The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Ωδείο Ηρώδου του Αττικού), also known as Herodeion or Herodion (Ηρώδειο), is a magnificent ancient Roman theater constructed with stone. It can be found on the picturesque southwest slope of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. This awe-inspiring architectural marvel was meticulously crafted and finally finished in the year 161 CE.
The odeon of Herodes Atticus (160-169 CE) was donated to the city of Athens by the famous orator, sophist and great benefactor of the city, Herodes Atticus, in memory of his wife Rhegilla. It was used for musical events and philosophical lectures.
The odeion was burned down by the Heralians in 267 CE. Later it was incorporated in the late Roman fortification wall of the slopes of the Acropolis, which remained in use with various modifications untill 1877. In this was the monument survived demolition and stone pillaging so that its southern wall still stands to a height of almost twenty nine meters.
Archaeological excavations (1847-1858 CE) conducted by Kyriakos Pittakis removed medieval deposits from the odeion of Herodes Atticus and shed light to its history. The reuse of the odeion for musical events and theatrical performances started in 1930 CE and became regular after 1957 CE. For this purpose themarble seats of the cavea and the staircases were reconstructed under the direction of Anastasios Orlandos (1960-1964 CE).
Its semicircular cavea has a diameter of 76 meters and contained 39 rows of marble seats that could host up to six thousand spectators. The marble paved orchestra is also semicircular and has a diameter of 19 meters, while the huge rectangular proskenion had a wooden floor 1.5 meters above the orchestra. It is thirty five meters long and its facade projects eight meters in front of the south wall of theconcert hall. Further to the south, was the stage with a luxurious mosaic floor.
Unfortunately, the external walls of the stage are the ones least preserved. Towards the proskenion, pilasters and columns framed the three doors of the stage and the door of the side walls. The monument had a roof of cedar wood, without intermediate braces. This was a great achievement, commemorated with admiration by ancient writers like Pausanias and Philostratos. Th the east, the odeion was so perfectly connected to the stoa of Eumenes, that one would assume that the stoa was built to serve the odeion, while, in reality the stoa had been bult three centuries earlier, for the spectators of the theatre of Dionysos.
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