This theatre was built in the second century BC and is the largest building in the theatre area of Pompeii.
This theatre could seat up to 5000 people and is know as the ‘large’ theatre of Pompeii. The seating area, called the cavea, is divided into different sections. The lower most seating of about four rows, called the ima, were reserved for important people such as politicians. These seats were more spacious and separated from the other rows by means of a small wall. The following twenty rows of seats, called the media, were reserved for the middle class. Approximately 40 cm were allotted to each sitter. The upper most section of about four rows, called the summa, were left for the plebs. Back on ground level, between the seats and the stage, stood the orchestra.
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This theatre had a uniquely built stage. Due to the proximity of the ima seating to the orchestra, the stage only rose to the height of about one meter. This is lower than the Roman theatre stages outlined by Vitruvius in his Ten Books on Architecture and is significantly lower than the 3.2 meter stages of Greek theatres. This height of one meter was to give the spectators in the front rows the prime vantage point.