The Ancient Library

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covered, like the masks of modern times, only the face, but they appear more generally to have covered the whole head down to the shoulders, for we find always the hair belonging to a mask described as being a part of it; and this must have been the case in tragedy more especially, as it was necessary to make the head correspond to the stature of an actor which was heightened by the cothurnus.

I. tragic masks. It may at first seem strange to us, that the ancients, with their refined taste in the perception of the beautiful in form and expres­sion, should by the use of masks have deprived the spectators in their theatres of the possibility of observing the various expressions, of which the human face is capable, and which with us contri­bute so much to theatrical illusion. But it must be remembered, that in the large theatres of the an­cients it would have been impossible for the greater part of the audience to distinguish the natural features of an actor. The features of the masks were for this same reason very strong and marked. Again, the dramatis personae of most of the ancient tragedies were heroes or gods, and their characters were so well known to the spectators, that they were perfectly typical. Every one therefore knew immediately on the appearance of such a character on the stage, who it was, and it would have been difficult for a Greek audience to imagine that a god or hero should have had a face like that of an ordinary actor. The use of the cothurnus also rendered a proportionate enlargement of the countenance absolutely necessary, or else the figure of an actor would have been ridiculously dispro­portionate. Lastly, the solemn character of ancient tragedy did not admit of such a variety of expres­sions of the countenance as modern tragedies ; the object of which seems to be to exhibit the whole range of human passions in all their wild and self-devouring play. How widely different are the characters of ancient tragedy! It is, as Mliller (Hist, of the Lit. of Anc. Greece, i. p. 298) justly remarks, perfectly possible to imagine, for example, the Orestes of Aeschylus, the Ajax of Sophocles, or the Medea of Euripides, throughout the whole tragedy with the same countenance, though it would be difficult to assert the same of a character in any modern drama. But there is no necessity for sup­posing that the actors appeared throughout a whole piece with the same countenance, for if circum­stances required it, they might surely change masks daring the intervals between the acts of a piece. Whether the open or half-open mouth- of a tragic mask also contributed to raise the voice of the actor, as Gellius (v. 7) thinks, cannot be decided here, though we know that all circumstances united to compel a tragic actor to acquire a loud and sonorous voice.

The masks used in ancient tragedies were thus, for the most part, typical of certain characters, and consequently differed according to the age, sex, rank, and other peculiarities of the beings who were represented. Pollux, from whom we derive most of our information on this subject, enumerates (iv. 133, &c.) 25 typical or standing masks of tragedy, six for old men, seven for young men, nine for females, and three for slaves. The num­ber of masks which were not typical, but represented certain individuals with their personal peculiarities, such as the blind Thamyris, the hundred-eyed Argus, &c., must have been much more numerous, for Pollux by way of example mentions thirty of


such peculiar masks. The standing masks of gedy are divided by Pollux into five classes.

1. Tragic masks for old men. The mask for the oldest man on the stage was called £vpias aviip, from the circumstance of the beard being smoothly shaved. The hair, which was in most cases attached to the masks, was white, and hung down with the exception of a part above the forehead, which rose in an acute angle, or in a round shape, and left the temples uncovered. This rising part of the hair was called oyitos. The cheeks of this mask were flat and hanging downwards. A second mask for old men, called Aev/cbs aWjp, had grey hair, floating around the head in locks, a full beard and a promi­nent forehead, above which the hair formed a small ojkos. The countenance was probably pale, as the adjective Aewcds seems to indicate. A third mask, called tnrapTOTroAtos, had black hair inter­spersed with grey, and was somewhat pale. It probably represented a hero of from 40 to 50 years of age, and in a suffering condition. The fourth mask, jueAas a^p, represented a hero in his full vigour, with black and curly hair and beard, strong features and a high ojkos. This was probably the mask for most of the tragic heroes who were not very much advanced in age. For a secondary class of heroes there were two other masks, the \avQ6s and the £avd6r€pos avf)p : the former represented a fair man with floating locks, a low tfy/cos, and a good colour in his countenance ; the second or fairer man, was pale and of a sickly appearance.

2. Tragic masks for young men. Among these are mentioned, 1. The veaviffKos Trdr/xprjcrTos, a mask intended to represent a man who had just entered the age of manhood, and was yet unbearded, but of a blooming and brownish complexion, and with a rich head of hair. The name Trdyxpyvros probably indicates that the mask might be used in a great variety of parts. 2. The veaviffKos ouAos, or ^avQas or virepoyicos, a fair youth of a haughty or impudent character ; his hair was curly and formed a high oyKos ; his character was indicated by his raised eye-brows. 3. NeaviffKos TrapovAos, resembled the preceding mask, but was somewhat 3'ounger. The counterpart of these two was, 4. The aira\6s, a young man of a delicate and white com­plexion, with fair locks and a cheerful countenance like that of a youthful god. 5. Hivapos. There were two masks of this name, both representing young men of an irascible appearance, of yellow complexion and fair hair ; the one, however, was taller and younger, and his hair was more curly than that of the other. 6. 'flxp^s, a mask quite pale, with hollow cheeks and fair floating hair. It was used to represent sick or wounded persons. 7. The irdpwxpos might be used for the irdyxpi/lo'Tos if this character was to be represented in a suffer­ing or melancholy situation.

3. Traffic masks for male slaves. Pollux men­tions three, viz. the SttyQepias, which had no uyKos and wore a band round the smooth white hair. The countenance was pale, the beard gray, the nose sharp, and the expression of the eyes melan­choly. The cr^wTrcoycov, or the pointed beard, re­presented a man in his best years, with a high and broad forehead, a high oy/cos, hardened features, and a red face. The avdcriaos^ or the pug-nose, was an impudent face with fair rising hair, of a red colour and without beard.

4. Tragic masks for female slaves. OF these five specimens are mentioned, viz. the TroAict

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