The Roman theater is a monumental building which aimed to provide a suitable place for the representation of dramatic, political or comic works and, in addition, to impact those who stepped on them. Magnificent examples of these ancient constructions are still preserved today, of which we are going to explain the highlights.
What are the parts of the Roman theater?
The Roman theater has three very well defined areas, both from the point of view of architecture and its function. These are the scaenaethe orchestra and the cavea. Do you want to know what each of them was used for? Well here we tell you.
The scaenae or scene
The area of the scaenae It was made up of two distinct areas.: the proscaenium or stage was where the actors performed and the scaenae frons It was the scene building. The latter was a facade with columns of classical orders and sculptures that served to set the scene in which the play took place.
Also here was the area of the pulpit, the closest to the eighth and under which the hyposcaenium, the area in which the mechanisms and sets required by the script of each work were hidden.
It is a semicircular space that is created between the stage and the stands. Sometimes seats for important personalities were installed in it. It was also the area chosen to place the choir, the musicians or the prompters of the plays.
The straight zone was delimited with the scene. Y that front was decorated with paintings and sculpture in relief. In addition, it was the area where the stairs were located to go up to the scaenae.
The cavea or bleachers
It is the part of the theater where the stands are located, as well as the seats reserved for the authorities and the most influential people in society. As a whole, it has the shape of a semicircle and is divided horizontally into three zones or maenian. That is imma or bottom, half or central part, and summa cavea or upper part.
The division of these zones was carried out by means of corridors or small low walls called baltei. Around of the orchestra, on the im cavea, were the stands reserved for priests and authorities called proedria which were wider and individual. They were usually occupied only by men.
The half cavea it was dedicated to the general public, although also almost always male. While, the summa cavea, located at the top of the stage, it housed the women and children. This area was the most difficult to access and in most cases it was removed or made with wooden structures.
vertically, there was another division by sectors or cunei which was done by stairs that came to the corridors or practice and that they had an exit through the vomitorium or entrance and exit doors to the cavea.
Some Roman theaters in Spain
Roman theater of Merida
It was built around the year 16 BC, although it later underwent several renovations. It had capacity for about 5800 people. Its promoter was the Roman consul Marco Agrippa. Today it can be visited together with the amphitheater. It is the scene of the Mérida International Classical Theater Festival.
It was ordered to be built by Emperor Augustus at the end of the 1st century BC. His heirs Cayo and Lucio also participated in the project and financing of it. With a capacity for 7,000 spectators, it is one of the most impressive Roman theaters in Spain due to the superimposition of structures from later times.
A) Yes, on the summa cavea there is one of the doors of the Old Cathedral. And the works carried out in the House-Palace of the Countess Peralta were the beginning of its restoration process. Your visit can be made from Tuesday to Sunday.
Roman theater of Tarraco
Built in the 1st century before Christ, it is located in the vicinity of the so-called municipal forum of the city of Tarragona. It was built as propaganda for Emperor Augustus.
Italica Theater in Santiponce, Seville
In the south, in the so-called Roman Baética, is the Itálica theater, more modest in terms of capacity, with some 3,000 seats for spectators. Its construction dates from the time of Emperor Augustus, although it will be Hadrian who embellishes it substantially.
There are many more Roman theaters that exist in Spain, such as the Sagunto theater in Valenciathat of Segóbriga in Cuenca, that of Clunia in Burgos, that of Málaga, Guadix, etc.