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Volumnia Cytheris the Mime

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Isaiah Carpenter Volumnia Cytheris

                                                         Volumnia Cytheris the Mime
Lycoris the Mime's life is depicted in an interesting way, showing her as a slave who overcame her birth place and made a name for herself in Rome. Her story has been told by many famous authors and poets, like Cornelius Gallus and even Virgil. During Lycoris's era literature had been switching from a neoteric style of writing to a elegiac style of writing. This favored women due to the fact that literature was now sounding more comforting and elegant. Even the genre of Poetae novi was created during this time, which portrayed women more kindly. Lycoris's biography shows her as a woman who took what she had and made the best for herself.
Her biography starts off by letting us know that her name Lycoris the Mime is actually just a pseudonym. During this era authors would refer to their beloved ones with nicknames or "pet names". Lycoris's real name is Volumnia Cytheris, but her combined names were linked to Gods, which showed that she was thought of highly. Cytheris derives from Aphrodite the Goddess of Love and Lycoris derives from Apollo, who was actually referred to as "Lycoreus" at times. The biography does not explain Lycoris's features because they were not known, but she was said to be beautiful and a gifted actress and overall mime. The biography then focuses on the concept of a mime in 50 B.C. Rome, which mainly entails being a skilled actress, singer, and dancer. The genre of mime was preferred and mainly performed in front of the ruling classes. I feel that the biography focuses on this part of history to show how mimes were being portrayed back in that era. The begging of her biography focuses on the things that make her look pleasant and basically like a saint. But the next couple sections show that even though she was born into turmoil, she advanced in the social class through "immoral" acts.
The authors of her biography then explain that Lycoris was born a slave around 70 B.C., it's said that she might be of Hellenic Origins but her life is slightly unknown and a little random. This explanation of her birth does set up the main bases of her biography. Which elaborates on the idea that slaves in early B.C. Rome were used for prostitution. She was freed by a man named Volumnius Eutrapelus, but during her enslaving she could of had to show her loyalty by performing for Eutrapelus and his friends, or being a mistress of his associates. This ancient form of biographies then focuses on a famous feast that was first celebrated in 238 B.C. I feel like the transfer/ comparison from Lycoris's life to this feast for the Goddess Flora was flawless. It allows the reader of the biography to see how the word mime became seen as a negative word in early B.C. Rome. Lycroris participated in the famous festival of Flora in 55 B.C., it was said that this festival was a "modern day striptease". The festival was actually looked down upon and the women who performed in them were seen as prostitutes. This is how the word mime in early B.C. Rome became equivalent to prostitute. The Christians called the Goddess Flora a prostitute: "This Gallus, in fact, was in love with a meretrix, a freedwoman of Volumnius" (Roman Woman, 86). Due to the fact that the Goddess Flora was seen as a prostitute and that fact that freed slaves who become mimes are seen as prostitutes, Lycoris was portrayed as one too. The biography uses her events and peoples thoughts to explain who she was as a woman. Even though she was freed she was still subject to immoral acts to attempt clime social classes. "Her newly gained freedom granted her new rights, but being a freed women could not erase the infamy of being a mime" (Roman Women, 89). This biography shows that her life gradually got better after she became a free woman, but it also makes her seem like a whore due to the way they expressed her actions and profession.
The rest of her biography focuses on her relations with Mark Antony, and her later relations. But while the biography explains her relations with Antony they almost try and degrade Lycoris by saying that she was merely a courtesan. She became a lover of Mark Antony after Caesar's victory over Pompey. They added this part in the biography to get the reader to see that she will move from man to man. It was said that she had exceptional charm and she had powerful friends due to the help of her former master. "Our mime was only a high-class courtesan, better respected than most of her colleagues but always ready to render services when needed" (Roman Women, 91). So after the biography focuses on all her good qualities, they then focus on her negative qualities and relate them to other stories/ myths. Even Mark Antony was questioned by his enemies for treating Lycoris a former slave, like a honest woman. People in this era saw mimes as prostitutes, and to marry a prostitute and treat her as if she was born into such a class was slightly insulting to others. "But having an actress for a love, treating her as an honest matron, and maybe giving her land in Campania as if she were a veteran-- that was to much to bear" (Roman Women, 93). Lycoris was able to find and marry a successful individual such as Antony, but because she was a former slave and mime she is not seen as an honest women.
This biography was written in a structure that first praised Lycoris for her beauty and her positive attributes. But then it focuses on her occupation and the fact that her life was spent being a courtesan and somewhat of a prostitute. I feel that this style of biography is much different than say one by Diogenes. For example, Diogenes was not concerned about what other people thought about another person or the world. He focused on the facts and the idea of making yourself better. And if we were using his form of a biography her life would be seen more positively. For example, she was born a slave and in Rome during this era a slave was used for prostitution. This automatically puts her in a disadvantage from most women in the society. Instead of explaining that she was a former slave and that she was mime, Diogenes would have focused on her ability to overcome her odds and work her way out of her social crisis. "He used also to condemn those who praised honest men for being superior to money, while themselves envying the very rich" (Diogenes Laertius, 31). This shows that he would have actually praised Lycoris for no envying the rich and trying to better herself and make her own money to become successful. Diogenes believed that people focus to much on others and not on trying to better themselves. "A child has beaten me in plainness of living" (Diogenes Laertius, 39). This quote alone shows that if he would have written a biography about Lycoris he would have mentioned her profession, but instead of deeming it negative he would have praised her for her ability to become successful no matter how she had to do it. Diogenes did not try and focus on things such as Gods or myths because he believed the real world that he was living in currently was more important than things that he did not know even existed. His biography would not have mentioned Flora the Goddess, but might have rather mentioned her ability to successfully clime the social status. In Roman Women, the author focused on the myths and beliefs of other people but not the cold hard facts about her life. Diogenes would have kept to the facts and depicted Lycoris in a much kinder light. Portraying her as a former slave who was able to become successful by being a mime. The biography in Roman Woman of Lycoris the Mime was slightly opinionated, but Diogenes would have kept to the facts and focused on her achievements in life.

Volumnia: Diogenes’ Writing StylesEdit

Project 1 Part 2
By Cal Smith
The overall argument that was stated here was how Lycoris was able to climb the social ladder through “immoral” acts . Where the biographer goes into detail of the things she did and what people were involved in her life.
In the ending of the paper is where Diogenes displayed traits of his own into describing Lycoris the Mime life. The first style change was “for example, Diogenes was not concerned about what other people thought about another person or the world.” However, Diogenes would have portrayed her way life first as a slave and how she was mentally able to change as she climbed the social ladder. For example, when Diogenes Laertius shows how Diogenes opinion on other peoples’ occupation “ He used also to say that when saw physicians, philosophers and pilots at their work, he deemed man the most intelligent of all animals: but again he saw interpreters of dreams and diviners and those who attended to them, or those who were puffed up with conceit of wealth, he thought no animal more sill.” (Laertius 27). This portrays how Laertius was able to use examples of what a person believed or thought about society and their occupation. This way it would depict Lycoris way of thinking. He would have given a more unbiased way at looking at her life instead of the judgment of her occupation, which the reader could decide on there own.
The argument of how Lycoris would have been praised by Laertius for not envying the rich which could have been more concrete with more examples of how Laertius would have done this. For example, Laertius displays Diogenes belief on wealth. “The love of money he declared to be mother-city of all evils.” (Laertius 53). The style in which Lycoris would have been shown about her occupation would have been strictly on her and not of any other characters or the opinions of other characters. Such as when Laertius describes Diogenes coming for the bath “As he was leaving the public baths, somebody inquired if many men were bathing He said No. But to another who asked if there was a great crowd of bathers, he said Yes.” (Laertius 43). This displays how Laertius showed a person asking questions were not important but what was important is how Diogenes replied. Laertius would try to display similar qualities where Lycoris was able to communicate with her peers. The end of this paper describes how “the author focused on the myths and beliefs of other people but not the cold hard facts about her life.” Which is true the style would have just been about Lycoris where to make this argument more profound would be by use example of what Lycoris was thinking.

Volumnia Cytheris by DiogenesEdit

Project 1 Part 2
By Ashley Barnes
The overall argument that Isaiah is making is that the style of writing used is able to display how Lycoris the Mime was able to better her own social standing.
The paper gives a fantastic summary of the Life of Volumnia Cytheris the Mime. However, a lot of attention is placed on the details from Roman Women, where it may have been more useful to look at the style of the writing. The facts that are given about her life could be given in a short excerpt, giving the reader only what they need to know about the life in order to understand the assignment. This would allow the rest of the paper to flow in a direction closer to the idea behind the assignment, in this case being, to take the story of Volumnia Cytheris the Mime and tell it like it in the style that Diogenes used.
In the last paragraph, a compare and contrast element becomes very prominent, which could be avoided. In this case, it may be beneficial to avoid stating what Diogenes would have said next to what Fraschetti said, and just simply make your claim. For example, the paper talks about how Volumnia’s life was displayed in a negative light, since she was born a slave woman (third line of the last paragraph). Then it goes on to claim “Diogenes was not concerned about what other people thought about another person or the world.” Instead of listing Diogenes style next to that of Fraschetti, just give an example of give the example that is seen in the next line. This would give the paper much less of a compare and contrast feel, and more of an answer to the argument. Along the same lines, Diogenes had an unbiased opinion about individuals, focusing on their own goals by telling stories about their life. It is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions from the story Diogenes told.
There was a lot of emphasis put on the morals of Diogenes rather than the style through which his story was told. A lot of the argument Isaiah made focused on how the morals that Diogenes stood for would have changed what facts would be more emphasized. While this directly addresses what actually happened, it circles around how it was portrayed. Adressing the question of what Diogenes actually did to get his point across and how Frashcetti could have done the same thing would clear up this issue. In other words, it may be more useful to focus on the “how” than the “what.”
==Volumnia Cytheris by Diogenese==
Project 1 Part 2
By Tyler Orr
The main argument of the essay is how Lycoris The Mime is able to move up the social structure ecen though she as a slave but was able to obtain wealther and luxuries through her sexual conquest. In the begging of the essay he mainly goes into detail of discribing and summarizing the biography instead of talking about the diffferent the two different writting styles of the two biographers. For the main perpose of the essay was to look at how the two different biographers would look would write the biography differnely. Not till the last paragraph does this become present which should have been see much earlier because this was the most important part of the essay no the dicription of the story.
The essay does not start with the main point of the assignment until the " I feel that this style of biography is much different than say one by Diogenes." This is were he starts to go into detail how about how Diogenes Laertius would have told the story of Lycoris the Mime because their style of telling a story is extremely different from eachother. Diogenes does no tell a biography by just saying this is what happen and here are the basic ideas but rather Diogenese is much more philosophical which is no clearly shown in the discription. One example of this is when Diogenese says "Unhappy man don't you know that you can no more get rid of errors of conduct by sprinklings than you can of mistakes in grammer (Diogenes Laertius 45)?' This clearly shows how Diogenes said you can not get rid of being born a slave so one must make the best of there situtiation which is obvious in Lycoris rise through the class structure. Also Isaiah point out that "Even the genre of Poetae novi was created during this time, which portrayed women more kindly" women had started to rise in the class structure. The story of Lycoris also shows these atributes because Lycoris started as a slave and became a high up mime.
Lycoris the slave did anything to earn success at any price but Diogenes thought that wealth was not as important. Diogenes joked more then most and was not a person who found wealth as the ultimate goal but rather truth and knowledge. It is also obvious that Diogenese often says absurd comments such as the time he saw a slave sitting at the welll and said "Take care, my lad you don't fall (Laertius 53)" If Diogenes wrote about Lycoris he would have many such gesture that makes the reader question the truth. Not such a factual way of discribing the fact but more forceing the reader to have to same light that he looks at everything with question. If Diogenes was to write a life of Lycoris it would be much more synical and philosophical. Diogenes talks in a poetic and metaphorical way that is not seen in Roman Woman which is not written by a philospher but rather a historian many years later. Also since it is a translation many details are lost that would have been apparent in the original language so it is difficult to catch the nuances of the biography. Through her beauty Lycoris is “treated as though she were an honest matron and greeted with deference by honest men who called her by her extremely respectable nomen, rather than by her Hellenized cognomen as was the custom” (Fraschetti, 93). This would not show up in Diogenes writting because he would just use synical metaphors and call into question the truth abou the story which can only be supported with substancial evidence.


Griffin Phelan Response: Volumnia Cytheris changes through Diogenes LaertiusEdit

The main argument determined above from the biography of Lycoris the Mime written by Fraschetti is that Lycoris advanced through society through “immoral acts.” In order for her biography to be rewritten in the style of Diogenes Laertius’ “Life of Diogenes” the focus of her biography would need to change. This change is necessary because the biography of Diogenes is written with very little, if not none at all, biases towards the individual it portrays; the author shows some of Diogenes language in full vulgarity, “’To a man who was urgently pressing his suit to a courtesan he said, ‘Why, hapless man, are you at such pains to gain your suit, when it would be better for you to lose it?’” (Diogenes Laertius, Diogenes 69) and in almost the next moment displays some of his most positive ideologies, “being asked what the most beautiful thing in the world, he replied, ‘Freedom of Speech’” (Laertius 71). Diogenes Laertius leaves judgment to the reader.

Expanding upon Diogenes Laertius neutrality, upon first mention of Diogenes above it is mentioned that he would have praised Lycoris for her somewhat prolific rise in social status. This is contrary to what Laertius did in his biography of Diogenes, he would have aptly shown Lycoris’ rise through the ranks as they happened in chronological order by displaying some of her public acts and conversations as her life progressed. Also pertinent to note is that although Laertius would have mentioned Lycoris’ origin and her profession, and may deem her earlier life as a negative time for Lycoris he most likely would not maintain this information as critical in terms of the rest of her life and her impact on society.

The best possible examples as to how Lycoris’ biography would look had it been written by Diogenes Laertius are found in the examples of Diogenes dealing with notable persons. Laertius shows one conversation that Diogenes had with Alexander, “When Alexander stood opposite him and asked, “Are you not afraid of me?” “Why, what are you?” said he, “a good thing or a bad?” Upon Alexander replying “A good thing,” “Who then,” said Diogenes, “is afraid of the good?” (Laertius 68). This conversation is very similar to a conversation that Lycoris may have had with her lover Marc Antony, in that although Diogenes meant these lines to be philosophical, Lycoris may have on the other hand used these same exact lines in a flirtatious or flattering manner towards Antony. The biography of Lycoris the Mime would be vastly different if written from the perspective of Diogenes Laertius, the collaboration of first person quotes and public events would show far greater insight into the personality and character of Lycoris.

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