Near the Greek theater in Syracuse is the famous “Ear of Dionysius” – an artificial cave cut in the rock. It is 20 m high and 65 long and resembles to a huge human ear. The name was given by Caravaggio when he visited the town in 1608. ( By the way, you can see Caravaggio’s ‘Burial of Saint Lucy’ in the Santa Lucia Church at Piazza Duomo.)
The cave has excellent acoustic. The legend says that Dionysius the Tyrant used the acoustic to hear from outside the conversations of the prisoners conspiring against him. 7000 Athenian prisoners were kept after Syracuse defeated the Athens in 413 and used as slaves in the stone quarries.
Most probably the acoustic was used as ‘special effects’ in performances taking place in the Greek theater nearby.
Another legend says that prisoners who were able citing Aristophanes and Aeschylus’ tragedies were set free, provided with new clothes and some pocket money.
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