Theater

History of Construction and Use

Restored plan of the theater in Corinth, A.D. 150. Figure 1. Restored plan of the theater in Corinth, A.D. 150.

Archaeological evidence for the Greek theater dates originally to the late fifth century B.C., at which time there existed an orchestra and a seating area, or cavea, which was built into the side of a hill (Figure 1). There also existed stone seats built into the cavea and a wooden scene building to the north of the orchestra. In the Hellenistic period, in the third century B.C., a new orchestra was built and a new and expanded scene building was constructed. In the Roman period, likely in the time of the emperor Augustus, the cavea was extended in size to the north on both the east and west sides. A new orchestra was constructed as well as a new stage building.

Actual state of the theater. Figure 2. Actual state of the theater.

Restoration work was done to the theater at the end of the first century A.D. or at the beginning of the second century. An elaborate three-story scaenae frons, decorated with sculpture, was added in the second century A.D.

Actual state, detail of the orchestra. Figure 3. Actual state, detail of the orchestra.

During the reign of the emperor Caracalla (211-217 A.D.), the orchestra was converted into an arena and the lowest 10 rows of seats, original to the Roman cavea, were eliminated. A wall 3.50 m high was constructed around the arena at the time of conversion. It is possible that the cavea was rebuilt at the same time to increase the slope of the spectator area.

Pictures from the Theater

Theater after excavation. Theater after excavation.

Dedication inscription of Erastus. Dedication inscription of Erastus.

Foundation of monumental gateway of Decumanus II and theater, looking southwest. Foundation of monumental gateway of Decumanus II and theater, looking southwest.

Scaenae frons foundation and theater looking southwest. Scaenae frons foundation and theater looking southwest.

Theater cavea and orchestra looking south. Theater cavea and orchestra looking south.

Theater looking southeast. Theater looking southeast.

Bibliography

Stillwell, R.L. Corinth, II; The Theater. Princeton, 1965.
Sturgeon, M. Corinth IX, ii; Sculpture: The Reliefs from the Theater. Princeton, 1977.
Williams, C.K. II, and Orestes H. Zervos, “Corinth, 1988: East of the Theater,” Hesperia 58 (1989) 1-50.