Thrasyllos Monument ΧΟΡΗΓΙΚΟ ΜΝΗΜΕΙΟ ΤΟΥ ΘΡΑΣΥΛΛΟΥ
In the middle of the vertical carved rock above the Theater of Dionysos, is the cave of the choragic monument of Thrasyllos. Pausanias refers to it indirectly, informing us that it's interior is decorated by a representation of Apollo and Artemis slaughtering the children of Niobe.
The choragic monument of Thrasyllos consisted of a marble facade in front of the natural cave. Ιts facade consisted of two door openings, with antae and a central pillar, a Doric architrave with continuous guttae, an Ionic frieze and a cornice which supported the bases for the choragic tripods. The frieze is decorated with a single wreath of ivy leaves in the middle, trophy for the winner of the theater competitions, and ten more olive wreaths.
According to the inscription on the architrave, the monument was built by the choregos (sponsor) Thrasyllos at the time that Neaichmos served as archon (320/319 BC) to commemorate his victory as choregos in the drama contests of that year. The next historical phase, documented again by the surviving choragic inscriptions, includes the modification of the monument's upper section and the positioning of two additional tripods by the son of Thrasyllos, Thrasykles, victorious sponsor of the theater competition during the time of Pytharatos' archonship (271/270 BC). The religious use of the monument during the Early-Christian times is doubtless.
The choragic monument of Thrassylos.
The natural hollow in the rock has been enlarged in order to form the interior of the monument. Great doors closed the rectangular opening. A three stepped base on top of the monument held the choragic tripod. Around 270 B.C., Thrasyllos’ son, Thrasykles, added two more choragic tripods to his father’s monument, left and right of the central tripod. These were replaced in 200 A.C. by an equal number of statues.
The central figure, which represented Dionysos, was forcefully removed by Lord Elgin in 1805, and today is in the British Museum. Above the Thrasyllos monument there are two columns of approximately the same size, each with a three-sided Corinthian capital that held a choragic tripod. These formed other choragic monuments of Roman times.
Testimony from 17th century foreign travelers, confirms the existence of a two-part Christian chapel. This was dedicated to Virgin Mary of the Rocks. Remains of this period can still be seen in the interior of the cave. The condition of the monument during the Ottoman Occupation was displayed in 18th and early 19th century pictorial material. As all these drawings testify, a statue of Dionysos replaced the central tripod of Thrasyllos. This intervention perhaps dates back to the Roman times. The statue was brutally removed in 1802 on behalf of Lord Elgin and is now exhibited in the British Museum, along with the other stolen Greek treasures. The Thrasyllos monument, which for over 2000 years had remained almost intact, was finally destroyed in 1827, during the siege of the Acropolis by the Turks.
In mid 19th c., while the Archaeological Society had scheduled the restoration of the monument, part of its architectural material was re-carved and reused during the repair work of the Byzantine church of Sotera Lykodemou, now known as the Russian Church. The meticulous drawings by J. Stuart and N. Revett carried out during their visit in Athens in 1751-3, document the accurate form and dimensions of the ancient monument and along with new measurements of the surviving parts, formed the basis for the restoration project of the monument.
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