The Odeon and the State Agora

In this general view of the State Agora one can see the ruins of the The Town Hall (Prytaneum), the open central area and the Odeon.

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Berta Lledo and Tufan Turanli

The town halls of ancient capital cities were seats of prime importance, because they were the seats of the government of the city-states. The town hall of Ephesus is near the Hydreion. On its farther side it adjoins the Odeon. The vast, complex building has a main porticoed courtyard, which gave admission to an inner rectangular hall. This central portion of the edifice is flanked by different sections, halls, and rooms where the town councils met. The 'holy of holies' of the city was the rectangular inner hall. On the foundation of a new colony or city, fire was token from this altar and transported to the new settlement. The roof of this hall was supported by four triple columns of Corinthian style. Three of these can actually be seen standing. In front of the altar in an arched niche stood the idol of the goddess of the hearth, Hestia in Greek, and Vesta in Latin. In Christian times this sacred precinct was transformed into a church. The place where the altar stood is a black square on the white marble pavement. In the above-mentioned main courtyard, a large statue of Artemis was found during the excavations. This indicated that she also was worshipped as the mighty protectors of the city. The foundation walls of the earlier Hellenistic Prytaneum can be seen near the Odeon. The Roman Prytaneum had toppled in the 4th century A.D., and its remains were used in the construction of the Baths of Shcolasticia,

The Odeon (50): Following the path towards the southeast one soon finds this beautiful little theater on the southern slope of Panayirdag. The Odeon was used for poetry-readings, small concerts and prize-giving ceremonies. In Hellenistic times, theatres and odeons were as important as temples in the Fife of the people. Enjoyment for the Romans meant food, games and spectacles. The cry of the decadent people for ((Bread and Circuses.. is witness to the countless mad spectacles that were provided.

Built into the slope of the hill, it could seat 2,200 people. The upper closed part of the building was entered by two side doors. The twenty-three rows of seats were divided by a diazoma into two sections, thirteen below and ten above. The lower seats seem to have been wider than those above. The highest part of the theater was decorated with Corinthian columns made of red granite.

The stage was not in fact very high but gave the impression of being richly ornamented with inscriptions and carving. The Odeon was built during the second century by Publius Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia Papiana.

Celebrations in the Odeon formed a large port of the festivals of Artemis.

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Discover Ephesus - the Guide