Theatre of Marcellus

Ancient monuments in Rome
name=Theatre of Marcellus
label_name=Theatre of Marcellus

tekst1=Theatre of Marcellus
location= Regione IX "Circus Flaminius"
date=13 BC
builder=Julius Caesar Augustus Caesar
type=Roman theatre (structure)|

The Theatre of Marcellus (Latin: "Theatrum Marcelli"; Italian: "Teatro di Marcello") is an ancient theatre built at the beginning of the Roman Empire. Its ancient edifice in the rione of Sant'Angelo, Rome, provides one of the city's many popular spectacles or tourist sites. It was named after Marcus Marcellus, Emperor Augustus's nephew and who died five years before its completion. Space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before it could be begun; the theatre was so far advanced by 17 BC that part of the celebration of the "ludi saeculares" took place within the theatre; it was completed in 13 BC and formally inaugurated in 12 BC by Augustus. [Leland M. Roth 1993 "Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning" (Westview Press: Boulder, CO, pp 230-31 ISBN 0-06-430158-3 and Cassius Dio 53.30.5.]

The theatre was 111 m in diameter; it could originally hold 11,000 spectators. [Roth 1993:230-31] It was an impressive example of what was to become one of the most pervasive urban architectural forms of the Roman world. The theatre was built mainly of tuff , cement and opus reticulatum brickwork, completely sheathed in white travertine. The network of arches, corridors, tunnels and ramps that gave access to the interiors of such Roman theaters were normally ornamented with a screen of engaged columns in Greek orders: Doric at the base, Ionic in the middle. It is believed that Corinthian columns were used for the upper level but this is uncertain as the theater was reconstructed in the Middle Ages, removing the top tier of seating and the columns. [Roth 1993:230-31]

Like other Roman theaters in suitable locations, it had openings through which the natural setting could be seen, in this case the Tiber Island to the southwest. The permanent setting, the "scaena", also rose to the top of the "cavea" as in other Roman theaters. The name "templum Marcelli" still clung to the ruins in 998. In the Early Middle Ages the Teatro di Marcello was used as a fortress of the Fabii and then at the end of the 11th century, by Pier Leoni and later his heirs (the Pierleoni). The Savelli held it in the 13th century. Later, in the 16th century, the residence of the Orsini, designed by Baldassare Peruzzi, was built atop the ruins of the ancient theatre.

Now the upper portion is divided into multiple apartments, and its surroundings are used as a venue for small summer concerts; the Portico d'Ottavia lies to the north west leading to the Roman Ghetto and the Tiber to the south west.

In the 17th century, the renowned English architect Sir Christopher Wren explicitly acknowledged that his design for the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford was influenced by
Serlio's engraving of the Theatre of Marcellus.


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