), a ropedancer. The art of dancing on the tight rope
was carried to as great perfection among the Romans as it is with us.
(Terent. Hecyr. Prol.
Hor. Ep. 2.1
Rope-dancers. (From a painting at Herculaneum.)
; Juv. 3.77
, with Mayor's note.) If
we may judge from a series of paintings discovered in the excavations
(Ant. & Ercol.
tom. iii. pp. 160-165), from which
the figures in the preceding woodcut are selected, the performers placed
themselves in an endless variety of graceful and sportive attitudes, and
represented the characters of bacchanals, satyrs, and other imaginary
beings. Three of the persons here exhibited hold the thyrsus, which may have
served for a balancing pole; two are performing on the double pipe, and one
on the lyre: two others are pouring wine into vessels of different forms.
They all have their heads enveloped in skins or caps, probably intended as a
protection in case of falling. The Emperor M. Aurelius, in consequence of
the fall of a boy, caused feather-beds (culcitras
to be laid under the rope to obviate the danger of such accidents. (Capitol.
M. Ant. Phil.
12.) One of the most difficult exploits was
running down the rope (Sueton. Nero,
11) at the
conclusion of the performance. It was a strange attempt of Germanicus and of
the Emperor Galba to exhibit elephants walking on the rope. (Plin. Nat. 8.5
; Sueton. Galb.
6; Sen. Epist.