The fragments of this important theatre are located in Episkopi, which was also the location of the temple of the ancient basilica of Niklas. Titus Livius teaches us that the construction of the theat was valiantly sponsored by the grecophile King of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes the fourth. But there was certainly an older construction, built before the second century BC, given the long tradition in Tegea of poetry and tragic speech.
The theatre dominated in the heart of the city and was not exiled to one of the nearby hills. Thus playing the additional role of marketplace, it clearly had an important place in city life. That is to say, it was used in the political life of Tegea.
The existence of the theatre first became apparent to the great Hellenist German Jew, Roht, due to the curves in the ground. The French School of Archaeology then excavated the site bringing to light sections of the entrance arch and two thrones from the seating of the guests of honour that are now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Tegea.
Tegea is located 10 km from Tripoli on the way to Sparta. Tegea etymologically means “sheltered.” It was among the first cities of Arcadia with genuine architecture. It was founded by the grandson of Pelasgos, as told in the well known legend. The great lover of life, Pan, was allegedly born here. The entire city was dedicated to Athena Alea, its nurturing protector. In reality, the city originated from the joining of many independent towns. The municipalities of Korytheon, Gareaton, Filakeon, Kariaton, Iaton, Vorachidon, Manthireon, Echenidon, Afeidantion and the tribes Ipothitida, Kariotida, Apolloniatida and Athinaiatida all merged to form a strong city.
Its population had reached up to 40,000 at its peak and it even minted independent currency. It was the birthplace of great poets such as Klonas and Aniti. The great historian Arianthos was from Tegea as was the tragic poet Aristarchos, lawmakers Antisthenes and Krisos, the Agkaios heroes, Epochos, Echemos, Agapinoras, Atalanti and Diotima. A multitude of great personalities saw the light in Tegea.
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