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Miletus Archaeological Site: Hadrianic Odeon (small Theatre renovated by Hadrian in 124 AD), Troy (Ilion), Turkey

Hadrianic Odeon (small Theatre renovated by Hadrian in 124 AD), Troy (Ilion), Turkey

In the early second century AD the provincial city of Ilion built a new theater unlike any architecture it had previously realized. At that time Roman Ilion was still best known for the large Hellenistic sanctuary of Athena (begun ca. 230 BC) with its imposing white marble temple complex bedecking the city’s acropolis. In contrast, the new theater was very small (perhaps the smallest in the whole Aegean area) and had an opulent scenae frons, or stage building. It was first discovered by Heinrich Schliemann’s architect and successor, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, in 1893, but received scant attention from archaeologists at Troy until recently (Aylward 2000, p. 138). Because of its diminutive size the current archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati name it an “odeion,” place for recitation of odes. Briefly described, the Odeion of Ilion had a two-storey scenae of very limited depth, even including the aediculated bays. The foundation tells us how limited in depth the whole construction was, and it also shows an irregular column spacing mirrored about the center. The center opening is slightly wider than the pairs of openings to either side, and the pairs of columns which frame each opening are spaced even closer together. This inflected spacing of the vertical elements tells us the projecting and receding sections of entablature repeat in the upper storey in alignment (or stacking) with the lower entablature. This is in noticeable contrast to the trend since the late first century BC in Miletus and Ephesos where the spacing of the vertical elements is uninflected, thus allowing the projecting entablatures to alternate (or offset) from storey to storey without gross distortion of proportions. A secondary effect of the “in alignment” type of scheme is a greater inflection toward and emphasis of the center; at Ilion the Odeion has a large broken pediment spanning the center three bays at the upper storey, and at the lower storey entablature level there is no concavity, as expected by the normal rules. The upper storey also confounds the rules by including three different orders: Ionic for the major columns, Pergamene for the center bay, and Corinthian for the secondary niches. The whole scheme was a carefully orchestrated composition in white marble elements juxtaposed to colored marbles (blue-grey, violet, pink, coral, red, beige, green and yellow). The emperor Hadrian visited the city in 124. He appears to have ordered new repairs and may have redecorated th

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