Greek Mime in the Roman Empire (P.Oxy. 413: Charition and Moicheutria)


On a papyrus from Oxyrhynchus, published for the first time in 1903 (P.Oxy. III 413), we have two texts, Charition and Moicheutria, which are without doubt the most important surviving testimonies for the genre of theatrical mime in antiquity. This article argues that those two texts are neither complete scripts of mimic dramas, nor, on the other hand, texts which served (as H. Wiemken has claimed) as a base for improvisation (similar to the scenari of the Commedia dell’arte). Both texts are technical texts which were copied from fuller dramatic scripts: Charition was probably the text of the “director”/archimime or the prompter, while Moicheutria is a “role-text”. This means that the plays can be assigned to the category of rather elaborate mimes that Plutarch calls hypotheseis (ὑποθέσεις). Furthermore, a number of editorial suggestions are offered (regarding, among other, the allocation of the last lines of the Moicheutria), while the article also deals with the poetics of mimic drama, its integral place within the popular culture of the imperial period and its comparability to theatrical genres of the modern era.