Looking at the statue of the Dioscuri in my previous post, I do not see that their heads are tonsured. Rather, it is probably that they have victory wreaths around their heads. But wreaths and tonsures are not that far apart: both form a dark circular pattern around the head. Daimonax in fact declares their equivalence, and that hence the two acolytes are initiates of Dionysus. Perhaps so; but all sorts of initiates might wear wreaths, and more after they have successfully passed than before they started. Instead, I have looked for references to tonsures as such in the literature about the Dioscuri. I have found something in Cartari's discussion of the "Castori" (as he calls the Dioscuri, following what seems to be standard Latin/Italian practice, as in the Vulgate's Acts 28:11). I am drawing from the chapter on Giove in the digitalized 1647 edition of his Imagini delli dei de gli antichi
Cartari discusses the shaving of slaves' heads as part of the ceremony granting them freedom. He finishes with a line from Plautus; in my machine-assisted translation of Cartari that follows the Italian, I have inserted a standard translation of Plautus rather than Cartari's version, which I could not make sense of. Otherwise, I have left in Italian what I could not decipher. The beginning of what follows is about the cap that went on after the shaving.
E perciò Catullo in certo suo epigramma gli chiama fratelli Pileati, perche Pileo, che è voce Latina, significa capello in volgare. Pausania perimente scrive, che in certo luogo della Laconia erano alcune figurette Pileate, le quali ei non sa troppo bene se fossero fatte per gli Castori, (che sotto il nome dell'uno intesero gli antichi ambi i fratelli,) ma ben lo pensa. Ne lascierò hora di dire, che'l Pileo appresso de Romani fu la insegna della libertà, perciò che fu loro usanza, che quando volevano dare la libertà ad un servo gli facevano radere il capo, e gli davano à portare un capello. La quale cerimonia era fatta nel tempio di Feronia, perche questa fu la Dea di quelli, alli quali era donata la libertà, detti Libertini. Onde Plauto fa cosi dire un servo desideroso della libertà. Deh voglia Dio ch'io possa hoggi co'l capo raso pigliare il capello.
(And therefore Catullus in a certain epigram calls the brothers Pileati, because Pileo, that is Latin speech, means cap in the vulgar. Pausanias likewise writes, there were some figurettes Pileate in a certain place in Laconia, which he doesn't know for certain if they were done of the Castori, (for under that name was meant by the ancients the name of the twin brothers) but he believes it. Of it lascierò now to say, che'l Pileo I approach Roman de it was the insignia of liberty, therefore that it was their custom, that when they wanted to give liberty to a servant, they shaved his head, and they gave him a cap to wear. The ceremony was done in the temple of Feronia, because this was the Goddess of those to whom liberty was given, called Libertines. Whence Plautus says similarly of a servant desirous of his liberty: "May Jupiter [God, Catari says] grant, that this day, bald, with shaven crown, I may assume the cap of freedom." (AMPHITRYON ; Act 1, http://www.archive.org/stream/comedieso
I have discussed the cap in more detail on the "Sun" thread, at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=402&p=6889#p6889
. Here I want to focus on the shaving. My suggestion is that it is an extreme form of the tonsure that we see on the acolytes of the Pope card.
Reading Wikipedia, I found that the Eastern Church early on practiced the shaving of the entire head ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonsure
), claiming Pauline precedent at Acts 18:18:
Paulus vero cum adhuc sustinuisset dies multos fratribus valefaciens navigavit Syriam et cum eo Priscilla et Aquila qui sibi totonderat in Cencris caput habebat enim votum.
(Douay-Rheims trans.: But Paul, when he had stayed yet many days, taking his leave of the brethren, sailed thence into Syria (and with him Priscilla and Aquila), having shorn his head in Cenchrae. For he had a vow.)
It was also Paul, you will recall, who later sailed to Rome under the sign of the "Castore," meaning Castor and Pollux (Acts 28:11). The vow is an interesting bit: as I said previously, it looks like the acolytes are taking a vow.
In the West, one extreme form of tonsure, most likely shaving off everything above the earline, was practiced by the Irish Church and much attacked by the Roman Church, which said it was associated with the heretic Simon Magus and that they should wear the tonsure of St. Peter instead (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonsure
). It is that Roman tonsure, of course, that we see on the Pope card.
Before the conversion of the Irish to Christianity, the Irish tonsure was apparently worn by the Druids (Lewis Spence, History and Origins of Druidism
, p.53, in Google Books). It appears that the cult of Castor and Pollux was also popular among the Celts, whose priests the Druids were. Here is Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castor_and ... [quote]The
Celts also worshipped Castor and Pollux; the 1st century BC historian Diodorus Siculus records that the twins were the gods most worshipped in the west of Gaul. An altar found at Paris depicts them among Celtic figures such as the god Cernunnos, as well as Roman deities such as Jupiter and Vulcan.[/quote]
So I wonder if the shaving of the head was practiced because Druids were priests of the Dioscuri, among other gods, after which one was expected to wear their characteristic cap. I need more information before feeling confident about such a conclusion.
Some websites, including Catholic ones, say something different from Cartari, that long hair was the sign of the freeman, and a shaven head the sign of a slave. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14779a.htm
Indeed, among the Greeks and Romans such a custom was a badge of slavery. On this very account, the shaving of the head was adopted by the monks.
On this view, tonsure was adopted in the early monasteries as a sign of voluntary slavery to the regimens of the order.
By the 18th century, however, I think that people mostly saw the shaving of the head mainly as a sign of admission into a religious order, as it indeed is in both the Eastern and Western Church. Perhaps they saw it as a cross-cultural symbol imitating the bald head of the newborn. (That is how I learned to interpret it, at any rate.) People who knew Cartari's account would likely have seen it in similar terms: the shaving of a slave's head as a symbol of his rebirth as a free man, the symbol of a former slave rather than of an existing one.
In the Pope card, the tonsure probably was seen in both ways: voluntary submission to those above the acolytes in the order, and rebirth as a free person no longer enslaved by the things of this world. And in that sense, to be granted the privilege of choosing one's own life, for good or for ill, and the opportunity to be bound freely to the good in the course of many trials, is indeed an occasion worthy of a wreath of celebration and honor. I will investigate further my hypothetical connection of tonsure to the cult of the Dioscuri.