After having taught speech and drama over the years, discussing the ancient theatres of the world, I finally have had the opportunity to visit the ancient Theatre of Dionysus. In a 20-day trip through Greece and Turkey, my wife and I are seeing some of the Ancient Wonders of the World (or their remains or locations). Although JayRob does not owe its existence totally to the Theatre of Dionysus, it and other theatres owe a great deal to the history of this and other ancient theatres. According to Wikipedia (the on-line encyclopaedia):

The Theatre of Dionysus was a major open-air theatre in Athens, one of the earliest theaters in the world, where plays were performed at festivals in honour of the god Dionysus. It is commonly confused with the later and better preserved Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the southwest slope of the Acropolis.

In 534 BCE, the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus transferred the Dionysiac festival from the rural district of Eleutherae inside the city of Athens. The plays that formed a part of these festivals were at first performed on a flat circular area in the Agora of Athens, but were transferred about 500 BCE to the sloping southern side of the Acropolis, where a temple to Dionysus was also built with an outside altar. It formed part of the sacred precinct, or temenos, of Dionysos Eleuthereus (“Dionysus Liberator”).

Dedicated to the god of wine and fertility, patron of drama, and the liberator of man from his everyday worries, it hosted the City Dionysia festival. Amongst those who competed are all the dramatists of the classical era who composed plays that have survived: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander. (Dozens of other playwrights are known by name; thousands of other tragedies, comedies, and satyr-plays are known only by name or in small fragments.)

An enlarged, stone-version of the theatre, which was built c. 325 BCE, seated between 14,000 to 17,000 spectators. After this it fell into disuse and little is recorded until 61 CE where there is evidence of major renovations done by the emperor Nero. The remains of a restored and redesigned Roman version can still be seen at the site today.

The Theatre of Dionysus also sometimes hosted meetings of the Athenian Ecclesia after the Pnyx was deemed unsuitable.

Greek authorities announced on November 24, 2009 that they would partially restore the ruined marble theater. The Culture Ministry said the $9 million program is set for completion by 2015.

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