Theater of Pompey

3d model and reconstruction

Theater of Pompey

As for the reconstruction of the Theatre of Pompey, we have an exceptional document. Fragments of the floor plan of the Theater can be seen on the remains of the Forma Urbis, a large map composed of many marble slabs that was housed in the Temple of Peace.

Every ancient ruin we see in Rome is, in reality, a mix of different architectural structures which are superimposed on the same site at different times. This make difficult to interpret the reading and the identification of a particular phase that allows the reconstruction of a building. Emblematic in this case is the Theater of Pompey. Today the theater is not visible in its original structure but its trace in the urban fabric of the city is very strong. Buildings that were built on its foundation reproduce the shape and the curve of the theater itself. The theater is part of a much larger urban complex that included an enormous portico that stretched from the backside of the stage. At the opposite end, there was a building that housed meetings of the Senate, a curia. This curia is famous because Julius Caesar was killed here.

Today, parts of this curia are visible in the excavations of Largo Argentina

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Short history of

Theater of Pompey

In 61 BC Pompey was at the apex of his success and it was probably in that same year that he began work on the construction of the first masonry theater in Rome, in an area of the Campo Marzio near the sacred area of Largo Argentina perhaps already owned by him.

There was an explicit prohibition by the Senate against the building of theaters, because they were considered dangerous places and harmful to the young people of Rome. Pompey managed to get around the will of the Senate by building, inside the theater, a temple dedicated to Venus and declaring that the seating area for the spectators (the cavea) was only a stairway for the sanctuary. The structure, which had a diameter of 150 meters, could hold as many as 17,580 spectators, and was inaugurated in 55 BC, while the temple was not completed until three years later.

The space between the theater and the temples of Largo Argentina was entirely occupied by a gigantic portico, 180 meters long and 135 meters wide. On the inside of the arcade was a collection of Greek sculpture.

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