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Italian Theatres


By Hugh Denard



Sepino (Saepinum)
Date visited: 9 Nov 1999

Karina's Documentation

Post-dates TP.  (date = Augustan, c.1 B.C./A.D.- Saepinum is a Vitruvian model town.)

Plan of theatre from local guidebook.

Click here for further plans and drawings.

At rear of theatre, the exterior cavea wall intersects with city wall.  At ground level at the 'apex' of the cavea, a gateway opens through the city/cavea wall giving access from outside the city into the radial ambularium which passes beneath the upper seats of the cavea.
At upper level of this gateway may have been a circular sacellum summa cavea.  Certain fragments are on site.  Others may have been incorporated into the 18th-century buildings now situated upon the media cavea.

Gateway through city walls at rear of cavea (site of possible sacellum).

View from top of gateway showing intersection of exterior of theatre and city walls.

Tower in city walls in opus reticolatum.

Fragments of possible sacellum at foot of gateway at rear of cavea.

View towards scaenae frons, with 18th-century buildings on remains of theatre structure.

View of cavea from parodos.

Notes from Teatri Greci e Romani

Regio IV, Samnium et Sabina

V. Ceglia

Roman theatre.  Urban.  There may have been a sacellum in summa cavea.  Situated near the walls, it obstructed one of the doors.  Facing south-east.

It was built during the Julio-Claudian period.  The restructuring of the scaena and the porticus date to around the mid-4th century A.D.

The construction is in local limestone.  The supporting walls are built in opus vittatum and solid stone cut into large blocks.  The ima cavea rests on the ground. The other parts of the cavea rest on substructures consisting of wedge-shaped vaulted corridors and three concentric corridors.  The proedria with three steps ends up in a parapet, which is followed by the cavea with several semicircular maeniana.

The orchestra still has its original floor with well preserved rectangular slabs.  Even though it is encompassed by the present-day museum, the rectilinear scaena can be interpreted.  The regia and right hospitalis door can be seen, but the left hospitalis has not yet been exposed.  Access to the orchestra and the ima cavea was through two tetrapylons at the extremities of the hemicycle.  Behind the scaena there must have been a campus-piscina-porticus complex, as confirmed by an inscription (CIL IX, 3857, which also includes a reference to ludi scaenici).  Of this complex, only the stone base of the porticus has been partially identified.

State of preservation:
the orchestra, ima cavea and three tiers of steps of the media cavea are well preserved.  From the eighteenth century until a few years ago, rural buildings stood over the scaena and the summa cavea.  The houses built over the scaena and hemicycle are now used as museums and offices.

diameter of the cavea: 61.50 m.
diameter of the orchestra: 12.88 m.
width of the scaena: 61.50 m.
depth of the scaena: 14 m.

Original capacity:
3,000 seats.

Current utilisation of the theatre:
it is occasionally used for theatrical performances and concerts.

Bibliography from Teatri greci e romani
V. Cianfarani, Guida alle Antichita di Sepino Milano 1958
G. Forni 1970, s.v. Teatro
AA. VV., Sepino: archeologia e continuitsa Matrice 1979
A. VV., Saepinum Campobasso 1982
C. Courtois 1989, pp.142-144.


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