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Pantomime and other entertainments – III. Judgment of the Fathers – IV. Attempts at reform. I. Mime. The mime is defined as follows: sermonis cuiuslibet imitatio et motus sine reverentia vel factorum et dictorum turpium cum lascivia imitatio, the imitation of any speech and movement without reverence even of deeds and the imitation of scandalous statements with playfulnesslewdness Diomedes, Gramm. lat., ed. Keil III, 491. The actor, mimoj, mimus, often imitated with vulgar gestures mimica levitas Donatus, Ad Verg. Aen. V, 64 scenes from daily life. The actors were different, with a leader the archmime; they were joined together in a society collegium, sodalitas; they did not wear masks. A typical personage was the Roman mime, stupidus calvus i.e., a senseless bald man, who wore the centuculus i.e., a mime’s garment Apul., Apol. XIII, a waistcoat with colored patches Arlecchino, a short tunic and a tall, pointy cap.

He performed the role of the adulterer and the mime of adultery, that of the priest and the mime-parity: in these representations, he was the protagonist. Moreover, he appears as the shaven jester, a victim in the mimes of adultery, and in the mime of the religious parody he appears immersed in baptismal water. The actresses present in the mime were from a lower social condition and of dubious reputation; they went around with their heads uncovered with wavy and curly hair John Chrys., C. ludos et theatra, 2: PG 56, 267, they made obscene jokes with gentle gestures or sang wicked songs John Chrys., In Iohan. hom. 18: PG 59, 120.

The structural elements of the mime were the dance, vulgar songs or crude chants, the choir of mixed voices, instrumental music with various types of instruments. The text was the point of departure for the representation and constituted the plot, although the remainder was improvised. At the beginning, as an opening act, the plot fabula was read, while a mime exhorted to benevolence; there was also a person in charge of getting applause from the audience Libanius, Or. 41,7. There existed mimographi i.e., composers of mimes Jerome, Ep. 54,15: PL 22, 558. With respect to the mime, nothing else is known aside from what the Fathers said in polemic against them.

According to Reich, the mime could be classified in various genres: the mime of daily or real life, called biological, the mime of the topic taken from mythology, and therefore mythological. Moreover, the mime genre was recurrent in the exhibitions during the nuptial and nonnuptial feasts such as those convivial feasts with ethereal, acrobatic and other types of dances or feasts organized by the state or during the intermissions of the races held at the hippodrome or in the orchestra exhibited at the theater Thetis mime or the mime in the water, John Chrys., In Matth. hom. 7,6-8: PG 57, 79-82 or lastly in parody of the Christian mysteries, especially baptism, like the one dating back to the time of Diocletian at Alexandria Socr., HE I, 6: PG 67, 52; Arnob., Adv. nat.: PL 5, 271: de sacris semper eorum movet risus; Greg. Naz., Apol. or. 11,84: PG 35, 489. This type of mime flourished during the period of Arianism: in the same theaters the Christian religion was mocked Socr., HE I, 6: PG 67, 51. Baptism and martyrdom were preferred themes; for this reason Augustine set forth the problem of the validity of a baptism conferred on stage: an iocans sicut in mimo, whether joking just as in the mime De bapt. VII, 53: PL 43, 242.

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