The Ancient Library

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On this page: Theatre (continued)



the obverse, and the name or number of a tribe on the reverse ; (b) counters of bone or ivory, about the size of half-a-crown, with a head on one side, and on the other a Greek or Roman numeral—never higher than xv (fig. 2), The latter were for the use of persons enjoying the right of procdria, and belong to the Roman period (Benndorf s Bcitrdge, p. 36 ff; Baumeister's Denkmfilei; figs. 1833-5). The price of a ticket was two obols (about 3ci); and, in the case of poorer citizens, this payment was made out of the thcoricfund.


With head of Cronus. (Gonzenbach Collection, Smyrna.)

Women were generally present at the performance of tragedies; but from that of comedies those of the higher classes usually stayed away. In the 5th century, the women sat in a separate part of the theatre (Aristophanes, Pax 964); at the back, accord­ing to Pollux (ix. 44); and with the resi-dentaliensbehind them. .Boys were admitted (Plato, Laws, 658 c); slaves probably not. The provision against sun and raincustomary in the Roman theatre was unknown to the ancient Greeks. [Those who could afford it brought cushions and carpets to sit on (^Eschines, Ctes. 76 ; Fals. Leg. 111). By command of the oracle at Delphi, all the spectators wore wreaths of bay leaves in honour of Diony9us(Demosthenes, Meid. 52).]

The orchestra was considerably below the level of the stage. [In the theatre at Epi-daurus, the stage is almost exactly twelve feet high ; in that of Megalopolis, excavated in 1890, the height is about six feet.] The chorus entered the orchestra by means of passages (pdrQdoi} on either side of the stage. These also gave access to the audience, who came in by the orchestra, and thence mounted the flights of steps leading to the seats assigned them. The orchestra was connected with the stage by means of steps, by which the chorus ascended on the rare occasions when the action of the play involved their presence on the stage [e.g. Sophocles, CKd. Col. 856-7; Aristophanes, Ey. 490-4; cp.

Acharn, 324-7, Av. 353-400, But, as a ! general rule, the chorus remained in the | orchestra, at a lower level than the stage]. j Strictly speaking, it was only the decorated wall at the back of the stage that was called the skene (lit. "booth"). The same name was, however, given to 1 the stage-buildings, and (far more fre-; quently) to the stage on which the actors performed. The more distinctive designa-, tion for the stage is proscenium (Gr. j prdskenion, " the space in front of the skene, or booth"), or Idgeion ("the speak­ing-place ").* It is also called okrihas

1 [The ordinary view that the actors occupied a narrow raised stage behind the orchestra was first attacked by Hopken. De Theatro Attico sceculi a. C/ir. (juinti (Bonn, 1884), who is supported by Dr. Dorpfeld. It is true that the stage-buildings excavated at Epidaurus are twelve feet higher than the orchestra, but these buildings are re­garded by Dr. Dorpfeld as the background of the actors' stage, partly because there are no steps leading down to the orchestra. On the other hand, (1) Vitruvius, v 7, tells us that the Greek stage was from ten to twelve feet high, but narrower than the Roman. (2) The theatre of Epidaurus may possibly have been provided with wooden

( steps ; Dr. Dorpfeld himself (Berlin Philol.

\ Wochenschrift, 1890, p. 1434) sees no objection to ascribing its proscenium to the 3rd or 2nd century n.c. The height of its stage, twelve feet, corre­sponds to that given by Vitruvius as character­istic of the Greek theatre. (3) Several passages of Aristophanes imply that the actors were on a higher level than the chorus (Eq. 149, c. schol. ; Vesp. 1341, 1514 ; Av. 175-8, 268). (4) The use of steps to connect the orchestra with the stage is attested by a writer in the earlier part of the 3rd century b.c., Athenseus, the author of a work on engines of war, Mech,, p. 29 (ed. Wescher), who compares certain ladders used in sieges to those " placed in theatres against the proscenia for the actors" (cp. Pollux iv 127). (5) Such steps may be seen on vasesof Southern Italy, beginning with the 3rd century, representing comic scenes (e g. Baumeister, figa.902 and 1828 = British Mus. F 101; Schreiber's Bilderatlas, I, v 11, 13; Heydemann in Jahrb.des Deutsch. Archckol. Inst. 1886. p. 260).

(6) The use of epi tcs sktnes, " upon the sken&" in Aristotle's Poetics, implies something raised above the level of the ground (Classical Review, v 97).

(7) In the summer of 1893 an inscription was found in the theatre at Delos identifying the pro­scenium with the logeion. The theatres at Mag­nesia and Tralles have also been excavated. At Tralles there is a double flight of steps leading up from the orchestra to the front of the proscenium, ten or twelve feet high. In spite of the steps, the proscenium is explained by Dr. Dorpfeld as merely a background for the actors in the orchestra. At Magnesia he accepts it as a true stage ten feet in height, but he ascribes it to Roman times (Mittheilungen, xviii 410; xix 86; Journ. Hellenic 'Studies, 1894, p. 230). The evidence from the theatre at Megalopolis may be regarded as incon­clusive (Class. Jfev. v 284, and Excavation? at Mfgahjjofis. 1892, p. 91 j. Cp. Am. Journ. of Philol. xiv 68, 198, 273.J

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