theater
The Odeum of Senex Caecilius

I have no delusions about talent for the stage (scaena), but I appreciate the work of those who do tread the boards.

Let's clarify a few things before continuing: an amphitheater, a theater, and an odeon are three different things. Do you know their differences? In general, an amphitheater is large in size, circular or oval in shape, has an arena, lacks a roof, and hosts gladiatorial and wild beast shows. In contrast, a theater is moderate in size, semi-circular in shape, has a stage, lacks a roof, and serves in dramatic performances. In comparison, an odeon is small in size, square in shape, has a stage, possesses a roof, and caters to musical performances and poetry recitations.

Here are views of the theaters at Ostia as seen from behind the scaena and at Delphi as seen from atop the cavea. Please close up when you leave.

The playbill at the Theater Dionysos in Athens features an original satyr-play entitled The Judgment of Paris.

The opera repertory of the Odeum of Priapus Manlius includes wonderful spoofs of ancient themes: The Widow of Ephesus, Agrippina's Barge, Lucretia, and Ranunculus.

The theater reviews in the Athens Guardian by critic Cythera Ariston include The Clouds and The Bacchae.

A double-dactyl at the Tenth Muse written about Thespis of Athens celebrates those characters called actors who appear in the Dramatis Personae.

If you want additional information about ancient drama and dance, consider these sources:

  • An exceptional online magazine named Didaskalia reports on ancient Greek and Roman drama, dance, and music as they are performed today and in the past.
  • An alphabetical index of authors and titles of Great Books that exist online in English translation includes works by Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles.
  • An article in Compton's Encyclopedia Online provides basic information about "Greek Literature" and links to related entries: drama, theater, and individual playwrights.
  • An essay on Greek Tragedy provides an early history of the theater, a description of the tragic situation, and some conclusions about the nature of tragedy.


    photo credit: Joel Mayer

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