2000 years ago
Inaugurated in 55BC by the triumphant general Pompey, more than a century before the Colosseum, the building was Rome's first permanent and largest theatre, with an auditorium almost 152 metres in diameter, and a three-storey 35-meters-high facade.
Though Caesar bested Pompey politically, the old general still got the last laugh: it was in Pompey's portico, built to surround his sumptuous theater, that Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BC.
Throughout its 500 years long history it was one of the great showplaces of the city as well as the venue for many of its most momentous events. Emperors used it to bolster their rule by staging spectacles. Among those who appeared on stage was Nero, playing the lead in Oedipus and the Madness of Hercules, his opera about Troy.