The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

1122

THEATRUM.

persons might ascend from the lowest to the high­est. But these stairs ran in straight lines only from one praecinctio to another ; and the stairs in the next series of rows were just between the two stairs of the lower series of benches. By this course of the stairs the seats were divided into a number of compartments resembling cones from which the tops are cut off ; hence they were termed /cep/a8es, and in Latin cunei. The whole of the place for the spectators (dearpoj/) was sometimes designated by the name /coTAov, Latin cavea, it being in most cases a real excavation of the rock. Above the highest row of benches there rose a co­vered portico (c), which of course fax exceeded in height the opposite buildings by which the stage was surrounded, and appears to have also contri­buted to increase the acoustic effect. (Apul. Met. i\\. p. 49, Bip.) The entrances to the seats of the spectators were partly underground, and led to the lowest rows of benches, while the upper rows must have been accessible from above. (Pollux, iv. 123 ; Athen. xiv. p. 622.) .

2. The orchestra (opx'no'Tpo) was a circular level space extending in front of the spectators, and somewhat below the lowest row of benches. But it was not a complete circle, one segment of it being appropriated to the stage. The orchestra was the place for the chorus, where it performed its evolutions and dances, for which purpose it was covered with boards. As the chorus was the ele­ment out of which the drama arose, so the or­chestra was originally the most important part of a theatre : it formed the centre around which all the other parts of the building were grouped. In the centre of the circle of ths orchestra was

that is, the altar of Dionysus (d), which was of course nearer to the stage than to the seats of the spectators, the distance from which was precisely the length of a radius of the circle. In a wider sense the orchestra also comprised the broad pas­sages (TrapoSoj, e) on each side between the pro­jecting wings of the stage and the seats of the spectators, through which the chorus entered the orchestra. The chorus generally arranged itself in the space between the thymele and the stage. The thymele itself was of a square form, and was used for various purposes, according to the nature of the different plays, such as a funeral monument, an altar, &c. It was made of boards and surrounded on all sides with steps. It thus stood upon a raised platform, which was sometimes occupied by the leader of the chorus, the flute-player, and the rhabdophori. (Muller, Dissert, on the Eumen. of Aescliyl. p. 249, &c. transl.) The flute-player as well as the prompter (farogoAeus, monitor) were generally placed behind the thymele, so as to face the stage and not to be seen by the spectators. (Plut. ReipiM. gerend. praec. p. 813, e. ,.; Ath. xiv. p. 631.) The orchestra as well as the ftearpoj/ lay under the open sky ; a roof is nowhere mentioned. 3. The stage. Steps led from each side of the orchestra to the stage, and by them the chorus probably ascended the stage whenever it took a real part in the action itself. The back side of the stage was closed by a wall called the ffKyvf) 01 scena, from which on each side a wing projected which was called the irapaa-Krjviov. The whole depth of the stage was not very great, as it only comprised a segment of the circle of the orchestra. The whole space from the scena to the orchestra was termed the proscenium (Trpoo-K-fjifiov)^ and was

THEATRUM.

what we shouid call the real stage. That part of it which was nearest to the orchestra, and where the actors stood when they spoke was the Xoysiov, also called oKpiGas or oK/nlcwTes, in Latin pulpitum, which was of course raised above the orchestra and probably on a level with the thymele. What the vttoo-k^viov was is not clear ; some think that it was a place to which the actors withdrew when they had acted their parts, others think that it was the same as the Koviarpa (Suidas, s. v. 'SKrjvfy ; but as it is stated that the vttoo-k^viov was adorned with statues, it seems more probable that it was the wall under the \oysiov which faced the orches­tra and the spectators. The GnriVT] or scena was, as we have already stated, the wall which closed the stage (.proscenium and logeum) from behind. It represented a suitable background or the locality in which the action was going on. Before the play began, it was covered with a curtain (TrapaTreracrjua, Trpoo'K'fjVLo^ avXaiai, Latin aulaea or siparium; Etymol. M. s. v. AuAos : Athen. xiii. p. 587 ; Pol­lux, iv. 122.) When the play began this curtain was let down and was rolled upon a roller under­neath the stage. The proscenium and logeum thus were never concealed from the spectators. As re­gards the scenery represented on the tr/cr/v^, it was different for tragedy, comedy, and the satyric drama, and for each of these kinds of poetry the scenery must have been capable of various modifi­cations according to the character of each indivi­dual play ; at least that this was the case with the various tragedies, is evident from the scenes de­scribed in the tragedies still extant. In the latter however the back-ground (ffKrjvf)) in most cases represented the front of a palace with a door in the centre (i) which was called the royal door. This palace generally consisted of two stories (o^rey/a, Pollux, iv. 129), and upon its flat roof there ap­pears to have sometimes been some elevated place from which persons might observe what was going on at a distance. (Eurip. Phoeniss. 88, &c.) The palace presented on each side a projecting wing, each of which had its separate entrance. These wings generally represented the habitations of guests and visitors. All the three doors must have been visible to the spectators, (Vitruv. v. 7.) The protagonistes always entered the stage through the middle or royal door, the deuteragonistes and tritagonistes through those on the right and left wings. In tragedies like the Prometheus, the Persians, Philoctetes, Oedipus in Colonus, and others the back-ground did not represent a palace. There are other pieces again in which the scena must have been changed in the course of the per­formance, as in the Eumenides of Aeschylus and the Ajax of Sophocles. The dramas of Euripides required a great variety of scenery ; and if in ad­dition to this we recollect that several pieces were played in one day, it is manifest that the mechani­cal parts of stage performance, at least in the days of Euripides, must have been brought to great per­fection. The scena in the Satyric drama appears to have always represented a woody district with hills and grottoes ; in comedy the scena represented, at least in later times, the fronts of private dwell­ings or the habitations of slaves. (Vifruv. v. 8. § 1 ; Pollux, iv. 125.) The art of scene-painting must have been applied long before the time of Sopho­cles, although Aristotle (Poet. iv. 16) ascribes its introduction to him. [pictura, p. 908, b.] The machines in the Greek theatres _were ex-

Pages
About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index

1121

1122

1123
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.