Rhodes Island, Greece.
851 00-09 Rhodes : area 1,401sq. km; perimeter 220km; resident population 115,334; max. altitude 1,216m. Port Authority: 22410 22220, 28888, 28666. Travel and information: www.travel-Rhodes .com
Rhodes Travel Guide
Around the base of the Acropolis hill are three further important ancient sites. Below the southwest side, and reached by taking a right-hand (south) route through the lower town from the church of the Panaghia, is the ancient theatre (4th century bc), whose cavea of seats is cut into the living rock of the slope. Although only the central part is still visible today, its design is clear with a deep diazoma separating the lower nineteen rows of seats from the upper seven. It would have had a capacity of almost 2,000 spectators. A cut in the centre of the diazoma suggests that the customary shrine to Dionysos, divinity of the spirit of drama, was placed here. Opposite the cavea, and across the orchestra, the position of the original proscenium is marked by cuttings in the rock. Almost contiguous with the proscenium of the theatre are the remaining foundations of a large, almost square, building with peristyle which was constructed over a century later than the theatre. This cloister-like building is referred to as the Tetrastoon; its exact function is unknown. The fact that no fewer than three churches had been built on the site in later times, and that a number of Christian burials were found here, would suggest that it was used for cultic purposes in antiquity, since it was always the habit of early Christian communities to transform places of pagan worship into churches or sacred Christian sites. It was here, in the floor of the now demolished church of Aghios Stephanos, that the inscribed stones with the lists of Athena’s priests were found, as well as the ‘Lindian Chronicle’. The Lindian chronicle In 99 bc the people of Lindos commissioned an inscription recording the dedications that had been made in their temple to Athena since its foundation. Two men were selected and instructed to ‘inscribe from the letters and public records and from any other evidence, whatever might be fitting regarding the offerings and the visible presence of the goddess’. First published by the Danish archaeologist, Chris tian Blinkenberg in 1912, it is known as the ‘Lindian Chronicle’, and is one of the longest inscriptions to have survived from the Hellenistic Greek world. It is now in the Archaeological Museum in Copenha gen. The chronicle gives the name of the dedicator, lists the objects dedicated (with a description of the material from which they were made and any inscription they might possess) and finally gives the ‘sources’ that named and described any objects that no longer existed. The dedications include gold, jewellery, weaponry, statuary (e.g. a ‘cow and calf fashioned in wood’, a ‘wooden Gorgon with marble head’, etc.). Amongst those who made the dedications, are mentioned Cleoboulos, Artaphernes (brother and general of the Persian king, Darius), Alexander the Great, Ptolemy I of Egypt, and Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. A fascinating final section of the inscription narrates three miraculous apparitions of Athena that occurred within the temple: the first during the Persian Wars when the goddess promised to intercede with Zeus; the second giving instructions concerning the proper steps to be followed after the pollution of the sanctuary caused by a person’s suicide there; and the third (which were repeated appearances) during the siege of Rhodes by Demetrius Poliorcetes in 305–4 in which the goddess counseled seeking the help of Ptolemy of Egypt. Both for what it reveals of the ‘historicising’ cast of the Hellenistic mind and its emerging concern for ‘documentary’ authority and record, as well as for what it tells us about cultic practice and experience in the Greek world, the Chronicle is a uniquely important document. From the Tetrastoon and the Ancient theatre, it is a short walk down to the harbour of Aghios Pavlos, where St Paul is thought to have landed on Rhodes . Looking back towards the Acropolis from here, the wide, arching cave which undercuts the rock directly below the Temple of Athena is visible. Its name—Panaghia Spiliotissa (Virgin of the Cave)—indicates that it was a place of early Christian worship, which followed a preceding pagan cult. The walls of the cave bear a late inscription of the 3rd century ad, with the name and title of one of the priests of Athena Lindia, Lucius Aelius Aglochartos—perhaps the same individual who added the inscription to the exedra at the entrance to the acropolis, mentioned above. Round the opposite side of the acropolis-rock, beyond the limits of the lower town and on the slope approximately 100m north/northeast of the acropolis, is a site referred to as the Boukopeion—a ‘place for the sacrifice of oxen’. A large number of visible Archaic (6th century bc) inscriptions on the surfaces of the rocks on the ground reveal the area to have had early cultic significance. Vestiges of foundations show there to have been also a size able temple of the Geometric period here (10th century bc). Some scholars have conjectured that this is the site of the unusual ‘fire-less sacrifice’ to which Pindar enigmatically refers in his 7th Olympian Ode (l. 48) in connection with Lindos. The sacrifice of oxen unconsummated by fire would certainly be anomalous in the ancient world: equally plausible as an explanation, is that ‘fire-less’ sacrifice may refer simply to offerings of grain and fruit. In the face of the Hill of Krana behind the town, due west of the acropolis—and clearly visible from it, just above the upper line of the area of habitation—is a ruined Hellenistic chamber-tomb known as the Tomb of Archokrates, dating from c. 200 bc. (Access—difficult—is from the southwest corner of the town.) The tomb is now very decayed, although in front of the entrance there is a well-preserved row of four carved altars, bearing the names of the dead. These were originally placed on the deep rock-cut ledge above the entrance, to which access was gained from the hill above. Originally the mausoleum would have presented an impressive 23m façade, formed by a Doric colonnade with decorated frieze above and pilastered wings to either side; this created a monumental entrance to the funerary chamber which was cut into the hillside. More distant, and magnificently sited on the extrem ity of the northern cape of the ‘Great Harbour’ north of Lindos, is the circular monument known as the ‘Tomb of Cleoboulos’. This is reached by a 30-minute walk which is rewarding for its tranquility and its fine views of Lin dos. (From a signed junction half way down the road to the beach from the main plateia at the edge of the town, a path leads out onto the headland.) The terrain is rough and rocky but carpeted in different seasons with asphodel or saffron-bearing crocus, and punctuated by a few tenacious pomegranate trees. The footpath passes beside another monument to Ioannis Zidgis above the bay; half way along the headland are a couple of windmills, one of which is well-preserved, with a doorstep in marble taken from an ancient building. On the southern tip of the headland, is the circular ‘tomb’ (9m in diameter and c. 1.70m high) conspicuously marking the entrance to the natural harbour above a steep drop into the sea. Its fine masonry—well-finished blocks of Lardos marble, regular in form, but not of identical size—and the meticulous precision of its construction would suggest building work of the 4th or 3rd century bc—certainly later than the (Archaic) age of Cleoboulos (see below). At the corners of the entrance the stone is pleasingly drafted: below and to the right is the projection of part of the threshold. A cross engraved above the door records that the building was used in mediaeval times as a church dedicated to Aghios Aimilianos. The building may not actually be a tomb, even though this remains a probable hypothesis: its similarity to the bases of other Hellenistic towers in the area, and in particular to the lighthouse tower of Akeratos on Thasos , would point to other possible interpretations of its function, which do not necessarily exclude a funerary element: the tower on Thasos , for example, was both a monument to Akeratos as well as a functioning signal point and lighthouse. Tradition alone has connected the building with Lindos’s most famous citizen, and since his name occurs several times in this text it may be worth saying a word here about who Cleoboulos was. Cleoboulos and the ‘seven sages’ A figure of patriarchal wisdom, combining valour, humility and moderation, Cleoboulos was considered one of the ‘Seven Sages’—a loosely defined grouping of early Greek thinkers and doers, revered for their wisdom and first recorded as being seven in number by Plato. The group included (in addition to Cleoboulos): Thales of Miletus, Byas of Priene, Pittacus of Mytilene, Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta and Periander of Corinth. Herodotus gives several instances of their pragmatism and political acuity in Book I of his Histories. Cleoboulos appears to have been an enlightened leader of Lindos in the early decades of the 6th century bc, and presided over the city’s period of greatest prestige and prosperity. He may have had considerable contact with Solon of Athens; he was a talented poet, and like many of his generation had travelled to, and felt the influence of, Egypt and her culture. The immortal guiding epithet, ‘Nothing in excess’, which was inscribed at the entrance to the Oracle at Delphi, is attributed to him.
Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.