Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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Another and less tolerable branch if Roman public musical diversion was the dance, which although most skillfully performed by talented pantomimists, was so indecent in its general character, and choice of subjects, that it received strong condemnation from many writers of that day.
Many anecdotes remain, showing how well acted this art must have been.
Demetrius, the cynic (in the reign of Nero) having reproached a dancer, that his art was but an adjunct to music, the performer caused the musical accompanists to cease playing, and enacted the subject of Mars and Venus without music, and in such a manner that Demetrius was obliged to retract, and said, " Even your hands seem to speak."*
The professional dancers, or musical pantomim­ists, were most appreciated under the luxurious reign of the Caesars. A prince of Pontus once came to the court of Nero, where he was royally entertained; as he did not understand the Latin language, he could not appreciate theatrical representations, but a celebrated dancer appearing, he was able to understand his actions from begin ning to end. On his departure, when Nero had given him presents, he said "If instead, you would give me this dancer, it would be the greatest favor of all;" on being asked the 1 ;ason, he replied that he had many barbarian neighbors, whose language he did not understand, and thai
• Lucian de Saltauone.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III