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The meaning of Dwarfs in Nilotic scenes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the meaning of dwarfs in Nilotic scenes from the Roman world since this subject may be of wider importance for the understanding of the Roman views on Egypt and the Egyptians. Nilotic scenes in the Roman world are more or less realistic pictures of Egypt at the time of the annual flooding of the Nile, and may show the rejoicing of the population because of the rebirth of the vegetation. Apotropaic interpretation concerns not only dwarfs but all kinds of malformed human beings in general and not only in Nilotic scenes. The social interpretation may also relate to some erotic scenes, which occasionally appear in Nilotic scenes, as caricatures of the love-affair of Cleopatra and Antony, going back to the Augustan period. The dwarfs are symbols of fertility and enhance the sphere of fertility and abundance that is essential for Nilotic scenes.

Keywords: apotropaic interpretation; dwarfs; Nile; Nilotic scenes; Roman world; social interpretation



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