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Tripodon Street in Plaka

Tripodon Street in Plaka

Dimitris Simeonidis
24 May, 2024

The road that has had the same name for 25 centuries and is considered the oldest road in Europe – Torch Trails


The famous Tripodon Street has a history and is very important not only in Athens but also in the whole of Greece. It is considered the oldest street of Athens. In addition to this, it is considered to be the longest street in Athens that has kept the same name for 25 centuries. A road on which millions of people have walked over the centuries in many different historical periods.

It was once one of the widest streets in ancient Athens, with a width of six meters. Today he may not be as old, but he remains extremely important.

The history of Athens is lost in the depths of the centuries and with it many things have changed in the city. But there is something that has been the same for 25 centuries. It is the oldest street not only in Athens but in the whole of Europe.

 Starting from long ago, Tripodon Street led from the Theater to the Agora and indeed this was its main utility. It is no coincidence that it was considered and is considered the path of Theater and Fine Arts.

iStock 1318598305 1200x800 1

Pausanias mentioned characteristics about Tripodon Street: "And there is a street from the rectory called Tripodes; from the name of the village, temples as large as this one were erected, bronze tripods." (Pausanias, Greece Tour).

From the reports that have survived we can imagine that since ancient times it was considered the most beautiful and decorated street of ancient Athens. The Athenians started from the Prytaneum down in the Agora and climbed the 800 meter long and 6 meter wide road to reach their final destination, which was the theater of Dionysus. This ancient road was also crossed by the night torchlight processions held in honor of the God Dionysos. Besides, her name is not a coincidence either. He took it from the copper tripods placed along it. A road that today takes you back in time and you think that stories from its decades of life will pop up in front of you.


Pausanias Perieg., Graeciae description
Book 1, chapter 20, section 1, line 2

And there is a road called by the dean tri-
· from where you call the village, temples as far as this
big, and sfisin ephestikasi tripods copper mine,
and worthy of memory even containing works.

As Pausanias mentions in "Greece tour". Tripods were sponsor prizes in the theatrical contests often dedicated to the god Apollo.

Pausanias tells us that the tripods were prizes of the sponsors of the theatrical games that were often dedicated to the god Apollo. That's why the monuments were named sponsor and were placed on the street outside the theater. The tripods were placed on bases, which in the 5th century were simple, while in the 4th they took the form of a small temple



The famous Lysikrates Monument, the surviving sponsor monument of antiquity, is located on the ancient Street of Tripodon. It was built by Lysicrates around 334 BC to support and display the bronze tripod given to him as a prize for his role as sponsor-conqueror.

"It was a particularly popular street for the Athenians of the time, as, when they passed by, they admired the sponsored monuments of the street».                                                                                      

The Monument of Lysikrates, also known as the "Lantern of Diogenes", is a cylindrical stone building, the best preserved sponsored monument of antiquity. He is in Athens, Greece, on the ancient Tripodon street and was built by Lysikrates in 335-334 BC. in order to support and highlight an important object on top of it: the bronze tripod that had been given to him as a prize for his role as sponsor (financier) of the winning play in the last dramatic games. The sponsors were well-to-do citizens who undertook its establishment at their own expense dance, that is, the group of people who participated in plays and official ceremonies. The bronze tripod was the first prize of the theatrical competitions and was awarded to sponsor of the dramatic work. The tripods were deposited in the Sanctuary of Dionysus or it was placed in the neighboring street of Tripodos. And in order to display them in a more majestic way, the tripods were sometimes placed on a high base, which could have the form column, or even a monument in the shape of a temple, such as that of Lysikrates.

The Lysikrates Monument has remained intact in the same location to this day, although the tripod on top of it is not preserved. In 1669, it was incorporated into the neighboring Capuchin Monastery, who turned it into a reading room and library, after they had moved one of the uprights to make way for an entrance. The monastery was destroyed during the Greek Revolution. Later, the monument came under the ownership of the French state for a while. Today the monument is located in Lysikratous square, at the junction of Lysikratous, Byronos and Selley streets.


 Lampadedromia Louvre N3357 n2

Torch relayin ancient Athens

Torch relay in Attica winemaker with red-faced representations of him Fiat By GROUP, 4th century BC, Louvre museum.

The torchlight processions ή torchbearers they were street races with torches, which were part of the program of some of her festivals Ancient Greece. It seems that the institution of torchlight processions is ancient and that they originally took place during festivals in honor of deities related to the worship of fire. In Athens, Greece there were, therefore, initially three, one by Supply (holiday in his honor Prometheus), one by Volcanoes (in honor of Hephaestus) and a last one according to Panathinaia (in honor of her Athena).

The race

It is quite well known how the specific competition was conducted during it classical period in Athens. It was a competition between those coming from his reform Closed tribes. Participating clans, probably five in number in each match, would choose one high school student (called lampadarchis in the rest of the cities of Greece[1]). The latter was responsible for the ranking, at his own expense, of the runners among them teenagers and young men[2] of his race. The race took place on the route between her Academy, which was located to the north-east of Athens, and the Dipyli Gate, with the distance between them being of the order of approximately six stages. Each tribe had forty runners, each of whom covered a distance of about 25 m before handing the torch, which should remain lit, to the next runner. The victory was a team one.

The exact meaning of torchlight processions is unclear, as it remains unknown whether they were a tribute to the gift of fire to humans and its benefits, or, rather, a ritual purification by fire.

Torchlight processions, enjoying special appreciation, gradually and with the passage of time evolved. From the 5th century BC a proliferation of races began to be observed. After the victory in the Marathon, the Athenians added a fourth in honor of the god Diapers. The specific matches took place during the holidays in his honor Theseus, The Hermia, The He gives in, as well as, during it imperial period, in honor of Roman military leaders. The regulations were modified and the matches became, in some cases, individual and no longer team. Torchlight processions on horseback or children made their appearance.

Torchlight processions took place in all its regions Greece and Great Greece, at least until roman period. They remained, however, a purely Greek cultural institution, as the Romans were not interested in it.

It is thought possible that ancient torch relays inspired him Carl Day when the latter incorporated, after 1936, in modern olympic games her relay race olympic flame from Greece to the host city.


Theoretical approaches 

According to Borgeaud, the torch relay referred to by Herodotus (6.105), which formed part of his official worship Diapers after the battle of Marathon, it was probably conducted by teenagers, starting from his altar Prometheus and Hephaestus at the Academy's gymnasium and ended in the cave of Panos at the base of the Acropolis, they were intended to ensure happiness for those who would marry that year[3]. The performance of a nocturnal procession, conducted from the Academy to the base of the Acropolis, essentially the ritual celebration of Pan, essentially mirrored the nocturnal procession held within the context of the Panathenaia. The torch relay followed the same route, except that the Panathenaic race ended at the top of the Acropolis[4].


Middle school

At Ancient GreeceThe high school was public office or mode. As a function it is already known from archaic times, but is well documented in Hellenistic era. The high school principal was responsible for the proper conduct of the games. The specific office varied according to the chronological periods and the cities, while the ancient texts present the high school head as the person in charge of high school, however in Athens, Greece was a simple organizer of torch relays, torchlight races which were held during religious holidays. A distinction should be made between her high school senior classical period and hers Hellenistic and Roman period.

More generally in the Greek world 

With the exception of Athens, the term gymnasiariarch in the Greek world referred to the official who was responsible for the direction of high school. This particular office was most often performed by someone eminently qualified. The high school senior, his superior pedonomou, was responsible for the maintenance, layout and equipment of the high school. He saw to the respect of the regulation by the users of the facilities, the child abuse, the teachers who delivered lessons or lectures, as well as, obviously, the teenagers and the members of the immediately older age group, the young people. The high school headmistress was particularly responsible for the teenagers: she had authority over them and "had to see to their good behavior, their effort during physical exercises, their discipline during their military training and, possibly, their spiritual studies". Finally, he was the one who celebrated the festival of the god or named hero of the high school, usually the Hermia.

During the Hellenistic period, this office gradually turned into mode, undoubtedly one of the most costly for its contractor. The high school teacher often showed great generosity, on the one hand in order to maintain (repairs or new constructions) and to decorate (statues or mercury in honor of the gods) the building, while on the other hand in order to provide oil to the users of the gymnasium, or wine on the occasion of the banquets with which the Hermia. He could also "provide for the development of the abilities of young men by instituting competitions and offering prizes to the winners"


In Athens

At Athens, Greece of the classical period, the gymnasium was an urban function which was undertaken, under other circumstances, by the torch bearer. The high school principal was responsible for organizing and financing a team of athletes in her name race of for the torchlight processions which were included in the number of holidays program:

the Volcanoes: ten high school seniors every year from at least the 421-420 π.Χ. until the 330-329 π.Χ., while, thereafter, possibly every four years until Dimitrios Poliorkitis,

the Supply: probably ten high school seniors each year from at least the 421-420 π.Χ., until his law Territory (335 π.Χ.) at least, and undoubtedly until Demetrius Poliorkites ?

The big Panathinaia: ten high school seniors every four years.

Ο Herodotus mentions a torch relay that took place during his feast Diapers, which was instituted during Persian Wars, however no further information is known about the specific classical period event, and it is unknown if the specific match was sponsored by high school students.

High school seniors were chosen by XD OXXXXXX king based on a list, which was presented to him by the tribes. Specifically, their duty was to select the athletes of their tribe, as well as their coach, their maintenance during their training period and the provision of the corresponding equipment (evandri). In the event that the team won the match, they were obliged to dedicate a monument to the gods. Gymnasium therefore required a significant financial reserve. During his 5th century BC, the wealthy AlcibiadesNikias and Andokidestook over the operation. During his 4th century BC, a high school senior spent twelve months for Supply. The Equal characterizes this operation as one of the most expensive.

Under the Macedonian rule, in Athens the high school principal had the duty to look after the young people in the high schools.


Liturgy (Ancient Greece)

The functions was a source of income for her Ancient Athens, a form of indirect taxation. The wealthiest men of Athens were willing to perform as well as possible various services, which their city determined, with a reward, in the first instance, of brilliancy and philanthropy.

The operations were divided into regular and extraordinary and were either of a military or state nature. Extraordinary were triarchy and the levy, which in fact were directly related to periods of war. The tactics included sponsorshipThe high schoolThe focusThe protectorate or architheory and horse breeding. The latter was imposed only on the five-hundred-and-a-half-year-olds.

The choice of functionaries was not always correct. An Athenian might turn out not to be as wealthy as he had been thought to be when he was assigned the function. His release from this obligation was done either by the decision of a jury or through the process of counter-surrender. When a citizen, who had been assigned a function, considered that someone else was in a better financial situation than he, he could ask to be relieved of this obligation. In fact, he had the right to challenge his fellow citizen either to take over the function or in return to exchange their properties. If, however, the second citizen did not respond positively to the above challenge, the case was tried.

Wealthy citizens who offered large sums for the services were honored by the State, giving them permission to erect a commemorative monument in case of victory of their team in dramatic or nude competitions.


Types of functions



For one year a citizen, the triarch, was designated – at least in name – as the ruler of one three years old. He did not need to be over thirty years of age to be considered a candidate for this position. He was responsible for the good maintenance of the ship and was only responsible for hiring and training his crew and not for paying and feeding them. Tri-hierarchy was the most expensive of the functions, as it could cost up to one talent.


The levy was also costly and was levied in emergencies, especially in times of war.


The sponsor was considered responsible for forming, training, paying and clothing the 15 members of the dance in one tragedy, of 24 in one comedy, of 50 in one laudatory dance or end of a group of dancers pyrrhic. Each time he even competed with the other sponsors to take first place in the relevant races.

Middle school

It was the responsibility of the high school principal to train and pay a team of runners for the torchlight processions, which was held during Panathinaion, of Volcanoes and Supplies.


The host was in charge of providing meals to the members of his tribe during the Great Panathenaia and of Magala Dionysia.

Arch theory

The archbishop assumed the leadership in case of sending an embassy to divination and at the Panhellenic holidays in Olympia, Their Delphi, The NemeaIsthmus and Delo.

Horse breeding

The horse breeder undertook the disposal and breeding of horses either for the army or for great celebrations and competitions.



In 1936 Hitler revived the Torch Relay even though it was not part of the Olympic Games until then

On August 1, 1936, Hitler declared the opening of the 11th Olympiad. Solemn drumbeats led by the famous composer Richard Strauss heralded the dictator's arrival to the mostly German audience. Hundreds of athletes in the official opening uniforms marched into the stadium, in groups, in alphabetical order. Inaugurating a new ritual, a runner entered the stadium carrying the torch of the Olympic light carried by torchbearers from the site of the ancient games in Olympia.



The torch relay was first held at the 1936 Olympic Games. Each of the 3.422 torchbearers covered one kilometer (0,6 mi) following the route from the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia to Berlin. The German ex-Olympian Carl Diem designed the torch relay based on the one that had taken place in Athens in 80 BC. Diem's ​​idea served Nazi propagandists well, who used torchlight parades and demonstrations to attract Germans, especially young people, to the Nazi movement.

The torch was manufactured in 1936 by Krupp, a German company known primarily for the production of steel and weapons.


Ancient Sources


Etymologicum Magnum, Etymologicum magnum
Kallierges page 504, line 18

                                             They are done
but three torch relayin Kerameic, Athens,
Hephaestus, Prometheus.

Scholia In Aristophanes, Scholia in frogs (scholia veteran)
Argumentum-scholion sch ran, fresh 131, line 2

                                                        afiemenen tnen lampada: The torchbearers
race. torch relayand they become three in the Horn
meikῷ, Athena, Hephaestus, Prometheus.


Aeschylus: Agamemnon (312-314)

Ancient Text

those my torchbearer counties,
      successively paid successors;
      The first and last player wins.


Aeschylus: Agamemnon (312-314)

Performance: Ioannis Gryparis

Such torchbearers I have laws
to give and take with each other
and the first to come was the last to win.


Herodotus Histories Villion 8being   Urania (98.2)

Performance by Dimitris Simeonidis

And these postmen go so fast that no mortal can arrive faster. The Persians achieved this in this way. They say that as many days are the road they have to travel, in so many places stand horses and men appointed at daily intervals. Neither the snow, nor the rain, nor the heat, nor the night prevents them from making the appointed trek as quickly as possible. So the first, after making his way, delivers the orders to the second, the second to the third, and in this way the orders are delivered from one to the other, like the torch-carrying of the Greeks, which they do on the festival of Hephaestus. The Persians call this running of the horses agarion.


Herodotus Histories Villion 8being   Urania (98.2)

Ancient Text

[98.1] These things Xerxes wrote and sent to Persia announcing the impending disaster. But of these angels there is nothing that is made mortal; thus, this is found out last year. for they say that every road is like a day, so that horses and men travel every day, so that every horse and man is ready; there is no rain, no rain, no night the fastest way. [98.2] the one who does not perform the first action delivers what is commanded to the second, and the second to the third; and the one who has already put it in is delivered to one and another, as in Greek the torch-lighting of Hephaestus they complete. this dram of horses is called by the Persians agarian


Plato Politia A, 328a

Ancient text

[328a] And Adeimantus, ἆρα γε, ἔ δ' ος, do you not know that there is a lamp at the evening from the horses of the god?

ἀπ' ἵππον? It was me; new to this. having torches shall they be spread among others by preaching to whom? or how do you say?

Performance by Dimitris Simeonidis

Did Adeimantos take the floor, don't you know that in the evening there will be a torchlight procession on horseback in honor of the Goddess Athena? Equestrian? I asked, this is truly an unprecedented sight.holding torches will they pass us from hand to hand while galloping along with the horses? or what else do you say?


Aristophanes Vatrachis (1089-1098)

Performance by Polyvios Dimitrakopoulos

Of all these in the city

 clerks all came out,

 in their words immoral

 and as a kind of public funds,

 and they cheat the country.

 They are naked now,

 nor can he bring

 no one the torch [of the wrestler in hand].


 But God, no one is [in perfection];

 I burst out laughing

 when in Panathinaia I

 I happened to notice

 a white man, fat and slow,

 staying back and forth

 to make turlomenos very bad job.

 And those who were at the Kerameikos gates [at the games]

 they hit him on the sides and the stomach,

 in the ass, in the hips,

 and he, eating broad sticks, gained a leg

 extinguishing his lamp with a [vulgar] fart!


Mousaios: Aristophanes comic: Ranae

Aristophanes Frogs (1089-1098)

Ancient Text

and profanity-mongers    1085
deceiving the people,
no one brings a candle
under nakedness.
But God will not see, as if they were dead
Panathinaios are laughing, then don't    1090
the evening man calls them kypses
white pion remaining
and whose problems: the Kerames
in those gates of his children
iliac flank gaster,    1095
but the one printed in these squares
Blowing out the lamp, they left.


Pausanias Greece Tour

Pausanias Perieg., Graeciae description
Book 1, chapter 30, section 2, line 6

                                                 in Aka-
and the altar of Prometheus was built, and they
having them towards the city burning candle;
but the race of the man on the road keep the tenth year
burn out, but the years of victory will not wear off
to the first, and to the second instead of him therefore·
if not none
To this end, the third is the state;
everything is depreciated, there is no one who lacks the


Suda, Lexicon
Alphabetic letter lambda, entry 88, line 2


<Lambados.> and lampasi. three Athenians celebrate a festival

pados, Panathenaios, Hephaistios and Promethios. Hstros de fisi,

lampada, who first killed the Athenians by Hephaestus, under

memory of the one who understood the need for fire and taught others.



Lampros S. Vretos: Dictionary of Ceremonies, Festivals and Games of the Ancient Greeks. Koniodari Publications. Athens, 1999


Athanasia Zografou: Torchlight processions in ancient Athens


Plato State

Aristophanes : Frogs

Histories of Herodotus: Book 8being   Heavens

Thesaurus of Greek Language (TLG)

Dictionary: SOUDAS", or "S0Y(I)DAS"



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