Libmonster ID: JP-1382
Author(s) of the publication: E. N. Khodza

The terracotta figurines of the first half of the IV century BC presented in this article have not yet been published, except that two of them were included without reproductions in the catalog of the exhibition of ancient coroplastics held in the Hermitage in 1976 . Received from private collections or from other museums, where they probably came from dealers in antiquities, these figurines were not accompanied by any data about the place and conditions of the find. In their scientific treatment, however, it was possible to use a very extensive material. Images of theatrical characters, especially comic ones, were very popular among contemporaries:


1 Antique coroplasty, L., 1976, N 114-115.

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At one time, T. B. L. Webster counted more than 150 different types of terracotta figurines of actors created in Attica from approximately 400 to 325 BC, which were exported throughout the Greek world and copied locally .2 Many of them are known for their publications.

Of particular interest and value among this abundance of extant monuments are two beautifully crafted sets of terracotta from an Attic burial preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Differing in the color of clay, red and yellow, they are clearly created in the same workshop in the first quarter of the IV century BC. e. and, apparently, reproduce the characters of two middle comedies3 . (Since in the future you will have to repeatedly refer to these terracotas, it is rational to give this information in the introductory part of the article.)

The statuette of one of the four male characters (Fig. 1) 4 came to the Hermitage in 1954 from the State Museum of Ethnography. Made of orange fine-grained clay, with traces of white coating on the surface, it has a height of 7.8 cm. The figure is solid, the front side is stamped in the shape, the back side is smoothed out. The base is low and square. We will immediately note that all the figurines discussed in the article are executed in the same technique.

The actor stands with his head slightly bowed to the left shoulder, over which a cloak is thrown, falling over his back and enveloping his right arm, which is lowered at the side of the body. Under the cloak is a short tunic and leotard, which gathers in transverse folds at the knees and ankles. From under the tunic hangs an essential part of a man's costume in comedy, a large phallus, which was either sewn on or tied to the leotard 5 . With his left hand, the actor holds a vessel leaning against his shoulder, most likely hydria. The face is covered by the mask of a bearded old man, according to Webster's classification of the "AA" type, especially popular at the beginning of the IV century BC. About two dozen figurines of a comic character carrying a vessel are known, and all of them differ in detail from each other .7

Attempts were made to answer the question of what role this character played in ancient or Middle comedies, whose characters often did not differ from each other in appearance. Without limiting herself to such a general definition as a cook or a kitchen slave, M. Bieber suggested two more possible interpretations. In an ancient comedy that often parodied mythological characters, it might have been Cadmus, son of Ares, who came to the spring where he met his enemy the Dragon. In the middle comedy , it is a servant serving watered-down wine to the pseudo-Hercules during his merry meal with his mistress. The researcher made the latter assumption based on her interpretation of the plot of the play, which involved the characters of the yellow metro group, which included the type of old man with a vessel 8 . Another interpretation, which I think is more interesting, is offered by Webster. From his point of view, the cloak thrown over his head indicates that the man in this case is parodying a woman, especially since it is women who are usually hydro-


Webster T.B.L. 2 Greek Theatre Production. L., 1956. P. 56.

Bieber М. 3 The History of the Greek and Roman Theater. Princeton, 1939. P. 86-91. Fig. 122-135; Trendall A.D.. Webster T.B.L. Illustrations of Greek Drama. L., 1971. P. 127. PI. IV. 9.

4 Inv. N. 2764.

Webster. 5 Op. cit. P. 66.

6 MMC. P. 14.

Winter F. 7 Die Tipen der figiirlichen Terrakotten. Bd II. Berlin - Stuttgart, 1903. S. 414. Abb. 7; Higgins R.A. Catalogue of the Terracottas in the Department of the Greek and Roman Antiquities. British Museum. V. I. Oxf., 1969. N637. PI. 97; Breitenstein N. Danish National Museum. Catalogue of Terracottas, Cyptiote, Greek, Etrusco-Italian and Roman. Copenhagen, 1941. N329. PI. 39. N460. PI. 57; Bieber. The History... Figs. 127, 114; Bieber М. Die Denkmaler zum Theaterwasen im Altertum. B.-Lpz, 1920. Taf. 70; Besque S. Catalogue raisonne de figurines et reliefs en terre cuite grecs, etrusques et remains. V. Ill, 2. 1972. D 1258. PI. 248 с; ММС. IV. 1. PI. VIIc; AT 8. AT 88).

Bieber. 8 The History... P. 39, 87.

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Fig. 1. Terracotta figurine of a comic actor with a vessel. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 2764

Fig. 2. Terracotta figurine of a comic actor with a basket. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 1169

forami. The text of Aristophanes speaks in favor of the permissibility of such a hypothesis (Women in the National Assembly. 738). At the same time, it should be borne in mind that a cloak thrown over your head could also mean a certain emotional state - grief, a sense of shame, a desire to isolate yourself from the environment and not let yourself be recognized .9

A statuette of an ancient comedy actor depicting an old man holding a basket on his head with both hands (Fig. 2) was received by the Hermitage in 1900 from the collection of A.V. Novikov 10 . Its height is 8.5 cm, the color of clay is orange, traces of white coating have been preserved.

The comic actor, wearing the mask of a bearded, smiling old man, is dressed in a traditional costume consisting of a leotard, a short tunic, and a cape that falls from his shoulders. This statuette has several exact analogies of 12 and 13 variants .

From the same collection comes a miniature (its height is only 4.6 cm) figure of an actor (Fig. H) 14 , sitting on a cube-shaped object. It is possible that an altar was meant, which is clearly conveyed in some very close statuettes .15 The statuette is made of light brown fine-grained clay, in many places the white coating has been preserved. In addition, there are remnants of dark pink paint on the entire surface, except for the cube and the raincoat, and a particle of bright blue remained on the cube. Terracotta - well made, with carefully executed details.

The character in the high pointed hat is dressed in a tight-fitting leotard with long sleeves, over which a short tunic and a cloak cover are worn.


Webster. 9 Op. cit. P. 71-72.

10 Inv. N, 1169; MMC, AT 46.

11 According to Webster's classification-slave mask " K " - MMC. P 18.

Levi E. I. 12 Terracotas from Olbia / / SAI. Issue G1-11, ch. 1-2. Terracotas of the Northern Black Sea region. Moscow, 1970. p. 43. Tables 15, 9-10; Paul E. Die antike Welt in Ton. Lpz, 1959. N 246. Taf. 70; Besques. Op. cit. V. Ill, 1. P. 635. PI. 2f, p. 640. PI. 70b; Winter. Op. cit. Bd II. S. 414. Abb. 6b.

Sinn U. 13 Antike Terrakotten. Kassel, 1977. N 79. Taf. 26; Bieber. The History... Fig. 92.

14 Inv. N, 1170.

Bieber. 15 The History... Fig. 133-134.

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3. Terracotta figurine of a comic actor. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 1170

4. Fragment of a terracotta figurine of a comic actor. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 2114

my back. The face is covered with a mask 16, adopted in ancient and middle comedies for the role of old men. The right hand, bent at the elbow, is pressed to the stomach, the left hand is raised to the mouth, so that the fingers touch the lips. M. Bieber saw in him a thoughtful man, judging by the costume, a traveler, while A. A. Peredolskaya believed that we are talking about an ancient comedy actor in the role of an old slave. The size and slightly different position of the legs distinguish this figurine from all other figurines of this type known to me, which, however, can be considered as analogies 17 .

The fourth terracotta 18 (fragment height - 4.4 cm), the lower part of which, unfortunately, has not been preserved, came to the Hermitage in 1931 from the former State Academy of the History of Material Culture (Fig. 4). It is known, however, that it was part of the collection of A. A. Bobrinsky and was bought in Kerch. Clay - light brown, fine-grained.

The actor of a medium comedy in the role of the old man 19 stands with his right hand akimbo. He is dressed in a short, sleeveless tunic, chiton, and cloak, the end of which is slung over his left shoulder and pressed against his stomach with his left hand. The statuette is similar in style to the red set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the closest analogy to it is available in London 20 .


16 Type" H " MMC. p. 17.

Winter. 17 Op. cit. S. 418, 11; Peredolskaya A. A. Terrakoty iz kurgana Bolshaya Bliznitsa i Gomerovskii hymn Demetre [Terracotta from the Bolshaya Bliznitsa mound and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter]. TGE. 1962. VII. P. 76.Fig. 36; Peredolskaya Anna A. Attische Tonfigiiren aus einem sudrussi-schen Grab. Lpz, 1964. Taf. 12, 2; 15,5; Grach N. L. Terracotta figurines from the Bolshaya Bliznitsa mound / / SAI. Issue G1-11, part 4. Terracotta figurines. Pridonye i Tamansky peninsulov [The Don Region and the Taman Peninsula], Moscow, 1974, p. 38, N 19. Table 44, 4; Silantieva P. F. Terrakoty Pantikapeya / / SAI. Issue G1-11, part 3. Terrakoty Pantikapeya. Moscow, 1974. pp. 19-20, N 44. Table 10, 1 ; Bieber. The History... P. 91, 93. Fig. 134; Robinson D.М. Excavations at Olynthus. Pt VII. Oxf., 1933. PI. 38, 308.

18 Inv. N. 2114.

19 Mask " S " - MMC. p. 15.

Nicholls R. 20 Greek Gods and Goddesses in Miniature. An Exhibition of the Chesterman Terracotta Collection. Cambr., 1978. P. 20-21. N 63.

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5. Terracotta figurine of a comic actor in a female role. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 1422

6. Terracotta figurine of a comic actor in a female role. Gos. Hermitage. Inv. N. 1165

Two more figurines depict actors in female roles. The first one (Fig. 5) 21 came to the Hermitage from the Museum of the Central School of Technical Drawing of Baron Stieglitz in 1925 with a height of 8.7 cm, this figure is made of brownish-orange well-cured clay. In addition to traces of white paint, you can see the remnants of black paint on the raincoat. The actor stands with his right leg slightly extended forward. Over the long chiton, his entire figure with a strongly protruding belly is wrapped in a himation, the upper edge of which he pulls in front. The arms, bent at the elbows and raised up, are hidden under the cloak, so that only the ends of the fingers are visible from the outside of the right hand, and the entire hand is visible from the left. The slanted edge of the cloak covers part of the chin and right cheek. A mask with wide-set eyes, a large nose and a large mouth is framed by hair divided in the middle above the forehead, gathered on top of the head in a high knot 22 . The figurine is distinguished by careful elaboration of details. A significant number of analogies indicate the popularity of this type of work .

The last of the statuettes published here (Fig. ) 24, which previously belonged, like the two others mentioned above, to A.V. Novikov, also embodies a comic actor in a female role. It is made of orange clay, with traces of white coating on the surface.

The actor stands frontally, with his head turned to the right shoulder. The upper part of the figure is wrapped in a cloak, which, descending from the head to the shoulders, envelops the arms and legs.


21 Inv. N, 1422.

22 Type" V " MMC. p. 23.

Winter. 23 Op. cit. Bd II. S. 421, 7a; Peredolskiya. Terracotta ... P. 49. Fig. 3; Peredolskaya. Op. cit. Taf. 2, 1 ; ММС, AT 740. PI. XIIIa; Shaw King L. The Cave at Vari // AJA. 1903. 7. PI. XI, 7; Collection Camille Lecuyer. Terres cuites antiques trouvees en Grece et en Asie Mineure. P., 1885. PI. Q2; Дремсизова Ц. Terakoti from the necropolis on Apolonia. Apolonia. Discover the Necropolis at Apolonia Prez 1947-1949. Sofia, 1962. Fig. 147.

24 Inv. N, 1165. The top of the head and the corner of the base are lost, and there is a crack at shoulder level.

page 210


protruding belly. With his right arm bent at the elbow, the actor holds the upper edge of the raincoat from the inside, so that it covers the lower part of his face. In the left hand, also bent at the elbow and pressed to the stomach, a round object is clutched. From under the cloak, the chiton falls in parallel vertical folds.

Numerous analogies of this statuette 25 repeatedly attracted the attention of researchers who tried to interpret them in one way or another. The example of such attempts shows especially clearly how shaky the ground is for such experiments.

A. A. Peredolskaya proposed an interpretation that fits into the context of her understanding of the entire series of terracotas from the Bolshaya Bliznitsa mound as illustrations of the Homeric hymn to Demeter: "With the image of Demeter, who appeared in the house of Kelei, can be compared... a statuette of a standing woman, her face hidden under a cloak. Distinctive features of this figurine: old age and a large belly, which serves as a symbol of fertility... A cloak that hides the entire figure with the head indicates a woman's desire to hide from the eyes of others as a sign of sadness, grief and mourning... In Homer's hymn to Demeter, there are the following lines that can be applied to the figure described above::

The maidens led her to her father's chambers...

...the goddess follows the maidens

She walked with the veil pulled down from her head to her face ... 26 .

It is not necessary to touch here on Peredolskaya's interpretation of the entire complex of Taman terracotas, which, we note, would gain real weight only if there is archaeological evidence, for example, the discovery in Eleusis of the remains of a workshop of coroplasts with corresponding figurines or at least fragments of figurines or matrices for types found in Bolshaya Bliznitsa. We will focus only on the statuette that interests us. Determining the age in the conventional manner in which the half-hidden face of the character is conveyed is a very subjective moment, especially since we are most likely looking at a theatrical mask. As proof, I will refer to the opinion of researchers about similar figures. Heze and Robinson, as well as Peredolskaya, saw the character as an old woman. But Higgins, Bieber and Webster talk about an actor portraying a young woman. This subjectivity of perception is also evident in the fact that Bieber talks about a giggling woman hiding behind a hymn, and Higgins - about a sobbing woman. Similarly, there is no unity in the interpretation of the gesture: Robinson believed that the actor pulls the veil over the face from the bottom up, and Webster claims that he pulls the himatium away from the face.

A sign that allowed Peredolskaya to identify the statuette with Demeter is a large belly, symbolizing fertility. However, Robinson, for example, saw in this case only a grotesque image of a pregnant old woman .27 It should be remembered that the female characters of the ancient comedy, as well as the male ones, used progostidion in costumes. This came, on the one hand, from an ancient tradition, according to which the comic


Winter. 25 Op. cit. Bd II. S. 421, 8; Peredolskaya A. A. Khudozhestvenno-istoricheskoe znachenie terrakot iz kurgana Bolshaya Bliznitsa [Artistic and historical significance of terracotta from the Bolshaya Bliznitsa mound]. KSIA, 1957, issue 7, p. 70. Fig. 1; Peredolskaya Street. 10; Grach. Uk. soch. P. 37, N 2. Tab. 42, 2Skudnova V. M., Slavin L. M., Kleiman I. B. Opisanie terrakot iz Olvia (goroda i nekropolya) [Description of terracotta from Olbia (city and necropolis)]. Northern Black Sea Region, Moscow, 1970, P. 52, N 36. Table 30, 2 ; Bieber. The History... P. 86. Fig. 123; idem. Die Denkmaler... Taf. LXXV, 2; Higgins. Op. cit. N 744; Robinson D.M. Excavations at Olynthus. V. IV. Oxf., 1931. P. 70, N 364. PI. 38; Laumonier A. Catalogue de terres cuites du Musee archeologique de Madrid. Bordeaux, 1921. N 849. PI. 97, 2; Heuzey L. Catalogue des figurines antiques de terre cuite du Musee du Louvre. P., 1883. PI. 51, J; Shaw King. Op. cit. P. 333, N 61. PI. XII, 8; Stroud R.S. Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on Acrocorinth // Hesperia. 1968. 37. PI. 950. There are still a number of unpublished figurines of the same type, two of which, found in Tanagra and Three, coincide with the year 1165 in size-MMC. AT 10.

Peredolskaya Street. 26 Terracotta ... P. 61.

Robinson. 27 Op. cit. P. 70.

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actors imitated Dionysian demons, particularly in satyr dramas, and demons were always depicted with deliberately fat bellies .28 On the other hand, there was a good practical reason: all the roles were played by men, who, since the number of actors was limited, could not have time to completely change the costumes, removing the progostidion.

P. Alexandrescu's article 29 was a response to Peredolskaya's publication . The researcher reproached the author for being imbued with the idea of linking the entire terracotta complex with the cult of Demeter, the Homeric hymn and the Eleusinian mysteries, she "attracted" all the figurines to this idea, even in cases where this is unjustified. Having accurately captured the weak point of Peredolskaya's research in ignoring the heterogeneity of the Bolshaya Bliznitsa series of terracotas, he divided it into six groups according to its content. The third, the most numerous, is titled "comic actors and characters close to them" and begins just with the statuette that interests us.

Having casually mentioned L. Stefani's suggestion that the ancients simply had an interest in comedic and caricatured types, which he did not take seriously, Alexandrescu put forward his theory about the involvement of a woman buried in the Taman mound in the cult of Dionysus of Chthonia, the patron saint of the souls of the dead. Drawing on information about numerous finds of actors ' figurines and theatrical masks in the necropolises of Lipari, Apollonia and Kallatis to support his version, he explains their presence there only by saying that "the theater in the popular consciousness was considered as a kind of ritual associated with the cult of Dionysus, this god who ruled death and at the same time was a hostage of immortality.""30 . However, after getting carried away, the author gradually turns to the imperative. "With the preceding arguments," he writes, " we wanted to show the path that must be followed to interpret this so interesting Taman tomb. The presence of certain elements of the Dionysian character, their connection with the funerary cult of Dionysus, must be taken into account from the very beginning. 31 Thus, the reproach that Adexandrescu addressed to Peredolskaya at the beginning of his work could have been addressed to himself, because he treats terracotas in captivity to his own idea and ignores what contradicts it. Meanwhile, certain questions arise. For example, why does he regard the kalaf as a purely Dionysian symbolism? What about a similar statue from the excavations of the sanctuary near Athens, related to Pan, Apollo and the Muses, and not to Dionysus, and with copies found at the sites of Olbia and Olynthos?

One cannot ignore the fact that one of the best examples of the type is included in the yellow set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which cannot be associated with any cult action. The figures of the drunkard Hercules, the old nurse with a child, and the old man with a basket are typical characters of the average comedy, whose authors avoided political and civil problems and hardly delved into the subtleties of religious cults hidden from the eyes of the uninitiated.

If we consider the appearance of Aristophanes ' Plutos in 388 BC to be the beginning of the existence of the middle comedy, then in total this genre was released 65 years. Of the more than fifty authors of eight hundred plays created during this period, only fragments and titles of several plays have come down to us .32 Nevertheless, there are hypotheses linking the type of actor statuette we are interested in with specific medium comedies.


Webster. 28 Op. cit. P. 29-30.

Alexandrescu P. 29 Le cympolisme funeraire dans une tombe de la peninsule de Taman // Studii Clasice. 1966. VII. P. 75-86.

30 Ibid. P.82-84.

31 ' Ibid. P. 84-85.

Sobolevskii S. I. 32 Aristophanes and his Time, Moscow, 1957, p. 62; Webster T. B. L. Greek Dramatic Monuments from Athenian Agora and Pnyx, Hesperia. 1960. 29. 3. P. 213; Yarkho V. N. Greek Literature of the Classical Period (V-IV centuries BC). Istoriya mirovoi literatury [History of World Literature], T. I. M., 1983, p. 377); Khodza E. N. K voprosu ob otrazhenii grecheskoi komedii v koroplastike [On the question of the reflection of Greek comedy in coroplasty]. TGE, 1984, 24, pp. 67-68. Note 30.

page 212


One of them belongs to M. Bieber, who believed that the entire yellow set depicts the characters of the comedy Anaxandrid "Hercules", the main character of which is depicted in two lion skins and with a finger in his mouth. According to the researcher, the actor in the role of a woman covering her face with a hymn could play one of his lovers, the mother of his child, who is held by an old nanny, also embodied by a yellow set 33 statuette .

A different version was suggested by Webster, who saw in the yellow series of terracotas the characters of another middle comedy, Avga, written by Eubuleius and in some way parodying the tragedy of Euripides with the same name. The woman who "pulls the himatii away from her face," as Webster writes , is Avga herself, who sends her wet nurse (an old woman with a child) to present their son Telephus to Hercules .34

All the interpretations presented here have the right to exist only as hypotheses: there is no indisputable evidence, and the monuments, at first glance so clear, keep a secret. The meaning of gestures, details of costumes and masks that are clear to those to whom they are addressed may elude us. For example, the special gesture by which our character covers his face so that only his eyes are visible, which caused such contradictory interpretations, of course, was completely clear to his contemporaries. However, even such a detail can be interpreted in different ways. Borrowed by Greek women from the eastern fashion, Egyptian or Persian, the manner of covering the lower part of the face may have attracted purely utilitarian considerations of protecting the face from the sun, dust and immodest views of other men. But the same technique was also used in the religious context of Demeter and the mysteries. Finally, covering the bottom of the face with the edge of the cloak could symbolize silence, secrecy, and even carry some apotropeistic meaning .35

Thus, even the example of a single statuette demonstrates the often emerging complexity of interpreting ancient monuments. Nevertheless, such attempts will continue as long as anti-science exists, creating the ground for discussion and tormenting us with questions that may be unsolvable.

FIGURINES OF OLD AND NEW COMEDY ACTORS IN THE HERMITAGE COLLECTION

Ye. N. Khodza

The abundance of surviving art objects connected with theatre proves the great importance of this institution for the Greek society. Characters of the Old and the New Comedy were extremely popular with the audience, and therefore they are represented in hundreds of terracotta figurines of more than 150 types. This article publishes six figurines of comedians dated to the 1st half of the 4th с. ВС. Their patterns were of Attic origin. The circumstances under which they were discovered are unknown.

Various interpretations of the terracottas are all hypothetical. Among the figurines of the group in question there are some pieces bearing analogy to the wellknown series from Bolshaya Bliznitsa burial mound on the Taman peninsula. Yet any ideas about possible religious (not theatrical) meaning of these objects are but hypothetical.


Bieber. 33 Op. cit. P. 87.

Webster. 34 Op. cit. P. 70-71.

35 Gait Caroline М. Veiled Ladies // AJA. 1931. 35. P. 377; Burr Thompson D. A Broze Dancer from Alexandria // AJA. 1950. 54. P. 383; idem. Troy. The Terracotta Figurines of the Hellenistic Period. Suppl. Monograph 3. Princeton, 1963. P. 104; Robinson. Op. cit. P. 67-69; Robinson D.M. Excavations at Olynthus. V. XIV. Oxf., 1952. P.292.


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