Dionysosí Sanctuary

Who was Dionysos? A deity granting happiness? A likeable guy who knew how to fascinate his victims with only one charming gaze? Talking about Dionysos also means to talk about Greek wine. Who, if not Dionysos, the god of wine, should have been able to unleash people and free them from all their sorrows. It is not sure who was Dionysosí mother: one of the grain goddesses, Demeter or Io, the forgetting Lethe, the death goddess Persephone, or maybe Semele, a human princess?

Usually Dionysos is depicted being young and with almost female traits. The youngest of deities is often naked, or a chubby-faced child carrying grapes. It is often forgotten that Dionysos was also a god of fertility. The processions in his honour were accompanied by dancing, joy and lots of wine. The characters of Dionysosí myths were popular disguises during the Dionysia, a festivity held during five days in honour of the wine god. During these five days, often the participating, wrapped in furs and adorned with ivy, abandonned themselves as satyrs to reinless pleasures. On the other hand, we do not know much about the Dionysian mysteries, open only to initiated. If there is anything true about the rumours concerning human sacrifices, cannot be answered for sure.

The Dionysia also included a competition of the boets who composed tragedies and comedies. So, Dionysosí theatre can be called the cradle of classic tragedies. The performances took place at the southern hillside of the Acropolis since the 5th century. Its organisation was in the hand of the highest functionaries. Women were not permitted on the stage. Sophocles, Euripides and Aischylos made important contributions to these competitions, and the popularity of many Greek legends and myths is due to the tragedies.

Dionysos Theatre

Dionysos Theatre, Acropolis

The original theatre was built of wood and renewed around 300 b.C. It is thought that the first construction was destroyed due to a collpase. Later, the Roman Emperador Nero is responsible for changes in the area of stage and orchestra. Today, the form of the theatre corresponds to the one it had in Roman times. Rests of the stage and the seats are still visible and date to a time where the theatre could hold more than 17,000 visitors. The original circle had become a semicircle, and the orchestra had got a marble ground.

Thrasyllos Monument

Quite an interesting monument is Thrasyllosí Monument, which is part of the Dionysos Sanctuary. It was built in 319/320 by the Athenian commander Thrasyllos, and probably changes were realized later by his son. Nevertheless, it is not clear when the statue of Dionysos was added. Nikiasí monument was built by the commander and politician Nikias, son of Nikeratos.

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