Simus ergo hilares. Słów kilka o poematach epickich w interpretacji homerystów

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Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk

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Simus ergo Hilares. Several Words about Epic Poems in the Interpretation of Homerists


The aim of this paper is to present a detailed picture of homeristai, the characteristic of the artists who have been specialized in acting the scenes from Greek epic. It focuses on analysing the ancient sources relating to their performances, and examines whether they had a burlesque or a more serious character. By providing information on different aspects of the art of acting and the possible text used by homeristai, I try to reconstruct the performances and their significance in the late Greek theatre.


At the beginning of the Hellenistic era, Greek theatre became a universal entertainment in the whole oikumene, and some of the reasons for this cultural success were the changes inside the genres and series of reforms in the theatrical practice, among which very important was the development of mime. The aim of this paper is to present a detailed analysis of the ancient sources relating to the performances of homeristai, the most important of which are the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus, Satiricon of Petronius and five papyri: P.Oxy. 519, 1.4; P.Oxy. 10.25, 1.8; P.Oxy. 1050, 1.26; SB 7336 1.26 et 29; P.Oslo 189 verso. I try to re-examine all the testimonies to present a coherent picture of this type of mime, and investigate its origins, its theatrical practice and the social status of its actors. Central in this discussion is the question of parodist nature of these performances. The widely accepted opinion of burlesque character of the homerists’ shows is at odds with the ancient testimonia, which in most cases do not attest their nature. The main testimony for the ludic character of the performances is Petronius’ Satiricon. However, the work which seeks to ridicule Trimalchio by means of grotesque exaggeration is not a credible source for determining the nature of these presentations. The source of humour is not a distortion of Iliad by homeristai but Trimalchio’s absurd translation and travesty of the text. Another important topic of this paper is the actual text used during the performances. Giving priority to the role of dialogue in the performances, I refuse the concept of homeristai playing a pantomime and I present possible “sripts”, suggested by scholars, among which the most probable is P. Koln. VI 245.



Homeristai, Histriones, Greek theatre, Mime, Rhapsode, Homer


Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, nr XX/2, 2010, s. 5-17




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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego