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Venice IncognitoMasks in the Serene Republic$
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James Johnson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267718

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267718.001.0001

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Infernal Associations

Infernal Associations

Chapter:
(p.54) CHAPTER 8 Infernal Associations
Source:
Venice Incognito
Author(s):

James H. Johnson

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520267718.003.0008

This chapter discusses negative connotations linked to the act of masking and carnival. Although masking had become an everyday practice in Venice, it required a lot of great effort for the Venetians to overcome the ancient associations of the mask with sacrilege and the underworld, associations which clung to the mythological and theatrical masks of the Renaissance. Masks to the disapproving were associated with the words: masca which was used to designate witches; lamia which denoted a monster woman; and larva which had diabolical connotations. These etymologies enforced the association that linked the donning of the mask with invoking the spirit world. This connection dates back to the age of the Greeks. Dionysus was then the god identified with masks. Dionysus wore many guises. The attributes of his mask were the same as the qualities of Dionysus himself. Some of these outlived his cult to survive in the frenzy of carnival.

Keywords:   masking, carnival, sacrilege, underworld, masca, lamia, larva, Dionysus

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