Theater of Dionysus
On December 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

On the south-eastern slopes of the Acropolis, in Athens, was the big Theater of Dionysus, where theatrical performances took place (tragedies and comedies, which were sung and danced) in Athens during the celebrations in honour of the god.

The theater had a capacity for an audience of about 17,000. It was rebuilt in the IVth century by the orator Lykourgos, and consisted of a big cavea (a semi-circular space where the spectators sat, originally on wooden benches and then on limestone steps) carved out of the rock, a circular orchestra (the area for the dancers) and a rectangular stage building.

The first row of seats was reserved for those spectators who, by decree of the assembly, enjoyed the right of proedria, i.e. the right to sit in the front row during the contests of tragedies: they had marble seats, some of can still be seen in situ.

Photo credits by Alun Salt under CC-BY-SA-2.0.

Statues of the great tragic poets of the Vth century, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, were erected in the theater, by Lykourgos.

Some alterations, such as the marble paving in the orchestra, date to the time of the Roman emperor Nero, who famously sang in this theater in 61 AD.

The stage is decorated with reliefs depicting the myth of Dionysus and his cult: there are pictures of the birth of the god, the characters making up his attendance and gods and heroes paying homage to him.

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