A Microcosm of Roman Thrace's Metropolis: Formative Urban Interactions in the Theater at Philippopolis

  by Dr. Matthew Shueller


Department of Classical Studies,

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro


on Saturday, April 24, 2021
8 pm Sofia, Bulgaria (EЕT)
6 pm London, UK (GMT)
1 pm New York (EDT)


You can now watch the lecture online in the gallery bellow.


In the late 1st century CE, the construction of a monumental theater at Philippopolis (the present-day city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria) coincided with the city’s ascent to metropolis status. Like entertainment venues across the Roman world, this theater acted as a focal point for interpersonal exchange since it accommodated large cross-sections of its city’s inhabitants for sustained periods of time and for highly provocative performances.


Philippopolis’ theater provides a case study for exploring the capacity of Roman entertainment venues in Thrace to shape urban life through audience interactions. Architectural and epigraphic evidence found in and near the theater attests to multiple groups in the theater’s audiences (e.g. elites, civic tribes, and worshippers of various cults) rather than the more uniform audience considered by past scholarship. By highlighting distinctive and cohesive experiences among people in Philippopolis’ theater, this talk examines the formative effects of entertainment attendance on urban development in Thrace from the late 1st to 4th centuries CE.