CITIES OF ALEXANDER: DODONI, EPIRUS

Olympias was known to worship at the oracle where priestesses interpreted the rustling of the oak leaves in the sacred grove. It remained an important religious sanctuary right up until the rise of Christianity in the late Roman era.ИСПОЛЬЗОВАНИЕ ФОНОВ ДЛЯ ИЗГОТОВЛЕНИЯ ВИЗИТОК

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Dodoni is located nestled in a mountain valley at the foot of Mt. Tomaros, about 21 kms from the city of Ionnina. You can reach there by taxi although there’s an infrequent local bus service.  There are a few ruins left, the most spectacular the ancient theatre built in the 34d century BC. Performances are still held here during the summer.  Inscriptions and archaeological artifacts have been found in the area from as early as the Mycenaean era. You can see some of these at the museum of Ioannina and others at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

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At Dodoni, Zeus was the chief god worshipped, known as Zeus Naios, God of the Spring.  Below the fabled oak tree there was said to have been a spring. Earlier, the oracle had been dedicated to the Mother Goddess, Dione. Today there is still the offshoot of what is believed to have been the original oak growing at the site of the shrine. The story is that two doves flew from Thebes, Egypt. One landed at the oracle of Ammon at Siwah and the other flew to Dodoni and landed in an oak tree, the tree sacred to Zeus. From the rustling of the leaves in the oak tree and the flight of the birds who nested in its branches, the diviners of Zeus interpreted the council of divinity. The remains of a temple to Zeus build around 500 BC still can be seen.

North of the theatre a gate leads to the acropolis. Part of the walls still stand. There are also the foundations of the bouleuterion and a small temple dedicated to Aphrodite.

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Alexander spent time at Dodoni with him mother, especially during the period when they were estranged from Philip.  Olympias’ influence on Alexander was evident in many of the things he did.  There was a rumour that his real father was the pharaoh shaman Nektenabo who had come to Pella shortly after Philip’s marriage to Olympias to appeal for help in removing the Persians from Egypt.  Olympias, being a cult priestess herself, was intrigued by this fascinating stranger and supposedly claimed that he told her she’d be visited by ‘the golden snake of Ammon” and give birth to a miraculous child. After Philip’s assassination, when Alexander took over the army and set out on campaign to Asia against the Persian, one of his main stops was Egypt where he visited Memphis and the sarcophagus of Nektenabo, and then made a memorable trek over the desert to the oasis of Ammon at Siwah. There he consulted the oracle about his birthright and later refused to even discuss it with his best friend, but said he’d speak about it with his mother when he returned from campaign. From then on, he wore the horns of Ammon on his helmet and deified himself. So was the rumour true, that Nektenabo was his real father?

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