Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.
So says Wikipedia.
When I hear the word”Siracusa” I put myself right back in 7th grade ancient history class with my teacher, Harry Weddell. It was probably then that I began my interest and fascination with ancient cultures. Two trips to Greece and five trips to Italy later, here I stand at the Ancient Greek amphitheater. I don’t remember the exact details of my 7th grade lessons, but I do remember the feeling of curiosity, fascination, and wonder.
The first theater was built in the fifth century BC and later re-invented to the present form about 200 BC. As is typical, over the centuries many large chunks( the grassy area on the top left) were plundered and used in walls and fortifications around town.
We climbed to the top, despite someone’s protestations that , “we’ll be right out in the open sun.” Well, yeah, we’re in Sicily!!
I thought I heard running water, and sure enough, there were remains of what I’d like to think was an ancient spa. I couldn’t help but give my feet a cooling bath.
Ambling along we came to the Orecchio di Dionisio, the Ear of Dionysius. This large limestone cave has a great sound legend attached to it. The story goes that the tyrant Dionysius (ca. 432–367 BC) used this place as a prison. The wedge shape of the cavern causes peoples’ conversations to be amplified at the roof of the cave, 22m above the floor. Supposedly this enabled guards to spy on prisoners by listening to the amplified sound through a small hidden opening at the top of the cave: even when the prisoners spoke in whispers.
We were treated to a few tourists breaking into singing ” O Sole Mio.” Such fun and so beautiful!
There’s a smaller Roman amphitheater on the same grounds, with evidence of a center stage, caverns behind and underneath the seats, and large gates at either end. We imagined lions and Christians meeting their demise.
Siracusa is a city chocked full of ancient history. So much so that I’ll divide my blog posts into a few entries, so that you’re not as worn out as we were after a day!
Thanks, Mr. Weddell. Ti ringrazio io. . . I’m grateful to you!!