Late Republican Theatre Construction in the Cultural Milieu of the Iberian Peninsula – Zeynep Aktüre (Izmir, Turkey)

Gosden[1] outlines a triple typology of colonialism according to which Roman Britain exemplifies the “middle ground” that creates new modes of difference instead of acculturation as in the “violence” model through armed invasion and mass death. The third type of “colonialism within a shared cultural milieu” embraces the possibility that ‘colonies’ may have altered the ‘homeland’ if operating in a period when identities were in the process of creation. In the resulting flexible urban network, a symbolic centre and hierarchy is maintained through the agency of local leaders differentiated by an “elite” culture.

This paper discusses Late Republican theatre-construction in the Iberian Peninsula and Rome to suggest the compliance of the experience in the Roman Hispaniae with the third model, on the basis of:

  • Late Republican date of the theatres in Acinipo, Carteia, and Gades;
  • influence, in the urbanism of Gades, of the local Balbus family, renowned by their theatre in Augustan Rome;
  • Hispania’s centrality to the Caesar-Pompey struggle, both of whom conceived of a permanent theatre in Rome;
  • Caesar’s company by Vitruvius in Hispania before the latter’s outline of a Roman type of theatre building and the Hispanic/Carthaginian origin of mortar construction rolled between moulds of timber, as in the Theatre of Gades;
  • Blázquez’s[2] finding the pre-Roman precedents of Roman gladiatorial combats in the Iberian Peninsula;
  • Étienne’s[3] finding the origins of the Roman Imperial Cult in fides Iberica;
  • Augustus’ stay in Tarraco in 26-25 BC, which temporarily made the city the centre of the Early Roman Empire.

[1]     Gosden, C. 2004. Archaeology and Colonialism. Cultural Contact from 5000 BC to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[2]     Blázquez Martínez, J.M. 1994. ‘Possibles precedentes prerromanos de los combates de gladiadores romanos en la Península Ibérica’, pp. 31-44 in El anfiteatro en la Hispania romana. Coloquio internacional Mérida, 26-28 de noviembre 1992, edited by J.M. Álvarez Martínez and J.J. Enríquez Navascués. Mérida: Junta de Extremadura, Consejería de Cultura.

[3]     Étienne, Roland 1958. Le Culte Imperial dans la Péninsule Ibérique d’Aguste a Dioclétien. Paris: E. de Boccard.


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