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Ancient Epidavros: The Theater and Sanctuary of Asklipious Page 3

the tholos reconstructionThe treatment: First, the sick would make a sacrifice to the gods and thus purify themselves and then lie on the skins of animals that had been sacrificed.

In some cases they were cured during their sleep without further ado, but sometimes Asklipios himself would appear to them in their dreams (believed to assume the form of a serpent) and later the priests would interpret the medical instructions given.


the site planSometimes the cure would include baths, relaxion, physical exercises, or even intellectual pursuits.

One can deduce from all this some of the purpose of the adjacent gymnasium, stadium and theater and the 'Asklipian Games' held every four years and which included competitions in music and poetry as well as sports.

In later years under the Romans the treatments became more scientifically grounded and in the late 5th century AD a Christian basilika was built on the ancient site.




the theater

One of the best-preserved buildings on the site is the circular Tholos, with labyrinthine inner foundation walls believed to have been used as a snakepit.

One view holds that the snakes were involved in some kind of 'shock therapy' for the mentally ill, though others maintain that priests were initiated here, undergoing a death and rebirth experience.

It wasn't until the beginning of the 19th century that an English traveler and topographer, Sir William Gell, drafted a plan of the ruins at Epidaurus and in 1822 Greek independence was proclaimed in the theater. Greek and French archaeolgists began work on the site in 1881.


the theaterThe theater Built around 330-320BC, the famous ancient theater of Epidaurus now stages performances of Classical plays on Friday and Saturday nights from the end of June through the last weekend in August, peformed for the annual Athens Festival, and featuring the works of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. They are performed in modern Greek, though a book of translations is available at the Odyssey bookstore in Nafplio.

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