The first theatrical manifestations were religious. Praising the gods and revealing them to the population. The word theatre derives from the Ancient Greek word théatron meaning a place for viewing. Theatron derived from theáomai meaning to see.
An important piece of cultural inheritance that was left for us by ancient civilization is the Greek theatre at Syracuse founded in the 5th century BC. It was built by the Greeks on Italian soil, back when Sicily was a part of the Greek Empire. Some of the best-known Greek plays were performed there. Aeschylus’ plays included.
Aeschylus is considered to be the father of tragedy and the first author of a trilogy. Oresteia is the name of the famous first trilogy, and it tells the famous story of Orestes revenging his father’s murder by killing his mother, Clytemnestra. The story is where Shakespeare took his inspiration for Hamlet.
The Greek Theatre in Sicily That Was Abolished by Christians
3000 years later, the Greek arena is still functional. Every year, a festival dedicated to Classic Greek theatre is being held there. It has the protection of UNESCO and it is considered to be a World Heritage Site. The site can be visited.
After the Dorian Greeks built it, during the First Punic War Romans conquered Syracuse in the 3rd century BC, and rebuild the place adding and changing elements. Romans’ needed a place suitable for gladiatorial games and mock-naval battles, so the Greek theatre had to be adjusted.
In the 4th century AD, the theatre became a place of sin, when the Christians’ monotheism defeated the Roman polytheism. This is when the theatre started to decline. And it continued to do so for a millennium. This is how long the place was left out of use.
Since all the ancient plays made references to former gods, Christians considered theatre to be immoral and they called for the abolition of the theatre after the Roman Empire collapsed.