Sydney Architecture Images- Circular Quay and area

Copy of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, Athens.


Walter McGill, sculptor


Royal Botanic Gardens.  




Victorian Academic Classical


A compelling antipodean echo. Sandstone


Carved sandstone replica of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, executed by Walter McGill for Sir James Martin, Premier of New South Wales, 1870, for his residence in Macleay Street. Presented to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1943.
  athens greece toursim guide monument of lysicrates

In the Plaka within a small square is erected a choragic monument in the form of a small circular temple called, you guessed it: the Monument of Lysicrates (334 BC.). It was erected to commemorate the Greater Dionysis series of plays and was one of many that used to line the street of Tripods now called Tripodon St.

What the heck is a choragic monument you may ask and do I care?

It means dance as in choreography, 2 Greek words which mean 'dance-write' or to design a dance.

What is know for sure is that its base is 13' high and 10' wide and made of stone from Poros Island and crowned with Hymettos marble instead of Pendellic. The monument its self is 21' high and 9' wide and is a monoptere rotunda of pendellic marble this time.

What's famous about this monument is it is the earliest use of Corinthian columns know and built in the 4th century BC. There is an inscription in ancient Greek still readable today that says:

"Lysicrates, son of Lysitheos, from Kikineus, was a choragus; the Acamantide tribe won the prize of the chorus of boys; Theon was a flute player; Lysiades, the Athenian was the teacher of the chorus; Evainetos was the Archon"


Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis of Athens was erected by the choragos Lysicrates, a patron of many theatrical performances in the Theater of Dionysus, to commemorate the award of first prize in 335 BC or 334 BC, to one of the performances he had sponsored. The choragos was the sponsor who paid for and supervised the training of the dramatic dance-chorus.

The circular structure, raised on a high squared podium, is one of the first Greek monuments built according to the Corinthian order. Its frieze sculptures depict episodes from the myth of Dionysus, the god whose rites developed into Greek theatre. It originally served as support for the bronze tripod that was given as prize. it stands now in its little garden on the Tripodon Street ("Street of the Tripods"), which follows the line of the ancient street of the name, which led to the Theater of Dionysus and was once lined with choragic monuments, of which the foundations were discovered in excavations during the 1980s.

In 1658, a French Capuchin monastery was founded by the site; the monastery succeeded in purchasing the monument (then being called the "Lantern of Diogenes") from the Ottoman resident (1669). The monument became famous in France and England through engravings of it, and "improved" versions became eye-catching features in several English landscape gardens. Lord Byron stayed at the monastery during his second visit to Greece. In 1818, friar Francis planted in its gardens the first tomato plants in Greece. In 1829, the monks offered the structure to an Englishman on tour, but it proved to be too cumbersome to disassemble and ship. Lord Elgin negotiated unsuccessfully for the monument, by then an icon in the Greek Revival.

The monastery was demolished during the Greek war of Independence, 1821. French archaeologists cleared the rubble from the half-buried monument and searched the area for missing architectural parts. In 1876-1887 the architects François Boulanger and E. Loviot supervised a restoration under the auspices of the French Government.

Famous English versions of the Choragic Monument appear in the gardens at Shugborough, Staffordshire and Alton Towers, among many others.

In the US, the Choragic Monument was adapted for Civil War memorials in Connecticut [1], [2], and capped many Beaux-Arts towers.

Lusikrates Monument

Choregic monument erected on the west side of the Street of the Tripods, by Lysikrates, in 335/34 B.C., according to an inscription preserved on the architrave.
The circular building rests on a square podium of poros stone (2,93 m. long on each side), and consists of six Corinthian columns of Pentelic marble alternating with panels of Hymettian marble. The columns are among the earliest examples of the use of the Corinthian order in Athens.
The monument is decorated with a frieze depicting scenes from the life of Dionysos. The upper surface of the monolithic roof was ornamented with carved leaves that ended at an acanthus-shaped base which supported the choregic tripod, not preserved today.
The monument, known also as the "Lantern of Diogenes", was incorporated in the Capucin monastery in 1669, and was used by the monks as a reading-room and library. The monks opened an entrance by removing one of the panels on the northwest side. The monastery was destroyed during the Greek Revolution in 1821.

In 1845 French archaeologists cleared the monument of the debris and searched the area for the missing architectural parts. In 1876-1887 the architects Fr. Boulanger and E. Loviot began the restoration which was completed under the auspices of the French Government. Excavations conducted in 1982-85 at Lysikratous Square, completed the investigations made by Al. Philadelpheus and revealed the foundations of the adjacent choregic monuments.

Lysikrates monument is the only choregic monument preserved almost complete, and is the most interesting feature of the modern Lysikratous Square.