Exploring The Acropolis: the Parthenon, the birth place of Greek plays, and the invasion of Erouloi
Our Airbnb was only one hill over from the acropolis. There was a path and a park at the top of out hill. We were hoping it would lead to the acropolis, but that was just a theory. Regardless of if it led to where we were going, it was a pretty path surrounded by trees and curving to follow the mountains terrain. There were some good views when the trees thinned. As we followed the mountain around we began getting glimpses of the acropolis. The sun was going down, and the acropolis was all lit up! We found a good vantage point, and stopped to take a picture, but it was hard to get a clear shot in the fading light without a tripod.
Our theory had been right, the path had led to the acropolis. It was closed for the night, and we were informed would open again at 8 am the next morning. There was a scattering of people walking around and taking pictures. We followed a path around the outside of the acropolis, and took photos from different views. There was a hill that was crowded with locals. The rocks were polished from many people climbing them, so we had to be careful with Felix on Nate’s back. From the top was the perfect view of the acropolis. Everyone spoke in hushed voices up there, no loud mouthed drunken youth making a fool of themselves.
Seeing the acropolis at night was an unexpected treat, and a view of the famous site devoid of crowds that not everyone gets. We were moving on to Nafplio the next day, and check out was at two, so we had enough time to go back when the acropolis was open. We had been discussing whether or not to go back, as we felt we had seen it all the night before, but we decided it was worth it. Despite very little sleep, Nate was up making breakfast early enough for us to get out and back before our 2 pm checkout. We got tickets for half price as there was a deal for off season visitors! Walking up the steps to the acropolis, these giant pillars towered above us. Looking up at them I felt small and had this feeling like I could see through the layers of time. It was worth the time and money to see it up close.
The Parthenon stood on a raised platform so that it stood above the other structures around it. The pillars are built in order to create the illusion of perfection by bulging in the center and leaning in slightly. The pillars of solid marble can not have been easy to get standing.
Below the cliff that housed the Parthenon was a huge amphitheater called Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Built in 160AD – 174AD, it only stood about 100 years before it was destroyed in the invasion of the Erouloi in 268 AD (Why Athens, 2019). It was somewhat hard to find information on the invasion of Erouloi, or Erloules, as the only information I could find was in Greek. Hopefully Google translate does the content justice! It seems the Erouloi were barbarian invaders of Scandinavian descent who came from the sea (Stoukas, 2017). It is thought that rather then an ethnic group, the Erouloi were more of a battalion that were educated in the marshes (Eluros means from the marsh). They destroyed and burnt Athens and many of it’s greatest monuments, and then moved on to devastate Corinth, Argos, and Sparta, though they fail to take Olympia. From there they headed North until defeated two years later by Rome (ToBHMA Team, 2007). The amphitheater had been restored starting in 1898, to stunning effect (Why Athens, 2019). It has been used for performances and public events since. It was impressive and drew large crowds of tourists.
Just a little farther was a less assuming amphitheater, the Theater of Dionysus. There was no barrier around it, so we went in and sat down to rest and read a little bit from our guide book. The Theater of Dionysus may not look as grand as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus today, but in it’s time it was the theater where the works of Aescheylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes were first preformed (Cultural heritage, 2014) . Built in the 6th century BCE, It is the oldest theater to be found in Attica. It should be no surprise that the theater was such a hit, as Dionysos is the Greek god of wine! In fact there would have once been a much wider sanctuary to Dionysos in the area. At the Great Dionysia that was held in March or April each year, the most famous play writers would compete (Cartwright and Cartwright, 2015)! I am not sure if this would be historically accurate, but I envision Aristophanes and Sophocles presenting their plays in competition with each other!
Later that day we climbed into our rental car for a very interesting drive to Nafplio! Stay tuned for more Greek adventures.
Cartwright, M. and Cartwright, M. (2015). Theatre of Dionysos Eleuthereus. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.ancient.eu/article/814/theatre-of-dionysos-eleuthereus/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
Cultural heritage (2014). Theatre of Dionysus - GTP. [online] Gtp.gr. Available at: https://www.gtp.gr/TDirectoryDetails.asp?ID=80327 [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
Stoukas, M. (2017). Γότθοι και Έρουλοι στην Αθήνα (267 μ.Χ.) - Η άγνωστη μάχη των Θερμοπυλών. [online] ProtoThema. Available at: https://www.protothema.gr/stories/article/650085/gotthoi-kai-erouloi-stin-athina-267-mh-i-agnosti-mahi-ton-thermopulon/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
ToBHMA Team (2007). ΕΡΟΥΛΟΙ, οι καταστροφείς της Αθήνας - Ειδήσεις - νέα - Το Βήμα Online. [online] Ειδήσεις - νέα - Το Βήμα Online. Available at: https://www.tovima.gr/2008/11/25/science/eroyloi-oi-katastrofeis-tis-athinas/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
Why Athens (2019). Odeon of Herodes Atticus - detailed guide and events | Why Athens City Guide. [online] Why Athens. Available at: https://whyathens.com/odeon-of-herodes-atticus/.