October 15, 2004

Rich & Kate's Vases Analysis

Writing about web page http://www.blogs.warwick.ac.uk/shimonastarling/gallery/toga_party/

. Is it possible to determine whether the ancient vase paintings are depictions of theatrical performances, or of the myths upon which the plays are also based?

Can't remember if women were allowed in plays, get the feeling they weren';t though, so their presence on the vase would indicate that it represents the myth rather than the play. Natalie says so too. Good old natalie :D

Kate thinks that Orestes' costume is very theatrical, especially the helmet, I think if I was going to make a vase, I'd give him a pretty helmet too, if it was the myth or the play.


Snakes appear on several of the vases especially with Erinyes, it is doubtful whether the furies onstage would have carried around live, poisonous snakes.

ii. In the light of your response to i. above, how significant may ancient vase paintings be as evidence for ancient theatre practice?

If they really are based on theatrical performances they may be slightly useful, they provide information on costume and props. However we doubt it.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. But if there were no women on stage they would have had men playing women, and if you were doing a painting of a play, would you really make it obvious it was a man playing a woman?

    The furies could have carried fake snakes too, it was mentioned in the play that they resembled gorgons, so snakes would make sense.

    15 Oct 2004, 11:26

  2. Women weren't allowed to act in plays – men had to play all the parts. This led to some fairly complicated situations where a male actor was playing a female character who, during the course of the play, had to dress up as a man… as used to great effect in the comic plays of Aristophanes.

    Bear in mind that if the vase was depicting a scene specifically from a play, there might well be some theatrical "hints" lying around to highlight that fact, such as the house which formed the back of the stage.

    15 Oct 2004, 11:26

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