Differences Between Greek and Roman Theatre

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

Greek and Roman’s theatre had many similarities but also some distinct differences. For example, Greek tragedies were performed in an open-air amphitheater and the actors wore masks to create different characters. In contrast, Roman plays took place on a stage with permanent scenery and no masks. 

In addition, while both cultures used writing as a primary form of storytelling for their dramas, the Greeks mostly used choruses whereas the Romans only employed them occasionally. Finally, one thing that distinguished these two styles of theatre is that Greek drama was often more serious than its later counterpart from Rome which tended to be comedic or satirical.

The ancient Greeks and Romans had different approaches to theatre depending on their culture. The ancient Greeks believed in the power of drama to instruct, while the ancient Romans valued comedy for its own sake. This blog post will compare and contrast these two types of theater by examining some important features that differentiate them. 

Comparison between Greek and Roman Theatre

Parameters of ComparisonGreek TheatreRoman Theatre
PerformanceGreek theatre was a closed-off performance spaceRoman theatre had an open-air design
MasksThe Greeks used masks to portray emotions and characters on stageRomans did not
FormalMore formalLess formal
ActorsThe Greeks performed tragedies with five actors per playRomans only had three actors for their comedies
PerformGreek theatre was performed in an open-air amphitheaterRoman theatre was performed inside a building called a “theatre”

What is Greek Theatre?

Greek theatre is a type of theatre that originated in Greece and is still popular today. It incorporates elements of music, dance, and poetry, and is often performed outdoors. The plays are usually based on mythological stories or historical events. Greek theatre is a popular tourist attraction in Greece, and there are also many festivals devoted to it around the world.

This is a question that has been asked by many people, and it is a topic of debate for many. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think. Some believe that Greek theatre refers strictly to the ancient form of theatre that was popular in Greece thousands of years ago. Others contend that any form of theatrical performance taking place in a Grecian-style setting can be considered Greek theatre. Still others maintain that the term should only be used when referring to the work of ancient playwrights such as Sophocles and Euripides. So, what exactly is Greek theatre? The answer to this question remains a mystery. However, what we do know is that it is an important part of theatrical history that continues to captivate our imaginations.

Differences Between Greek and Roman Theatre

What is Roman Theatre?

Roman theatre was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in ancient Rome. Performances were held in large, open-air venues that could accommodate thousands of spectators. Plays were usually based on mythology or historical events, and featured a cast of actors and dancers. Musicians and acrobats also performed during the shows. Although the precise origins of Roman theatre are unknown, it is thought to have developed from religious ceremonies and public executions. By the 1st century BC, it had become a major form of entertainment, with elaborate productions featuring complex sets and special effects.

Roman theatre is a form of theatrical performance that was popular in ancient Rome. It began as ritual dances and performances to honor the gods, and eventually developed into a more complex form of storytelling. Roman theatre featured actors, props, sets, and music, and was often used to spread political messages or satirize the flaws of society. While much of Roman theatre has been lost over time, we can still see its influence in modern drama and opera.

Differences Between Greek and Roman Theatre

10 Differences Between Greek and Roman Theatre

1. Greek theatre was a closed-off performance space, whereas Roman theatre had an open-air design.

2. The Greeks used masks to portray emotions and characters on stage, while the Romans did not.

3. Greek performances were more formal than Roman ones. 

4. The Greeks performed tragedies with five actors per play, while the Romans only had three actors for their comedies.

5. Both cultures would use music in their plays but it differed in style – the Greeks preferred flutes and lyres, while the Romans favored trumpets and drums.

6. Women could perform on stage in both cultures but they played different roles  – women were forbidden from performing as males or gods in Greece; however, some female singers did perform at Rome’s festivals of Bacchus (Dionysus).

7. Greek theatre was performed in an open-air amphitheater.

8. Roman theatre was performed inside a building called a “theatre”.

9. In Greek theater, actors wore masks and costumes to portray the characters they were playing.

10. In Roman theater, actors wore different types of clothes to represent their character’s social status.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of  Greek Theatre

1. The word “theatre” comes from the Greek word for seeing.

2. In Ancient Greece, the theatre was a way of life and not just a form of entertainment.

3. Theatre is one of the oldest forms of art that we know about.

4. The first known theatrical performance in Athens took place on November 28th, 534 BCE at Dionysus Theatre.

5. Aristotle wrote about theatre as an art form that has only been around for 2 centuries at most.

6. There are three main types of theatre- tragedy, comedy, and satire (oldest).

Interesting Statistics or Facts of  Roman Theatre

1. The Roman Theatre was the largest in all of Rome.

2. There are remains of the theater today. 

3. It is believed to have had a seating capacity of at least 25,000 people. 

4. The original construction date for this theater is unknown but it most likely began in 50 AD and finished around 100 AD.

5. This theatre was used primarily for music performances and plays – not gladiator battles like some other theaters in Rome were used for.

6. One interesting fact about this theater is that they would use an intricate system to project sound from behind the stage so it would be louder than if you were sitting on one side or another of the arena-like space where the performance took place.


The difference between Greek and Roman Theatre. The Greeks believed in the theory of unity of all things, which meant that in their theater there was no distinction between actors and audience members. This is because the people on stage were not only performers but also acted as representatives for everyone else in attendance at a performance event. In contrast to this idea, Romans created an artificial environment where actors are separated from the spectators by high stone walls with decorated arches called “cavea.” There are three rows of seats behind these gates reserved for judges who would sit during performances held as part-of religious ceremonies or other public events.


Resource 01: https://www.worldhistory.org/Greek_Theatre/#:~:text
Resource 02: https://www.theaterseatstore.com/blog/ancient-roman-theater?cf_chl_captcha_tk

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