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Ancient Roman Entertainment

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Date added: 17-09-21


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Theatre The theatre is one of Ancient Rome form of entertainment. The characters in Roman plays were all played by male slaves. Men played the parts of the women. The typical characters that were played in Ancient Rome theatres included the rich man, the king, the soldier, the slave, the young man and the young woman. If necessary, an actor would play two or more roles in a single performance. The mask was the most notable part of an actor’s performance. More masks and wigs were used for comedies that tragedies. Gray wigs represented old men, black for young men and red for slaves. Young men wore brightly colored clothing, while old men wore white so that the audience can easily identify the characters. Pantomimes were popular during the first century BC. Pantomimes involved miming roles to accompaniments of singers, dancers and musicians. Women wore allowed in mimes and pantomimes, but eventually degenerated into vulgar and disgusting tastelessness. In Ancient Rome, plays were usually presented on contemporary wooden stages at the time of the games. In 55 BC, the first permanent Roman theatre was built. It had a seating capacity of twenty seven thousand. In Greek theatres there was a circular space located in front of the stage called the orchestra, since Roman plays usually lacked a true chorus, the area in front of the stage simply became a semicircular area. Admission to the Roman plays were free for citizens. Originally, women were only admitted to view tragedies, but, later, no such restrictions were imposed. Public Baths The baths were a place of leisure in the time of the Roman Empire. People from nearly every class could attend the public baths. Diocletian and Caracalla were the two most well preserved baths of Ancient Rome. Diocletian’s baths cover thirty acres and the Caracalla baths cover twenty seven acres. Now, the ruins of the Diocletian’s baths include two Roman churches, St. Mary of the Angels and the oratory of St. Bernard. Towards the center of the Roman baths could be found the tapidarium a warm bathroom. The tapidarium was surrounded on one side by the frigidarium, a large cold pool about two hundred feet by one hundred feet, and on the other side could be ound the calidarium, a very hot steamy room heated by subterranean steam. Hot air and steam baths had been known to the Greeks as early as the fifth century BC. The original thermae was small. By the first century BC, hypocaust heating allowed for the creation of hot/cold rooms and plunge baths. The baths were not only for leisure, but also, for social gathering. Portico shops sheltered gardens and promenades, gymnasium, rooms for massage, libraries and museums could also be found in the public baths. To compliment these scholarly havens were marble sculptures and other artistic masterpieces. Amphitheater The Roman amphitheater was the center of entertainment in Ancient Rome. Amphitheatres were most commonly used for gladiatorial matches. However, by the last first century BC, the games had lost their ritualistic significance. The amphitheatre was the place where people went to see fights. These fights were between slaves, prisoners of war or criminals, and sometimes wild animals. Originally, there were gladiatorial schools, but the state took control of them to avoid the men becoming private armies. There were four main types of gladiators, the Murmillo, the Retiaritus, the Samnite and the Thracian. Other fights which happened were between men and animals. Special types of “wild animal matches” were introduced in the second century BC and became very popular. Criminals, prisoners of war, or trained and paid fighters were the ones who participated in these wild anime matches. The more exotic the animal the more exciting the fight. Giraffe, elephants, panthers, lions, tigers and any other animals that could be found were slaughtered in the arena. The amphitheater itself was Roman, not Greek, and is particularly common in the west. The first known amphitheater dates to 80 BC at Pompeii and the first permanent one in Rome goes back to 29 BC. The largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire was the Colosseum. It could seat up to fifty thousand people at once. In small towns, the local amphitheaters were the only entertainment. Since amphitheaters were so huge, they were constructed on the edge of a city or directly outside its walls.
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