Originally, the Theatre in Rome is only a simple wooden platform, put down after each play, which the audience attends standing. This global view allows to see, in the Campus Martius, the four great active theatres of Rome. On the left side of the picture, the Odeon, in the centre, the great Theatre of Pompey, and in the background on the right, the Theatre of Balbus and the Theatre of Marcellus.

The Theatre of Pompey is the first permanent theatre to be built in Rome by the Great Pompey. In order to evade the law that prohibited the construction of theatres, Pompey let build a temple on the cavea of the theatre. This building could house 28000 seats..

The Odéon was built under the Emperor Domitian to house the concerts. It could contain 7000 seats. Next to the Odeon stood the great arcades of the stadium of Domitian.

The Theatre of Balbus had a capacity for an audience of 12000 people of which 8000 were seated. It was built in 13 BC by Cornelius Balbus. Behind the theatre was a huge garden, the Crypt of Balbus. In front of the theatre stood the Temple of Vulcain.

The theatre of Marcellus began to be built under Cæsar and was terminated by Augustus. The latter gave the name of Marcellus to the theatre, following the death of Marcellus, the son of his sister Octavia. The capacity of the theatre was for 20000 people of which 15000 were seated. This bird’s eye view lets us discover the site of the theatre. The choice of this site was determined by the presence of the temple of Apollo just opposite the theatre. Apollo was the god of music and poetry.

A closer view of the Theatre of Marcellus. It was composed of three levels of doric, ionic and corinthian orders. The temple of Apollo (T. Apollinis Sosiani)is the one on the right. The temple of Bellona (T. Bellonæ) is on the left. Under the Republic, the senators met in these temples to decide about the triumphs for the victors.

This angle lets us see the backside of the theatre, on the side of the stage. Notice in the curved enclosure two small temples, the sanctuaries of Diana and of the Piety. The Fabricius bridge links the bank of the theatre to the Tiber Island.
Far sight of the Theatre seen from the Tiber Island.