Saturday, May 28, 2022

Roman Theatre

If you've ever wanted to see a theatre where the ancient Romans put on plays, Spain is actually a pretty good place to go.

I've been in Cáceres‎ for the Shaw Conference, and today a few of us took a brief trip to Mérida, which has some very well preserved Roman ruins.

Mérida was founded by the Romans as Emérita Augusta, since it was meant to be a home for some of the greatest veteran soldiers of the Roman army.

In order to keep the veterans entertained, in 15 B.C.E. a son-in-law of the Emperor Augustus built a theatre there. It held about 5,000 spectators, and was decorated with an elaborate scenae frons, filled with statues.

The original statues are now housed in a nearby museum, but you can see copies of the statues in their original locations. Right in the center is a statue of the Empress Livia in the guise of the goddess Ceres. To the side is a Muse, though some people think she might represent another goddess, Proserpina.

And the stage still gets used today! The annual Festival of Classical Theatre is held there in June and July, presenting works in that amazing venue. This year, they will be presenting William Shakespeare's Julio César, Menander's El misántropo, and Miles Gloriosus by Plautus, among other plays. The festival will also be presenting dramas at an indoor venue, including work by Miguel de Cervantes.

I wish I could see some of the plays there this summer. Perhaps I'll be able to return sometime in the future. I sure would like to see the theatre being used the way it was meant to be!