On the Roman street Where We Live: Pompey’s Theater

Pompey’s Theater, 55 BCE

Pompey’s Theater was built nearly 2,100 years ago, and was the first masonry theater in Rome. When it was completed, it could seat about 20,000 (!) by various estimates, and it covered a almost all of our neighborhood. Our apartment was on stage left, very near to the stage’s apron and the beginning of the seating area. I will show you. But first, two other matters of importance.

First, to be quite clear, the Theater was huge. Here is a view of the footprint of the ancient theater, overlaid on the fabric our our Roman neighborhood today.

Pompey’s Theater today

In plan, the Theater bisects what is today Sant’ Andrea dell Valle, just to the north (up).

A plan view

And second, it is important to note that traces of the theater remain completely legible – clearly visible – to this day. One of the joys of Rome is discovering the ancient vestiges of a long ago city still perceptible in the contemporary urban fabric. Gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Built on Pompey’s stage
Down front, over the expensive seats

Now to be really clear, here is our place, circled in red, with the Theater’s plan and outline as a reference.

As we walked in our neighborhood of the theater, we discovered other reminders, other lasting remnants of that ancient place. Soon we must return to uncover more traces.

“How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over,
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!”
Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

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