Lysicrates’ Monument restoration results in upgrade of whole area

The Monument of Lysicrates, also known as Diogenes’ Lantern, has prompted the general restoration of the area of Tripodon Street, whose name derives from the tripods that the choragi, the ancient sponsors of dramatic plays, set up after winning them at drama contests. Although initially the study carried out by the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities had only focused on the restoration of the monument itself, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) suggested the general upgrading of the square and the ancient ruins nearby, including the foundations of four further choragic monuments and a group of Byzantine graves. The monument was built in 335-334 BC, according to the inscription on its architrave. It is a circular construction, built on a square limestone pillar and consists of six Corinthian-style columns between ridgepoles. The most interesting features about it are the frieze, decorated with images from the god Dionysus’ life, and the acanthus-shaped upper part of the roof which served as a base for the tripod. By 1669 the monument had been incorporated into the nearby monastery of Capucine monks, who had removed one of its ridgepoles to create an entrance and used the construction as a library. During the Greek War of Independence, the monastery was destroyed. In 1845, French archaeologists set out to find the monument’s missing parts. Its restoration, begun by French archaeologists Boulanger and Loviot and sponsored by the French government, was completed in 1892. The excavations carried out in the square between 1982 and 1985 shed additional light on the foundations of nearby choragic monuments. And rumor has it that Lord Elgin was so impressed by the beauty of the Monument of Lysicrates that he wanted to take it away with him.