The Ancient Library

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tremely numerous, but we are in many cases unable to form an exact idea of their nature and their effects. We shall only mention the most important among them. 1. The irepiaitToi (m) stood near the two side entrances of the scena ; their form was that of a prisma, and by a single turn they produced a change in the scenery. (Vitruv. v. 7 ; Pollux, iv. 126.) 2. The xaP^vlOL K\ifj,aK€s^ or the Charonian steps, by which the shades ascended from the lower world upon the stage. (Pollux, iv. 132.) 3. The wxjwf]) Kpd<Srj or eccp^jua, a machine by which gods or heroes were represented passing through or floating in the air: hence the proverb, deus eoo machina. (Pollux, iv. 126, 128, 131 ; Suidas, s. v. 'Ecyp^jua: Hesych. s. v. Kpddi].) 4. The or e/c/cu/cA^a. [ExoSTRA.] 5. The ^ an especial elevated place above the scena for the Olympian gods when they had to ap­pear in their full majesty. (Pollux, iv. 130 ; Phot. Lex. p. 597.) 6. The fipowdov^ a machine for imi­tating thunder. It appears to have been placed underneath the stage, and to have consisted of large brazen vessels in which stones were rolled. (Pollux, iv. 130 ; Suidas, s. v. Bpovrr]: Vitruv. v. 7.) Respecting several other machines of less im­portance, see Pollux, iv. irepl fj.4p</w frearpov.

It is impossible to enter here upon the differences, which are presented by many ruins of theatres still extant, from the description we have given above. It is only necessary to mention, that in the theatres of the great cities of the Macedonian time the space between the thymele and the logeum was converted into a lower stage, upon which mimes, musicians, and dancers played, while the ancient stage (pros­cenium and logeum) remained destined, as before;, for the actors in the regular drama. This lower stage was sometimes called thymele or orchestra. (Muller, Hist, of Greek Lit. i. p. 299 ; Donaldson, The Theatre of the Greeks.)

The Romans must have become acquainted with the theatres of the Italian Greeks at an early period, whence they erected their own theatres in similar positions upon the sides of hills. This is still clear from the ruins of very ancient theatres at Tusculum and Faesulae. (Niebuhr, Hist. ofRome^ in. p. 364, &c.) The Romans themselves however did not possess a regular stone theatre until a very late period, and although dramatic representations were very popular in earlier times, it appears that a wooden stage was erected when necessary, and was afterwards pulled down again, and the plays of Plautus and Terence were performed on such temporary scaffoldings. In the meanwhile many of the neighbouring towns about Rome had their stone theatres, as the introduction of Greek customs and manners was less strongly them than in the city of Rome itself. Wooden theatres, adorned with the most profuse magnificence, were erected at Rome even during the last period of the republic. The first attempt to build a stone theatre was made a short time before the consulship of P. Cornelius Scipio Nasiea. It was sanctioned by the censors, and was advancing towards its com­pletion, when Scipio, in 155 b. c., persuaded the senate to command the building to be pulled dawn as injurious to public morality. (Liv. Epit. 48.) •Respecting the magnificent wooden theatre which M. Aemilius Scauras built in his aedileship, 58 b.c., see Pliny, H. N. xxxvi. 24. § 7. Its scena consisted of three stories, and the lowest of them was made of white marble, the middle one of glass, and the


upper one of gilt wood. The cavea contained 80,000 spectators. (Comp. Plin. H.N. xxxiv. 17.) In 55 b. c. Cn. Pompey built the first stone theatre at Rome near the Campus Martius. It was of; great beauty, and is said to have been built after the model of that of Mytilene ; it contained 40,000 spectators. (Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 24. § 7; compare Drumann, Gesch. Roms. iv. p. 520, &c.) C. Curio built in 50s. c. two magnificent wooden theatres close by one another, which might be changed into one amphitheatre. (Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 24. § 8.) After the time of Pompey, how­ever, other stone theatres were erected, as the theatre of Marcellus, which was built by Augustus and called after his nephew Marcellus (Dion Cass. xliii. 49; Plin. H.N. xxxvi. 12); and that of Balbus (Plin. I. c.), whence Suetonius (Aug. 44) uses the expression per trina iheatra.

The construction of a Roman theatre resembled, on the whole, that of a Greek one. The principal differences are, that the seats of the spectators, which rose in the form of an amphitheatre around the orchestra, did not form more than a semi­circle ; and that the whole of the orchestra like­wise formed only a semicircle, the diameter of which formed the front line of the stage. The Roman orchestra contained no thymele, and was not destined for a chorus, but contained the seats for senators and other distinguished persons, such as foreign ambassadors, which are called " primus subselliorum ordo." In the year 68 b.c. the tri­bune L. Roscius Otho carried a law which regu­lated the places in the theatre to be occupied by the different classes of Roman citizens : it enacted that fourteen ordines of benches were to be assigned as seats to the- equites. (Liv. Epit. 99 ; Ascon. ad Cornel, p. 78, ed. Orelli.) Hence these quatuor-decim ordines are sometimes mentioned without any further addition as the honorary seats of the equites. They were undoubtedly close behind the seats of the senators and magistrates, and thus consisted of the rows of benches immediately be­hind the orchestra. Velleius (ii. 32) and Cicero (pro Mnren. 19) speak of this law in a manner to lead us to infer that it only restored to the equites a right which they had possessed before. Another part of this law was that spendthrifts and persons reduced in their circumstances (decoctores), whether through, their own fault or not, and whether they belonged to the senatorian or equestrian order, should no longer occupy the seats assigned to their order, but occupy a separate place set apart for them. (Cic. Philip. ii;. 18.) In the reign of Au­gustus the senate made a decree, that foreign am­bassadors should no longer enjoy the privilege mentioned above, as it had sometimes happened that freedmen were sent to Rome as ambassadors. The soldiers also were separated from the people by the same decree ; the same was the case with wome%pmetextati and paedagogi. (Suet. .4z^. 44.) This separation consisted probably in one or more cunei being assigned to a particular class of per­sons. The woodcut on the following page contains a probable representation of the plan of a Roman theatre.

For a fuller account of the construction of Greek and Roman theatres see the commentators on Vitruvius (1. c.), J. Chr. Genelli, das Theater zu Athen^ hinsichtlich auf Architectur, Scenerie mid Darstellungs Kunst uberhaupt^ Berlin, 1818, 8vo. ; G. C. W. .Sebnoider, Das Attische TJieaterwesenf

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