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Roman Theatre

By EmEmEmEmEm Oct 27, 2012 865 Words
Roman Theatre-

We look at Athens because we have the most sources
Most important form of entertainment
Very open, did not really need money to go to the theatre •Profound religious associations
Played an important political role
Stage was, like the agora, democracy was discussed and displayed in front of the Romans •Romans owed a lot to the Greeks in terms of theatre. They were very influenced by the Greeks •We see this in the architecture of the theatre

But Romans were more technologically advanced than the Roman •Greek theatres built into hillside
Romans built theatres on vaulted structures, which eliminated the need for a hillside

Roman Theatre: Architecture-

“Cavea” → sitting area, auditorium
“Pulpitum” → the stage
onot very high
oplace where actors acted
o(most acting in Greek theatre was done in the orchestra(circular)) o“orchestra”→ semi circular now, used for seating the most distinguished guests •“Frons” → as high as the cavea, its ends at connected with the cavea to make a semi-circle

earliest theatres in Italy were built by the Greek colonies in Southern Italy •For a long time, Romans resisted in importing this form of entertainment •When they conquered Italy in 3rd century BC (??), they adopted it, but it was still perceived as being foreign •Theatres were only built as temporary wooden structures to be dismantled after show ended at the beginning oThought it would become a meeting place for Greeks against Romans and did not want to provide them with that space

Famous theatres: Built by Octavia in honor of his adopted son Marcellus, also Theatre of Balbus •“Ludi scaenici” → religious celebration on the stage, so part of the “ludi” → religious festivals put on by the state (animal sacrifices, chariot races, theatrical shows) •A new genre aside from tragedies and comedies emerged

Roman Theatre: Types of Shows-

Pyrrhic dances
oHad some military connection
oNamed after Achilles someone (?)
oDone by some religious groups in order to keep warfare symbolically away from the community •Ludus talarius
oDone with dancers and musical instruments
oWe don’t know much about them
Pantomime
oType of dance staged in Roman theatre
oDancer supposed to mimic a mythological character
oHad a mask and special costume to identify who they were supposed to be oOrphius would be played, or “mad” Hercules (had to dance and shoot arrows at the same time) •Circus type shows
oMen walking on stilts
oDifferent types of acrobats
oRope dancers and tight rope walkers
oMimes (Different than our mimes. Highly stylized comin acts, in which the actors are playing very specific roles. Topic of the mimes are usually drawn form everyday life or are very old and well known stories) •Atellan farces

oItalian origin
oFrom Oscan origin
oShort comedy skits
Comedies and Dramas
oDramas with Greek and Roman content
oComedy with Greek content is called “palliata”
oComedy with Roman content is called “togata”
oTragedy with Greek subject called “crepidata” (named after the type of shoes the actor wore) oTragedy with Roman subject is called “praetexta” (named after toga worn by the Romans)

Roman Theatre: Actors-
histriones
Origionally, Greek or Italian descent with a low social status (slaves or freedmen) •In spite of this origin, some became very successful
Able to amass huge amounts of money and be very close to important political figures •Famous actors: Roscius, Aesop, Dionysia
Became very close to politica figures
A famous mime actor became the lover of Claudius’ wife •What was the attitude of Romans towards the actors?
They highly disapproved
Considered theatre non Roman
But sources are highly biased and reflected upon upper class Romans •We see this feeling is not shared by everyone
oSource about Nero by Tacitus in Annales
So despite of these attitudes, theatre is very successful

Roman Theatre: Functions-
What are the functions that theatre played in Roman society? •Entertainment
Relaxing
To learn to become an orator
oSociety where how you speak and present yourself is very important •Shows stores of religion and myth
Social role
oTheatre was a place where entire Roman population was allowed to come from rich to foreigner and slaves oIt was still very hierarchical in seating
Show their values
oComedy usually included a young Roman under the authority of his stern paterfamilias, he falls in love with prostitute, we find out at the end she is not actually a prostitute but free born girl who was stolen from her parents when she was young, they end up marrying oThe discussion is about the limits (law and socially) of the authority of the paterfamilias oIn the end, father allows him to marry girl as long as she is a certain status oSlaves are characters in comedies

People come here to learn about the political situations •Place where power can be negotiated

Marcus Oppius
oMet in theatre to raise money for him to stay in his political position

In time of Republic, certain actor said “Miseria nostra Magn(a) est” oOur misery is Great, our our misery is Pempeius Magnus

“Oh, just and glorious Lord” directed at Augustus

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