International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

“The world’s a stage…”: Some Observations on Four Hellenistic Terracotta Figurines of Popular Entertainers
Maya Muratov

This article discusses four Hellenistic terracotta figurines that belong to a class commonly categorized as grotesques. It is demonstrated that physical deformities of the portrayed personages should be attributed to particular medical conditions, namely acromegaly, achondroplastic dwarfism, and emaciation due to atrophy of muscles. It is proposed that the figurines depict entertainers, a comic pyrrhic dancer, a buffoon of some kind, and two dwarf combatants, that capitalized on their physical appearance. These statuettes should be considered testimonies that alongside the ostentatious and often extravagant theatrical spectacles of Antiquity, there always existed another kind of entertainment of rather sordid nature that appealed to the ancient men in the streets and reflected the Hellenistic tastes. An attempt is made to contextualize such figurines and to comment on their possible meaning and function.

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