Friday, September 21, 2012

EPIDAUROUS. It was a sanctuary of healing, dedicated to Asklepios, the God of Healing

Epidaurus is situated in the mountains to the east of the Plain of Argos. It was a sanctuary of healing, dedicated to Asklepios, the God of Healing. People came to Epidaurus from all over Greece, to make offerings to the God, and for health treatments as well. It served all the functions of a modern hospital, gym, hotel and temple, with entertainment laid on as well. Most of the site was reduced to ruins and very few of the buildings are more than just the bases of walls, but an attempt is being made to rebuild some of it, carefully identifying the positions of the stones and adding new ones to fill in the gaps.

The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidaurus to construct civic monuments too: the huge theatre that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances, the ceremonial Hestiatoreion (banqueting hall), baths and a palaestra. The theater was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows.

The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the proscenium or skênê to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating (see Ref., in Greek). Famously, tour guides have their groups scattered in the stands and show them how they can easily hear the sound of a match struck at center-stage.

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