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Maschere e imagerie teatrale nella necropoli liparese di IV-III sec. a.C.: oggetti e immagini in contesto


A new contextual analysis is proposed in order to reappraise the well known theatrical images from Lipari. In the wake of the researches made by L. Bernabò Brea and M. Cavalier, the clay masks of comic, satyric and tragic characters and figurines, on one hand, and the “theatrical” vases on the other were reputed to echo or to “illustrate” Greek plays, in the frame of a Dionysian cult. Lastly, A. Schwarzmaier reviewed this thesis, pointing at the ritual context in which the masks were used and deposed in a set of drinking and pouring vases near the grave during the burial, and concluding that they were a visual clue of a Dionysian funerary banquet. Examining again the whole evidence (masks, figurines and “theatrical” vases) both from iconographical and contextual points of view, we will show that at Lipari the theatrical imagery has a close link with young people/children and maidens, marking several graves (and sometimes clusters) of untimely deads. We can reconstruct a very coherent and consistent web of associations connecting rituals, objects and images, in which the masks and the theatre functioned as a “key of access” to a new identity and role, thanks to their Dionysian connection.