The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis of Athens was erected by the choregos Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances in the Theater of Dionysus to commemorate the award of first prize in 335/334 BCE, to one of the performances he had sponsored. The choregos was the sponsor who paid for and supervised the training of the dramatic dance-chorus.
The circular structure, raised on a high squared podium, is the first Greek monuments built in the Corinthian order on its exterior. It was originally crowned with an elaborate floral support for the bronze tripod that was the prize Lysicrates' chorus won. Its frieze sculptures depict episodes from the myth of Dionysus, the god whose rites developed into Greek theatre. It stands now in its little garden on the Tripodon Street ("Street of the Tripods"), which follows the line of the ancient street of the name, which led to the Theater of Dionysus and was once lined with choragic monuments, of which foundations were discovered in excavations during the 1980s.
In 1658, a French Capuchin monastery was founded by the site; in 1669 the monastery succeeded in purchasing the monument, then being called the "Lantern of Demosthenes " after the famous Athenian statesman of the 4th c. BCE. A reading of its inscription by Jacob Spon established its original purpose. The young British architects James "Athenian" Stuart and Nicholas Revett published the first measured drawings of the monument in their Antiquities of Athens, London 1762.
The monument became famous in France and England through engravings of it, and "improved" versions became eye-catching features in several English landscape gardens. Lord Byron stayed at the monastery during his second visit to Greece. In 1818, friar Francis planted in its gardens the first tomato plants in Greece. In 1821 the convent, which had enclosed the monument, used as a storage for books, was burned during the Ottoman occupation of Athens, and subsequently demolished, and the monument was inadvertently exposed to the weather. In 1829, the monks offered the structure to an Englishman on tour, but it proved to be too cumbersome to disassemble and ship. Lord Elgin negotiated unsuccessfully for the monument, by then an icon in the Greek Revival. French archaeologists cleared the rubble from the half-buried monument and searched the area for missing architectural parts.
In 1876–1887, the architects François Boulanger and E. Loviot supervised a restoration under the auspices of the French government. Famous British versions of the Choragic Monument include the Dugald Stewart Monument in Edinburgh, on the tower of St Giles Church in Elgin and in the gardens at Shugborough, Staffordshire and Alton Towers among many others. The Grade I-listed St John the Evangelist's Church, Chichester, now redundant, is topped with a "preposterous miniature" of the monument. In the US, the Choragic Monument was William Strickland 's model for the cupola of the Merchants' Exchange in Philadelphia and copied by him for the cupola atop the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.
The design of the Portland Breakwater Light in Maine was inspired by the monument. It was adapted for Civil War memorials and capped many Beaux-Arts towers, such as The San Remo 's towers in New York. There is also a version in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, New South Wales.