Ancient Greek Theater: 

The Theater at Epidaurus

Downloaded from “The Perseus Project” at Tufts University,+Theater

Site: Epidauros
Type: Theater
Summary: Theater; located southeast of the Sanctuary of Asklepios.
Date: ca. 350 B.C. - 300 B.C.
Period: Late Clas./Hell.

Local limestone.


Cavea, orchestra and skene. A round orchestra defined by a low curb with an altar stone in the center. A paved depression between the orchestra and the cavea was a used as an ambulatory. The cavea of 55 rows of seats was divided vertically by 13 staircases reached through the doors at either end of the scene building. The diazoma divided the cavea into 21 upper, steeper rows of seats and 34 lower rows. The lowest row of seats had back supports and was reserved for honored guests. The scene building, which may have been added later in the Hellenistic period, was two-storied. On its southeastern side, facing the cavea, was a one-storied stage. The stage rested on 14 pillars with engaged Ionic half-columns. Between all but the 2 central pillars were painted wooden panels used as a back drop during performances. There were slightly projecting wings and a ramp at each end of the stage. At the far end of each ramp, and almost perpendicular to it, were gateways, each with 2 doors, one leading through the parodos to the orchestra and one leading to the ramp. The lower story of the scene had 10 pillars along its northwestern front and four along its central axis. At either end were two square rooms. The upper story also had two square rooms at each end, but no central pillars.


Designed by Polykleitos the Younger, in the 4th century B.C., the seats were wide enough to allow those sitting in the upper rows to rest their feet on the lower seats without touching the persons below. Originally seating 6,210, the expansion of 21 rows above the diazoma allowed the theater to accommodate about 14,000. The best-preserved theater in Greece, with unparalleled acoustics. Modern performances are held here.



Theatre at Epidauros (Orchestra view)


The Theatre at Epidauros (Bird’s Eye View)


Theater at Epidauros (plan)



Masks for Greek Tragedy