- In ancient Rome, a masked performer in dumb shows. The namemeans 'imitating everything'. Making stylized movements and gesturesto a musical accompaniment, he played all the roles of the short scenehimself, wearing a different mask for each character. A chorus explainedthe story, usually drawn from mythology or history, in Greek. Thelibrettos were sometimes written by such distinguished poets as Lucanand Statius.
These dances, known as fabulae salticae, were introducedin about 22 BC by Pylades of Cilicia and Bathyllus of Alexandria.One exceptional pantomimus, Paris, was executed by Nero,who had became jealous of his popularity. The Church was later outspokenin its condemnation of the audacious and often seductive dance ofthe pantomimus; St Augustine considered it more corruptingthan the circus, although the dances were never as obscene as theRoman mime.