Theatron - Definition and Examples in Greek Drama

Theatre of Fourvière
Theatre of Fourvière. CC Flickr User bjaglin

Definition

In general, the theatron was where the audience of a Greek tragedy sat to view the performance.

A theatron could refer to the place where spectator looked at sacrifices, dances or theatrical performances. There is debate as to whether early Roman theatres had seats. A theatron came to refer specifically to semi-circular, tiered, stone seats for viewing performances.

Examples

In Cassius Dio's Epitome 68.27.3, theatron is used to refer to a gallery constructed to allow spectators to look down into a pit of vapors.

Source: "The Nature of Hadrian's Theatron at Daphne," Richard H. Chowen. American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 60, No. 3 (Jul., 1956), pp. 275-277.

"Hence creatures that fly high enough above it and those that graze at one side are safe. I saw another opening like it at Hierapolis in Asia, and tested it by means of birds; I also bent over it myself and saw the vapour myself. It is enclosed in a sort of cistern and a theatre had been built over it. It destroys all living things save human beings that have been emasculated. The reason for this I cannot understand; I merely relate what I saw as I saw it and what I heard as I heard it."
Cassius Dio 69.27.3