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Amphitheatre and theatre

Amphitheatre and theatre (or amphitheater and theatre): an open theatre like the Minack theatre is shown on the coast on the left, contrasted with a larger amphitheatre with seating on both sides (or all the way round) on the land on the right.

Theatre and amphitheatre (or theater and amphitheater) have the distinction that a theatre is one-sided viewing of a central stage, and an amphitheatre has viewing all around. The word amphitheatre derives from the Greek word amphi- loosely meaning on both sides or all around.

For years, I've used amphitheatre for any large open galleried seating, but technically, as for the spectacular Minack theatre in Cornwall, England, if it's one-sided, then it's a theatre.

You'll also see the same pattern in amphoras, which commonly have handles on both sides of the vessel, and amphibians who are at home on both land and water. Plus, related ambivalence, ambidextrous (amphi- Greek, ambi- Latin).

It's fun having an aunt who used to teach classics =)

Also see: classical columnspyrrhic victorythe Rosetta stone


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