Monday, February 14, 2011

Papposilenos of the band of satyrs

Until recently, I didn't have much documentation about Roman or Greek Theaters or actual plays. Probably, I was inattentive, but in Berlin I found two great volumes. 'The Art of Ancient Greek Theater' by Mary Louise Hart, associate curator in the Dept. of Antiquities at the Getty Museum and a German copy of 'Teatri Greci e Romani' or 'Antike Theater' , by Umberto Pappalardo.
I was happy to find more information of the statue of an actor disguised as Papposilenos, the oldest member of the band of satyrs who raised Dionysos. I saw the statue last year in the Palazzo Massimo all Terme in Rome.

The Papposilenos served as the chorus leader in the satyr play because in a sense he was the least vulgar. To some extend, Hart explained, he mitigated the obscenity and crudity of the other players as he paraphrased the heroic themes proper to tragedy.

The Roman statue dates from  the 2nd century AD and was found in 1957 on the beach of Torre Astura, near a Roman villa. It is 94 centimeter high and made of white marble. It is one of the nicest statues I have found of actors until now.


  1. Pappalardo´s book is a good one for introduction to the matter but there are very few theatres in its pages. I have just bought Mary Louis Hart´s book, in some days I will recive it. I can suggest the classical book of Bieber: "The history of the greek and roman theatre" absolutely marvellous; for pictures there are two books by Platon Maximos very good; for building census Frank Sear´s "Roman theatres" is absolutely wonderfull. Thank a lot for the picture and information about Papposilenos, very interesting, like always.

  2. Thanks for your comments! I will try to find te book of Bieber. Sear's book I will buy myself as a treat in a couple of months.


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