The discovery of a set of plaster faces at Pompeii, likely intended as molds on which theatre masks could be made, challenge the understanding of comic iconography in the Roman period. This illustrated lecture considers the development of masks from Greek to Roman theatre, arguing that the typologies in and derived from Pollux do not reflect the information a spectator isolates in performance. Instead broad categories of age and gender create a limited palette of mask types in the Greek tradition. These were imported to Rome, but integrated with pre-existing masked performance traditions in Italy, including the fabulae Atellanae. The masks of Pompeii represent a blending of these two traditions, and allow greater insight into the ongoing performance of comedy into the Early Empire.
C. W. Marshall is Professor of Greek at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of The Stagecraft and Performance of Roman Comedy (CUP 2006), The Structure and Performance of Euripides’ Helen (CUP 2014), Aeschylus: Libation Bearers (Bloomsbury 2017) and Aristophanes: Frogs (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2020), as well as many articles on Greek and Roman theatre and performance. His other work includes edited volumes on television, comics, and enslaved women in antiquity.
The talk will begin at 12:30 pm, with a light lunch starting at 12:15 pm. This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not required.