Roman Drama

The theatre of ancient Rome was a diverse and interesting art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatre and acrobatics, to the staging of Plautus’s broadly appealing situation comedies, to the high-style, verbally elaborate tragedies of Seneca. Although Rome had a native tradition of performance, the Hellenization of Roman culture in the 3rd century BC had a profound and energizing effect on Roman theatre and encouraged the development of Latin literature of the highest quality for the stage.

The Roman historian Livy wrote that the Romans first experienced theatre in the 4th century BC, with a performance by Etruscan actors. Beacham argues that they had been familiar with “pre-theatrical practices” for some time before that recorded contact. Roman drama began in 240 BC with the plays of Livius Andronicus. It remained popular throughout Late Antiquity, by the mid 4th century AD, 102 out of 176 ludi publici being dedicated to theatre, besides a considerably lower number of gladiator and chariot racing events.

American Community School Picture of a Roman theatre in Amman, Jordan.

Coolmine Community School Brief discussion about Roman theatre.

Coolmine Community School Picture of a Roman theatre.

David Neelin Comprehensive timeline of ancient Rome.

Emory University Roman theatre timeline.

Illustrated History of The Roman Empire Excellent website covering all aspects of the Roman Empire, including maps, religion, society, armies and more.

Northern State University Excellent Roman (and Greek) theatre FAQ.

Scott Susong A couple of useful images of ancient Roman theatres, as they stand today.

Theatre Comprehensive article discussing various aspects of Greek and Roman comedy.

Trinity University Timeline of the Roman world.

Theatron Excellent images of 3D computer reconstructions of the Roman Theatre of Pompey.

UNESCO Picture of a Roman theatre in France.

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