- Stretchy gymnast video

The Circus & Circles (a curious history)

The Circus & Circles (a curious history) 

Juggling originated in the temple as part of sacred and ritual practices.

A sphere, with its sacred geometry, implies the shape of planets, suns, moons & stars.

To the ancient Egyptian mind, a juggler was one who held the cosmos in balance, the world in her hands.

Ancient Egyptians considered juggling a meditative, even magical practice.  The 5,000 year old hieroglyph featured below, the oldest known representation of circus arts (depicting both juggling and partner acrobatics), resides in the Beni Hasan necropolis overlooking the Nile, its position indicating an association with funereal rites.  The rock cut Temple of Pakhet lies just to the south.  Pakhet was a popular Middle Kingdom lion-goddess (she who has great magic), a time of resurgence & hope in Dynastic Egypt culminating with Nefertiti.  We have forgotten this.

Seated Juggler Priestess / Greek Red Figure Alabastron, 480 b.c.e. (The Walters Art Museum where it is displayed gives the title: “Alabastron Depicting A Seated Woman and A Woman Walking to the Right Toward a Chair”)

The next time a juggler appears is 2,500 years later when the image of a seated female juggler becomes a popular motif in 4th & 5th century Greek vase art. The instrument of a priestess, what looks like a drum, the Kalathos, rests in front of her. There are no extant representations of males juggling during this time span. If the first 5,000 years of recorded juggling depicted only males, we would say that males “invented juggling.” Oddly, no such credit is given women in the current scholarship.

In the opening scene of Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes a parade for Athena involving female priestesses performing acrobatics on horseback with torches at sunset (circa 450 b.c.e.).  Ancient Amazons were the first to ride horseback and the only females to do so well into the Greco-Roman era. Men did not ride horses, much less know how to apply horseback riding to war, until the example of the Amazons and then they learned it to compete.  It is reasonable to hypothesize that as Goddess worship is extinguished across the Indo-European landscape during this time (last temple destroyed 520 c.e.), a form of it re-emerges in the circus.   

Concurrently, Xenophon’s Symposium (422 b.c.e.) gives us a tantalizing description of a female juggler performing for the assembled Greek men at the beginning of one of their famous drinking parties.  In addition to manipulating a dozen hoops at once, the juggler of the Symposium executes a series of front and back flips over a “bristling row of upright swords” until the spectators are in terror of an accident.


Xenophon reports, however, that “with the utmost coolness and without mishap the girl completed her performance.”  (Italics mine)  The “girl” of Xenophon’s account is more than a juggler, she is also an acrobat of exceptional skill.  The Egyptian jugglers are also depicted simultaneously performing partner acrobatics.



Who is this mystical acrobat juggler?



And why does she take refuge in the circus now?




-Jen Taylor / spring 2013


Egyptian Acrobat Priestesses / Middle Kingdom Hieroglyph 3,000 b.c.e.




  1. Hi! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks a ton!

  2. We stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.

  3. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. All the best

  4. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my visitors would really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Cheers!

  5. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually stated this fantastically!
    is a prescription required for cialis
    cialis 20mg
    cialis için yorumlar
    cialis online

  6. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Fine info. Thank you.
    disfunção erétil tratamento cialis cialis 20mg qual o preço do cialis diario cialis online
    cialis compresse 20 mg prezzo
    cialis diario prospecto
    cialis for once daily use reviews
    cialis aus usa
    cialis half time
    cialis ГЎr gyГіgyszertГЎr

  7. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regards! A good amount of content!
    differenze tra cialis viagra e levitra buy cialis online cialis for daily use medicare cialis 20mg
    comprar cialis en farmacia espaГ±a
    cialis class of drug
    cialis rancagua
    cialis per impotenza
    erectile dysfunction cialis not working
    cialis und cortison

  8. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Appreciate it, Plenty of content.
    cialis lilly 20mg price generic cialis does cialis have any side effects cialis 20mg
    cialis cure ed
    cialis bloquГ© en douane
    cialis sudorazione
    kesan pil cialis
    informazioni sul cialis
    what can help cialis work better

  9. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually expressed it wonderfully!
    how to get cialis from doctor buy cialis online cialis price with prescription cialis online
    cialis 5 mg e cuore
    cialis 5 mg tablet fiyatД±
    cialis pah
    coversyl and cialis
    cialis e outros
    cialis for daily use maximum dose

  10. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Superb postings. Appreciate it!
    puedo comprar cialis sin receta cialis online will cialis increase testosterone cialis 20mg
    sito affidabile per acquisto cialis
    precio cialis diario farmacia
    cialis reviews daily
    cialis cinsellik hapД±
    wie gut wirkt cialis
    cialis lääke hinta

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regards. An abundance of write ups!
    cialis wie lange steht er cialis online terbinafine cialis interaction cialis generic
    cialis maagzuur
    whats a good dosage of cialis
    cheap viagra and cialis
    cialis et remboursement
    cialis produce dependencia
    cialis before running

  12. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Fantastic material, Cheers.
    cost of 20mg cialis at cvs cialis generic wie lange vorher sollte man cialis einnehmen cialis online
    cialis forum uk
    consumo excesivo de cialis
    cialis coupons free trial
    venta cialis peru
    osu cialis vendita italia
    bivirkninger cialis

  13. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Appreciate it! Quite a lot of forum posts.
    con cialis se puede lograr una buena erecciГіn cialis generic can you take cialis when drunk cialis 20 mg
    will cialis raise testosterone
    does cialis work while drinking
    cialis lГҐgt blodtryck
    mejor pagina para comprar cialis
    cialis viagra melhor
    how long for 20mg cialis to work

  14. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put. Many thanks!
    difference between cialis daily and 36 hour cheap cialis cialis consegna 2 giorni generic cialis
    problemi agli occhi con cialis
    cialis turkiye fiyat
    cialis aus indien erfahrungen
    cialis sans ordonnance france
    cialis lilly nedir
    cialis promise card

  15. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Incredible many of fantastic info!
    cialis 20 mg comprimГ© pelliculГ© boГ®te 8 cialis without a doctor prescription viagra mg vs cialis mg buy cialis online
    venta cialis sin receta chile
    paxil and cialis
    cialis lijek
    cialis dose compared to viagra
    cialis chastity
    buy cialis paypal payment

  16. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You said that adequately!
    what is the cost of cialis daily cialis 20mg vente de cialis en andorre cheap cialis
    comparison viagra cialis and levitra
    cialis sur le net forum
    cialis and viagra combo pack
    cialis kadar etkili
    cialis perdita vista
    cialis online belgie

Leave a Reply