There were two kinds of
dance: gymnastic and mimetic; the former to represent body
achievement whereas mimetic would convey by gestures,
movements and attitudes certain ideas or feelings, and also
single events or a series of events, as in the modern ballet
of the famous Circus Maximus date back to Rome which favored
spectacle over the more refined arts found in the public arenas
of the Greeks. Elephants added to the splendor of the triumphal
processions of Romans returning as victors from wars far a
field. Putting elephants on display began in 275 B.C. when four
war elephants were presented to the people. Twenty years later,
the Romans were able to present 100 elephants which were
believed to have been captured when the Carthaginians
surrendered in Sicily. These particular elephants were given
stimulants to provoke into fighting each other according to
Pliny, who credited the elephants with more intelligence and
fairness than the Roman spectators.
The Romans were also the first
to train elephants for modern-looking circus entertainment with
similar tricks and routines to those of today; dancers performed
on their backs while elephants played the cymbals.
Fighting elephants also
continued to be a highlight of Roman circuses including duels
between a gladiator and an enraged elephant.
An amphitheatre in a
community became a prized symbol of Roman citizenship in the
outlying areas of Italy.
With the invention of concrete to substitute
for stone in building in the first century B.C., much
innovation for public structures became possible.
Tile-covered concrete quickly supplanted
marble as the primary building material and more daring
buildings soon followed, with great pillars supporting broad
arches and domes rather than dense lines of columns suspending
flat architraves. Mosaic tiles for floor patterns and frescoes
for wall were imported from elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
An amphitheatre is round or oval in shape
whereas a theatre is semi-circular.However, an amphitheatre
differs from a circus, which was used for racing and looked more
like a very long, narrow horse shoe. The first known
amphitheater dates to 80 BC at Pompeii; the fist permanent one
in Rome goes back to 29 BC.
The construction of the Colosseum began under
the rule of Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed by his
son, Titus, in the 80s AD. It was built at the site of Nero's
enormous palace, the Domus Aurea, which had been built after the
great fire of Rome in AD 64. Some historians believe that the
construction of the Colosseum might have been financed by the
looting of King Herod the Great's Temple in Jerusalem which
occurred about AD 70. Dio Cassius said that 9,000 wild animals
were killed in the one hundred days of celebration which
inaugurated the amphitheatre opening. The arena floor was
covered with sand, presumably to allow the blood to drain away.
The Colosseum hosted large-scale spectacular
games that included fights between animals (venationes), the
killing of prisoners by animals (see: Zoophilia: Roman games and
circus) and other executions (noxii), naval battles (naumachiae,
via flooding the arena) up until AD 81, and combats between
gladiators (munera). It has been estimated that several hundreds
of thousands died in the Colosseum games. The Colosseum's name
is derived from a bronze colossus (a 130-foot or 40-metre
statue) of Nero nearby.
The Circus Maximus, presumably built in the
reign of Tarquin I (c.616–c.578 B.C.),
and rebuilt by Julius Caesar, was reported by Pliny in his
Natural History to have a capacity of 250,000, though this
figure is suspiciously large. The games, aside from races, were
brutal and bloody, and for this reason the Greeks, even under
Roman domination, never really accepted the circus.In Ancient
Rome the circus was the only public spectacle at which men and
women were not separated.
Etruscan bronze dancer with eyes of diamonds, found at
Verona. Now in the British Museum.
|Throughout history, dance
has been a part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and
entertainment. It is traceable through archeological evidence
from prehistoric times to the first examples of written and this
pictorial documentation which dates as far back as 200 BC. Many
contemporary dance forms can be traced back to historical,
traditional, ceremonial, and ethnic dances.
|Although dance and music
can be traced back to prehistoric times it is unclear which art
form came first. However, as rhythm and sound are the result of
movement, and music can inspire movement, the relationship
between the two forms has always been symbiotic
had a religious significance and might be a regular part of the
worship of the gods.
Global Dance Directory,
Rome allowed the foreign arts of music and dance to dominate
their culture since Roman citizens considered performing on the stage beneath
them. The Greek religion was different. Instead of making their gods great,
transcendent, and mysterious, the Greek poets beginning with Homer made their
gods in their own image. This is the beginning of humanism, for not only did the
Greeks make their gods human-like, but actually glorified the human body in
Roman views of the gods were much more practical; as they
viewed the gods on a contractual basis. If a Roman citizen performed the proper
farming purification ceremonies he would get a good harvest. On the other hand
the Greeks performed sacrifices as gratitude to the gods, or for forgiveness of
sins. The Roman religion had a less beautiful view of the gods than the Greeks.
The Greeks had a complicated view of their gods as fickle, even proper
sacrificing would not guarantee the favor of the gods. The Romans viewed the
gods almost like machines that would grant good or bad depending on what they
Rome as a conquering imperial power represented
nearly the whole world of its day, and its dances accordingly were
most numerous. Amongst the illustrations already given we have many
that were preserved in Rome. In the beginning of its existence as a
power only religious dances were practiced, and many of these were
of Etruscan origin, such as the Lupercalia, and the Ambarvalia. In
the former the dancers were semi-nude, and more rurally ritual; the latter was a serious dancing procession through
fields and villages. That the Etruscan, Sabellian, Oscan, Samnite, and
other national dances of the country had some influence on the art
in Rome is highly probable, but the paucity of early Roman examples
renders the evidence difficult.
|The Pyrrhic dance was also introduced into Rome by Julius Caesar, and was
danced by the children of the leading men of Asia and Bithynia.
As the State increased in power by
conquest, it absorbed with other countries other habits, and the art
degenerated often, like that of Greece and Etruria, into a vehicle
for orgies, when they brought to Rome with their Asiatic captives
even more licentious practices and dances. As Rome, which never rose to the intellectual and
imaginative state of Greece in her best period, Greek arts represented wealth,
commerce, and conquest to Roman nobles. No Roman citizen danced except in the religious dances.
The only other major power in the Western Mediterranean was
Carthage, a colony founded by the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon. “Phoenicians”
in Latin is Punici, thus the wars against them are known as the “Punic” wars.
Carthage attacked Rome, but Rome triumphed. In the first Punic war (264-241
BCE), Rome gained Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, which had previously been part
of the Carthaginian empire. After the second
Punic war, as Greek habits easily made their way into Italy, it became a
fashion for the young to learn to dance. The greatest naval power of
the Mediterranean in the third century BC was the North African city of Carthage
near modern day Tunis. The Carthaginians were originally Phoenicians and
Carthage was a colony founded by the Phoenician capital city of Tyre in the
ninth century BC; the word "Carthage" means, in Phoenician, "the New City."
While the Romans were steadily increasing their control over the Italian
peninsula, the Carthaginians were extending their empire over most of North
Africa, the Strait of Gibraltar, and most of southern Spain.
In 201 BC the second Punic war ended and ability for
Greece to trade in wine and culture through its many cities in southern Italy
and Sicily greatly increased. Greek slaves taken in wars in the east became the
educators of the noble sons of Rome. Greek was the first literary language of
the Romans, who wrote their first histories in Greek. Like much of the
Mediterranean and Roman colonies, the taste for the wild, orgiastic and ecstatic
rites of Dionysus and the Great Mother Goddess was strong.
Bacchantes From a fresco,
Pompeii, 1st century B.C.
The education in dancing
and gesture were important in the actor, as masks prevented any
display of feature. The position of the actor was never recognized
professionally, and was considered infamia. But the change
came, which caused Cicero to say "no one danced when sober."
Eventually the performers of lower class occupied the dancing
platform, and the wealthy class was happy to be entertained. While
accordingly the taking part in the masked farces with stereotyped
characters, that formed the usual native amusement, was looked upon
as an innocent youthful frolic, the appearing on a public stage for
money and without a mask was considered as directly infamous, and
the singer and poet were in this respect placed quite on a level
with the rope-dancer and the harlequin.
Urban magistrates were legally entitled to inflict bodily
chastisement and imprisonment on any actor at any time and at any place. The
necessary effect of this was that dancing, music, and poetry, at least so far as
they appeared on the public stage, fell into the hands of the lowest classes of
the Roman burgesses, and especially into those of foreigners.
|The public games (ludi) were originally part of
religious festivals, but eventually entertainment superseded religion
and the games became more numerous.
By the 1st century BC, magistrates used private games to gain support in
elections. The emperors successfully continued this practice, and the
games became more and more lavish as each tried to out-do his
predecessor. Enormous amounts of money were spent on the games, yet
admission was free. By the close of the 2nd century there were 135
official celebrations, and by the end of the 4th century there were 176.
For the wealthy, however, entertainment could take place at home as they
hosted their own dinner parties and lavish banquets. Along with dinner
could be music, singing, and dancing by professionals. In some circles,
recitation of written work, such as poetry and speeches, followed. For
the plebeians, associations (collegia) may have thrown dinner parties.
|Theatre in Rome
|In Ancient Rome, plays were presented at the time of
the games on contemporary wooded stages. The first such permanent Roman
theater was ordered to be built by Pompey in 55 BC, eventually erected
on the Campus Martius at Rome. Built of stone, it had a seating capacity
of 27,000. Essentially patterned after the Greek theater, it differed in
the respect that it was built on level ground.
Excavated out of the sides of hills, the circular space located in front
of the stage in a Greek theater was called the orchestra, where choruses
and actors performed. Since Roman plays usually lacked a true chorus,
the area in front of the stage which might have been an orchestra simply
became a semicircular area.
In the theatre the method of the Roman chorus
differed from that of the Greeks. In the latter the orchestra or
place for the dancing and chorus was about 12 ft. below the stage,
with steps to ascend when these were required; in the former the
chorus was not used in comedy, and having no orchestra was in
tragedies placed upon the stage. The getting together of the chorus
was a public service, or liturgia, and in the early days of Grecian
prosperity was provided by the choregus.
All actors in Roman plays were male slaves. Men played the parts of
women. The typical stock characters included the rich man, the king, the
soldier, the slave, the young man, and the young woman. If necessary, an
actor would play two or more roles in a single performance.
The most notable part of an actor's regalia was probably his mask. While
different masks and wigs were used for comedies than tragedies, certain
characteristics remained constant. All masks had both cheek supports and
special chambers which acted as amplifiers. Gray wigs represented old
men, black for young men, and red for slaves. Young men donned brightly
colored clothing, while old men wore white. In this manner the
characters could be easily identified by the audience.
Admission to the Roman plays was free for citizens. Originally, women
were barred from viewing comedies and were only admitted to tragedies,
but later, no such restrictions were imposed.
|Pantomimes & Mimes
|Pantomimes, popular during the 1st
century BC, involved miming roles to accompaniment of singers, dancers,
and musicians, in addition to visual effects, similar to a ballet. In
mimes of antiquity actors spoke. A pantomime was a dramatic performance
whose subject was taken from Greek mythology. There was a chorus of
singers, an orchestra, and an elaborate stage setting. The chief dancer
told the whole story by gestures and conventional signs, and portrayed
each character in turn.
Dance had two elements: movement, which could be taught to anyone; and
gesture, which was reserved for professional dancers. Women were allowed
in mimes and pantomimes, which were more popular than typical plays.
carried mimetic dances to a very perfect character in the time of
Augustus under the term of Musica muta.
|Other kinds of dances were frequently
performed at entertainments, in Rome as well as in Greece, by
courtesans, many of which were of a lascivious nature with the
dancer seem to have frequently represented Bacchanals. The
images found at Herculaneum and Pompeii in a variety of graceful
attitudes show a love of dance occurring.
The god of wine known as Dionysus, Bacchus or
Libor and his rites of revelry grew in popularity and practice
throughout the empire much like Brazilian and Caribbean Carnaval
dance and music today continues to grow in popularity.
|Villa Romana del Casale
is located about 5km outside the town of Piazza Armerina in
Sicily in the 4th century A.D. It's large collection of mosaics
have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the
fame of this mosaic is derived from the bikini-like costumes the
girls are wearing as they move their bodies gracefully.
|One of the most important nations of
antiquity was the Etruscan, inhabiting, according to some
authorities, a dominion from Lombardy to the Alps, and from the
Mediterranean to the Adriatic.
Etruscan dancing and
performances. From paintings in the Grotta della Scimia
Corneto, about 500 B.C. A
characteristic illustration of the dancer is from a
painting in the tomb of the Vasi dipinti, Corneto,
belongs to the archaic period, and is perhaps as early
as 600 B.C. It exhibits a stronger Greek influence than
some of the paintings. The panels show a military dance
to pipes, with other sports, comes from the Grotta
della Scimia, also at Corneto; these show a more
purely Etruscan character.
| That the Phoenicians and Greeks had at
certain times immense influence on the Etruscans
Etruscan dancer. From a painting in the
Grotta dei Vasi dipinti--Corneto.
is evident from their relics which we
possess. Greece built colonies on the Italian peninsula, thus
influencing Etruscan cities. As the Roman army expanded it conquered
the Etruscans, who were also influenced by the Greeks, and then the
Greek colonies. Although Rome had physically conquered Greece, it
was Greek thought had conquered Roman thought.
There is little doubt that they were dancers in
every sense; there are many ancient sepulchres in Etruria, with
dancing painted on their walls. Other description than that of the
pictures we do not possess, for as yet the language is a dead
letter. They considered dancing as one of the emblems of joy in a
future state, and that the dead were received with dancing and music
in their new home. They danced to the music of the pipes, the lyre,
the castanets of wood, steel, or brass, as is shown in the
illustrations taken from the monuments.
Etruscan Dancing. From the Grotta
del Triclinio.--Corneto. The pretty dancing scene from
the Grotta del Triclinio at Corneto is taken from
a full-sized copy in the British Museum, and is of the
greatest interest. It is considered to be of the
Greco-Etruscan period, and later than the previous
examples. There is a peculiarity in the attitude of the
hands, and of the fingers being kept flat and close
|Funeral dance in the obsequies of a female.
From a painted tomb near Albanella.Almost as interesting as the
Etruscan are the illustrations of dancing found in the painted
tombs of the Campagna and Southern Italy, once part of "Magna
Grecia"; the figure of a funeral dance, with the double pipe
accompaniments, from a painted tomb near Albanella may be as
late as 300 B.C., and those from a tomb near Capua are probably
of about the same period. These Samnite dances appear
essentially different from the Etruscan; although both Greek and
Etruscan influence are very evident, they are more solemn and
stately. This may, however, arise from a different national
|A great dance of a severe kind was executed
by the Salii, priests of Mars, an ecclesiastical corporation of
twelve chosen patricians. In their procession and dance, on
March 1, and succeeding days, carrying the Ancilia, they sang
songs and hymns, and afterwards retired to a great banquet in
the Temple of Mars. That the practice was originally Etruscan
may be gathered from the circumstance that on a gem showing the
armed priests carrying the shields there are Etruscan letters.
There were also an order of female Salii. Another military dance
was the Saltatio bellicrepa, said to have been instituted
by Romulus in commemoration of the Rape of the Sabines.
Mommsen, Theodor born Nov. 30, 1817, Garding, Schleswig [now in
Germany] died Nov. 1, 1903, Charlottenburg, near Berlin, Ger. in
full Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen German historian and
writer, famous for his masterpiece, Römische Geschichte (The
History of Rome). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
Greek Comedy Dancing In Rome
Greek Mythology: From Rome to Today by Rit Nosotro
|Dancer. From a fresco in
the Baths of Constantine, 4th century A.D.
Dancers using castanets or cymbal were often part
of the percussion ensemble. Castanets
became popular in Rome
between the first two Punic wars
Cato the Orator & Censor
Cato became known as the Censor for his
monitoring of the behavior of public officials and his desire to
extricate any Greek influence or capitalist ideas and to return
to conservative Roman conduct and morality.
As censor, he attempted to preserve old Roman ancestral custom,
mos maiorum. He supported, in 181 BC, the law against
luxury, lex Orchia, and in 169 BC, the law that limited a
woman’s financial freedom, lex Voconia. He is also known
as Cato the Censor due to his austere scrutinization of Senate
officials in 184 BC and the removal of those who he considered
too liberal or open to new foreign ideas, and those who were
extravagant or who he felt lived luxurious, immoral lives.
"The trade of a poet," says Cato, "in former
times was not respected; if any one occupied himself with it or
was a hanger-on at banquets, he was called an idler."
Cicero reproached Cato for calling Murena a
dancer (saltator), (Pro Muren. 6;
compare in Pison. 10).
“The common people, however, liked Cato’s censorship. When they
set up a statue in his honour, the inscription in it did not
refer to his military triumphs, but simply to the fact that this
was Cato the Censor, who, by his discipline and temperance, kept
the Roman state from sinking into vice.” (p.100, Plutarch : Ten
Cato fought in the Second Punic War in Spain. It was here where
the Carthaginians were driven out by Publius Scipio Africanus in
206 BC, and Hannibal’s army was destroyed in 202 BC. Three
important terms of peace were that the Carthaginians cede Spain
to Rome, that they were forbidden from waging war without the
permission of Rome, and that they were allowed to keep their
original territory in Africa.
Cato’s style of writing showed a simple form
lacking eloquence but highly theatrical.Cato brought the
talented writer of Greek, Oscan, and Latin, Quintus Ennius
(239-169 BC) to Rome. Ironically, Ennius was a major force in
introducing Greek culture into Rome, but for his shaping of
Roman patriotism and the influence he had in shaping the
development of Latin literature, he is often considered the
father of Latin literature.
During the time of Cato, the Romans were
superstitious and believed in charms and incantations or carmina.
The word carmen means a chant, song, poem, or incantation. Cato
wrote a book of prayers or incantations for the dead in verse,
known as Carmen de moribus. It also included his own
conservative moral views and religious ideas.
Entertainment was essential to daily life in
Ancient Rome. As noted by Juvenal, it seemed that all Romans
were interested in was "bread and circuses." And with theaters,
amphitheaters, circuses, and public baths galore, the Romans
never seemed to get bored.
meant for leisure, but also, for social gathering. In addition
to the bathing areas could be found portico shops, marketing
everything from food, to ointments, to clothing. There were also
sheltered gardens and promenades, gymnasiums, rooms for massage,
libraries, and museums. Complimenting these scholarly havens
were slightly more aesthetic marble statues and other artistic
|Years ago, I was at a
workshop with mythologist Joseph Campbell, and he was showing us
pictures of the sacred. He showed us this wonderful bronze
statue of the god Shiva, dancing. Inside a ring of flame the god
was dancing. He had one foot in the air, and the other foot
resting on the back of a little man, who was crouched down in
the dust, giving his full, absorbed attention to something he
was holding between his hands. I asked Joseph Campbell, "What is
that? What is that little guy doing down there?" Campbell said,
"That's a little man who is so caught up in the study of the
material world that he does not notice that the living god is
dancing on his back."
Rachel Naomi Remen
Tiberius by a decree abolished the Saturnalia, and
exiled the dancing teachers, but the many acts of the Senate to
secure a better standard were useless against the foreign
inhabitants of the Empire accustomed to sensuality and licence.
and while at this period poetry still played altogether too
insignificant a part to engage the attention of foreign artists, the statement
on the other hand, that in Rome all the music, sacred and profane, was
essentially Etruscan, and consequently the ancient Latin art of the flute, which
was evidently at one time held in high esteem, had been supplanted by foreign
Ciaran Hinds stars as Julius Caesar, the commander of Rome's
conquering army in Gaul, and
Kevin McKidd is the handsome Lucius Vorenus, one of the two foot
soldiers around whom the drama unfolds.
is the swaggering legionary Titus Pullo, Vorenus's battlefield
James Purefoy is Mark Antony, one of Caesar's powerful political
Lindsay Duncan is Servilia, the lover of Caesar and mother of
Polly Walker is the powerful, manipulative and sexy Atia;
Condon is Octavia, the daughter of Atia, who is forced to choose
duty over love.
Also keep you
eye on the character played by
Whishaw as Gaius Octavian, son of scheming Atia, who inherents
his mother's cunning to become the first Emperor of Rome
What's not to like about Polly Walker chewing scenery as Atia? Or
the finely nuanced, begrudging friendship between Lucius Vorenus
(Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson)? There is burgeoning
greatness in the portrayals of Octavian (Max Pirkis) and Brutus
(Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, can Niobe (Indira Varma) come out and
play -- pretty please?
Main Page: Carnaval.com