Theatre of Pompey

Theatre of Pompey 3D cut out.png
Theatre of Pompey is located in Rome
The Theatre of Pompey (Latin: Theatrum Pompeii, Italian: Teatro di Pompeo) was a structure in Ancient Rome built during the latter part of the Roman Republican era: completed in 55 BC. Enclosed by the large columned porticos was an expansive garden complex of fountains and statues. Along the stretch of the covered arcade were rooms dedicated to the exposition of art and other works collected by Pompey "the Great" (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) during his campaigns.

On the opposite end of the garden complex was a curia for political meetings. The senate would often use this building along with a number of temples and halls that satisfied the requirements for their formal meetings. The curia is infamous as the place where Julius Caesar was murdered by the Liberatores of the Roman Senate and elite.

The structure's last recorded repairs were carried out in AD 507–11. Following Rome's population decline during and after the Roman-Gothic wars of AD 535–54 there was no need for a large theatre. The marble covering material was used to maintain other buildings. Being located near the Tiber, the building was also regularly flooded, causing further damage. The building's concrete core remained standing in the 9th century. In the 11th century the ruins were converted into two churches and houses, with the theatre's old plan remaining visible. Around 1150 the powerful Orsini family bought all buildings on the site of the theatre and transformed them into a large fortress. Later in the Middle Ages the Campo de' Fiori square was built on top of the theatre's remains. Today, sections of the theatre are still extant, but they are buried under more modern edifices.

Pompey paid for this theatre to gain political popularity during his second consulship. The theatre was inspired by Pompey's visit in 62 BC to a Greek theatre in Mytilene. Construction began around 61 BC and the theatre was dedicated in 52 BC. Prior to its construction, permanent stone theatres had been forbidden, and so to side-step this issue, Pompey had the structure built in the Campus Martius, outside of the pomerium, or sacred boundary, that divided the city from the ager Romanus (the territory immediately outside the city). Pompey also had a temple to Venus Victrix built near the top of the theatre's seating; Pompey then claimed that he had "not a theatre, but rather a temple of Venus to which I have added the steps of a theatre".

The theatre was dedicated in 52 BC, and during this event, two shows were performed: Clytemnestra by Accius, and Equos Troianus either by Livius Andronicus or Gnaeus Naevius. Clodius Aesopus, a renowned tragic actor, was brought out of retirement in order to act in the theatre's opening show. The show was also accompanied by gladiatorial matches featuring exotic animals.

For forty years, the theatre was the only permanent theatre located in Rome, until Lucius Cornelius Balbus the Younger constructed one in 13 BC in the Campus Martius. Regardless, the Theatre of Pompey continued to be the main location for plays, both due to its splendor and its dealing size. In fact, the site was often considered the premiere theatre throughout its entire life. Seeking association with the great theatre, many well-to-dos constructed their own versions in and around the area of Pompey's. This led to the eventual establishment of a theatre district, in the most literal sense.

This page was last edited on 12 April 2018, at 15:18.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed