The slopes, caves and plateaus of the Acropolis hill were the settings in which gods, heroes and nymphs were worshipped. The south slope was home to two of the most important sanctuaries of the city, those of Dionysos Eleuthereus and Asklepios. It was also the site of several other temples, smaller in size, yet of great importance to the Athenians.

The temple of Dionysos Eleuthereus was the site of the Great or City Dionysia, one of the most important festivals in town, which took place in the beginning of spring (in the month of Elaphebolion). It was from the cult of Dionysos, the god of wine, intoxication and ecstatic dance, that the theatre was born. On the slope above the sanctuary, the plays of the most important ancient Greek tragic and comic playwrights, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, were performed for the first time. The sanctuary and associated healing centre of Asclepios in Athens was founded on the south slope of the Acropolis, through the initiative of Telemachos, an Athenian citizen who, in 420/19 BC, brought a statue of the god from the great temple at Epidaurus. In a stoa beside the sanctuary, patients lay in wait for their miraculous cure by the apparition of the god in their dreams. The numerous votive offerings, often with depictions of the body parts that the god healed, provide evidence of the great importance the god’s cult had for the Athenians.  

At a short distance from the Sanctuary of Asclepios was a small open-air temple dedicated to the Nymphe, who was the protectress of marriage and wedding ceremonies. There, the Athenians dedicated the nuptial bath vases or loutrophoroi, as well as other votive offerings (perfume bottles, cosmetics and jewelry containers, spindle-whorls, symposium vases, figurines, female protomes and painted plaques). The loutrophoroi were luxury vases, painted in the red or black figure technique. Their decorative motifs were related to marriage and reflected the style prevalent at the time.

Clay spindle whorls, dedications of women to the sanctuary of the Nymphe. 6th and 5th c. BC
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