Costumes and Masks
Many of the costumes and masks used for Roman plays were taken from
the Greeks. Since the actors were all men, the costumes and masks were
particularly important for assuming the roles of women.
The masks were worn by all characters, and by the features of the
MASKS the audience was able to determine the stereotypical character the
actor was playing. Some masks were HALF-MASKS coming down only to the
upper lip, but the majority of masks were full masks. These particular
masks were cut at the chin and enlarged in order for the actors to be able
to move their jaws freely. In order for the actors to be heard clearly,
the MOUTHS OF THE MASKS were very wide. With a mask, when the actor
naturally changed his facial expression, the same stock character was seen,
and the audience did not recognize any change. Each actor would wear a
DIFFERENT MASK for his particular character. For instance, a kind father
would wear a MASK with curled white hair
and a beard, while an angry father would wear a mask with red hair. A
foolish old man would wear a mask with white and limp hair so it could be
disarranged easily. A mask of an old paedagogue would have white and
bristly hair. A clever slave should have a mask with a ruddy complexion
and stiff red hair and beard.
The costumes were similar to the masks in that the COSTUMES were made
for a particular stock character. A tunica was worn, as well as the
pallium for men, and palla for women. The pallium was a piece of cloth
draped around the actor, similar to a toga, and the way it hung depended on
the certain character. Different colors represented characteristics of the
actors. The length of each pallium could vary depending on the character.
The pallium of an old man would have been white. To emphasize that the
character was an old man, the actor might have a cane to walk with. A
clever slave would wear a shorter pallium because he would be more active
while on stage. A brightly colored pallium was used for him. Another
slave might wear a longer pallium in order to demonstrate that he was not
like the clever slave, but could be trusted by his master. This slave
didn't have to run or sneak around, so his pallium could be longer and hang
more loosely than the clever slave?s. The costumes of women were slightly
different from those of the men. The tunic was much longer, and it had arm
holes or sometimes sleeves. The palla was worn over the tunic and was more
decorative than the male pallium. The cloth was thinner and usually was
fringed. To accentuate that the character was female, jewelry was also
worn. The more jewelry the character wore, the more money she had.
In Aulularia, Act IV- scenes vii-x, four different comic CHARACTERS
are used: a slave, a young man, a matron, and an old man. In scene vii,
Lyconides, a young man, and his mother Eunomia are talking. As a young
man, Lyconides would wear a MASK with a pale complexion and black hair. His
pallium would be of a bright color with a contrasting border. The pallium
would be draped over one shoulder, and should almost touch the ground.
Because Eunomia is the mother, she would be made to look older than
Lyconides. Her masks would have curly grey hair and a sallow complexion.
The costume would be a bright color, such as yellow.
The only character in Scene viii is Strobilus, the smart SLAVE. His
MASK would have a ruddy complexion and stiff red hair and a beard. His
pallium would be brightly colored and rather short because he would be active on
In Scenes ix and x the characters of Euclio and Lyconides are present.
Lyconides would wear the same costume and mask as in Scene vii. Euclio,
the old miser, would wear a mask with white curly hair and a beard. His
pallium would be plain and white, and he would carry a cane to emphasize
his old age.