The mask - or rather - the Purim mask was what was first developed from "the carnival celebration," Pollack writes, "derived from the commedia dell'arte. The carnival, which was accompanied by processions and parades, was associated with the demonic and 'souls of the dead' (anime del morte)" (p. 232). He continues:
First, the mask was a means of mocking and ridiculing prestigious members of the community. Second, through their antics, the masked clowns and jesters contributed to the festival gaiety. Third, and as already suggested, the disguise enabled a person to assume "the role of another" by pretending to be someone else. Herein is a release and escape from being continuously the same person.
The masquerades, parades, and carnival festivities must have appealed to individuals of the Italian Jewish community, otherwise during the time of repression religious and civil authorities would not have required them to wear the "badge" so as to differentiate them from non-Jews. Leon da Modena, for example, was among those who would participate in a non-Jewish masquerade.
The commedia dell'arte was also called the "comedy of masks" in that masks were worn for "stock characters" given a "fixed role". Jewish comedy was influenced by social types portrayed by the mask in the commedia dell'arte. Among the personalities adopted and made part of the Purim celebration through the mask were the paltoniere, the "beggar"; the arlecchino, the "clown"; the capitano, the "blustering soldier"; the pantalone, the "pantaloon". (pp. 233-234)