The Ancient Library

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On this page: Theatre (continued)



With the spread of dramatic representa­tions stone theatres were built in every part of the Hellenic world; and, shortly after the time of Alexander the Great, they were practically universal. It has been estimated that the theatre at Athens had room for 27,500 persons [Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst, xiii p. 202]. Plato is only using round numbers when he speaks of a play of Agathon having been witnessed by 30,000 spectators [Symp. 175 b]. Among other large theatres may be mentioned, in Greece, those of Megalopolis, Sparta, and Epidaurus ; in Sicily, that of Syracuse; in Asia Minor, those of Ephesus and Miletus. There were also large theatres in Crete. [Among other theatres of Greek origin, remains of which are still in existence, are the following ^ in Greece, at the Peirseus, at ThSrlcus, Oropus, Slcyon, Argos, Man-tiueia, Rhiniassa and Dramyssus in Epirus, and in MelSs and Delos. In Sicily, at Aerse, Tyndaris, Tauromenion, and Segesta (fig. 3). In Asia Minor, at Aspendus, Perge, and Side in Pamphylia; Myra, Patara, and Tal-missus in Lycia; lassSs in Caria; AssSs and Pergamon in Mysia; and Hlerapolis and Aizani in Phrygia.]

It is estimated that in the theatre at Athens the space assigned to each spectator was about thirteen inches in breadth ; the depth of the seat was sufficient to allow room behind for the feet of the spectator sitting immediately above. To facilitate access to the various parts of the auditorium, the

erection of a wooden structure, including a vast number of seats, twice a year, or the keeping of such structure in repair, would have been a troublesome task. (3) The evidence from litera­ture in favour of wooden seats is inconclusive. Aristophanes (Thesm. 395) and Cratmus (Frafirn. Invert. 51) speak of ikrid or " benches "; but this may be only a survival of the older term when it was no longer strictly accurate. (4) The evidence ' already quoted as to Lycurgus is on the whole in favour of his having completed ? structure that was already partially finished. (5) The retaining wall supporting the rows of stone seats on either side is built with enormous blocks of conglome­rate, hidden by a thin wall of the finest pdrds limestone. It is this conglomerate which is understood to be one of the grounds on which Dr. Dorpfeld assigns a late date to the structure. But (as observed by Professor Middleton in eor-roboration of a paper read by Prof. Jebb to the above effect) the pointing of the blocks is all " drafted n masonry, and all the joints are marked with a shallow groove, and the whole face dressed with a very broad chisel parted into fourteen teeth just as in the walls of CImoii. For this reason Prof. Middleton holds that the auditorium belongs to the middle of the 5th century, while the per­manent stage buildings may be assigned to the time of Lycurgus, Adkuc sub iudice Us est.]

parallel tiers of seats were separated by one : or more broad passages running from end [ to end, and horizontally dividing the tiers into several zones; these passages were | called diazdmatti (Lat. prcecinctlones). The ! seats were also divided vertically by stairs radiating from below, and intersecting the diazomata at right angles. The wedge-like blocks thus formed were called ker-kldes (Lat. cunSi). The number of the stairs varies according to the size of the theatre. In the theatre at Athena there are fourteen, giving access to thirteen blocks of seats. [The audience were pro­bably arranged according to their respec­tive tribes, and the number of the tribes was raised in later times from ten to twelve or thirteen.] In the Greek theatre the normal number of the stairs was even; in the Roman it was usually uneven. They either ascend straight throughout the whole building, or are differently arranged in the several zones of seats. [Thus, in the theatre at Epidaurus, designed by P5ly-clitus the younger, there are twelve ker-kides in the lower zone, and twenty-two in the.upper; only eleven flights of stairs ascending straight from the lowest to the highest part of the auditorium.]

In the Athenian theatre, the front row of seats, which was the nearest to the orchestra, consisted of sixty-seven marble stalls; forty-five of these were re­served for priests and other ministers of religion, and the rest for the officials of the State. The central seat in this row was reserved for the priest of Dionysus. The right of occupying a reserved seat in one of the front rows was called prfildrla [Aristophanes, Eq. 575, 702, 1405]; and it was in this part of the theatre that seats were provided for public benefactors, for the stratSgi, for the orphans of those who had fallen in war [jEschines, Ctes. 174], and for ambassadors from foreign states [Demosthenes, De Cor. 28]. The judges of the dramatic competitions sat together in a body, and would naturally have some of the best places assigned to them. Behind the front row were placed a number of inferior priests and priestesses. It is not known how the rest of the spectators were arranged, but it is probable that the members of each tribe sat in the same part of the theatre. The tickets of admission discovered in Attica are of two kinds: (a) ordinary leaden tokens about the size of either a florin or (more frequently) a six­penny-bit, with Dionysus or a mask on

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