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The theatre in Aptera, Greece was very important to public life in the ancient times. Situated on the island of Crete, in Southern Greece, the theatre was a part of the Minoan civilisation, one of the oldest seats of human habituation in Europe.
In Greek mythology, Aptera was the scene of a contest between the Sirens and the Muses. Victory was won by the latter and the Sirens who lost the feathers of their wings in shame cast themselves into the sea. Hence the city came to be named Aptera (literally meaning "without wings"). The antiquated settlement was destroyed and then abandoned due to an earthquake in the 7th century followed by incursions by Arab Saracen pirates.
Today, Aptera is a tourist spot and its theatre in demand. Why? Centuries of silence were broken when the theatre was excavated, restored and open to the public recently. A dramatised narration of a rhapsody from the Odyssey was put on for the public. Actors Sofia Hill and Antonis Myriagos brought Homer alive on stage in the company of musicians Giorgos Kaloudis on the lyre and Ruth Hill on the qanun. Entrance to the performance was offered free of charge.
The theatre is constructed in a Hellenistic pattern, complete with a cavea, orchestra and stage building and an estimated capacity of 3,700 spectators. The project of reconstruction and maintenance was taken up by local archaeological bodies under the guidance of Crete regional authority. Materials used for restoration were similar to what was used for the Acropolis in Athens. According to the state news agency, the event organisers said ‘in the rhapsody we see the heroes crushed not by the blind and uncontrolled vengefulness of the gods but by their own disobedience and overstepping of the limits.”
The Minoan magic is back!
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