The Influence Of Greek Culture On Roman Entertainment
The Theatre and Plays
Greek civilisation was the first recorded civilisation to practice drama and plays using the theatre. Originally conceived by a priest of Dionysus called Thespis, who decided to try and act, dance and sing out the myths and legends from Greek mythology. As time progressed, theatre in Ancient Greece advanced, and so a rich and diverse theatrical culture developed within Greek society.
By the time Roman society had begun to develop its cultural arts, Greek society had already impacted on Roman society, but after Rome had begun conquering the Hellenistic states, Hellenistic culture began to affect Roman culture really heavily. In this exchange of cultures, theatre was passed from Greece to the Italian peninsular. During this time two Roman play writes gained notable fame: Terence and Plautus. Neither of the two had an original storyline, both of them borrowing directly from Greek plays. This type of play was known as the Fabula Palliata, whilst some of the plays Plautus took he “Romanised”, meaning he changed some of the names and often turned the tragedies into comedies. These plays were called Fabula Togata.
The theatre had originally a side show to the games, so to try and combat this image real sex and violence was depicted in the plays, which was a stark contrast to the theatre of Hellenistic society.
The physical structures of the theatres varied a little in the placing of the structure; the Greeks built their theatres into the sides of hill so they could have a natural amphitheatre, whereas the Romans built their theatres from scratch.
Because of the Roman preference for comedy over tragedy, the Romans developed “quicker” versions of plays called mimes. These were different from the mainstream plays, as women were allowed to act and there was no music and no masks worn by the actors and actresses.
Theatre in Greece was generally a religious affair, and the early Roman...