The theater of Epidaurus stands on a slope of Mount Kynortion, near Lygourio in Argolis, in Epidaurus Municipality. The theater was built in two phases: the first phase is dated to the late 4th c. BC and the second to the mid-2nd c. BC. As it is preserved today, the theater presents the characteristic tripartite layout of Hellenistic theaters: cavea, orchestra and stage building.
During the first phase, in the late 4th c. BC, the orchestra, the lower part of the cavea – 12 cunei with 34 rows of seats each – and the stage building were built. The plan of the cavea was drawn from three centres. In the second phase, in the mid-2nd c. BC, the cavea was extended upwards with the construction of the upper part (22 cunei with 21 rows of seats each) and the stage assumed its Hellenistic form. With a maximum capacity of 13,000 to 14,000 spectators, the theater of Epidaurus hosted music competitions and performances of ancient drama.
It combines an aesthetic harmony, arising from the regularity and mathematical proportion of its parts, with the excellent acoustics which allowed members of the audience in the uppermost tiers of seats to hear the slightest sound from the orchestra. The aesthetics and functionality of the theater had already been noted in antiquity. Pausanias praises the theater of Epidaurus for its symmetry and beauty, and attributes it to the architect Polycleitus.
The theater was preserved in very good condition and, through the restoration work carried out by P. Kavvadias (1907), A. Orlandos (1954-1963) and the Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments of Epidaurus (1988 onwards), it has almost fully regained its original form, apart from the stage building. The monument attracts large numbers of Greek and foreign visitors and is used to stage ancient Greek plays. The first performance held at the theater of Epidaurus in modern times was Sophocles’ Electra in 1938, directed by D. Rondiris. The first performances of ancient Greek drama as part of the Epidaurus Festival began in 1954 and were established as an official institution the following year. The theater has also been used on occasion for major musical events.
Professor of Archaeology
Theatre at the Asklepieion of Epidaurus
The monument has the characteristic tripartite layout of Hellenistic theatres: cavea, orchestra and stage building.
There is full photographic documentation in various archives (4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments of Epidaurus, etc.) Drawings of parts of the orchestra, the stage building, the parodoi and sections of the cavea are included in A.V. Gerkan / W. Müller-Wiener, Das Theater von Epidaurus. Various drawings are also held in the archives of the Epidaurus Committee.
1. E.R. Fiechter, Die baugeschichtliche Entwicklung des antiken Theaters, Muenchen 1914.
2. P.E. Arias, Il teatro greco fuori di Atene, Firenze 1934.
3. A.V.Gerkan / W. Müller-Wiener, Das Theater von Epidaurus, Stuttgart 1961.
4. A. Burford, in The Annual of the British School at Athens 61, 1966.
5. G. Forni, in Enciclopedia dell’Arte, Supplemento 1970, s.v. Teatro.
6. L. Polacco, in Numismatica e Antichita Classiche
7, 1978. 7. L. Kappel, in Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 104, 1989.
8. P.D. Bardis, The Theater of Epidaurus and the mysterious vanishing vases, in Platon 41, 1989. K. Γεωργουσόπουλος / Σ. Γώγος, Επίδαυρος. Το Αρχαίο Θέατρο, οι παραστάσεις, 2003.
Kynortion, area of Lygourio, Argolis, Epidaurus Municipality.
The theatre was built in two phases. The first phase is dated to the late 4th c. BC and the second to the mid-2nd c. BC.
The monument has the characteristic tripartite layout of Hellenistic theatres: cavea, orchestra and stage building. During the first phase, in the late 4th c. BC, the orchestra, the lower part of the cavea (12 cunei with 34 rows of seats each) and the stage building in its pre-Hellenistic form were built. The plan of the cavea was drawn from three centres. In the second phase (mid-2nd c. BC), the cavea was extended upwards (upper part of the cavea consisting of 22 cunei with 21 rows of seats each) and the stage assumed its Late Hellenistic form. With a maximum capacity of 13,000 to 14,000 spectators, the theatre of Epidaurus hosted music and singing competitions and performances of ancient drama. It combines an aesthetic harmony, arising from the regularity and mathematical proportion of its parts, with the excellent acoustics allowing members of the audience in the uppermost rows of seats to hear the slightest sound. In antiquity, Pausanias praised the theatre of Epidaurus for its symmetry and beauty, and attributed it to the architect Polycleitus.
The cavea of the theatre has come to light in relatively good condition as regards its stone material, with the exception of the endmost cunei and their retaining walls. Disturbances of the regular order and joining of the surviving seats are due to natural decay and the later, gradual deformation of the original lines of the structure. The stage building, on the contrary, was uncovered as a low ruin.
The systematic excavation of the monument began in 1881. The rush to achieve a speedy restoration led to architectural members being replaced in the wrong positions even before the turn of the 20th century. Views on restoration prevailing at that time directly affected the restoration of the west gate of the theatre, dated to 1907. Large-scale works were carried out during the period 1954-1963 by the then Directorate of Restoration of the Ministry of Education, with the aim of achieving extensive reconstruction and architectural restoration of the monument, in the form of consolidation, in order to open it to public performances. Large-scale interventions to a tight deadline, with relatively limited restoration documentation, were undertaken simultaneously with the beginning of the Epidaurus Festival, only to come to a halt ten years later without having covered the whole of the monument. More specifically, all the seats of the lower part of the cavea and of the east end of the epitheatre were restored and consolidated, with reconstructions at the endmost cunei; the gate of the east parodos and the retaining walls were reconstructed using Piraeus stone; and new architectural members were carved for the reconstruction of part of the proscenium. In the event, this final intervention was not carried out and the stones were moved to the Asklepieion storerooms. According to the restorer Anastasios Orlandos, who was in charge of the work, the failure to reconstruct the proscenium was partly due to the objections of stage directors putting on plays at the Epidaurus Festival.
Visit to the archaeological site – presentation of modern performances.
The monument attracts large numbers of visitors and is used to stage ancient Greek plays. The first performances of ancient Greek drama as part of the Epidaurus Festival began in 1954 and were established as an official institution the following year. The theatre has also been used, exceptionally, for major musical events. Further Information : Τhe monument belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture / 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, while restoration and conservation issues are handled by the Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments of Epidaurus.
Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments of Epidaurus.
Ministry of Culture / 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
|AΣΦΑΛΙΣΤΙΚΗ ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΖΩΗΣ Α.Ε INTERAMERICAN||24.600.00|
|ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΑΣΦΑΛΙΣΕΩΝ ΖΗΜΙΩΝ Α.Ε. INTERAMERICAN||24.600.00|
|PASIPS private school||200.00|
|10ο ΓΕΛ Ηρακλείου Κρήτης||50.00|
The amount collected from the deposits will be used for additional works that will arise.
• The project “Maintenance, restoration and promotion of the monuments in Epidaurous” was incorporated in the NSRF, with funding of 3,000,000,00 Euros.
• Foreseen to take place at the ancient theater of Asklepiou Epidaurou is the restoration of its foreground, as well as the maintenance work of the fragile architectural parts/pieces of the stage.
• In the first phase, according to the approved study, the two theater ramps from the foreground leading to the floor of the stage building will be restored.
• Meanwhile, the restoration of the upper row of seats of the epitheater, which had been disturbed by the silt in the area, continues.
• Work is in progress.
• In particular, the reconstruction of the seats was completed in the upper rows of the epitheater, after the causes of the damage had been removed. As for the area of the hollow of the theater which has been greatly deformed (stand 18 to 21 of the epitheter) the analytical documentation of the damages continues, as part of the restoration study which is under preparation. In the area of the stage building, the architectural members have already begun to work with new materials for the restoration of the platform of the theater, as well as the welding of broken pieces of the monument.