Theaters in the Roman Empire
Theaters in the Roman Empire Critical Review
The article, authored by Mary T. Boatwright discusses how important theaters were to the Romans. Theatres served as both religious and secular structures and “were an important means of disseminating Roman culture and ideas” (Pg.185).They were viewed as important to any self-respecting city. The theaters were used for both political and social reasons. Boatwright in her article states that most of the events held in the theaters were sponsored by the Roman emperor, province governor, or other imperial dignitaries. More importantly the events were sponsored by local notables, civic organizations and private groups (Pg.185).She does not, however, give supporting evidence to verify this and hence this might seem incredible to some.
The theater was open to members of the public free of charge but even though all were allowed to sit and watch “there were legal regulations and inscriptions” (pg.185) according to these there was a clear seating system that marginalized the poor and disadvantaged in the community. The most privileged in the society were the only ones allowed to sit up front. These were followed by equestrians up to the top rows where the lowliest in the society could stand. Boatwright does not cite her evidence to support this; hence it is hard to determine whether it is correct information or not.
Boatwright goes ahead to compare the designs of the Roman theaters to those of the Greek. The Greek theaters were mostly built on a hillside to enable the cutting of seats’ sloping bank from the rock. The Roman theaters in contrast were built on level ground through constructing massive sub-structures. Corridors were also available which facilitated ‘faster and more organized access to seats.”(pg.185)
The close relationship between theaters and religion alienated some spectators mostly Jews who viewed the theatrical shows as a “source of religious pollution and a frivolous waste of time.”(pg.191)
The journal is easy for one to understand. Most of the information is supported by evidence from further citations in the form of picture or writings, and although some information is not cited, the article provides conclusive information.
Boatwright, Mary T. ‘Theaters In The Roman Empire’. The Biblical Archaeologist 53.4 (1990): 184. Web.