<Location> Plaka, Athens, Greece
This monument was constructed by a choregos named Lysikrates in 335 or 334 BC (beginning of the Hellenistic period), who won the boys' chorus contest at the Great Dionysia festival. The Greater Dionysia was held annualy in autumn, and 10 Attic tribes competed with each other in the contest of 50 mens' chorus and of 50 boys' chorus. "Choregos" is the title given to rich Athenian citizens who sponsored these choruses. They were chosen from the tribes, and nominated by the archon. The team that won the contest received a bronze tripod as prize. Many of those choregoi built monuments to exhibit these tripods, and these monuments used to be aligned all along the "Street of Tripods" from the theatre of Dionysios to the Eleusinion in the Athenian Agora.
The Lysikrates Monument is particulary famous among such choregic monuments not only because it is very well preserved, but also it is the oldest example in the architectural history that the Corinthian capitals were used to the external part of a monument.
The arcanthus at the top of the monument was meant to be the base for the bronze tripod, which has long been lost.
In the friese of the entablature are depicted the Tyrrhenian pirates who chased Dionysos, god of the theatre, were thrown into the sea and turned into dolphines.
In the photo left, simplified images of tripods are engraved at the hight of the Corinthian capitals.
On the eastern surface of the architrave, the inscription runs as follows (IG
II 2nd ed. 302): Lysikrates of Kikyna, son of Lysitheides, was choregos; the tribe of Akamantis won the victory with a chorus of boys; Theon played the flute; Lysiades of Athens trained the chorus; Euainetos was archon (R. Barber, Athens, p. 94).
The square base of the monument is four metres each, and the frame is made of Eleusinian stone, and the rest is from Piraeus. The cylindrical part is made of Pentelic marble except for tha panels made of Hymattian marble. The three-layer base directry beneath it is also made of Hymettian marble.
From 1669 to 1821 the monument was incorporated in the Capucine monastery, and used as a part of the Library. For this conversion three panels of the cyrindrical part were removed (and later restored with recent material), but the monument was generally well preserved because of it. At the time the monument was known as the Lantern of Democrates. In 1821, during the Greek war of Independence, the monastery was burned down and abandonned, but the monument didn't suffer much from the fire.
Lord Elgin, notorious for the removal of the Parthenon Friese to England, wanted to acquire this monument, too, but the Capucine order refused to sell. In 1826, when the Ottoman general Vryonis occupied Athens, the Capucine monastery was burnt to destruction, but the ancient monument remained. It was restored in 1892 by the French (in the photo left is the French inscription recording it).
Lord Byron, famous poet who later joined the Greek War of Independence, stayed in the Capucine monastery; in the photo right is the Greek inscription commemorates his stay.
The photo above left was shot in the July 2002 when the excavation was going on, and the one right was shot in 2004, when the ancient layer was completely covered.
Below are the cats I saw near the monument.
- Hans Riemann, "Lysikratesmonument", RE Suppl. 8 (1956) coll. 266-347
- G. Papathanassopoulos, The Acropolis : A New Guide of the Monuments and Museum, Athens : Krene, c1991 (2002 reprint), p. 10-11.
- Molly Mackenzie, Turkish Athens, The Forgotten Centuries 1456-1832, Reading/ Ithaca Press 1992, pp. 77-78.
- Christian Habicht, Athens from Alexander to Antony, translated by D.L.Schneider, Cambridge Mass./ Harvard UP 1997, p. 25
- Hans Rupprecht Goette, Athens, Attica, and the Megarid: an Archaeological Guide, London/ Routledge 2001, pp. 97-98.
- Robin Barber, City Guide: Athens (Blue Guide), fifth edition, London/ A&C Black, 2002, p. 94.
- Chales Gates, The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece, and Rome, London & N.Y., Routledge, 2003, pp. 253-254
- John Freely, Strolling thorugh Athens, N.Y., N.Y., 2004 (first published 1991), pp. 30-33.
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