Saturday, October 20, 2007

Theodor Erdmann Kalide - Neo- Hellenistic, - Berlin artist (1801-1863). (b Königshütte, Upper Silesia [now Chorzów, Poland], 8 Feb 1801; d Gleiwitz [n

Kalide - Neo-
Hellenistic, - Berlin
artist (1801-1863). (b
Königshütte, Upper
Silesia [now Chorzów, Poland], 8 Feb 1801; d
Gleiwitz [now Gliwice, Poland], 23 Aug 1863). -

1628 Jusepe de Ribera
(Spanish, 1591–1652)
Etching with drypoint, engraving, and burnishing; plate 10 9/16 x 13 3/4 in. (26.8 x 43.9 cm)


from the Hellenistic era / Greekcopy during Roman rule after Hellenistic Greek,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York.

Theodor Erdmann Kalide - Bacchantin auf dem Panther, Neo- Hellenistic, - Berlin artist (1801-1863). (b Königshütte, Upper Silesia [now Chorzów, Poland], 8 Feb 1801; d Gleiwitz [now Gliwice, Poland], 23 Aug 1863

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Hermaphroditos, the son of Hermes
and Aphrodite.

Salmakis plunges into a spring where he is bathing and surrounds the boy with her embrace. As she prays that they may never be parted, their bodies are fused into one, thereby creating a sexual hybrid, the hermaphrodite. In the Roman period, the myth was connected to the Carian city of Halikarnassos, although it is not clear how widely this story was known. A Roman bilingual
inscription from Halikarnossos, found in situ on a promontory known as Salmakis, relates a version of the myth and claims it for the city, citing this as one of Halikarnassos’ most noteworthy
aspects. Vitruvius calls the spring at Halikarnassos by the name
Salmakis, and notes that it carried an undeserved reputation for
infecting people with lewdness and making men effeminate and
unchaste. Although these attributes seem fitting for the
hermaphrodite myth, Vitruvius claims that the superstition was
connected to the pacification of barbarians in the early days of
colonization. In Greek and Roman art, the hermaphrodite is often
portrayed alone and either nude, Semidraped, or draped. When
paired with another figure, the companion is usually Dionysiac:
a satyr, Pan, Silenus.
Alexandra Retzleff
Depatment Of Classics
McMaster University
The Dresden Type Satyr-Hermaphrodite Group in Roman Theaters
Alexandra Retzleff
Alexandra Retzleff
Depatment Of Classics
McMaster University
The Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group is known through more than 30 Roman replicas in various media. The meaning of the group has traditionally been derived from its discovery in domestic contexts, but replicas from the theaters at Daphne and Side raise different questions regarding viewer reception. The horizontal composition and small scale of the groups suggest they may have decorated the pulpitum (stage) of those theaters. At the Daphne theater, where two replicas were found, the groups were likely displayed as pendants, offering complimentary views of the same sculptural composition. In terms of subject matter, the Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group yields several nuanced interpretations associated with the theater, including connotations of paideia (Roman reverence for the Greek past), Dionysiac aspects, the reversal of norms, the objectification of the body, the sexual tryst, and the agon.
Alexandra Retzleff
Depatment Of Classics
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M2
Theodor Erdmann Kalide - Bacchantin auf dem Panther, Neo- Hellenistic, - Berlin artist (1801-1863). (b Königshütte, Upper Silesia [now Chorzów, Poland], 8 Feb 1801; d Gleiwitz [now Gliwice, Poland], 23 Aug 1863).
Fragment Satyr and Hermaprodite - Hellenistic, -
Torso of a satyr from Daphne theater
not truly intend to break away from the satyr’s advances. The intertwining limbs of the two figures
are delicately
balanced in a complex composition, with few
points of contact with the base. Although likely based on a
Hellenistic model, the composition is known only through
Roman replicas in various scales and materials.Of the 30
sculptural replicas, 28 are marble and two are bronze
miniatures. Eight of the marbles are of unknown
provenance. Twelve were found in Rome or its environs
(although the precise findspots are not known), one is
thought to have been found in Tunisia, and one may have
been found in Izmir, Turkey. Another is less precisely
associated with the Villa of Quintilius Varus at Tivoli. The
best-known and most complete replica, located in the
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, is a small-scale
marble (ht. 91 cm, depth 61 cm ). Only five of the replicas
have secure archaeological contxts: two from the theater
at Daphne, one from the theater at Side, one found in
situ at the Villa of Poppaea at Oplontis, and one (a
miniature) from a Roman villa at Chiragan in Gaul. In
addition to the sculptures, the composition is
represented in wall paintings from Pompeii, mosaic
pavements from Daphne, a terracotta seal from Cyrene,
and on a gem in Munich. This study focuses on the
sculptural replicas found in the theaters at Daphne
outside Antioch and at Side in Pamphilia. The Dresden
type satyr-hermaphrodite group is usually categorized
with other sexually themed pairs as an “erotic group”.
It is one of the groups that has been tentatively associated
with the symplegma (“entanglement”) described by Pliny
as a creation of the Hellenistic sculptor Kephisodotos:
Praxitelis filius Cephisodotus et artis heres fuit. Cuius
laudatum est Pergami symplegma nobile digitis corpori
verius quam marmori inpressis. Described by Pliny as a
creation of the Hellenistic sculptor Kephisodotos
(Cephisodotus) The son of Praxiteles, Cephisodotus,
inherited also his skill. His “entanglement” at Pergamon
is highly praised, being notable for the fingers, which
seem to sink into living flesh rather than into dead marble.
Although Pliny does not specify the subject matter of
Kephisodotos’ statue, the use of the term symplegma is
often taken to indicate sexual themes. A line from one of
Martial’s epigrams uses symplegma in a pornographic
sense to denote a novel sexual position involving five
Therein are novel erotic postures such as only a desperate
fornicator would venture, what male prostitutes provide
and keep quite about, in what combinations five persons
are linked, by what chain are held more than five, what
can go on when the lamp is put out.
These literary passages suggest that Kephisodotos’
symplegma may have been a sculptural composition
involving two or more people entangled in an erotic
grouping. Inscribed statue bases from Ephesos, however,
suggest that the term symplegma could also denote
sculptural groups of a much different character. The Roman
bilingual inscriptions describe subjects that are unlikely to
have been sexual. One symplegma involves Athamas (the
Boeotian foster parent of Dionysos) and another features
Theseus. The connection between theDresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group and a Hellenisticsculpture by
Kephisodotos is highly speculative, and thedate of the original
composition has been the subject ofmuch discussion; proposals
range from the early third B.C.E. to after 100 B.C.E. This paper
does not pursue problems of Kopienkritik but rather treats the
sculptural group as a product of the society that commissioned
it. Eight marblefragments belonging to Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite groups were discovered by the Princeton
Archaeological Expedition in the theater at Daphne in April of
1935. The discovery of two satyr heads makes it clear that at
least two replicas of the same group, both of very fine
workmanship, were set up here. One of the heads, now in the
Princeton University Art Museum and reassembled from six
pieces, preserves the satyr’s forhead, horns nose, left eye, part
of the nape of the neck, and parts of the hair and beard, as well
as the base of the hand and two fingers belonging
to the
hermaphrodite. The dimensions of the head
fragment(ht. 23.6 cm,
wdth. 18.4 cm, depth 18.3 cm )
show that the group was under-life
-sizeed. The second
satyr fragment ( ht. 48 cm ), now in the Hatay
Archaeological Museum, was carved at the same scale. His head
and torso are preserved
down to the waist, the arms are broken
abovethe elbows, and the hand of the
hermaphrodite is preserved
to the wrist. It is clear from the position of the hermaphrodite’s
fingers on the satyr’s face that the two replicas were sculpted in the
same position,
not as mirror-reversals. The fragments have been
dated to
the second century C.E. on the basis ofcarving style. The
theater at Daphne was probably built shortly after 70 C.E., during
the rule of Vespasian. It was modified in the third
century and
extensively remodeled in the fourthcentury,
following the earthquake
of 363 C.E., before it went out of use in the sixth century. The precise
findspots of the sculptures from the theater at Daphne are not noted
in the catalogue of finds published by the Princeton Expedition, making
it difficult for us to posit their original placement
within the building.
The fragment from the theater at Side
wasdiscovered by Turkish
archaeologists in 1958 and is currentlyhoused in the Side Museum.
The torso of the hermaphroditeis preserved, as is the left arm as far as
elbow, the beginning of a leg, and a portion of the left thigh; the
headand right arm are missing. A portion of the satyr’s
calf is attached
to the hermaphrodites abdomen. The replica
fromthe Side (ht. 40cm,
width 18.4 cm, depth 17 cm) was
less than half-life-sized, even smaller
than those from Daphne. The theater at Side was most likely constructed
in the
last quarter of the second century C.E., with a period of remodeling
in the Late Roman period. The hermaphrodite fragment was found in front
of gate C of the scaena.
Architectural Settings
and Interpretations
The story of the hermaphrodite, as told by Ovid, begins when the
nymph Salmakis falls in love with erotes. The interest of the Dresden
type lies not only in the pairing of the hermaphrodite with the satyr
but also in the complex interaction between the two figures. Previous
scholarship has assigned various meanings to the group. Von Prittwiz
und Gaffron has interpreted the group as a metaphor for love’s
simultaneous pleasure and anguish. Ridgway has suggested that the
figures represent the contradictions in the forces of nature. In the garden
setting, the group would emphasize the “correlation between the well-ordered
planting and the inherent wild essence of vegetation.” Gercke has equated
the two figures to wrestlers engaged in a struggle that is agonistic rather
than erotic. Ajootian has argued that all Hermaphroditos images, Greek
and Roman, regardless of their setting, were perceived as guardians because
of the function of the phallus as a weapon against the Evil Eye. Such an
apotropaic use represents a more serious, potentially dangerous struggle
than the erotic or agonistic one suggested by other scholars. While each
of these interpretations has its merits, it ismy view that no single interpretation
can be as the inherent meaning of the group. Rather, its meanings stem from
the contexts of the statues’ display and the impressions of the viewers within
those settings.
Previous scholarship on the Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group has
focused on the domestic sphere. Ridgway views “erotic groups”, including the
Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group, as most appropriate in the luxurious
gardens of the Roman villas. Smith suggests that the group belongs best in an
outdoor, scenic context. He cites an example found in situ in the garden at the
villa at Oplontis and a Pompeian wall painting that depict it in an open landscape.
Indeed, the subject is well suited in many respects to the decoration of private
gardens. The position of the group next to a tree-lined pool at Oplontis might
even have been a deliberate reference to the Hermaphroditos myth, which takes
place at a spring. Most of the replicas of this group are however, of unknown or
insecure provenence, and the examples from Side and Daphne are from public
buildings. In addition, fragmentsof related sculptural groups involving a satyr
and a nymph were found at two other theaters in the Greek East: at Caesarea
and Neapolis in Palestine. The discovery of these groups in public setting of the
theater demands new considerations of their iconography and meanings. Much
of what has been ascribed to the Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group is not
readily applicable to the context of Roman theater decoration, which raises the
question of whether it is possible to attribute a single global meaning to a
sculptural group that was displayed in antiquity in quite disparate settings.
Both Cicero and Lucian reveal some of the intentions behind villa decoration.
In Cicero’s letters, we find a request for statues that are gymnasiode, which would
be suitable for his Academy. However, the provisions remain general and no
particular statue type is stipulated. It seems that choices were made to
compliment the function of a space within the villa. In Lucian’s description of
the house of a wealthy man, the focus is on the fame of the masterpieces that
were represented in the collection of replicas in the statue gallery. With in certain
limits of aesthetic propriety, the selection of statuary in a private villa may therefore
be interpreted as the personal choice of an individual and a reflection of that person’s
tastes and preferences. Vetruvius notes that the principal of propriety (decorum)
applied to public spaces. He reports that, according to the mathematician Licymnius,
the inhabitants of Alabanda were judged as unintelligent (insipientes) because of their inappropriateness ( indecentia ). They set up statues of men pleading cases in the
gymnasium and statues of athletes in the forum. Vitruvius claims that the
inappropriate disposition of the statues brought the state as a whole into disrepute.
His implication is that the subject matter of statuary must be accordant with its
envirement, and that poor choices would reflect badly on the state as well as the
benefactor.The benefactor must then have been involved in decisions that led to the
production and / or obtaining of the statuesfor a particular architectural setting.
These literary sources suggest that the principal of decorum provided guidelines for
the types of art that should be displayed in various settings without prescriptions
for any particular requisite works. Statues helped to define the space in which
they were situated and, in turn, were defined by the meanings ascribed to them
in that space, so that a range of associations with or aspects of a single piece of
art could make the same composition appropriate in radically different
settings. The Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group likely acquired different
meanings, or at least different nuances, in the private and the public spheres. A
focuson the context, including the architectural setting and the interest of the
benefactors and viewers, urges us to treat statues as polysemic objects. The Dresden
type satyr-hermaphrodite group was represented at Daphne not only in the statues
from the theater but also in two mosaic panels from the third-century House of the
Boat of Psyches, 200 m south of the theater. The mosaics show the group from two
opposing viewpoints: one shows the hermaphrodite from the front, the other shows
it from the back (figs. 6, 7). Theater and performance themes composed a significant
part of the decoration of elite houses at Antioch and Daphne, but the occurance at
Daphne of satyr-hermaphrodite groups in two distinct media is notable and raises
the possibility that there was a connection between them. The mosaics of the House
of the Boat of Psches included other theatrical imagery, notably masks. The
satyr-hermaphrodite group mosaics were located in the colonnaded portico (area 4
), between a nymphaeum and a series of three large rooms. The orientation of the
panel mosaics in the portico suggests that they were meant to be sen by viewers
facing west as they were walking from the large rooms toward the nymphaeum.
While architectural elements such as colonnades and nymphaea in the third-century
house sat Daphne and Antioch seem to have been designed to evoke public spaces
such as colonnaded streets and public fountains, it stands to reason that aspects
of their decorative programs also referred to the public sphere. The mosaic
quotations of public statuary may have signaled to visitors that they were entering
a public area of the house, and the theatrical theme would reflect favorably on the
social status of the homeowners by demonstrating their cultivated taste. The
location of the house relative to the theater and the location of the mosaics within
the house suggest that they are an artistic reference to the statues set up in the theater.
Sculptural Display
In Theaters
The ornamentation of the stage and the beauty of the interior space were
important components of the experience of attending the theater. In a
discussion of sense perception, Lucretius makes special note of the beautiful
effect of the colored awnings stretched over the theater. Later, he refers to
a sort of sensory overload induced by attending the theater for days on
end and alludes to the audience and the diverse theater decorations along
with the entertainment itself. If anyone has given his whole attention
constantly to the games for many days in succession, we generally see
that, although he has stopped receiving these [images] through the senses,
channels remain open in his mind by which these same images of things
may come to him. So for many days the same images move before his
eyes, so that even if he is awake he seems to see dancers stirring their supple
limbs, to perceive in his ears the fluent song of the lyre and its speaking
strings, to see the same audience and the different beauties of the stage
shine brilliantly.
This passage emphasizes the repetitiveness of the surroundings, which is
an important consideration with regard to the effect of the statuary in a
theater in contrast to other architectural contexts. In a villa or bath
building, for example, a visitor could move freely from one space into
another, experiencing the statuary from different angles and in intentional
sequences. In a theater, however, the impact of the statuary was
unchanging, delivered in a single tableau. Statues in theaters normally
were concentrated in the stage area, displayed in the niches or the
intercolumniations of the scaenae frons or on the pulpitum. Small statues,
altars, fountains, and candelabra might also be set up in the niches across
the front of the pulpitum. Most of the time, the spectator occupied a fixed
position in the cavea in relation to the statues, which served as constant
pointsof reference. Some varying angles might be glimpsed as the spectator
entered and exited the theater or milled about during the show, but there
would remain a fundamental divide between the stage and the
The location of the seat occupied by the spectator thus would have affected
the visibility of the sculpture. While some iconographic details might have been
clear to those seated in the orchestra or the lowest tier, the ima cavea, their
visibility must have diminished in the upper tiers of seats. With the Dresden
type satyr-hermaphrodite group, which relies on anatomical details such as
the satyr’s hornsand the hermaphrodite’s genitalia to complete its meaning,

the precise subject would surely have been lost on much of the audience. It
was toward the educated elite, who would have been seated in the orchestra
and ima cavea, that the nuances of the statuary were aimed.
That two replicas of the Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite groupd were
found in the theater at Daphne suggests they were set up as pendants. The
intentional pairing of statues aimed at creating a special meaning through
juxtaposition was not uncommon in the Roman sphere. In some cases,
the pendant pieceswere virtually identical, as at the Baths of Caracalla in
Rome, where two replicas of the Farnese Hercules appeared on either side
of the entryway to the Great Hall. A series of four replicas of a Pouring Satyr
from the theaterby the Domitianic villa at Castel Gandolfo may have been
displayed in a deliberate repetitive composition. Pendant statues could also
be carved as mirror images to compliment a particular architectural setting.
In several Roman theaters in the western empire, for example, sculptures of
sleeping Silenoi were set up in mirror-reversed pendant groups, presumably
because it suited the symmetrical layout of the fountains they adorned.
Pendant display would have been particularly effective for the Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group because of the complexity of its composition. The
group has figured prominently in discussions of sculptural planes in Hellenistic
sculpture, and arguments have been made for one, two, or multiple intended
views (Einansichtigkeit, Zweiansichtigkeit, Vielansichtigkeit). The various
contexts in which the grouphas been found, however suggest that Roman
taste accepted its presentation with open and restricted views. In the garden
at the villa at Oplontis, the viewer would be able to appreciate the element of
surprise in the composition by walking around the statue and seeing it from
various angles; the context there seems to invite contemplation from multiple
views. In a theater, however, the opportunity for interaction with the statues on
the pulpitum and scaenae frons was more limited.
The two principal horizontal views of the composition are a “front view”
presenting the hermaphrodite’s back, and a “back view” presenting its chest.
While the hermaphrodite’s genitalia are visable to some degree from both
standpoints, they are only truly emphasized from an intermediary point,
which Haüber has termed the ¨hermaphrodite view¨. In the context of the
theater, where the hermaphrodite view was unlikely, the element of surprise
may nevertheless have been captured through the use of pendants representing
the twohorizontal views. These preserved the composition’s inherent sense
of reversal in a two-dimensional setting, with one view emphasizing the
satyr’s advances and the second showing the hermaphrodite in control. It
seems likely that the two statues from the theater at Daphne depicting the
same configuration(not mirror reversals) were set up to show the front and
back views, as in the mosaics from the House of the Boat of Psyches.
Although evidence for only one Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group
was found at the theater at Side, the rough finish on the back of the torso
suggests that it was carved to display the back view. While there may originally
have been a second replica presenting the front view set up in the Side theater,
it is also possible that there was only one replica. The depiction of the
satyr-hermaphrodite group on Roman gems and seals demonstrates that it
could also be depicted singly in a two-dimensional format.
Although it is not certain where the groups were set up in the theaters at
Daphne and Side, the findspot of the Side fragment in front of one of the
scaena doors suggest a location in the stage area. While the rough finish on
the back of the hermaphrodite torso from Side implies its placement against
a wall or in frontof a niche, the two satyr fragments from Daphne are fully
carved on all sides. The horizontal composition of the Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group is not common in theater statuary, however, and
does not lend itself readily to a location in the intercolumniations or niches of
the scaenae frons. The small scale of the groups also raises the problem of their
visibility and their aesthetic compatibility with the larger, vertically oriented
statues that dominated the decoration of Roman theaters. The statue type with
a horizontal composition that is most common in Roman theaters is the reclining
or sleeping Silenus, which was usually a fountain figure. It is notable that the
Silenoi were often displayed as pendants, and usually associated with the outer
niches in the front of the pulpitum. On the basisi of composition and scale, the
pulpitum may be proposed as a possible location for the Dresden-type
hermaphrodite groups
from Side and Daphne.
Context And
The possibilty of pendants raises broader questions about how the meaning of
the Dreden type satyr-hermaphroditegroup was informed by the subject matter
of other statues in the same venue. In any context, a statue gains a shade of
meaning through its relationship to other figures in its sculptural setting. Zanker
has suggested that the messages conveyed by individual statues in the scaenae
frons were less important than those established through the viewing of the
assemblage as a whole and the relationships between statues. We have sen that
the impact of theater decoration lay in its capacity to be viewed all at once; some
attempts atreconstructuring specific and coherent “sculptural programs”in theaters
have yielded convincing results. However, most theater assemblages contain a
number of eclectic elements that are difficult toreconcile as components of a single
deliberate message.
The programmatic approach to interpreting statuary in its
context presents two immediate challenges: the first relates
to the archaeological record, the second relates to building
chronology. First, it must be admitted that only a percentage,
however large or small, of the total assemblage from the
theater has been preserved and recovered through
excavation, and in many cases, archaeological records are
inexact about the find spots of individual statues. At Side,
where the findspots in most cases are precisely recorded,
only five other fragmentary statues were found in the
theater excavations. At Daphne, more statues were
recovered from the theater, but the find spots are rarely
specified. Second, the long history of many Roman
theaters argues against a unified reading of their
sculptural assemblages. Stylistic criteria suggest a rather
wide range of dates for the statuary recovered from many
theaters, making it unlikely that they were all conceived
as components of a single program. Rather, the sculptural
assemblages in theaters are usually additive in nature,
reflecting different phases of construction and centuries
of accumulated benefactions. Although the aesthetic and
conceptual interconnections between the statues displayed
together on the pulpitum and scaenae frons, even if they
were set up at different times, did become a decorative
program, the messages of the individual statues couls
also be considered on their own terms.
One of the objectives in setting up a replica
of the Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite
group in a Roman theater may have been
to refer to art of the Greek past, at least in
a general way. The mythical subjectmatter
and ideal form were fundamentally
suitable for the theater, which itself was a
cultural venue derived from the Greek past
and functioned as a setting for some
activities that were Greekin origin.
Sculpture of this sort may have served as a
form of diplomacy through which a city
might create a visual encomium
celebrating its membership in the culture
of the wider Hellenic world of the Roman
empire. Paideia may be seen as an
important driving force behind the mass
production of replicas. In some cases,
benefactors seem
to have relied on cliche’s,
deliberately choosing works
that were
familiar and immediately recognizable.
At the same time, it seems unlikely that
the ancient viewer
would be expected or
able to identify the replicas of most
individual statues in a given setting or
that the identity of the original was a
significant criterion in the selection of
the statue type. The Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group must have
functioned in the theater on the basis of
specific, albeit nuanced, meanings that
were particular to that context.
A late Hellenistic marble relief depicting a hermaphrodite
dancing with a mirror was found in the Theater of
Dionysos in Athens, suggesting that already in the
Hellenistic period, there was a point of connection between
hermaphrodites and the theater. Perhaps the
hermaphrodite’s sexually ambiguous nature was seen to
reflect the blurred gender identities of the stage, where
costume and role-playing allowed traditional boundaries
to be crossed. On the Greek stage, male actors played all
parts, including those of women. The Roman pantomime,
too, was a male performer, often characterized by ancient
sources as effeminate, who acted all the roles in the story,
both male and female. The Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group may have been specifically
more appropriate for theater decoration because of
the mythical identities of the participants-both are hybred
creatures. As companions of Dionysos, satyrs are intimately
connected to the theater. Most frequently, they are
portrayed in groups, often in scenes of excess or
transgression, endlessly engaged in efforts to consummate
their desires. Through their transformation of vlaues,
satyrs inversely represent a society’s standards and
morals. As such, they mirror the social inversions
produced on the stage. Tragedy and comedy offered
opportunities to reflect on social norms and even
inculcated a questioning of the very basis of those norms.
While there was a deliberate preservation of social
stratification in the cavea of a Roman theater, the stage
offered the exploration of reversal through fantasy.
Tensions within the culture could be explored on the
stage while real social structure was safely maintained.
The pairing of the hermaphrodite with a satyr
emphasizes the former’s sexuality and resonates with
the charaacterization of the theater as a place of sexual
license. Roman mimes could be sexually explicit.
Valarius Maximus for example, talks about women
stripping on the stage as early as the Republican period.
Because Roman acctors were infamis, they were legally
vulnerable to all forms of abuse, and the theater became
a place where the body was regularly objectified. Cicero’s
defence of Gnaeus Plancius, with the notorious assertion
that the alleged rape of a mimula (diminutive of female
mime) should hardly be considered a crime, is a chilling
reminder of the vulnerablity and exploitation of those
with infamia within the theatrical realm. The Dresden
type satyr-hermaphrodite group may be construed as a
visual metaphor for this form of social tension between
Roman citizens and actors. The satyr, who is in the
position of power, echoes the role of the male viewer.
He controls the hermaphrodite, who struggles but
ultimately submits to him, as an actress would be obliged
to submit to a Roman citizen. As a component of a
theater’s decorative scheme, the satyr-hermaphrodite
group was afitting backdrop to the relationship between
those on the stage and those occupying the good seats
in the lower portion of the cavea and the orchestra.
The sexual energy of the satyr-hermaphrodite group may
also be read as a metaphor for social dynamics among the
viewers in the cavea. The theater repeatedly figures in
Latin love poetry as a place where men and women go to
ogle and flirt. Propertius comments on his sexual
attraction to women in the theater, apparently to those on
the stage and those seated around him. His lover, Cynthia,
even establishes in the terms of their make-up that he
should not crane his neck to the upper tiers of the theater
where the women sit. Ovid freely admits to the same habit
of spying on the upper tiers and shares advice on how to
behave around women at the theater to woo them. He
recommends, for example, applauding in particular any
mimes playing the role of a lover. Ovid encourages women
to go to the theater, which he considers a favorable place
for showing oneself. To men, he suggests that the theater
is a good place to meet women and forge all types of
relationships. The theater, he proposes, is among the
public placces that pose a challenge to a woman’s guardian.
The Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group would
have been well suited to the decor of the theater as
portrayed by poets as a locale for romantic trysts.
Another point of connection to the theater might be
found in the group’s agonistic theme. Both Daphne and
Side were host to agones, one of the principal activities
that took place in Roman theaters in the Greek East.
Daphne was one of the sites for the many festivals held
by Antioch. Epigraphic evidence attests to the presence
of members of the Guild of the Artists of Dioysos
(technitai) at Side, thereby confirming that actors
gathered there and competed for prizes. A sculptural
group depicting the engagement of two figures in a
struggle, particularly one in which there are surprises
and reversals, might have been appropriate for the
setting of theatrical agones. It may also have reflected
some of the theatrical content. New compositions in
comedy and tragedy as well as revivals of old plays
were presented at festivals in the Greek East. The stories
of the Greek tragedies were also performed on Roman
stages as pantomimes. The agon itself was a common
formal motif in old comedy and Greek tragedy. Most
plays of Euripedes, in particualr, have some kind of
conflict as a central theme. In its simplest form, the agon
is made of a pair of opposing speeches of approximately
equal length. Some agnistic dialogues, however, are more
complex, oscillating between several movements. The
initial aggressor might find himself on the defensive
when the adversary, overcoming his surprise, takes up
the role as aggressor. This type of dynamic tension is
found between Eteocles and Polynices in Euripides’
Phoenissae (2.594-624), between Admetus and Pheres
in Euripides’ Alcestis (2.708-29), between Teucer and
Menalaus in Sophocles’ Ajax (2.1120-141), and between
Teiresias and Creon in Sophicles’ Antigone (2.1048-63).
The tension between the roles of aggressor and prey
makes the sculptural group an apt visual metaphor for
the struggle presented in a tragic agon.
The Dresden type satyr-hermaphrodite group thus offers
various nuanced meanings that may have made it a suitable
choice for theater decoration: the conotations of paideia,
the Dionysiac associations, the reversal of norms, the
objectification of the body, the sexual tryst, and the
agonistic motif. The danger in exploring these nuances,
however, is that we may erroneously imbue the ancient
viewer with the knowledge of all antiquity. There is also a
danger of generating a universal and generic viewpoint
when, in fact, the “viewer” encompassed a broad range of
identities. The spectators in a Roman theater came from a
variety of social classes and cultural backgrounds, and it is
necessary to distinguish between the cultivated, educated
response and the popular, raw response, and recognize
that there were many possible interpretations between
these two extremes. Many users of Roman public buildings
were uneducated and not familiar with a broad range of art
and thus incapable of or uninterested in making arcane
associations. To some of them, the Dresden type
satyr-hermaphrodite group may simply have been a statue
that helped create certain ambience that had come to be
expected in a theater. But to benefactors who were responsible
for making “appropriate” choices for a decorative scheme,
and to audience members from a higher stratum of society,
these kinds of associacions may have been important and
exciting. Some of these nuances may have motivated the
benefactor’s artistic selection, while others may only have
become apparent against the backdrop of theatrical activity
and in juxtaposition with other visual elements. My
intention has not been to suggest that any single viewer
grasped all the meanings investigated here but rather to
explore possible responses to the group within the aesthetic,
social, and cultural setting of the Roman theater.
Alexandra Retzleff
Depatment Of Classics
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M2

Theodor Erdmann Kalide - Bacchantin auf dem Panther, (1844-1848) marble, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Karl Friedrich Schinkel Museum, Friedrichswerdersche Kirche in Berlin-Mitte, Berlin-Tempelhof, Bodestraße 1-310178 Berlin; Theodor Erdmann Kalide, - Neo- Hellenistic, - Berlin artist (1801-1863). (b Königshütte, Upper Silesia [now Chorzów, Poland], 8 Feb 1801; d Gleiwitz [now Gliwice, Poland], 23 Aug 1863).
{ This is quite an impressive piece of sculpture, that fits comfortably within a type of Hellenistic sculpture. Perhaps not quite up to the complex internal forms of the best Hellenistic sculpture - but nothing demonstrates that standard in the whole output of European sculpture. The subject matter also would fit in the Hellenistic as of complete merit. {This group of figures is natureful in their to see dionysischen beginning in greatest possible distance from the apollonischen people ideal of the classicism and can as “splendourful proclamation anti-classical Unmen” Bloch / Grzimek 1978, 137)} Dionysian subject matter was on the same level of importance as the Apollonisian in the Greek Hellenistic Period, in terms of the sculptural quality of the surviving work. Of the sculptures that would be totally offensive without rhyme or reason - there are no examples of Hellenistic Greek sculpture of techinically superior output entering the domain of Kitsch. There are some Hellenistic Greek sculptures of degenerate subject matter and appearence of the work - but these are also of low quality in the technique and complexity of the content of sculptural issues. These would have been produced by amateurs that were of low esteem in their talent as well as education in the tradition of the training.
This sculpture composition is of the type seen in similar subjects of Satyr and Hermaphrodite - Albertinum, Dresden, Germany; Nymph & Satyr, - Consrvatori, Rome; Naples Natl Archaeology Museum, Naples, Italy, etc... Nymph & Faun, Nymph & Dolphin, Naples Natl. Archaeology Museum; etc... of the Dionysian subjects of the Greek Hellenistic. },
bloger, PBP

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