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Das Reich Tanzt … Dance In The Roman Empire And Its Discontents

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses almost exclusively on dancing. A detailed view on the phenomenon of dance in the Roman Empire contributes to our understanding of that society, the image of which will remain incomplete if one does not take into account its performances. But the complete 'dancescape' cannot be fitted into this article and will have to wait for later studies. Yet, surely the most important source for this image are the negative comments on dancing to be heard amongst the Romans themselves. The main literary source for Syrian cultic dancing, the century author Heliodorus (a Syrian himself), deals with the god Melqart. But looking at this phenomenon from the perspective of Rome, our sources did not want to understand it, because it was very much out of place, so much so that distaste nullified interest.

Keywords: Heliodorus; Melqart; Roman empire; Syrian cultic dancing



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