could hold 5,000 spectators.
Built in the Samnite period during the second century B.C., it
underwent several reconstructions.
Its current shape essentially dates back to the
restoration carried out in the Augustan period by the architect Marcus
Artorius Primus thanks to the munificence of Marcus
Holconius Rufus and Marcus
Holconius Celer, according to the inscriptions. The
construction on a hill-slope is typical of Greek architecture. The
seats of the ordinary spectators were located inside the cįvea,
the wider seats at the bottom had comfortable chairs (bisellia)
were for important people, while the two lateral boxes (tribunalia)
over the entrances of the orchestra (vomitoria)
were reserved for very important people.
The background of the stage consisted of an
architectonic faēade with three doors imitating a building. Originally
the chorus danced and sang in the orchestra. Inside, under the curved
frame of the building there are blocks with holes; here is where the
poles holding the curtain (velįrium)
used to be inserted. The curtain was operated with ropes and pulleys.
Tragedies (Euripides, Seneca, Livy Andronicus,
etc.), comedies (Menander, Plautus,
etc.), farces (atellane) and
pantomimes were performed at the theater. During the break the public
used to meet inside the broad square portico behind the stage, which
was called the Gladiators'
Barracks, because it was used as such during the last
years of the city.