He is often described with the performer Pylades, who was seen as the epitome of tragic performance, while Bathyllus was seen as the epitome of comedic performance. They were both former slaves and they are both credited with having modernised pantomimus in Rome adding different forms of dance which are often described as erotic. Each founded a school and had some political influence in Rome occasionally leading to their supporters clashing in the streets.
References to a different, earlier, Bathyllus are found in the writing of Horace who describes him as beloved of Polycrates the Tyrant and the poet, Anacreon. According to Juvenal, his dances provoked Roman matrons to a state of sexual frenzy. Bathyllus appears in the illustrated edition of Juvenal's satire 'Against Women' by Aubrey Beardsley.