In Roman times the cavea (Latin for "enclosure") referred to the seating sections of Roman theatres and amphitheatres. The cavea is traditionally organised in three horizontal sections, corresponding to the social class of the spectators:
- the ima cavea is the lowest part of the cavea and the one directly surrounding the arena. It was usually reserved for the upper echelons of society.
- the media cavea directly follows the ima cavea and was open to the general public, though mostly reserved for men.
- the summa cavea is the highest section and was usually open to women and children.
Similarly, the front row was called the prima cavea and the last row was called the cavea ultima. The cavea was further divided vertically into cunei. A cuneus (Latin for "wedge"; plural, cunei) was a wedge-shaped division separated by the scalae or stairways.
Cavea also referred to the subterranean cells in which the wild beasts were confined prior to the combats in the Roman arena.