The Ancient Library

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of the Greek drama and the only place which pro­duced great masterworks in this department of literature. It should also be borne in mind that theatres are mentioned in several parts of Greece where the worship of Dionysus and the drama connected with it did not exist, so that these "build­ings were devoted to other public exhibitions. Thus at Athens itself there were in later times, besides the theatre in the Lenaea, two others, viz. the 3A.yptTnr€iov and the eVi 'Prjyi\\ri frearpoi/, which were not destined for dramatic performances, but were only places in which the sophists de­livered their declamations. At Sparta there was a theatre of white marble (Paus. iii. 14. § 1) in which assemblies of the people were held, choral dances performed, and the like (Athen. iv. p. 139, xiv. p. 631), for the festive joy of Dionysus and the regular drama were foreign to the Spartans. All the theatres however which were constructed in Greece were probably built after the model of that of Athens, and with slight deviations and modifications they all resembled one another in the main points, as is seen in the numerous ruins of theatres in various parts of Greece, Asia Minor, and Sicily. Some of them were of prodigious di­mensions. The theatre at Epidaurus in the grove of Asclepius, of which considerable ruins are still extant, excelled in beauty the -Roman theatres (Pans. ii. 27. § 5), and in size even that of Mega-



lopolis, which was reckoned the largest theatre in Greece. (Paus. viii. 32. § ].) The great num­ber of ruins of theatres may enable us to form an idea of the partiality of the Greeks for such magnificent buildings, and of their gigantic dimen­sions. The ruins of the theatre at Argos enclose a space of 450 feet in diameter ; the theatre of Ephesus is even 660 feet in diameter. Upon these ruins see the works of Clarke, DodwelL, Leake, Hughes, Arundell, and the Supplement to Stuart's Antiquities of Athens.

The construction of the Greek theatres has been the subject of much discussion and dispute in mo­dern times, and although all the best writers agree on the great divisions of which a theatre consisted, the details are in many cases mere matters of con­jecture. The Attic theatre was, like all the Greek theatres, placed in such a manner that the place for the spectators formed the upper or north­western, and the stage with all that belonged to it the south-eastern part, and between these two parts lay the orchestra. We shall consider each of these three divisions separately, together with its parts and subdivisions, referring the reader to the annexed plan which has been made from the re­mains of Greek theatres still extant, and from a careful examination of the passages in ancient writers which describe the whole or parts of a theatre, especially in Vitruvius and Pollux.


3v i:

•-. \ / >: / ..-•' l: \*j .•• •. .• ..- L >.

1. The place for the spectators was in a nar­rower sense of the word called frearpov. The seats for the spectators, which were in most cases cut into the rock, consisted of rows of benches rising one above another ; the rows themselves (a) formed parts (nearly three-fourths) of concentric circles, and were at intervals divided into compartments by one or more broad passages (b) running between them and parallel with the benches. These pas­sages were called 5ja£wjuaTa, or /cara-ro^ai, Lat. praecinctiones (Vitrav. v. 3 and 7 ; Bekker, Anec-

dot. p. 270 ; Pollux, iv. 123 ; Harpocrat. and Suid. s. v. KaraTOjU^), and when the concourse of people was very great in a theatre, many persons might stand in them. One side of such a passage formed towards the upper rows of benches a wall, in which in some theatres, though perhaps not at Athens, niches were excavated which contained metal ves­sels (^%€?a) to increase the sounds coming from the stage and orchestra. (Vitruv. i. 1. § 9, v. 4; Stieglitz, Arch'dol. der Baukunst^ &c. ii. 1. p. 150.) Across the rows of benches rau stairs, by which

4 c

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