Studies in the Representation of Dwarfs in Hellenistic and Roman Art

Studies in the Representation of Dwarfs in Hellenistic and Roman Art

Garmaise, Michael (McMaster University)

Doctor of Philosophy, McMaster University, January (1996)


The roles assumed by Dwarfs in Hellenistic and Roman society are explored through evaluation of literary and archaeological evidence. Most literary citations point to dwarfs as entertainers for wealthy households and their guests and also for public audiences. A catalogue of bronze and terracotta figures represents musicians, dancers, combatants and athletes.

An Introduction and Chapter One explain the aims of the thesis; describe limitations posed by the nature of surviving material; and review the modern literature. Chapter Two summarises ancient literary testimony (Greek and Latin terms, and functions and perception of dwarfs) as well as the relevant achaeological material not included in the catalogue. Chapters Three, Four and Five focus in iconography, i.e. details of costumes and associated projects. Further considerations include clinical features of dwarfism (Chapter Six) function and significance (Chapter Seven); and province and dating (Chapter Eight). Following the Conclusion, a catalogue lists and describes 185 objects, each with museum and inventory number, bibliography, and proveniences.

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