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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

Problems in the Iconography of roman Mime1

Katherine Dunbabin

Texte intégral

  • 1 I have left this paper essentially in the form in which it was delivered in Tours. It forms part of (...)

1The use of art to celebrate spectacle and performance in the Roman world has attracted much attention recently. Scenes of the circus races, of gladiators and uenationes, occur in a wide range of media and contexts; they provide a major source of information about the spectacles themselves, and also serve to reveal the interests and ideologies of the patrons who commissioned them. Scenes illustrating the traditional theatre, that are clearly meant to represent a performance, are rarer; but they include well-known and important examples. Alongside these we can place a number of representations that show actors with the accoutrements of their trade, masks, tragic or comic, or costumes, but do not represent an actual scene.

  • 1 Jory 1996. Recognizable pantomime masks, sometimes held by figures such as Muses, occur more often.

2If, however, we turn to look for illustrations of the forms of theatrical entertainment that dominated the stage throughout the centuries of the Roman Empire, we find a striking discrepancy. Pantomime, beyond doubt the leading form of artistic performance, is largely absent from the visual record. In his recent study of the iconography of pantomime, John Jory came up with a very thin haul: a handful of terracottas, applique medallions, and contorniates that show dancers with the costume and mask of a pantomime. Moreover, none of these show a recognizable scene with the actor in mid-performance1.

  • 2 Several scholars have recently drawn attention to this fact; see e. g. Kondoleon 1994, 308-312; Lan (...)
  • 3 In a similar way Green 1991, 33-44, suggests that Athenian vase painters may have represented scene (...)

3An explanation for the discrepancy is clearly needed. It has often been noted that a large proportion of the subjects from mythology that are most common in the art of the later Empire (and especially in those media such as mosaic and painting that were used to decorate domestic buildings) are those that we know to have provided popular subjects for the pantomime; the familiarity of patrons with themes such as the Judgement of Paris or Achilles on Scyros will often have derived, not primarily from works of literature nor from traditional drama, but from the repeated presentation of these themes by dancers of pantomime2. Nevertheless, these mythological scenes are obviously in no sense rendered as they would have been represented in pantomime, with a single dancer performing a variety of roles; nor do any of them ever contain pantomime masks or identifiable costumes. Rather, it may be suggested that the artists of these scenes look beyond the actor and the performance, to portray the myth itself3. The result is that we cannot establish an iconography of pantomime performances, apart from the very limited representations of individual dancers mentioned above; the ancient artists have deliberately omitted the distinguishing features that might enable us to identify them.

  • 4 E. g. Bieber 1920, 177, nos. 188-189, pl. 108, 4-5; Richter 1913; Goldman 1943; Bieber 1961, 248-25 (...)
  • 5 But note Bieber 1920, 176-177, no. 187, fig. 142; ead. 1961, 107, fig. 415, on the terracotta lamp (...)
  • 6 For the general characteristics of mime in the Roman period, see Wüst 1932, 1743-1761; Bonaria 1965 (...)

4Mime raises different problems. A large number of figures, mostly terracottas or small bronzes, have been identified as representations of mime actors on the basis of their grotesque features and costume, especially bald head, large ears, or large hooked nose, sometimes accompanied by a pointed cap4. Only rarely, however, do identifiable scenes appear5. But the heterogeneous nature of the genre, and the extraordinarily mixed assortment of performances that went under the name of mime, make it impossible to generalize or look for common criteria valid across the whole range6. As the main focus of this paper I propose to study one specific group of dancers and entertainers, who appear in representations in a variety of media, at dates ranging from the first century BC (perhaps with earlier forerunners) to the third AD. The figures are portrayed both individually and in more elaborate scenes. They follow a range of types, but behind the variations common features recur which allow the identification of the group. Some of them are comparatively recent discoveries, others are long known, and the iconographic puzzles which they present were much discussed in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. More recently they have been somewhat neglected, and do not seem to have attracted much attention from specialists in Roman theatre and performance. Some are grotesque caricatures, with little resemblance to real human beings; others are more realistically rendered, and presented in a context which allows some conclusions to be advanced about the nature of the performance.

  • 7 M. Nowicka, in Blanc 1998, 66-70, panel 5. It is described there as'une scène de danse sacrée, apot (...)

5I start with the curious pair who appear on one end of the painted interior of a sarcophagus from Kertch, ancient Panticapaeum, of the late first to early second century AD, now in the museum of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. (Fig. 1)7 Two small grotesque figures with stick-like arms and legs, huge noses, at least one of them exaggeratedly ithyphallic, are dancing wildly, brandishing in each hand a pair of crossed sticks. To their left stands a table, identical to that which appears in the nearby banqueting scene, bearing drinking implements; two glasses and a ladle are clearly recognizable, a jug stands on the ground beneath. Around the rest of the sarcophagus appear a series of separate scenes; one shows a reclining man with cup and a table before him, and a seated woman, served by attendants, another a group of musicians playing the double pipes, and, it seems, a portable organ.

  • 8 Maiuri 1953-1954, 92-99, pl. 33. Maiuri believed that the paintings dated from the pre-Roman period (...)
  • 9 Maiuri claims that they were wearing half-masks, but the details are not clear enough to distinguis (...)
  • 10 Becatti 1961, 205-207, no. 391, pl. CXIV, ascribed to the first half of the 3rd century AD; the res (...)

6For all their caricature-like appearance, the dancing figures belong in a group of representations, from widely different parts of the Graeco-Roman world, which show grotesque dancers. Characteristic of such figures are not only the exaggerated gestures and often gross obscenity of the dance, but the long pairs of sticks or staves that they brandish at arm's length or wave in time with the beat. Very similar, for instance, are the pair of dancers from a painting, little more than a rough sketch, on the outside wall of House I 8.10 in Pompeii. (Fig. 2)8 It shows two stick-wielding figures, wearing loin cloths and pointed hats, performing a jerky dance with projecting buttocks; they are of normal proportions but apparently with large hooked noses.9 Two more of the crossed-stick dancers appear on a mosaic in the Caupona of Alexander at Ostia (IV 7.4), performing what is evidently a lewd dance; the one on the left, with his buttocks projecting in an even more emphatic manner, has a huge dangling phallus, surely artificial. (Fig. 3)10 The curiously smooth outline of the heads suggests either that they are wearing some close fitting headgear, or perhaps rather that they are bald.

Fig. 1 – Kertch, painted interior of sarcophagus, end panel with pair of stick dancers. After Blanc 1998, fig. page 69.

Fig. 2 –Pompeii, House I 8, 10, painting from exterior wall with two stick dancers. After Maiuri 1953-1954, pl. 33, 1.

Fig. 3 – Ostia, Caupona of Alexander (IV 7, 4), mosaic of two stick dancers. After Becatti 1961, pl. CXIV, no. 391.

  • 11 Binsfeld 1956, 45-50, following (n. 107) the path set by a number of earlier scholars, especially J (...)
  • 12 Bailey 1980, 60: stave-dancers on Italian lamps, with comparanda; Bailey 1988, 62, fig. 74, on Knid (...)
  • 13 Snowden 1976, 228-229, figs. 297-8: bronze statuette in Menil Collection, Houston, with pointy hat, (...)
  • 14 Pygmies: cf. below n. 36.

7The stick-dancers just discussed belong in a wider group of grotesque dancers which goes back to the late Hellenistic period. Characteristic features of these dancers, apart from the sticks, are the pointed hats that many of them wear, which have led to their being labelled «Spitzhuttänzer», or pointy-hatted dancers. The group was identified almost 50 years ago by Wolfgang Binsfeld in his dissertation Grylloi.11 He assembled more than fifty representations, in a wide variety of media ranging from small bronzes and terracottas, pottery and lamps, to painting and mosaic. Many further examples might now be added, especially in the minor arts. On lamp-disks, for instance, the figure of a stave-dancer, with or without a pointed hat, is identified by Bailey as in use from the early first to the early third century AD, on types from Italy, Knidos, and elsewhere.12 Another fine example is a bronze statuette now in Houston, apparently representing an African dancer, where the sticks are lost but the hand is curved to hold them.13 The representations in the minor arts characteristically show a single figure, brandishing his pairs of sticks in both hands, and performing the typical dance with bent legs and out-thrust buttocks; most have huge dangling phalloi swinging as they dance. The pointed hats are not indispensable, though most wear them; they usually also, if the depiction is clear enough, wear a loin cloth or trunks. Some of these figures have the big heads and stunted bodies that characterize the Roman representations of both pygmies and dwarfs.14 Others, however, have more normal proportions, apart from their well padded bottoms, and some are exaggeratedly thin and lanky.

  • 15 Bendinelli 1941; Jahn 1857, who discusses only two of the scenes (D VIII and A V), omitting those w (...)
  • 16 Bendinelli 1941, 30-31, tav. agg. 5d; it is known only from the copy executed by Ruspi in the mid 1 (...)
  • 17 Bendinelli 1941, 21, wall D VIII, tav. agg. 4a (surviving fragments), a'(water-colour of Ruspi); Ja (...)
  • 18 Bendinelli 1941, 6, wall A V, tav. agg. 1a and a': three hand-clapping dancers, one man holding out (...)
  • 19 Jahn 1857, 251-264, pl. II, 5, on the panel A V, identifying the scene as a performance of the trav (...)

8The representations that show simply one or two dancing figures clearly tell us nothing about their context; only a few, more substantial, offer further details. Of these, the best known are the paintings from the Columbarium of the Villa Doria Pamphili in Rome, dated to the beginning of the reign of Augustus.15 The area of the walls between the burial niches here was divided into a large number of long rectangular panels, with a great variety of subjects. Among these were five panels showing dancers. One contained three male dancers, their dance characterized by the out-thrust buttocks. Two of them brandish a pair of sticks in one hand; one of these two and the third wear pointy hats, and all wear loin cloths. Between them a man and woman perform a sex act, while curious spectators look on. (Fig. 4)16 The two with pointy hats appear again in a second panel, this time clapping their hands while two other men, very long and thin, perform a different type of dance, and a dog barks between them. (Fig. 5)17 The other panels introduce female dancers, nude and draped, pipe players who also play a percussion instrument, the scabillum, with their foot, and more male dancers resembling those in the second panel. (Figs. 6, 7)18 In most of the scenes spectators, male and female, gather around and look on. Ever since Jahn and Dieterich, the dancers have been identified as travelling entertainers, who would put on a show in public places; both the spectators and the little buildings that provide a setting in some of the scenes support such an explanation.19 But a few details seem to point in another direction. A male dancer in one panel holds a large amphora, while the female in the sex act scene in the first panel (if the drawing is to be trusted) holds, somewhat incongruously, a plate bearing what appear to be fruits. Sexual acrobatics could be a feature of the public mimes; but the specific connotations that these details introduce here seem to be taken from a scene where the setting was convivial.

Fig. 4 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, lost panel with stick dancers and sexual performance. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 5d (watercolour by Ruspi, ca. 1850).

Fig. 5 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel D VIII. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 4a'(watercolour by Ruspi).

Fig. 6 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel E IX. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 3b'(watercolour by Ruspi).

Fig. 7 –Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel A V. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 1a'(watercolour by Ruspi).

  • 20 Bendinelli 1926, 679-681, pl. XIX, 1; Wadsworth 1924, 84-85, pl. XLIII.
  • 21 E. g. Bendinelli 1926, 681, who sees it as'una scena di strada', with agyrtai or circulatores, and (...)
  • 22 Thus a virtually identical stick appears in a well-known painting of the banquet from Herculaneum, (...)
  • 23 Bendinelli 1926, 681-682, pl. XX. 2; for panels G and H see ibid. 682-685.

9The next monument from Rome where our characters appear is in the nave of the Underground Basilica of Porta Maggiore. One of the stucco panels (E) of the vault contains two pointy hatted dancers, one at each end. (Fig. 8)20 One holds a stick (only one, apparently), the other claps his hands, while two sticks rest on the ground before him. An amphora is carried here by an older man, and a woman in the centre is dancing with outstretched arms, the same dance as the woman on one of the columbarium panels. (Fig. 6) Beside her is a table with vessels upon it, including a wine cup with a stick lying on top, and a couple of jugs stand on the ground beside it. Another amphora may be seen on a stand at the left end of the panel. Like much else in the Basilica, this scene has been the subject of some strange interpretations. The woman's gesture has generally been taken to indicate an act of magic or prestidigitation, and the stick lying on the cup as a sorcerer’s wand.21 But the « sorcerer’s wand » can be much more simply explained as the stirrer for the drink which features regularly in Campanian paintings of banquet scenes.22 Related scenes of dance, some with Egyptian associations, recur in the three balancing panels in the vault of the nave; panel F includes two similarly dressed dancers, one with sticks, though without the pointy hats, around an amphora.23 All the figures on panel E have parallels, most very close, in the paintings of the columbarium; but here, as on the Kertch sarcophagus, the table and the amphora place them firmly in a convivial setting.

Fig. 8 – Rome, underground basilica of Porta Maggiore, stucco panel E from vault. After Wadsworth 1924, pl. XLIII.

  • 24 Nogara 1910, 7, pl. IX. 5, correctly identified as a scene of mine; Blake 1940, 118 (« vaudeville p (...)
  • 25 E. g. Nogara 1910, 7; Werner 1998, 46.

10About two hundred years later (probably in the mid third century), the dancers recur on a mosaic from Rome, one of five panels from Sta. Sabina on the Aventine, now in the Vatican; the rest show venatio scenes from the amphitheatre. (Fig. 9)24 There are three male dancers, each holding a pair of sticks in one hand; they lack the pointy hats but are otherwise very similar in costume and movement to their predecessors. They accompany two diaphanously clad female dancers, while two musicians – in fact, one identical figure repeated – play the double pipes and the scabillum. The objects in the centre of the scene have caused commentators some problems. Once again there is a tripod table, apparently bare, and an amphora in a stand beside it, while a dwarf walks away from it carrying a jug. Above rises the curve of a semicircular arch. Most commentators have identified the arch as a pergola, but have failed to explain the connection between this central motif and the dancers.25 Here too I believe that we have an attempt to set the dancers as economically as possible in a setting identified as convivial. Table and amphora clearly serve this function, with the dwarf as wine server; the use of dwarfs as entertaining household servants, especially at the banquet, is well attested in literature. As for the arch, it may be suggested that this could be a very schematized rendering of the semicircular sigma couch, as it normally occurs in banquet scenes of this period. In other words, the whole central motif acts as a shorthand symbol for a banquet scene: not, obviously, an actual representation of a banquet, since the guests are missing, but an allusion to give a context for the dancers.

Fig. 9 – Rome, mosaic panel from Sta. Sabina on Aventine. Photo DAI (R) 93. Vat. 859, courtesy of Direzione Generale dei Musei Vaticani (Dr F. Buranelli).

11Despite the differences in date and media these three representations have enough in common to permit some conclusions. The same figures, clearly reproducing a common prototype or model, recur in each. The male dancers themselves are represented as thin and apparently dark skinned (in the painting and mosaic), and wear only a loin cloth. Both pointy hats and the pairs of staves figure only in some instances: it looks as though together they make up the full equipment, but one or other can be discarded. Not only the dancers, but certain movements of the dance are repeated: the sideways movement with out-thrust buttocks and arms beating time; the figure bent forward and clapping, again with projecting buttocks; perhaps the one clapping above his head while springing upon one leg. Of the accompanying figures, the piper bent forward and playing a scabillum with his foot also recurs. The female dancers vary, though the same one recurs in both the columbarium and the basilica; they can be nude or diaphanously draped. Allusions, more or less direct, to a convivial setting also recur.

  • 26 B. M. Inv. 817: Perdrizet 1899, 592-593, pl. IV; Cremer 1991, 38-39, pl. 2.

12The setting is also convivial, but in a very different context, on a stele from Panderma near Kyzikos, now in the British Museum; it takes the theme back to the second to first century BC.26 It was dedicated to Zeus Hypsistos, and the figures in low relief represent the festive meal in the god's honour: a row of men reclining on a continuous bench, with the entertainers below them. We see the pipe player sitting on a stool and playing the scabillum with his foot; a nude female dancer; and a pointy-hatted stick dancer with out-thrust buttocks. The last figure is a servant drawing wine from a big bowl or krater.

  • 27 Pliny, Ep., VII, 24, 4; Suetonius, Dom., 7, 1; Olympiodorus, fr. 23 (FHG, IV, 6, 2).
  • 28 Plutarch, Mor., 712E.

13From the monuments discussed we may legitimately conclude that the type of entertainment that our dancers represent was one associated particularly with the banquet, though the columbarium paintings also suggest the possibility of a more public presentation in the streets. The banqueting connection is hardly surprising when we think of the numerous references to dancing and mimes as part of the entertainment regularly offered at the banquets of the wealthy. For example, there is Pliny’s aged friend Ummidia Quadratilla, with her own troupe of pantomimes whom she exhibited both in the theatre and at home; Domitian permitting actors to perform only within the house; or the Emperor Constantius joking at table with the mimes performing before him.27 That we tend to hear more of the higher-end and cultured forms of dinner entertainment naturally reflects the prejudices of our sources. Indeed Plutarch has one of his characters explicitly describe certain mimes – paignia – as unsuitable for a symposium, because they were so full of bomolochia and spermologia that they were not fit even for the slaves who look after their masters’shoes; but he adds that hoi polloi, even when there are women and children present, exhibit mimêmata of words and deeds that are more disruptive even than drunkenness.28

  • 29 For the ancient testimonia for gryllos (and related words), and the various interpretations ascribe (...)
  • 30 For gryllos as an Egyptian dancer see Perpillou-Thomas 1989, 153 (who apparently does not know Bins (...)
  • 31 G. Goetz, Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum, V (Leipzig 1894), 654.7; cf. Non. Marc., 5, 17 Lindsay. Se (...)
  • 32 For the primary meaning of kinaidos/cinaedus as a type of dancer, characteristic of Egypt though pe (...)
  • 33 Pliny, Ep., IX, 17, 1.
  • 34 Lucian, De Merc. Con., 27.

14Can we therefore offer any more specific name for our dancers, or identify the performances more clearly ? Several names of types of dancers have been proposed for them in the past, most commonly grylloi.29 However, Binsfeld in his dissertation studying that term argued, convincingly to my mind, that the type of dancer described as gryllos, and attested especially in Egypt, was not characterized by any of the specific features of our dancers.30 Much more likely, he suggested, was that they should be identified as cinaedi. The ancient definition of the term in the late Latin glossaries is particularly appropriate: cinaedi are those dancers or pantomimes who shake their rump publicly, qui publice clunem agitant.31 There is, not surprisingly, a strong sexual element implicit; cinaedi become synonymous with effeminacy and lewdness, and the word is frequently used as a sexual insult. But the dance seems to be the primary meaning.32 Several sources place them specifically in the context of convivial entertainment. The younger Pliny, for example, writes to a friend who has complained of the tedium of having had to attend a sumptuous banquet at which cinaedi, along with jesters and fools, ran all around the tables – a complaint which earned him a lecture from Pliny on toleration for the tastes of others, however vulgar.33 Lucian, similarly, has his Greek rhetorician who has succeeded in obtaining a post as tame philosopher in a great Roman house cowering in a corner of the dining room while a kinaidos or an Alexandrian dwarf singing dirty verses rival with him for the company’s favour.34 Such passages, I would propose, make much more sense if we envisage a performance like that of the Porta Maggiore Basilica or the Aventine mosaic.

  • 35 Louvre CA 936, published by Rostovtzeff 1937, 87-90, figs. 1-2. Another cup from the same mould is (...)

15As confirmation for his proposed identification of the dancers as cinaedi, Binsfeld quoted a much earlier object: the relief frieze of a Megarian bowl in the Louvre, whose date should be the third century BC. (Fig. 10)35 Although it is in no way an exact parallel for the scenes just discussed, it has certain elements in common. The figures in the frieze are not dancing, but appear to be performing a comic narrative, in which a group of intruders break into a mill and disturb the millers at their work. The intruders wear pointy hats and loin cloths, and at least one appears to have a dangling phallus. Above the head of one is written kinaidoi. There is clearly much about this bowl which needs the attention of the historians of drama, and a wide gap both in theme and in date between it and the monuments that I have been considering; but it does point towards a more definite identification for our figures.

Fig. 10 – Drawing of Megarian bowl, Louvre CA 936. After Rostovtzeff 1937, p. 88, fig. 1.

  • 36 Varone 1997, 151, fig. 6.
  • 37 Rome, MNR 77255: Lembke 1994, proposing a date ca. 100-110 AD, and an original use for an adherent (...)

16There are other associations for the figures on our Roman monuments which I can discuss here only briefly. One is a strong Egyptian connection for this type of dance. Several of the dancers are distinguished as unusually dark skinned; some are explicitly given African features. More specifically, pygmies – whose iconography in Roman art often merges with that of dwarfs – frequently appear waving the double sticks and performing similar buttockshaking dances. Good parallels for our figures appear on a painted frieze from the Casa del Medico Nuovo at Pompeii (VIII 5.24), with a picnic of pygmies at the centre of a Nilotic landscape.36 The banqueters are reclining on the stibadium couch under an awning; a round table with a bowl upon it is set in the curve of the couch; an amphora rests on a complex stand in the foreground. In front are the entertainers, who repeat several figures familiar from the group of monuments just discussed: the stick dancer on the right, his pose echoing that seen sometimes on lamps; the pipe player; and the sex act from the columbarium. While here the dancers are translated into a fanciful Egyptianizing setting, a relief found in a tomb at Ariccia, south of Rome, is evidently concerned with more genuinely Egyptian cult.37 In front of a portico with figures of Egyptian divinities (identifiable as a sanctuary of Isis), a group of dancers is performing; spectators applaud from a box at the side. The dancers lack the pointy hats, but the crossed sticks brandished by the men to the left are clearly the same, and the dancing females in long diaphanous dresses shaking their buttocks recall those of the Aventine mosaic. The cultic role of the dance needs further examination, but it seems clear that both dances and dancers were seen in Rome as having Egyptian associations.

  • 38 The funerary destination of the basilica was argued by Bendinelli 1926, 825-843, and repeated force (...)
  • 39 Tarchi 1936, pl. LXX, I (illustration only); Sinn 1987, 92, no. 5, pl. 4, c-d.

17Secondly, it is notable that many of the scenes I have discussed come from a funerary context. In addition to the columbarium and the Kertch sarcophagus, the Porta Maggiore basilica is often, and I think convincingly, taken to have been a funerary hypogaeum.38 Two other monuments from near Rome are of indisputable funerary character. One is a cinerary urn now in Orvieto, but probably originally from Rome, of the late Republic or early Augustan period.39 A single figure occupies each side. One is unmistakably the pointyhatted stick-dancer, another the pipe player, also with pointy hat, and playing the scabillum. A third figure with pointy hat and backward-pointing phallus introduces a new dance, with a pair of objects (baskets ?) balanced on a long pole over his shoulder. It is tempting to suggest that dances such as these played a part, not only in specific cults, nor just as entertainment at quotidian banquets, but also could have funerary associations: perhaps presented at funerary banquets, to provide the necessary mirth and release from mourning, perhaps rather to convey the notion of mimos ho bios, or to evoke the pleasures of this life in one of its most characteristic forms.

  • 40 Rome, MNR Inv. 184: S. Dayan, L. Musso in Giuliano 1981, 148-150, no. II, 44; Amedick 1991, 115, 14 (...)
  • 41 G. Kaibel, IG, XIV, 929; P. Lombardi, in Giuliano 1981, 150.
  • 42 Plautus, Poen., 1317-1320.

18More problematic is a sarcophagus from Ostia, probably of the beginning of the second century.40 On one side a cobbler and rope-maker are shown at work; presumably they are the dead man and the friend who dedicated the sarcophagus, portrayed in the practice of their trades. An inscription, in Greek, identifies the dead man, T. Flavius Trophimas, as a native of Ephesos, and addresses him by terms such as haplous and panmousos.41 The scene on the other side has puzzled commentators. Of the two dancers, one can easily be recognized as one of our stick-dancers; though his head is missing he wears the customary loin cloth, and the pose is found elsewhere. The other wears a transparent tunic, and beats a tympanon; a pipe lies on the table between them. Although the second man introduces a new type, he fits excellently into the general pattern; the music of the tympanon is associated with the dance of the cinaedi by Plautus, and their feminine and immodest clothing is one of the clichés most regularly applied to them.42 Are the two dancers, as most commentators have assumed, to be identified as the same figures who appear on the other side, the actual occupant of the tomb and his friend ? And if so, should we interpret their dance as an allusion to an exotic cult, or should we assume that they are proudly claiming membership in a group of performers normally referred to as the most despicable of men ? Or are we wrong to equate the two pairs; is the performance here too, as on the Orvieto urn, represented in its own right, as bearing appropriate funerary associations ?

  • 43 Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Inv. 707: Poulsen 1962, 113, no. 77, pls. CXXXV-CXXXVII; CIL, XIV, 4273. Se (...)
  • 44 CIL, XIV, 4198; Bombardi 2000. For the parasiti Apollinis as an association restricted to those con (...)
  • 45 Granino Cecere 1988-1989; cf. CIL, X, 814 = ILS, 5198; Bombardi 2000, 122-123.
  • 46 Yýlmaz – Şahin 1993; Voutiras 1995, with many references to baldness as a mark of the mime. Yýlmaz (...)

19This last work, therefore, raises a question close to the central theme of the colloquium: that of the self-representation of the mime actor. Although there are many inscriptions, funerary or votive, that commemorate mime actors, we have very few recognizable statues or portraits. I close, however, by looking at two examples that illustrate very different ways in which a mime could choose to have himself portrayed in a formal monument. In the sanctuary of Diana at Nemi, a little shrine contained statues, busts, and inscriptions of various actors. Foremost among them is a full-length statue of C. Fundilius Doctus, dedicator of the shrine, identified in the inscription as Apollinis parasitus. (Fig. 11)43 Other inscriptions in the same shrine refer to other parasiti, and to actors quartarum and secundarum.44 The freedman Doctus is shown in the most formal and respectable of guises as a Roman citizen, clad in toga with a box of scrolls beside him. He, and his fellow actors commemorated in the same shrine (including C. Norbanus Sorex, also known from Pompeii45), were clearly the most successful of their profession, and we would guess that they appeared in the more literary category of mime. Their images stress their civic role, not their profession. In contrast, we possess one monument of a mime actor in which he shows himself in a manner appropriate for his art. This is a grave stele from Patara in Lycia, bearing a Greek inscription of Eucharistos son of Eucharistos, described as « best of mimes ». (Fig. 12)46 His portrait bust is carved above, remarkable for its large eyes and totally bald pate, the characteristic mark of the stupidus. Here surely is an actor who displays a full and open pride in his art.

Fig. 11 – Portrait statue of C. Fundilius Doctus from Nemi, Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Inv. 707. After Poulsen 1962, pl. CXXXV, no. 77.

Fig. 12 – Patara, grave stele of mime Eucharistos. After Yýlmaz - Şahin 1993, pl. 9.

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Notes

1 Jory 1996. Recognizable pantomime masks, sometimes held by figures such as Muses, occur more often.

2 Several scholars have recently drawn attention to this fact; see e. g. Kondoleon 1994, 308-312; Lancha 1997, 205, 342-343, 359; cf. also Muth 1998, 42, 310-313.

3 In a similar way Green 1991, 33-44, suggests that Athenian vase painters may have represented scenes from tragedy in which the actor and the mask melt into the mythological scene that they are acting.

4 E. g. Bieber 1920, 177, nos. 188-189, pl. 108, 4-5; Richter 1913; Goldman 1943; Bieber 1961, 248-250.

5 But note Bieber 1920, 176-177, no. 187, fig. 142; ead. 1961, 107, fig. 415, on the terracotta lamp of the Hellenistic period from Athens identified by inscription as representing mime actors from the mime Hekyra; and Bieber 1961, 237-238, fig. 786; Guidi 1930, esp. 38-40, figs. 32-33, on the reliefs from the front of the pulpitum of the theatre at Sabratha, with a scene of mime balancing a tragic scene.

6 For the general characteristics of mime in the Roman period, see Wüst 1932, 1743-1761; Bonaria 1965; and recent summaries in Beacham 1992, 129-139; Rawson 1993; Csapo – Slater 1995, 369-378.

7 M. Nowicka, in Blanc 1998, 66-70, panel 5. It is described there as'une scène de danse sacrée, apotropaïque, avec des Pygmées', but the dancing figures bear no resemblance to pygmies. The date proposed is the end of the 1st to the beginning of the 2nd century AD.

8 Maiuri 1953-1954, 92-99, pl. 33. Maiuri believed that the paintings dated from the pre-Roman period of Pompeii. They are on the wall of a structure which he attributes to the late Samnite period, and which underwent major transformations in the last phase of Pompeii; but though the paintings are clearly earlier than the rebuilding, he gives no evidence to indicate that they need to belong to the Samnite period. He identifies the scenes as episodes of the ludi osci, related to the Atellana.

9 Maiuri claims that they were wearing half-masks, but the details are not clear enough to distinguish. On the left of the scene is a figure apparently with an ass's head on a human body, suggesting a further component of the performance: Maiuri 1953-1954, 93.

10 Becatti 1961, 205-207, no. 391, pl. CXIV, ascribed to the first half of the 3rd century AD; the rest of the pavement contains Venus with a Cupid, and two pugilists with the names Alexander Helix.

11 Binsfeld 1956, 45-50, following (n. 107) the path set by a number of earlier scholars, especially Jahn 1857, 265-267; Zahn 1913-1914, 294-314; Herter 1938, 1745-1747; Goldman 1943, 22-34.

12 Bailey 1980, 60: stave-dancers on Italian lamps, with comparanda; Bailey 1988, 62, fig. 74, on Knidian types.

13 Snowden 1976, 228-229, figs. 297-8: bronze statuette in Menil Collection, Houston, with pointy hat, loin cloth, phallus, dated there 1st century BC-1st AD, and described as a'phlyax-actor'.

14 Pygmies: cf. below n. 36.

15 Bendinelli 1941; Jahn 1857, who discusses only two of the scenes (D VIII and A V), omitting those with indecent elements. On the columbarium see also Samter 1893; Ling 1993.

16 Bendinelli 1941, 30-31, tav. agg. 5d; it is known only from the copy executed by Ruspi in the mid 19th century.

17 Bendinelli 1941, 21, wall D VIII, tav. agg. 4a (surviving fragments), a'(water-colour of Ruspi); Jahn 1857, 264-247, pl. IV. 12.

18 Bendinelli 1941, 6, wall A V, tav. agg. 1a and a': three hand-clapping dancers, one man holding out a bag as though for money, pipe-player with scabillum, numerous onlookers; 22-23, wall E IX, tav. agg. 3b: female dancer in transparent dress with outstretched hands, nude ithyphallic male dancer holding cloak, pipe – and scabillum-player, onlookers; 39-40, fig. 13: nude female and male in loincloth ( ?) dancing, nude male with upraised arm holding amphora, onlookers (fragment in British Museum: not certainly from columbarium). On the scabillum/scabellum (also found in Dionysiac contexts), and its role in mime and pantomime, see Bélis 1988.

19 Jahn 1857, 251-264, pl. II, 5, on the panel A V, identifying the scene as a performance of the travelling entertainers known as agyrtai or circulatores, and the dancers themselves as cinaedi (see below nn. 31-2); Dieterich 1897, 168. See recently King 1997, though his interpretation is marred by lack of familiarity with the parallels; thus he compares the dancers in panel D VIII to representations of the Lares.

20 Bendinelli 1926, 679-681, pl. XIX, 1; Wadsworth 1924, 84-85, pl. XLIII.

21 E. g. Bendinelli 1926, 681, who sees it as'una scena di strada', with agyrtai or circulatores, and the woman's dance as magical. Carcopino 1926, 115, also took this as a scene of magic, stressing by contrast the more lofty philosophy which he sees as underlying the majority of scenes in the basilica. Goldman 1943, 30, takes the scene as a « miracle of prestidigitation », connected with the wine cup. In contrast, Wadsworth 1924, 84, following Nogara (below n. 24), is inclined to see it as a humorous genre scene of Alexandrian origin.

22 Thus a virtually identical stick appears in a well-known painting of the banquet from Herculaneum, where it lies on the table beside the bowl, and is indubitably to be taken as a stirrer: Naples MN 9024, Pozzi 1986, 170, no. 340.

23 Bendinelli 1926, 681-682, pl. XX. 2; for panels G and H see ibid. 682-685.

24 Nogara 1910, 7, pl. IX. 5, correctly identified as a scene of mine; Blake 1940, 118 (« vaudeville performers »); Werner 1998, 43-54, esp. 46, with a dating in the late Antonine period, which seems to me much too early. The mosaic is heavily restored, but iconographic details are likely to be reliable.

25 E. g. Nogara 1910, 7; Werner 1998, 46.

26 B. M. Inv. 817: Perdrizet 1899, 592-593, pl. IV; Cremer 1991, 38-39, pl. 2.

27 Pliny, Ep., VII, 24, 4; Suetonius, Dom., 7, 1; Olympiodorus, fr. 23 (FHG, IV, 6, 2).

28 Plutarch, Mor., 712E.

29 For the ancient testimonia for gryllos (and related words), and the various interpretations ascribed to the word by modern scholars, see Hammerstaedt 2000, with earlier references; especially 41-5, on its application to dancers, which is not attested earlier than the 2nd century AD. For identification of our group as grylloi, see e. g. Zahn 1913-1914, with earlier references.

30 For gryllos as an Egyptian dancer see Perpillou-Thomas 1989, 153 (who apparently does not know Binsfeld), on P. Sorb. Inv. 2381, on which see also Musso 1990.

31 G. Goetz, Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum, V (Leipzig 1894), 654.7; cf. Non. Marc., 5, 17 Lindsay. See Binsfeld 1956, 49-50, following Jahn 1857, 254-259, with extensive sources.

32 For the primary meaning of kinaidos/cinaedus as a type of dancer, characteristic of Egypt though perhaps originating in Ionia, and its secondary use as a term of sexual abuse, see Kroll 1922, and recently Jocelyn 1999, 109-112, esp. nn. 80, 81 (I am grateful to Jim Adams for this reference). For its use as a term for mimes (and dancers ?) in Egyptian papyri, see Perpillou-Thomas 1995, 228-229.

33 Pliny, Ep., IX, 17, 1.

34 Lucian, De Merc. Con., 27.

35 Louvre CA 936, published by Rostovtzeff 1937, 87-90, figs. 1-2. Another cup from the same mould is in Athens, MN Inv. 11.797: Courby 1922, 300-302, no. 27, fig. 56, identified as a scene of atelier.

36 Varone 1997, 151, fig. 6.

37 Rome, MNR 77255: Lembke 1994, proposing a date ca. 100-110 AD, and an original use for an adherent of the cult of Isis; its findspot was a secondary use for a simpler burial at the end of the 2nd-beginning of the 3rd century.

38 The funerary destination of the basilica was argued by Bendinelli 1926, 825-843, and repeated forcefully by Bastet 1970.

39 Tarchi 1936, pl. LXX, I (illustration only); Sinn 1987, 92, no. 5, pl. 4, c-d.

40 Rome, MNR Inv. 184: S. Dayan, L. Musso in Giuliano 1981, 148-150, no. II, 44; Amedick 1991, 115, 149-150, no. 173, pl. 117. Probably beginning of the 2nd century.

41 G. Kaibel, IG, XIV, 929; P. Lombardi, in Giuliano 1981, 150.

42 Plautus, Poen., 1317-1320.

43 Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Inv. 707: Poulsen 1962, 113, no. 77, pls. CXXXV-CXXXVII; CIL, XIV, 4273. See Guldager Bilde 2000, 98; Moltesen 2000, 113; Bombardi 2000, 121, 124-128. The box of scrolls at Doctus'feet has led to suggestions that he should be seen as a poet or writer of mimes rather than an actor; but it may serve only to stress the cultured literary nature of his calling.

44 CIL, XIV, 4198; Bombardi 2000. For the parasiti Apollinis as an association restricted to those connected with mine and pantomime performances, see Jory 1970, 237-42.

45 Granino Cecere 1988-1989; cf. CIL, X, 814 = ILS, 5198; Bombardi 2000, 122-123.

46 Yýlmaz – Şahin 1993; Voutiras 1995, with many references to baldness as a mark of the mime. Yýlmaz – Şahin propose a date in the second quarter of the 2nd century; Voutiras prefers the Severan period or mid 3rd century.

Notes de fin

1 I have left this paper essentially in the form in which it was delivered in Tours. It forms part of a longer study, which I hope to publish subsequently; many of the problems raised here need to be examined in greater depth than is possible in a work of this scope. The material discussed below is inevitably only a selection from a much wider range.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1 – Kertch, painted interior of sarcophagus, end panel with pair of stick dancers. After Blanc 1998, fig. page 69.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 224k
Légende Fig. 2 –Pompeii, House I 8, 10, painting from exterior wall with two stick dancers. After Maiuri 1953-1954, pl. 33, 1.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 296k
Légende Fig. 3 – Ostia, Caupona of Alexander (IV 7, 4), mosaic of two stick dancers. After Becatti 1961, pl. CXIV, no. 391.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 292k
Légende Fig. 4 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, lost panel with stick dancers and sexual performance. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 5d (watercolour by Ruspi, ca. 1850).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 88k
Légende Fig. 5 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel D VIII. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 4a'(watercolour by Ruspi).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende Fig. 6 – Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel E IX. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 3b'(watercolour by Ruspi).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
Légende Fig. 7 –Rome, Columbarium of Villa Doria Pamphili, panel A V. After Bendinelli 1941, tav. agg. 1a'(watercolour by Ruspi).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
Légende Fig. 8 – Rome, underground basilica of Porta Maggiore, stucco panel E from vault. After Wadsworth 1924, pl. XLIII.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 272k
Légende Fig. 9 – Rome, mosaic panel from Sta. Sabina on Aventine. Photo DAI (R) 93. Vat. 859, courtesy of Direzione Generale dei Musei Vaticani (Dr F. Buranelli).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Légende Fig. 10 – Drawing of Megarian bowl, Louvre CA 936. After Rostovtzeff 1937, p. 88, fig. 1.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Légende Fig. 11 – Portrait statue of C. Fundilius Doctus from Nemi, Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Inv. 707. After Poulsen 1962, pl. CXXXV, no. 77.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Légende Fig. 12 – Patara, grave stele of mime Eucharistos. After Yýlmaz - Şahin 1993, pl. 9.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pufr/docannexe/image/8575/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 450k

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