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Part XI – ‘From a city of brick to a city of marble’

Dr Nicholls explores the site of the Theatre of Marcellus and explains how emperors used such buildings to ensure their popularity in ancient Rome

As you’ve heard in previous Steps, the Theatre of Pompey, one of the most lavish buildings in Rome, was built to capture the hearts and minds of the city’s people. It must have been a source of great celebration when it was completed, but it was also the location for a significant and rather grisly event in Rome’s history not long afterwards.

The brutal assassination of Julius Caesar was carried out on the Ides of March 44 BC by a mob of disgruntled senators who believed Caesar was becoming too powerful. The assassination happened at a meeting of the Senate in the curia or audience hall that was part of the Theatre of Pompey complex. You may find it helpful to revisit the potted history of Rome in Step 1.6 to remind yourself about who Pompey was, when Caasar came to power, and who succeeded him.

This week you’ll also visit the Theatre of Marcellus, the building I focus on on for my virtual tour and the walkaround exercise.

As you watch the video, you may like to think about the following:

  • Why did Augustus boast that he turned ‘Rome from a city of brick to a city of marble’?

  • What might a trip to the theatre in ancient Rome have felt like?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments area.

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Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

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