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THEATRE

antic theatre with seats of honourThe theatre, located on the third terrace, is one of the most imposing buildings in Priene. At the present day the upper section of the cavea is in a very ruined state but the lower tiers are in good condition. The cavea must have consisted of fifty tiers with a total capacity of 5,000 spectators. The existence of a clepsydra or water-clock indicates that the theatre was also used for political meetings. In spite of the damage it has suffered, the building still preserves the general appearance of a Greek theatre with the cavea forming rather more than a semi-circle.

After passing under the wall of the two-storey stage building where the accessories necessary for the actors were stored, one arrives at the orchestra building with paving dating from a later period. It is separated from the auditorium by a comparatively low wall (lice). The Proedrie (2nd century A.D.) consisted of five seats forming a sort of special box containing seats of honour for the most distinguished citizens.

In the centre is an altar of Dionysus and a little higher up another proedrie constructed at a later period. This gives us some idea of the alterations undergone by the stage and the orchestra. The earliest theatre dated back to the 4th century B.C. but modifications continued to be made up to the 2nd century A.D. In Romal times the actors performed on the proscenium but previously the actors had performed on the same level as the orchestra, entering from five doors, two of them at the side and the other three in the facade portico supported by twelve columns arranged along the stage buildihg. These twelve columns were in the foric order with capitals supporting an architrave adorned with metopes and triglyphs. The three entrances along the facade were furnished with doors that opened and closed. Between the columns on the other facade were lively, painted panels that formed the stage decor (2nd century B.c.). The holes in the columns were for securing the planks forming the floor of the stage. Tragedies bV Sophocles and Aeshylus and comedies by Aristophanes were performed under the aegis of Theoria, the goddess of plays, entertainments and festivals.




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