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“Hellenistic and Roman Mime”

Melissa Funke and C. W. Marshall, co-organizers 

The theatrical influence of mime was felt throughout the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, but the genre remains under-studied. An unmasked performance genre, using both verse and prose, scripts and improvisation, Greek and Latin, music and slapstick, with both male and female performers – the richness and variety of mime has only begun to be understood. The extant fragments of mime on papyrus and their theatrical possibilities remain unappreciated, even as new texts continue to be published (P.Oxy. 4762, 5187-89, 5212).

Though considered in antiquity a “low” performance genre, mime regularly invoked or depicted elite cultural values. It is also very well documented in the visual record. The genre was also an important point of reference for Imperial literature: prose in both Latin and Greek (Petronius, Apuleius, Achilles Tatius) and Latin verse (Virgil, Horace, Propertius). Papers might consider the literary debts of individual scripts; the Egyptian context of Herodas or Theocritus’ so-called urban mimes; preliterary mime and its connection to phlyakes or fabulae Atellanae; ties to comedies by Menander, Plautus, or Terence; the transition from unscripted to scripted mime with Decimus Laberius and Publilius Syrus; mimic performances of the poetry of Ovid and Vergil; the representation of mimic adultery plots in other genres; epigraphic evidence for mime performers; visual representations of mime artists; women and mimesis; or the social place of mime in Hellenistic or Roman contexts. 

This panel will examine mime within ancient Mediterranean performance culture. We would particularly welcome papers that focused on the performed experience of mime, or included the performance of mime fragments as part of the presentation.

Abstracts (500 words or fewer) for 20-minute papers should be submitted as .doc files or within the body of an email (for ease of anonymity), by 4 March 2022 to Dr. Krishni Burns ( The abstracts should not reveal the author’s name, but the email should provide name, abstract title, and affiliation. Where possible, abstracts should follow the guidelines for individual abstracts (