The Ancient Theatre Archive

The Theatre Architecture of Greece and Rome

Pietrabbondante (Region IV, Italy)


Modern Near Isernia, Mainland Italy

Theatre Type

Roman Theatre

Earliest Date

150 BCE

Renovations / Excavations

GPS Coordinates

Seating Capacity



Cavea Width: 54 meters
Orchestra Width: 11 meters


Notes from Teatri Greci e Romani

Regio IV, Samnium at Sabina
S. Capini

Graeco-Roman theatre.  It belongs to a theatre-temple complex built in successive stages on the basis of a single project.  Facing south-east.

Built in the 2nd century B.C., it was no longer used after the sanctuary was abandoned following the social war.

The semicircular cavea rests partly on natural land and partly on backfill.  The lower part rests on the slope, but the upper part is completed by an embankment supported by a wall built in opus polygonalis.  The proedria consists of three rows of stone seats with backrests.  The seats end at the two extremities closest to the scaena with two armrests decorated with the paws of winged griffens.  Two short semicircular flights of steps rise up to the parodoi and to a passageway.  Seven small flights lead from the passageway to the upper part of the cavea.

It would appear that the cavea’s steps were not stone but wooden, and that the only structures consist of small walls containing the embankment.  There is a small entrance in the wall terracing the cavea, on the same axis as the theatre (like the temple built at the rear).  The analemmata, built in opus polygonalis (Polygonal masonry), are formed higher up by a cornice, which is oblique to the orchestra and teminates lower down with two Telamons.  There are two arches linking the analemmata to the extremities of the scaena.  They culminate in two broad [capital gamma]-shaped parodoi providing access to the public.

For historical reasons, the scaena was not modified during the Roman era.  It was built in brickwork.  The corners and ends, built in opus quadratum (square-cut stone blocks laid in regular courses, often without mortar), can be clearly seen.  The proscaenium is thought to have had an architectural decoration with five doors between small fluted semicolumns and a cornice featuring ovolos and dentels.  The scaenae frons is thought to have been a bare wall bereft of decoration (there are still blocks on which mobile sets were put in place) onto which the three doors opened.  The stage building is divided into six rooms separated by a corridor for each door of the scaenae frons.  Behind it, there are the remains of a portico.

State of preservation:
almost the entire top of the wall containing the embankment of the cavea and the analemmata is missing.  Only a very small part of the elevation is preserved.  The parts built in opus polygonalis are generally in poor, and sometimes very bad static condition.

diameter of the cavea: 54 m.
diameter of the orchestra: 11 m.
height of the cavea: 7.15 m.
width of the scaena: 37.30 m.
depth of the scaena: 10.10 m.

Original capacity:
1,000 seats.

Current utilisation of the theatre;
it is used for theatrical performances.

M.J. STRAZZULLA, Un santuario sannitico di Pietrabbondante, Roma 1972.
A. LA REGINA, Il Sannio, in Hellenismus in Mittelitalien, I. Gottingen 1976, p.219 ss.
H. LAUTER, Die Hellenistischen Theater der Samniten und Latiner in ihrer Beziehung zur Theaterarchitektur der Griechen, in Hellenismus in Mittelitalien, II, Gottingen 1976, p.413 ss.
A. LA REGINA, F. COARELLI, Abruzzo, Molise, Bari 1984, pp.243-247.
M.FUCHS 1987, pp.129-145.
K.MITENS 1988, pp.162-165.
C.COURTOIS 1989, pp.55-60.

Last Update: 05-02-2023