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Aphrodite of Milos  

Ancient Theatre

City of Klima, 5th century BC & Roman period

The market-place (Gr. agora from the verb agorazo meaning to buy), which from the beginning of historical time became the centre for commercial exchange, developed during the classical period with the formation of the polis (city-state) and the establishment of democracy into a centre for political, social, artistic and intellectual activity - became the very heart of the polis.

Among the many public buildings then adorning the market-place a theatre also used to be erected.

The theatre (Gr. theatron derived from the verb theaomai meaning to behold [the God]) started as an act of worship to Dionysus, a sacred ritual to the God, and reached its most perfected classical form in the 5th Century BC with the birth and development of both tragedy and comedy.

Ancient Theatre, Milos

Ancient Theatre, Milos

It did not only offer spectacle, entertainment and merriment, but also instruction, guidance and counsel through the actions and passions of the heroes and the jokes and pranks of the comedians.

It must be considered of one the main manifestations of the development, uplifting and refinement of human intellect and ethics.

Ancient Theatre, Milos

Likewise the ancient Melian polis of Klima with its large population, thriving economy and sophisticated intellectual and artistic level had its market-place adorned with a variety of public buildings, works of art and a theatre.

After having been destroyed by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War as a punishment for siding with Sparta the town was rebuilt during the Roman period.

On the extant foundations of the classical theatre a bigger and more beautiful Hellenistic theatre was constructed. It was made from pure Parian marble and decorated with exquisite bas-reliefs.

Today seven tiers, six rows of seats and various architectural pieces is all that remains preserved.

The Jesuit monk Nicolas Sarambas is the first to mention the existence of ruins of a theatre (1735). He describes them as being for the main part covered by earth.

Later different people occasionally visited and studied the ancient theatre. The first to undertake actual excavations, studies and drawing-up of plans of the site was the classicist Carl Haller von Hallerstein (1816, 1817).

He was on a commission from crown prince Ludwig of Bavaria and also commissioned to buy the theatre and the surrounding field. In 1817, he finally managed to buy the theatre for 400 piasters.

Another German classicist, Ludwig Ross, one of the pioneers of Greek archaeology, succeeded him in his studies.

It was not until 1836 that Ludwig of Bavaria finally visited Milos accompanied by his son Otto (Othonas), King of the newly founded Greek state, to whom he made a present of it.

Ancient Theatre, Milos Ancient Theatre, Milos

The theatre is built on the slope of a hill at a very prominent position, facing the South and surrounded by low mountains so as to have perfect acoustics and a stunning view of the entrance to the harbor.

In the ancient times it is supposed to have been able to accommodate up to 7,000 spectators. In recent years it has come into use again for theatrical and musical performances.

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