The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Theatre (continued)



[Plato, Symp. 194 b] or bEma [Plutarch, Phoc.ion 34, and inscription on the hyposcenium of the theatre at Athena]. On either side of the proscenium were wings, called parascenia, which, together with the space behind the real skene, served as dressing-rooms for the actors, and store-rooms for the costumes and machinery. The name of hyposcenium was given to the hollow space beneath the floor of the stage, and also to the lower wall adorned with pillars and statues facing the orchestra. A flight of steps leading out upon the stage from underneath was occasionally used for bringing ghosts and spectres upon the stage. They were called " Charon's steps " [Pollux, iv 132].

The scenery was very simple. Like many other things connected with the stage, it is said to have been first introduced by

to the right of the audience represented views in the immediate neighbourhood of the city where the scene of the action is laid. The periaktos to the left represented a more distant country. In correspondence with this, the entrance to the right of the audience was reserved for actors coming from the immediate neighbourhood; while that to the left was for those who came from a distance [Pollux, iv 126; Vitrnvius, v 6; Servius on Vergil, Georg. iii 24]. In connexion with the action of the play, accessories, such as altars, statues, and tombs, were introduced when necessary. There is no direct evidence for a drop cur­tain in the Greek theatre.

Machinery of various kinds was used to imitate thunder and lightning. For the former, casks filled with pebbles were sent rolling down bronze surfaces [Pollux, iv

(8) THE THEATRE AT 8EGESTA. (As restored by Strack.)

^Ischylus [Vitruvius, vii prcef. 11]; but we have better authority for ascribing its introduction to Sophocles [Aristotle, Poet. iv 16]. The first painter of stage scenery (skSnSgrdphia) is said to have been Aga-tharchus [Vitruvius I.e.]. The principal decoration consisted of a light and movable screen placed in front of the wall at the back of the stage. On this screen was painted the scene of the play. In tragedy, it was usually the front of a king's palace, with three doors. The interior of a house was never represented by means of painted scenery, but only by means of the mechanical device call the ekkyklema. Towards the fore­ground of the stage, on each side, there was a revolving stand of three side-scenes, called a periaktos,—a contrivance which allowed of the scenery at either or both ends of the stage being changed without changing the background. The periaktos

130]. There were also contrivances for making persons appear or disappear in the air [ib. 132]. But of these we know hardly anything except the names by which they were designated. In order to make the actor's voice more audible at a distance, vessels of bronze of different tones were sometimes suspended in niches in various parts of the auditorium [Vitruv. i 1,9; v 5. Niches of this kind have been observed in the remains of the theatre at Aizani in Phrygia, at GSrasS in the DecapSlis, and in Crete.) Theatres were frequently used for public purposes unconnected with the drama. At Athens the custom of using the theatre for assemblies of the people prevailed from the middle of the 3rd century b.c.

Tig. 3 represents the theatre of SSgesta in Sicily [situated near the crest of a hill. The lower part of the auditorium is in nearly perfect preservation. The structure

About | First | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.