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I plucked an ivy chaplet of mine own." i These plays dealt in the wildest spirit of farce with subjects drawn from Greek mythology and legend, as well as with scenes from daily life. One of the vases (No. 112 ; fig. 33) shows a contest upon the stage, between actors representing Ares ('Eveválcos) and Hephaestos (Auidados) fighting in the presence of Hera. The grotesque mask, the padded figures, and the general air of exaggeration are indicative of the character of these plays, which earned for them the title of mock-tragedies (idapotpayodai). The other vase (No. 113) is a parody of the myth of Cheiron cured by Apollo. The blind
Centaur, whose equine body is represented pantomime-fashion by a second actor pushing behind, ascends the steps leading up to the stage, where stands the slave Xanthias. Behind is the Centaur's pupil Achilles, and looking on from a cave are two grotesquely ugly nymphs.
Case K contains two interesting representations of Roman comedy and tragedy respectively. The oblong lamp (No. 114; fig. 34) gives a scene from a comedy, not improbably the mockAnth. Pal., vii. 414:
και καπυρών γελάσας παραμείβεο, και φίλον είπών
ρημ’ επ' εμοί. Ρίνθων είμ' ο Συρακόσιος, Μουσάων ολίγη τις αηδονίς: αλλά φλυάκων
έκ τραγικών ίδιον κισσός έδρεψάμεθα. .
marriage scene from the fourth act of the Casina of Plautus. The steps leading up to the door of the house divide the actors into two groups. On the left is the bridegroom (Olympio?) with his mule, in preparation for his departure into the country. On the right comes the marriage procession approaching a woman
(Pardalisca ?) who stands by the steps. First walks a Silenus, carrying a Cupid on his shoulders; next comes the bride, carried aloft by a man, in order that she may be lifted over the threshold in conformity with the usual Roman marriage rite (see above, p. 31). Behind is an altar in the court-yard of the house. Cupid waits at the door to receive the bride.
The Gallo-Roman medallion (No. 115; fig. 35) is from a vase.
It gives a picture of a Roman tragedy. On a high stage sits Jupiter enthroned, with Victory and Minerva on his right and left hand respectively. Before the stage stand Hercules and Mars, disputing. Hercules has slain Cycnus, the son of Mars, and the irate father stands exclaiming: “ Be assured that I am come as the avenger of my son.” To which Hercules replies : “ Un
conquered valour can ne'er be terrified.” 1 The characters speak in iambic verse.
(b) Figures of actors and masks.--In tragedy the actors probably wore a dress differing from that of the spectators only in a certain richness of material and colour, and in an adherence
Adesse ultorem nati m[e] credas mei.
the fashion of an earlier period. Two features, however, distinguished them in appearance from ordinary men, the buskin (koopvos) or high-soled boot, and the tragic mask. The use of the former (which increased in height as time went on) was due to a desire to enhance the wearer's dignity by raising him somewhat above the common height of men. The wearing of the mask was brought about partly by tradition, partly by the great size of ancient theatres, which rendered some easily recognized type of face a practical necessity. The tragic mask (fig. 39 below, on the r.) was usually surmounted by a high projection over the forehead, called the onkos, on which the hair was raised to a height varying with the social position of the character. The mask illustrated (No. 116) is of ivory and finely worked. It is a mask such as would have been worn by some king in tragedy, an Agamemnon or a Kreon. The general appearance of a tragic actor is finely brought before us by an ivory statuette (not in the Museum) which was found near Rieti, a place about 35 miles N.E. of Rome (fig. 36). The elaborately embroidered robe is coloured FIG. 38.-TERRACOTTA STATUETTE OF
COMIC ACTOR (SLAVE ?) (No. 121). blue, and the onkos, mask, Ht. 84 in. and buskins are clearly seen.
The figures of actors and the comic masks exhibited under the glass shade and in Table-Case K bring before us the different characters prominent in Athenian comedy of the fourth and third centuries B.C., and in the Roman comedy derived from it.
It was a comedy of everyday life, in which the same well-known types were constantly reappearing. Such were the parasite (No. 117),