The Epidaurus Theatre is a famous ancient structure in the Peloponnesus. Amazingly, it can seat up to 14,000 audience members. The acoustic quality of the ancient theatre should be considered a minor miracle. We saw various tourist guides place their group members in various spots throughout the theatre, and then stand in the middle and whisper gently. To our amazement, the sound carried to the far end of the theatre in a clear and distinct fashion. The theatre hosts various drama performances throughout the year. Once again, this demonstrates Greek culture’s survival through thousands of years and the timelessness of its significant accomplishments.
Epidaurus was a minor city in ancient Greece which remained under the rule of Argos. In antiquity it was known for being the center of healing in the Hellenic universe. People used to travel from distant places in order to seek cures from the Gods. They would visit a temple called the asclepeion. This and the theatre were the two landmarks which placed ancient Epidaurus on the map. Health tourism brought wealth to Epidaurus which facilitated the theatre’s construction. According to Pausanias, an ancient Greek traveler and geographer, the theatre was built in 340 BC by Polykleitos. The theatre rows were divided in sections separated by functions. Priest, rulers and citizens each had designated seats.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints we were not able to return for a performance however given the scenery, history, and view I cannot imagine a more epic setting for an ancient drama. I strongly encourage anyone to attend a performance or just to stop by and visit the ancient site. The acoustic miracle is often cited as the theatre’s most astounding feature and does not disappoint.
The Epidaurus Theatre is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is internationally recognized and protected as such. Additional information regarding the site can be found at http://whc.unesco.org/en/search/?criteria=epidaurus.
Another interesting article regarding health in ancient Greek was written by Vivian Nutton and is titled, “Medicine in the Greek World 800-50BC.”