Theatre of Marcellus
On October 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Theater of Marcellus, which occupies a site between the Capitol and the Tiber, is the only one that can still be seen today. It was begun by Caesar and completed by Augustus in 11 BC, when he dedicated it to the memory of his nephew and heir Marcellus.

The theater had a diameter of 130 meters, rose to a height of 30m, and could seat about 15,000 spectators.

In the Middle Ages it was used as a fortress by the noble Roman families, and in the 16th Century it was transformed into a palace for the Caetani by the architect Baldassare Peruzzi.

The choice of this site for the theater had been determined by that of the adjoining Temple of Apollo, where, already in Republican times, the special games celebrated in honour of the god included theatrical spectacles.

The original temple was founded in 431 BC, when the cult of Apollo Medicus (Apollo the healer) was introduced to Rome for the first time as the result of a vow made during a grave outbreak of pestilence.

Photo credits by Fabio under CC-BY-SA license.

What can be seen today, however, goes back to a radical reconstruction undertaken by the Consul Gaius Sosius in 36 BC. Finely decorated with reliefs and sculptures, the Sosian Temple, as Romans dubbed it, incorporated in the triangular space of its pediment an original Greek sculpture that went back to the 5th Century BC and depicted a battle between Amazons.

The slightly smaller temple by the side of the Temple of Apollo cannot be attributed with certainty, though there are reasons for thinking that it might be the one that Appius Claudius Caecus, builder of the Via Appia, dedicated to Bellona in 296 BC.

Do you want to know more about the history of the Roman Forum and see how it was originally during the roman empire?

Check out our guidebook to Rome, with detailed history and Past & Present images of the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Trajan’s Market and all the greatest historical and archaeological sites of the eternal city.

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