MasksΆρθρα, μελετήματα, κριτικά σημειώματα
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I will not attempt to relate the history of fancy-balls or enter into a description of the various stages through which masquerading has passed in mediaeval and modern times, both subjects having been amply and ably treated by proficient antiquarians. I will confine myself to merely transcribing from a Russian authority two or three curious facts in connexion with masks not, perhaps, generally known or noticed.
     The word mask is of Arabic derivation, «mascara» in the language of the Coran meaning a joke, and being the original of the Italian word «maschera» and «Maskara» the Arabic city. The ancient Arabs were fond of masquerade, and even to our days in certain parts of the desert of Sahara the nomad dwellers indulge in masquerade on fixed days of the year. The young men put on the disguise of European soldiers and civilians; the boys powder themselves with flour and hold on their shoulders cats, whilst the more aged don the skins of elephants and tigers. One of the whole tribe undertakes to represent the devil. He is the most successful disguise: dresses up with rags, assumes a terrific mask, and makes himself, by menacing gesticulation and speech, as horrible as he can contrive. The revelry lasts an entire week.
     The Africans were not unacquainted with masks even before the invasion of the Arabs. Mummies are discovered in Egypt wearing masks; and Diodorus tells the kings of Egypt had the images made of masked lions and wolves. The Egyptian priests whose duty it was to rear sacred animals presented themselves before the people wearing masks representing the beasts they tended.
     The Greeks adopted masks for the stage and divided them into two categories, tragical and comical. The latter very often were made such as to bear a striking resemblance to the persons who were held out to the public ridicule. Thus in the «Clouds» of Aristophanes the actor who played the part of Socrates wore a mask representing faithfully the features of the great philosopher. Molière made use of a similar artifice in his comedy L’amour médecin in which the masks of the actors resembled the chief physicians of Paris.
     Masks were introduced into Rome by Roscius. As he squinted he thought of them as a good means to cover this natural defect.

(Κ.Π. Καβάφης, Τα πεζά (1882;-1931), Φιλολογική επιμέλεια Mιχάλης Πιερής, Ίκαρος Εκδοτική Εταιρία, 2003)