Roman and Greek views of actors

It was not just Christians who struggled with the decadence of pagan theatre but some of the more upright pagans too, such as Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, who had tried to purify the Greeks of their debauched religious shows, and the Roman leader, Scipio who said:

They [the Roman Senators] had such a low opinion of the theatre and of the acting profession that they decided not only to debar actors from normal political life, but even remove their names from the tribal lists through the intervention of the censors.

(Augustine, City of God, 2:13)

There was a strange law passed by the Senate though, that gave licence to poets and playwrights to slander the gods on stage, but not human leaders (Augustine, City of God, 2:12). Thus there was this double-minded attitude in Rome: they had to obey the gods in putting on licentious plays as a religious offering to them, but at the same time they treated the actors who represented those gods as debased humans!

This was the opposite view of the Greeks who celebrated and rewarded the actors:

because they conceived these theatrical presentations to be welcome to the gods who were their masters, they reckoned that the men who acted in the plays, far from being despised, should be advanced to high honour in the community.

(Augustine, City of God, 2:11)