The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Mimus


gnstus, probably in connection with that measure­ment of the roads of the empire, which was set on foot by Julius Caesar, and the results of which are recorded in the so-called Antonine Itinerary. Augustus set up a gilt marble pillar in the forum at Rome, to mark the central point from which the great roads diverged to the several gates of Rome (Dion Cass. liv. 8 ; Plut. Galb. 24). It was called the Milliarium Aureum; and its position is defined as being incapite RomaniFori (Plin. H.N. 5, s. 9), sub aedem Saturni (Tac. Hist. i. 27). Some remains of it still exist, close to the Arch of Septimius Severus, consisting of a round base and a piece of fine marble 4£ feet in diameter, the whole being about 10 feet high. (Platner u. Bunsen, Beschreib. d. Stadt Rom. vol. iii. pt. 1. p. 73, pt. 2. p. 102 ; Platner u. Urlichs, Beschreib. Roms, p. 20.) It seems that the marble pillar was covered, on each of its faces, with tablets of gilt bronze ; but whether the information engraved upon them con­sisted simply of a list of the chief places on each road, with their distances, or whether there was a sort of map of each set of roads with the dis­tances marked upon them, is now unknown. It is also uncertain whether the miles began to be reckoned from the pillar itself, or from the city gates. (See De la Nauze, in the Mem. de PAcad. des Inscr. vol. xxviii. p. 383, &c. ; Ideler, in the Abhandl. d. BerL Acad. 1812, pp. 134, 164.)

The Milliarium Aureum at Byzantium, erected by Constantine in imitation of that of Augustus, was a large building in the forum Augusteum, near the church of S. Sophia. (See Buchholz, in the Zeitsclirift fur Altert.liumswissensoliaft9 18459 No. 100, &c.)

London also had its Milliarium Aurenrn^ a frag­ment of which still remains, namely, the cele­brated London Stone, which may be seen affixed to the wall of St. Swithin's Church in Cannon Street.

From this example it may be inferred that the chief city of each province of the empire had its Milliarium A u reum.

The ordinary miiliaria along the roads were blocks or pillars of stone, inscribed with some or all of the following points of information: (1) the distance, which was expressed by a number, with or without M. P. prefixed: (2) the places between which the road extended: (3) the name of the constructor of the road, and of the emperor to whose honour the work was dedicated. Several of these inscriptions remain, and are collected in the following works : Gruter, C. I. pp. cli. &c. ; Muratori, Tkes. vol. i. pp. 447, &c. ; Oreili, Inscr. Lat.Sel. Nos. 1067, 3330, 4877 ; and especially Bergier, Hist, des grands Ckemins des Rom. vol. ii. pp. 757, &e., Bruxelles, 1728, 4to.

On some of these mile-stones, which have been found in Gaul, the distances are marked, not only in Roman miles, but also in Gallic Leugae9 a measure, somewhat greater than the Roman mile. (For some further details respecting these extant mile-stones, see the article Milliarium in the Real- Encyclop. d. Class. Alterth., to which the foregoing article is considerably indebted.) [P. S.]

MIMUS (/xijuos) is the name by which, in Greece and at Rome, a species of the drama was designated, though the Roman mimus differed essentially from the Greek p.1^os.

The Greek mimus seems to have originated among the Greeks of Sicily and southern Italy,



and to have consisted originally of extempory re­presentations or imitations of ridiculous occurrences of common life at certain festivals, like the Spartan deicelistae. At a later period these rude repre­sentations acquired a more artistic form, which was brought to a high degree of perfection by Sophron of Syracuse (about 420 b.c.). He wrote his pieces in the popular dialect of the Dorians and a kind of rythmical prose. (Quinctil. i. 8.) The mimes of Sophron are designated as iujj.qi orTrouScuot, which were probably of a more serious and ethical cha­racter, and fjufj.01 7eA.otoi, in which ridiculous buf­foonery preponderated. Such mimes remained after the time of Sophron a favourite amusement of the Greeks, and Philistion of Magnesia, a contemporary of Augustas, was a celebrated actor in them. (See Muller, Dor. iv. 7. § 5.)

Among the Romans the word mimus was ap­plied to a species of dramatic pla}rs as well as to the persons who acted in them. It is certain that the Romans did not derive their mimus from the Greeks in southern Italy, but that it was of native growth. The Greek mimes were written in prose, and the name iujj.qs was never applied to an actor, but if used of a person it signified one who made grimaces. The Roman mimes were imitations of foolish and mostly indecent and obscene occurrences (Ovid, Trist. ii. 515 ; Valer. Max. ii. 6. § 7, x. 11), and scarcely differed from comedy except in con­sisting more of gestures and mimicry than of spoken dialogue, which was not the case in the Greek mimes. The dialogue was, indeed, not excluded from the Roman mimes, but was only interspersed in various parts of the representation, while the mimic acting continued along with it and uninter­ruptedly from the beginning to the end of a piece. At Rome such mimes seem originally to have been exhibited at funerals, where one or more persona (mimi) represented in a burlesque manner the life of the deceased. If there were several mimi, one of them, or their leader, was called archimimus. (Suet. Vespas. 19 ; Gruter, Inscript. 1089. 6.)

During the latter period of the republic such farces were also represented in theatres ; but it appears that they did not attain any high degree of perfection before the time of Caesar, for it is not until then that writers of mimes are mentioned: Cn. Matius, Decius Laberius, and Publ. Syrus were the most distinguished among them. (Gellius, xv. 25 ; Suet. Caes. 39 ; Cic. ad Fain. xii. 18.) These coarse and indecent performances, of which Sulla was very fond, had greater charms for the Romans than the regular drama : hence the}' were not only performed on the stage, but even at-re­pasts in the houses of private persons. On the stage they were performed as farces after tragedies, and during the empire they gradually supplanted the place of the Atellanae. The exact time, how­ever, when the Atellanae yielded to the mimes is uncertain. It was peculiar to the actors in these mimes, neither to wear masks, nor the cothurnus, nor the soccus, whence they are sometimes called planipedes. (Diomed. iii. 487; Gellius, i. 11 ; Macrob. Sat. ii. 1.) As the mimes contained scenes taken from common life, such as exhibited its most striking features, their authors are some­times called biologi or ethologi (Cic. pro Rabir. 12, de Orat. ii. 59), and the works themselves were distinguished for their richness in moral sentences. That distinguished and living persons were some­times exposed to ridicule in-these-mimes, is clear

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of