Feb. 26 - Gladiators and Caesars 5.docx

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
David Lamari

Feb. 26, 2013 ‘Give us your applause’ The World of Theatre – Gladiators and Caesars Chapter 5  Romans – stage plays – tragedy and comedy  The Romans were in fact the only people of classical antiquity in a position to adapt Greek literature into their own language  Greek – as the international cultural language of the time  Roman theatre was not predominantly for a certain class of society as it is today o Everyone went to theatre The birth of Roman drama  A Roman did not have to travel far to see a Greek play. Greece was only next door, for until the third century BC Sicily and most of southern Italy had been Greek.  A good deal of Etruscan influence can be traced in the language of the Roman theatre  Livius Andronicus was the first to write a genuine play with a plot on the Greek pattern  Plays were not only to be set in Greece but must sound like authentic Greek drama, echoing the sound to which audiences in Greek theatres were accustomed The further history of Roman drama  Andronicus, Naevius wrote both tragedies and comedies, whereas all the dramatists of Greece had specialized in only one of those genres  Quintus Ennius of Calabria, speaking three languages, he said he had ‘three hearts’, tria corda: one Oscan, one Greek and one Latin  The drama genre died after the death of Accius The holding of performances  In a modern European city you would find either a subsidized national theatre or a commercial theatre open  It was very different in ancient Rome, where plays were performed only on the occasion of public state games [ludi] or festivals, and were part of a religious context  There were special festivals such as the ludi votive (games held in fulfillment of a vow), for example triumphs, and ludi funebres, funeral games for famous people  The expenses of these funeral games A/ere met by the dead person’s relations  Regular state games were organized and financed by the aediles  In a performance of the fine comedy The Mother-in-Law (Hecyra) by Terence, which had to be broken off not, as is sometimes claimed today, because the public felt bored and walked out: what really happened was that hordes of fans stormed the theatre on hearing that tightrope-walkers and boxers were to appear there later, and fought so ruthlessly for seats that no one could pay attention to the play. Dramatists, directors, actors  A dramatist was the only kind of Roman writer who could make any money out of his work on the open market o He sold his drama to a company of actors or rather to the head of the company who was both manager and director  An author’s popularity was thus reflected in his income  Naevius was sent to prison for offending the noble family of the Metelli by making suggestive remarks about them in a comedy o He died in exile in Africa  The lowest reputation of all was that of ne actor because he had to earn money with his body which the Romans regarded as a disgrace  Singing and dancing in general were considered rather unrefined activities  It is not true that when a free man became an actor he lost his Roman citizenship, but he did become infamis (meaning ‘without honour’) and incurred various legal disadvantages  Only one actor of the republican period succeeded in rising above this lowly status and acquiring a great reputation: Roscius, Cicero’s friend, whom the dictator Sulla even made a knight The theatre and the stage  Despite Roman enthusiasm for the theatre, for almost two hundred years the authorities, would not allow any permanent theatre to built  Perhaps this was partly a matter of national pride, for the theatre was still regarded as very Greek, and Rome did not want to give any impression of being a Greek city  In the earlier republican period plays were performed on makeshift stages erected either in the circus, which already had seats available, or very often outside a temple, where there were flights of steps that could be used like tiers of seats  The later stone-built theatres had a proper auditorium divided into rising wedge-shaped sections o The stage itself was very broad but quite shallow, so that the action seemed almost two-dimensional  The most important theatrical inno
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