According to Suidas,* the Athenians began to build the Dionysiac
Theatre, on the south slope of the Acropolis, in the 70th Olympiad
(500-496 b.c.), when the wooden seats of a previous structure gave
way under the weight of the audience which was assembled to witness
a contest between Aeschylus, Choerilus, and Pratinas. Whether this
structure shared the fate of many other important buildings at Athens
during the Persian invasions cannot be determined in the absence of
records ; but that there is work among the present ruins which dates
from the fifth century b.c. there can be no doubt. We are therefore
justified in assuming that even if the Persians destroyed the theatre
in its unfinished state, it was soon afterwards rebuilt; though its com-
pletion was delayed until the beginning of the Macedonian period.
We have no record of the condition of the building after the Persian
wars, during the fifth century or the first half of the fourth century
b.c.; but these are periods which witnessed the rise, perfection, and
decline of the Athenian tragedy and older comedy ; and even though
the theatre at that time may have been largely built of wood, it is
impossible to suppose that it could have been in a very rough or
The first record of work done upon the theatre, later than
that noticed by Suidas, is in a decree of the Athenian Assembly
of Olympiad 109, 2 (343-342 b.c.),| commending the Senate
for caring for the adornment of the theatre ; while from another
* Suidas, under Ylpwrivas : avrriycovL^ero 5e (sc. UpaTivas) Alax^V Te Ka^
Xoip'i\q>, iirl t?)S kfi^Ojj.r]ko(nrjS 'OXufj.Trta.5os, Kal irpaiTos eypai//e 2aTvpous- eViSeiJCvv-
jxivov 5e tovtov avvefir) to. iKpia 4<p' wv ko~tt)K£0~av oi deaTal Trtatlv. Kal £k tovtov
BeaTpou i)Ko5ofj.r]6ri 'h&7)valois.
f C. I. A., II. i, No. 114: e7re[^.eA7)9t7 rrj]s tiiKoa/nlas rod Oidrpov. See
Wachsmuth, Stadt Athen, p. 593, n. 5 ; see also on this whole point, C. Curtius
in the Philologies, XXIV. p. 272, "Zum Redner Lykurgos." For the inscription
especially, cf. Philistor, I. p. 190 ; and A. Riedmauer in Verhandl. d. philol. Ges.
in Wurzburg, 1862, p. 77, col. I.