Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy

By Kathryn Lomas; Tim Cornell | Go to book overview

3

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT VENUES IN ROME AND ITALY

Claire Holleran1


Introduction

Despite political discord, the late Republic was a period of prosperity for many. Town life was obviously thriving in Italy, and the archaeology of a town such as Pompeii displays the increasingly luxurious lifestyle of the wealthy. Private spending on residential opulence was coupled with an increase in public spending, and a number of public structures were erected in the cities of south-central Italy; for example, theatres were erected at Pompeii, Sarno, Teanum and Capua (Dyson 1992:31-2). In Pompeii a large stone theatre was constructed in the second century BC, with tiered seating resting on a natural slope in the Greek style. It seems most likely that donations from wealthy locals financed this construction, by the mechanism known as euergetism. 2 Indeed, when Pompeii became a Roman colony in 80BC, the original theatre was further supplemented by the Odeion, built by two members of the local elite, the duumviri Gaius Quinctius Valgus and Marcus Portius (CIL I2.126).

Capua was another Italian town embellished with a theatre in this period. As the town prospered, the elite of Capua wanted to show their new wealth and raise their status within the town and the local region. As was customary, this was done through the donation of public buildings, and much of this was done at the local shrine. Religious magistrates not only cared for the shrine but also oversaw the construction of related buildings, including a theatre; inscriptions record improvements made to this theatre by the magistrates from 108-94BC (Dyson 1992:32, 46). This pattern of theatres found within religious areas is repeated elsewhere in Italy, for example in Latium. Here the great sanctuary of Fortuna Primigeneia at Praeneste included a theatre as part of the monumental complex constructed in the late second century BC. Also in Latium was the sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, a religious centre for cities of the Latin league. Archaeological evidence shows that the first temple on the site was built in the late fourth century BC, but was rebuilt in the second century with a theatre later added to the complex.

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Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Patron as Banker 12
  • 2 - Public Building, Urban Renewal and Euergetism in Early Imperial Italy 28
  • 3 - The Development of Public Entertainment Venues in Rome and Italy 46
  • 4 - Euergetism in Its Place 61
  • 5 - The Emperor and the Cities of Italy 89
  • 6 - Imperial Building at Rome 105
  • 7 - Favor Populi 125
  • 8 - 'Restored Utility, Eternal City' 142
  • Index 167
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