in a recess of the S arm of the Saronic Gulf. Its territory reached to the Gulf of Argos on the W, on the
N to the boundaries of Corinth, and on S and E to
Hermione and Troezen. In its few well-watered valleys
the vine flourished (“vine growing Epidauros” in Hom.
The city was founded on the rocky hill of the small
peninsula of Akte (Nisi) near modern Palaia Epidauros. There are remains on the acropolis of the peninsula
(walls and houses), in the sea (submerged remains of
the ancient harbor and several buildings belonging to
the lower city), and in the neighboring area at Nea
Epidauros. Numerous prehistoric and Geometric finds
have come from these areas.
Epidauros took part in the Trojan War (Il
and was a member of the Kalaurian Amphictyony during
the 7th and 6th c. B.C. (Strab. 8.374
). At the end of the
6th c. B.C. its ruler Prokles married his daughter Melissa
to Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, who murdered her
and annexed Epidauros (Hdt. 3.50-52
; Paus. 2.28.8
the Persian Wars Epidauros sent eight ships to the sea
battle off Artemision, 800 men to the battle of Plateia,
and ten ships to the battle of Salamis (Hdt. 8.2
, 43, 72;
9.28, 31). Afterwards the city was consistently unfriendly to Athens and continued steadfastly in alliance
with Sparta throughout the Peloponnesian War and later
on, even after the battles of Leuktra (371 B.C.) and
Mantinea (369 B.C.). Epidauros was involved in the
Lamian War (323-322 B.C.: Diod. Sic. 18.11.2
), and in
243 B.C. was a member of the Achaian League (Paus.
; Plut. Arat
. 24). From 115-114 B.C. on, Epidauros
was allied to Rome as a friend. The last mention of
Epidauros is in the 6th c. A.D. when it was included in
the Synekdemos of Hierokles.
The Sanctuary of Asklepios
This was always under
the management of the city. It lies SW of it, in the middle of the Argolid peninsula, near the modern town of
Ligourio (9 km by the old road, 18 km by the new
highway). It comprises 160 sq km in the verdant valley
enclosed by Mt. Arachne together with the lower peak
of Titthion which lies in front of it, and by Mts. Koryphaion and Kynortion. Here in archaic, perhaps even in
prehistoric, times the god or hero Malos or Maleatas
was worshiped. He had his own sanctuary, which is a
little outside the Sanctuary of Asklepios on the slope of
Mt. Kynortion above the theater. Long before the cult of
Asklepios and his father Apollo was established the
inhabitants of the area gathered at the Sanctuary of Malos
in spring to celebrate the regeneration of nature and the
end of winter. These festivals, as in Delphi and Delos,
were associated with teleological and metaphysical ideas
as well as with the operation of the temple as an oracle.
The evident relation of this cult to that of Apollo very
early allowed a merging of the two. In historic times,
Apollo, already the dominant god in the precinct, took
on the surname Maleatas.
Asklepios, the mythical hero-doctor, son of Apollo
and Korone, learned medicine from the centaur Chiron.
It is not known when the worship of Malos was superseded by that of Apollo and Asklepios. The contention
of the Epidaurians that the worship of Asklepios was
autochthonous there and not introduced from Trikka in
Thessaly, a view which the poet Isyllos also tried to promote in the 4th c. B.C., is not proved. When other places,
like Messenia, however, claimed the oldest cult, the temple of Delphi ruled for the Epidaurians (Paus. 2.26.7
Nevertheless, up to the present, the finds from the excavations in the Asklepieion are not older than the end
of the 6th c. B.C.
In the last quarter of the 5th c. B.C. the cult of Asklepios enjoyed a sudden upsurge in Epidauros, to reach
its peak in the 4th c. B.C. The Panhellenic Games and
horse races, the Asklepieia, which were traditionally held
every four years, were enriched around 400 B.C. by
poetry and music contests (Pl. Ion
530). At that time
the cult spread throughout the Greek world, so that more
than 200 new Asklepieia were built, the most notable
being in Athens (420 B.C.), in Kos, in Pergamon (4th
c. B.C.), and in Rome (293 B.C.)—all under the patronage of the sanctuary in Epidauros. In the 4th c. B.C. the
Hellenistic world, under the influence of radical internal
and external changes now clung with especial fervor to
this new philanthropic god, a healing doctor and savior.
The manifest reverence towards the god resulted in the
metamorphosis of the sanctuary's enclosure, which had
been unadorned up to the 5th c. B.C., into a place filled
with countless offerings and monuments, most of them
remarkable examples of 4th c. B.C. Greek art. The prosperity of the sanctuary continued through the Hellenistic
period. Treasures and choice works of art were ceaselessly heaped up in it. The treasures were looted by Sulla
in 87 B.C. (Plut. Sull
. 12.6; Paus. 9.7.5
) and again by
pirates in 67 B.C. (Plut. Pomp
The sanctuary enjoyed a new flowering in the 2d c.
A.D. when, because of the reigning climate of spiritual
anxiety, there grew a strong inclination towards religious
salvation. In consequence of this inclination new gods
were introduced into the sanctuary: Ammon, Sarapis,
and Isis, as evidenced by the discoveries there of dedicatory inscriptions. In A.D. 163 the senator Sextus Julius
Antoninus gave generously for the repair of many ruined
buildings and for the erection of new ones to meet the
needs of the sanctuary and of the worshipers. Among
these was the Temple of Apollo and Asklepios under
the Egyptian epithet (Paus. 2.27.7
). It is worthwhile
to note that even in the great days of the sanctuary in
the 4th and 3rd c. B.C., and again in the 2d c. A.D., while
the religious buildings were all of small dimensions, the
buildings necessary for visitors and patients (enkoimetenon, baths, gymnasium, katagogeion, stoas, etc.) were
two-storied and large, thus surrounding and hiding the
others. In A.D. 395 the Goths under Alaric raided the
sanctuary. The triumph of Christianity ended the sanctuary's rites in mid 5th c., but Christ and the saints took
the place of the healer-god. In the N part of the sanctuary
a five-aisled early Christian basilica was built in the
end of the 4th c. A.D. Religious healing evidently continued there.
Ancient literary sources and relevant inscriptions
found in the sanctuary give a great deal of information
about the cures. Therapy was based on the belief that,
since an individual's sickness had a psychosomatic
origin, the power to restore health was likewise to be
sought within him (Democr.: Diels, Dox. Graec.
. II 183.7; 192.4; Galen: Diels II 339.5). The
therapy of the doctor-priests, therefore, aimed at the
rousing and augmentation of an inner power of restoring
health, which was, in fact, the harmony of soul and
body (Diels 451; II 463.25). This type of therapy
was also practiced by the Pythagoreans, whose founder
was held to be the son of Apollo. Although this therapy
often led to superstition, it nevertheless presented a
basis for scientific medicine and proved the importance
of psychosomatic factors in the control of health. Consequently, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, although the practice of medicine was generally taken
away from religious control, doctors traced their lineage
and inspiration to Asklepios, and called themselves his
From the middle of the 17th c.
travelers came to see the sanctuary. A systematic excavation of it was undertaken in the 19th c., during which
most of the remains now preserved were uncovered, as
well as important literary inscriptions on stone, among
them the Paean of Isyllos. In 1946 a small trial excavation was made in the sanctuary and a small part of the
Temple of Apollo Maleatas was studied.
In the sanctuary a museum houses the fragments of
the most noteworthy buildings (the tholos, and the
Temples of Asklepios and Artemis) and much of the
sculpture, although the rest of the sculpture, particularly that from the Temples of Asklepios and Artemis
is in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
The Temple of Asklepios 380-375 B.C.
Only the foundations are preserved, but the architectural fragments
discovered and an inscription concerning the building
of the temple allow the reconstruction of its original
form. It was the work of the architect Theodotos, and
although it was one of the smallest Doric peripteral
temples in Greece (6 x 11 columns; 23.06 x 11.76 m)
with no interior colonnade and no opisthodomos, still
it was one of the most splendidly ornamented, with a
floor of black and white marble slabs, and inlays of
ebony, ivory, gold, and other precious materials on the
door and elsewhere. In the temple stood the chryselephantine statue of Asklepios by Thasymedes of Paros
In the W pediment was an Amazonomachy. In the
E pediment was the Sack of Troy, apparently with 22
figures, 11 male and 11 female, which were perceptibly
larger than those of the W pediment. The two groups
are basically of a different technique. The figures of the
W pediment, although in active conflict, have a soft
and flowing form. On the other hand, the figures of
the E pediment with their harshly geometrical articulation and forceful constriction, with their drapery schematically rendered in deep folds and sharp-edged ridges
or planar surfaces, create an intense chiaroscuro effect.
The W acroteria, filled out by new fragments, have
a central Nike figure, as may be inferred from a new
fragment with feathers carved in relief which fits into
her left shoulder. The two lateral acroteria are Aurai.
The central acroterion on the E side must have been a
group of male and female figures, the females represented now only by a left hand. This group must be
placed in this position since, unlike all the others, it is
worn on all sides, and does not have the cutting necessary for fixing it to the tympanum of the pediment. The
corners of the pediment must have been occupied by
figures of Nike.
The above observations on the sculpture are reinforced also by the building inscription discovered in
the sanctuary. According to this inscription, Timotheus
did the “typoi,” which must be interpreted as small
models of the statues. The making of one pedimental
group was entrusted to Hektorides, the other to a man
whose name is not preserved. It is also noted that one
of the two acroterial groups was entrusted to Timotheus,
and the other to a sculptor of whose name only the
first three letters, Theo . . . , are preserved. Unfortunately the inscription does not specify which end of
the temple each of these men worked on.
Temple of Artemis
Late 4th c. B.C. The temple is
small, Doric, hexastyle prostyle. Ten columns, which
ran around the inside of the temple, were Corinthian.
The gutter spouts, of marble like the roof, took the
form of dog heads.
The Tholos or Thumele
A circular building whose
underground center is labyrinthine (diameter ca. 13.36
m), composed of three concentric walls, each of which
has a door and beside it a partition running crosswise,
closing off the circular passageway in one direction.
To get from the outside to the center one must traverse
the whole circuit of each passageway, and reverse direction in the next. This building, whose purpose remains unknown, was built in the 6th c. B.C. and is closely
associated with the cult of Asklepios. In the years 360-320 B.C. the Argive architect and sculptor Polykleitos
the Younger enlarged the building and encircled the
original part with three concentric rings (diameter
21.68 m). The outer ring is a Doric peristyle, the next
is the wall of the building, and the inner one a Corinthian colonnade. In the center the well-like opening was
left. The peak of the conical roof was crowned by an
exquisitely worked acanthus. In this new version of the
tholos there was abundant use of black and white marble
as well as poros. The numerous floral and geometric
decorations in the paneling, the orthostates, the parastades, the doors, and the cornice establish this building
as one of the most beautiful and most representative
of 4th c. architecture. The interior was decorated with
painted panels, the work of the painter Pausias.
Enkoimeterion or Abaton
A large poros porticoed
building of the 4th c. B.C. (70 x 9.50 m), which is divided near the middle into two sections: the E had a
single story; the W, which was a little later, had two
stories owing to the steep slope of the ground. The
building was closed off at the rear by a wall, and in
front an open colonnade of 29 Ionic columns supported the roof. An inner row of columns divided the
building in two lengthwise; the interspace between the
columns was filled by a wall. The sleeping-in of believers took place in this closed-off inner room, which
communicated with the open portico through doors.
The sleeping-in also took place in the lower floor of
the W section. In the SE corner of the enkoimeterion
was discovered a well filled with inscribed tablets describing miraculous cures. A square structure at the
W end was a fountain of the 4th c. B.C.
This sacred building, known from inscriptions of the 4th and 3d c. B.C., seems to have
been rebuilt by the senator Antoninus (Paus. 2.27
may have been the temple-style building W of the Temple
This was a sanctuary dedicated to the
Dioskouroi, which is known from inscriptions of the
Roman period. Some authorities place it near the Temple of Artemis, others to the NE of it.
The Old Abaton
An almost square building (24.30 x
20.70 m) of the second half of the 6th c. B.C., with
closed passageways surrounding it on three sides.
Baths of Asklepios and the Library
Located at the
NE corner of the enkoimeterion, they were probably
built by the senator Antoninus.
Temple of Aphrodite (?)
This name is applied to a
temple which is unique in the Peloponnese. It is pseudoperipteral, set on a krepidoma of four steps. Across the
front are four Ionic columns, and in back of each
corner column is another single column. Around the
outside of the cella walls ran a row of columns connected to the wall like pilasters. They were placed one
at each corner of the E wall, four along the W wall,
and five each on the N and S walls. The columns which
ran around the inside of the cella were Corinthian.
The fine workmanship and the decoration of the architectural members were clearly inspired by those of the
tholos, and date this building to the end of the 4th or
the early 3d c. B.C. The statue of Aphrodite with a
sword, which was found in the sanctuary, may have
stood by this temple. It is Hellenistic, possibly the work
of Polykleitos the Younger.
This is Hellenistic. The baths are NW
of it and W of them is a large building of unknown
purpose, consisting of a portico, a peristyled court, and
This lies on the NW side of the sanctuary, where the Sacred Road from Epidauros comes ln.
The sanctuary, however, was not enclosed by a peribolos wall, and only in the 4th c. A.D. was it protected
by a double wall. To the E of the propylaia, a villa
was built in the 5th c. A.D. and an Early Christian
basilica at the end of the 4th c. The five-aisled basilica
with a narthex was dedicated to St. John. To the N
of the propylaia was the necropolis of the sanctuary.
A Large Porticoed Building
Of the Classical Greek
period, with two colonnades, the outer Doric and the
inner Ionic. It was repaired by Antoninus (Paus. 2.27.6
West of it were baths built in the Roman period. SW
of these is the Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods (?),
which is a square building with a portico on the front
and a square court with three entrances behind. Near
this shrine was a house of the Late Roman period.
(?). A rectangular structure of the Classical
period with a four-sided interior courtyard. The stoa
along its N side was perhaps the Stoa of Kotys (Paus.
The Gymnasium or Palaistra
A square building
with an inner peristyled court and porticos and rooms
along the four sides, like the palaistra at Olympia.
The entrance is through a monumental propylon on the
NW side. An odeum was constructed in Roman times
on the site of the gymnasium.
of the Classical Greek Period. A rectangular
building poorly preserved.
A two-storied hostelry for the use
of visitors to the sanctuary. It contained 160 rooms
arranged around four peristyled courts. It is of the
4th c. B.C.
This is the best preserved theater in
Greece, celebrated in antiquity for its beauty and harmonious proportions. The elliptical cavea in the lower
story with 34 rows of seats, the entrances to the
paradoi, the proskenion, and scene-building, the sloping steps, and the orchestra in the form of a full circle
were built of local limestone in the second half of the
4th c. B.C. by Polykleitos the Younger of Argos (Paus.
). In the 2d c. B.C. the cavea above the diazoma
was added, which, with the lower section, makes 55
rows of seats, giving about 14,000 places. The acoustics
of the theater are remarkable, and spectators in the highest seats can hear the actors clearly. At this period additions and changes were made to the scene-building. The
W parados entrance was restored with the original materials, while some new material was incorporated in the
The length is 181 m. It was built in the
later 5th c. B.C. and underwent numerous changes and
additions from then to the Roman period. At both ends
of the track the two stone starting posts are preserved.
In the lower part of the sides of the stadium, in the
middle, are rows of stone seats dedicated by private individuals, and also the remains of seats for judges and
officials of the games. In the N side is an underground
passage for athletes. The hippodrome lies SW of the
stadium about an hour's walk away. It has not been
excavated. To the W of the stadium are the remains of
a house of the Later Roman period with peristyled
The Sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas
This is much older
than the Sanctuary of Asklepios. Its site was inhabited
from the Early Helladic period. The finds show a continuous inhabitation to historic times. The Mycenaean
finds from a deposit (a steatite rhyton with the representation of a procession, terracotta idols, etc.) show
that even at that period the site was sacred. The excavated structures, include a large Temple of Apollo
and two smaller buildings (treasuries?) of the 4th c.
B.C., a stoa of 300 B.C., an altar and a fountain of the
Roman period, etc. The latest of these other buildings
was erected by the senator Antoninus.
: A. Mau et al., Katalog der
Bibliothek des Kais. Deutschen Archaol. Instituts in
(1900-1932) passim; A. Frickenhaus & W. Müller,
36 (1911) 29ff; U. Kahrstedt, Das
Wirtschaftliche Gesicht Griechenlands in der Kaiserzeit
(1954) 175ff; A. Philippson & E. Kirsten, Die Griechischen Landschaften
(1959) III 1, 105ff; K. Syriopoulos,
Προϊστορία τῆς Πελοπννήσου
(1964) passim; R. Hope
Simpson, A Gazetteer and Atlas of Mycenaean sites
: P. Kavvadias,
; id., Τό Ἱερόν τοῦ Σ̓κληπιοῦ ἐν Ἐπιδαύρῳ καί ἡ Θεραπεία τῶν ἀσθενῶν
Lechat & A. Defrasse, Epidaure
; B. Martin &
H. Metzger, BCH
66-67 (1942-43) 327ffI
; A. Orlandos,
; (1956) 269PI
; (1959) 243; (1960)
; (1961) 227 (theater)I
; id., Atti VII Congresso
mt. Arch. Classica
Excavations at Maleatas
: J. Papadimitriou, Praktika
; (1949) 91ffI
; (1950) 194ffI
; id., BCH
73 (1949) 361ffPI
, 530ff; 74 (1950)
; 75 (1951) 113f; 76 (1952) 221.
: P. Foucart, “Sur la Sculpture et la date
de quelques édifices d'Epidaure,” BCH
II (1890) 589ff;
G. Sotiriou, Αἱ παλαιοχριστιανικαί Βασιλικαί τῆς Ἑλλάδος
. (1929) 198ffP
; L. Shoe, Profiles of Greek
; W. Dilke, “Details and
Chronology of Greek Theatre Caveas,” BSA
42ff; B. Berard, “Notes Epidauriennes,” BCH
400ff; E. Fabricius, RE
(1952) 1720ff, s.v. Polykleitos; J. Delorme, Gymnasium
; G. Roux, L'architecture de l'A rgolide aux IV et III siècles avant Jésus
; H. Berve & G. Gruben, Griechische
Tempel und Heiligtümer (1961), 53ff, 157ffPI; M.
Bieber, The History of Greek and Roman Theater (2d
ed., 1961), passimPI; A. von Gerkan & W. Müller-Wiener, Das Theater von Epidauros (1961)PI; R.
Ginouvès, Balaneutike (1962), passim; A. Burford,
“Notes on the Epidaurian building inscriptions,” BSA
61 (1966) 254ff; id., The Greek Temple Builders at
Epidauros (1969)PI; C. Weickert et al., Künstlerlexikon
27 230, s.v. Polykleitos II.
: Ch. Picard, Manuel
, vols. III, IV passimI
U. Hausmann, Kunst und Heiltum
; J. F.
Crome, Die Skulpturen des Asklepiostempels von
; N. Yalouris, Arch.Delt
. 19 (1964)
; id., BCH
90 (1966) 783ffI
; id., Τά ἀκρωτήρια τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος
22 (1967) 25ffPI
, Ergänzungsheft 22 (1965) of JdII
Sh. Adam, The technique of Greek Sculpture in the
archaic and classical period
; B. S.
Ridgway, “The two reliefs from Epidauros,” AJA
; G. Heiderich, “Asklepios,” Dissertation
(1966); M. Bieber, “Bronzestatuette des Asklepios in
Cincinnati,” Antike Plastik
10 (1970) 55ffI
Cult and healing
: R. Herzog, Die Wunderheilungen
von Epidauros, Philologus
Suppl. XXII.3 (1931); R.
Nehrbass, Sprache und Stil der Iamata von Epidauros,
Suppl. XXVII.4 (1935); F. Robert, Thymele
; F. J. & L. Edelstein, Asklepios
2 vols.; B. Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa
.5 (1961) 531ff, s.v. Epidauros; K. Kerenyi,
Der Göttliche Arzt (1956)I.
: J. G. Fraser, Paus. Des. Gr.
(1898) III 234; IG
; W. Peck, Inschriften aus dem
Asklepieion von Epidauros
Leipzig, 60 (1969); B. Kötting, RAChrist
531ff, s.v. Epidauros; F. Kirsten & W. Kraiker, Griechenlandkunde
(1967) I 335ffMP
; E. Meyer, Kl.Pauly
203ff, s.v. Epidauros; B. Conticello, EAA
3 (1960), 358,
s.v. Epidauros; N. Yalouris, EAA
(Suppl.), s.v. Epidauro.