident that Cleomenes is seeking to demonstrate his cultural superiority by his sponsorship of the distinction that we have seen before, between real Artists who compete and the mimes and dancers and jongleurs who do not.

  • 26 See my forthcoming article on these in the journal Phoenix, 2002.

38It would seem then that there was from hellenistic times until the 2nd century AD a recognition that τεχνῖται were associated with the specific competitions of Greek festival culture, and that they laid claim to it as their area of expertise, with all its rules and regulation, its prizes and privileges; they are professionals and especially are associated with the concept of competition. Other forms of unregulated entertainment were not similarly bound by conventions and rules, especially the anarchic mimes26 and the sub-varieties of juggling, ropewalking, sleight of hand and general θαυματοποιία. (I observe that some of these people would have been slaves, while the Artists were not.)

  • 27 Woerrle 1988, lines 44-5.
  • 28 W. Slater, RA, 1991, 277, cf. « Three Problems in the History of Drama », Phoenix 47, 1993, 189-21 (...)
  • 29 L. Robert, OMS, 6, 710-19. Of course there are several festival inscriptions (e.g. at Magnesia and (...)
  • 30 One thinks of the wrestling? champion in Side, who was crowned according to the rules of the themi (...)

39Lastly, confirmation comes from a different angle again, from the decree27 setting up the festival of Iulius Demosthenes of 124 AD, where the performers outside the competition (dancers mimes etc.) are called παραμισθώματα, – they are literally « those hired on the side ». They are hired with a lump sum of 600 denarii set aside for that purpose for three days. They are named as mimes and ἀκροάματα and θεάματα and very clearly it is decreed that « for them there will be no prizes ». Of the Artists nothing is said, but this festival of Demosthenes was a thematic competition, and we are given a list of specific competitions with the amount of the prizes, first, second and sometimes third; there is silence about any other inducements for them to attend. One would perhaps conclude that here was an example of good old-fashioned competition with « winner take all ». And that was how Demosthenes wanted it to appear. We are told only that there were prizes of a specific sum, and these are the only inducement for competitors to come to the festival at all. I have said28 elsewhere, that what appears to be prize gold crowns are in fact precise salaries at the hellenistic Sarapieia of Tanagra, since a crown is worth a specific amount in gold. There were different ways of paying Artists, but one did not need to give them μισθός directly; and that is apparently what they wanted to avoid. This fact incidentally renders invalid the firm distinction – made by L. Robert29 and often repeated – between thematic and stephanitic competitions, even if the distinction seems supported by the inscriptions that make it. Clearly the unmentioned competitors in the Demostheneia were professional Artists, and I assume that when three levels of prizes were offered, three or maybe only two Artists came, or even only one, as we can prove for the Serapieia.30 What appears to be a prize is in fact salary. This enables an agonothete to claim that he has been celebrating a competition with victors even when he has induced the competitors to come with the carrot of specific salaries. The distinction between hiring and prizeoffer is one of attitude.

40The official distinction made by the Artists, and visible in Plutarch, Iulius Demosthenes and perhaps the general population seems therefore to be the opposite of the agonothetes of Stratonicea (or Ilium or elsewhere), who treat all the performers indiscriminately as a bunch of ἀκροάματα, something that we can be sure that the Artists do not themselves wish. We have festivals in Stratonicea, but the competitions and the competitors and their financing and even the prizes seem to have disappeared from the epigraphic record. We know the performers were generously welcomed by the agonothete, or the chiefpriest or whoever he was. But the Artists have otherwise vanished, leaving behind almost no trace. But like archaeologists looking for a robbed wall, we too have to detect what is not there, and then explain its absence. No historian of the ancient world can operate solely from existing data as many modern historians can and do (though whether they are right to do so is another matter). As Sterling Dow once said; « it is what is not on the stone that is important ».

41So now, a word about the competitions, of which the Artists boast so often. I think a passage of Plutarch is most revealing. Prof. Le Guen has noted it in her book, but I hope she will forgive me again if I think it deserves closer attention.

42Plut., De capienda ex inimicis utilitate 87. F = Le Guen no 4

καὶ μὴν τοὺς περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον τεχνίτας ὁρῶμεν ἐκλελυμένους καὶ ἀπρόθυμους καί ούκ ἀκριβώς πολλάκις ἀγωνιζομένους ἐν τοῖς θεάτροις ἐφ' εαυτών ὅταν δ' ἅμιλλα καὶ ἀγών γένηται πρòς έτέρους, ού μόνον αύ-τούς άλλα και τά όργανα μάλλον συνεπιστρέφουσιν χορδολογοῦντες καὶ άκριβέστερον ἀρμοζόμενοι καὶ καταυλοῦντες

43Prof Le Guen translates : « Nous les voyons souvent, pleins de négligence et de mollesse, rivaliser sans rigueur, quand au théâtre ils ne sont qu’entre eux. Mais quand ils luttent et rivalisent avec les autres troupes, ils apportent plus d’attention non seulement à leur propre rôle, mais aussi aux instruments de musique... ».

  • 31 In SIG3 690, 4 the Artists send a group of their members as a gift not to «give a show» [ἐπιδείκνυ (...)

44I rather think that by αγωνιζόμενους εν τοις θεάτροις έφ’εαυτών Plutarch implies not really « competing » but simply « performing » « among themselves in the theatres ». This is because the word « compete » has long ceased to mean real competition,31 and Plutarch is playing on that shift in meaning, as if we were to put the Greek word into inverted commas.

  • 32 Le Guen 2001, no. 20, 35

45Secondly, they do not probably compete with other « troupes », but in a « competition against others », and the context suggest that this should mean: not in the theatres but in some venue outside of the theatres. So rather : « nous les voyons negligents, sans sérieux, souvent « rivaliser » sans rigueur au théâtre entre eux ». Notice also the precision of Plutarch; he does not say θεατρικοί or actors or anything general; he specifies the Artists of Dionysus as those who fail to compete with real enthusiasm. For me this is excellent and unimpeachable evidence that festival competitions were generally regarded as « rigged » by the artists in imperial times (and perhaps earlier). Plutarch is saying that one does not expect a guild like the Artists to demonstrate real competition among their own members in the theatre, but only when they have to face competition from outside their own guild. This of course is the opposite of their own propaganda, that they were first and foremost « competitors ». That is why they use the term « agonizesthai » when they are not even competing. They maintain that to appear at a festival is automatically to compete, and competition especially in the service of the gods is prestigious and especially without being paid. This differentiates them from the mimes and ακροάματα. But clearly the truth was that the prize competitions were now to some extent a « closed shop », and that the competitions – especially in lesser festivals – were often lacking in real competitiveness. Why? because presumably in many instances it was the local guild of Artists under contract to an agonothete who actually sent – the technical term is νέμειν - the staffing - υπηρεσία – for the theatres.32

  • 33 Fr. Jacques’Le Privilège de liberté is a long book that is difficult to read, and is now seldom ci (...)

46Now – since I have spent most of my time in creating a problem where none existed before, – I have to offer briefly some overall theory to explain the data. Our problems arise because of the conventions of euergetic agonothetes/ munerarii and the conventions of the Artists. Epigraphy does not tell the truth. The Artists do not admit that they can be hired and paid, as we have seen; they claim to compete, even when there is no true competition. The agonothetes too are governed by their conventions for it is a general rule of Latin honorific decrees that anyone giving games does not claim detailed epigraphic credit for things that he or she would have to do anyway as part of official duties; one only should claim for what is not expected of one or one has promised to do. This is the lesson demonstrated by F. Jacques33, and it should be applied, perhaps in a modified form, to the agonethetic inscriptions of Asia as well. A benefactor can claim for games that were put on outside of official duties, e. g. a dies privatus, because these were a munus, a gift or donation, in Greek φιλοτιμία, and so outside the official position. Here is a rare example from Caria: [IStrat 254 ~ Panamara Caria 187]

ἐμισθώσαντο δὲ καὶ τα ἐπιδημήσαντα [ἀκροάματα πάντα, ἐπετέλε [σαν δὲ ἀγῶνα ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων μετὰ] καὶ πρωτευόντων ἀκροαμάτων δἰ ὅλης ἡμέ’ ρας ἄχρι πολ[λ]οῦ μέρους τῆς νυκτός.

  • 34 We could have many other possibilities e. g. » san a [σαν άλλην ήμέραν μετά πολλῶν]

47Here he puts on a dies privatus. The supplements are all doubtful34 but the important thing is that the hiring of visiting ἀκροάματα could be an extra, as would be the extra day/games, and he can therefore claim it as a munus, and furthermore it suggests that he does not claim the regular performances, only the irregular. But this is an aspect of euergetism that would need to be tested in detail on a larger scale.

48To sum up, I suggest that Artists disappear from our inscriptions because of a combination of two complex and ill-documented reasons:

  1. it was usually (but not always) a duty of the agonothete to organize the staffing of the festival competitions; the guild, perhaps via middlemen, then allocated (νέμειv) and sent along the requisite Artists, who might be complemented by other performers. Various financial arrangements would be possible. By the principle enunciated by Jacques, all that would be mentioned in an inscription or in a civic decree would be his own financial expenditures, including παραμισθώματα, or extra efforts to see to better advertising, and so on. But one must be aware of exceptions: e. g. that an exceptional agonothete could refuse money offered from public funds, and therefore claim as a munus what others could not.
  2. the Artists were professionals who would as a guild staff the official competitions, and be given a general contract and a salary – in whatever form – to do so, (as we see most clearly in the early decree35 of the cities of Euboea) but they for reasons of prestige did not want this mentioned, since they professed to come for the competition and the prizes alone in the service of the gods.

49So it comes about that an agonothete can say that he « welcomed » performers, but not that he hired Artists to come. He does say that he welcomed and hired θεατρικοί or ακροάματα, which would for many people mean the performers outside of competition, which would be the private responsibility of the agonothete. He (or she) can say that she brought the best ajkroavmata from all over for one’s games, but not that she hired Artists for actual games. Some things cannot be said. What I have tried to show here is that epigraphy is not an ideal guide to the real working of a festival, or even the status of actors. The conventions of euergetism inhibit us from using these documents as simple data, even when they are written on stone and even when they are all we have.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

Atti XI Congresso Internazionale di Epigrafia Greca e Latina, Roma 18-24 settembre 1997, 1999, Rome.

Bradeen – McGregor (éd.) 1974: Bradeen D.W. – McGregor M.F. (éd.), Tribute to B. D. Meritt, Locust Valley.

Bremen 1996: Bremen R. van, The Limits of Participation, Amsterdam.

Freis 1984: Freis H., Historische Inschriften zür Römischen Kaiserzeit von Augustus bis Konstantin, Darmstadt.

Jacques 1984 : Jacques Fr., Le privilège de liberté : politique impériale et autonomie municipale dans les cités de l’Occident romain (161-244), Paris.

Laumonier 1958 : Laumonier A., Les Cultes indigènes en Carie, Paris.

Le Guen 2001 : Le Guen B., Les associations de Technites dionysiaques à l’époque hellénistique, Paris.

Nollé 2001: Nollé J., Side im Altertum II, IGSK 44, Bonn.

Quass 1993: Quass F., Die Honoratiorenschicht in den Städten des griechischen Ostens, Stuttgart.

Robert 1940-1960: Robert L., Hellenica I-XIII, Paris.

Robert 1989: Robert L., Claros I, Paris.

Robert 1969: Robert L., Opera Minora Selecta, I-VII, Amsterdam.

Sahin 1981, 1982, 1990: Sahin M.C., Inschriften von Stratonikeia, I.K. 21, 22,1; 22,2, Bonn.

Sherk 1988: Sherk R.D.G.E., The Roman Empire: Augustus to Hadrian, Cambridge.

Wilhelm 1974: Wilhelm A., Akademieschriften zur griechischen Inschriftenkunde, I-III, Leipzig.

Woerrle 1988 : Woerrle M., Stadt und Fest im kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasien, Munich.

Notes

1 Epainetos Ouliades and Epainetos Pamphilos are father and son and both use this same formula (I. Strat. 684 and 685).

2 Laumonier 1958, 382 and 383, cf. 378 at Lagina : « secours aux indigents ».

3 Laumonier 1958, 268.

4 As is specified in I. Strat. 668 ~ Lagina Caria 62.1. Another inscription (I. Strat. 248 ~ Panamara Caria 181) has the term δεoμέvωv which is ambiguous, meaning possibly «things necessary», as Laumonier 1958, 275 translates.

5 Bremen 1996, 73, in her excellent study of euergetic women in Asia, suggests that Tata may be an agonothete, even if not specifically so called. That is really not likely, even if these inscriptions are indeed lacunose. Just how difficult it is to read behind the text can be illustrated from Nollé 2001, no. 112 with Nollé’s comments; any reasonable reader would conclude wrongly that the woman there gave munera on her own account. Since three new books are announced on the subject of the imperial cult, it is premature to discuss the issue here.

6 L. Robert OMS 2, 1106-8; Drew-Bear R., Glotta 50, 1972, 194: «an official, subordinate to the agonothete, who admitted the contestants»; P. Hermann, « Fragment einer Gladiatoreninschrift », EA, 31, 1999, 33 discusses εἰσάγω as a technical term in an inscription from Perge for a munerarius bringing in a munus. The simple ἀγαγὼν ἀγῶνα » [is used of a munerarius himself in Beroea, EKM 1 no 177.

7 Consider SEG, XLIV (1994), 1174 which says that Iulius Lucius Pilius Arestus at Oenoanda was the first to set up an penteteric agon; but of course he was not, since we have the Iulius Demosthenes inscription from earlier; Pleket ad loc. suggests that he may have meant an agon with the funding of statues. But this is an desperate attempt to rescue the inscription from a charge of fraud. Arestus would have said that he was the first to fund the setting up of statues, if he wanted to be precise. He deliberately misleads the readers, in order to make the claim of «first», which can be «a sort of laudatory epithet without further meaning» (Bremen 1996, 118).

8 e. g. SEG 1998, 1040: «he gave games from his own money and gave prizes»

9 E. g. IvPerge, nos. 47 and 48 speak of « archiereis and agonothetai ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων », while in 60, 61 the expression « chiefpriest of the Sebastoi and agonothete of the great penteteric Kaisareia contests ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων and agonothete of the Artemisian Vespasian contests » strongly suggests that he did not have to pay for the second set of games, as no. 63 confirms.

10 L. Robert, « Archaiologos », REG, 1936, 235ff.= OMS, 1, 671ff., with the doubts and corrections of M. T. Mitsos, in Bradeen and Macgregor 1974, 120; Robert should not have ruled out so firmly a connection with the gymnasium. He had collected some of the inscriptions I treat here on pp. 116-7 of his influential study « Pantomimen im griechischen Orient », Hermes 65, 1930, 106ff= OMS, 1, 654ff, which I sought to update and correct in GRBS 36, 1995, 263ff and GRBS 37, 1996, 195ff.

11 There is an English translation by Sherk 1988, 32, which is not quite accurate; better is the German translation in Freis 1984, 28-30; but of course translating ἀκροάματα as «Schauspieler» reveals the uselessness of translation for the questions discussed here...

12 Chandezon Chr., « Foires et Panégyries dans le monde grec classique et hellénistique », REG, 2000, 70ff. with reference to previous literature.

13 On the term ἱερὰ χρήματα as a means of supporting festivals, see IG, IX, 12 2,583 with the extensive comments of Chr. Habicht, « Eine Urkunde des akarnanischen Bundes », Hermes 85, 1957, 86-122 and L. Robert’s comments in BE 1958 no. 270.

14 For the term, see L. Robert, Hellenica, 5, 21-4.

15 Cl. Prêtre, BCH 124, 2000, 263ff. who discusses usefully whether the archon himself may have paid for the pipe-players out of his own pocket. Her other solution – « donner au verbe μισθóω le sens restreint d’engager » – does not seem to me possible, and she does not confront the particular problem noted here.

16 For inscriptional recollection by euergetes of such previous civic decrees, see Quass 1993, 395. For the decrees of the Artists’guild honouring agonothetes and benefactors, see e. g. Le Guen 2001, no. 61. These become more numerous in imperial times, as in the Gerasa decree below.

17 Laumonier 1958, 276: « Des décrets en témoignent » would suggest that the decrees were civic, when the Greek makes it clear that the performers themselves as associations moved the resolutions. Perhaps this is why he failed to deal with the issue.

18 P. Hermann, « Zwei Inscriften von Kaunos und Bab Dag », Opusc. Athen X= Scrifter Utgivna ar Svenska Institutet i Athen: Acta Instituti Atheniensis regni Sueciae 4, XVIII, 1971, 36-40, at p. 38. Hermann does not justify his translation, and I find the Greek extremely difficult; in fact I wonder if the expresssion is not meant to conceal what Agreophon actually did to finance games and theatres. It certainly does not exclude the interpretation that he made a subvention to public funds. The inscription leaves a great deal unsaid.

19 But I have not touched on those where ἀκροάματα as itinerant entertainers appear in gymnasiums or in Egyptian or Kyzikos festivals etc. See Robert 1989, 48-9.

20 Laumonier 1958, 303

21 Le Guen 2001, 31-2

22 Robert, OMS, 6.83; BE 1968 442; W.C. West, « Marcus Ulpius Domestikos and the athletic synod at Ephesus, » AHB 4, 1990, 84-9.

23 e. g. Ankyra, SEG, VI 58, 59.

24 L. Robert, OMS, 1.601ff. The philological difficulty in defining theatre folk can be illustrated by Artemidorus’s Oneirocritica 2.3: who puzzlingly lists those able to wear poikile or alourgis as: priests, θυμελικοί, σκηνικοί, καὶ οἱ περὶ τòν Διόνυσον τεχνῖται, where I would take scaenici, as often, to be mimes. But at 2.30 and 2.37 he opposes scaenici to thymelici, which would be a normal contrast of drama to music.

25 I shall have more to say about military mimes elsewhere.

26 See my forthcoming article on these in the journal Phoenix, 2002.

27 Woerrle 1988, lines 44-5.

28 W. Slater, RA, 1991, 277, cf. « Three Problems in the History of Drama », Phoenix 47, 1993, 189-212. As far as I know, my arguments concerning the accounts of the Sarapieia have been accepted. A possible exception is D. Knoepfler, in: Atti XI Congresso, 240 who remarks on the misprint of an SEG number but not whether he disagrees with the argument.

29 L. Robert, OMS, 6, 710-19. Of course there are several festival inscriptions (e.g. at Magnesia and Thespiae) that show « upgrading » and expansion of festivals, including to the prestigious « stephanites » status. I merely state at this point that this formal Titelwirtschaft conceals much expensive public posturing. The winners do not get a crown of oakleaves or laurel only, but golden apples, and other valuable oddities as well as sacks of money [see e.g. Nollé 2001, 447-8]; the losers do get subsistence allowances, χορηγήματα, second prizes, options and much else which our sources almost always conceal. The formal distinctions become meaningless in such circumstances. I shall be discussing this elsewhere.

30 One thinks of the wrestling? champion in Side, who was crowned according to the rules of the themis since he was the only one to show up for the competition; J. Nollé 2001, no 132

31 In SIG3 690, 4 the Artists send a group of their members as a gift not to «give a show» [ἐπιδείκνυσθαι] or «offering» [ἀπάρχεσθαι] but to (kat) agonizesthai, when clearly no competition was intended. The harpist in SIG3, 738 gives a free day of performance at Delphi since the games have been called off by reason of the Mithridatic war; she therefore aparxato (so A. Wilhelm 1974, 2.81) and is then said to ἀπάρχεσθαι a second day. The reduction to the sense « perform » is already found in Aristotle.

32 Le Guen 2001, no. 20, 35

33 Fr. Jacques’Le Privilège de liberté is a long book that is difficult to read, and is now seldom cited even by historians of western euergetism. I am very grateful to my student Dr. Guy Chamberland for insisting that I understand Jacques’important arguments.

34 We could have many other possibilities e. g. » san a [σαν άλλην ήμέραν μετά πολλῶν]

35 Le Guen 2001, no. 1. with sober commentary, giving the latest text of the very difficult IG, XII, 9, 207.

Auteur

Université de McMaster

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2004

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