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Dancer to the Crotalum

BRONZE. Height, 10 20/25 inches.


WE have spoken in the explanation of Plate XI. of the moriones, or fatui, of whom this dancer in bronze is one. He is entirely naked, the girdle round his loins being, altogether insufficient to conceal his enormous parts.

He is dancing to the sound of the crotalum. This was a kind of cymbal made of wood, of terra cotta, or of metal, which almost produced the sound of the Spanish castanets. It was consecrated to Priapus, and used in lascivious dances,

Copa syrisca caput graia redimita mitella
Crispum sub crotalo docta movere latus.


Cymbala cum crotalis prurientiaque arma Priapo
Ponit, et adducta tympana pulsa manu.

Priapeia, Ep. 26.

This little statue is by no means badly executed; the dancer's pose sufficiently shows how grotesque, ridiculous, and obscene such dances were. The statuary took his model from life; one of those wretches whose occupation

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was to divert their lords and masters. The more natural they were in their vulgarity, and the more vulgar in their naturalness, the more they were appreciated:--

Morio dictus erat, viginti millibus emi;
Redde mihi nummos, Gargiliane, sapit.

Martial Epig. viii. 13.

Next: Plate XV: A Priapus-Hermes