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oak tree still remainDodona Oracle & Theater Page 2

One enters via the stadium whose seats rise up on the north side on a bank of earth forming the retaining wall and raised in the 3rd C BC. This theater was restored in 1963 for use at the annual festival of drama. The skene was built using the technique of isodomic masonry and its outer facade consisted of a stoa with 13 octagonal columns. Admittance to the stage was via an arch while access to both parodos was via double gateways with Ionic half columns which lead to the orchestra. A horseshoe drainage channel is well preserved. The cavea (where spectators sat) is partially contained by the the side of the acropolis hill and supported by massive retaining walls in rusticated ashlar masonry and buttressed by towers. It has three banks of seats having 21, 16 and 21 rows with ten stairways.

This very ancient site, 22km southwest of Ioannina, in a beautiful setting, faces Mt. Tomaros, whose summit is at 1974meters/6476 feet. The site is at an altitude of 630meters/2067feet, in a high fertile valley, not far from the modern village of the same name.

the theater of dodonaThe Oracle of Zeus here, is regarded as Pelasgic (from pre-Greek inhabitants) and is reputedly the oldest in Greece. In both the Iliad and the Odyssey it is referred to as 'Wintry Dodona'. Strabo wrote that the oracle was moved here from Skotoussa in Thessaly, in obedience to a command of Apollo, while Herodotus wrote that a dove from Egyptian Thebes landed in an oak tree, indicating the sacred precinct. There are also various accounts of the 'servers' of the oracle's counsel, with Homer describing them as men called selloi (prophets of Zeus), who slept on the ground, and who did not wash their feet.

In Plato's time, the divine message was said to be delivered by priestesses in a state of ecstatic inspiration; while according to Herodotus, the oracle spoke in the rustling leaves in the sacred oaks in sounds amplified by copper vessels suspended from its branches (others say that the copper vessels were beaten by a whip, though how this functioned in relation to the rustling leaves is not explained). The oak tree was quite central to the cult, and was stamped on coins of the time in that area, and the wood of this tree was used in building the Argonauts' boats, which they believed to be imbued with magical or sacred powers that would aid them when aid was needed.

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