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Italian Theatres


By Hugh Denard



Sessa Arunca

Date of visit: 8 Nov 1999

Archaeologist: Sergio Cascella

According to SC, there are no textual references to the theatre / the construction of the theatre from antiquity.
Basilica built around south of post-scaenam, blocking route from city to south parodos.  Older, Sullan, route re-opened.
Trajanic earthquake.  Trajan's sister, Marciana, repaired scaenae frons (clamped columns back together etc.) and created an imperial cult at city end of S. parodos.
Also repaired by Antoninus Pius, who refers to earlier restoration by Marciana.

i. View from above post-scaenam, showing part of scaenae frons, orchestra, cavea, ambularium.
ii. View from ambularium area towards scaenae frons.
i. Section of ambularium and upper cavea, with retaining wall in background.
ii. View from upper cavea towards unexcavated part of theatre.

[Not to scale, nor do the terms 'North' 'South' 'East' 'West' as used here have any connection with actual compass orientation of theatre.]

Cavea is incompletely excavated.  Original seats remain in parts of cavea nearest orchestra; upper seating has been re-used in later buildings.
Probably 6 kerkides.
Steps are 17-19 inches high; 36-37 inches deep (irregular).
Seats (white limestone) are . 74 inches deed, and 37-38 inches high (irregular)

Steps and seats in lower cavea.

Double ambularium half way up cavea.  First ambularium collapsed and is filled in, probably during the building of the theatre as second ambularium is directly beside the first - on same level etc..  Second ambularium has open arches facing down towards the orchestra and is main access route.

From ambularium to lower and upper levels.
Two access points from above theatre.
From south parodos to orchestra level

View along 'south' parodos towards basilica, showing pulpitum facade et al.

Post-Augustan (2nd century), in forward ambularium.

Scaenae frons
Earthquake in 4th century; scaenae fell outwards.
Massive statue in niche of scaenae frons.
Total height: 27 m.

1st order
Composite: Gello Antico: 8 m
Includes 3-level architrave, as photographed in Teano: tongue and dart, dentyls, beading.  Very similar to Forum of Trajan.


2nd order
Corinthian: Green, yellow, Africano: 6 m


3rd order
Ionic: Granite

Niches and steps (2/3?) in pulpitum fašade.

Curtain gulley
fossa scenico covered by tiles.
Passageway under stage and apertures to stage as under floor of amphitheatre: stage machinery?
Karina comments: Stage building, the left of stage building, when facing it, remains of so-called 'railway tracks' compare Sparta and, I think, Syracuse.
Cuts for placing of stage planks visible.


Temple above auditorium, cryptoporticus, not yet excavated.
Minverva's head is large enough to be cult statue - found in kryptoporticus.  Some foundations (Sullan period) found, for something, possibly a pulpitum.  It would have risen above top level of seating, and would be on direct axis with the theatre, but pre-dates Augustan Theatre.  But older access route beside parados (south) suggests possible earlier (Hellenistic) theatre / building.

Coloured marbles, opus sectile (as in Pompeii small theatre).
Cascella (Archaeologist) refers to Pergamum as possible model (also has temple) cf. Corelli and Giros.


Augustan theatre (post-Pompey), but possible earlier theatre.
Includes saecellum and overlooked, possibly, by temple of Minerva on theatre's axis (earlier than theatre?)
Dimensions: largest Campanian theatre (85 m in diameter). Teano is also 85 m.
Rich scaenae frons.

Karina: This theatre to be investigated further for new results, since we visited.


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