The Theatre of Pompey was one of Ancient Rome’s largest and most celebrated structures, renowned throughout the empire for a good part of the first millennium. It was instigated by General Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, modelled on a classical Greek design and erected in the central Campus Martius, or Field of Mars, in central Rome.
The theatre was simply enormous complex that included temples, sacred areas, a garden, meeting areas, an auditorium with semi-circular seating, a 300-foot stage and spaces for musicians. Pompeius dedicated the Theatre to Venus and added a large shrine to the goddess. There were also four other temples in an area, now known as the Largo di Torre Argentina.
Despite its gigantic size and incredible achievements in engineering, the Theatre of Pompey is also significant for being the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination. On the Ides of March (March 15th), Caesar was accosted by senators near the Theatre and then stabbed by more than sixty men. As most people know, Caesar’s assassination is of considerable historical significance, and marked the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire.
Today, little remains of the Theatre of Pompey. Its original site is now one of Rome’s most congested areas. After serving as a fortress in medieval times, huge chunks were carted away to build housing in the area. Parts of the theatre can be seen throughout the city, particularly the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a Renaissance Palace that has used much of the theatre’s old columns and travertine.
In the context of present day Rome, the site of Theatre of Pompey covers areas such as the Campo Dei Fiori (named after the woman Pompey loved) and the Via dei Chiavari (which means ‘Street of Keymakers’).