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Aristides And The Pantomimes

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Chapter Summary

The pantomimes were individual dancers of balletic virtuosity who in solo performances enacted familiar myths with the aid of masks, costumes, and music. They enjoyed enormous popularity throughout the Roman Empire, as did their more ordinary colleagues, the mimes, who spoke lines and acted together with one another. Libanius confined himself exclusively to the pantomimes, who were the great virtuosi of the stage, although he says that Aristides had tried to denigrate them by linking them with the mimes. The debate between these two great sophists, two centuries apart, is full of paradox. On present epigraphic evidence, Sparta was among the first to welcome this innovation in its festivals, and so Aristides' choice of the Spartans as his target may well reflect more than a simple desire to invoke old-fashioned austerity, such as that associated with Lycurgus.

Keywords: Aristides; Libanius commentary; Pantomimes; Roman empire; Spartan inscription



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