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I have been reading Harry Sidebottom's novels of late and really enjoyed them. I read in them a reference to Roman Legions having actors in them to entertain the troops. This was new to me as an idea. Can anyone tell me more. I have tried to come up with info on this to no avail...
thanks
Alan
In fiction, you do occassionally get some pieces of 'fiction'
<shrugs>
Actors were considered to be at the bottom of the social ladder in ancient Rome, even below the level of a gladiator. I doubt very much a respectable legionary would have any involvement with such a low life activity
Alan - isn't there something in the notes at the back of the novel about the actors in the legion? Harry Sidebottom's a classical scholar and likes to work these odd little unfamiliar details into his stories - in this case I'm fairly sure I remember reading something about it. Whether you believe his interpretation is a different matter!

EDIT - just checked it up. In 'Lion of the Sun' Sidebottom refers to a "scaenicus legionis" as an actor in a legion. "Most legions, especially those stationed in the east, contained a troupe of actors. It helped to pass the time."

This idea seems to come from Roman-era graffiti from Zeugma and Dura Europos (like a lot of Sidebottom's odd details!). There's a brief note HERE from Kennedy's The Twin Towns of Zeugma on the Euphrates about men with this title: "Games and theatre attractions were an important feature of the lives of Roman soldiers."

So, well - could be true! Confusedhock:
Quote:In fiction, you do occassionally get some pieces of 'fiction
Somehow, the word, "Duh" comes to mind. :roll: :lol: Good observation.
I highly doubt a Roman 'professional' actor would put himself through the rigors of military life.

But I'm sure there must have been a 'class clown' or two within a Legion. In any group of people you're surely to run across some smart-aleck or someone with a good sense of humor.

...I'd have NO idea what that would be like..... :mrgreen:
The troop of actors(and actresses) at Dura Europas were not part of the army. They appear to (or may) have been under the sponsorship of a couple enterprising junior officers - one of whom was, IIRC, an optio. The concensus I have found assumes they were not "owned" by the army. And, yes, their soclal status was very low, with the actresses often assumed to also work as prostitutes when they weren't on stage - at least as far as the Romans' views of what actresses did besides acting.