Delphi, The Northern Slope of the Sanctuary – III – The Theater
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The Delphic theater, in northwest position respect of the temple of Apollo, stands on an area considerably higher than the temple itself. The theatre, in which the theatrical and musical events of Pythian games took place, was built in the 4th century BC. It was remodeled on several occasions, particularly in 160/159 BC at the expenses of king Eumenes II of Pergamon and in 67 AD on the occasion of emperor Nero’s visit.
The building develops around the orchestra which, according to the standard, is flat to allow the performances of the members of the chorus. No doubt the orchestra was originally a complete circle, 7 m radius.
The cavea, “koilon”, leans against the natural slope of the mountain. A corridor called diazoma divided horizontally the cavea in two uneven sections: the lower section had 28 tiers of seats, the upper section seven. Six radially arranged staircases divide the cavea in seven cunei for the upper and lower sections. The theatre could accommodate about 4,500 spectators.
On the occasion of Nero’s visit to Greece in 67 A.D. various alterations took place. The orchestra was paved and delimited by a parapet made of stone. The proscenium was replaced by a low pedestal, the pulpitum; its façade was decorated with scenes from Hercules’ myth in relief, currently in the interior of the museum.
Further repairs and transformations took place in the 2nd century A.D. Pausanias mentions that these were carried out under the auspices of Herod Atticus. The theater was abandoned when the sanctuary declined in Late Antiquity.
Late Classical Period
IV century BC – I century AD
Delphi, Archaeological Site
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