* the first permanent theatre in Rome, built of stone
by Pompeius in his second consulship in 55 B.C., and dedicated in that
year according to the common version (Asc. in Pis. I; Veil. ii. 48
Chron. Pasch. a. u. c. 697 (foundations laid); Chronica Min. ed. Momms.
; Tac. Ann. xiv. 20
; Cass. Dio xxxix. 38
, whose story that a
freedman of Pompeius furnished the money is to be rejected), when
most elaborate games, contests of wild animals, and exhibitions of
marvels, were provided (Cic. in Pis. 65; Plin. NH vii. 158
; viii. 20
Plut. Pomp. 52). Besides the usual name, theatrum Pompei, it was
called theatrum Pompeianum (Plin. cit. xxxiv. 39; xxxvi. 15
Anc. iv. 9
; Suet. Tib. 47; Claud. 21; Tac. Ann. vi. 45
; Mart. vi. 9
. 11; xiv. 29
. I, 166. 1; in plural, Flor. 13. 8); theatrum marmoreum (Fast. Amit. ad pr. Id. Aug., CIL i². p. 244); theatrum magnum
(Plin. cit. vii. 158); and sometimes simply theatrum (Cic. ad Att. iv. I. 6;
Hor. Carm. i. 20
. 3; Suet. Nero 13; Flor. ii. 13
. 9 ; Cass. Dio 1. 8. 3), as
it was the only stone theatre in Rome until that of Marcellus was built
and always the most important (cf. Tac. Ann. xiii. 54
; Plin. cit. xxxiii. 54;
Cass. Dio lxii. 8
The plan of this building Pompeius took from that of Mitylene
(Plut. Pomp. 42), and within it he set up many wonderful statues (Plin.
cit. vii. 34; for the statues of the fourteen nations subdued by Pompeius
Plin. cit. xxxvi. 41; Suet. Nero 46; Serv. Aen. viii. 721
; see PORTICUS
). To avoid censure for building a permanent theatre,
he constructed a temple of VENUS VICTRIX
(q.v.) at the top of the central
part of the cavea, so that the rows of seats might appear to be the steps
leading up to the temple, and dedicated the whole as a temple and not
as a theatre (Tert. de spect. IO; Gell. x. I. 7; Plin. cit. viii. 20). Tertullian speaks of the dedication of theatre and temple as taking place
at the same time, but Gellius (loc. cit.) states that Pompeius, when
about to dedicate the temple, was uncertain whether to put consul
tertium or tertio in the inscription, and on the advice of Cicero (quoted
from a letter of Tiro) compromised on consul tert. This would seem to
indicate that the temple was dedicated in 52, not 53 (which is also the
statement of Chron. Pasch. a. u. c. 702; Chron. min. ed. Mommsen, i. 215).
Gellius, however, goes on to say that the inscription in theatre did not
read so in his day, nam cum multis annis postea scaena, quae prociderat,
refecta esset, numerus tertii consulatus non uti initio primoribus litteris
sed tribus tantum liniolis incisis significatus est
. Whatever may have
been true of the dedication, the inscription on the temple, or on the
temple and scaena both, was evidently put in place in 52 B.C. From
the notice in two calendars (Fast. Allif. Amit. ad pr. Id. Aug., CIL i².
p. 217, 244, 324; cf. Suet. Claud. 2 : cum prius apud superiores aedes
) it appears that there were shrines or altars to three other
deities, Honor Virtus and Felicitas, similarly placed in the theatre, and
perhaps a fourth (Fast. Allif.: V. ... ?).
Augustus restored the theatre at great expense in 32 B.C. (Mon. Anc.
: sine ulla inscriptione nominis mei
; cf., however, CIL vi. 9404
in schola sub theatro Aug(usto) Pompeian(o)
), and removed the statue
of Pompeius, before which Caesar had been murdered, from the CURIA
(q.v.) to the theatre itself (Suet. Aug. 31: Pompei quoque
statuam contra theatri eius regiam
(the middle door of the scaena, Jord.
FUR p. 23) marmoreo iano superposuit
It was burned in 21 A.D. (Hier.
a. Abr. 2037) and since there was no surviving member of the family
able to restore it, this was undertaken by Tiberius (Tac. Ann. iii. 72
Veil. ii. 130
; Sen. de cons. ad Marc. 22. 4), who set up a bronze statue
of Sejanus within the building (Cass. Dio lvii. 21
. 3). Tiberius did
not complete the work of restoration (Suet. Tib. 47; Cal. 21), or, according
to another statement, did not dedicate it (Tac. Ann. vi. 45
). The completion of the work is ascribed to Caligula (Suet. Cal. 21) or Claudius
(Suet. Claud. 21), and the dedication to the latter (Suet. Claud. 21;
Cass. Dio lx. 6
. 8), who inscribed the name of Tiberius on the scaena and
built a marble arch in his honour (see ARCUS TIBERII
) near the theatre
(Suet. Claud. II).
In 66 A.D. when Tiridates, king of Armenia, visited Rome, Nero is
said to have gilded the scaena and the exterior of the theatre for that
one occasion, and to have stretched purple awnings over the cavea (Plin.
cit. xxxiii. 54; Cass. Dio lxii. 6
. 1-2). In 80 the scaena was burned
(Cass. Dio lxvi. 24
. 2), but must have been repaired very soon. Under
Severus some restoration must have been carried out, for there are
two inscriptions of Q. Acilius Fuscus, who was procurator operis theatri
Pompeiani in 209-211 A.D. (Pros. i. 6
. 47; CIL viii. 1439
; xiv. 154
cf. NS 1880, 471
, and CIL vi. 1031
). In 247 the theatre was burned
again (Hier. a. Abr. 2263), and probably under Carinus (Hist. Aug.
Car. 19), for it was restored by Diocletian and Maximian (Chron. 148).
Other restorations are recorded, by Arcadius and Honorius （CIL vi.
, cf. 1193; Mitt. 1899, 251-259
), and finally by Symmachus at the
command of Theodoric between 507 and 511 (Cassiod. Var. iv. 51
Sym. Rel. 8. 3). Successive restorations probably increased its magnificence, and it is mentioned among the notable monuments of the city
by Cassius Dio (xxxix. 38) and Ammianus Marcellinus (xvi. 10. 14:
inter decora urbis
). Immediately outside the south-east side of the
scaena was the PORTICUS POMPEII
(q.v.) for the use of the spectators
in case of rain. Other references to the theatre in ancient literature
convey no additional information (Tac. Ann. xiii. 54
; Mart. vi. 9
. I; xiv. 29
. 1, 166. ; App. BC ii. 115
; v. 5
; Fest. 178; Plin.
cit. xxxvii. 19).
The theatre was in the campus Martius (Not. Reg. IX), a little north-
east of the circus Flaminius, and is represented on the Marble Plan
(frg. 30; see Jord. FUR 22-23). Its exact site is determined by the
remains in opus reticulatum of the foundations of the cavea (the church
of S. Maria de Crypta pincta (HCh 328) takes its name from one of the
vaults), of the temple of Venus Victrix, discovered under the Palazzo Pio,
and of the scaena in the Piazza dei Satiri (which takes its name, not
from the two satyrs now in the Capitol (Cortile 5, 23), but from a local
name Satro, HCh 204-205) The Piazza di Grottapinta still preserves
the name and the form of part of the theatre. The fagade of the semi-circular cavea consisted of three series of arcades, adorned with columns,
the lowest arcade being of the Doric order, the second Ionic, and the
third Corinthian. Of the lower arcade traces of twenty-four arches of
peperino have been found, in front of which were columns of red granite.
The diameter of the theatre was 150-160 metres (cf. LF 23), and the
length of the scaena about 95 metres. According to Pliny (NH xxxvi.
) the cavea seated 40,000 persons, but this, like other statements of
seating capacity in ancient literature, is open to question, and the most
careful estimate reduces this number to 10,000 (BC 1894, 321
; for the
theatre and its remains, see also HJ 524-530; Gilb. iii. 322-327
, 175, 244; iii. 123
, 124, 234; DS v. 192-194
; DAP 2. xv. 371;
RA 24; Mem. L. 5. xvii. 505; Capitolium ii. 531-544