Epidaurus (now Epidavro), an ancient city of Greece, on the eastern shore of the Peloponnesus, on the Saronic gulf, nearly opposite the harbors of Athens, from which it was distant only a six hours' sail, in the district called Argolis after the decline of Grecian power. Throughout the period of the country's greatness the city and its adjacent territory formed a small independent state. According to Strabo, it was founded by a Carian colony, and originally named Epicarus. It subsequently received an Argive colony, and became a part of the Doric league, of which Argos was the head. It severed its connection with Argos, however, and during the Peloponnesian war was an ally of Sparta. It had an aristocratic constitution, was an important commercial city, and colonized AEgina; but it rapidly declined in the 6th century B. C., its commerce passing into the hands of the AEginetans. It was chiefly distinguished for its splendid temple of AEscula-pius, bearing the inscription, "Let only pure souls enter here," which stood five miles west of the city on the road to Argos, between two mountains, in a thickly wooded grove, in which it was unlawful for any one to be born or to die. The temple was near the centre of this sacred grove, and contained a gold and ivory statue of the god.
Near the temple were the Tholus, a circular structure containing medicines for all diseases, a theatre, the bath of AEsculapius, and temples dedicated to other divinities. Pilgrimages were made to this temple by the sick, and every four years a festival was celebrated here. It was plundered by the Romans. Some of its foundations are still traced, and the theatre is one of the best preserved of all the old Greek edifices. The modern Epidavro is a small village, noted as the place of assembly of the first Greek congress in 1821, which promulgated the constitution called after the place.