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 p1046  Siparium

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1046 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

SIPA′RIUM, a piece of tapestry stretched on a frame, which rose before the stage of the theatre (Festus, s.v.; Cic. Prov. Cons. 6; Juv. VIII.186), and consequently answered the purpose of the drop-scene with us, although, contrary to our practice, it was depressed when the play began, so as to go below the level of the stage (aulaea premuntur, Hor. Epist. II.1.189), and was raised again when the performance was concluded (tolluntur, Ovid. Met. III.111‑114). From the last-cited passage we learn that human figures were represented upon it, whose feet appeared to rest upon the stage when this screen was drawn up. From a passage of Virgil (Georg. III.25) we further learn, that the figures were sometimes those of Britons woven in the canvass and raising their arms in the attitude of lifting up a purple curtain, so as to be introduced in the same manner as Atlantes, Persae, and Caryatides.

In a more general sense siparium denoted any piece of cloth or canvass stretched upon a frame (Quintil. VI.1 § 32).

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Page updated: 29 Aug 12