Ancient Greek Theater Architecture Essay

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Ancient Greek Theater Architecture

Many aspects of ancient Greek theaters have long been studied and debated. Much of the information about these theaters is based on speculation due to the fact that so little of them still exist today. This lack of remnants especially applies to the architecture of the early Greek Theaters. However, through archeological finds and years of studying the people, the plays, and the architecture of the time, we are able to make many conclusions about these early structures.

Greek Theaters are classified into three categories: The early Athenian Theaters, Hellenistic Theaters, and Graeco-Roman Theaters. Like most new inventions or creations, the initial theaters built by the Athenians were very simple. In the fifth century B.C., it became popular to build theaters on the slope of a large hill, or an acropolis, the most famous, being in Athens. These early theaters could be divided into three parts. The theater consisted of the theatron (or auditorium), the orchestra, and the skene (or scene building) (Betancourt).

The Greeks would eventually perfect a technique that would fit as many spectators into the theatron as possible. At first the spectators sat on the ground until wooden bleachers were installed. After it was discovered that the wooden bleachers were prone to collapsing, permanent stone seating was built. The architects created concentric tiers of seats that followed the circular shape of the orchestra and hugged the rising ground of a hillside, following the natural contours of the land.

Usually, theatrons were symmetrical; however, there do remain examples of irregularly shaped theatrons. A horizontal passage called the diazoma separated the theatron into halves, thu...

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...heater of the fifth century B.C. has been lost forever due to changes made by the Romans. This leaves scholars of today with scant evidence of ancient Greek Theater architecture.

Works Cited

Allen, James T. The Greek Theater of the Fifth Century Before Christ. Berkeley, California: University of Californioa Press, 1924.

Betancourt, Philip P. The Ancient Greek Theater. CD-ROM. New York: Pseudo News
Films & CD-ROMS, 1996.

Brockett, Oscar G. History of the Theatre. 8th ed. London: Secker & Warburg British Broadcasting Corporation, 1984.

Harwood, Ronald. All the World’s A Stage. London: Secker & Warburg British Broadcasting Corporation, 1984.

Nicoll, Allardyce. The Development of the Theater. 6th ed. London: George G. Harrap & Company Ltd, 1966

Corrigan, Robert W. Classical Tragedy Greek and Roman. New York: Applause, 1990.

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