Dancing with decorum. The eclectic usage of kalathiskos dancers and pyrrhic dancers in Roman visual culture
This article examines two groups of motifs in Roman visual culture: females modelled on kalathiskos dancers, and males modelled on pyrrhic dancers. Eclecticism is emphasized as a strategy which was used to introduce novelties that were appropriate within a Roman cultural context. The figures representing kalathiskos dancers and pyrrhic dancers were both changed in an eclectic manner and this resulted in motifs representing the goddess Victoria, and the curetes respectively. Kalathiskos dancers and eclectic Victoriae occur on many different media at least from the Augustan era and into the 2nd century AD. It is argued here that the establishment of these two motifs in Roman visual culture is closely related to the aesthetics which came to the fore during the reign of Augustus. Thereafter, both kalathiskos dancers and eclectic Victoriae lingered on in the Roman cultural context until many of the material categories on which they were depicted ceased to be produced. Unlike the kalathiskos dancers, the male figures modelled on pyrrhic dancers are so rare within Roman visual culture that we can only assume they were, to some extent, perceived as an inappropriate motif. This can most likely be explained by the negative attitude, amongst the Roman elite, towards male dancing.
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Julia Habetzeder, ‘Dancing with decorum. The eclectic usage of kalathiskos dancers and pyrrhic dancers in Roman visual culture’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 5, Stockholm 2012, 7–47. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977798-4-5. https://doi.org/10.30549/opathrom-05-02