Introduction: Pantomime, A Lost Chord of Ancient Culture
In a broad contextualization of ancient pantomime within cultural history, the reasons for the importance of research into ancient pantomime are explored: it represents a lost aesthetic of profound and widespread influence in ancient imperial culture; it played, quantitatively speaking, a more important role in educating the majority of inhabitants of the Roman empire in mythology than, for example, recitations of poetry; it was the main medium in which the prestigious tradition of classical tragedy was kept alive in the theatres of the Roman empire; it played a seminal role in the emergence of classical ballet, and subsequently, in the twentieth century, of avant‐garde Tanztheater (dance theatre). The theatrical spaces and the musical accompaniments (provided by the chorus and the hydraulis), of pantomime are given detailed attention. The hostile response that aspects of the perfomance: the dancer, his mask and the music, evoked from the Church Fathers and the place of pantomime in their rhetoric of anti‐theatricalism is also briefly explored.
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