Epidaurus theatre

High School ・Sociology ・MLA ・2 Sources

The theatre of Epidaurus is located in the sanctuary of Asklepios, which is one of the utmost extensive sacred sanctuaries of the ancient Greece (Kontomichos et al. 12). The constructions of the sanctuary are all built in an elevated valley surrounded by mountains. The theatre of Epidaurus is unique in comparison to other theaters of the Classical and Hellenistic period as it was not modified during the Roman times (Kontomichos et al. 12). This factor allowed it to retain its original form throughout the ancient times. The theatre represents the Greek culture during the classical and Hellenistic period (Cunningham 113). Particularly, it emphasized the significance of performances in the culture of the Greeks during the time of the construction in addition to the architectural style of the time. The elements of the theatre of Epidaurus are important in emphasizing the significance of the culture which belongs to the Classical and Hellenistic period.

The size of the theatre of Epidaurus resembles the performance spaces of the classical times. The sizes were enormous in comparison to today’s standards of performance theatres. It is the same size as modern sports stadiums, which is contrary to the modern time's theatres. The theatre was capable of housing a large number of audiences. Initially, the auditorium had an aptitude of 6000 people but was later extended in the second century B.C in the greater part to lodge extra 21 rows. The theatre therefore ended up having a sitting capacity of more than 13,000 (Cunningham 113). The large capacity is one element of this work that is vital to the practices of the classical time when the theatre was constructed. Its large size helps give an understanding of the architecture of the classical times as it also resembles many other theatres that were built during the classical and post-classical times. It can therefore be used to explain the architectural styles of the classical times concerning the construction of theatres.

The tripartite structure of the theatre is an important element of the Hellenistic period. The three-way structure of the building represents the characteristic feature of the period theatres. These are the amphitheater, the orchestra, and the stage structure. The orchestra is flawlessly circular with a diameter of 19.5m (Kontomichos et al. 12). The floor is made of beaten earth and bound by a ring stone in its perimeter. The outside of the orchestra is made of an open duct which collects and drains rainwater that runs off the auditorium. This gives an insight into the culture of the people in Epidaurus during the Hellenistic period (Kontomichos et al. 12).

During the classical times, the Greeks cherished the influence of spoken word as the main technique of communication and storytelling. For them, the spoken word was alive. They assumed that once something was on paper, it lost its capability to change and grow. This contributed to the flourishment of oral storytelling in Greece (Kontomichos et al. 12). The theatre is a representation of the importance of the storytelling to the classical Greeks. The time and the energy put into the construction of the magnificent theatre is a significant part of the ancient Greece culture. The amphitheatric, semi-circular shape of the theatre is accredited with the creation of fine acoustics (Kontomichos et al. 12). The structure would allow those performing spoken words and telling stories to be heard clearly by everyone in the theatre. The theatre therefore places emphasis on the importance of spoken word and storytelling during the classical times in the Greek culture. Additionally, the steepness of the layers of sitting spaces at the theatre helps reduce the distance from the stage to the uppermost rows (Kontomichos et al. 12). This allows the sound waves to be less affected when they reach the top rows. Therefore, like other theatres of the classical and Hellenistic times, the theatre of Epidaurus has a structure that supports easy delivery of storytelling and spoken word, a common art among the Greek people.

The construction of the theatre helps give insight into the art performances of the classical times in Greece (Kontomichos et al. 12). Since the architects and constructors of the theatre used meticulous care and skill during the construction, the audience could clearly see and hear drama performances. The drama in the community originated in the fertility feasts which were held to celebrate the produce and antique as well as the philosophies of the death and the renewal of life; these feasts were meant to honor Dionysus who was the mythical god of wine and fertility (Kontomichos et al. 12). The performances were meant to tell stories in addition to praising the mythical gods. This contributed to the development of tragedy, comedy, and satire as the main forms of storytelling. The method of performance of Greek drama plays resembles that of a courtroom where characters seem to prosecute one another and occasionally appeal to the audience as if it were a jury (Kontomichos et al. 12). The structure of the theatre helped facilitate this and it is likely that it was on some occasions used as a courtroom.

The theatre is built into slopes, which is a common feature with the theatres of the classical times (Cunningham 113). The architecture structured the theatres in this way to provide people with an ease of construction as they would use the natural terrain to create the sitting area. The feature was also an instrument for viewing as it provided all the audiences with a clear view of the performers. Other theatres that were constructed in the same way include the Theatre of Dionysus, which was constructed on the slopes of Acropolis, and the Theatre of Thorikso (Kontomichos et al. 12). This common feature of building the theatres on the slopes emphasizes the culture of the classical times. The element of this structure provided a means that allowed performances to flourish such as drama, storytelling, and tragedy among others (Kontomichos et al. 12). They were constructed in a way that would ensure the audience enjoyed the performances as they would all be able to clearly see the performers.

Conclusively, the specific elements of the theatre of Epidaurus are significant to the classical and Hellenistic times and the values of the people. The theatre was built during the Hellenistic and the Classical times when art and performances were greatly evolving. The cultural context is the Greek art performance and the architectural styles which are evident in the structure and the history of the society. The elements such as size, tripartite structure, and construction style show the resemblance of the structure to other theatres constructed during the period. The size of the theatre allowed for a large number of audiences allowing the development of the performance art. The tripartite structure emphasizes the style of theatre construction applied during the time. The meticulous care and skills taken by the constructors helped ensure the theatres were effective for performance arts and thus aided their development. The theatre was an important part of the culture as it represented story telling. The elements of the theatre of Epidaurus are therefore an important part of the time and the values of the classical Greeks.

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Works cited

Kontomichos, Fotis, Papadakos. C., Georganti, E., Vovolis, T., Mourjopoulos, J. Auralisation of Masked Actor performances in the ancient Greek Theatre of Epudaurus. 7th Forum Acusticum 2014. 2014.

Cunningham, Lawrence. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Wadsworth Publishing. 2013.

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