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Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

The Monument of Lysicrates is the best preserved choragic monument in Athens.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1829 A French explorer tried to get it, but failed.

    1892 Its restoration was completed by Francois Boulanger and Eduart Loviot.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

    1669 It was part of the monastery of the Capuchins. It was used as a library and reading room. The monastery, which was destroyed during the Greek Revolution, also hosted Lord Byron.

    1801 The Capuchin Abbot managed to rescue it from Elgin.

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

    334 BC It was constructed.

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

The Monument of Lysicrates is circular, (there are similar small temples) and placed on a quadrilateral pedestal. The pedestal is made of limestone, while the rest of the monument is made of marble from Penteli. There was probably a statue of Dionysus inside the monument. Later, the through-and-through openings between the columns were closed with curved slabs of Hymettus marble. It is the best preserved choragic monument, it is 4m. high and consists of six columns of Corinthian order, making it one of the first examples of the Corinthian order in Athens. It was used more extensively later, in Hellenistic times. It is the only case of a monument that combines Corinthian style and a sculpted frieze. The architrave bears an inscription of the victory of Lysicrates in a children’s dance competition (335/4 BC) and the frieze depicts scenes from the myth of the capture of Dionysus by the pirates, as well as their punishment. On top of the domed roof, there is a base in the form of an acanthus, upon which the choragic tripod (bronze tripod given as a prize to the sponsor) was placed. The monument is also called “Lantern of Diogenes” or Demosthenes, because during the Middle Ages it was believed that the acanthus was the base of a lantern. According to tradition, Diogenes walked around the city holding a lantern, while Demosthenes also studied at night.

What I can't see

The sponsors were individuals with financial standing, who were responsible for covering expenses related to the institution of sponsorship, one of the most important “functions” in Ancient Athens. The institution of sponsorship also included the cost coverage for the theatrical performances. The sponsors were also responsible for the teaching expenses of the performances, which were addressed to every Athenian citizen. There was a jury, which awarded the best performances in the dramatic competitions, so sponsors “won” through these works. In other words, the sponsor would give money to a troupe, and if the troupe won the competition a bronze tripod was given to the sponsor. During the Middle Ages, the monument was bought by the Capuchins. The Greek vendor regretted selling it and initially managed to cancel the transaction. Later on however, the Capuchins won a court case with the recognition that these monuments belonged to the Sultan and were not for sale. The Capuchins however, were given a usufruct instead of full ownership, under the condition that the monument would be protected and freely visited by the Greeks. Here, the Capuchin monks cultivated the first tomatoes in Greece. The claims of France on the monument ended in the 19th century either after a granting of land to the French Archaeological School or, according to many, with an institutional recognition of a Catholic bishop in Athens. A replica of the monument is in the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens.


  • Address: Vyrona and Lyssikratous St.


Travlos J., (1980), Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, New York: Hacker Art Books

Unsigned, (2012), Μνημείο Λυσικράτους, [Monument of Lysicrates], Odysseus, Ministry of Culture,

Last visit 1/10/2013

Yohalas T., Kafetzaki Τ., (2013), Αθήνα, Ιχνηλατώντας την πόλη με οδηγό την ιστορία και τη λογοτεχνία [Athens, Tracing the city guided by history and literature], ESTIA Bookstore

Cade D., (2013), Αθήνα, η αλήθεια, αναζητώντας το Μάνο Χατζιδάκι λίγο πριν «σκάσει η φούσκα», [Athens, the truth, searching for Manos just before the “bubble burst”], Savvalas

Foka Ι., Valavanis P., (1994), Περίπατοι στην Αθήνα και την Αττική, τόποι, θεοί, μνημεία [Strolls in Athens and Attica, places, gods, monuments], Kedros