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Title: Greek Athletic Sports And Festivals
Author: Gardiner, Edward Norman
Language: English
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                  Greek Athletic Sports and Festivals



                        E. NORMAN GARDINER, M.A.

                               ΜΗΔΕΝ ΑΓΑΝ

                       MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
                      ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON


                             F. E. THOMPSON

                           AND HIS FRIENDSHIP


It is my hope that the present volume may prove of interest to the
general reader as well as to the student of the past. For though its
subject may seem at first sight purely archaeological, many of the
problems with which it deals are as real to us to-day as they were to
the Greeks. The place of physical training and of games in education,
the place of athletics in our daily life and in our national life, are
questions of present importance to us all, and in considering these
questions we cannot fail to learn something from the athletic history of
a nation which for a time at least succeeded in reconciling the rival
claims of body and of mind, and immortalized this result in its art.

This is my first and perhaps my chief justification for the length of
this volume. My second is that there is no existing work in English on
the subject, nor even in the extensive literature which Germany has
produced is there any work of quite the same scope. The _Gymnastik u.
Agonistik_ of J. H. Krause is a masterpiece of erudition, accuracy and
judgment. But this work was published in 1841, and since that date
excavation and the progress of archaeology have brought to light such a
mass of new material as to change entirely our outlook on the past. The
excavations at Olympia have for the first time enabled us to trace the
whole history of the festival and to treat Greek athletics historically.

In the first part of this work I have endeavoured to write a continuous
history of Greek athletics. The attempt is an ambitious one, perhaps too
ambitious for one whose occupation has left him little time for
continuous study. The long period covered involves a multitude of
difficult and disputed problems, which it is impossible within the
limits of this work to discuss fully. In all these cases I have
endeavoured to sift the evidence for myself, and to form an independent
judgment. Many of the details may be obscure, and many of my conclusions
are doubtless open to criticism. Yet the general outline of the story is
clear, and I venture to think that it has a more than passing interest
and importance.

The second part is more technical, though it may perhaps appeal to those
who are actively interested in athletics. It consists of a number of
chapters, each complete in itself, dealing with the details of Greek
athletics. Many of the chapters are taken from articles published by me
in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_. The chapters on the Stadium, the
Gymnasium, the Hippodrome and Boxing are entirely new. In the first two
of these chapters will be found the latest results of excavations at
Delphi, Epidaurus, Priene and Pergamum, results which are not readily
accessible to the English reader.

The arrangement of the work has involved a certain amount of repetition,
and the introduction separately and in their historical order of certain
details which it would be clearer perhaps, and certainly more
picturesque, to group together. But it seemed to me worth while to
sacrifice something of clearness and effect in order to bring out the
historical aspect of the subject, an aspect which is completely obscured
in most of our text-books. Further, I have endeavoured clearly to
distinguish between what is certain and what is conjectural. The words
“perhaps” and “possibly” recur, I am only too conscious, with monotonous
persistence. But where the evidence is too inadequate or too
contradictory to admit of certainty, the only safe and honest course is
to confess ignorance and to hope that the discovery of some new
manuscript may dispel our doubts. The neglect of this distinction
between the conjectural and the certain has been a fertile source of

Great importance has been attached to the evidence of contemporary
monuments, and illustrations have been given of the principal monuments
described. In their selection preference has been given _ceteris
paribus_ to objects in the British Museum, because these are likely to
be most accessible to the majority of readers. In the case of vases the
interpretation often depends on the composition, and whole scenes have
as far as possible been reproduced rather than single figures. Museum
references are appended to the illustrations wherever available, and
also some indication of the date of the objects illustrated. Literary
references will be found in the list of illustrations.

Many of the illustrations have been prepared expressly for this book,
and for these I am indebted to the careful and excellent work of Mr.
Emery Walker. A large number are reproduced from articles by myself and
others which have appeared in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, and in
expressing my thanks to the Council of the Hellenic Society for
permission to reproduce them I should like to render testimony to the
value of the Library of that Society to any one who, like myself, does
not live in the vicinity of any great Library. But for the generous
facilities which this Society affords for borrowing books, any work
which I have been able to do would have been almost impossible.

In spelling, consistency appears to be unattainable, and I have in the
main adopted the compromise recommended in the _Journal of Hellenic
Studies_. In the case of proper nouns, names of places, people,
buildings, festivals, the Latin spelling has been adopted, in the case
of other Greek words the Greek spelling, except where the Latin form is
so familiar that any other form would be pedantic. Names of months are
treated as purely Greek words. With regard to ει, _ei_ has been kept
where it occurs in the stem of a word, _e_ is employed _usually_ in

It is impossible to mention here the many authors whose works I have
laid under contribution. Many of my debts are acknowledged in the notes.
But I cannot omit to mention three—Dr. J. H. Krause, of whose work I
have already spoken; Dr. Ernst Curtius, the writer of the chapter on the
history of Olympia in the great work which he edited with Dr. Adler; and
Dr. Julius Jüthner, whose _Antike Turngeräthe_ and edition of
Philostratus’ _Gymnastike_ published only last year are indispensable to
any student of the subject. To Dr. Jüthner I must also express my thanks
for his generous permission to make use of the illustrations in his

Among the many friends who have helped me I should like especially to
thank Professor E. A. Gardner, Mr. G. F. Hill, and Mr. H. B. Walters for
their constant readiness to advise me and to give me the benefit of
their special knowledge of Greek sculpture, coins and vases. Many of the
illustrations of sculpture are taken from Professor E. A. Gardner’s
_Handbook of Greek Sculpture_, and the coins have been especially
selected for me by Mr. G. F. Hill. Nor must I omit to mention Louis
Dyer, whose death occurred while I was working on the early history of
Olympia. He had himself projected a work on Olympia, to which I hoped to
refer in confirmation of my views. His minute and accurate knowledge,
his readiness to impart his knowledge, his enthusiastic and unselfish
sympathy made his death an irreparable loss to me. Many corrections are
due to the conscientious care of another of my friends, Herbert Awdry,
who was engaged in reading my proofs almost up to the day of his death.

It is a fitting circumstance that this book should have been produced
under the auspices of Professor Percy Gardner, seeing that he was
unconsciously the originator of it. My interest in the subject was first
aroused by the chapter on Olympia in his _New Chapters from Greek
History_, which I read on my return from a cruise in the “Argonaut,” in
the course of which I had visited Olympia. Professor Percy Gardner has
read the book both in manuscript and in proof, and many improvements are
due to his suggestions. He is, however, in no wise responsible for the
views expressed, much less for any errors which I may have committed.




        List of Illustrations                                xv

        List of Commonest Abbreviations                     xxv

        PART I


        1. Introductory                                       1

        2. Athletics in Homer                                 8

        3. The Rise of the Athletic Festival                 27

        4. The Age of Athletic Festivals, Sixth Century      62

        5. The Age of the Athletic Ideal, 500-440 B.C.       86

        6. Professionalism and Specialization, 440-338      122

        7. The Decline of Athletics, 338-146 B.C.           146

        8. Athletics under the Romans                       163

        9. The Olympic Festival                             194

        10. The Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean Festivals     208

        11. The Athletic Festivals of Athens                227

        PART II


        12. The Stadium                                     251

        13. The Foot-Race                                   270

        14. The Jump and Halteres                           295

        15. Throwing the Diskos                             313

        16. Throwing the Javelin                            338

        17. The Pentathlon                                  359

        18. Wrestling                                       372

        19. Boxing                                          402

        20. The Pankration                                  435

        21. The Hippodrome                                  451

        22. The Gymnasium and the Palaestra                 467

        BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        511

        INDEX                                               519

        INDEX OF GREEK WORDS                                531

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

        1. Boxer on steatite pyxis. Cnossus. (_B.S.A._       10
        vii. p. 95)

        2. Armed combat on Clazomenae. Sarcophagus in        21
        British Museum. (Murray, _Sarcophagi in B.M._,
        Pls. ii., iii.)

        3. Funeral games on Amphiaraus vase. Berlin, 1655.   29
        (_Mon. d. I._ X., Pls. iv., v.)

        4. Funeral games on Dipylon vase. Copenhagen.        30
        (_Arch. Zeit._, 1885, Pl. viii.)

        5. Plan of Olympia (after Dörpfeld)                  35

        6. Statue of girl runner. Copy of fifth-century      49
        original. Vatican. (Helbig, _Führer_, 2nd Ed.,
        384.) (From a photograph by Alinari)

        7. Apollo, found at Tenea. Munich. (E. A. Gardner,   87
        _Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 20)

        8. Statue by an Argive sculptor. Delphi. (_Greek     89
        Sculpture_, Fig. 134; _Fouilles de Delphes_, ii.

        9. Choiseul-Gouffier Apollo. British Museum.         91

        10. Figure from E. pediment of temple at Aegina.     92
        Munich. (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 41)

        11. Bronze statuette from Ligourio. Berlin.          93
        (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 39)

        12. Bronze statuette of Hoplitodromos. Tübingen.     94
        (_Jahrb._, 1886, Pl. ix.)

        13. Diskobolos, after Myron. (Photograph of          96
        bronzed cast made in Munich)

        14. Doryphoros, after Polycleitus. Naples. (_Greek   98
        Sculpture_, Fig. 74)

        15. Diadumenos from Vaison, after Polycleitus.      100
        (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 75)

        16. Bronze head of ephebos. Fifth century. Munich,  102
        Glyptothek, 457. (From a photograph by Bruckmann)

        17. Scenes in palaestra. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 795.  105
        (_Arch. Zeit._, 1878, Pl. xi.)

        18. Bronze charioteer. Fifth century. Delphi.       113
        (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 138; _Fouilles de
        Delphes_, II. xlix. 1)

        19. The Apoxyomenos. Rome, Vatican. (_Greek         123
        Sculpture_, Fig. 98)

        20. Statue of Agias by Lysippus. Delphi. (_Greek    125
        Sculpture_, Fig. 141; _Fouilles de Delphes_, II.

        21. Farnese Heracles, by Glycon. Naples. (_Greek    147
        Sculpture_, Fig. 125)

        22. Athletics under the Romans. Mosaic found at     177
        Tusculum. Imperial period. (_Mon. d. I._ VI.,
        vii., Pl. 82)

        23. Professional boxer. Mosaic from the Thermae of  190
        Caracalla. Rome, Lateran. (G. F. Hill,
        _Illustrations to the Classics_, Fig. 400; Secchi,
        _Musaico Antoniniano_)

        24. Silver staters of Elis, in British Museum.      194
        Fifth century, (_a_) Head of nymph Olympia; (_b_)
        Victory seated, with palm

        25. Judge crowning a victor. Interior of r.-f.      206
        kylix. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 532. (_Arch.
        Zeit._, 1853, lii. 3; Luynes, xlv.)

        26. Phyllobolia. Interior of r.-f. kylix. Canino    206
        Coll. (Gerh. _A. V._ 274, 1)

        27. Copper coins of Delphi, in British Museum.      208
        Imperial period. (_a_) Prize table, bearing crow,
        five apples, vase and crown. (_b_) Ins. Πύθια in
        crown of bay leaves. (_B.M. Coins_, Delphi, 39,

        28. Copper coin of Corinth, in British Museum.      214
        Imperial period. Ins. Ἵσθμια in crown of pine
        leaves. (_B.M. Coins_, Corinth, 603)

        29. 30. Silver vase. Imperial period. Paris,       220,
        Bibliothèque Nationale. (Le Prévost, _Mém. sur la   222
        collection des Vases de Bernay_, Pls. viii., ix.)

        31. Copper coin of Argos, in British Museum.        223
        Imperial period. Ins. Νέμεια in crown of celery.
        (_B.M. Coins_, Argos, 170)

        32. Flute-players. Small Panathenaic (?) amphora,   231
        in British Museum, B. 188. Sixth century

        33. Panathenaic festival. B.-f. kylix, in British   233
        Museum, B. 80. (_J.H.S._ i., Pl vii.)

        34. Apobates. Votive relief. Hellenistic period.    238
        Athens, Acropolis Museum. (_B.C.H._ vii., Pl.

        35. Pyrrhic chorus. Monument of Atarbus. Fourth     240
        century. Athens, Acropolis Museum. (Hill,
        _Illustrations to the Classics_, Fig. 417; Beulé,
        _L’Acropole d’Athènes_, ii., Pl. iv.)

        36. Victorious boat on stele of Helvidius.          241
        Imperial period. Athens, National Museum. (Ἐφ.
        Ἀρχ., 1862, Pl. xxix.; von Sybel, _Katalog_, 3300)

        37. Proclaiming a victor. Panathenaic amphora, in   243
        British Museum, B. 144. Sixth century

        38. Crowning a victor. Panathenaic amphora, in      244
        British Museum, B. 138. Sixth century

        39. Acrobatic scene. Panathenaic (?) amphora from   245
        Camirus. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 243.
        (Salzmann, _Nécropole de Cameiros_, Pl. lvii.)

        40. Marble chair of judge at Panathenaea. (Stuart   246
        and Revett, _Antiquities of Athens_, iii. 3, p.

        41. Portion of starting lines at Olympia.           253
        (_Olympia_, Tafelb. i. 47)

        42. The stadium of Epidaurus, S. E. corner,         255
        showing starting lines and rectangular end. (From
        a photograph by Mr. Emery Walker)

        43. Plan of stadium at Epidaurus. (Πρακτικά, 1902,  258
        Pl. i.)

        44. Plan of stadium at Delphi. (_B.C.H._, 1899,     258
        Pl. xiii.)

        45. The starting lines at Delphi. (From a           260
        photograph by Mr. Emery Walker)

        46. The stadium of Delphi                           262

        47. Hoplitodromos starting. R.-f. amphora. Louvre.  274
        (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 270; _Bull. Nap. nouv. sér._
        vi. 7)

        48. Runner starting. R.-f. kylix. Formerly at       275
        Naples. (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 271;
        Dubois-Maisonneuve, Pl. xxv.; Inghirami, _Mon.
        Etrusc._ v. 2, Pl. lxx.)

        49. Runner starting. R.-f. kylix. Chiusi.           276
        (Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_, Fig. 6)

        50. Dolichodromoi. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth       279
        century. (_Mon. d. I._ I., xxii. 7 b)

        51. Dolichodromoi. Panathenaic amphora. British     280
        Museum, B. 609. Archonship of Niceratus, 333 B.C.
        (Hill, _Illustrations to the Classics_, Fig. 390)

        52. Stadiodromoi. Panathenaic amphora. Munich,      281
        498. Sixth century. (_Mon. d. I._ X., xlviii.,
        _l_, _m_)

        53. Stadiodromoi. Panathenaic amphora. Fourth       283
        century. (Stephani, _C. R. Atlas_, 1876, Pl. i.)

        54. Hoplitodromoi, boxers, wrestlers. R.-f. kylix   286
        of Euphronius. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 523.
        (Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_, Pl. xvi.; _J.H.S._
        xxiii. p. 278.) For interior _vide_ Fig. 115

        55. Hoplitodromoi; the turn. R.-f. kylix. Formerly  287
        in Berlin. (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 278; _Jahrb._,
        1895, p. 190)

        56. Hoplitodromoi. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 2307.       288
        (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 277; Gerh. _A.V._ 261)

        57. Hoplitodromoi; the finish. R.-f. kylix.         289
        British Museum, E. 818. (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 285)

        58. Hoplitodromoi. Panathenaic amphora. British     290
        Museum, B. 608. Archonship of Pythodelus, 336 B.C.
        (_Mon. d. I._ X., xlviii. _e_, 3)

        59. Hoplitodromoi. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 1240.       292
        (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 284)

        60. Leaden halter from Eleusis. Athens, National    298
        Museum, 9075. (Ἐφ. Ἀρχ., 1883, 190; Jüthner, _Ant.
        Turn._ Fig. 1)

        61. Photograph of halteres in British Museum,       299
        (_a_) Cast of stone halter from Olympia (Jüthner,
        Fig. 9). (_b_) Limestone halter from Camirus
        (_B.M. Guide to Greek and Roman Life_, Fig. 41).
        (_c_) Leaden halter (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 182)

        62. Stone halter from Corinth. Athens, National     300
        Museum. (Ἐφ. Ἀρχ., 1883, p. 103; Jüthner, _Ant.
        Turn._ Fig. 8)

        63. Jumper and flute-player. R.-f. pelike. British  302
        Museum, E. 427. (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 185)

        64. Jumpers, akontistes, diskobolos, flute-player.  303
        R.-f. krater. Copenhagen (?). (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p.
        185; _Annali_, 1846, M.)

        65. Jumpers practising and paidotribes. R.-f.       304
        kylix. Bologna. (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 186; Jüthner,
        _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 16)

        66. Jumpers, diskobolos, paidotribai. R.-f. kylix.  305
        Bourguignon Coll. (_Arch. Zeit._, 1884, xvi.) For
        interior _vide_ Fig. 80

        67. Jumper about to land. B.-f. amphora. British    306
        Museum, B. 48. (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 183, ii. p. 219;
        Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 15)

        68. Jumper running. R.-f. kylix. Chiusi. (_J.H.S._  307
        xxiv. p. 188; Klein, _Euphronios_, p. 306)

        69. Standing jump without halteres. R.-f. pelike    309
        belonging to Dr. Hauser. (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 272;
        _Jahrb._, 1895, p. 185)

        70. Youth swinging halteres. R.-f. oinochoe.        311
        British Museum, E. 561. (_J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 192)

        71. Diskobolos holding stone diskos. B.-f.          314
        amphora. British Museum, B. 271. (_J.H.S._ xxvii.
        Pl. i.) For reverse _vide_ Fig. 141

        72. Bronze diskos found at Aegina. Berlin.          315
        (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 20)

        73. Bronze diskos of Exoïdas. British Museum, 3207  317

        74. Marking the throw of diskos. (_a_) R.-f.        320
        kylix. Chiusi. (_b_) R.-f. kylix of Hischylus.
        Würzburg, 357, A. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 11; Jüthner,
        _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 27)

        75. The standing diskobolos. Vatican. Copy of       321
        fifth-century original. (From a photograph by

        76. Palaestra scene; diskobolos, akontistes. R.-f.  323
        kylix. British Museum, E. 6. (_J.H.S._ xxiii. p.

        77. Diskobolos, flute-player. B.-f. kelebe.         324
        British Museum, B. 361. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 15)

        78. Diskobolos. R.-f. krater of Amasis. Corneto.    324
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 16; Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_,
        Fig. 56 a)

        79. Diskobolos and paidotribes. R.-f. pelike.       325
        British Museum, E. 395. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. Pl. iii.)

        80. Diskobolos. Interior of Fig. 66                 326

        81. Bronze statuette of diskobolos. Fifth century.  326
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 18; _Burlington Fine Arts
        Club_, 1903, Pl. 50)

        82. Diskobolos, paidotribes. B.-f. lekythos.        328
        British Museum, B. 576. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. Pl. ii.)

        83. Bronze statuette of diskobolos. New York.       329
        (_Bulletin of Metropolitan Museum of Art_, iii. p.

        84. Bronze statuette of diskobolos. British         330
        Museum, 675. Fifth century. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p.

        85. Diskobolos. R.-f. kylix. Louvre. (_J.H.S._      331
        xxvii. p. 27; Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_, lxiii. 2)

        86. Coins of Cos, in British Museum, representing   332
        diskobolos. Fifth century. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 30)

        87. Diskobolos. Panathenaic amphora. Naples, Race.  333
        Cum. 184. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 32; Jüthner, _Ant.
        Turn._ Fig. 31)

        88. Diskobolos, flute-player, paidotribes, youth    334
        fastening amentum, skapanai. B.-f. hydria. British
        Museum, E. 164. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 32; _B.C.H._,
        1899, p. 164)

        89. Diskobolos. R.-f. kylix. Boulogne, Musée        335
        Municipale. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 33; _Le Musée_,
        ii. p. 281)

        90. Diskobolos. B.-f. hydria. Vienna, 318.          336
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 34)

        91. Youth fastening amentum. R.-f. kylix.           340
        Würzburg, 432. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 37)

        92. Various methods of attaching the amentum.       341
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 250)

        93. Warrior holding spear by amentum. B.-f. kylix.  342
        British Museum, B. 380. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 252)

        94. Warriors throwing spears with amenta. François  343
        vase, Florence. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 253;
        Furtwängler, _Vasenmalerei_, Pl. xiii.)

        95. Illustrations of use of the throwing thong.     344
        (_a_, _b_) Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Figs. 47, 48.
        Reconstruction of throw, (_c_) Detail from _B.M.
        Vases_, B. 134. (_d_) The ounep of New Caledonia.

        96. Palaestra scene; a wrestling lesson,            345
        preparations for javelin-throwing. R.-f. psykter.
        Bourguignon Coll. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 259; _Antike
        Denkmale_, ii. 20)

        97. Akontistes. B.-f. stamnos. Vatican. (_J.H.S._   346
        xxvii. p. 261; _Mus. Greg._ II. xvii.)

        98. Mounted warriors throwing javelins by means of  347
        amenta. B.-f. vase. Athens, Acropolis Museum, 606.
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 261; B. Graef. _Die antiken
        Vasen v. d. Acropolis_, Pl. xxxi.)

        99. Diskobolos, akontistes, boxer fastening         348
        himantes. R.-f. amphora, in British Museum, E.
        256. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. Pl. xix.)

        100. Akontistai. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 562 A.        349
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 262; Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._
        Fig. 41)

        101. Akontistai. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 3139 inv.     350
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 263; Hartwig,
        _Meisterschalen_, Pl. xlvi.)

        102. Akontistes. R.-f. kylix. Torlonia, 270 (148).  351
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 264; Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._
        Fig. 49)

        103. Akontistes, diskobolos, skapane. R.-f.         353
        amphora. Munich, 408. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 265;
        Furtwängler, _Vasenmalerei_, xlv.)

        104. Akontistes. R.-f. kylix. Rome(?) (Jüthner,     354
        _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 43)

        105. Akontistes. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 2728.         355
        (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 268; Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._
        Fig. 42)

        106. Throwing the javelin on horseback.             357
        Panathenaic amphora. British Museum. (_J.H.S._
        xxvii. Pl. xx.)

        107. Pentathlon. Panathenaic amphora. British       360
        Museum, B. 134. Sixth century. (_J.H.S._ xxvii.
        Pl. xviii.)

        108. Pentathlon. Panathenaic amphora. Leyden.       361
        Sixth century. (_Arch. Zeit._, 1881, ix.)

        109. Wrestling types on coins, in British Museum.   372
        (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 271.) (_a_, _b_, _c_) Aspendus,
        fifth and fourth centuries; (_d_) Heraclea in
        Lucania, fourth century; (_e_, _f_) Syracuse,
        _circa_ 400 B.C.; (_g_) Alexandria, Antoninus Pius

        110. One of a pair of wrestling-boys, generally     379
        known as diskoboloi. Hellenistic period. Naples.
        (From a photograph by Brogi)

        111. Wrestling. Panathenaic amphora. British        381
        Museum, B. 603. Archonship of Polyzelus, 367 B.C.
        (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 263)

        112. Theseus and Cercyon wrestling. R.-f. kylix.    382
        British Museum, E. 84. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 264)

        113. Wrestling group from b.-f. amphora. British    383
        Museum. B. 295. _Vide_ Fig. 143. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p.

        114. The flying mare. R.-f. kylix. British Museum,  384
        E. 94. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 268)

        115. The flying mare. Interior of Fig. 54           385

        116. Wrestling groups. Prize vase. R.-f. krater of  386
        Andocides. Berlin, 2159. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 270;
        _American Journal of Archaeology_, 1896, p. 11)

        117. Wrestling. R.-f. krater. Oxford, Ashmolean     387
        Museum, 288. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 274; _Catalogue of
        Ashmolean Museum_, Pl. xiii.)

        118. Reverse of Fig. 143                            388

        119. Peleus and Atalanta. B.-f. amphora. Munich,    389
        584. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 275; Gerh. _A. V._ 177)

        120. Wrestling, cross-buttock. Panathenaic          390
        amphora. Boulogne, Musée Municipale, 441. Sixth
        century. (_Le Musée_, ii. p. 275, Fig. 15)

        121. Wrestling groups. B.-f. amphora. Munich,       391
        1336. (_J.H.S._ xxv. Pl. xii.)

        122. Wrestling group, paidotribes. R.-f. kylix.     392
        Philadelphia. (_Trans. of University of
        Pennsylvania_, 1907, Pl. xxxv.)

        123. Wrestling groups, brabeutes. B.-f. amphora.    393
        Munich, 495. (_J.H.S._ xxv. Pl. xii.)

        124. Theseus and Cercyon. R.-f. kylix. British      394
        Museum, E. 48. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 285)

        125. Theseus and Cercyon. R.-f. kylix. British      394
        Museum, E. 36. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 285)

        126. Theseus and Cercyon. Metope of Theseum.        395
        (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 286; _Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 66)

        127. Bronze wrestling group. Paris. (Clarac, 802,   396
        2014; Reinach, _Musée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye_,

        128. Wrestling, cross-buttock. B.-f. amphora.       397
        Vatican. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 288; _Mus. Greg._ xvii.
        1, _a_)

        129. Bronze wrestling group. British Museum.        398
        (_J.H.S._ xxv. Pl. xi.)

        130. Bronze wrestling group. St. Petersburg.        399
        (Stephani, _C.R._, 1867, i. 1, 5; _J.H.S._ xxv. p.

        131. Bronze wrestling group. Constantinople.        400
        (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 291; _Jahrb._, 1898, xi.)

        132. Boxers taking the oath. R.-f. kylix. British   403
        Museum, E. 63. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 54)

        133. Boxing scenes. R.-f. kylix of Duris. British   404
        Museum, E. 39. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. Pl. xii.; Jüthner,
        _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 53)

        134. Interior of Fig. 151                           406

        135. Boxers. Panathenaic amphora. British Museum,   407
        B. 607. Archonship of Pytliodelus, B.C. 336.
        (_Mon. d. I._ X., xlviii. _e_, 2; Jüthner, _Ant.
        Turn._ Fig. 67)

        136. Statue of boxer seated. Rome, Terme Museum.    408
        (From a photograph by Anderson)

        137. Right hand of boxer from Sorrento. Naples.     409
        (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 63)

        138. Caestus from mosaic in the thermae of          411
        Caracalla. Rome, Lateran. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._
        Fig. 74)

        139. Boxers (?) fighting over prize. Bronze         412
        situla. Watsch. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 61;
        _Mitth. d. Central. Comm._, 1883, Pl. ii.)

        140. Boxers fighting over tripod. Fragment of       413
        b.-f. situla from Daphnae. British Museum, B. 124.
        (_Tanis_, ii. 30)

        141. Boxer giving signal of defeat. B.-f. amphora   416
        in British Museum, B. 271. For reverse _vide_ Fig.

        142. Boxers, runners, jumper, wearing loin-cloth.   418
        B.-f. stamnos. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 252.
        (De Ridder, _Catalogue des Vases peints_, i. p.

        143. Boxers, wrestlers. B.-f. amphora of            420
        Nicosthenes. British Museum, B. 295. _Vide_ Figs.
        113, 118

        144. Boxers. Panathenaic amphora. Berlin, 1831.     422
        Sixth century. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._ Fig. 60)

        145. Boxers. Panathenaic amphora. Campana Coll.     423
        Sixth century. (Stephani, _C.R._, 1876, 109, 44)

        146. Boxers. R.-f. kylix of Pamphaeus. Corneto.     424
        (Marquardt, _Pentathlon_, Pl. i.; _Mon. d. I._
        XI., xxiv.)

        147. Boxers. Panathenaic amphora. Louvre, F. 278.   425
        Sixth century. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 222)

        148. Boxers. Panathenaic amphora. British Museum,   427
        B. 612. Fourth century

        149. Marble head of boxer, with ear-lappets.        433
        Formerly in possession of Fabretti. (Schreiber,
        _Atlas_, xxiv. 8; Fabretti, _De Columna Trajani_,
        p. 267)

        150. Boxers, akontistes, diskobolos, runners.       433
        B.-f. hydria. British Museum, B. 326. (Marquardt,
        _Pentathlon_, Pl. ii.)

        151. Pankration, boxing, hoplitodromos. R.-f.       436
        kylix. British Museum, E. 78. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. Pl.

        152. Pankration. R.-f. kylix. Baltimore. (_J.H.S._  437
        xxvi. p. 9; Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_, Pl. lxiv.)

        153. Pankration. Fragment of R.-f. kylix. Berlin.   438
        (_J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 8; Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_,
        Fig. 12)

        154. Pankration. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth         439
        century. (_Mon. d. I._ I., xxii.)

        155. Pankration. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth         440
        century. (_Mon. d. I._ I. xxii.)

        156. Heracles and Antaeus. B.-f. hydria, Munich,    441
        114. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 21; _Arch. Zeit._, 1878,

        157. Pankration. Panathenaic amphora of Kittos.     442
        British Museum, B. 604. Fourth century. (_J.H.S._
        xxvi. Pl. iii.)

        158. Pankration. Panathenaic amphora. British       443
        Museum, B. 610. Archonship of Nicetes, 332 B.C.
        (_J.H.S._ xxvi. Pl. iv.)

        159. Pankration. Panathenaic amphora. Lamberg       444
        Coll. (_J.H.S._ i. Pl. vi.)

        160. Heracles and Triton. B.-f. amphora. British    445
        Museum, B. 223. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 15)

        161. Heracles and Antaeus. R.-f. kylix. Athens.     446
        (_J.H.S._ x. Pl. i.; xxvi. p. 11)

        162. Wrestling groups on Graeco-Roman gems in       447
        British Museum. (_J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 10)

        163. Marble group of pankratiasts. Uffizi Palace,   449
        Florence. (Photograph by Brogi)

        164. Plan of Aphesis in Hippodrome at Olympia.      453
        (After Weniger. _Clio_, 1909, p. 303)

        165. Four-horse chariot-race. Panathenaic amphora   456
        found at Sparta. Sixth century. (_B.S.A._ xiii.
        Pl. v.)

        166. Two-horse chariot-race. Panathenaic amphora.   458
        British Museum, B. 132. Sixth century

        167. Coins of Philip II. of Macedon, in British     459
        Museum, (_a_) Silver tetradrachm; victorious
        jockey with palm branch, (_b_) Gold stater;
        two-horse chariot

        168. Silver tetradrachm of Rhegium, in British      460
        Museum. Early fifth century. Mule chariot

        169. Riding-race. Panathenaic amphora. British      461
        Museum, B. 133. Sixth century

        170. Silver staters of Tarentum, in British         462
        Museum. Third century. (_a_) Mounted torch-bearer.
        (_b_) Apobates dismounting

        171. Silver tetradrachms of Catana, in British      464
        Museum. Fifth century. Four-horse chariot

        172. Silver decadrachms of Sicily, in British       465
        Museum. Four-horse chariot, (_a_) Agrigentum,
        413-406 B.C. (_b_) Syracuse, 400-360 B.C.

        173. Scenes in gymnasium. Boxers, wrestlers,        473
        paidotribai, diskobolos, akontistes. R.-f. kylix.
        Canino Coll. (Gerh. _A. V._ 271)

        174. Riding lesson in gymnasium. R.-f. kylix.       474
        Munich, 515. (_Arch. Zeit._, 1885, xi.)

        175. Scenes in apodyterion of gymnasium. R.-f.      475
        kylix. Copenhagen. (Gerh. _A. V._ 281)

        176. Scene in apodyterion. R.-f. krater. Berlin,    476
        2180. (_Arch. Zeit._, 1879, 4)

        177. Boxing, massage. Bronze cista. Vatican.        477
        (_Mus. Greg_. i. 37)

        178. Korykos. Small r.-f. amphora. St. Petersburg,  478
        Hermitage, 1611. (_Annali_, 1870, R.)

        179. Korykos. Ficoroni cista. Kirchner Museum,      479
        Rome. (Müller-Wieseler, _Denkmäl. d. alt. Kunst_,
        i. 61, 309)

        180. Men washing at fountain. B.-f. hydria.         480
        Leyden, 7794 b. (Roulez, _Choix de vases peints du
        Musée de Leyde_, Pl. xix.)

        181. Youths washing at a public basin. R.-f. vase.  481
        (Tischbein, _Vases Hamilton_, i. 58)

        182. Youths washing at a basin. R.-f. kylix.        482
        British Museum, E. 83. (Gerh. _A. V._ 277; Tucker,
        _Life in Ancient Athens_, Fig. 36)

        183. Strigil in British Museum, inscribed with      483
        owner’s name Κέλων. Fifth century. (_B.M.
        Bronzes_, 256)

        184. Plan of gymnasium at Delphi. (_B.C.H._, 1899,  484
        Pl. xiii.)

        185. Plan of palaestra at Olympia. (_Olympia_,      487
        Taf. lxxiii.)

        186. Stele of Diodorus, a gymnasiarch; showing      490
        oil-tank, crown, palms, votive tablets, and
        wrestler’s cap. Found at Prusa. Imperial period.
        (_Berichte d. Sächsischen Gesellschaft d.
        Wissenschaften_, 1873, Pl. i.; Schreiber, _Atlas_,
        xxi. 6)

        187. Plan of lower gymnasium, Priene. (_Priene_,    493
        Fig. 271)

        188. Bath-room in gymnasium, Priene. (_Priene_,     495
        Fig. 278)

        189. Plan of gymnasia at Pergamum. (Simplified      499
        from _Ath. Mitth._ xxix. Pl. viii.; xxxiii. Pl.

        190. Stele representing victorious crew. Athens.    508
        Hellenistic period. (_J.H.S._ xi. p. 149)


     _Arch. Zeit_         Archäologische Zeitung.

     _Ath. Mitth._        Mittheilungen des Deutschen Arch. Inst.,
                          Athenische Abtheilung.

     _B.C.H._             Bulletin de Correspondance hellénique.

     _Berl. Vas._         Furtwängler, Beschreibung der
                          Vasensammlung zu Berlin.

     _B.M. Bronzes_       British Museum Catalogue of Bronzes.

     _B.M.C._             British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins.

     _B.M. Vases_         British Museum Catalogue of Vases, 1893,

     _B.S.A._             Annual of the British School at Athens.

     _C.I.G._             Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum.

     _C.R._               Comptes rendus de l’Académie des

     Dar.-Sagl.           Daremberg-Saglio, Dictionnaire des

     Ditt. _Syll._        Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum

     Ἐφ. Ἀρχ.             Ἐφημερὶς Ἀρχαιολογική.

     Gerhard, _A. V._     Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder.

     _Greek Sculpture_    E. A. Gardner, Handbook of Greek

     _I.G._               Inscriptions Graecae.

     _Jahrb._             Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen

     _J.H.S._             Journal of Hellenic Studies.

     Krause, _Gym._       J. H. Krause, Die Gymnastik und
                          Agonistik der Hellenen.

     _Mon. d. I._         Monumenti dell’ Instituto.

     _Ol._                Olympia. Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung.

     _Ol. Ins._           Die Inschriften von Olympia = Textb. v.
                          of “Die Ergebnisse.”

     _Ox. Pap._           Grenfell and Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

     _Rev. Arch._         Revue Archéologique.

     _Röm. Mitth._        Mittheilungen des Deutschen
                          Archäologischen Instituts, Römische

                                 PART I
                           TIMES TO 393 A.D.

                               CHAPTER I

The recent revival of the Olympic games is a striking testimony to the
influence which ancient Greece still exercises over the modern world,
and to the important place which athletics occupied in the life of the
Greeks. Other nations may have given equal attention to the physical
education of the young; other nations may have been equally fond of
sport; other nations may have produced individual athletes, individual
performances equal or superior to those of the Greeks, but nowhere can
we find any parallel to the athletic ideal expressed in the art and
literature of Greece, or to the extraordinary vitality of her athletic
festivals. The growth of this ideal, and the history of the athletic
festivals, are the subject of the following chapters.

The athletic ideal of Greece is largely due to the practical character
of Greek athletics. Every Greek had to be ready to take the field at a
moment’s notice in defence of hearth and home, and under the conditions
of ancient warfare his life and liberty depended on his physical
fitness. This is especially true of the earlier portion of Greek
history, but is more or less true of the whole period with which we are
concerned. Greece was never free from war—wars of faction, wars of state
against state, wars against foreign invaders—and ancient warfare made no
distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Every citizen was a
soldier, physical fitness was a necessity to him, and his athletic
exercises were admirably calculated to produce this fitness. Running and
jumping made him active and sound of wind; throwing the diskos and the
spear trained hand and eye for the use of weapons; wrestling and boxing
taught him to defend himself in hand-to-hand warfare.

The practical value of these exercises explains their importance in
Greek education. They constituted what the Greeks described as
“gymnastic,” the term “athletics” being properly confined to
competitions. Gymnastic trained the body as music trained the mind.
There was no artificial separation, no antagonism between the two such
as has disfigured much of our modern education. The one was the
complement of the other: together they comprised the whole of Greek
education. An ill-trained body was as much a sign of an ill-educated man
as ignorance of letters, and the training of the body by athletic
exercises distinguished the Greek from the barbarian. The training began
often as early as seven, but it did not end at the age when boys leave
school. The Greek did not consider his education finished at the age of
sixteen or seventeen, and he continued the training of body and mind
till middle age or later, daily resorting to the gymnasium for exercise
and recreation.

Music and gymnastic reacted on one another. The tone and manly vigour
which athletic exercises gave saved the Greek from the effeminacy and
sensuality to which the artistic temperament is prone. At the same time
the refining influence of music saved him from the opposite faults of
brutality and Philistinism. The Greek carried the artist’s love of
beauty into his sports. Mere strength and bulk appealed to him no more
in the human body than they did in art. Many of his exercises were
performed to music, and he paid as much attention to the style in which
he performed as to the result of his performance. This love of form
refined even his competitions. Hence, in spite of his love of
competition, the Greek was no record-breaker. In this we have one of the
principal differences which distinguished Greek from modern athletics,
in which the passion for records is becoming more and more prevalent.

The Greek did not care for records, and he kept no records. It is
futile, therefore, to try to compare the performances of Greek athletes
and of modern. But of the effect which athletic training produced on the
national physique in the fifth century, we can judge from the art which
it inspired. The sculptors of this period portrayed the most perfect
types of physical development, of strength combined with grace, that the
world has ever seen. The athletic art of Greece is the noblest tribute
to the results of Greek education at its best.

A further difference between modern and Greek athletics results from the
practical character of the latter. The Greek regarded athletics as an
essential part of his education and life; we usually regard them as
recreation or play, and it is only of late years that their educational
value has been realized. Consequently in England athletic games have to
a large extent superseded athletics proper. In some respect games have a
decided advantage; their interest is more varied, there is more scope
for combination, and they are undoubtedly superior as a training of
character. On the other hand, they do not produce the same all-round
development as an athletic system like that of the Greeks produced. In
many cases the benefit derived from them is confined to the skilled
players. They tend to become too scientific, and when this is the case
require an expenditure of time and an amount of organization which put
them beyond the reach of most men when they have left school.

The interest which is somewhat wanting in pure athletics was provided in
Greece by innumerable competitions. The love of competition was
characteristic of the Greek. In whatever he did, he sought to excel his
fellows, and the rivalry between cities was as keen as that between
individuals. On the table on which the prizes were placed at Olympia,
the figure of Agon or Competition was represented side by side with that
of Ares. There were competitions in music, poetry, drama, recitation. At
some places there were beauty competitions for men, or boys, or women.
We hear of competitions in drinking and in keeping awake. Strangest of
all was a competition in kissing, which took place at the Dioclea at
Megara. But no competitions were so numerous or so popular as athletic
and equestrian competitions. The Greek was always competing or watching
competitions; yet, strange to say, among all the evils produced by
over-competition, betting was not found.

Competitions were from an early time associated with religious
Festivals. And it is to this association with religion that Greek
athletics owed their wonderful vitality. The connexion between sport and
religion dates from the early custom of celebrating a chieftain’s
funeral with a feast and games. Sometimes the chieftain’s tomb became a
religious and political centre for the neighbouring tribes, where a
festival was held in his honour at stated periods. Some of these
festivals retained their local character, others gradually extended
their influence till they became national meeting-places for the whole
Greek race.

These Panhellenic festivals played an important part in the politics of
Greece. They appealed to those two opposite principles which determine
the whole history of Greece, the love of autonomy and the pride of
Hellenism. The independent city states felt that they were competing in
the persons of their citizens, whose fortunes they identified with their
own. At the same time, the gathering of citizens from every part of the
Greek world quickened the consciousness of common brotherhood, and kept
them true to those traditions of religion and education which
distinguished Greek from barbarian.

Enough has been said to show the importance of athletics in the whole
life of the Greeks, and their intimate connexion with their education,
their art, their religion, and their politics. It is by virtue of this
many-sided interest that the subject deserves the attention of all who
are interested in the life and thought of Greece.

At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the athletic ideal which
we have described was only realized during a short period of the fifth
century, under the purifying influence of the enthusiasm evoked by the
war with Persia. Even then, perhaps, it was only partially realized. We
must not close our eyes to the element of exaggeration inherent in all
such ideals. Before the close of the fifth century the excessive
prominence given to bodily excellence and athletic success had produced
specialization and professionalism. From this time sport, over-developed
and over-specialized, became more and more the monopoly of a class, and
consequently ceased to invigorate the national life. The old games, in
which all competed in friendly and honourable rivalry, gave place to
professional displays, in which victory was too often bought and sold,
where an unathletic crowd could enjoy the excitement of sport by proxy.
Yet in spite of specialization, professionalism, corruption, in spite of
all the vicissitudes through which Greece passed, the athletic festivals
survived. The athletic ideal, often and long obscured, but never wholly
lost, reappeared from time to time in different parts of the Greek
world, till, under the patronage of the Antonines, the Panhellenic
festivals recovered some semblance at least of their olden glory.

The extraordinary vitality of those festivals gives interest to the
attempt to trace their history. This history extends over some 1200
years. We are apt to limit our conceptions of Greek history to the few
centuries comprised in the curricula of our universities and schools,
and to forget that Greek history does not end with the death of
Alexander, or even with the loss of Greek independence, but that, under
the rule of Rome, the life of Greece, its institutions and festivals,
went on, to a great extent, unchanged, acquiring more and more hold over
her conquerors, till the whole Roman world was Hellenized, and with the
founding of Constantinople the centre of the empire itself was
transferred to Greek soil. To such a narrow conception of history it is
a wholesome corrective to trace the story of one branch of Greek
activity from beginning to end. And nowhere can the continuity of Greek
life be traced more clearly than in the history of her athletic
festivals. That we are able to do so is chiefly due to the excavations
conducted at Olympia under the auspices of the German government, which
are still being continued by Dr. Dörpfeld. It is for this reason that in
the following chapters the history of Olympia forms the basis of the
history of Greek athletics.

The story of Greek athletics has a peculiarly practical interest in the
present day in view of the development of athletics which has taken
place in the last fifty years, and of the revival of the Olympic games.
There are striking resemblances between the history of modern athletics
and of Greek. The movement began in the sports of our public schools and
universities, spread rapidly through all English-speaking lands, and is
now extending to the Continent. Athletics are as popular among us as
they were in Greece, and for us, as for the Greeks, they have been a
great instrument of good. Unfortunately the signs of excess are no less
manifest to-day than they were in the times of Xenophanes and Euripides.
History repeats itself strangely. We have seen the same growth of
competition, the same hero-worship of the athlete, the same publicity
and prominence given to sport out of all proportion to its deserts, the
same tendency to specialization and professionalism. Sport has too often
become an end in itself. The hero-worship of the athlete tempts men to
devote to selfish amusement the best years of their lives, and to
neglect the true interests of themselves and of their country. The evil
is worse with us, because our games have not the practical value as a
military training which Greek sports had. Still more grievous than this
waste of time and energy is the absorbing interest taken by the general
public in the athletic performances of others. The crowds which watch a
professional football match, the still larger crowds of those who think
and read of little else, the columns of the daily press devoted to
accounts of such matches, are no proof of an athletic nation, but rather
of the reverse. They are merely a sign of an unhealthy love of
excitement and amusement, and of the absence of all other interests. Of
the evils of professionalism this is no place to speak. They are well
known to any one who has followed the history of boxing, wrestling, or
football. The history of football during the last two years is ominous.
On the one hand we see the leading amateur clubs revolting from the
tyranny of a Football Association conducted in the interests of various
joint-stock companies masquerading as Football Clubs; on the other hand
we see the professional players forming a trades-union to protect
themselves against the tyranny of this same commercialism. The Rugby
Union has struggled manfully to uphold the purity of the game, and has
often received but scanty encouragement for its efforts. Fortunately
there are signs that public opinion is changing, and is beginning to
appreciate the efforts of the amateur bodies controlling various sports.
The very existence of these bodies proves how real the danger is. Under
these circumstances the history of the decline of Greek athletics is an
object-lesson full of instruction.

What has been said above explains perhaps why the revival of the Olympic
games has not been received in England with any great amount of
enthusiasm. The promoters of these games were inspired by the ideal of
ancient Greece, and wished to establish a great international athletic
meeting which would be for the nations of the world what Olympia was for
Greece. We must all sympathize with their aspirations. Unfortunately
they do not seem to have realized the full lesson of Greek athletics,
nor did they realize the dangers of competition on so vast a scale under
the more complicated conditions of modern life. In England, where
athletics have already developed to an extent unknown on the Continent,
we have begun to realize the dangers of over-competition. The experience
of recent years has taught us that international competitions do not
always make for amity, and do not always promote amateur sport. The
events of the last Olympic games, and the subsequent performances of
some of the victors of these games, particularly of the fêted heroes of
the so-called Marathon race, have gone far to justify the forebodings of
those who feared that one of the chief results of such a competition
would be an increase in professionalism.

                               CHAPTER II
                           ATHLETICS IN HOMER

Greek civilization is regarded by modern authorities as the result of a
fusion between two races—a short, dark, highly artistic race belonging
to that Eurafrican stock which seems at one time to have peopled not
only the Aegean, but all the coasts of the Mediterranean, and a tall,
fair-haired, athletic race the branches of which penetrated by
successive invasions into the southern extremities of Europe, while
their main body spread over central Europe westwards as far as our own
islands. It was to the physical vigour and restless energy of the latter
race that the Greeks owed their colonial activity and their love of
sport. And it is perhaps no mere accident that these same
characteristics have been so marked in our own history. But if the
Greeks owed to the fair-haired invaders from the North the athletic
impulse, the development and persistence of Greek athletics is largely
due to the artistic temperament of the original inhabitants.

The practical character of Greek sports indicates a nation of warriors.
The chariot-race and foot-race, boxing, wrestling, throwing the stone
and the spear, were as naturally the outcome of the Homeric civilization
as the tournament and the archery meeting were of the conditions of
fighting in the middle ages, or the rifle meeting of those of our own
day. Moreover, the myths with which Greek fancy invested the origin of
their sports point to an age of fighting and conquest. Olympia, as we
shall see, stood on the highway of the northern invaders, and at Olympia
the institution of the games is connected with such tales as the
conquest of Cronus by Zeus, of Oenomaus by Pelops, of Augeas by
Heracles, and the return of the Heracleidae, tales which clearly had
their rise in the struggles of rival races and religions. Again, Greek
athletics were chiefly, though not entirely, the product of the
Peloponnese. Three of the four great festivals were in the Peloponnese,
including the Olympic festival, the prototype of all the rest; the
athletic school of sculpture originated in the Peloponnese, and physical
training was carried to its highest point in Sparta. Now it was in the
Peloponnese that the invading races established themselves most
strongly; the fair-haired Achaeans made themselves masters of the
Mycenaean world, and their Dorian successors preserved their own
characteristics in their greatest purity at Sparta. These considerations
justify us in ascribing the athletic impulse to the northern invaders.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Fragment of Steatite Pyxis. Cnossus.]

Excavations on Mycenaean and pre-Mycenaean sites furnish some testimony,
chiefly negative, in favour of this view. The civilization disclosed by
the excavations at Cnossus and other Cretan sites is an Aegean product
influenced possibly by Egypt and the East, but certainly not by the
mainland of Greece, though its own influence was probably extensive.
Cretan civilization, like Egyptian, seems so much a thing apart that it
hardly comes into our subject. In Egypt, indeed, we find depicted in the
tombs of Beni-Hassan a varied array of athletic sports and games,
including a most wonderful series of over 300 wrestling groups, but even
Herodotus does not venture to ascribe Greek athletics to the Egyptians.
At Cnossus the favourite sport seems to have been a sort of
bull-baiting.[1] A fresco discovered by Dr. Evans represents a girl
toreador in a sort of cowboy costume in the act of being tossed by a
bull, while a youth appears to be turning a somersault over the animal’s
back into the arms of a girl who stands behind the bull. Sometimes on
gems a youth is depicted “springing from above, and seizing the bull’s
horns in cowboy fashion.” The latter scene has also been found in a
fresco at Tiryns, and a similar sport known as ταυροκαθαψία survived in
historical times in Thessaly.[2] These purely acrobatic feats have
nothing distinctively athletic about them, any more than dancing,
another favourite Minoan spectacle, for which possibly was intended a
square theatre surrounded by rows of seats at the north-west of the
palace. Indeed, such scenes are the very reverse of athletic; for
history has shown that the peoples who find pleasure in such
performances have ceased to be, even if they ever have been, themselves
athletic. The only form of true athletics represented is boxing, which
occurs on some clay sealings, on a steatite relief (Fig. 1), and in
conjunction with a bull-hunting scene on a steatite rhyton found at
Hagia Triada.[3] The boxers are muscular and athletic-looking, their
attitude is decidedly vigorous. They wear, according to Dr. Evans, a
kind of glove or caestus, but the illustrations do not enable us to
determine its character, and I do not feel sure that any such covering
is intended. Anyhow, the Minoan boxer has a distinctly gladiatorial
look, which is quite in harmony with the bull-baiting scenes. We shall
probably not be far wrong in assuming that Minos, like oriental despots,
kept his own prize-ring, and that his courtiers preferred to be
spectators of the deeds of others rather than to take any active part in
sports themselves. Sports and games, of course, existed in Crete as in
all countries, but there is no evidence in Crete of anything from which
Greek athletics could have developed. The unathletic character of the
Aegean people is confirmed by the absolute absence of anything athletic
at Mycenae and Tiryns, if we except the bull scenes, a fact which
certainly supports the modern view that the Mycenaean civilization was
due chiefly to the conquered inhabitants, and not to the Achaean
conquerors, whom we know from Homer to have been skilled in all games.

In Homer we find ourselves at once in an atmosphere of true sport, of
sport for the simple love of the physical effort and the struggle. The
wrestling and boxing may be “distressful,” but just as every sportsman
finds a “hard game” the most enjoyable, so the struggle in Homer is a
joy to the young man who makes trial of his strength, a joy to the
veteran who, as he watches, revives in memory the triumphs of his youth,
and a joy too to the poet.[4] It is this feeling that makes the
description of the games of Patroclus a perpetual delight to any one who
has ever felt himself the joy of sport, and that almost justifies the
words of Schiller, that he who has lived to read the 23rd _Iliad_ has
not lived in vain. The joy is never quite the same afterwards. Even in
Pindar it is no longer unalloyed. With the stress of competition other
feelings and motives have entered in, and something of the heroic
courtesy is lost: side by side with the joy of victory we are conscious
of the bitterness of defeat. In Homer we feel only the joy, the joy of

The description of the games in the _Iliad_ could only have been written
by a poet living among an athletic people with a long tradition of
athletics, and such are the Achaeans. Sports are part of the education
of every Achaean warrior, and distinguish him from the merchant. “No,
truly, stranger,” says Euryalus to Odysseus, “nor do I think thee at all
like one that is skilled in games whereof there are many among men,
rather art thou such an one as comes and goes in a benched ship, a
master of sailors that are merchantmen, one with a memory for his
freight, or that hath the charge of a cargo homeward bound, and of
greedily gotten gains; thou seemest not a man of thy hands.”[5]

Euryalus is a Phaeacian, and the Phaeacians, be it remarked, are not
Achaeans. Who they are we know not—whether, as Victor Bérard assures us,
Phoenicians, or a branch of that Aegean folk whose wondrous civilization
has been revealed to us at Cnossus, or a creation of the poet’s brain.
In Homer they are a mysterious folk, and this is not the place to try
and solve the mystery. One thing is certain: they are not true Achaeans,
and though the poet ascribes to them much of the manners of the
Achaeans, including their games, he lets us know with a delightful
humour that they are not quite the real thing. Their love of sport is
assumed, and consequently somewhat exaggerated. “There is no greater
glory for a man,” says Laodamas, “than that which he achieves by hand
and foot.”[6] We can hardly imagine such a sentiment from one of the
heroes of the _Iliad_, or from the Odysseus of the _Odyssey_. The
Phaeacian, however, is somewhat of a braggart, and wishes to pose as a
sportsman before a stranger, who is no longer young, and whom he
certainly does not suspect of being an athlete. “Let us make trial,”
says Alcinous, “of divers games, that the stranger may tell his friends
when home he returneth how greatly we excel all men in boxing and
wrestling, and leaping and speed of foot”[7]—a harmless boast and safe
apparently. But Odysseus, stung by their taunts, picks up a diskos
larger than the Phaeacians ever threw and hurls it far beyond their
marks, and then in his anger challenges any of the Phaeacians to try the
issue in boxing, or in wrestling, or any sport except running, for
which, after his buffeting in the sea, he is not quite in condition. At
once the tune changes, and Alcinous confesses that after all the
Phaeacians are no perfect boxers nor wrestlers, but (a safe boast after
what Odysseus has said!) speedy runners and the best of seamen. And then
the truth comes out: “Dear to us ever is the banquet, and the harp and
the dance, and changes of raiment, and the warm bath and love and
sleep!” Clearly the Phaeacians are no sportsmen, nor Achaeans, and we
have really no concern with them; but I may be pardoned for dwelling on
this delightful scene, because through it all we can trace the truth
that to the poet every warrior is a sportsman, a man of his hands, and
that the sportsman is not occupied with “greedily gotten gains.”

The same scene tells us, too, that sports are no new thing among the
Achaeans. Odysseus, when challenging the Phaeacians, recalls the prowess
of his youth, just as in the _Iliad_ the aged Nestor recalls his
victories in the games which the Epeans held at Buprasium at the funeral
of Amarynces. But there is a yet remoter past in which heroes and gods
contended. “There were giants in those days” is always the theme of the
aged sportsman, and Odysseus, though more than a match for all his
contemporaries, confesses that with the men of old he would not vie,
with Heracles and Eurytus, “who contended with the immortal gods.”

But though the Achaeans were an athletic race with a long tradition of
athletes, we must beware of the common fallacy of introducing into Homer
the ideas and arrangements of later Greek athletics. Homeric tradition
undoubtedly influenced Greek athletics, but to talk of the Homeric
gymnasium, the Homeric stadium, the Homeric pentathlon, or solemnly to
explain Homer in the light of these institutions, is as ridiculous as to
talk of King Arthur’s school of physical training or Robin Hood’s
shooting gallery. The Homeric Greek had no gymnasium, no race-course, no
athletic meeting. There was nothing artificial about his sports: they
were the natural product of a warlike race, part of the daily life of
the family. They were the education of the boys, the recreation of the
men, and even the elders took their share in teaching and encouraging
the younger. For physical vigour and skill in military exercises were
indispensable to the chieftain in an age when battles were won by
individual prowess. No elaborate arrangements were necessary; the
courtyard would serve for a wrestling ring, the open country for a
race-course, and when sports were to be held on a larger scale a
suitable space could be quickly cleared. For though there were no
athletic meetings, there were friendly gatherings for sports in plenty.
On the occasion of any gathering, whether to entertain a distinguished
guest, to offer a sacrifice, or to pay the last rites to a departed
chieftain, sports formed part of the programme. Sometimes prizes were
offered—a victim or an ox-hide for the foot-race, a woman or a tripod
for the chariot-race. Particularly was this the case in the funeral
sports, when the prizes were rich and numerous.

The value of the prizes seems intended to mark the generosity of the
giver of the games, and to show honour to the dead rather than to
attract or reward competitors. That they were rather gifts, mementoes of
the dead, than prizes, is clear from the fact that at the games of
Patroclus every competitor receives a prize, in one case even without a
competition. Sometimes, as in the days of the tournament, a weighty
issue might be decided by an athletic contest. Instances of this are
frequent in the legends of the Greeks: in Homer we have the fatal
contest with the bow of Odysseus by which Penelope proposed to decide
between her importunate suitors. But whatever the occasion, the Homeric
games differed entirely from the athletic festival or meeting. They were
impromptu, almost private entertainments, in which only the invited
guests, or, in the case of a prince’s funeral, the neighbouring princes
or leaders of the army took part. When Odysseus, disguised as a beggar,
craved leave to try the bow, the request was met with a storm of protest
from the suitors.

From what has been said it is clear that the Homeric games were chiefly
aristocratic: it was the sceptred kings and their families who excelled
in all games, and who alone entered for competitions, though, as we
shall see, the common soldiers too had their sports.

In considering the different events of the Homeric sports, it will be
convenient to follow the description of the funeral games of Patroclus
in the _Iliad_. First in order of time and of honour comes the
chariot-race, the most aristocratic of all the events, the monopoly of
chieftains who went to war in chariots. Too important an event for
casual gatherings, it was especially connected with great funeral games.
Here, as we have noticed, rich prizes were offered, and the possession
of a fine stud of horses was a source of considerable profit. Thus
Agamemnon enumerates among the gifts with which he hopes to appease
Achilles twelve “prize-winning” steeds who have already won him no small

In the _Odyssey_ we have no mention of the chariot-race; and naturally
so, for Ithaca (wherever it be) is no land “that pastureth horses,” nor
does it possess “wide courses or meadow-land.” In the _Iliad_ it is
otherwise; the plains of Thessaly and Argos, the homes of Achilles and
the Atreidae, were always famed for their horses, and in the plain of
Troy the Greek charioteers found ample scope. It is interesting, too, to
note that, except at Troy, the only other chariot-races mentioned in the
_Iliad_ are in spacious Elis,[8] which was in Homeric times the land of
the Epeans, where the lords of Ithaca kept studs of horses, and in
historic times the scene of the Olympic festival. It was at Buprasium in
Elis that Nestor competed at the funeral games of Amarynces; and on a
former occasion his father Neleus had gone to war with Augeas because
the latter had seized four horses which he had sent to Elis to compete
in the games for a tripod. The mention of four horses is suspicious, for
the chariot in which the Achaean heroes raced was the two-horse
war-chariot. There are also other reasons for supposing the passage to
be a late interpolation subsequent to the institution of the Olympic

For the chariot-race Achilles provides five prizes—“for the winner a
woman skilled in fair handiwork and a tripod, for the second a
six-year-old mare in foal, for the third a goodly caldron untouched by
the fire, for the fourth two talents of gold, for the fifth a
two-handled urn.” For the five prizes there are five competitors. On the
details of the competitors and of their horses we must not linger, nor
on the lecture on the art of driving which the aged Nestor reads to his
son Antilochus. Critics complain that it interrupts the narrative; but
the rambling, prosy speech is delightfully characteristic of the
garrulous old sportsman, and so human! Its point seems to consist in
certain information which he gives about the course; for it is no
regular race-course, like the later hippodrome. It is a natural course
selected for the occasion like that of a point-to-point race, save that
in this case the chariots after rounding the goal return to the starting
point. On such a course local knowledge is invaluable. The point
selected for the goal is a withered tree-stump with a white stone on
either side of it—a monument of some dead man, or a goal for the race
set up by men of old—and round it is smooth driving ground. At this
point, which is just visible from the start, the two tracks meet—not
necessarily parallel tracks, for chariots cannot take a bee-line from
point to point, but must follow the lie of the ground. Here Achilles
places an umpire, godlike Phoenix, “to note the running and tell the
truth thereof”; for though the goal is just visible, the track is
sometimes lost to the spectators’ view, and as the chariots round the
mark they disappear from sight for a time. The track, like Greek roads
in general, is not of the smoothest, and in one part has been partially
washed away by a torrent, so that there is no room for two chariots to
pass. Possibly the road in this part, as is often the case, passed along
the actual bed of the winter torrent.

The charioteers draw lots for their places, and then the chariots take
their place in a line. Commentators gravely debate whether the Greek
means “in a line” or “in file,” like a row of hansom cabs! But there is
no subject wherein commentators are so rampant as in athletics, and
there is no athletic absurdity which they do not father upon the Greeks,
who, after all, really did know a little about sports. We are not told
how the horses were started—we must hurry on with the poet to the
finish. How Apollo made Tydeides drop his whip, and how Athene restored
it to him and then made the leader’s horses run off the course and wreck
his chariot; how Antilochus when they came to the broken part of the
course “bored” Menelaus and deprived him of the place; how the
spectators quarrelled as to which chariot was leading, and Idomeneus
offered to bet Aias a caldron or a tripod; how Antilochus apologised for
his youthful impetuosity and Menelaus generously forgave him; how every
man received his prize, even he whose chariot was broken,—all this is
known to every reader of Homer; to retell it would be sacrilege.
Particularly charming is the scene where Achilles presents Nestor with a
prize which has been left over as a “memorial of Patroclus’ burying.” In
recalling his youthful victories at Buprasium the old man mentions that
he was defeated in the chariot-race by the two sons of Actor, one of
whom held the reins while the other plied the whip. Here apparently we
have a hint of an earlier form of the chariot-race, where, as in war,
the chieftain was accompanied by his charioteer. In Achilles’ time there
is already a difference between the sport and the reality.

The next two events—the boxing and the wrestling matches—are described
as ἀλεγεινός, “hard” or “distressful,” an epithet which, as before
observed, seems rather a recommendation than otherwise. Indeed these two
sports, which are always mentioned together, already held the position
of pre-eminence which they held at the time of Pindar, and they formed
the chief part of the Achaean chieftain’s athletic education. For boxing
and wrestling are essentially exercises of skill. The child and the
savage hit, kick, tear, scratch, bite, and from this primitive
rough-and-tumble the Greek in later time developed the scientific
pankration; it is only the civilised man who distinguishes boxing and
wrestling, who uses the fist to strike and conducts a fight by rules. In
Homer both wrestling and boxing are already arts, and though in their
rougher form popular sports, the science of them seems to have been the
monopoly of the chieftains, perhaps, like the Japanese jiu-jitsu,
jealously handed down from father to son. The importance of the art of
self-defence in those unsettled times is obvious from the many legends
of robbers and bullies who challenged strangers to a bout of wrestling
or boxing, till their career of murder was cut short by a Heracles, a
Theseus, or a Polydeuces, in whose victories later art and story
represented the triumph of science and Hellenism over brute force and
barbarism. Such a victory Odysseus himself is said to have won in Lesbos
over Philomeleides, whom he threw mightily, and all the Achaeans
rejoiced.[9] In Homer, Polydeuces is already “the boxer,” and Odysseus
“of many counsels” wins glory both as boxer and wrestler.

For the boxing Achilles offers two prizes. Epeius at once advances and
claims the first prize. In his somewhat brutal arrogance, and his
admission that, though superior to all in boxing, he falls short in
actual warfare, we have perhaps a foretaste of the later professional
boxer. But mock modesty is no characteristic of the Greeks, and poetic
nemesis was not to be meted out; moreover, his boastfulness is atoned
for by his courtesy in his victory. Still, in the contrast between real
war and the sport we seem to see the poet’s judgment that athletics are
man’s recreation, not his business. The challenge of Epeius is accepted
by Euryalus, who came of a boxing stock; for his father Mecisteus had
formerly defeated all the Cadmeans at the burial of Oedipodes. Their
friends help to gird them, and bind on the well-cut thongs of oxhide.
The loin-belt was, as we shall see, discarded later on, but the thongs
remained unchanged till the fifth century, when we shall find them
constantly depicted on the vases. Then the two “lifted up stalwart hands
and fell to. And noble Epeius came on, and as the other cast a glance
around, smote him on the cheek, nor could he much more stand, for his
fair limbs straightway failed under him, and as when beneath the north
wind’s ripple a fish leapeth on a tangle-covered beach, and then the
black wave hideth it, so leapt Euryalus at that blow. But the
great-hearted Epeius took him in his hands and set him upright, and his
dear comrades stood around him and led him through the ring with
trailing foot, spitting out clotted blood, drooping his head awry, and
they set him down in his swoon among them.” The description is perfectly
clear. Epeius forced the fighting, and catching his opponent off his
guard knocked him out in orthodox, or, as some purists would say,
unorthodox, fashion with a swinging uppercut on the point of the jaw.

A yet better description of a fight with a similar finish occurs in the
_Odyssey_.[10] Odysseus, returning to his home disguised as a beggar,
finds installed there the professional beggar Irus, who at once picks a
quarrel with him. The suitors, delighted and amused at the prospect of a
fight between a pair of beggars, form a ring round the pair and egg them
on, promising to the winner a haggis that is cooking at the fire. But
when the beggars strip and gird up their rags they see that they are
mistaken in one of their men. Odysseus strips like an athlete, clean and
big of limb, and the suitors marvel. Irus too, despite his bulk,
marvels, and would fain withdraw. But it is too late: the suitors will
not be baulked of their fun, and the fight starts. Of course it is a
foregone conclusion, and Odysseus himself knows it. He knows, too, what
he can do; his only doubt is whether he shall kill the braggart
outright, or strike him lightly to the earth. He decides on the latter
course, and proceeds to dispose of him in most artistic fashion. Irus
leads off with a clumsy left-hander at Odysseus’ right shoulder, and
Odysseus cross-counters with a blow on the neck below the ear which
knocks him out. Fights of this sort were doubtless common occurrences,
and a little science must have been a very useful possession. That the
Achaeans did possess something of the science is clear from the two
fights described in Homer, though their science seems rather of the
unconventional American type, and does not commend itself to staunch
supporters of the orthodox English school.

For wrestling also two prizes are offered, a tripod valued at twelve
oxen, and a “woman skilled in all manner of work” valued only at four
oxen. For the two prizes there are two competitors, no less persons than
Odysseus and Ajax, the types respectively of cleverness and strength.
The match is conducted under definite rules, the rules of what was
called “upright wrestling,” in which, the object being to throw the
opponent, ground wrestling was not allowed. Girding themselves the two
advanced “into the midst of the ring, and clasped each the other in his
arms with stalwart hands like gable rafters of a lofty house.” The
attitude is identical with that adopted by Westmorland and Cumberland
wrestlers to-day. Then came the struggle for a closer grip; but when
after much striving neither could gain an advantage, Ajax suggested an
expedient that each in turn should allow the other to obtain a fair grip
and try to throw him by lifting him off the ground. There is here no
suggestion of unfairness, but undoubtedly the advantage is with the
heavier man. Odysseus, however, was equal to the occasion, and as Ajax
lifted him, not forgetful of his art, he struck him with his foot behind
the knee, in technical language “hammed” him, and so brought him to the
ground, falling heavily upon him. As both wrestlers fell together the
bout was inconclusive. Next came Odysseus’ turn: unable to lift his
bulky opponent off the ground “he crooked his knee within the other’s,
and both fell sideways.” The chip employed was apparently “the hank” or
“the inside click” of the modern wrestler. But the fall was what is
known as a dog-fall, and inconclusive. The two were proceeding to the
third bout when Achilles put an end to the contest, and awarded to each
an equal prize.

Futile efforts have been made to explain the verdict by showing that
Odysseus won the first bout and Ajax the second; the explanation given
above rests on the simple supposition that when both wrestlers fell, no
fall was scored. If each had won one bout, the excitement would have
been too intense for the contest to be stopped, but two inconclusive
bouts were naturally tedious to the spectators.

The foot-race need not detain us long. There were three prizes and three
competitors; among them, in spite of his recent exertions, the veteran
Odysseus. The course was of the same impromptu type described for the
chariot-race, round some distant mark and back to the starting place,
where the ground was wet and slippery with the blood of the oxen
slaughtered for sacrifice. It was a great race. Ajax, the son of Oeleus,
led, while Odysseus followed closely in his track amid the cheers of the
Achaeans. As they neared the finish Odysseus prayed to Athene, who “made
his limbs feel light, both feet and hands”—a delightful description of
the spurt; but not content with such legitimate aid, she caused Ajax,
just as they reached the prize, to slip in the victim’s blood. But in
Homer there is no ill-feeling at such incidents; the defeated rivals
merely comment good-humouredly on the interference of the goddess, just
as the modern sportsman, not always so good-humouredly, on his
opponent’s luck. “Friends, ye will bear me witness when I say that even
herein the immortals favour elder men.” What the moderns ascribe to
luck, the Achaeans, like all the ancients, ascribed to the direct action
of the gods: it is a later age that makes fortune a goddess.

Of the four remaining events, three at least—the single combat between
Ajax and Diomede, throwing the solos, and the contest with the bow—are
admitted even by the most conservative critics to be a late
interpolation; the fourth event—throwing the spear—is usually assigned
to the earlier account of the games, though one of the arguments
adduced, that spear-throwing formed part of the Homeric pentathlon,
seems singularly weak! There is no suggestion in Homer of any such thing
as the pentathlon, a competition consisting of five events in which the
same competitors competed, and to talk of the Homeric pentathlon merely
because Nestor happens to mention five events in the games at Buprasium
is quite unhistorical and most misleading. It would be more to the point
to urge that spear-throwing, throwing the solos or diskos, and archery
go together, because these same three events are mentioned together in
the 2nd _Iliad_.[11] But this is no place for the details of Homeric
criticism. For our present purpose we can learn nothing from the passage
about Homeric spear-throwing, for the simple reason that the competition
never came off, Achilles out of courtesy to his leader assigning the
first prize to Agamemnon without a contest.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Scene from Clazomenae Sarcophagus in British

It is unnecessary to consider in detail the confused and lifeless
descriptions of these events, but a word must be said of the events
themselves. The combat between armed men is depicted on a sixth-century
sarcophagus from Clazomenae, now in the British Museum (Fig. 2).[12]
Here, among chariots in full course, or preparing for the race, we see
pairs of warriors fighting. They are armed with helmet, spear, and
shield, and between each pair stands a youth playing the pipes to show
the nature of the fight. At either end stands a pillar bearing a bowl
for the prize, while against the pillar rests a naked figure leaning
dejectedly upon a staff, the spirit apparently of the dead man in whose
honour the games were held. The armed combat was alien, however, to the
spirit of the Greeks; we hear of it, indeed, in later times at Mantinea
and at Cyrene, but it found no place in any of the great Greek
festivals.[13] It was probably connected exclusively with funeral rites,
a substitute for human sacrifices. In the earlier part of the book
Achilles slays twelve Trojan captives upon the pyre of his friend; in
the latter part armed warriors fight in his honour. The one scene is but
the later doublet of the other.

The description of the archery competition is simply ludicrous. The
first prize is for the man who hits a dove fastened by a cord to the top
of a mast, while the second prize is for the man who performs the
infinitely harder feat of severing the cord. The choice of ten double
axes for the first prize and ten single axes for second suspiciously
suggests a reminiscence of the more serious competition with Odysseus’
bow in the _Odyssey_, where the twelve axe-heads to be shot for are part
of the treasures that Odysseus had once won as prizes.[14] In the
_Odyssey_ the bow holds an honourable place, but in the _Iliad_, though
a few heroes are famed for their skill in archery, the bow is rather the
weapon of the soldiery, and especially of the Trojans, and skill with it
is regarded by the Achaean noble who fought in his chariot with the same
not unnatural dislike and contempt, not unmingled with fear, as it was
by the chivalry of France in the days of Agincourt.[15]

Archery was regarded with the same contempt by the Greek hoplite of the
fifth century, and though it formed part of the training of the Athenian
Epheboi, it never entered largely into Greek sports. The diskos,
however, was always and in all places a favourite exercise. Odysseus, as
we have seen, to prove his strength to the Phaeacians, hurled far beyond
all their marks a diskos larger than his hosts themselves ever
threw.[16] The word diskos means nothing more than a “thing for
throwing,” and the object thrown by Odysseus was a stone. Whether the
artificial diskos of later times was known to the poet may be doubted,
although the words “diskos” and “a diskos’ throw” are of frequent
occurrence. In the later gymnasium there was no doubt always a supply of
diskoi of various weights and sizes, like the supply of dumbbells in our
own gymnasia. But we should hardly expect to find such a stock of
athletic implements in the agora of the Phaeacians hard by the ships
where these impromptu after-dinner sports took place. It seems more
likely that the diskoi were merely the large round pebbles of the
seashore, such as the Phaeacian fisher-folk used for holding down their
nets and tackle laid out to dry in the agora, and such as every visitor
to the seaside instinctively picks up and throws. A stone, a lump of
metal, or a tree-trunk provides for early man a natural weapon in time
of war, a test of strength in time of peace. From such simple forms are
derived the weight, the hammer, and the caber of our modern sports. In
Homer stones still played no small part in actual warfare. Even heroes
use them. Diomedes hurls at Aeneas a “handful such as two men, as men
now are, could scarcely lift,”[17] and with a similar rock, which he
wields as lightly as a shepherd waves a fleece, Hector himself bursts in
the gate of the Achaean wall.[18] But stones are more especially the
weapon of the common soldiery, and when the fight grows general round
the body of Cebriones the stones fly fast.[19] Naturally, then, throwing
the stone forms a part of the Achaean sports. From the use of the term
κατωμαδίοιο,[20] “thrown from the shoulder,” it has been supposed that
the Achaeans put the weight from the shoulder. They may have done so;
but “the whirl” with which Odysseus hurled the stone, and the distance
that he threw it, clearly indicate an underhand throw.

The weight hurled at the games of Patroclus was no stone but an
unwrought metal of mass, probably the contents of one of the open-hearth
furnaces of the Mediterranean world. This “pig of iron,” which had been
taken by Achilles from Eetion of Thebes, is not only the weight to be
thrown but the prize, and contrary to the courteous Achaean custom the
only prize, although there are four competitors. “The winner’s shepherd,
or ploughman,” says Achilles, “will not want for iron for five years.”
But in spite of its weight Polypoetes hurls it as far as a herdsman
flings the _bola_[21] “when it flieth whirling through the herds of
kine.” The word _solos_ occurs only in this passage and in later
imitators of Homer; the passage is, as has been said, a very late one,
so late that the writer seems to be consciously archaizing, and I
believe that, wishing to give the description a primitive appearance, he
substituted the solos for the athlete’s diskos, with which he was
undoubtedly familiar. The word seems to be connected with the Semitic
_sela_, a rock, but at an early date to have been used to describe the
pigs of iron produced on the island of Elba and elsewhere. In late
writers it is sometimes a poetical synonym for the diskos.

The chariot-race and the strictly athletic events, such as boxing,
wrestling, and running, were essentially the sports of the nobles; but
though the latter excelled the common soldiery in throwing the spear,
heaving the weight, and shooting with the bow, as they did in everything
else, there is in these three events a distinctly popular element. The
bow, the javelin, and the stone were the weapons of all alike, and so,
when Achilles was sulking in his tent, his folk, we read, “sported with
diskos, with casting of spears, and archery.” The diskos and the spear
were also the favourite recreation of the suitors of Penelope, who had,
we may suppose, no taste for more strenuous exercises. Their popular
character is clearly indicated by the use of the terms “a diskos throw”
or “a spear throw” as measures of distance.[22]

Jumping, which was an important event in the later pentathlon, is in
Homer only mentioned as one of the sports in which the nimble Phaeacians
excelled. Among these we meet with ball-play, a favourite amusement of
the Greeks in all ages. Not only do Nausicaa and her maidens disport
themselves with the ball on the seashore, but all her brothers give a
display of their skill before Odysseus, and in both cases the players,
as they toss the ball from one to another, move in a sort of rhythmic
dance to the strains of music in a way which would have delighted the
heart of some modern professors of physical culture.[23] Dance and song
were always dear to the Greeks. We have also hints of acrobatic shows
that remind us of the Cretan scenes. On the shield of Achilles was
wrought “a dancing place like unto that which once in wide Cnossus
Daedalus wrought for Ariadne of the fair tresses ... and among the
dancers as the minstrel played two tumblers whirled.”[24] “Verily,” says
Patroclus to Meriones, as smitten by a stone he falls from his chariot,
“verily there are tumblers among the Trojans too.”[25] Still more
suggestive of the circus is the comparison of Ajax rushing over the
plain to a man driving four horses and leaping from horse to horse as
they fly along.[26]

With the origin of the Homeric poems we are not here concerned. Whether
we regard them as the work of a single poet or as evolved by a series of
poets, whether as a contemporary picture of the Mycenaean age or as
based upon tradition, it is generally agreed that the state of society
described is separated by a long interval from any of which we have
historical knowledge in Greece, and that, despite slight discrepancies,
this description is in its general features consistent. Of this society
the games are the natural product. Just as in the Homeric polity we can
trace the elements from which the various later institutions were
evolved, and yet the polity as a whole is distinct from all later
developments, so in athletics the events are the same as are found in
the later festivals, but the spirit that pervades them is purely Homeric
and separated by a wide interval from the spirit of the Olympic games.
Critics tell us that the chief passages referring to the sports are
comparatively late, later than the founding of the Olympic games in 776
B.C. If this is so, the poet must have followed closely traditions of a
much earlier date. Otherwise we can hardly explain the contrast between
the Homeric and the Olympic games, and the absence, with one doubtful
exception, of any allusion to the latter. This silence is especially
remarkable when we remember the large part played in the games of the
_Iliad_ by Nestor and the Neleidae, who lived in the neighbouring Pylos,
and the close connexion in the _Odyssey_ between Elis and Ithaca.

The distinctive character of the Homeric games may be summed up in two
words—they are aristocratic and spontaneous. They are spontaneous as the
play of the child, the natural outlet of vigorous youth. There is no
organized training, no organized competition, and sport never usurps the
place of work. They are aristocratic because, though manly exercises are
common to all the people, excellence in them belongs especially to the
nobles; and when sports are held on an elaborate scale at the funeral of
some chieftain, it is the nobles only who compete.

Footnote 1:

  _B.S.A._ vii. p. 94; viii. pp. 74, 77; ix. p. 56; x. p. 41. R. M.
  Burrows, _Discoveries in Crete_, Pl. i.

Footnote 2:

  The ταυροκαθαψία proper is a feat rather of the hunting-field than of
  the circus, and should be connected rather with the bull-snaring
  scenes on the Vaphio cups, _vide_ E. Gardner, _Greek Sculpture_, p.
  61, or with the feat known as βοῦς αἴρεσθαι depicted in Tischbein ii.
  3, and referred to in inscriptions relative to the Epheboi. The only
  representation that I know of this sport is on a late relief from
  Smyrna in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, No. 219. The performers are
  represented pursuing bulls on horseback, leaping on to their backs,
  and seizing their horns, by twisting which they throw them on to the
  ground. The Greek bull was clearly a small animal, but must still have
  been a formidable opponent. The records of the gladiatorial shows
  afford abundant proof that man could by the aid of skill triumph over
  the strongest animal. The principles of jiu-jitsu could be applied
  against animals as easily as against men.

Footnote 3:

  _B.S.A._ vii. p. 95, Fig. 31; ix. p. 57, Fig. 35.

Footnote 4:

  _Od._ iv. 626, xvii. 168, 174; _Il._ ii. 774.

Footnote 5:

  _Od._ viii. 153 sq. (Butcher and Lang’s translation).

Footnote 6:

  _Od._ viii. 147.

Footnote 7:

  _Od._ viii. 100.

Footnote 8:

  _Il._ xi. 697, xxiii. 630.

Footnote 9:

  _Od._ iv. 341 sq.

Footnote 10:

  _Od._ xviii. 15 sq.

Footnote 11:

  _Il._ ii. 774.

Footnote 12:

  Murray, _Sarcophagi in British Museum_, Pl. ii., iii.

Footnote 13:

  Athenaeus, pp. 153, 154. The true Hoplomachia, as described in Homer
  and practised apparently by the Mantineans and Cyrenaeans, must not be
  confounded with the later so-called Hoplomachia, competitions in which
  were held at the Athenian Thesea between boys of all ages as well as
  men, and which was regularly taught in the gymnasia by officials known
  as Hoplomachoi. The latter was merely a military training in the use
  of arms, and the competitions therein were probably as harmless as
  modern fencing competitions. The Spartans at all events regarded the
  Hoplomachia as unpractical and useless for a nation of soldiers, and
  Plato, though he recommends the armed combat between men in heavy or
  light armour as preferable to the pankration for his ideal state, yet
  has no great regard for the fashionable exponents and teachers of the
  art in his time. Plato, _Laches_ 182, _Gorg._ 456, _Leg._ 834. Cp.
  Dar.-Sagl, _s.v._ “Hoplomachia.”

Footnote 14:

  _Od._ xxi. 4, 61.

Footnote 15:

  _Il._ xi. 385.

Footnote 16:

  _Od._ viii. 186 sq.

Footnote 17:

  _Il._ v. 302.

Footnote 18:

  _Il._ xii. 445.

Footnote 19:

  _Il._ xvi. 774. In Professor Furtwängler’s reconstruction of the
  Aegina pediment one of the fallen warriors holds a stone which he is
  about to hurl. Stone-throwing by hand and with the sling is mentioned
  as part of the peltast’s training by Plato, _Leg._ 834 A.

Footnote 20:

  _Il._ xxiii. 431; but cp. _Od._ viii. 189; _Il._ xxiii. 840.

Footnote 21:

  For this interpretation of καλαῦροψ, and for the discussion of the
  terms diskos and solos, _vide infra_, p. 313.

Footnote 22:

  _Il._ xxiii. 431, 529; xvi. 589.

Footnote 23:

  _Od._ vi. 100, viii. 370.

Footnote 24:

  _Il._ xviii. 605 (= _Od._ iv. 18).

Footnote 25:

  _Il._ xvi. 742, 750.

Footnote 26:

  _Il._ xv. 679.

                              CHAPTER III

The athletic meeting was unknown to Homer: in historic times it is
associated with religious festivals celebrated at definite periods at
the holiest places in Greece. If the growth of the athletic festival was
due to the athletic spirit of the race, its connexion with religion may
be traced to those games with which the funeral of the Homeric chieftain
was celebrated. Though the origin of the great festivals is overgrown
with a mass of late and conflicting legends in which it is difficult to
distinguish truth from fiction, there is no reason for discrediting the
universal tradition of their funeral origin, confirmed as it is by
survivals in the ritual of the festivals, by the testimony of the
earliest athletic art, and by later custom.[27] So we may conjecture
that these games, originally celebrated at the actual funeral, tended
like other funeral rites to become periodical, and as ancestor-worship
developed into hero-worship became part of the cult of heroes, which
seems to have preceded throughout Greece the worship of the Olympian
deities. When the latter superseded the earlier heroes, they took over
these games together with the sanctuaries and festivals of the older

The custom of celebrating funerals with games and contests is not
confined to Greece. Among the funeral scenes that decorate the walls of
Etruscan tombs we see depicted chariot-races, horse-races, boxing,
wrestling, and other athletic sports, together with contests of a more
brutal nature.[28] From the Etruscans the custom spread to the Romans,
who borrowed from the same people their gladiatorial games, which were
likewise possibly of funeral origin. Funeral games are found in
Circassia, in the Caucasus, among the Khirgiz, and yet further afield in
Siam and in North America.[29] But the most instructive example for our
purpose is furnished by the old Irish fairs, which lasted from pagan
times down to the beginning of the last century.[30] These fairs,
founded in memory of some departed chieftain, took place at stated
intervals commonly in the neighbourhood of the ancient burial-place.
Thus the triennial fair of Carman, near Wexford, was instituted in
fulfilment of the dying charge of Garman “as a fair of mourning to bear
his name for ever.” These fairs, which lasted several days, and to which
people of all classes flocked from every part of Ireland, and even from
Scotland, furnished an opportunity for the transaction of a variety of
business public and private. Laws were promulgated, councils and courts
were held, marriages were arranged and celebrated.

There was, of course, buying and selling of every sort, but the
principal business of these gatherings was the holding of sports and
competitions. Of these there was an endless variety—horse-races,
athletic exercises, games, pastimes, special sports for women,
competitions in music, in the recitation of poems and tales. There were
shows and performances by jugglers, clowns, acrobats, circus-riders, and
for everything there were prizes, “for every art that was just to be
sold, or rewarded or exhibited or listened to.” Like the sacred month of
the Olympic festival, the time of the fairs was “one universal truce,”
during which all quarrels and strife were repressed, no distraint for
debt, no vengeance was allowed, and the debtor might enjoy himself with
impunity. “The Gentile of the Gael,” says an old writer, “celebrated the
fair of Carman without breach of law, without crime, without violence,
without dishonour.” On the introduction of Christianity the Church took
over the old pagan fairs; the pagan rites were abolished, each day began
with a religious service, and the fair concluded with a grand religious
ceremonial. In every detail the history of these fairs bears an
extraordinary resemblance to that of the Greek athletic festivals.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Amphiaraus Vase. Berlin, 1655.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Dipylon Vase. Copenhagen.]

In Greek lands there is everywhere evidence of the existence of funeral
games at all periods, from the legendary games of Pelias to those
celebrated at Thessalonica in the time of Valerian, or perhaps in his
honour.[31] The games of Pelias and those celebrated by Acastus in
honour of his father were represented respectively on the two most
famous monuments of early decorative art—the chest of Cypselus dedicated
in the Heraeum at Olympia, and the throne of Apollo at Amyclae. Both
works are lost, and known to us only from the descriptions of Pausanias,
but the manner in which the games of Pelias were represented can be
judged from the similar scene on a sixth-century vase, the Amphiaraus
vase in Berlin (Fig. 3).[32] A still earlier representation of funeral
games occurs on a geometric cup from the Acropolis, possibly dating from
the eighth century (Fig. 4).[33] On one side are two naked men, with one
hand holding each other by the arm, and with the other preparing to stab
one another with swords, a mimic fight perhaps rather than a real one,
but one which, like the Pyrrhic dance depicted on the other side, may
recall more sanguinary funeral contests. On the reverse stand two boxers
in the centre between a group of warriors, and a group of dancers; an
armed dancer leaping off the ground to the accompaniment of a
four-stringed lyre, and two others holding possibly castanets. A similar
scene occurs on a silver vase from Etruria, said by Furtwängler to be of
Cyprian origin; while the wide distribution of funeral games is further
shown by the Clazomenae sarcophagus already described, and by a fragment
of a sixth-century vase manufactured at Naucratis (Fig. 140).[34] The
games depicted on these monuments are very similar to those described in
Homer. The prizes are generally tripods and bowls which stand between
the combatants or at the finish of the course. The contests were not
confined to athletics and chariot-races. Hesiod tells us that he was
present at Chalcis at the games held in honour of Amphidamas by his
sons, and himself won a tripod as a prize for a “hymn.”[35] At Delphi,
too, the only contests previous to the sixth century were musical.

Of periodical games in memory of the dead the earliest example, apart
from the great festivals, is furnished by the games of Azan in Arcadia,
where, according to Pausanias, the chariot-race was the oldest
event.[36] At Rhodes the festival of the Heliea seems to have originated
in the funeral games of Tlepolemus.[37] In more historical times we
frequently find the memory of generals and statesmen kept alive by games
founded in their honour by their countrymen, or those whom they had
benefited. Miltiades was honoured by games in the Chersonese, Leonidas
and Pausanias at Sparta, Brasidas at Amphipolis, Timoleon at Syracuse,
Mausolus at Halicarnassus. Kings and tyrants followed the example:
Alexander instituted games in honour of his friend Hephaestion. Those,
too, who had fallen in war were often commemorated by their states with
athletic festivals. The Pythia were reorganized by the Amphictions as a
funeral contest in honour of those who fell in the first Sacred war, in
memory of which the victors received crowns of bay cut in the Vale of
Tempe, and the Eleutheria at Plataea were established by the victorious
Greeks to commemorate those who had died in battle against the Persians.
At Athens, too, a festival was held in the Academy under the direction
of the polemarch in memory of those citizens who had died for their

The origin of funeral games is too difficult a question to be discussed
here. Many explanations have been offered. Roman critics held the
Etruscan combats, from which their own gladiatorial games were borrowed,
to have been originally a substitute for human sacrifice; and this
explanation has been suggested above in connexion with the armed fight
in the games of Patroclus. This view receives some support from the
occurrence of the armed fight, whether real or mimic, and of the armed
Pyrrhic dance, which was certainly a mimicry of battle, on some of the
monuments representing funeral games, perhaps, too, from the prominence
in these games of boxing, which may be regarded as a further
modification of the more brutal combats. Plutarch suggests
apologetically that in early days such fights took place even at
Olympia,[39] and the lads of the Peloponnese, we are told, every year
lashed themselves upon the grave of Pelops till the blood ran down. But
the significance of the latter rite is doubtful. Another view connects
these contests with those fights for succession with which Dr. Frazer’s
_Golden Bough_ has made us familiar. In support of this we may cite the
famous chariot-race between Pelops and Oenomaus for the hand of
Hippodameia, or such later myths as the wrestling match by which Zeus
won from Cronus the sovereignty of heaven. Connected with the idea of
succession is the credit and popularity accruing to the heirs from the
magnificence of the games with which they celebrated their dead
predecessor. The costly prizes offered must assuredly have caused no
less pleasure to the living than to the dead. Comparatively late is the
idea that the dead man somehow assisted as spectator and enjoyed the
games held in his honour.[40] In all these views there is probably some
truth, the amount of which varied in different places; but whatever
truth there is in any or all of them as applied to the Greeks, they
afford no adequate explanation of the variety and importance of Greek
funeral games unless full account be taken also of the intense love of
competition and the strong athletic spirit of the race. But whatever the
origin of funeral games, there can be no doubt that they adequately
account for the close connexion between athletics and religion; nor is
this view discredited by doubts as to the particular funeral legends
which later invention attached to particular festivals.

The athletic festival required for its growth fairly settled conditions
of life, and during the troubled period which intervened between the
time of Nestor and the first Olympiad no progress was possible. Long
before the Homeric poems were composed, love of adventure, quickened
perhaps by pressure from the North, had driven the Achaeans and other
kindred tribes forth from the mainland of Greece to find fresh homes in
the islands and on the eastern shores of the Aegean. Other tribes,
Aeolians, Ionians, Dorians, followed, and for centuries the stream of
colonization flowed eastwards, carrying Greek civilization to every part
of the Aegean. This civilization gathered fresh life from contact with
the East. There, while Greece itself was paralyzed by wars and
migrations, great cities grew and flourished, cities great not only in
material prosperity but in art and literature and science. Of the
history of these cities unfortunately we know nothing; we can only judge
of their greatness by the results which we find in the seventh and sixth
centuries when the rise of the Lydian and Persian empires first brought
them into conflict with these powers. But of one thing we may be
sure—the Greek settlers brought with them their love of sport. This must
be a truism to all who hold that the 23rd _Iliad_ was composed in the
Eastern Aegean; it is confirmed by the many victories gained in later
days at Olympia by athletes from the cities and islands of the East, and
by the numerous athletic festivals existing in those parts in historical

Under the settled and luxurious conditions of Eastern life it is
probable that the athletic festival developed at an early date,[41]
though owing to the same conditions athletics never attained in the East
to the position which they occupied in the Peloponnese, and the athletic
business was often secondary to the other business of the festivals.
This at least is suggested by the history of the Delian festival. The
antiquity of this festival is vouched for by the Homeric _Hymn to
Apollo_. At a time when Olympia was still little more than a local
gathering, the long-robed Ionians were already flocking to Apollo’s isle
with their children and their wives. Even from the mainland of Greece
choirs came with hymns to Apollo. We still possess a fragment of
Eumelus, a Bacchiad of Corinth, said by Pausanias to have been written
for the Messenian choir sent to Delos in the eighth century.[42] “There
when the games are ordered they rejoice to honour Apollo with boxing and
dance and song.” The picture in the _Hymn to Apollo_ is full of joy and
grace: the fair ships drawn up by the water’s edge, the costly
merchandise spread out upon the shore, the throng of long-robed men and
fair-girdled women, and in the background the slopes of Mount Cynthus,
halfway up which stands out the rocky archway of Apollo’s ancient
shrine. A fair scene truly, and typical no doubt of many another
festival where men of kindred race gathered together for sacrifice and
song, for sport and traffic. But in this joyous festival of the jovial
Delians we feel that athletics hold but a secondary place. For the more
serious business of athletics we must go to the sterner, more strenuous
festivals of the Peloponnese—above all to Olympia.

“Best of all is water and gold as a flaming fire in the night shineth
eminent amid lordly wealth: but if of prizes in the games thou art fain,
O my soul, to tell, then as for no bright star more quickening than the
sun must thou search in the void firmament by day, so neither shall we
find any games greater than the Olympic whereof to utter our voice.”[43]
The sanctity of Olympia and its festival go back to days far earlier
than the coming of the Dorians, perhaps of any Greek race; but the
growth of the festival dates from the time when, after the Dorian
invasion, the movements of the peoples ceased and the land became
settled, and its greatness is largely due to the athletic ideal and the
genius for organization which characterized that race. “It is not the
least of the many debts which we owe to Heracles,” says Lysias in his
_Panegyric_, “that by instituting the Olympic games he restored peace
and goodwill to a land torn asunder by war and faction and wasted by
pestilence.” Pausanias uses similar language of the restoration of the
games by Iphitus and Lycurgus, whose action another tradition ascribes
to the advice of the Delphic oracle. But though we can hardly credit the
founders of the games, whoever they were, with this far-sighted
Panhellenic policy at so early a date, the tradition is founded upon
facts: the first Olympiad does mark the settlement of Greece, and the
festival did promote the unity of Greece. Its growth, though not its
origin, was due to the Dorians.

[Illustration: Fig. 5. Plan of Olympia.]

Olympia lies about ten miles from the sea on the northern bank of the
Alpheus, at the point where its valley spreads out into a wide and
fertile plain. In an angle formed by this river with its tributary the
Cladeus, which rushes down from the mountains of Elis between steep
banks formerly shaded with plane-trees, at the foot of the pine-clad
hill of Cronus, stood the grove of wild olive-trees, brought there
according to tradition by Heracles from the land of the Hyperboreans,
the sacred grove from which the Altis took its name. The slopes of the
neighbouring hills were covered with a variety of trees, and in the rich
undergrowth of flowering shrubs the wild boar, deer, and other game
found cover. It was to Scillus, only a few miles distant, that the
veteran Xenophon retired to spend his old age in literature and sport.
In old days the vegetation was far more luxuriant than now; besides the
olive groves, the white poplars, from which alone the wood for the
sacrifice to Zeus and Pelops might be cut, and even the palm-tree
flourished there. The rich well-watered plain was covered with vines and
crops, while its meadows afforded abundant pasturage for horses and for

To the modern traveller Olympia seems too much out of the way to be the
scene of a great national gathering; even to the Greek of the fifth
century it must have seemed to stand outside the busy centres of Greek
life, and perhaps it was this very remoteness, combined with its ancient
sanctity, that saved Olympia, like Delphi, from being the battle-ground
between the rival states of Greece. But it had not been so always. The
flat, rich, alluvial plains of the western Peloponnese had not formerly
lagged behind the rest of Greece. The long, almost unbroken curves of
sandy shore offered little harbourage for the triremes of a later day.
But the earlier mariner or trader from the East who coasted around
Greece had no love for deep land-locked harbours; all he wanted was a
sandy shore where he could beach his ships sheltered by some convenient
headland as at Triphylian Pylos, or at the open mouth of some river like
the Alpheus. Hence there is no reason to doubt the traditions that
connect Cretans and Phoenicians with Olympia.[45] The coastline has
advanced considerably since those days, and the small boats of these
ancient mariners could advance up the river with perfect safety through
the flat open plain as far as Olympia. This accessibility of Olympia by
sea had yet more important consequences at a later age when the festival
attracted men from the great colonies of Italy and Sicily. Olympia may
even have been associated with the founding of these colonies; for the
coast road round Elis and the shores of the gulf of Corinth connected it
with Sicyon, Corinth, and Megara. May we not suppose that, as the
colonists sailed down the gulf of Corinth, many of them would turn aside
before they bade farewell to their native shores to visit the venerable
grove of Olympia and consult its ancient oracle?

Again, Olympia stood full in the way of the Achaean tribes as they
pressed southwards from their first settlement at Dodona. In speaking of
the Achaeans we are using the word provisionally for convenience’ sake
to denote the pre-Dorian Greeks of the Peloponnese as opposed to the
original inhabitants and the later Dorians. In the _Odyssey_ they have
spread over the islands, over Pleuron by the sea and rocky Calydon, over
Elis and Messenia. So close was the connexion between the islands and
Elis, then the land of the Epeans, that the princes of Ithaca used its
broad plains for breeding cattle and horses. The narrow straits offered
no obstacle to this adventurous people, and for centuries before the
passage of Oxylus, the one-eyed Aetolian from Naupactus, the Achaeans
and others had been crossing over in larger or smaller companies till
they had spread over the whole Peloponnese. Hence for the Achaeans in
the Peloponnese Olympia stood in the same position as Dodona in northern
Greece. The Dorians, indeed, seem to have failed in their attempt to
follow in the same course; but legend connected with the return of the
Heracleidae the invasion of their Aetolian allies under Oxylus, who
dispossessed the Epean lords of Elis. The quarrel between these
newcomers and the earlier settlers for the possession of Olympia lasted
for centuries, but through all the changes of population, though many
fresh cults were added by the invaders, the superstition with which all
newcomers in those days regarded the gods and sanctuaries of the earlier
inhabitants preserved the old cults inviolate, so that in the buildings
and altars of Olympia, and the ritual of its festival, all the various
strata of its history are plainly visible.

Lastly, though remote from the struggles of later history, no place in
the Peloponnese was more accessible to other parts. Besides the
coast-route that connected it with Messenia and the gulf of Corinth, the
valleys of the Alpheus and its tributaries afforded a natural means of
communication with all parts of the interior, and it was to the athletic
character of the inhabitants of the Peloponnese that the athletic fame
of the festival in the first place was due. Without this native talent
it could never have attracted competitions from northern Greece or from
the colonies of the West, nor could it ever have acquired its peculiar
sanctity but for the position it had held in the earlier migrations.

It is unnecessary here to discuss the various myths which Greek
imagination wove about the beginnings of Olympia, and the perplexing
problems which they raise. Two propositions may be regarded as fairly
established. In the first place, Olympia was a holy place before the
Achaeans came to the Peloponnese. In the second place, the beginning of
the games was earlier than the Dorian invasion, but later probably than
the coming of the Achaeans.

The antiquity of Olympia is proved by the presence there of those
elements of primitive religion which preceded the worship of the
Olympian deities. The altar of Cronus on the hill top which bore his
name recalled a sovereignty earlier than that of Zeus. An ancient oracle
of earth preceded the oracle of Zeus. Of the worship of the powers of
the underworld there is abundant evidence at Olympia, as in the rest of
the Peloponnese; the priestess of Demeter Chamyne, for example, was
exempted from the rule that excluded women from Olympia, and had her
place of honour in the stadium opposite the seats of the Hellanodicae.
In Hera, whose worship at Olympia was earlier than that of Zeus, we may
probably recognize a Hellenized form of the great Mother Goddess of the
Aegean world. Lastly, that Pelops claimed precedence of Zeus is clear
from the fact that the athletes sacrificed to Pelops first and then to
Zeus. At his tomb within the Altis, originally a barrow, only afterwards
enclosed in a shrine, he was worshipped with all the ceremonial due to
the dead, and every year the youths of the Peloponnese lashed themselves
upon his grave till the blood ran down.[46] Yet it does not follow that
the cult of Pelops was pre-Achaean. We cannot clearly draw the line
between what belonged to the Achaeans and what to the original
inhabitants. There was no violent breach, but rather a gradual fusion of
the races, in the course of which the Achaeans made their own much of
the earlier civilization. Certainly the cult of heroes continued all
through Greek history; in later days even noted athletes were canonized.

The ancient writings of the Eleans, according to Pausanias, ascribed the
institution of the games to the Idaean Heracles, one of the Cretan
Curetes to whom the infant Zeus was entrusted. But to Pindar and
Bacchylides the games are associated with the tomb of Pelops. Pelops, as
the story goes, came to Olympia as a suitor for the hand of Hippodameia,
whose father Oenomaus challenged all her suitors to a chariot-race, and
slew with his spear all whom he defeated. Thirteen suitors had been
slain when Pelops came and, by the aid of Myrtilus, the charioteer of
Oenomaus, who removed the lynch-pins from his master’s chariot wheels,
slew him and won his bride and kingdom. This story, afterwards
represented on the chest of Cypselus and on the pediments of the temple
of Zeus, was commemorated by the earliest monuments of the Altis.
Besides the tomb of Pelops himself, there was an ancient wooden pillar
said to be the only remnant of the house of Oenomaus, which was struck
by lightning,[47] and also the Hippodamium, apparently a funeral mound,
surrounded afterwards by a wall, where the women of Elis every year
offered sacrifice.

It was at the ancient tomb of Pelops, Pindar tells us, that Heracles the
son of Zeus, returning from his victory over Augeas, founded the
Olympian games. There “he measured a sacred grove for the Father, and
having fenced round the Altis marked the bounds thereof. There he set
apart the choicest of the spoil for an offering from the war and
sacrificed and ordained the fifth year feast.” “In the foot-race down
the straight course was Likymnius’ son Oeonus first, from Nidea had he
led his host; in the wrestling was Tegea glorified by Echemus; Doryclus
won the prize of boxing, a dweller in the city of Tiryns, and with the
four-horse chariot Samos of Mantinea, Halirrhothius’ son; with the
javelin Phrastor hit the mark; in distance Eniceus beyond all others
hurled the stone with a circling sweep, and all the warrior company
thundered a great applause.”[48]

The poet has glorified into a Peloponnesian festival what can have been
no more than a local gathering in which the neighbouring chieftains took
part, and the introduction of Heracles may have been an invention of the
Eleans; for, according to Pausanias, it was Iphitus who first induced
the Eleans, or, as he should have said, the Pisatans, to sacrifice to
Heracles whom they had before regarded as their enemy. Yet there is
probably some truth in the connexion of the games with Pelops’ grave, a
tradition which we find also in Pindar’s great rival Bacchylides. But
who was Pelops? Was he god, man, or hero? Like the oracle of Delphi when
asked a similar question about Lycurgus, we may well doubt. Yet in spite
of certain modern authorities, who see local gods in most of the heroes
of legend, it is perhaps safer to accept the universal belief of the
Greeks that he was a man, some chieftain who after his death was
worshipped as a hero. Moreover, the tradition of his Phrygian origin is
a strong argument against the view that he was a native pre-Achaean god
of the Peloponnese, though it is by no means incompatible with his
connexion with the Achaeans in view of the original kinship of the
latter with the Phrygians. At all events Pelops is pre-Dorian, and the
victors in these games, according to Pindar, are pre-Dorians.

The existence of the games in pre-Dorian times agrees entirely with the
athletic character of the Achaeans in the Peloponnese as described in
Homer; and if we find in the poet no mention of Olympia, his silence is
easily explained by the simple, local character of the festival at this
time. It will be remembered that in the funeral games of the
north-western Peloponnese chariot-racing played a prominent part. The
antiquity of this sport at Olympia is confirmed by the discovery of a
number of very early votive offerings, many of them models of horses or
chariots, found in a layer that extends below the foundations of the
Heraeum. This temple was founded, it is said, by the people of Scillus
some eight years after the coming of Oxylus; and even if we cannot go so
far as Dr. Dörpfeld, who assigns it to the tenth or eleventh centuries,
there is no doubt of its great antiquity, and that the Scilluntines were
of an Arcadian, not a Dorian stock.

Before the building of the Heraeum we must picture Olympia as a sacred
grove surrounded by a hedge interspersed with open spaces where stood
the barrow of Pelops and sundry earth altars, such as the great altar of
Zeus, or the six double altars at which the competitors offered
sacrifice. Thither the country-folk resorted to inquire of the future
from the ancient earth oracle, or perhaps, as at Dodona, from the
rustling of the leaves. These oracles were interpreted by certain
hereditary families, the Iamidae and Clytidae, who maintained their
privileges even when Dorian influence had prevailed. Thither at set
times the neighbouring tribes flocked to take part in the games held at
the tomb of Pelops. The sanctuary and festival of Olympia were in the
territory of the Pisatae, a tribal group of village communities possibly
nine in number situated on either side of the Alpheus valley, and
loosely bound together by the common worship of the hero Pelops.[49]
They took their name from the village of Pisa, perhaps on account of its
nearness to Olympia.

The Pisatae were one of many such tribal groups, or amphictyonies in the
Peloponnese, in parts of which this form of life continued into the
fifth century or later. Such were the groups of nine cities mentioned in
the catalogue of the ships in the _Iliad_, the nine Arcadian cities
grouped round the tomb of Aepytus, the nine Pylian cities of Nestor’s
kingdom, the nine Argive cities under Diomed, the nine Lacedaemonian
cities under Sparta. Such, too, were the Caucones, a wandering tribe
whose hero Caucon was in later times supposed to be buried near Lepreum;
such were the Epeans of Elis; while the Eleans who supplanted them
retained this form of government till the founding of the city-state of
Elis in the fifth century. Like all such clans these leagues were
intensely aristocratic: the chieftains were regarded with superstitious
reverence, and the tribal centre was often the tomb of some departed
hero-chief. Of cities, properly speaking, there were none in the western
Peloponnese. A few strong fortresses served as residences for powerful
chieftains and as refuge for their followers in danger; but most of the
people lived in unwalled villages like the Scotch Highlanders. Their
wealth consisted largely in horses and cattle, which they bartered with
the islanders or with Cretan or Phoenician traders who landed at Pylos
or sailed up the Alpheus to Olympia. In search of pasturage they ranged
in winter over the lowland plains, retiring in summer to the sheltered
upland valleys. The constant pressure of newcomers kept them constantly
on the move, southwards and eastwards. This shifting of the tribal
centres may be traced in the places that bore the name of Pylos.
Settling originally in Elean Pylos, the gateway of the netherworld,
these Pylians, united by some netherworld cult, were forced to move
first to Triphylian Pylos, probably the Pylos of Nestor, and at a later
stage to Messenian Pylos. Of their raids and cattle-lifting, their feuds
and their reprisals, we have a vivid picture in the _Odyssey_. Such, we
may suppose, was the life of the Pisatae and their neighbours, the
pre-Dorian inhabitants of Elis, Triphylia, Arcadia and Messenia. The
Pisatae perhaps enjoyed a position more established than the rest,
thanks to the superstitious reverence which alone saved the rich valley
of Olympia from attack, but under these unsettled conditions the real
development of the festival was impossible, though the prestige which it
had already acquired is shown in the building of the Heraeum by the

The coming of the Dorians brought order into the Peloponnese, but only
after a long and bitter struggle. The settling of Oxylus and his
Aetolians in Elis checked the stream of migration from the north-west,
and the power of the Dorians prevented further aggression from other
quarters. Meanwhile such of the earlier inhabitants as clung to their
independence were driven into the mountains of Arcadia and Achaea, or
into Messenia. In the south-west the civilization, of which we have a
glorified picture in Nestor’s kingdom, lasted perhaps till the final
conquest of the country by the Spartans; in the mountains the
inhabitants developed into a race of hardy mountaineers and shepherds,
fond of sport and war, clinging tenaciously to their ancient customs and
manner of government, but playing no part in the history of Greece save
as mercenaries in the pay of more progressive states.

In the long struggle that preceded the final settlement even Olympia was
involved. The Eleans—as we may call the newcomers from Aetolia—strove
hard to wrest from the Pisatans the control of the sanctuary; but the
latter doggedly maintained their rights, which had been recently
vindicated by the building of the Heraeum, and religious feeling was on
their side. Still, the prestige of the festival suffered to such an
extent that the games, it is said, were neglected and forgotten. At
length, weary of incessant strife and a pestilence that followed it, the
contending factions, on the advice, according to one story, of the
Delphic oracle, resolved to re-establish the Olympic games as a means of
restoring goodwill and unity to the land. This work was ascribed to
Iphitus, king of Elis, a descendant of Oxylus, to Cleosthenes, king of
Pisa, and to Lycurgus of Sparta. The ordinance regulating the festival
was engraved on a diskos preserved in the temple of Hera down to the
time of Pausanias, on which the names of Iphitus and Lycurgus were still
legible in the days of Aristotle.[50] The antiquity of the diskos is
unquestionable, but it may well be doubted if it was contemporary with
the event described. More probably it dated from the seventh century,
when Sparta, as we shall see, took an active part in the games. The
introduction of Sparta and Lycurgus at this early date is certainly
suspicious. Be this as it may, the organization of the festival by
Iphitus and Cleosthenes may be regarded as the first definite historical
fact in its history.

From this date the festival was held every fourth year until its
abolition by the emperor Theodosius at the close of the fourth century
A.D. It took place at the time of the second or third full moon after
the summer solstice in the Elean months Apollonios and Parthenios, which
correspond approximately to August and September. For the sacred month
(ἱερομηνία) in which the festival took place, a holy truce (ἐκεχειρία)
was proclaimed beforehand by the truce-bearers of Zeus (σπονδοφόροι).
During this truce there was to be peace throughout the land, no one was
permitted to bear arms within the sacred territory, and all competitors,
embassies, and spectators travelling to Olympia were regarded as under
the protection of Zeus and sacrosanct. The effect of this truce, at
first purely local, spread with the growth of the festival to all the
states taking part in it till the whole Greek world felt its influence.
Any violation of the truce, any wrong inflicted on the pilgrims of Zeus,
was punished by a heavy fine to Olympian Zeus. The Spartans at the time
of the Peloponnesian war, having entered the sacred territory during the
truce under arms, were condemned to pay a fine of two minae for every
hoplite; on their refusal to pay they were excommunicated. Even
Alexander condescended to apologize and make restitution to the Athenian
Phrynon, who had been seized and robbed by some of his mercenaries on
his way to Olympia.[51]

By the truce of Iphitus the control of the festival seems to have been
divided between the Eleans and Pisatans, vested probably at an early
date in a joint council representing the various village communities.
The council certainly existed in later days as a final court of appeal,
and the fact that the earliest building under the new régime was the
council-house, part of which dates from the middle of the sixth century,
points to the antiquity of such a body. The dual control was recognized
in the appointment of two executive officials, the Hellanodicae. The
royal robes of purple worn by these officials indicate that they were
originally the kings of the respective tribes. One of them, according to
Elean tradition the only one, was always a descendant of Oxylus; but the
official position of the Pisatae survived in later times in the priestly
families of the Iamidae and Clytidae. As was to be expected, the dual
control did not work smoothly. The Pisatae, mindful of their ancient
rights, and jealous of the interference of the Eleans, made repeated but
futile efforts to regain the sole control. But the superior might of the
Eleans, supported at first at all events by the Spartans, prevailed more
and more, till shortly after the Persian wars the Eleans laid waste the
revolting cities of Triphylia, destroyed Pisa itself, and remained
henceforth sole masters of Olympia, save for a spasmodic effort of the
Pisatans and Arcadians in Ol. 104 (364 B.C.).

The view of Olympian history taken above differs considerably from the
orthodox view taken from Pausanias and Strabo, and based on “the ancient
writings of the Eleans.” This priestly fiction may be summarized as
follows. The games originally established by Oxylus were refounded by
Iphitus and Lycurgus, and were under the management of the Eleans. In
Ol. 8 the Pisatans called in Pheidon, king of Argos, and with his help
dispossessed the Eleans, but lost their control in the next Olympiad. In
Ol. 28 Elis, being at war with Dyme, allowed the Pisatans to celebrate
the games. In Ol. 34 Pantaleon, king of Pisa, celebrated the games at
the head of an army. According to one account the Pisatans had control
of the festival for twenty-two successive Olympiads, from the 30th to
the 51st. Finally, somewhere between Ols. 48 and 52, the Eleans defeated
the rebellious Pisatans, destroyed Pisa, laid waste Triphylia, and
henceforth held undisputed control of Olympia with the exception of Ol.
104, which was celebrated by the Arcadians and Pisatans. In consequence
this Olympiad, together with the 8th and 34th, were expunged from the
register and reckoned as Anolympiads. Till Ol. 50 there was only one
Hellanodicas, a descendant of Oxylus; at this date a second was
appointed, and both were chosen by lot from the whole number of the

This story is obviously a pious fraud invented by the priests of Elis to
justify their usurpation by asserting a prior claim, a claim
contradicted by all the evidence, and expressly denied by Xenophon.[52]
For the same reason the part played by Cleosthenes in the truce of
Iphitus is omitted by Pausanias, though fortunately preserved in another
account. It is only possible to point out briefly some of the
inconsistencies and absurdities in the priestly story. Elis is
represented throughout as in control of Olympia, which is situated
outside its boundaries in Pisatis, an independent state with a king of
its own, and this independent state is represented as continually trying
to usurp what is its own. The story of the Anolympiads is discredited by
the fact that in the Olympic register, a document of at least equal
value, these Olympiads were reckoned and the names of the victors were
given. The part played by Pheidon is involved in all the obscurity that
surrounds that most tantalizing character, but that the great tyrant,
whenever he lived, did try to increase his prestige by seizing control
of the Olympia, is rendered probable by the connexion of similar tyrants
with Olympia and the other festivals. The story of the addition of the
second Hellanodicas in Ol. 50, at the very time when Pisa is said to
have been destroyed, is a manifest absurdity. The two Hellanodicai
represent a dual monarchy, and a dual monarchy represents a union of
races. Assuming, what is now generally admitted, the pre-Dorian origin
of the festival, the original Hellanodicas must have been a Pisatan, the
second must have been added when Elis secured a share in the government.
Moreover, the selection of the two officials by lot, a thoroughly
democratic institution, is unthinkable in Elis, at that time an
oligarchy of oligarchies, though it may well have been introduced when
the democrats of Elis obtained the mastery. Lastly, the date of the
final destruction of Pisa, about which Pausanias is obviously confused,
is contradicted by the direct statement of Herodotus, who speaks of the
war in which it took place as “in my days” (ἐπ’ ἐμέο).[53] The earlier
date has been supported by reference to a sixth-century inscription at
Olympia recording a treaty for mutual defence between Elis and Heraea,
by the terms of which either party failing to help the other is liable
in case of need to a fine of a talent of silver to Olympian Zeus.[54]
Too much, perhaps, has been made of this inscription, which is probably
one of many such local treaties, the record of which has perished.
Moreover, it seems highly probable that Heraea, so far from being
opposed to Pisa, was a member of the early Pisatan league. The original
claims of Pisa are admitted by all modern historians; all further
difficulties vanish on the supposition of a subsequent dual control, in
which Elis gradually became the predominant partner until, in the fifth
century, she ousted Pisa completely.

The regulations for competitors may be traced back to the earliest
times. No one in later days was allowed to compete who was not of pure
Greek parentage on both sides, or who had neglected to pay any penalty
incurred to Olympian Zeus, or who had incurred ceremonial pollution by
manslaughter, committed, we may suppose, in the sacred territory. These
restrictions had their origin in a religious festival that formed a bond
of union between neighbouring communities, which was gradually extended
through the sacred truce-bearers till it embraced the whole Greek race.
That this local or tribal exclusiveness grew into a Panhellenic
exclusiveness, was due partly to the influence of the Dorians, partly to
the close connexion of the colonies with Olympia. In the fifth century
Alexander, the son of Amyntas, was not allowed to compete at Olympia
until he had first satisfied the Hellanodicae that he was of Greek

Similarly, the exclusion of women from Olympia was doubtless due to some
religious taboo rather than to any sense of modesty or decorum. Such a
feeling cannot have existed in these times. Certainly the Ionian women
attended the festival of Delos, and Spartan girls took part in all
athletic exercises with the boys. Pausanias in one passage tells us that
the restriction did not extend to unmarried girls, but the truth of his
statement is at least doubtful. We never hear of any unmarried women
being present at the festival, and Olympia can have afforded little or
no accommodation for them. The only certain exception is in the case of
the priestess of Demeter, Chamyne, an exception that is quite consistent
with the idea of an ancient taboo. Otherwise no woman was allowed to
cross the Alpheus during a stated number of days. The penalty for so
doing was death, the transgressor being thrown from the Typaean rock.
Only one instance is recorded of this rule being broken. Pherenice, a
member of the famous family of the Diagoridae, in her anxiety to see her
son Peisirodus compete in the boys’ boxing, accompanied him to Olympia
disguised as a trainer. In her delight at his victory she leapt over the
barrier and so disclosed her sex. The Hellanodicae, however, pardoned
her in consideration for her father and brothers and son, all of them
Olympic victors, but they passed a decree that henceforth all trainers
should appear naked.[55]

Yet, though personally excluded from the games, women were allowed to
enter their horses for the chariot-race, and even to set up statues for
their victories. They had also their own festival at Olympia, the
Heraea.[56] Every four years a peplos was woven for Hera by sixteen
women of Elis, and presented to the goddess. At the festival there were
races for maidens of various ages. Their course was 500 feet, or
one-sixth less than the men’s stadium. The maidens ran with their hair
down their backs, a short tunic reaching just below the knee, and their
right shoulder bare to the breast. The victors received crowns of olive
and a share of the heifer sacrificed to Hera. They had, too, the right
of setting up their statues in the Heraeum. There is in the Vatican a
copy of a fifth-century statue of one of these girl victors, represented
just as Pausanias describes them (Fig. 6). She seems to be just on the
point of starting. Unfortunately the arms of the statue are restored,
and we cannot feel certain of the motive. The Heraea were said to have
been instituted by Hippodameia in gratitude for her marriage with
Pelops. Of their real origin and history we are unfortunately ignorant.
According to Curtius the Heraea were the prototype of the Olympia, and
races for maidens were earlier than those for men, but this is most
improbable. The weaving of the peplos reminds us, of course, of the
similar ceremony at the Panathenaea, while the races for maidens suggest
Dorian influence. Certainly we can hardly make the Dorians responsible
for the exclusion of women from Olympia, which may be safely referred to
the earlier non-Greek race.

[Illustration: Fig. 6. Statue of Girl Runner. Vatican. Copy of
fifth-century original.]

In early days athletes wore the loin-cloth which Cretan excavations have
shown to have been worn generally in the Mediterranean world. The
Homeric Greeks girded themselves for sports, and on some of the earliest
athletic vases the loin-cloth is depicted (Figs. 128, 142). Generally,
however, the Greek athletes were absolutely naked. This custom is
ascribed to an accident. Orsippus of Megara, in Ol. 15, 720 B.C.,
accidentally or on purpose dropped his loin-cloth in the race. The
advantage which he gained thereby produced such an impression that from
this date all runners discarded the loin-cloth. This story was
commemorated by an epigram, written possibly by Simonides, which was
inscribed on his tomb. The practice does not seem to have been adopted
by all athletes till a later date, for Thucydides states that the
abandonment of the loin-cloth even at Olympia dated from shortly before
his own time.[57]

The prizes were originally tripods and other objects of value. It was in
Ol. 7 that the crown of wild olive was first introduced on the advice of
the Delphic oracle. The branches of which the crowns were made were cut
from the sacred olive-trees with a golden sickle, by a boy whose parents
were both living. This was henceforth the only prize given at Olympia.
Of the rewards and honours bestowed by the victor’s countrymen, and of
other details connected with the games, we shall speak in another
chapter. Our knowledge is not sufficient for a description of the
festival at this early period.

The athletic records of Olympia date from the year 776 B.C., the 28th
Olympiad from the organization of the games by Iphitus. This Olympiad,
in which Coroebus of Elis won the foot-race, is counted as the first
Olympiad in the Olympic register,[58] and from this date we have a
complete list of winners in this race copied by Eusebius from the work
of Julius Africanus, who brought the register down to the year 217 A.D.
The register was originally compiled by Hippias of Elis at the close of
the fifth century. It was revised and brought up to date by various
writers from Aristotle and Philochorus down to Phlegon of Tralles in the
time of Hadrian and Julius Africanus in the third century A.D. A list of
victors was set up at Olympia by Paraballon, an Olympic victor, and the
father of the boy victor Lastratidas, whose date is fixed by Hyde in the
first half of the fourth century B.C.[59] It was not till the third
century B.C. that the Olympic register was used as a means of reckoning
dates, the year being dated by the number of the Olympiad and the name
of the winner of the stade-race. Hence the preservation by Eusebius of
the names of the winners of this race. The earlier lists, as we know
from fragments of Phlegon and a fragment recently found on an
Oxyrhynchus papyrus, contained the names of winners in other events.

The value of the early portions of the register has been called in
question by Mahaffy, Busolt, and Körte, who, starting from Plutarch’s
sceptical remark that Hippias had no sure basis for his work, contend
that no credit should be attached to the records previous to the sixth
century. They have proved that the register was imperfect—it could
hardly have been otherwise; that the task of compiling it was
difficult—men like Hippias and Aristotle would not otherwise have
devoted their time to it. But we can hardly believe that Hippias could
have imposed a purely fictitious list of victors on the critical Greek
world at the end of the fifth century, or that Aristotle would have
revised it without some evidence for his work. What sort of record was
kept by the priests of Olympia, and when it began, we cannot say. The
use of writing at Olympia is proved for the seventh century by the
diskos of Iphitus and the decrees or Ϝράτραι of the Eleans with regard
to the sacred truce. The official register of Athenian archons dates
from 683 B.C., if not earlier, and recent discoveries as to the
antiquity of writing in Crete make us hesitate to deny the existence of
written records for the eighth century. Besides official lists there
must have been many local lists of victors, family records, genealogies,
besides inscriptions on monuments. Of the first sixteen victors in the
register four at least are connected by Pausanias with monuments or
inscriptions, possibly not contemporary with the people commemorated but
yet valuable as evidence. If you set up a monument to your
great-grandfather, it may be of great importance to a future antiquarian
in making out your genealogy. Most people in the present day have no
knowledge of their great-grandfathers, or prefer to forget their
existence; but in a tribal society with intense respect for birth it is
very different, especially in a poetical race. Their only history is the
history of the family and clan; family traditions and genealogies are
remembered and handed down with a care and accuracy unknown to our
cosmopolitan civilization. Such were the sources from which the sophist
must have collected material for his register in his travels, and though
his list may have been imperfect and often inaccurate, it is yet
sufficiently accurate to afford valuable indications of the growth and
development of the festival.

In two points we may certainly reject the evidence of the register, and
of Elean tradition. During the period of war and confusion preceding
Iphitus, they said, the games had been forgotten. For many Olympiads the
only competition was the stade-race, but gradually, as the memory of the
old games came back to them, one event after another was added. In Ol.
14 the double race (δίαυλος) was added, in Ol. 15 the long race
(δολιχός), in Ol. 18 the pentathlon and wrestling, in Ol. 23 boxing, in
Ol. 25 the four-horse chariot-race, in Ol. 33 the pankration and the
horse-race, in Ol. 37 the first events for boys, the foot-race and
wrestling, in Ol. 38 the pentathlon for boys, which, however, was not
repeated, in Ol. 41 the boys’ boxing, in Ol. 65 the race in armour.
After this date various events for horses and mules were introduced at
different times, competitions for heralds and trumpeters, and in Ol. 145
the pankration for boys.

The first part of this account is obviously absurd in view of the
evidence given above for funeral games. There can be no doubt that in
the first Olympiad the programme included at least all the events
described by Pindar, the foot-race, the diskos, the spear, boxing,
wrestling, and the chariot-race. If the Olympic games did develop from a
single event, it was probably not from the foot-race, but from the armed
fight or the chariot-race. Probably the compiler dated the introduction
of each new event from the first occasion on which he found a mention of
it. This may explain the number of first events won by Sparta, a state
particularly well known to Hippias, one, too, where we should expect
athletic records to be kept with especial care. On the other hand, there
is no doubt that the programme received many additions, variations of
the foot-race such as the double race and the long race, complicated
events such as the pentathlon and pankration, especially boys’ events,
and there is no valid reason for doubting the date of such additions.

Connected with this story of the evolution of the games is the
precedence given to the stade-race, the winner of which gave his name to
the Olympiad. This custom, as we have seen, is not earlier than the
third century, and arose not from the excessive importance of that
event, but from the mere accident of its coming first on the programme
and also on the list of victors. The Greek sportsman had doubtless long
been in the habit of dating the years by reference to the victory of
some famous athlete, especially if he were a fellow-countryman.
Thucydides twice quotes in dates Olympic victories, each time victories
in the pankration, an event very popular at Athens. In the earliest
inscription that uses the Olympiads for chronology the pankration is
also the event mentioned.[60] Hence one is inclined to suspect the
completeness of the list of winners in the stade-race. Possibly early
records and traditions often stated the fact of a victory without
mentioning the event in which it was won, and the compiler of the
register, having adopted his theory of development, assumed that all
such victories were won in the foot-race.

In 776 B.C. Olympia itself had as yet changed but little. The only
building was the Heraeum, a long, low, narrow temple built originally of
wood. One of the wooden pillars was still standing in the time of
Pausanias. As the wooden pillars decayed they were replaced by stone
pillars. Hence the pillars, many of which are still standing, differed
in size, in material, in their fluting and their capitals, the earliest
belonging in style to the seventh or sixth centuries, the latest to the
Roman period. The temple was a treasure-house. There was kept the diskos
of Iphitus, and at a later period the chest of Cypselus, and the table
of ivory and gold on which the crowns for the victors were placed. Of
the wealth of votive offerings and statues that once adorned this temple
nearly all have perished; but there, at the exact spot described by
Pausanias, the German excavators found the Hermes of Praxiteles, which
represents the most perfect type of that physical beauty and harmonious
development that Greek athletics produced.

The number of altars had no doubt grown. The altar of Zeus already
rivalled, if it did not eclipse, the earlier altar of Hera and the tomb
of Pelops. This altar stood on a double elliptical base of stone, the
lower base 125 feet, the upper 32 feet in circumference. The altar
itself was built up of the ashes of the victims which were brought once
every year by the seers from the Prytaneum, kneaded with water from the
Alpheus and deposited on the altar. In the time of Pausanias it had
reached a height of 22 feet.

There was as yet no race-course at Olympia. The races and games must
have taken place in the open space that stretched from the altar of Zeus
and tomb of Pelops, below the slopes of the hill of Cronus, from which
the spectators doubtless looked on. The races probably finished at the
altar, and there, under the immediate protection of Zeus, the victors
were crowned. The race, according to a tradition related by
Philostratus,[61] originated in a torch-race, in which the competitors,
starting from the distance of a stade, raced with lighted torches to the
altar, the one who arrived first and lighted the fire receiving the
prize; similarly for the double race or diaulos, the runners raced from
the altar to summon to the sacrifice the deputations from Greek states
and then raced back to the altar; while the long race originated in the
practice of the heralds whose office it was to carry declarations of war
to different parts of Greece. Of such ceremonial races we shall find
examples in many parts of Greece, but the tradition deriving from them
the races at Olympia may be rejected as a late invention, which perhaps
had its origin in the fact that before the stadium was constructed the
races did finish at the altar. Certainly in Pindar’s time boxing and
similar events still took place there, and it is doubtful whether they
were ever transferred to the stadium.

For the first half-century Olympia remained the local festival of the
Elean and pre-Dorian countryfolk of the West. The first victor was
Coroebus of Elis,[62] whose tomb appropriately marked the boundary
between Elis and Heraea, a symbol of the truce between the two races.
Yet the Eleans could not appeal to their athletic records in support of
their claims. Of the first eleven victors only one other was an Elean,
while the older race was represented by seven Messenians, one Achaean
from Dyme, and one native of Dyspontium, a town near the mouth of the
Alpheus that belonged to the Pisatan league. According to a scandalous
tradition quoted by Athenaeus, Coroebus was a cook, but the scanty
records which we possess of these earlier victors prove that the games
still maintained their aristocratic character, and the tradition may be
set aside as the invention of the enemies of Elis, or the anti-athletic
party of a later age.

After Ol. 11 only one Messenian victory is chronicled till the
restoration of Messenia in the fourth century. Hypenos, who won the
double race on its introduction in Ol. 15, was a Pisatan, though Elis
tried to claim him. With these exceptions the old stock disappears, and
the Eleans are too supine, or too much occupied with feuds with Argos,
to take their place. Yet the athletic vigour of the old race reappears
afterwards from other quarters in families like the Diagoridae of Rhodes
who were descended from a daughter of the Messenian patriot Aristomenes,
in colonies like Achaean Croton, in the late successes of Arcadia at a
time when athletics had become a sufficiently lucrative profession to
tempt from their poor homes these hardy mountaineers and shepherds.
Perhaps the long roll of Spartan successes owed something to the
Messenians whom they had conquered. The records of their ancient
successes were doubtless jealously treasured by those who had left their
homes, and we may well suppose that from such records the early part of
the Olympic register was compiled.

The eclipse of the “home counties,” as we may call them, was partly due
to the growing importance of the festival, partly to the pressure of
Argos and Sparta. Of the part played by Argos we know but little; what
we do know is that Pheidon of Argos, whenever he lived, like other
tyrants tried to exploit the festival for the extension of his own
dominion, that he espoused the cause of the Pisatans, and that there was
a feud between the Eleans and the Argives,[63] which perhaps explains
the complete absence of Argos in the list of early victors. Elis found a
natural ally in Sparta. The valleys of the Eurotas and the Alpheus form
a direct means of communication between Sparta and Olympia, and the
control of this route by Sparta after the conquest of Messenia gave her
a natural advantage over her rival.

The influence of Olympia spread first along the northern coast of the
Peloponnese, secondly to Sparta. In the second half-century, Ol. 13-25,
Corinth, Megara, Epidaurus, Sicyon, Hyperesia, Athens, Thebes, figure in
the list of victors, and yet farther east, Smyrna. All these places
communicate with Olympia by the Gulf of Corinth. It is significant that
this extension of its influence eastwards coincides with the founding of
the first Greek colonies in Italy and Sicily. The Corinthians, passing
along the north coast of the gulf to Corcyra, crossed over and founded
Syracuse 734 B.C. Six years later the Megarians founded a new Megara
beside the hills of Hybla, and a century later the two Megaras combined
to colonize Selinus. The Achaeans, making a stepping-stone of Zacynthos,
founded the rich cities of Sybaris and Croton, and later Metapontum, and
built on the Lacinian promontory south of Croton a temple of Hera, which
became a centre of worship for the Greeks of Italy. Even the Eastern
Greeks of the islands took part in this movement. Gela was colonized by
settlers from Rhodes and Crete. All these colonies and many others
played a great part in the history of Olympia, the importance of which
we can see, not only in their list of victories, but in the remains of
the so-called treasuries which they built there, and it is hardly
fanciful to suppose that their connexion with Olympia dated from the
time when the settlers were leaving the shores of Greece.

The victory of Onomastus of Smyrna in Ol. 23 is no less significant of
the full communication existing between the mainland and the East at the
commencement of the seventh century.[64] Eastern despots sent offerings
to Delphi; poets from the islands and Asia Minor brought into Greece the
Phrygian and Aeolian modes of music; even the alphabet came from the
East. At Olympia, when the victors’ friends held revel in their honour
in the evening, they sang down to the time of Pindar the triumphal song
of Heracles composed by Archilochus of Paros.[65] Smyrna, at that time
the foremost city of the Eastern coast, was closely connected with the
Peloponnese. The poet Mimnermus tells us that his race had come from
Neleian Pylos to Colophon first, and had then dispossessed the Aeolian
inhabitants of Smyrna.[66]

The first appearance of Thebes is on the occasion of the introduction of
the chariot-race in Ol. 25. As we have seen, the chariot-race seems to
have been one of the earliest, if not the earliest, event at the
Olympia, and one is inclined to suspect that the innovation consisted in
the substitution of the four-horse chariot for the older two-horse
chariot, which was revived at Olympia in later times.

Thus we see that within a century of the first Olympiad, Olympia had
become a centre to which competitors came not only from the Peloponnese,
but from Athens, Thebes, and even from the East.

The long list of Spartan successes begins in Ol. 15 (720 B.C.), and
continues till Ol. 50 (576 B.C.), from which date they cease almost
entirely. During most of this period the superiority of Sparta is
undisputed. This superiority may be partially explained by the careful
records of athletic victories kept in that most methodical of states,
whereas the records of other states were less careful and less
accessible to the historian. Yet making full allowance for our imperfect
knowledge of other states, the Spartan successes are sufficiently
remarkable, and their sudden cessation hardly less so. Aristotle has
given us the explanation of these facts.[67] Sparta was the first Greek
state to introduce a systematic physical and military training, which
for a time made her unrivalled in sport and war; when other states
followed her example, her superiority disappeared. Moreover, in the
seventh century Sparta was still a progressive, enlightened state, fond
of poetry and music, taking an energetic part in all the manifold
activities of Greek life; only the good effects of her system were yet
apparent; its iron rule had not yet produced that narrow spirit of
exclusiveness which was fatal to progress.[68] Hence Spartan
participation in the Olympic festival not only raised the prestige of
the festival, but gave a new importance and seriousness to athletics.
Hitherto they had been a diversion of the nobles; henceforth they were
to be part of the education of the people. The physical education of
Greece was largely due to Spartan example. At the beginning of the sixth
century we find Solon making laws for the palaestrae and gymnasia, and
we may suspect that most important cities possessed these institutions.

Sparta is credited with no less than five victories in events said to be
introduced for the first time—the long race in Ol. 15, wrestling and the
pentathlon in Ol. 18, the boys’ wrestling in Ol. 37, and the boys’
pentathlon in Ol. 38. The latter event was abolished in the next
Olympiad owing to Elean jealousy at the success of the Spartan boy
Eutelidas. Perhaps the various events for boys were introduced for the
benefit of the home counties which had been ousted by increased
competition from without, and if so we can understand a certain feeling
of soreness at the Spartan success, especially as Eutelidas won the
boys’ wrestling in the same Olympiad. The statue in his honour at
Olympia was the oldest of all the statues of athletes; it seems to have
stood originally on the site occupied by the temple of Zeus, and on the
building of the temple to have been moved to the south.[69] Special
notice is due to Hipposthenes, the victor in the boys’ wrestling in Ol.
37, who subsequently won five more victories in wrestling at Olympia,
and who had a temple built in his honour at Sparta. His son almost
equalled his father’s record, winning five victories in wrestling.[70]
Another equally famous athlete was Chionis, who won four victories in
the stade-race and three in the double race, besides victories in other
sports, Ols. 28-31. He is said to have taken part with Battus in the
colonization of Cyrene, and his exploits were commemorated at a later
date by his countrymen on stone pillars at Sparta and at Olympia, where
they also set up in his honour a statue, the work of Myron.

Meanwhile, during the period of Spartan pre-eminence, the influence of
Olympia had been steadily spreading, especially among the colonies of
the West. In Ol. 33 two new events were added—the riding race, which was
won by a Thessalian from Crannon, and the pankration, a combination of
boxing and wrestling, which was won by Lygdamis of Syracuse, who was
said to have had the proportions of Heracles, his foot, like that of the
hero, being exactly an Olympic foot. The various events for boys were
introduced between Ol. 37 and Ol. 41, and in the boys’ boxing the first
winner came from Sybaris. Croton had already begun her victorious
career. From Miletus in Ol. 46 came the boy runner Polymnestor, who, as
a shepherd boy, was said to have captured hares by speed of foot; while
from Samos came the effeminate-looking Pythagoras with his long hair and
purple robes. Rejected from the boys’ boxing as a weakling, he entered
for the men’s competition and won it. So rapid was the progress of the
colonies, and so keen their participation in the Olympic festival, that
from Ol. 50 they outstripped the mother country, and the following
century may be described as the colonial period of Olympia. The first
attempt made by any Greek state to secure for itself a local habitation
at Olympia was the building of a treasury by the Geloans at the close of
the seventh century. Before the close of the sixth their example had
been followed by Metapontum, Selinus, Sybaris, Byzantium and Cyrene, the
only representatives of the Peloponnese being the Megarians. Nothing
indicates more clearly the predominance of the colonies than this line
of treasuries, or rather communal houses,[71] standing on a terrace at
the foot of the hill of Cronus between the Heraeum and the entrance of
the later stadium, and commanding a view of the Altis, of the altars,
and the games. One wonders if the Spartans indulged in lamentations over
the decay of Spartan athletics. I think not, for that reserved and
silent people had too much pride and dourness; moreover athletics to
them were but a means to an end, the training of soldier citizens.
Certainly from this date they ceased to figure in the victors’ lists,
engrossed perhaps in more serious contests and schemes of
aggrandizement, or else estranged from the festival by the new
democratic, Panhellenic spirit introduced there by the colonies, and
unwilling to suffer defeat at the hands of upstarts.

The influence of the colonies was great. Their competition gave a fresh
impulse to that wave of athleticism which reached its height in the
sixth century. To Olympia they gave a Panhellenic character as a
meeting-place for all the scattered members of the Greek race, and
thereby tended to preserve and strengthen that feeling of unity which
contact with other nations had already quickened into life. No foreigner
could enter as a competitor at Olympia, no barbarous potentates sent
offerings to its shrines or consulted its oracle. Olympia remained
throughout its history purely and exclusively Hellenic. Again, the
colonies brought Olympia into touch with the democratic spirit of the
age, and broke down the barriers of Elean and Spartan exclusiveness. The
colonial claimed admission purely by virtue of his Greek birth, and no
distinctions of rank or caste or wealth were known in the Olympic games.
Sport, especially national sport, is a great leveller of social

The political importance of such a festival, which drew competitors and
spectators from all quarters of the Greek world, could not escape the
notice of the clear-sighted and ambitious tyrants and nobles of the
seventh century. But the sanctity of the place and the new democratic
spirit of the festival were too strong for them. Pheidon of Argos had
tried to make himself master of Olympia by force of arms. Other tyrants
tried more peaceful means, seeking to win popularity among the assembled
crowds and influence with the powers of Olympia by victories in the
chariot-race, or by sumptuous offerings to Olympian Zeus. In the middle
of the seventh century Myron of Sicyon won a victory in the chariot-race
and commemorated his success by dedicating two treasure-chests of solid
bronze, one of which weighed 500 talents. These treasure-chests were
afterwards placed in the treasure-house of the Sicyonians, built in the
fifth century possibly in the place of some more ancient structure. The
excavations of Olympia have revealed the solid floor intended to bear
the weight of these treasure-chests. His grandson Cleisthenes, himself a
victor, took advantage of the festival to proclaim the famous
competition for the hand of his daughter Agariste, which Herodotus
describes. Cypselus of Corinth, too, dedicated at Olympia a golden
statue of Zeus made in the style of the early metal-workers, of beaten
gold plates riveted together. His son Periander was victor in the
chariot-race, and gave to Olympia the famous chest of Cypselus in which,
according to the story, the infant Cypselus had been hidden by his
mother from the assassins sent by the oligarchs of Corinth to murder
him. From Athens came the would-be tyrant Cylon, who won the diaulos
race in Ol. 35; and in the next generation the chariot-race was won by
Alcmaeon, the son of that Megacles who was responsible as archon for the
death of Cylon and the consequent pollution of the Alcmaeonidae, and the
father of Megacles, the successful suitor of Agariste. Yet, in spite of
their victories and their offerings, no tyrant secured influence at
Olympia, no building there bore a tyrant’s name. The so-called
treasuries were the communal houses of states, that of the Megarians,
which dates about this time, being set up probably not by the tyrant
Theagenes but by the people after his fall, and before their power was
weakened by the successes of Athens.

Thus at the beginning of the sixth century Olympia had acquired a unique
position as the national festival of Hellas. Competitors and spectators
of all classes gathered there from every part of Greece. The sacred
truce-bearers proclaimed the month of peace throughout the Greek world,
and in response, cities of Asia and of Sicily vied with one another in
the splendour of the official embassies (θεωρίαι) sent to represent them
at the festival. The old aristocratic character survived in the
chariot-race and horse-race, which afforded to tyrants and nobles an
opportunity of displaying their riches and their power. The athletic
programme was now practically complete, the only important innovation of
later times being the race in full armour introduced 520 B.C., and this
programme was truly democratic. In athletic events noble and peasant met
on equal terms. The aristocratic prejudice against these popular
contests did not yet exist; and though the honour of the Olympic crown
was open to the poorest citizen of Greek birth, such was the prestige of
the festival that it was coveted even by the highest. The representative
character of Olympia was due to a variety of causes. The geographical
position of the place, its ancient sanctity, the athletic vigour of the
pre-Dorian Greeks, the discipline and training of the Spartans, the
enthusiastic patriotism of the colonies, the ambition of tyrants, the
new spirit of democracy,—these and other causes contributed to the
result, and the importance of the result was recognized by the founding
within the next half-century of three other Panhellenic festivals at
Delphi, at Nemea, and at the Isthmus, and of many another festival
which, like the Panathenaea, aspired to but never attained Panhellenic

Yet, despite the growth of the festival and the development of
athletics, there was little change in the appearance of the Altis or the
organization of the games. Some of the wooden pillars of the Heraeum
were perhaps replaced by stone, but no fresh building appeared till the
treasuries, the earliest of which date from the close of the seventh
century. The games still took place near the altar, where a course could
be easily measured and marked out before each meeting. The new events
added were merely variations of those which we find in Homer. Popularity
and competition had no doubt improved the standard of performance, but
athletic training did not yet exist. In the towns, indeed, gymnasia and
palaestrae were already springing up; but these were educational rather
than athletic, intended to train and discipline the young as useful
soldiers rather than to produce champion athletes. The bulk of the
population living an open-air country life in which war, hunting, and
games played a considerable part, had no need of training. Thus, though
athletics had become popular, they still maintained the spontaneity and
joy of the Homeric age: they were still pure recreation.

Footnote 27:

  Frazer, _Pausanias_, i. 44, 8; Rouse, _Greek Votive Offerings_, pp. 4,
  10; Körte, “Die Entstehung der Olympionikenliste,” _Hermes_, xxxix.,
  1904, pp. 224 ff.; Krause, _Die Pythien, Nemeen, und Isthmien_, pp. 9,
  112, 171.

Footnote 28:

  Dennis, _Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria_, 2nd Ed. i. 374; ii. 323,

Footnote 29:

  Frazer, _loc. cit._

Footnote 30:

  P. W. Joyce, _Social History of Ireland_, ii. pp. 435 ff.

Footnote 31:

  _C.I.G._ 1969, ἀγὼν ἐπιτάφιος θεματικός.

Footnote 32:

  _Berl. Vas._ 1665. _Mon. d. I._ X. Pl. iv., v.

Footnote 33:

  _Arch. Zeit._, 1885, Pl. viii. The vase is now at Copenhagen. The
  silver cup referred to below is in the Uffizi Palace, and is
  reproduced in Schreiber’s _Atlas_, xiii. 6, and Inghirami, _Mon. Etr._
  iii. 19, 20.

Footnote 34:

  _B.M. Vases_, B. 124.

Footnote 35:

  Hesiod, _Op._ 654.

Footnote 36:

  Paus. viii. 4, 5.

Footnote 37:

  Pindar, _Ol._ vii. 77-80.

Footnote 38:

  Frazer, _Paus._ i. 29, 30.

Footnote 39:

  Plut. _Quaest. Symp._ v. 2.

Footnote 40:

  Unless we accept Mr. Myers’ translation of Pindar, _Ol._ i. 94, “And
  from afar off he beholdeth the glory of the Olympian games in the
  courses called of Pelops.” Most modern editors translate κλέος τηλόθεν
  δέδορκε, “his glory shineth from afar,” which, in view of the words
  which follow, ἐν δρόμοις Πέλοπος, seems decidedly preferable to making
  Pelops the subject.

Footnote 41:

  It is perhaps no accident that in our imperfect records of the Olympic
  games the earliest victor outside the Peloponnese is Onomastus of
  Smyrna, who in _Ol._ 23 won the boxing, an event said to have been
  then introduced for the first time. He is said to have drawn up rules
  for boxing which were adopted at Olympia. Again, no family was more
  distinguished in the history of Greek athletics than the Diagoridae of
  Rhodes, whose victories in boxing and the pankration were immortalized
  by Pindar. The prominence of boxing in the East reminds us of Minoan
  times, and perhaps the tradition may have survived from these days.

Footnote 42:

  Paus. iv. 4, 1; iv. 33, 2.

Footnote 43:

  Pindar, _Ol._ i. (E. Myers’ translation).

Footnote 44:

  _Vide_ Bötticher, _Olympia_, ch. i.

Footnote 45:

  For the history of Olympia _vide_ Curtius, “Entwurf einer Geschichte
  von Olympia,” in _Ol._ Text. i. pp. 16-68.

Footnote 46:

  For the cult of Pelops _vide_ Paus. v. 13, 2; Schol. to Pindar, _Ol._
  i. 146, 149.

Footnote 47:

  The latest excavations show that this site had been inhabited in
  prehistoric days. Traces of six buildings have been discovered below
  the geometric stratum; they are characterized by a semicircular
  apsidal ending. _Ath. Mitth._ xxxiii. 185; _Year’s Work in Classical
  Studies_, 1908, p. 12.

Footnote 48:

  Pindar, _Ol._ xi. 64.

Footnote 49:

  Cp. Louis Dyer, “The Olympian Council House,” in _Harvard Classical
  Studies_, 1908, where a full account of these Peloponnesian leagues
  will be found.

Footnote 50:

  Paus. v. 20, 1; Plut. _Lycurgus_ 1, 1. The part taken by Cleosthenes
  is vouched for by Phlegon, _Frag. Hist. Gr._ p. 602, and in a scholion
  on Plato’s _Republic_, 465 D. _Vide_ Dyer, _l.c._ pp. 40 ff.

Footnote 51:

  Thuc. v. 49; Demosth. _De fals. leg._, ὑπόθ. p. 335.

Footnote 52:

  _Hell._ iii. 2, 31; vii. 4, 28.

Footnote 53:

  Hdt. iv. 148.

Footnote 54:

  _C.I.G._ 11; Roberts’s _Greek Epigraphy_, 291.

Footnote 55:

  Paus. v. 6, 7.

Footnote 56:

  Paus. v. 16.

Footnote 57:

  Paus. i. 44; _Anth. Pal._ App. 272; Thuc. i. 6.

Footnote 58:

  For a full discussion of the register, its history and its sources,
  _vide_ Jüthner, _Philostratus_, pp. 60-70.

Footnote 59:

  _De Olympionicarum Statuis_, p. 36.

Footnote 60:

  Thuc. iii. 8, v. 49; Ditt. _Syll._, 2nd Ed., 256.

Footnote 61:

  _Gym._ 4.

Footnote 62:

  Paus. v. 8, 6; viii. 26, 3; Athen. ix. 382 B. Details with regard to
  the various victors mentioned in this and the following chapters may
  be found under their names in Krause, _Olympia_, H. Förster,
  _Olympische Sieger_, and W. Hyde, _De Olympionicarum Statuis_, in all
  of which full references are given.

Footnote 63:

  Paus. v. 2 and 3.

Footnote 64:

  Bury, _History of Greece_, p. 110.

Footnote 65:

  Pindar, _Ol._ ix. The date of Archilochus is fixed by Hauvette in the
  first half of the seventh century. _Cl. Rev._ xxi. p. 143.

Footnote 66:

  Mimnermus, _Fr._ 9 (Bergk).

Footnote 67:

  Aristot. _Politics_, v. 4.

Footnote 68:

  The recent excavations at Sparta prove that the decline of athletics
  coincided with the decline of art. Mr. R. M. Dawkins, writing in last
  report of the _B.S.A._, vol. xiv. p. 2, says: “In every case we have
  the remarkable result that the finest works belong to the seventh
  century, and that the sixth already shows the beginning of the decline
  which is so marked in the very poor character of the finds of the
  fifth century.”

Footnote 69:

  Hyde, _op. cit._ p. 56.

Footnote 70:

  Paus. iii. 13, 9.

Footnote 71:

  For the treasuries at Olympia _vide_ Louis Dyer, in _J.H.S._ vols.
  xxv. and xxvi.

                               CHAPTER IV

The sixth century is the age of organized athletics. The rise of Sparta
and her success in sport and war gave to the Greek world an object
lesson on the value of systematic training, and henceforth the training
of the body was an essential part of Greek education. Palaestrae and
gymnasia were established everywhere, and Solon found it necessary to
lay down laws for their conduct. These institutions were originally
intended for the training of the young, but the growth of athletic
competition soon called into being a new and specialized form of
training, the training of competitors for the great games. An art of
training sprung up, and in the time of Pindar the professors of the new
art, besides reaping a rich harvest from their pupils, received honour
scarcely inferior to that of the victors themselves. The rapid
development of the Olympic festival had shown the value of athletics as
a bond of union between Greeks throughout the world, and the general
yearning after a unity which was destined never to be realized found
expression in the establishment of other festivals for which Olympia
served as a model.

At Delphi, the Isthmus, and Nemea, local festivals and competitions had
long existed.[72] The oracle of Delphi had already acquired a
Panhellenic, almost a cosmopolitan importance, rivalling that of
Olympia. The Pythian festival was said to have been founded to
commemorate Apollo’s victory over the Python. To expiate the death of
the dragon, Apollo had been condemned to nine years of exile, and the
festival was therefore held every ninth year, or, according to our
reckoning, once in eight years. Later legend asserted that there had
been athletic games at Delphi, and various heroes were named as victors
in these sports. But it seems probable that the original competitions at
Delphi were purely musical, and in the hymn for Apollo Delphusa
expressly commends Delphi as the home for the god on the ground that
there his altar will be undisturbed by the “whirling of fair chariots or
the sound of swift-footed steeds.” The innate ambition of the Greek and
his desire to outshine his fellows found vent in competitions of every
sort. Musical competitions were specially connected with the worship of
Apollo at Delos and at Sparta; at Delphi a prize was given for a hymn to
Apollo chanted to the accompaniment of the cithara.

Such the festival remained till the outbreak of the first Sacred war.
The war was due to the impious conduct of the Crisaeans, who, having
command of the plain and the harbour of Cirrha, had enriched themselves
at the expense of the Delphians and Apollo, by levying exorbitant tolls
on the pilgrims who landed at Cirrha on their way to the oracle. The
Delphians appealed to their natural protectors, the Amphictyonic League
at Thermopylae, who straightway proclaimed a sacred war. The command of
the expedition was given to the Thessalian Eurylochus; the Athenians, on
the advice of Solon, sent a contingent under Alcmaeon, while
Cleisthenes, the ambitious tyrant of Sicyon, eagerly embraced the
opportunity of posing as a champion of Greek religion. The festival was
restored and reorganized in 590 B.C. New musical events were added, a
solo on the flute and a song accompanied by the flute; athletic and
equestrian competitions also were introduced on the model of those at
Olympia; but since Delphi as yet had no stadium, the games were held in
the plain of Crisa below. The chariot-race for some reason or other was
omitted, but two additional athletic events found a place, a long race
and a diaulos race for boys.

The war, however, broke out afresh and lasted for six years, at the end
of which, in 582, the festival was finally reorganized out of the spoil
of Crisa as a pentaëteris, and placed under the control of the
Amphictyons. The year 582 dates as the first Pythiad, and from this time
the festival was held every fourth year, in the August of the third year
of each Olympiad. The valuable prizes which had been offered of old were
abolished, and in their place was substituted a crown of bay leaves
plucked from the Vale of Tempe. The somewhat scanty details which we
possess as to the festival and its history will be discussed in a later
chapter. For the present it is sufficient to note one significant fact:
the chariot-race which had been omitted in 590 was introduced in 582,
and the first victor was Cleisthenes of Sicyon himself. The plains of
Sicyon were admirably adapted for breeding horses, a pursuit which
afforded its tyrants a ready means of increasing and displaying their
wealth. Myron had already gained a victory in the chariot-race at
Olympia, and his grandson Cleisthenes, shortly after his Pythian
success, secured the same honour on the occasion when he issued his
invitation to the suitors for the hand of Agariste. At Sicyon itself he
commemorated the part which he had played in the Sacred war by a
splendid colonnade built out of the spoils of Cirrha, and at the same
time he reorganized as a local Pythia an ancient festival connected with
the Argive hero Adrastus, whose memory he delighted to insult.[73] We
may therefore safely regard the introduction of the chariot-race at
Delphi as due to the tyrant’s influence, and the remodelling of the
festival as part of his pushing Panhellenic policy.

Almost at the same time, perhaps in the same year, 582 B.C., the
Isthmian festival was reorganized. This festival, which claimed an
antiquity greater even than that of Olympia, was celebrated at the
sanctuary of Poseidon, which stood in a grove of pine-trees at the
south-east of the Isthmus, a little to the south of the eastern end of
the present Corinth canal. The various legends of its origin are all
connected directly or indirectly with the worship of Poseidon. The
wreath of dry celery leaves, which in the time of Pindar was the prize,
recalled the story that the games were first founded in honour of the
luckless Melicertes at the spot to which his dead body was carried by a
dolphin. According to another legend they were instituted by the Attic
hero Theseus, when he had freed the land from the terror of the robber
Sinis. This story points to the close connexion of the Isthmia with
Athens. The Athenian envoys enjoyed the privilege of precedence
(προεδρία) at this festival, and a space was reserved for them, as much
as could be covered by the sail of the ship which brought them to the
Isthmus. No other festival was so conveniently situated for the
Athenians. Athens and Corinth had much in common, and were on most
friendly terms before the relations between them were embittered by
commercial rivalry, and their friendship was especially close in the
period following the fall of the Cypselidae. Another version of the
Theseus legend represents him as founding the Isthmia in rivalry of
Heracles, who had founded the Olympic games; and here we may trace a
certain jealousy existing between the two festivals.[74] We know on good
authority that the Eleans were not allowed to compete at the Isthmia.
This ban, which Elean tradition represented as a self-denying ordinance
imposed by the curse of Molione, may well have originated in this
rivalry. We can imagine that the Elean authorities regarded with no
favour the rise of a rival festival on a site so central, the
meeting-place of the trade of East and West. Yet, after all, Olympia had
no reason to fear its rival. The central position of Corinth involving
her in all the feuds and wars of Greek history, prevented the Isthmia
from ever acquiring that unique independence which characterized the
more remote Olympia. There can be little doubt, too, that from the first
the festival reflected the luxurious commercial character of Corinth.
There the joyous life of the Ionian race found vent in a sort of
cosmopolitan carnival which contrasted strangely with the more strenuous
Dorian festival of remote Olympia.

The remodelled festival was a trieteris, held in the spring of the
second and fourth years of each Olympiad. The programme was a varied
one, including, besides athletics and horse-races, musical competitions,
and possibly a regatta. The presidency of the festival belonged to the
Corinthians. Whether its establishment as a Panhellenic festival was due
to the tyrant Periander or expressed the joy of the people at their
liberation from his rule, the evidence does not allow us to determine.
The latter seems to me more probable. The great tyrant, laid by his
victory in the chariot-race at Olympia, and by costly offerings to
Olympia and Delphi, tried to win the support of the authorities at these
places, and it may well be that the founding of a rival festival marked
the popular reaction against his policy. Be this as it may, the
establishment of the Isthmia is another sign of the great national
movement towards unity. Tyrants recognized and tried to utilize the
movement for their own advantage. But Panhellenism was independent of
tyrants; it was a spontaneous movement of the people, and it need cause
no surprise that one Panhellenic festival should owe its origin to a
tyrant, another to the people.

A similar doubt attaches to the last of the Greek festivals, the Nemea.
The cypress grove of Nemea, where stood the temple of the Nemean Zeus,
lay in a secluded valley among the hills, half-way between Phlius and
Cleonae. Here under the presidency of the latter state local games had
long been celebrated. They were said to have been founded by Adrastus as
funeral games in honour of the child Opheltes, who, having been left by
his nurse in the grove, had been devoured by a serpent. According to
another story, they were founded by Heracles after his slaying of the
Nemean lion, and by him dedicated to Zeus. They were reorganized in the
year 573 B.C. as a trieteris, and took place like the Isthmia in the
second and fourth year of each Olympiad, probably at the very beginning
of the Olympic year in July. The prize was a wreath of fresh celery, but
was said to have been originally a wreath of olive. As at Olympia, the
managers of the games bore the title of Hellanodicae. As at Olympia, the
contests were until later times purely athletic and equestrian. The
striking resemblances to Olympia are clearly due to Dorian influence,
and may perhaps help us to understand how it was that, within a few
years of the founding of the Isthmia, a second Panhellenic festival was
established in its immediate neighbourhood.

The little town of Cleonae, which held the presidency of the Nemea down
to the time of Pindar, could certainly never have raised its festival
unaided to Panhellenic dignity. Cleonae seems to have been for a time
under the dominion of Cleisthenes of Sicyon; yet it seems hardly likely
that the tyrant, who had already helped in establishing the Pythia at
Delphi, besides a local Pythia at Sicyon, and whose policy was so
markedly anti-Dorian, should have founded a second Panhellenic festival
of so purely Dorian a type. Moreover, it seems that Cleonae had already
thrown off the yoke of Cleisthenes, whose power was on the decline.
Argos, too, was on the decline, and though Argos in the year 460 B.C.
usurped the presidency of the games, we find similar claims put forward
by Corinth and by Mycenae. The fact that so many states claimed the
presidency of the festival suggests that its re-establishment was not
the work of any one state but of the Dorians of the north-eastern
Peloponnese generally. If we are right about the jealousy felt by the
authorities of Olympia towards the newly-founded Isthmia, and the
character of the latter festival, we may perhaps see in the founding of
the Nemea the protest of Dorian puritanism against innovations which
seemed to degrade the serious business of athletics. Scandalized by the
laxness of the new festival, with its traffic and its pleasures and its
multitude of entertainments, the Dorians of Argolis conceived the idea
of founding at Cleonae an eastern counterpart of Olympia. The
strenuousness of athletics in Argolis is surely indicated in the
strength and severity characterizing the athletic school of sculpture
which had its origin in Sicyon and Argos, half-way between which places
appropriately lay Cleonae. The view suggested above is of course
hypothetical, but it accords with what we know of the Isthmia and the
Nemea, and satisfactorily explains the Panhellenic character of the

Thus by the year 570 the four Panhellenic festivals were established.
They were distinctively the sacred meetings (ἱεροὶ ἀγῶνες) and the games
of the crown (στεφανῖται), so called to distinguish them from the
numerous games where prizes of value were given (θεματικοί). It is no
little proof of the true athletic feeling of the Greeks that in their
four greatest festivals no prize was given but the simple crown of
leaves. The cycle of these festivals will be best understood by a glance
at the following table, which shows the order of the festivals during a
single Olympiad.[75] It must be remembered that the Greek year began
with the summer solstice, and consequently belongs half to one, half to
the next year, according to our reckoning.

            Olympiad.  B.C.
            55. 1      560/559   560 Late Summer Olympia.
            2          559/8   { 559 Summer      Nemea.
                               { 558 Spring      Isthmia.
            3          558/7     558 August      Pythia.
            4          557/6   { 557 Summer      Nemea.
                               { 556 Spring      Isthmia.
            56. 1      556/5     556 Late Summer Olympia.

Thus we see that in the even years there were two Panhellenic festivals,
in the odd years one.

The competition of other Panhellenic festivals threatened the supremacy
of Olympia, and forced the easy-going conservative authorities of that
place into activity. Hitherto they had allowed the festival to develop
from without; they had allowed Gela and Megara to build treasuries
overlooking the Altis, and so to establish some sort of claim to a share
in the management; content with their traditional customs they had made
no attempt to provide adequate organization for an athletic meeting of
such importance. Now they saw that if they were to maintain their
position they must set their house in order. A significant story is told
by Herodotus.[76] In the reign of Psammetichus II. (594-589 B.C.) some
Elean ambassadors visited Egypt to see if the Egyptians could suggest
any improvement in the rules for the Olympic games, which they boasted
were the fairest and best that could be devised. The Egyptians, after
considering a while, asked if they allowed their own citizens to
compete. The Eleans replied that the games were open to all Greeks,
whether they belonged to Elis or any other state. To this the Egyptians,
with true commercial instinct, answered that the rules were far from
just, for that it was impossible but that they would favour their own
countrymen and deal unfairly with foreigners; if, therefore, they wished
to manage the games with fairness they must confine the games to
strangers and allow no native of Elis to compete. It is to the credit of
the Greeks that no such self-denying ordinance was introduced or found
to be necessary, and that the Greeks themselves never raised any such
objection till a much later date. It is only when sport becomes too
competitive and too lucrative and the professional and commercial spirit
enters in that elaborate safeguards are required against unfairness.

This story is valuable evidence that the Eleans were at this time
seeking to improve their arrangements. What the improvements were we do
not know, but that some sort of reorganization took place is rendered
probable by the tradition recorded above, that in Ol. 50 a second
Hellanodicas was first appointed. Possibly the Olympic Council was
remodelled. We find this Council in the fourth century acting as a court
of appeal, and in Imperial times it is mentioned in inscriptions as
authorizing the setting up of honorific statues.[77] The Hellanodicae
were its executive officers, and from their history and numbers it seems
probable that the Council represented the various tribes which formed a
sort of amphictyony originally controlling the festival. Their existence
in the sixth century is proved by the remains of their Council-house.
This building lay below the south wall of the Altis. It consists of two
long buildings, terminated at the west end by an apse, parallel to each
other, and united by a square chamber between them. The northern wing of
the building dates from the middle of the sixth century at the latest.
The apsidal chamber at the end was divided by a partition, and served
probably for the storage of archives and treasure, while the rest of the
building formed the business quarters of the Council and the
Hellanodicae. There the competitors had to appear and take an oath
before the altar of Zeus Horkios that they had observed, and would
observe the conditions of the festival. Another building connected with
the permanent management of the festival was the Prytaneum, also built
about the same time. In it was the altar of Hestia, on which the sacred
fire was kept always burning. The ashes from this altar, collected and
mixed with the water of the Alpheus, were used to build up the great
altar of Zeus. Here, when the games were ended, distinguished guests and
victors were feasted, and songs of victory were chanted in their honour.

The Council must have exercised a control over all new buildings erected
at Olympia. In the second half of the sixth century fresh treasuries
were built by the states of Selinus, Sybaris, Byzantium, and Cyrene, a
list which sufficiently illustrates the widespread influence of the
festival. The planning and alignment of these buildings clearly implies
the supervision of some local authority.

Significant of the new energy of these authorities and of their desire
to render Olympia itself worthy of the festival, was a practice, which
began in this century, of allowing victors to commemorate their
victories by votive statues. The earliest of these statues, according to
Pausanias, were those of Praxidamas of Aegina, who won the boxing in Ol.
59, and of Rhexibius of Opus who won the pankration two Olympiads later.
These statues were of wood, and we may, therefore, suspect that those
seen by Pausanias were not really the first but only the oldest which
had survived. Certainly there were statues of earlier victors. Some of
these, like that of the Lacedaemonian Chionis, or that of the famous
pankratiast Arrhichion, at his native home Phigalia, were set up by
their countrymen many years after their death. Others, like that of the
Spartan boy Eutelidas, who won the boys’ wrestling and the boys’
pentathlon, may have been contemporary. The first sculptors of athletic
statues, whose names we know, are Chrysothemis and Eutelidas of Argos,
who made the statues for the Heraean Damaretus, who won the race in
armour in Ols. 65, 66, and for his son Theopompus, who won two victories
in the pentathlon. On the inscriptions beneath these statues the artists
claimed to have learnt their art from former artists. Argos and Sicyon,
the homes of the earliest athletic sculpture, were, as we have seen,
closely connected with the newly organized Panhellenic festivals, in
addition to which there were a number of minor local festivals
throughout that district. We may, therefore, safely connect the rise of
the athletic school of art with the athletic movement that produced
these festivals. These early statues were, of course, not portrait
statues. We learn from Pliny that the right of setting up a portrait
statue was confined to winners of a triple victory. The accuracy of this
statement is open to doubt; certainly it cannot have been true before
the fourth century, previous to which portrait statues were practically
unknown. The early artists must have contented themselves with type
statues, representing the various events in which victory had been

Towards the close of the century certain additions were made to the
programme. In Ol. 65 (520 B.C.) the race in heavy armour was introduced
at Olympia, and in 498 B.C. at Delphi. This innovation was clearly due
to the growing importance of the heavy-armed infantry in Greek warfare.
Greek sports were, as we have seen, in their origin practical and
military, but with changed conditions of warfare they had lost their
military character and become purely athletic. The chieftain no longer
went to war in his chariot; his men no longer threw stones or light
javelins. Individual warfare was giving place to the manœuvring of
masses of heavy-armed troops. The introduction of the race in armour was
an attempt to restore to athletics their practical character. The race
was a diaulos, _i.e._ up the stadium and back to the starting-point, a
distance of about four hundred yards. The men wore helmets, greaves, and
round shields. At a later time the greaves were discarded, perhaps as a
concession to athletes who regarded such a race as a spurious sort of
athletics. Certainly the race never attained to the same prestige as the
other events.

In Ol. 70 (500 B.C.) a mule chariot-race (ἀπήνη) was introduced, and in
the next Olympiad a riding race for mares (κάλπη), in which the riders
dismounted in the last lap and ran with their steeds. In both these
events, which were discontinued after a short trial in Ol. 84, we may
see the influence of the Elean nobility, whose wealth and power were
derived largely from their horses and cattle. The introduction of mule
chariot-races may have been partly due to the influence of the Lords of
Sicily; the victory of Anaxilas is commemorated on the coins of Rhegium
and Messana (Fig. 168). The κάλπη is of especial interest. Helbig has
shown that the Hippeis of Athens and other Greek states in the sixth
century were not cavalry soldiers in the strict sense of the word, but
mounted infantry, the true successors of the Homeric chieftains.[78]
Just as the latter went to war in their chariots, but dismounted in
order to fight, leaving the chariot in charge of the charioteer, and
remounting for flight or for pursuit, so the Hippeis of the sixth
century merely used their horses for advance or for retreat, dismounting
when they came into close contact with the foe, and leaving their horses
with their squires, who accompanied them, either mounted behind them _en
croupe_, or on horses of their own. The Homeric custom survived only in
sports, in the ἀποβατής, whom we see represented on the frieze of the
Parthenon in the act of dismounting; the later custom was represented
for a brief time only by the κάλπη. As we have seen in discussing the
race in armour, the system of individual warfare was passing away.
Sparta had shown the superiority of masses of armed infantry. Previous
to the Persian wars, Thessalian cavalry had already been employed by
Peisistratus, and these served in the fifth century as the model on
which corps of cavalry proper were organized in Athens and other states.
But in 500 B.C. there were no cavalry in the Peloponnese, and the
conservative nobles may well have regarded with jealousy a change which
threatened to put them on a level with the ordinary foot-soldier. The
introduction of the κάλπη then was an attempt to stimulate and encourage
the older style of fighting. But the attempt was doomed to failure; the
progress of military tactics was not to be checked by the Eleans, and
while the hoplite race survived as long as the festival itself, the
κάλπη was ignominiously abandoned in 444 B.C.

Besides the four great festivals of the Crown there were countless local
festivals where competitions of various sorts were held.[79] The prizes
offered were often tripods, and bowls of silver or of bronze; sometimes
articles of local manufacture, such as a cloak at Pellene, a shield at
Argos, vases of olive-oil at Athens; sometimes a portion of the victim
sacrificed, or the victim to be sacrificed. The British Museum possesses
a bronze caldron[80] of about the sixth century, which was found at Cyme
in Italy, and was given as a prize at some local games founded by, or
held in honour of, a certain Onomastus. It bears the inscription, “I was
a prize at the games of Onomastus.” Many of these festivals were
connected with the cults of local heroes, and had existed for
generations. Sometimes the competitions themselves bore a distinctly
ritual character; thus the torch-race, which we meet with in many parts
of Greece, was connected with the primitive custom of periodically
distributing new and holy fire from the sacred hearth where it had been
kindled. Sometimes the competitions were musical, as at the Spartan
Carnea; more frequently they were purely athletic. The athletic
competitions acquired fresh life from the stimulus given to athletics by
the growth of the Panhellenic festivals. At first purely local, even
these minor gatherings in Pindar’s time drew competitors from various
parts of Greece. Many fresh festivals were added, and old ones
reorganized during the sixth century, especially in the eastern parts of
Greece, but of most of these we know little besides the names. The
greatest of all was the Panathenaic Festival.

Athenian nobles had won distinction at Olympia in the seventh century.
Four Athenian victories are chronicled in the stade-race. Cylon, as
already mentioned, won a victory in the diaulos in Ol. 35 (640 B.C.), a
victory which perhaps cost him dear. Having consulted the Delphic oracle
as to the success of his plot to make himself master of Athens, he was
advised to carry out his plan at the greatest festival of Zeus. The
former Olympic victor naturally concluded that the oracle meant the
Olympia, and not the Athenian Diasia, and this mistake is said to have
led to his failure and his death. Another prominent Athenian victor was
Phrynon, who in the Olympiad after Cylon’s victory won the pankration,
an event in which the Athenians seem to have excelled. He was general in
the Athenian expedition to Sigeum, where he fell in single combat
against Pittacus of Mitylene, who, according to later tradition,
arraying himself as a fisherman, entangled Phrynon in his net and then
ran him through with his trident in true gladiatorial style. Early in
the sixth century we find Hippocrates, the father of Peisistratus,
present as one of the Athenian envoys to Olympia. It was on this
occasion, says Herodotus,[81] that he had a dream respecting the birth
of Peisistratus, which dream was explained to him by the Spartan Ephor
Chilon. Chilon, who was reckoned among the seven wise men of Greece, is
said to have died some years later at Olympia from joy at the victory of
his son Damagetus in boxing.[82] During the sixth century we have no
record of Athenian successes in athletic contests, but many of the rival
nobles won victories in the chariot-race. Peisistratus himself was
proclaimed victor under strange circumstances. Cimon, the half-brother
of Miltiades, the tyrant of the Chersonnese, himself a victor, had been
banished from Athens by Peisistratus. This Cimon had a remarkable
record. He won the chariot-race with the same team of mares at three
successive Olympiads. At the second he agreed with Peisistratus that if
he proclaimed the tyrant winner, he should be recalled from exile.[83]
In spite of this he was put to death by the thankless sons of
Peisistratus shortly after his last victory. Curtius ascribes to
Peisistratus an inscription on the altar of the twelve gods at Athens
recording the distance from Athens to Olympia.[84]

The value of athletics and their political importance had been realised
by Solon. Besides making rules for the conduct of gymnasia he offered a
public reward of 500 drachmae to each Olympian victor, 100 to each
Isthmian victor, and so on to the victors in other games. This measure
is sometimes misrepresented as an attempt on the part of Solon to check
the extravagant rewards lavished on athletes. Such a view is utterly
false. There is no evidence that athletes did receive extravagant
rewards in Solon’s time: and 500 drachmae, though perhaps a trivial sum
to the professional athletes of a later and degenerate age, was then a
considerable amount.[85] Rather we may see in this measure an attempt to
encourage athletics among the people, and perhaps to counteract the
growing love of chariot-racing among the aristocracy.

It is tempting to ascribe to Solon’s influence and policy the founding
of the Panathenaea, or rather the remodelling of the old Athenaea, under
this name. This event is assigned to the year 566 B.C., about the time
when Athens, by the efforts of Solon and Peisistratus, finally made
herself mistress of Salamis, and thus, by securing the control of the
bay of Eleusis, was at last enabled to develop, unchecked, her maritime
and commercial policy. The founding of the Panathenaea is attributed to
Peisistratus, who certainly encouraged athletics and developed the
festival; but, if the date 566 B.C. is correct, the festival was founded
six years before he became tyrant, and while he was still the trusted
friend of Solon, and, owing to his success in war, the hero of the
people. The name Panathenaea seems significant, both of that unity of
the Athenian people, which Solon tried with somewhat chequered success
to promote, and also of that dream of expansion which Athens, freed from
the rivalry of Megara, was now beginning to cherish. At the same time we
can see in the name why the Panathenaea could never become truly
Panhellenic. Olympia, Delphi, Nemea were fitted to become Panhellenic by
virtue of the political insignificance of the states that controlled
them; even the Isthmia, though held under the presidency of Corinth, was
by its name dissociated from that power, and Corinth herself was in her
own way a Panhellenic centre where politics were as yet subordinate to
commerce. In such places the national desire for unity found a natural
expression. But the Panathenaic festival was in the first place the
festival of the union of Attica in the worship of Athene, and the only
unity which it could offer to the rest of Greece was unity beneath the
Aegis of Athene. Thus, while at the Panhellenic festivals all events
were open to the whole of Greece, at Athens, besides such open events,
we find others confined to her own citizens.

The Panathenaea were said to have been founded, or perhaps refounded, by
Theseus, who, according to legend, united into one state the village
communities of Attica. Certainly there existed an ancient yearly
festival in honour of Athene, though we cannot say if it bore the name
Panathenaea. This festival continued to be celebrated every year after
the founding of the greater festival, and was called the Little
Panathenaea.[86] The Great Panathenaea were a pentaëteris, and were held
in the third year of each Olympiad in the month of Hekatombaion or about
the end of July. The programme of the festival was even more varied than
that of the Isthmia. The great event of the festival, the procession
that bore the peplos to the temple of Athene on the Acropolis, afforded
an opportunity for the display of all the forces of Athens. The
competitions included, besides athletics and horse-races, musical
contests, recitations, torch-races, Pyrrhic dances, a regatta, and even
a competition for good looks. For most of the events the prizes
consisted in jars of Attic oil. Olive-oil was the most valuable product
of Attica: the olive trees were under the control of the state, and the
export of olive-oil was a state monopoly. As many as 1300 amphorae of
oil were distributed as prizes, the winner in the chariot-race receiving
as many as 140 amphorae. As even at a later period an amphora of oil was
worth 12 drachmae, it is clear that the prizes had a considerable
commercial value. Some of the jars containing the oil were ornamented
with scenes representing the various competitions. It is probable that
only one such painted vase was given for each victory. The manufacture
and painting of vases was already an important industry at Athens, and
the prize vase full of oil represented, therefore, the chief natural
product and the chief industry of early Attica. These prize vases must
have been greatly cherished. Numbers of them have been found in Italian
tombs and elsewhere, and the variety of the subjects depicted throws no
little light on the events of the festival. But details must be reserved
for another chapter.

The multiplication of athletic festivals and the valuable prizes offered
at them must have been a source of no small profit to the successful
athlete. The victor at the Panhellenic games, it is true, received no
other reward from the authorities than the wreath of leaves;[87] but at
the lesser festivals, where he would be a welcome and an honoured guest,
he was sure of a rich harvest of prizes. Moreover, he received
substantial rewards at the hands of his grateful fellow-citizens. For in
these games the individual was regarded as the representative of his
state: the herald who proclaimed his victory proclaimed, too, the name
of his state, and in his success the whole state shared and rejoiced.
Hence we can understand the righteous indignation of the people of
Croton in Ol. 75, when their famous fellow-countryman, Astylus, who had
already won the stade-race and the diaulos in two successive Olympiads,
on the third occasion entered himself as a Syracusan in order to
ingratiate himself with the tyrant Hieron. Such an act was felt to be
almost a sacrilege, and the Crotoniats in their wrath destroyed the
statue of Astylus, which they had erected in the precinct of Lacinian
Hera, and converted his house, perhaps the house which they had given
him, into a common prison.[88]

The representative character of the Panhellenic athlete and the
connexion of the games with the national religion explain the honours
paid to him by his fellow-citizens.[89] His homecoming was an occasion
of public rejoicing. The whole city turned out to welcome him and escort
him in triumph to his home and to the chief temples of the city, where
he offered thanksgiving and paid his vows to the gods and heroes to whom
he owed his victory. Songs were composed expressly for the occasion by
the greatest poets of the age, and sung by choirs of youths and maidens
before the temples or before his house. His exploits were recorded on
pillars of stone, and his statue was set up in some public place, or
even in the sanctuary of the gods, to serve as an incentive to
posterity. He received, too, more substantial rewards. We have seen how
Solon granted considerable sums of money to the victors in the great
games, and we may be sure that the example of Athens was followed by
other states. At Athens and elsewhere the victor had the privilege of a
front seat at all public festivals, and sometimes, too, the right of
free meals in the Prytaneum. At a later time he was exempted from
taxation. At Sparta, which seems to have stood somewhat aloof from the
athletic movement, he was rewarded characteristically with the right of
fighting in battle next to the king and defending his person. In the
rich cities of the West the adulation of the victor, at a somewhat later
date, took the most extravagant forms. Exaenetus of Agrigentum, who won
the foot-race at Olympia in Ol. 92, was drawn into the city in a
four-horse chariot, attended by three hundred of the chief citizens,
each riding in a chariot drawn by a pair of white horses. Sometimes, it
seems, a breach in the city walls was made for the victor’s entry. It is
in Italy that we first hear of the worship of the athlete as a hero.
Philippus of Croton, an Olympic victor, renowned as the handsomest man
in Greece, was worshipped as a hero after his death.[90] Euthymus of
Locri Epizephyrii, who won three Olympic victories in boxing in Ols. 74,
76, 77, was even said to have been so worshipped during his lifetime. It
was perhaps a righteous retribution for such impiety that his statues at
Locri and Olympia were, according to the story, struck by lightning on
the same day.[91] Theagenes of Thasos and Polydamas of Scotussa were
also worshipped as heroes, and the statue of Theagenes was credited with
the power of healing fevers.[92] But these extravagances, if true,
belong to a later period, and must have been repugnant to the religious
feeling and sound sense of the Peloponnese before the Persian wars.

Of all these honours the most significant are the hymn of victory and
the statue. It was not merely that the greatest artists and poets were
employed to immortalise the victor, and that they demanded a high price
for their services. The statue and the hymn were honours confined
originally to gods and heroes, and, bestowed on mortal athletes, did
literally lift these “lords of earth to the gods.” “Not even the mighty
Polydeuces nor the iron son of Alcmene could hold up their hands against
him.” So wrote Simonides of Ceos, the earliest writer of epinikia, of
the famous boxer Glaucus of Carystus, language which, as the late Sir
Richard Jebb remarks, would have sounded very like an impiety to Alcman.
The words are significant of the changed attitude towards athletics, and
the hero-worship founded by the artist and the poet was perhaps largely
responsible for the extravagances of a later age. But the influence of
athletics on art and literature, and that of art and literature on
athletics, are subjects that belong chiefly to the fifth century, and
will be dealt with in the next chapter.

The growing popularity of athletics and the excessive honours showered
upon physical excellence could hardly escape criticism. In that age of
intense intellectual activity there must have been many far-sighted
observers who resented the predominance of athletics, though perhaps
they feared to express their feelings. One at least there was who knew
no such fear, and fortunately his protest has survived. The bold and
original thinker, Xenophanes of Colophon, was exactly contemporary with
the movement which we have been describing. Born at Colophon about the
year 576 B.C. he was forced to leave his native place at the age of
twenty-five, and for sixty-five years travelled about the cities of
Greece and Sicily, finally settling at Elea in Italy, where he became
the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, and died in the year
480 B.C. A fearless critic of the current ideas about the gods, denying
that the godhead could be like unto man, he may well have been
scandalized at the representation of gods and heroes as athletes, and at
the offering of divine honours to victors in the games; and his wide
experience of men and cities showed him clearly the danger of the
growing worship of athletics. After enumerating the honours shown to the
athlete he continues: “Yet is he not so worthy as I, and my wisdom is
better than the strength of men and horses. Nay, this is a foolish
custom, nor is it right to honour strength more than excellent wisdom.
Not though there were among the people a man good at boxing, or in the
pentathlon, or in wrestling, nay, nor one with swiftness of foot which
is most honoured in all contests of human strength—not for his presence
would the city be better governed. And small joy would there be for a
city should one in contests win a victory by the banks of Pisa. These
things do not make fat the dark corners of the city.”

Less than a century later the words of Xenophanes are echoed by
Euripides, but the object of the protest is no longer the same. The
class of professional athletes whom Euripides denounces did not exist in
the days of the older poet. It is against the excessive importance
attached to athletics, the false and one-sided ideal, that Xenophanes
protests. In his wanderings through the cities of Greece he has learnt
by bitter experience the evils that exist, evils of tyranny and party
strife, extremes of luxury and poverty, and he feels that the energies
of his countrymen are being misdirected. It is not a little curious that
foreign writers, deceived by the glamour of Olympia, are wont to treat
the protest of Xenophanes as the captious utterance of a soured and
peevish cynic. Yet the fragments of his writings which exist show him to
have been a man of wide experience and sympathies; and in England, where
we have witnessed a similar wave of athleticism, his wisdom is generally
recognized. Let us pause to consider what was the state of athletics in
the time of Xenophanes.

The popularity of athletics, the growth of competition, and the rewards
lavished on successful athletes completely changed the character of
athletics in the sixth century. The actual events remained the same, but
a change came over the attitude of performers and spectators. It was a
change which will be readily understood by any one familiar with the
history of our own sports and games during the last century, the change
from spontaneous to organized sport. The change brought with it both
good and evil; the standard of performance was greatly improved, but
athletics ceased to be pure recreation, and something of the old Homeric
joy was lost; and though the spirit of sport survived for a century
more, even in the sixth century we can trace signs of the evils which
over-competition inevitably brings in its train.

In every Greek state all boys, whatever their station, received a
thorough physical training. Sometimes, as in Sparta, this training was
extended to girls. This training consisted partly in the traditional
exercises of the public games, partly in dances which corresponded to
our musical drill in which the performers went through the various
movements of the palaestra or of actual war to the accompaniment of
music. Thus every boy was trained to take his part in athletic
competitions. Local festivals provided the promising athlete with an
opportunity of testing his strength and skill from early boyhood. At
Olympia there had been only two classes of competition, for boys and for
men. In the festivals of the sixth century we find a third class added
for those betwixt the age of boy and man, the beardless (ἀγένειοι). In
local festivals of a later date we find three or even four classes for
boys only, sometimes confined to local competitors; and perhaps, if we
had details of the local festivals of the sixth century, we should find
the same. These boys’ events were clearly intended to foster local
talent. The youth who won success in his home festival would try his
luck in the neighbouring competitions, and if still successful would go
farther afield and perhaps enter for the Panhellenic games. Hence the
competitors, especially at the Olympia, represented the picked athletes
of all the states. The prizes offered at the various festivals enabled
many to compete, who in a previous age could not have afforded the
necessary time or money; and we may be sure that the emulation of the
various states would not have allowed any citizen to lose his chance of
the crown for lack of funds. The popular character of athletics is
illustrated by a fragment of an epigram ascribed to Simonides on an
Olympic victor “who once carried fish from Argos to Tegea.”[93] At the
same time the noble families which had for generations been famed in
athletics exerted themselves to their utmost to maintain their
hereditary prestige. All classes caught the athletic mania. It was at
the close of the century that Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king of
Macedon, competed in the foot-race at Olympia.

Competition naturally raised the standard of athletics. Natural ability
and ordinary exercise were no longer sufficient to secure success
without long and careful training. Hence there arose a class of
professional trainers. These men, who were often old athletes, acquired
considerable repute, and doubtless were handsomely rewarded by the rich
individuals or states that employed them. In their hands athletics
became scientific; instead of being regarded as a recreation and a
training for war they became an end in themselves. One state alone,
Sparta, held aloof from the new athletics and competitions. At Sparta
the one object was to produce a race of hardy soldiers, and the new
science, which aimed at producing athletes, could find no place there.
No Spartan was allowed to employ a trainer in wrestling. Boxing was said
to have been introduced by the Spartans, but though they recognized the
value of boxing as a sport, they realized the dangers of it as a
competition, and forbade their citizens to take part in competitions for
boxing or the pankration, on the ground that it was disgraceful for a
Spartan to acknowledge defeat. Hence the disappearance of Sparta from
the list of the Olympic victors which has already been noticed. Sparta
in athletics fell behind the rest of Greece, and Philostratus, comparing
them with the more scientific athletics, describes them as somewhat
boorish.[94] Yet perhaps the Spartans and Xenophanes were right.

The new training required no little expenditure of time and money. The
would-be victor at Olympia must have lived in a constant state of
training and competition, which left time for little else. Theagenes of
Thasos, who lived at the time of the Persian wars, is said to have won
no less than fourteen hundred crowns.[95] To such men athletics were no
longer a recreation, but an absorbing occupation. The professional
amateur is but a short step removed from the true professional. For a
time wealth and leisure gave a great advantage to the wealthy
individual, and the wealthy city. In the sixth century the most
successful states are the rich cities of Sicily and Italy. The sons of
noble families still figure prominently in the epinikia of Pindar and
Bacchylides. But the increase of rich prizes was soon to put the poor
man on a level with the rich. Before the close of the fifth century we
shall find athletics left to the professional, while princes and nobles
compete only in the chariot-races and horse-races. For this result
states like Sybaris and Croton were hugely responsible. They thought to
encourage athletics by offering large money prizes; in reality they
killed the spirit of sport. Sybaris indeed—or, according to another
account, Croton—endeavoured to outshine Olympia by holding a festival of
her own at the same time as the Olympia, and attracting away the pick of
the athletes by the magnificence of the prizes.[96] When such an attempt
was possible, professionalism was near at hand.

These evils, however, did not yet exist in the sixth century, though
implied already in that excessive love of athletics which aroused the
indignation of Xenophanes. The nation had become a nation of athletes,
and not the least important characteristic which distinguished the Greek
from the barbarian was henceforth his athletic training. The result was
a standard of athletic excellence never again perhaps equalled. Most of
the athletes whose names were household words for centuries, belong to
the sixth and the first half of the fifth centuries. Such were Milo of
Croton, Glaucus of Carystus, Theagenes of Thasos. Though we occasionally
find distinguished runners, such as Phanas of Pellene, who, by winning
three races at Olympia in one day, won the title of triple victor
(τριαστής), or a little later Astylus of Croton, of whom we have heard
already, the typical athlete of the sixth century was the strong man—the
boxer, the wrestler, or the pankratiast. The object of the old gymnastic
was to produce strength only, says Philostratus,[97] contrasting the
ancient athletes with their degenerate successors, and the success of
the old training was shown in the fact that these old athletes
maintained their strength for eight or even nine Olympiads. There was
nothing artificial or unnatural about their training: the careful
dieting, the elaborate massage, the rules for exercise and sleep
introduced by later trainers were unknown. The trainers of those days
confined themselves to actual athletics, to the art of boxing or
wrestling especially, and the athletes owed their strength to a healthy,
vigorous, out-of-door life.

This fact is illustrated by the legends that sprang up about the famous
athletes of this age, which, amid much invention and exaggeration,
probably contain some substratum of truth. The father of Glaucus
discovered his son’s strength from seeing him one day hammer a
ploughshare into the plough with his naked fist. Theagenes first
displayed his strength at the age of nine in a youthful escapade. Taking
a fancy to a certain bronze statue in the market-place, he one day
shouldered it and carried it off. The exploits of Samson with wild
beasts find many parallels in the stories of Greek athletes; but the
most characteristic exercise of the sixth century was weight-lifting.
Milo practised weight-lifting on most scientific principles with a young
bull calf, which he lifted and carried every day till it was fully
grown. A still more famous weight-lifter was Titormus, a gigantic
shepherd who lived in Aetolia, and did not, as far as we know, compete
in any competitions. Challenged by Milo to show his strength, he took
him down to the river Euenus, threw off his mantle, and seized a huge
boulder which Milo could hardly move. He first raised it to his knees,
then on to his shoulders, and after carrying it sixteen yards, threw
it.[98] He next showed his strength and courage by seizing and holding
fast by the heels two wild bulls.

These stories of weight-lifting have been strangely confirmed by
discoveries in Greece. At Olympia a block of red sandstone was found,
bearing a sixth-century inscription to the effect that one Bybon with
one hand threw it over his head.[99] The stone weighs 143-1/2 kilos (315
lbs.), and measures 68 × 33 × 38 cms. A one-handed lift of such an
object is clearly impossible, and I can only suggest that Bybon lifted
the weight with both hands in the manner described above, then balanced
it on one hand and threw it. At Santorin another such block has been
found, a mass of black volcanic rock, weighing 480 kilos. The
inscription on it, which belongs to the close of the sixth century, runs
as follows: “Eumastas the son of Critobulus lifted me from the ground.”
To lift such a weight from the ground, though possible, is quite a good

Swimming, too, was a favourite exercise, and Philostratus tells us that
Tisander, a boxer of Naxos, who lived, on a promontory of the island,
kept himself in training by swimming out to sea. These old athletes,
says the same author, hardened themselves by bathing in the rivers, and
sleeping in the open air on skins or heaps of fodder. Living such a life
they had healthy appetites, and were not particular about their food,
living on porridge and unleavened bread, and such meat as they could
get. The strong man is naturally a large eater, and all sorts of tales
were current as to the voracity of these athletes. Milo, according to an
epigram, after carrying a four-year-old heifer around the Altis, ate it
all on the same day; and a similar feat is ascribed to Titormus and
Theagenes.[100] These tales are clearly the invention of a later age,
when the strong man trained on vast quantities of meat; and as Milo
excelled all men in strength, it followed that he must also have
excelled them in voracity. But whatever the truth of these stories, it
is certain that the athletes of those times were healthy and free from
disease, preserved their strength, and lived long. If athletic training
did occupy an undue share of their time, it did not unfit them for the
duties of ordinary life and military service. Many of them won
distinction as soldiers and generals, while the effects of athletic
training on the nation were shown in the Persian wars.

When we turn to the records of art we still find strength the
predominant characteristic of the period. We see this in those early
nude statues, so widely distributed throughout Greece and the islands,
which are generally classed under the name of Apollo. In all we see the
same attempt to render the muscles of the body, whether we regard the
tall spare type of the Apollo of Tenea, or the shorter heavier type of
the Argive statues. It is in the muscles of the trunk rather than of the
limbs that real strength lies, and it is the careful marking of these
muscles that distinguishes early Greek sculpture from all other early
art, and the sculpture of the Peloponnese in particular from the softer
school of Ionia. Perhaps the most characteristic figure of the sixth
century is that of the bearded Heracles, not the clumsy giant of later
days, but the personification of endurance and trained strength, a man,
as Pindar says, short of stature, but of unbending soul. So we see him
on many a black-figured vase of the sixth century, and the type survives
in the pediments of Aegina or the Metopes of Olympia in the next
century. Matched against giants and monsters he represents the triumph
of training and endurance over mere brute force. If we compare the
figures of athletes on these vases with those on the red-figured vases
of the next century, we find the same result; the ideal of the fifth
century is the grace of athletic youth, that of the sixth is the
strength of fully developed manhood; the hero of the former is Theseus,
of the latter Heracles. Finally, if we would realise the true greatness
of sixth-century athletics, let us remember that it was this century
which rendered possible and inspired the athletic ideal of Pindar in the

“For if a man rejoice to suffer cost and toil, and achieve god-builded
excellence, and therewithal fate plant for him fair renown, already at
the farthest bonds of bliss hath such an one cast anchor.”

Footnote 72:

  The legends connected with these festivals are collected in Krause,
  _Pythien_, and the various articles on them in Dar.-Sagl.

Footnote 73:

  The victory of Chromius of Aetna, celebrated by Pindar, _Nem._ ix.,
  was won not at Nemea but at the Sicyonian Pythia.

Footnote 74:

  The existence of such rivalry is suggested by the quarrel recorded by
  Pausanias v. 2, 3, with regard to the colossal statue set up by
  Cypselus at Olympia, and in the account given by Herodotus ix. 81 of
  the distribution of the Persian spoils. A statue of Zeus 10 cubits
  high is set up at Olympia, while that of Poseidon at the Isthmus is
  only 7 cubits high. So Pindar, _Ol._ xiii. 25, prays that Zeus may not
  be jealous if he sings the praise of Corinth.

Footnote 75:

  Adapted from Jebb’s _Bacchylides_.

Footnote 76:

  Hdt. ii. 160.

Footnote 77:

  Louis Dyer, “The Olympic Council” in _Harvard Studies_, 1907, p. 36;
  Paus. vi. 3, 7; _Ol. Ins._ 372-486 _passim_.

Footnote 78:

  W. Helbig, _Les Hippeis athéniens_.

Footnote 79:

  Pindar, _Ol._ ix, xiii. etc.

Footnote 80:

  _B.M. Bronzes_, 135.

Footnote 81:

  Hdt. i. 59.

Footnote 82:

  Hermipp. _Fr._ 14. The story is suspicious, because the Spartans are
  said not to have been allowed to compete in boxing.

Footnote 83:

  Hdt. vi. 103.

Footnote 84:

  Hdt. ii. 7.

Footnote 85:

  At a later time a drachma was a day’s pay for a sailor, hoplite, or
  artisan, and in Pericles’ time a juryman received only two obols. In
  Solon’s time, owing to the scarcity of money, the value of a drachma
  must have been considerably higher.

Footnote 86:

  On the Panathenaea _vide_ A. Mommsen, _Feste der Stadt Athen._

Footnote 87:

  The palm branch as a symbol of victory does not occur till the close
  of the fifth century. Mr. F. B. Tarbell traces its origin to Delos,
  and derives its popularity from the restoration of the Delian festival
  by Athens in 426 B.C. “The Palm of Victory” in _Classical Philology_,
  vol. iii. pp. 264 ff.

Footnote 88:

  Paus. vi. 13, 1. Hieron is apparently a mistake for Gelon.

Footnote 89:

  Krause, _Olympia_, pp. 195-201.

Footnote 90:

  Hdt. v. 47.

Footnote 91:

  Pliny, _H. N._ vii. 47. Strabo, vi. 255.

Footnote 92:

  Paus. vi. 11, 9; Lucian, _Deor. Concilium_, 12.

Footnote 93:

  Simonides, 163 (Bergk). Quoted by Aristotle, _Rhet._ i. 7 and 9.

Footnote 94:

  The attitude of the Spartans towards athletics is expressed in a poem
  of Tyrtaeus (Bergk, No. 12), in which he declares that he would set no
  store by speed of foot or skill in wrestling, apart from warlike
  might. Later their contempt of training and skill degenerated into
  sheer brutality. Phil. _Gym._ 9 and 58; Plutarch, _Apophthegm. Lac.
  Var._ 25 (233 E); _Anth. Plan._ i. 1.

Footnote 95:

  Paus. vi. 11, 5.

Footnote 96:

  Athenaeus, 522, 523.

Footnote 97:

  _Gym._ 43.

Footnote 98:

  Aelian, _V.H._ xii. 22.

Footnote 99:

  _Ol. Ins._ 717. This and the Santorin stone (_I.G._ xiii. 449) are
  discussed in _J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 2.

Footnote 100:

  Athenaeus, 412 D, E.

                               CHAPTER V
              THE AGE OF THE ATHLETIC IDEAL, 500-440 B.C.

Though the Greeks of the sixth and fifth centuries attained a remarkable
standard of athletic excellence, it is probable that in individual
performance the modern athlete could at least have held his own with
them. Yet despite our modern athleticism it is certain that no other
nation has ever produced so high an average of physical development as
the Greeks did in this period. This result was due largely to the
athletic ideal which found its highest expression in the athletic poetry
and art of the fifth century. The ideal is unique in the history of the
world, nor are the circumstances which produced it ever likely to occur
again. Due, in the first place, to the early connexion of athletics with
religion, it owed its development in the fifth century to two causes,
firstly, to the growth of athletic art and poetry, secondly, to the
intense feeling of Panhellenic unity produced by the struggle with
Persia. It was this ideal that checked the growth of those evils which
inevitably result from the excessive popularity of athletics, and
maintained their purity till the short-lived unity of Greece was
shattered by the Peloponnesian war. To understand this ideal we must
briefly trace the history of athletic art and literature, and then note
how the national feeling found expression in the Panhellenic and
especially in the Olympic games.

[Illustration: Fig. 7. Apollo, found at Tenea. Munich. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 20.)]

Without athletics, says the late Professor Furtwängler,[101] Greek art
cannot be conceived. The skill of the Greek artist in representing the
forms of the naked body is due in the first instance to the habit of
complete nudity in athletic exercises, a habit which, even if it were,
as Thucydides says, not introduced into all athletic competitions at
Olympia till shortly before his own time, must certainly, if we may
judge from the evidence of the black-figured vases, have been almost
universal in the palaestra of the sixth century. Besides the unrivalled
opportunities that this habit afforded the sculptor of studying the
naked body in every position of activity, it must have served as a
valuable incentive to the youths of Greece to keep themselves in good
condition. The Greek, with his keen eye for physical beauty, regarded
flabbiness, want of condition, imperfect development as a disgrace, a
sign of neglected education, and the ill-trained youth was the
laughing-stock of his companions. Hence every Greek learnt to take a
pride in his physical fitness and beauty. This love of physical beauty
is strikingly illustrated in one of the war-songs of Tyrtaeus:[102] “It
is a shame,” he says, “for an old man to lie slain in the front of the
battle, his body stripped and exposed.” Why? Because an old man’s body
cannot be beautiful. “But to the young,” he continues, “all things are
seemly as long as the goodly bloom of lovely youth is on him. A sight
for men to marvel at, for women to love while he lives, beautiful, too,
when fallen in the front of the battle.”

[Illustration: Fig. 8. Statue by an Argive Sculptor. Delphi. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 134.)]

We have seen how there arose in the sixth century a demand for athletic
statues, and how the early artists endeavoured to express trained
strength by the careful treatment of the muscles of the body, especially
those of the chest and abdomen. The early athletic statues must have
been of the type of those archaic figures which are rightly or wrongly
classed under the name of Apollo, and which, whether they represent a
god or a man, are certainly inspired by athletics. Though we see in all
the same evident desire to express strength yet we find considerable
variety of physical type, far more so, in fact, than we find in the
fifth century, which was dominated by a more or less definite ideal of
physical beauty and proportion. In the sixth century the artists were
experimenting, and therefore we may suppose were influenced more by
local or individual characteristics. Thus the slim, long-limbed Apollo
of Tenea (Fig. 7), with his well-formed chest, spare flanks, and
powerful legs is the very type of the long-distance runner. These long,
lean, wiry runners are often depicted on Panathenaic vases, and suggest
inevitably these day-runners (ἡμεροδρόμοι), who acted as scouts or
couriers in the Persian wars. Quite different is the type of the early
Argive statues found at Delphi (Fig. 8). Square and thickset, with
powerful limbs and massive heads, they seem naturally to lead up to the
type of the Ligourio bronze and of Polycleitus, and suggest that such a
build was characteristic of Argolis. Between the two extremes comes an
extensive series of statues from Boeotia, one of which shows strong
signs of Aeginetan influence.[103] In the fifth century we look in vain
for such divergences of type, and the reason is that Greek art was
tending more and more towards an ideal, and neither the typical runner
nor the typical strong man quite fulfils the artist’s ideal. Vase
paintings afford an interesting illustration of this change. The
wrestling groups on the black-figured vases show far greater variety and
originality, a more realistic imitation of the manifold positions of
wrestling than we find on the red-figured vases of the fifth century,
where only such types are preserved as commended themselves to the more
highly-trained artistic sense of the later craftsmen.

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Choiseul-Gouffier Apollo. British Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 10. Figure from E. pediment at Aegina. Munich.
(_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 41.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 11. Bronze Statuette from Ligourio. Berlin. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 39.)]

In the early part of the fifth century we still find a variety of
physical type. On the one hand we have the Choiseul-Gouffier Apollo
(Fig. 9) with his broad square shoulders, powerful chest and
back—essentially a big man, and therefore identified by Dr. Waldstein
with the boxer Euthymus, though recent evidence tends to show that the
statue really represents the god and no mortal athlete. At the other
extreme we have the neat, small, sinewy forms of the warriors on the
Aeginetan pediments (Fig. 10). Between the two come a number of types.
Unfortunately we have no extant examples of the great Argive school. The
bronze in which the Argive sculptor worked was too valuable to escape
the ravages of the plunderer, and a certain monotony, which must have
characterized purely athletic sculpture, prevented the later copyist
from reproducing these works. But if we may argue from the Ligourio
bronze (Fig. 11), the Argive type was short like the Aeginetan but
heavier and more fleshy. On the other hand, the statues which are
recognized as copies of the famous group of Critias and Nesiotes[104]
representing Harmodius and Aristogeiton show a taller, larger-boned
type, more approaching that of the Choiseul-Gouffier Apollo, which may
perhaps be recognized as Athenian.[105] But in all this diversity of
physical type we ask ourselves in vain what class of athlete is
represented in any particular statue, whether a boxer, a wrestler, a
pentathlete, or a runner. The reason seems to be that in all these
statues the ideal element is strong; there is a difference of build, but
each build is shown with the fullest all-round development of which it
is capable. Certainly there is not in this period a single figure that
represents a typical runner so clearly as does the Apollo of Tenea.
Perhaps the nearest type to that of the runner is the Aeginetan; but
unfortunately we know that the events in which Aegina won most
distinction were wrestling and the pankration, winners in which we
should expect to find characterized by a heavier build. The fact is that
the real specialization of the athlete was only just beginning, and the
universal athletic training had produced in the first half of the fifth
century so uniform a standard of development that, runners perhaps
excepted, it must have been difficult to distinguish between the
representatives of other events, in all of which strength was more
important than pace. Hence the earlier sculptors, in order to indicate
an athlete’s victory, were forced to attach to his statue some special
attribute, a diskos, or a pair of jumping weights for a pentathlete, a
boxing thong for a boxer.[106] As their technical skill increased they
began to represent the athlete in some characteristic position. Glaucias
of Aegina showed the famous boxer Glaucus of Carystos sparring with an
imaginary opponent.[107] At Athens Pausanias saw a statue of Epicharinus
by Critius in the attitude of one practising for the hoplite race,
perhaps in the attitude of the well-known Tübingen bronze, which
represents a hoplitodromos practising starts[108] (Fig. 12).

[Illustration: Fig. 12. Bronze Statuette of Hoplitodromos. Tübingen.]

[Illustration: Fig. 13. Myron’s Diskobolos (from a bronzed cast made in
Munich, combining the Vatican body and the Massimi head).]

The last-named statues at once suggest the Diskobolos of Myron (Fig.
13). This statue marks a new departure in athletic art. It is not, as
far as we know, a statue in honour of any particular victor, but a study
in athletic genre. To the same class belong the Doryphoros and
Diadumenos of Polycleitus.[109] The earlier statues had been ideal in as
far as they were not portrait statues, but statues of athletic types
connected with the name of some victor, and many such statues are
assigned to Myron and Polycleitus. But the statues of which we are
speaking were avowedly and professedly ideal studies in athletic art.
Myron undertook to represent the athlete in motion. He chose that most
difficult, yet most characteristic moment in the swing of the
diskobolos, which alone combines the idea of rest and that of motion,
when the diskos has been swung back to its full extent, and the
momentary pause suggests stability, while the insecurity of the delicate
balance implies the strong movement which has preceded it, and the more
violent movement which is to follow. No other moment could give the same
idea of force and swiftness. If we look at the countless representations
of the diskobolos on vases and in bronzes, we see that the fixing of any
other moment in the swing destroys at once all idea of motion. The
movement is checked at an unnatural point, and the result is lifeless.
Only at the close of the swing backward does the brief pause give the
artist an excuse for fixing it in bronze. It is a magnificent
conception, and in spite of minor defects magnificently executed.
Unfortunately we know the statue only through more or less late and
inaccurate marble copies. Perhaps the truest idea of the grace of the
original bronze can be obtained from the bronzed cast in the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford, from which our illustration is taken. The diskobolos
is, as has been said, a study of athletic action, and it is therefore
difficult to form a true idea of his proportions, nor was the artist
concerned so much with proportions as with movement. Yet if we can
imagine the diskobolos standing at rest, he might well take his place
besides the glorious youths of the Parthenon frieze, tall like the
Tyrannicides, yet of somewhat lighter build, taller and lighter likewise
than the type of Polycleitus.

[Illustration: Fig. 14. Doryphoros, after Polycleitus. Naples. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 74.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 15. Diadumenos from Vaison, after Polycleitus.
British Museum. (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 75.)]

In the Doryphoros (Fig. 14), and Diadumenos (Fig. 15), we have another
type of athletic genre. These statues are studies of the athlete at
rest, studies in proportion. The Doryphoros indeed was called the canon,
because in it the artist was said to have embodied his ideal of the
proportions of the human body. If we consider what such a canon implies,
we shall understand why the old diversity of type tended to disappear.
The artist of this period was seeking an ideal of human proportion. Such
an ideal is not to be found in any extremes of type, in strength or
beauty by itself, but only in a combination of the two, in the golden
mean, that avoidance of all excess which dominated Greek life and
thought. The influence of athletic training had impressed upon him the
value of physical strength systematically trained and developed; his
artistic sense taught him that no subject was fitting for his art which
did not present beauty of outline and proportion. Hence that union of
strength and beauty which characterizes the athletic art of this period.

Other circumstances contributed to produce uniformity of type. The three
great sculptors of the age, Myron, Pheidias and Polycleitus, whom we now
know to have been almost contemporaries, and in the full activity of
their art in the middle of the century, were all, according to
traditions, pupils of the Argive sculptor Ageladas. In the stern, manly
discipline of the Argive school they acquired their consummate knowledge
of the human body. The influence of these artists was increased by the
concentration at this period of all art at Athens. Polycleitus indeed
remained at Argos; but Myron and Pheidias worked at Athens, and through
Pheidias the art of Athens spread over the Greek world. The school in
which these artists had been trained had devoted itself to the study of
athletic proportion, and it was therefore only natural that a similar
athletic ideal should prevail generally,—a similar but not quite the
same ideal. Polycleitus remained true to the Argive tradition of a
somewhat thick-set, massive type, with square-jawed, powerful head. At
Athens the influence of the softer Ionian art, perhaps, too, the
prevalence of other characteristics in the population, produced a
slighter, taller, more graceful type. Both schools combined strength and
beauty. In both it is impossible to decide in what event any particular
athlete had excelled; but while strength continued to be the prevalent
idea of Polycleitus, Athenian art was rather dominated by the idea of

This union of strength and beauty belongs especially to the time of
full-grown youth and opening manhood. It is the age when the Greek youth
began to undertake some of the duties of citizenship, and when the state
took upon itself his training. In most Greek cities somewhere between
the ages of sixteen and eighteen the youths were enrolled in corps, and
for two years were subject to a strict military discipline under
officers appointed by the state. They learnt to use their weapons and to
ride; they hardened their bodies by athletic exercises and hunting; they
gained practical experience in war by acting as police patrols on the
frontiers. This time of life was especially devoted to athletics and
physical training. At many of the games there were special competitions
for youths of this age—the beardless or ἀγένειοι. To the same age belong
these romantic boy friendships which figure so largely in Greek life,
from the time of Harmodius and Aristogeiton or earlier. That these
friendships did at times lead to serious abuse cannot, unfortunately, be
denied. But the charge of immorality brought against them seems to me
greatly exaggerated,[110] at least as far as regards the fifth century
and the most enlightened states. These friendships arose on the one side
from the natural hero-worship of youth, on the other from an intense
appreciation of bodily beauty.

This strong artistic feeling is illustrated by the practice which arose
among the vase painters of inscribing on their cups the name of some
popular youth with the word καλός, or sometimes the more general
inscription καλὸς ὁ παῖς, “the boy is fair.” The term “love names”
applied to these inscriptions is somewhat unfortunate. The word καλός
implies none of that modern maudlin sentimentality so often mistaken for
love, but rather the artist’s sense of the beautiful, sometimes his
admiration for some popular youth, sometimes, perhaps, merely his
satisfaction in the form he has himself created. The point, however,
which interests us here is that the beauty which appealed to the Greek
of the latter half of the fifth century was not the beauty of woman, nor
even of the mature man, but the beauty of manly youth, and the art of
the Periclean age has been well described as the glorification of the

The growing preference for the younger type can be traced in the lists
of athletic statues at Olympia recorded by Pausanias. There is a steady
increase during the fifth century of the proportion of boy victors as
compared with men, and the increase is more than maintained during the
fourth century. The change is perhaps connected with a change in the
character of athletics. There can be no doubt that athletics were
already becoming more specialized, and the specialized athlete did not
appeal to the artist of the fifth century. In the following age we find
an increasing diversity of type, but in the Periclean age the ideal of
athletic youth dominates all treatment of the human figure. We can see
it in the figures of children and young boys which, despite their small
stature, have the proportions and muscular development of men, or in the
figures of women which, whether undraped or, as was more usual, draped,
differ little in framework and proportion from the figures of graceful
youths. In the Periclean age, we cannot distinguish between the athlete
and the ephebos. Every educated youth is an athlete, and every athlete
is an educated youth and a citizen of a free state. Of the strictly
athletic statues unfortunately we possess only marble copies, which in
the transference from bronze have lost much of the grace of the
originals. But the ephebos is known to us from many a grave relief, and
above all from the sculptures of the Parthenon. The grave reliefs are at
least originals, though we do not know the artists’ names, while the
Parthenon sculptures were executed under the direction of Pheidias. A
truer idea of the athletic youth of this age can be formed from the
Theseus of the pediment, or the epheboi of the frieze, than from late
copies of Polycleitus.

In all these figures the prevailing impression is one of a perfect
harmony, an absence of all exaggeration. Beauty of line is not
exaggerated into softness, nor strength into coarseness. There is, too,
a graceful ease of movement and of action which tells of an education in
which music goes hand in hand with gymnastic. Musical drill and dances
formed an important part of Greek education; even at the great festivals
the competitors in the pentathlon performed to the accompaniment of the
flute. The influence of music is especially suggested by the rhythmic
movement and poise of the Diadumenos. Hence these harmonious shapes
produce an effect deeper than that of mere physical beauty, they seem to
be the outward expression of the spirit within. καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός—beauty
and goodness—are inseparable to the Greek. The heads, too, are in
perfect harmony with the body; somewhat passionless perhaps, they seem
to denote a mind well ordered as the body. They are not the heads of
students or philosophers, much less of mere athletes, but the heads of
healthy, vigorous youths, to whom all activity whether of mind or body
is a joy. In the clear-cut, strong features we read courage and
resolution, endurance and self-control. The expression is calm and
dignified, yet without a trace of arrogance or pride. The face is often
turned slightly downwards, and the downcast eyes produce an impression
of modesty which is most marked in those statues which, like the
Diadumenos binding the victor’s fillet round his head, expressly
represent victory. Such is the beautiful bronze head of the ephebos
shown in Fig. 16. This combination of dignity and modesty is part of
what the Greeks called αἰδώς,[111] a word which we shall see is the
keynote of Pindar’s athletic ideal, and which expresses more than any
other the spirit of these statues.

[Illustration: Fig. 16. Bronze head of ephebos. Munich, Glyptothek, 457.
(From a photograph by Bruckmann.)]

The influence of athletics is equally plain in the lesser arts. On coins
and gems it is seen chiefly in the nude figures of gods and heroes.
Sometimes, however, we find a purely athletic type. On the coins of
Aspendus in Pamphylia we have a long series of wrestling groups (Fig.
109), and on the other side a naked slinger, a punning allusion it seems
to the name Aspendus. On the coins of Cos occurs a most interesting
figure of the diskobolos, a crude attempt to represent the very moment
selected by Myron (Fig. 86). Both series date from the early fifth
century. On gems of a later date we have frequent copies of the actual
work of Myron. In Sicily we find no representations of the athlete
proper, but the close connexion of Sicily with Olympia, and the
successes of its cities and tyrants in the chariot and horse races are
commemorated by numerous coins bearing a horseman or a chariot.[112]

These, however, are but isolated examples; the art which above all other
was influenced by athletics was that of the vase painter. Athletic
scenes are among the earliest on the vases. This may be partly due to
the connexion of games with funeral rites, for which many of the painted
vases were made. But there is another and more general reason for the
vase painter’s preference. Athletic scenes were especially adapted for
the spaces which he wished to fill, whether it were a long band running
round the whole vase, or an oblong panel. In the former case, the
foot-race or the horse-race, or a series of athletes engaged in various
sports, offered an effective variation of the procession of men or
animals so common on early vases, while nothing could be better adapted
for a panel than a boxing or a wrestling match with umpires or friends
looking on. So effective was the latter scheme found that it was applied
to mythological subjects. The contests of Heracles with giants or with
monsters become a wrestling match or pankration in which gods and
goddesses take the place of umpires. So in the fifth century, on the
red-figured cups the exploits of Theseus in ridding the world of
monsters and bullies are depicted as events in the palaestra. To Theseus
was ascribed the invention of scientific wrestling: he appears on the
vases as a graceful youth triumphing by trained skill over the brute
force of his opponents.

The story of athletic types follows the same course on the vases as in
sculpture, though, as the development of the simpler art was more rapid,
the changes took place earlier. The bearded athletes of the black-figure
vases disappear at the beginning of the fifth century, and on the
red-figure vases, from the time of the Persian wars, the ephebos is
ubiquitous. Moreover, it is not so much the actual competitions that we
see as the daily life and training of the palaestra. Strigils,
oil-flasks, and jumping-weights hang upon the walls; picks and javelins
are planted in the ground. Trainers in their long mantles and naked
assistants stand about and watch the practice of the youths. Sometimes
with outstretched hands they instruct them; sometimes they correct them
with their long forked rods. The youths themselves run, leap, wrestle,
throw the diskos or the javelin; some look on and chat, others prepare
for exercise, anointing their bodies with oil, binding on the boxing
thongs, or fitting the cord to the javelin; others having finished their
work scrape themselves with strigils, or standing round a basin empty
vessels of water over each other. All the varied life of the palaestra
is before us.

The vases on which these scenes abound belong chiefly to the middle of
the century, the period of the “fine style,” as it is called. But, as I
have noted before, the actual athletic types have already become
somewhat conventional, and we feel that the artist’s interest in them
has become secondary. It is rather the variety of the life, with its
possibilities of grouping and composition, that appeals to him. At
Athens, at least, a change is beginning in the attitude of the people
towards athletics. The fine period of vase painting ends about the year
440 B.C., and in the vases of the decline this change is more marked. We
still see the palaestra; but it is indicated sketchily by an occasional
pair of halteres on the wall; and the youths stand about idly gossiping
and arguing, but take no part in manly exercise. This disappearance of
athletics from the vases is significant: the sculptor could still work
out his own ideals, but the vase painter was dependent for his trade on
the popular taste, and the vases are therefore a true index of the
feeling of the time. If we compare one of these later vases with such a
vase as the Panaetius kylix in Munich (Fig. 17), we cannot help being
reminded of the contrast drawn by Aristophanes in the _Clouds_ between
the old education of the men who fought at Marathon and the education of
his day. The vases enable us to date the change about the year 440, and
we shall find other indications that confirm this date.

[Illustration: Fig. 17. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 795.]

There is, however, in this athletic art something more than mere beauty
or mere strength. The outward harmony is but the expression of that
harmonious development of mind and body which it was the aim of Greek
education to produce by means of music and gymnastic. For the
interpretation of this spirit we can turn to the living word—a surer
guide than merely subjective impressions. Athletic poetry arose like
athletic sculpture in the sixth century, but while the athletic ideal
continued to influence Greek art during the whole of its history, the
hymn of victory, like the athletic painting on the vase, disappears
abruptly before the Peloponnesian wars. The earliest writer of the
epinikion, Simonides of Ceos, was born in the year 556 B.C.; his nephew
Bacchylides, born at Iulis in the same island, lived till the year 428
B.C.[113] His great Theban rival, Pindar, born a few years earlier, had
died in 443 B.C. With Pindar and Bacchylides the epinikion almost ceased
to exist. We have indeed a fragment of a hymn written some years later
by Euripides to celebrate the triumphs of Alcibiades in the chariot-race
at Olympia. But this is a mere accident, and it is, we may mark, in
honour not of an athletic event but of a chariot-race. Euripides, we
shall see, was little inclined to hymn the athletes of his day. The last
of Pindar’s Odes, the 8th PYTHIAN, was written in honour of a victory in
wrestling won by Aristomenes of Aegina in 446 B.C., and the latest odes
of Bacchylides which we can date are six years earlier. The agreement of
these dates with the evidence of the vase paintings can hardly be an
accidental coincidence.

Particularly noticeable are the number and importance of those odes
which belong to the years immediately following the Persian wars. The
writer of epinikia, like the sculptor of athletic statues, was by the
very nature of his art Panhellenic. His muse, as Pindar tells us, was a
hireling. He wrote for those who could pay him best, for the wealthy
nobles of Thessaly or Aegina, or the princes of Sicily. Neither in Ceos
nor in Thebes could a poet find sufficient scope for his genius. The
little island of Ceos, famed for its athletes and its music, lay
somewhat outside the main currents of Greek life. Thebes had fallen from
her legendary greatness, and played but an inglorious part in the
Persian wars. Hence, though the poets turned with special tenderness and
pride to sing of the victors of their native cities, they spent much of
their lives at the courts of powerful patrons, and found their highest
inspiration in that burst of Panhellenic feeling that the Persian wars
produced, and which for the moment united in the service of Hellas
tyrant and oligarch and people. If Theban Pindar could not, like
Simonides, sing of those who fell at Thermopylae or Salamis, his
patriotism found vent in no less than six odes in honour of the victors
in the great national celebration at Olympia in 476 B.C.

The defeat of Persia not only gave a fresh impulse to the Panhellenic
festivals: it raised athletic training into a national duty. The
consciousness of a great danger safely past arouses a nation to a sense
of its military and physical needs. We can remember only a few years ago
the growth of rifle clubs, the cry for military and physical training
that followed the Boer war. The danger, it is felt at such times, may
occur again, and it behoves every citizen to be ready to play his part.
Among the Greeks this feeling gathered force not from any consciousness
of their own shortcomings, but from a consciousness of their
superiority. At Marathon the Greeks of the mainland had for the first
time found themselves face to face with the Orientals, and for the first
time realized the gulf that separated them from themselves. Their
triumph was the triumph of freedom and law over slavery and despotism. A
handful of free citizens had defeated a horde of slaves, and this result
was due in no small degree to their athletic training. Witness the
famous charge of Marathon. Critics may throw doubt on its truth: it is
sufficient that Herodotus supposed it possible. An army charging a
distance of eight furlongs over ground that would try any cross-country
runner! No wonder the Persians regarded the Greeks as madmen. The mere
existence of such a story is proof enough of the athletic training of
the nation. Moreover, the sight of the long-haired, effeminate Persians,
whose bodies were not hardened by exercise and tanned by exposure to the
air, seems to have impressed itself indelibly on the national
imagination. Hence the extraordinary popularity during the years that
followed of all those military and athletic exercises which we see so
constantly depicted on the red-figured vases. We must remember that at
Athens this training was for the most part voluntary. It was only during
the two years’ training of the epheboi that the state undertook the
education of its members. Yet from this time the palaestra and gymnasium
became the resort of all classes and all ages. And what was true of
Athens, was true, we may feel sure, of the rest of Greece. For a time
Athenian influence prevailed everywhere. The old Spartan pre-eminence
had passed away, and even in athletics Athens had become the school of
Greece. If Athens produced few victors in the games, she at least set an
example in physical training. “Meet is it that from Athens a fashioner
of athletes come,” says Pindar of the Athenian Menander who trained
Pytheas of Aegina for a Nemean victory, won probably in 481 or 479
B.C.[114] The effect of this national athletic movement is seen in the
great games. The lists of the victors at Olympia, or the lists of those
for whom Bacchylides and Pindar sang, are representative of the length
and breadth of Greece from Rhodes to Agrigentum, from Cyrene to
Thasos.[115] Finally, the national rejoicing over the victory of Plataea
could find no fitter expression than the founding, at that city, of a
new athletic festival, the Eleutheria.

Before we consider the individual writers of epinikia two points may be
noticed which are common to all poems of this class. In the first place,
the epinikion was essentially Panhellenic in its theme and also in its
structure. The hymn itself consisted of three parts—an allusion to the
victory, a legend suggested by the victor’s home or lineage, or by the
locality of the festival, and some moral reflections or advice. The
heroes and gods of the legends had for the most part lost their local
character and become the common property of the race, and the poet, by
coupling the present with the past, thereby proclaimed the continuity
and unity of Hellas. Secondly, the epinikion was aristocratic. The
victors whom the poet praised were princes and nobles, who competed for
pure love of sport, and for whom athletics were in no sense a
profession, nor even the chief occupation of their lives. Life was not
all sport in Greece at this period, and these men did not shirk their
duties, but played their part with honour in the more serious contests
of war and politics.

Of the epinikia of Simonides only a few fragments survive. To these we
may add several epigrams of somewhat doubtful authenticity. Little more
was known of Bacchylides till a few years ago the discovery of an
Egyptian papyrus by Drs. Grenfell and Hunt restored to us, besides other
poems, large portions of thirteen of his epinikia. Bacchylides came from
an island of athletes: his own family seems to have been athletic, his
grandfather is said to have been distinguished as an athlete, and his
uncle was the poet Simonides. He dwells with intense delight on the
details of the games, the light foot and strong hands of the victor, the
whirlwind rush of the chariots, the cheers of the spectators, the
triumphal rejoicings at the victor’s home. But of the deeper meaning,
the spirit of the games, we learn little from him.

With Pindar it is different. He is a prophet with a theory of life which
he applies to everything of which he sings, to the stories of gods and
heroes, or to the deeds of men. He has, too, a high conception of the
poet’s office, which is to give to all excellence that immortal fame
which should be the chief incentive to all noble deeds. It has been said
that to be an athlete and the father of athletes is for Pindar the
highest reach of human ambition. The criticism is unfair for two
reasons. In the first place, it takes account only of a portion of
Pindar’s work. He is said to have written poems of ten different
classes, most of them connected with the worship of the gods. Of nine of
these classes we possess but a few fragments; only the epinikia have
survived. In the epinikia the poet’s theme is necessarily the praise of
winners at the games, in other words the praise of youth, and early
manhood. But Pindar himself recognizes clearly that every age has its
own excellence. The virtues of the old are good counsel and prudence,
those of youth are courage and endurance. “By trial is the issue
manifest,”[116] and the virtues of youth are proved in battle,[117] or
in the peaceful contests of the games, which are, as we have seen, the
training of the citizen for the sterner contests of war. Secondly, the
word “athlete” is ambiguous. It suggests too much the professional
athlete of a later age, the man who, from selfish and mercenary motives,
devoted his whole life to athletics and who, as Euripides tells us, was
after his prime “useless as a worn-out coat.” But the well-born youths
and princes for whom Pindar sang were actuated by no mercenary motives,
but by that pure love of physical effort and of competition which is
natural to all healthy youth. “The shepherd, and the ploughman, the
fowler, and he whom the sea feedeth, strive but to keep fierce famine
from their bellies; but whoso in the games or in war hath won delightful
fame, receiveth the highest of rewards in fair words of citizens and of

What then are the qualities of Pindar’s athlete? They are summed up in
that most typical of all his athletic odes, the 11th _Olympian_, in
honour of Agesidamus of Epizephyrian Locri, the winner of the boys’
boxing match in the great Ol. 76. “If one be born with excellent gifts,
then may another who sharpeneth his natural edge, speed him, God
helping, to an exceeding weight of glory. Without toil there have
triumphed a very few.”

Firstly and above all the athlete must be born “with excellent gifts.”
Strength and beauty are the gifts of Zeus, of the graces, of fate. They
are bestowed especially on members of ancient and honourable families,
and Pindar as a true aristocrat delights to enumerate the great deeds of
the victor’s ancestors in war and sport. He has, too, to the full, the
artist’s appreciation of physical beauty, and he never tires of
describing it. But physical beauty must be matched by beautiful deeds;
the athlete must not shame his beauty. Natural gifts imply the duty of
developing them, and excellence can only be attained, God helping, by
“cost and toil.”[119] Here, as Professor Gildersleeve has well said,
Pindar gives a moral dignity to athletics; for the cost and toil are
undertaken not by compulsion or for selfish motives but for fame. Even
the desire for fame is not selfish. Victory is a delight and honour to
the victor’s city, to his family, even to his dead ancestors. Moreover,
the true sportsman “delights” in the toil and cost.

[Illustration: Fig. 18. Charioteer. Delphi. (_Greek Sculpture_, Fig.

The expense of competing in the chariot and horse races was naturally
far heavier than that of competing in athletic events; yet even the
latter involved considerable sacrifice of time and money, and the
services of the famous trainers mentioned by the poets must have been
dearly bought. The toil, too, was not unaccompanied by risk. More than
two-thirds of Pindar’s victors won their crowns in wrestling, boxing, or
the pankration, events which involved no little danger to limb, if not
to life. The chariot-race had been equally dangerous in days when the
owners drove their own chariots. In Pindar’s time this was no longer the
rule. We could hardly expect a Hieron or a Gelon to compete in person,
any more than we could expect to find one of our own horse owners riding
his own horse in the Derby. Yet we still find the owner occasionally
acting as charioteer,[120] and more frequently still some son or younger
member of his family.[121] Such, it seems likely, was the aristocratic
youth whose bronze statue has been recently discovered by the French at
Delphi[122] (Fig. 18). The element of risk must always add a zest to
sport, and it certainly does in Pindar’s eyes. “Deeds of no risks,” he
says, “are honourless whether done among men or among hollow
ships.”[123] It follows then that the most necessary qualities for an
athlete are courage and endurance. On the latter virtue Pindar, like his
countrymen generally, insists even more than on courage, perhaps because
the Greeks felt the need of it more. Heracles for example, Pindar’s
ideal athletic hero, is a “man of unbending spirit.” Yet neither
physical strength nor endurance is sufficient without skill, and skill
can only be obtained by constant practice under skilful teachers.

In the old days athletic skill had been handed down in noble families
from father to son; such families still existed. Lampon of Aegina, the
father of two athletes, Phylacidas and Pytheas,[124] is described as a
“whetstone among athletes,” bestowing practice on all that he does, and
exhorting his sons to follow the precept of Hesiod, “Practice perfects
the deed.” His son Phylacidas, too, is commended for his training of his
younger brother Pytheas. More often, however, the services of a
professional trainer were called in. Thus Pytheas owed his victory
largely to the Athenian trainer Menander. But though training can help
to develop natural gifts, without natural gifts it can do little. “The
natural,” says Pindar, “is ever best.”[125]

But when athlete and trainer have done their best, the issue still rests
in the hands of the gods. Pindar, like Aeschylus, is deeply religious,
and regards the gods as the moral rulers of the world. Every good gift
of mind or body, every excellence comes from the gods, and victory is
bestowed on those who are pleasing to them. Man wins their favour partly
by piety, by observance of their festivals and offerings at their
altars, but still more by such conduct as averts their jealousy. Their
jealousy is excited by all excess, by pride and insolence; it is
appeased by that attitude of mind which is expressed by that
untranslatable and indefinable word αἰδώς. Aidos is the direct opposite
of ὕβρις or insolence; it is the feeling of respect for what is due to
the gods, to one’s fellowmen, to oneself, a feeling that begets a like
feeling towards oneself in others. It is the spirit of reverence, of
modesty, of courtesy. Above all it is the sense of honour, and as such
inspires the athlete and the soldier, distinguishing them from the bully
and the oppressor. Strength may tempt its owner to abuse it; success may
engender “braggart insolence.”[126] But aidos puts into men’s hearts
“valour and the joy of battle.”[127] Aidos, mark, not passion, aidos,
the child of forethought, and therefore the true man feels for his might
“aidos,” which prevents him from abusing it.[128] Hence while the bully
inspires terror and loathing, the warrior and the athlete win in the
sight of citizens and strangers grace and honour (αἰδοία χάρις).[129]

In sport aidos is that scrupulous sense of honour and fairness, which is
of the essence of that much abused word “a sportsman.” No sports demand
so high a sense of honour as boxing and wrestling, the events which,
with the pankration, were most popular in Greece, and no sports are
therefore so liable to abuse and corruption. It is aidos which makes a
man a “straight fighter,” εὐθυμάχας, the epithet with which Pindar
describes the boxer Diagoras of Rhodes, “who walks in the straight path
that abhors insolence.”[130] The commercial spirit is incompatible with
this feeling. “Aidos is stolen away by secret gains,”[131] says Pindar
in his praise of Chromius of Aetna. Was he thinking of the scandal
aroused a few years before by Astylus of Croton when for the sake of
gain he proclaimed himself a Syracusan? It is tempting to suppose so.
The resentment that this conduct caused was at least a healthy sign.
Further, aidos is akin to and includes the principle of self-control,
σωφροσύνη, which is implied in Pindar’s favourite doctrine of the
mean,[132] and which plays so important a part in the philosophy of the
next century. The self-control of the athlete was a commonplace, but
aidos is something more subtle, more indefinable, more effective than
any rule or principle; and the comprehension of it helps us to
understand how even sports which seem at first sight brutal are yet
under the special patronage of those fair-haired graces who, in
Professor Gildersleeve’s expressive phrase, “give and grace the
victory,” “from whom come unto men all pleasant things and sweet, and
the wisdom of man and his beauty and the splendour of his fame.”[133]

Such an ideal could not fail to exercise a lasting influence on
athletics. Literature and art increased the popularity of athletics by
appealing not merely with new force to the old motives of patriotism and
religion but also to the growing aesthetic feeling of the race. To this
may be ascribed the importance which the Greeks ascribed to style and
grace. It was not sufficient, for example, to throw an opponent in
wrestling, it had to be done in style and with skill. The cult of style
grew sometimes, it would seem, almost into affectation. Aelian tells a
story of a trainer, Hippomachus, who hearing the crowd applaud a pupil
of his for throwing his opponent, at once chastised him, saying that he
must have done something wrong, for the people would never have cheered
a scientific throw.[134] We do not know the date of Hippomachus, but the
story undoubtedly illustrates a tendency which actually existed.

The same love of beauty must have helped to check the growth of
specialization with its exaggerated and one-sided development, and also
to preserve the purity of sport against the influence of
professionalism. Thanks largely to this ideal Olympia maintained her
prestige, and to a great extent her high standard of athletic honour,
long after the liberty of Greece had become a memory, and her gods a
laughing-stock of the satirist. An inscription of the reign of Hadrian,
discovered at Olympia, is a striking illustration of this vitality. It
records a decree in honour of T. Claudius Rufus, a pankratiast of
Smyrna, who, though matched in the final heat of the pankration with an
opponent who had drawn a bye in the preceding heat, fought on till
nightfall, and left the contest drawn.[135] The decree relates how he
had resided at Olympia for the necessary course of training so that his
σωφροσύνη was recognized by all men, how he had trained according to the
traditional customs of the games, and had in the stadium given an
exhibition worthy of Olympian Zeus, and of his own training and
reputation, in recognition of which the Eleans had voted him the right
of erecting his statue in the Altis. The decree is perhaps somewhat
fulsome, and suggests that such examples of σωφροσύνη must have been
exceptional at the time. Yet it shows that the memory at least of the
old ideal survived even under the empire and was still cherished at

We have already seen what an impulse was given to athletics and to the
Panhellenic festivals by the Persian wars. No festival was more
Panhellenic than that of Olympia, and no place felt more keenly than
Elis the invigorating effects of the new spirit of unity and of freedom.
Elis had played an inglorious part in the national struggle. The narrow
and unprogressive oligarchy showed the same lack of energy and
initiative which they had shown in the management of the Olympic
festival during the sixth century. The Elean contingent arrived at
Plataea too late to take part in the battle. Returning home full of
bitter self-reproach they at once determined to put an end to the old
régime, and banished the leaders who had been responsible for the
fiasco. This was the beginning of the Synoecism of Elis which was not
finally completed till 471 B.C., when the government of the scattered,
unwalled villages was for the first time centred in the newly founded
city state of Elis. The change was facilitated by the eclipse of Spartan
prestige in the Peloponnese, while the growing influence of Athens was
clearly shown both in these political changes and in the outburst of
artistic activity at Olympia which followed the founding of Elis. But
the new order could not fail to excite violent opposition, especially
among the conservative folk of Pisatis and Triphylia, and their
opposition culminated in a civil war which only ended about the year 470
or 469 with the devastation of the whole district by the Eleans.

The opposition of Pisatis was due partly to the transference of the
political centre to Elis, perhaps in a greater degree to the new régime
inaugurated at Olympia. The old dual control of the festival by Elis and
Pisatis was, as we have seen already, passing away; possibly its
death-blow was given by the banishment of the aristocrats, some of whom
may have had hereditary connexion with the festival. At all events, from
the time of Plataea the two Hellanodicae who represented the dual
control were replaced by a board of nine,[136] and permanent quarters
were provided for the new administration by the enlargement of the
Bouleuterion, the south wing of which was added about this time. The
increase in the number of officials may have been rendered desirable by
the increasing strenuousness of the competitions. The nine were divided
into three groups of three each, in charge respectively of the
horse-races, the pentathlon, and the other athletic events, an excellent
arrangement which at once commends itself to the modern athletic mind.
Yet it seems more likely that the number nine was dictated by political
considerations, and the fact that there were nine tribes of the Eleans.
It was a change to a sort of popular representation, and its popular
character is further marked by the fact that these officials were
elected by lot, a democratic institution which can hardly have belonged
to the earlier régime.

This change first took effect in Ol. 76, and possibly was introduced in
view of that great national Olympiad. It was on this occasion, according
to a popular story, that Themistocles himself appeared and received such
an ovation from the crowd that the athletes themselves were neglected.
The national character of this Olympiad assured the success of the new
order. In the following festival the competition was so great that the
pankration could not be decided before nightfall, and it was decided
from this date to extend and rearrange the festival. In the 77th
Olympiad, too, a tenth Hellanodicas was added apparently to represent
the newly conquered district of Triphylia. This number remained
unchanged till Ol. 103, when, the number of tribes having been raised to
twelve in consequence of a still further extension of territory
southwards, a corresponding change was made in the number of the
Hellanodicae. The war with Arcadia which ensued reduced the number for a
time to eight, but in Ol. 108 the number was restored to ten and no
further change was made. These Hellanodicae must be regarded as the
executive officers of the Elean Council, to whom in case of doubt or
dissatisfaction there was a right of appeal.

The intimate connexion between the political changes in Elis and the
Olympic festival can be best realized from Pausanias’ account of the new
city.[137] Everything in Elis seems to have been planned purely and
simply with a view to the festival. The agora was nothing more or less
than a training-ground for horses, it was a large open square or oblong
surrounded by colonnades with no other ornaments than a few altars to
Zeus and other gods, and even these so constructed as to be easily
removable. Close to this agora, appropriately called the hippodrome,
were no less than three gymnasia with running tracks, and rings for
boxing or wrestling, and conveniently connected with agora and gymnasium
was the Hellanodiceon, or headquarters of the Hellanodicae. Here the
latter had to reside for ten months before the festival, receiving
instruction in all the ancient usages of the games from the Guardians of
the Lavs (Nomophylakes). During the last month before the games they
themselves were engaged in superintending the practice of the athletes,
who spent the last thirty days of their training at Elis, and in
classifying men and horses according to age, a matter of no little
difficulty when no registers of births were kept. The principal
buildings of Elis city were all connected with the games, and though we
cannot tell the date of those which Pausanias saw, there can be little
doubt that they truly indicate the character of the city from the start.
The agora was typical of the rest, and Pausanias pointedly contrasts it
with the cheerful market-places of Ionian towns. Certainly it cannot
have been an attractive place to live in, and the Eleans never took
kindly to it; indeed many an old-fashioned country gentleman lived and
died without even setting foot in his chief city.[138]

Meanwhile great changes were taking place at Olympia. Its national
character was recognized by the dedication in the Altis, from the spoil
of Plataea, of a colossal bronze statue of Zeus, on the base of which
were inscribed the names of all states which had taken part in the
battles. But the new feeling of national unity found a yet worthier
monument in the whole series of buildings which the new administration
undertook, to render the sacred precinct worthy of its Panhellenic
dignity. Hitherto, as we have seen, various states had been allowed to
secure for themselves points of vantage at the festival by building,
along the foot of the hill of Cronus, treasuries, or communal houses.
Three more of these buildings—the last of them—were added shortly after
Plataea. All these were at the western end of the terrace. One of them
was dedicated by the Syracusans in commemoration of their victory over
the Carthaginians at Himera; another was built by the Sicyonians,
possibly on the site of an older foundation, containing the great bronze
treasure-chests dedicated by Myron; the builders of the third are
unknown, but it has been plausibly suggested that they were the Samians.
Sicyon had played an important part in the war with Persia both by land
and sea, Samos was closely connected with the victory at Mycale, and it
is tempting to imagine that both these treasuries were memorials of the
national victory. This, however, is mere conjecture; what is certain is,
that these treasuries were built shortly after Plataea and that from
this date the building of such treasuries ceases abruptly. Henceforth
the Eleans took into their own hands the embellishment of the Altis, and
their first work was in connexion with the treasuries.[139]

The loose nature of the soil had rendered the building of the
westernmost treasuries a matter of considerable difficulty. Accordingly,
the Eleans constructed nine rows of stone steps extending continuously
from the western end of the Heraeum along the whole length of the
treasury terrace. These steps not only served as a retaining wall to the
treasuries but furnished a capacious stand from which thousands of
spectators could view the games and sacrifices, which still centred
round the altar of Zeus. Shortly afterwards was built the additional
wing of the Bouleuterion mentioned above.

The next move of the Eleans was to provide a temple worthy of Olympian
Zeus, and the money for this work was provided from the plunder gained
in Triphylia and Pisatis. The new temple was begun about the year 468
B.C., and perhaps its buildings suggested to Pindar the opening lines of
his 6th Olympian Ode in which he compares the prelude of his song to the
façade of a stately fane. The temple must have been completed about the
time of the defeat of the Athenians and Argives by Sparta at Tanagra in
457; for the Spartans commemorated their victory by a golden shield
which was placed on the summit of the temple. It would be out of place
here to attempt any description of the temple: we may notice, however,
that while the architect Libon was an Elean, the great chryselephantine
statue of Zeus afterwards erected in it was the masterpiece of Pheidias,
and Pausanias ascribes some of the sculptural decorations to the
Athenian sculptors Paeonius and Alcamenes, though modern authorities
generally discredit the statement. And just as Pheidias in his Zeus
tried to represent the highest ideal of Greek manhood, so in the lesser
works, the mythological scenes of the pediments and metopes, the
chariot-race of Pelops and Oenomaus, the battle of the Lapiths and
Centaurs, the labours of Heracles, we have in reality various renderings
of the theme which inspires all the art of this period, the triumph of
the Greek over the barbarian, of trained skill over undisciplined force.
Thus the temple of Zeus was truly a national memorial of the Persian

The new temple was built on the site of the ancient grove, and its
building had no doubt interfered with anything in the nature of fence or
hedge which may have bounded the sacred grove. Perhaps we may assign to
this period the idea of marking out the Altis in the rough quadrilateral
shape which has been revealed by later ruins. This plan seems to be
implied in the building of the first colonnade at the eastern end of and
at right angles, to the treasury terrace. This colonnade was built about
the middle of the fifth century, and was obviously intended for the
convenience of spectators at the festival, commanding, as it did, a full
view of the ancient altar and of the east end of the newly built temple
of Zeus. Its building necessitated a change in the athletic

The foot-races could no longer take place near the altar, and a new
permanent “dromos,” or race-course, was provided to the east of the
colonnade. This may have been partly a concession to the growing demands
of professional athletes, but the new race-course was still of the
simplest. The ground was approximately levelled, the course was measured
and perhaps marked by a permanent line of stone slabs at either end, and
water-channels were provided to carry the water from the west of the
Altis to the race-course, for the convenience of spectators and athletes
alike. Perhaps permanent seats were provided for the Hellanodicae, and
for the priestess of Demeter Chamyne, who had a place of honour opposite
them. The rest of the spectators had no seats, but reclined or stood on
the slopes of the hill of Cronus, or else on the flat plain that
stretched between the stadium and the Alpheus.

Whether all the athletic events or only the races were transferred to
the new course is uncertain. The only evidence on the point is contained
in a passage of Xenophon, describing the battle which took place at
Olympia in 364 B.C. In this year the wrestling of the pentathlon
undoubtedly took place near the altar as it had done in Pindar’s time;
but it is not quite clear whether this was the usual thing or
exceptional. In the dearth of evidence it is a matter for individual
judgment, and my own opinion is that only the foot-races and throwing
the diskos and javelin were transferred to the new dromos, and that
boxing, wrestling, and the pankration continued to take place in the
triangular space commanded by the treasury terrace and the colonnade.
The treasury terrace and colonnade formed the theatre of which Xenophon
speaks, and certainly offered far better accommodation for spectators of
such events than was possible in the stadium proper, at least until it
was improved and banked up after the battle of Chaeronea.[140]

About the same time improvements were made in the hippodrome. Hitherto
the arrangements for the equestrian events must have been as simple as
for the athletics. But now a permanent hippodrome was provided south of
the stadium, and an elaborate starting-gate for the chariots was
constructed by the artist Cleoetas.[141] The chariots were arranged in
pairs opposite each other along the sides of a triangle, the apex of
which pointed down the course. In the centre of this triangle was an
altar of Poseidon, on which stood a bronze eagle. At the apex was a
brazen dolphin. At the moment of starting this dolphin fell to the
ground and the eagle rose, thus announcing the start to the spectators.
At the same time the ropes in front of the pair of chariots nearest to
the base were withdrawn. As they drew level with the next pair, the next
ropes were withdrawn, and so on till the whole field were fairly

We may notice here a work which, though perhaps of somewhat later date,
illustrates the Panhellenic character of Olympia. The old tripod on
which the branches of sacred olive tree for the prizes were placed, was
replaced by an ivory and gold table, the work of Colotes of
Heraclea,[142] a disciple of Pheidias, who assisted the latter in
constructing the chryselephantine statue of Zeus. The table was kept in
the Heraeum and at the time of the festival was placed beside the seat
of the Hellanodicae in the stadium. On one side were representations of
Hera and Zeus, of the Mother of the Gods, Hermes, Apollo, and Artemis.
On the other side were figures of Pluto and Persephone, recalling those
ancient Chthonic cults which had existed at Olympia from time
immemorial, and of which many traces survive, especially to the east of
the Altis.

The activity of the Eleans had, as we have seen, put an end to
architectural dedications by other states; but the piety of the Greek
world found expression in the dedication of statues and votive
offerings. During the nine Olympiads which followed the Persian wars
476-444 B.C., no less than thirty-five statues of victors were set up on
the Altis, while in the next nine Olympiads the number drops to
twenty.[143] These statistics bear out the date of the change in Greek
athletics which will be discussed in the next chapter.

Footnote 101:

  A. Furtwängler, _Die Bedeutung der Gymnastik in der griechischen

Footnote 102:

  x. ll. 21 ff. (Bergk).

Footnote 103:

  _Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 25; cp. _B.C.H._, 1907, p. 187.

Footnote 104:

  _Greek Sculpture_, Figs. 34, 35, 36.

Footnote 105:

  Cp. a fine archaic bronze diskobolos in the Metropolitan Museum of New
  York, published in the _Museum Bulletin_, iii. p. 33; _vide infra_
  Fig. 83.

Footnote 106:

  Such attributes are common in bronzes, cp. Pausanias v. 26, 3; 27, 12;
  vi. 3, 9; 10, 4; 13, 7.

Footnote 107:

  Paus. vi. 10, 1-3.

Footnote 108:

  Paus. i. 23, 9.

Footnote 109:

  Cp. Walter Pater, _Greek Studies_, pp. 281 ff.

Footnote 110:

  Vide Krause, _Gym._ pp. 943 ff., a criticism of the exaggerated view
  put forward in Becker’s _Charicles_.

Footnote 111:

  Cp. Aristoph. _Nub._ 995—

                                              ἄλλο τε μηδὲν
          αἰσχρὸν ποιεῖν, ὅ τι τῆς Αἰδοῦς μέλλει τἄγαλμ’ ἀναπλήσειν.

  The Spartans considered Αἰδῶς a goddess, Xen. _Symp._ 8, 36.

Footnote 112:

  _Vide infra_, Figs. 167 ff.

Footnote 113:

  For the following sections _vide_ Jebb’s _Bacchylides_, Introduction.

Footnote 114:

  Pindar, _N._ v. 49.

Footnote 115:

  _Vide_ the list of Olympic victors for Ol. 75-83 found on an
  Oxyrhyncus papyrus. Grenfell and Hunt, _Ox. Pap._ ii. 222; C. Robert,
  _Hermes_, xxxv. pp. 141 ff.

Footnote 116:

  _N._ iii. 70.

Footnote 117:

  _P._ ii. 63.

Footnote 118:

  _I._ i. 47 ff.

Footnote 119:

  _I._ i. 42, iv. 57, v. 10.

Footnote 120:

  Herodotus of Thebes, _I._ i.

Footnote 121:

  Thrasybulus, _P._ vi.; _I._ ii.

Footnote 122:

  _Greek Sculpture_, Fig. 138. The identification of this statue is
  uncertain. It has been suggested that the word “Polyzalos” on the
  basis is an adjective, and that the victory recorded is that of
  Arcesilas of Cyrene. This view has been assailed in _Ath. Mitth._
  xxxiv. by A. D. Keramopoullos, who believes that the statue was vowed
  by Gelon and actually set up by Polyzalos.

Footnote 123:

  _O._ vi. 9.

Footnote 124:

  _I._ iv., v.; _N._ v.

Footnote 125:

  _O._ ix. 100.

Footnote 126:

  _O._ i. 56, xiii. 10; _N._ i. 65; _I._ iii. 2.

Footnote 127:

  _O._ vii. 44.

Footnote 128:

  _P._ iv. 173.

Footnote 129:

  _O._ vii. 89; cp. vi. 76, where χάρις is αἰδοία as the giver of αἴδως.

Footnote 130:

  _O._ vii. 15, 90.

Footnote 131:

  _N._ ix. 33.

Footnote 132:

  σωφροσύνη does not occur in Pindar; σώφρων only twice: _P._ iii. 63,
  of Cheiron; _I._ vii. 27, of the sons of Aeacus. For the meaning of
  αἰδώς cp. Gilbert Murray, _The Rise of the Greek Epic_, p. 88.

Footnote 133:

  _O._ xiv. 5.

Footnote 134:

  Aelian, _V.H._ ii. 6.

Footnote 135:

  _Ol. Ins._ 54.

Footnote 136:

  Paus. v. 9, 5.

Footnote 137:

  vi. 23.

Footnote 138:

  Polybius iv. 73.

Footnote 139:

  L. Dyer, “The Olympian Theatron” in _J.H.S._ xxviii. p. 265.

Footnote 140:

  L. Dyer, _l.c._

Footnote 141:

  Paus. vi. 20, 14. _Vide infra_, Fig. 164.

Footnote 142:

  Paus. v. 20, 2; Pliny, _N.H._ xxxv. 54.

Footnote 143:

  These figures are taken from the lists given in Hyde’s _De
  Olympionicarum Statuis_.

                               CHAPTER VI

Literature and art purified and refined athletics for a while, but at
the same time by encouraging competition intensified these very evils
which result from excessive competition, and when the Panhellenic
movement had spent its force, and strife and faction once more resumed
their sway in the Greek world, the decline of athletics was rapid.
Nowhere is excess more dangerous than in athletics, and the charm of
poetry and art must not blind us to that element of exaggeration which
existed in the hero-worship of the athlete. The nemesis of excess in
athletics is specialization, specialization begets professionalism, and
professionalism is the death of all true sport.

We have seen how even before the time of Pindar the growth of
competition had developed athletics beyond their legitimate sphere of
exercise and recreation till they became an end in themselves, and how
success in the great games demanded an undue expenditure of time and of
money. During the fifth century specialization made rapid progress in
the hands of professional trainers, whose business it was to train
competitors for the great games.[144]

The earliest trainers were boxers and wrestlers, who probably confined
themselves to giving instruction in these exercises. Such training was
of course necessary and useful, but shortly after the Persian wars it
was discovered that excellence in any particular event could be secured
by special training and special diet, and the trainer began to take upon
himself the whole direction of his pupil’s life. This specialized
artificial training was good neither for the athlete nor for the nation.

[Illustration: Fig. 19. Apoxyomenos. Rome, Vatican. (_Greek Sculpture_,
Fig. 98.)]

The aim of the earlier training had been to produce a harmonious
development of the whole body. The new training, by prescribing
concentration on some particular exercise, produced a one-sided
development. “The runner,” says Socrates, “has over-developed his legs,
and the boxer the upper part of his body,”[145] and he humorously
suggests that he finds dancing a better form of exercise than athletics.
In another passage of the _Memorabilia_, Socrates compliments a
sculptor, whom under the name of Cleiton we may perhaps recognize as
Polycleitus,[146] on his power of representing the different physical
types produced by different forms of sport. Unfortunately we have not
sufficient material to enable us to verify this statement for the
sculpture of the end of the fifth century. But some idea of the
diversity of type produced may be obtained by comparing two somewhat
later works, the Apoxyomenos, formerly ascribed to Lysippus (Fig. 19),
and the Agias, a genuine work of Lysippus, recently discovered at
Delphi[147] (Fig. 20). In the former we see the thoroughbred type of the
runner with his length of limb and fine ankles, in the latter the
sturdier, heavier type of the pankratiast. Neither of these two statues,
however, is open to the charge of one-sided development which Socrates
brings against the athletes of his time, and which would probably be
more noticeable in inferior works of art. For this we must turn to the
vases. A Panathenaic vase in the British Museum, dated 336 B.C., shows
us the typical boxer of the period, with his clumsy, bulky body and
small coarse head[148] (Fig. 135). A comparison of these boxers with the
athletes on the red-figured vases affords convincing proof of the change
which had come over athletics.

[Illustration: Fig. 20. Statue of Agias by Lysippus. Delphi. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 141.)]

The old athlete had lived a simple, natural, open-air life. Training in
the strict sense of the word he had none. His diet had been mainly
vegetarian. Like the diet of the country-folk in Greece at all times, it
consisted mainly of figs and cheese from the baskets, of porridge and
meal-cakes with only such meat as occasion offered.[149] It has been
often stated that a diet of figs and cheese was prescribed by the law of
the Olympic festival, and various fanciful interpretations of this
custom have been suggested. It is possible that certain forms of food
were forbidden to competitors at particular festivals; thus at Delphi we
know that the introduction of wine into the stadium was forbidden, and
that any breach of this rule was punished by a fine, half of which was
paid to the god, the other half to the informer.[150] But such
prohibitions were of the nature of a religious taboo, and there is no
reason for supposing that the diet of athletes was otherwise regulated
by any law. Indeed we have direct evidence to the contrary, for the
introduction of a meat diet in the fifth century is ascribed to two
private individuals—to Dromeus of Stymphalus, a runner who twice won the
long race at Olympia in Ols. 80 and 81, and to Pythagoras of Samos, who
trained Eurymenes, the winner of the boxing in Ol. 77.[151]

The introduction of a meat diet was a momentous change: it created an
artificial distinction between the life of an athlete and the life of
the ordinary man, who ate meat but sparingly and only as a relish. Its
object, of course, was to produce the bulk of body and weight which are
important considerations in boxing and wrestling, and which were
especially so in Greece inasmuch as classification by weight was unknown
in those competitions. Boxing, wrestling, and the pankration were, as I
have stated, the most popular and most honoured of all the events in
Greek sport, and it is in these events that specialization and
professionalism first made their appearance, and that their results were
most fatal. To produce the necessary bulk of body the trainer prescribed
for his pupils vast quantities of meat, which had to be counteracted by
violent exercise. Eating, sleeping, and exercise occupied the athlete’s
whole time, and left little time or leisure for any other pursuits.[152]
“Socrates,” says Xenophon, “disapproved of such a life as incompatible
with the cultivation of the soul.” Even from a physical point of view
this system of training was vicious and unscientific. It might produce
weight and strength, but it did so at the sacrifice of activity and
health. In the case of the young it tended to stunt the growth and
destroy all beauty of form; and Aristotle, speaking no doubt of his own
time, remarks on the fact that the boy victors at Olympia rarely
repeated their successes as men.[153] Moreover, the athlete’s strength
was useless for practical purposes. Epaminondas, we are told, when he
came of age and began to frequent the palaestra, devoted himself to such
exercises as produced activity rather than great strength, considering
that the latter was of little use for war. So he exercised himself in
running, and in wrestling “only so far as he could stand on his feet,”
but he spent most of his time in the practice of arms.[154] Equally
unsuitable for war was the habit of life produced by athletic training.
“The athlete’s nature,” says Plato, “is sleepy, and the least variation
from his routine is liable to cause him serious illness.”[155] Such a
man is incapable of standing the various vicissitudes of a campaign, and
therefore we find athletics condemned not only by philosophers like
Plato and Aristotle but by generals such as Epaminondas, Alexander, and
Philopoemen.[156] “The athlete,” says Euripides, “is the slave of his
jaw and of his belly.”

Medical science confirmed the verdict of the philosopher and the
soldier. Hippocrates of Cos, “the father of medicine,” and a
contemporary of Herodicus and Gorgias, condemned the high state of
training produced by athletics as a dangerous and unstable condition of
body.[157] To live in a constant state of training is bad for any man,
and especially under a system so unscientific as that of the Greeks.

There was another reason for the condemnation of athletics by military
authorities. The old Homeric sports had been practical and military: the
system of physical education which had grown out of them had produced
that all-round development which made a man fit for all the duties of
life in peace or war; but the new specialized education produced only a
one-sided development, and at the same time was so exacting as to leave
no time for the practice of military exercises. Plato was an ardent
advocate of physical training. Trained by his father Ariston, who was a
distinguished athlete, he had won victories in wrestling at Delphi,
Nemea, and the Isthmus, and is even stated, though with less
probability, to have won the Olympic crown. But the philosopher could
find no place for the athletics of his day in his ideal state, and he
therefore, in the _Laws_,[158] proposes a new and more practical
gymnastic based on the requirements of war. From the age of six, boys,
and girls too, are to learn to ride, to learn the use of the bow, the
javelin, and the sling, and to learn to use the left hand as well as the
right. In wrestling and boxing all tricks invented “out of a vain spirit
of competition” are to be eschewed and only such forms practised as are
likely to be of service for war. The dances, too, must be military in
character, marches and processions in armour and on horseback, or mimic
contests like the dances of Crete and Sparta. In another passage[159] he
describes the competitions suitable for his ideal state. All foot-races
are to be run in armour, there is to be a long-distance race of sixty
stades in heavy armour, and a still longer race of 100 stades over
mountains and across every sort of country for the light-armed archer.
Instead of wrestling and the pankration there are to be conflicts in
armour, and for the light-armed troops combats with bows, and javelins,
and slings under a code of laws drawn up by military experts. The
military character of Plato’s scheme indicates the philosopher’s opinion
on the unpractical character of the existing athletics.

An interesting development of athletic training which has its parallel
in our own day was the rise of “medical gymnastics.” The valetudinarian
school of gymnastic originated with Herodicus of Selymbria, a
contemporary of Socrates whom Plato ridicules for corrupting the arts of
gymnastic and medicine.[160] “By a combination of training and doctoring
he found out a way of torturing, first and chiefly, himself, and,
secondly, the rest of the world, by the invention of a lingering death.
Having a mortal disease, which he perpetually tended, he passed his
whole life as a valetudinarian.” By the introduction of elaborate rules
for eating and drinking he corrupted athletics, and is justly described
by Plato as a gymnastic sophist, a name that might well be applied to
many of the advertizing quacks of our own day. In this respect he is
coupled by Plato with the somewhat earlier trainer, Iccus of Tarentum,
who won the pentathlon at Olympia in Ol. 76, and who was famed for his
temperance and self-restraint.[161] These trainers are credited with the
invention of medical massage (ἰατραλειπτική), a development of the
massage applied to athletes before and after training by the ἀλειπτής.
Alexander had in his suite an Athenian Athenophanes, whose duty it was
to attend his master in the bath and anoint him with oil.[162]

Of the rich rewards lavished upon successful athletes we have spoken in
a previous chapter. In the _Plutus_ of Aristophanes Hermes, having
deserted the gods, takes service with Plutus as the “presider over
contests.” “For,” says he, “there is no service more profitable to
Plutus than holding contests in music and athletics.”[163] Plato knows
no life more blessed from a material point of view than that of an
Olympic victor, and in the myth of Er he describes the soul of Atalanta
choosing the body of an athlete on seeing “the great rewards bestowed on
the athlete.” Still more significant is the story of the Rhodian
Dorieus, one of the famous Diagoridae. Banished from Rhodes by the
Athenians he went to Thurii, and, as a commander of a Thurian ship, took
part in the war against Athens. Taken prisoner by the Athenians in 407
B.C. he was set free without ransom in consideration of the fame which
he and his family had won at Olympia.[164]

The result of specialization is professionalism. There is a point in any
sport or game where it becomes over-developed, and competition too
severe, for it to serve its true purpose of providing exercise or
recreation for the many. It becomes the monopoly of the few who can
afford the time or money to acquire excellence, while the rest,
despairing of any measure of success, prefer the role of spectators.
When the rewards of success are sufficient there arises a professional
class, and when professionalism is once established the amateur can no
longer compete with the professional.

Before the close of the fifth century the word ἀθλητής had already come
to denote the professional athlete as opposed to the amateur or ἰδιωτής.
Xenophon relates a conversation between Socrates and an ill-developed
youth, in which the philosopher taunts the latter with his very
“unprofessional” condition of body.[165] Athletics were out of fashion
at that time among the smart young men of Athens, who, like Alcibiades,
disdained to compete with their inferiors. “Of course,” replies the
youth indignantly, “for I am not a professional, I am an amateur.”
Whereupon the philosopher reads him a lecture on the duty of developing
the body to its utmost. “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the
matter of physical training: it is part of his profession as a citizen
to keep himself in good condition, ready to serve his state at a
moment’s notice. The instinct of self-preservation demands it likewise:
for how helpless is the state of the ill-trained youth in war or danger!
Finally what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing
the beauty and strength of which his body is capable!” The ideal of
Socrates is the earlier ideal which was already passing away, while the
reply of Epigenes illustrates the change which had taken place in the
character of the athlete and in the popular attitude towards athletics.

At the time of the Persian wars the Greeks had been a nation of
athletes. At the time of the Peloponnesian wars the mass of the people
were no longer athletic. Aristophanes bitterly deplores the change.[166]
At Athens the young men had deserted the palaestra and gymnasium for the
luxurious baths and the market-place; pale-faced and narrow-chested,
they had not even sufficient training to run the torch-race. The labour
of training was distasteful to the Athenians, who, as Thucydides tells
us, preferred to be spectators of the deeds of others rather than doers.
Sparta had long taken little part in athletic competitions, with the
exception of the foot-race, but her rigorous system of education,
brutalizing as it was, saved her at least from the evils of specialized
athletics. Of other parts of Greece we know little; in the richer and
more progressive cities it is probable that life was much the same as at
Athens, while the records of Olympia show that the victors were drawn
more and more from the poorer and less progressive country districts,
from Thessaly, and particularly from the mountains of Arcadia.[167] It
was only when athletics became a profitable profession that the poor but
healthy countryman could afford to compete at the great festivals. The
large number of competitions for boys and youths offered the promising
boxer or wrestler a source of profit from an early age, and at Olympia
these competitions were almost monopolized by the youth of Elis and

The severest indictment of professionalism occurs in the well-known
fragment of Euripides’ lost play, the _Autolycus_. Euripides was no
enemy of sport. His parents had wished to train him as an athlete, and
he had won prizes as a boy at the Eleusinian and the Thesean games. He
is said to have offered himself as a candidate at Olympia, but to have
been disqualified owing to some doubt about his age. Countless allusions
in his writings show his appreciation of all manly sports. But athletic
success could not satisfy his restless and ambitious spirit, and, like
Xenophanes two generations before, he could not be blind to the
unreality of the worship of athletics, and to the evils which it was
producing. “Of all the countless evils throughout Hellas,” he cries,
“there is none worse than the race of athletes.” The evil is not
confined to Athens; it is widespread throughout Hellas. “In youth they
strut about in splendour, the pride of their city, but when bitter old
age comes upon them they are cast aside like threadbare garments.” It is
not the athletes themselves but the nation that is to blame for such
results. “I blame the custom of the Hellenes who gather together to
watch these men, honouring a useless pleasure.” And then, echoing the
words of Xenophanes, he proceeds: “Who ever helped his fatherland by
winning a crown for wrestling or for speed of foot, or hurling the
diskos, or striking a good blow on the jaw? Will they fight the foe with
diskoi in their hands or, driving their fists through the foemen’s
shields, cast them out of their land? Crowns should be given to the good
and wise, to him who guides his city best, a temperate man and just, or
who by his words drives away evil deeds, putting away war and faction.”
How did the Athenians in the theatre receive this daring denunciation of
their idols? Many, at least, with sympathy, and among the number, I
believe, would have been the poet’s inveterate foe, Aristophanes.

While athletics were passing into the hands of professionals and losing
their hold upon the people, the richer classes devoted themselves more
and more to chariot and horse races. These had long been the sport of
tyrants and nobles; especially brilliant were the victories of the
tyrants of Sicily and Italy at Olympia. But the Persian wars gave a
fresh impulse to horse-breeding and riding in Greece. Cavalry and
light-armed troops played a more and more important part in war.
Themistocles, we are told, himself taught his sons to ride, to throw
javelins standing on horseback, and perform other equestrian feats.[168]
At the Panathenaea, besides a variety of races for chariots and horses,
there were parades, processions, and military manœuvres on horseback.
The frieze of the Parthenon bears witness to the grace and skill of the
Athenian horsemen. The horsiness of the fashionable young Athenian is
ridiculed by Aristophanes.[169] He spent large sums on horses, affected
horsy names, and talked of horses all the day long. Alcibiades entered
no less than seven chariots at Olympia in 416 B.C., and obtained first,
second, and fourth places in the race.[170] He celebrated his success by
entertaining the whole assembly at a sumptuous banquet.

At Sparta chariot-racing had long been popular; one Euagoras in the
sixth century had won the chariot-race in three successive Olympiads
with the same team, and King Damaratus himself had won a victory there.
After the Persian wars the Spartans gave increased attention to
horse-breeding; their victories were frequent, and their enthusiasm for
the sport is shown by the story of Lichas. Their victories at the
Panathenaea are proved by the recent discovery at Sparta of a number of
Panathenaic vases representing the chariot-race,[171] and an inscription
detailing the victories of one Damonon in chariot and horse racing
records the fact that his horses were got by his own stallion out of his
own mares.[172] The addiction of the Spartans to chariot-racing did not
meet with the approval of Agesilaus, if we may believe Plutarch’s story
about his sister Cynisca, who won the chariot-race in Ol. 96, 97.

Chariot-racing was, of course, merely a fashionable amusement, and
except so far as it encouraged horse-breeding, of no service for war.
Poorer states could not compete in it at all unless, like Argos, they
entered public chariots or horses.[173] But the chariot-race was a great
attraction to the spectators, and its growing popularity is evidenced by
the introduction of two new races at Olympia and at Delphi. A two-horse
chariot-race was introduced at Olympia in 408 B.C., at Delphi in 398
B.C., a four-horse chariot-race for colts at Olympia in 384 B.C., and at
Delphi in 378 B.C. The introduction of colt-races was of course dictated
by the wish to encourage horse-breeding, in which the country gentlemen
of Elis were greatly interested.

The evil results of professionalism were not long in showing themselves.
When money enters into sport, corruption is sure to follow. It will be
remembered how Astylus of Croton had sold his victory for the favour of
a Sicilian tyrant. In Ol. 97 or 98 the boys’ boxing match was won by
Antipater of Miletus, the first Ionian to have his statue erected at
Olympia as he recorded in the inscription.[174] Some emissaries of
Dionysius of Syracuse had bribed his father to let his son be proclaimed
a Syracusan; but Antipater despised the tyrant’s bribe and proclaimed
himself of Miletus. Not so Sotades of Crete,[175] who, having won the
long race in Ol. 99, in the next Olympiad accepted a bribe from the
Ephesians to proclaim himself an Ephesian, for which offence he was
deservedly banished by his countrymen. Worse, however, than this
transfer of victories was their actual sale. The first instance of such
bribing occurred in Ol. 98 (388 B.C.) when Eupolus of Thessaly[176]
bribed his opponents in boxing to let him win the prize. These were
Agenor of Arcadia, Prytanis of Cyzicus, and Phormio of Halicarnassus,
who had won the boxing in the previous Olympiad. The offence was
discovered, and Eupolus and those who had been bribed by him were
heavily fined by the Eleans. From the fines were made six bronze statues
of Zeus, called Zanes, which were set up at the entrance to the Stadium,
with inscriptions commending the justice of the Eleans, and warning
competitors that “not with money but with speed of foot and strength of
body must prizes be won at Olympia.” The warning apparently had its
effect for a time. It was not till 332 B.C. that another case of bribing
occurred. On this occasion the Athenian Callippus bribed his opponents
in the pentathlon.[177] The guilty parties were fined, but the Athenians
despatched the orator Hyperides to beg the Eleans to remit the fine. His
mission failed, and the Athenians thereupon, with a high hand, refused
to pay, and absented themselves from Olympia till they were compelled to
give in by the Delphic god, who declined to give them any answers until
the fines were paid. Six more Zanes were made out of the money, with
inscriptions similar to the first. It is a high testimonial to the
sanctity of Olympia and the prestige of its authority that cases of
corruption were so rare. Yet the Eleans themselves did not escape
without reproach. In Ol. 96 (396 B.C.) there was a scandal in connection
with the foot-race.[178] Two of the Hellanodicae decided in favour of
Eupolemus of Elis, and the third in favour of Leon of Ambracia. The
latter appealed to the council, who upheld his appeal and punished the
two officials. It seems, however, that an award once given could not be
reversed, and Eupolemus therefore retained his victory, and even
commemorated it by a statue. A few years later, in Ol. 102, there was a
similar scandal with regard to the horse-race which was won by another
Elean Troilus, who owed his victory, says Pausanias, partly to the fact
that he was a Hellanodicas.[179] In consequence of this incident a
regulation was introduced forbidding the Hellanodicae to compete in the
chariot or horse races.

The apparent breakdown in the machinery of Olympia during the early
years of the fourth century is partly due to political circumstances
with which we shall deal shortly. The struggle between Athens and
Sparta, involving the whole Greek world in strife, contributed in no
small degree to the decay of athletics. But when corruption was possible
at Olympia we may be sure that it was rife elsewhere. A class of useless
athletes, an unathletic nation of spectators, a corrupt and degraded
sport, such were the results which we find in Greece within a century of
the glorious 76th Olympiad that celebrated the freedom of Greece. Yet
such was the strength and persistency of the old ideal that it was
destined to survive for centuries after all freedom had been lost.

The character of the competitions themselves underwent little change
during this period. Such changes as took place were due to changes in
the conditions of war and to the increased importance of light-armed
troops and cavalry.[180] Not only were equestrian events multiplied, but
separate competitions were introduced in javelin-throwing and in
archery. The javelin had hitherto been confined to the pentathlon. Now
we find separate prizes offered for javelin-throwing, both on foot and
on horseback, at a target as well as for distance. But such innovations
seem to have been confined to local festivals like the Panathenaea, and
found no place in the programme of the great festivals. The brutalising
effects of professionalism may be traced in the change of the caestus.
The soft leather thongs which alone appear on the fifth-century vases
were, by the addition of bands of hard leather round the knuckles,
developed into the formidable weapon called the σφαῖρα, which we see
depicted on the Panathenaic vase in Fig. 135. It is curious to find
Plato commending the use of the σφαῖρα on account of its brutality as
more closely reproducing the conditions of warfare, and so more suitable
for training soldiers than the “soft thongs.” We are less surprised at
the approval with which he and Aristotle regard the pentathlon, the one
competition which required the all-round development of the older
athletics. But it is to be feared that this event was not really
popular. Of the victors in the pentathlon at Olympia during this period
we know only three, and of these, two, Stomius and Hysmon, were Eleans,
the third the Athenian Callippus, who owed his victory to corruption. Of
the statues erected at Olympia the vast majority were in honour of
boxing, wrestling, and the pankration.[181]

Despite the decline of athletics there was no diminution of the
influence and popularity of the athletic festivals. Wealth had
increased, means of communication had improved, and with the growing
attractions of the festivals and the growing love of sight-seeing among
the people the crowds that flocked to the games showed no falling off.
It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of these gatherings.
In an age distracted by civil war and faction they served to remind the
Greeks of their common brotherhood and to promote a spirit of
good-will.[182] Especially was this true of Olympia, which, under the
rigorous administration of the Eleans, had become the chief centre of
Panhellenism. The sacred month, jealously guarded by the Eleans,
afforded a brief respite from arms and security for all who wished to
attend the festival, whether in a public or private capacity. All
through the Peloponnesian war the representatives of Athens could travel
unmolested to the festival.[183] There all states, unless under the ban
of the Eleans, sent embassies, composed of wealthy and prominent
citizens, who vied with one another in displaying the wealth and power
and culture of their cities.[184] At Olympia the representatives of
states at war with one another laid aside their animosities for a time,
and opportunity was afforded for the discussion and settlement of many a
grievance and dispute.

To these meetings we may partly attribute the growing tendency to the
formation of leagues. There, too, the terms of treaties could be
proclaimed and made known to the whole Greek world. The terms of the
thirty years’ truce between Athens and Sparta were recorded on a stele
at Olympia;[185] so too was the 100 years’ treaty made in 420 B.C.
between Athens, Argos, Mantinea, and Elis, and it was ordered that the
treaty should be periodically renewed at the Olympia and the
Panathenaea.[186] It was to Olympia that the envoys of Mytilene came at
the commencement of the Peloponnesian war[187] to protest against the
tyranny of Athens and plead for their autonomy before the assembled
Greeks. Finally, when Athens and Sparta, false to the cause of
Hellenism, were treacherously intriguing with Persia, it was at Olympia
that on three occasions a noble appeal for unity was made. In 408 B.C.
Gorgias of Leontini, addressing the assembled crowds from the steps of
the temple of Zeus, appealed to them to forget their rivalries and unite
together in the crusade of Hellenism against Persia.[188] His voice was
unheeded at the time, but a later generation appropriately commemorated
his appeal by erecting his statue in the Altis.[189] Twenty-four years
later Sparta, in alliance with Artaxerxes and the Sicilian tyrant
Dionysius, was once more trampling on the liberties of Greece. Dionysius
had sent to Olympia a magnificent embassy headed by his brother
Thearion; his tents of gold and purple were pitched within the sacred
precincts, splendid chariots were entered in his name for the four-horse
chariots, while hired rhapsodists recited continually the praises of
their master. By a curious chance the winner of the foot-race was Dicon,
proclaimed of Syracuse, but in reality a citizen of Caulonia, a city
that Dionysius had recently destroyed, transferring its citizens to
Syracuse.[190] Such were the circumstances in which the Athenian Lysias,
in graceful but vigorous language, warned the Greeks that Artaxerxes and
Dionysius were the real enemies of Hellas, and, bidding them lay aside
their differences, called on them to unite and show their patriotism by
an attack on the tyrant’s tents.[191] The appeal was only partially
successful, and one cannot but rejoice that the peace of the festival
was not broken by such an outrage upon hospitality. Lastly, at the next
Olympiad of 380 B.C. Isocrates distributed at the festival copies of his
famous Panegyric, a work to which he is said to have devoted ten years’
work, in which he once more advocated a Panhellenic crusade against
Persia, under the united command of Athens and Sparta.[192]

It was one of the fictions of a later time that no memorial might be set
up in the Altis to commemorate the triumph of one Greek state over
another. But though Olympia did undoubtedly work for unity, the
monuments prove that the ideal was often disregarded, and the Altis bore
witness to the divisions as well as to the unity of Greece. Apart from
votive offerings of helmets, spears, and shields[193] Pausanias saw at
Olympia a statue of Zeus twelve feet high, set up by the Spartans to
commemorate the repression of the Messenian revolt.[194] It is doubtful
whether this refers to the revolt of 464 B.C. or to an earlier war in
the sixth century, but certainly this statue, and probably other
statues, mentioned by Pausanias were offerings for wars in which Greeks
fought against Greeks.[195] In 424 the Messenians had their revenge, and
they commemorated the part which they had played at Pylos by erecting a
statue of victory with an inscription stating that it was dedicated by
the Messenians and Naupactians from the spoil of their enemy. The statue
was the work of the sculptor Paeonius, who is said to have made the
sculptures of the eastern pediment of the temple of Zeus.[196] Raised on
a lofty triangular pedestal, it must have been the most conspicuous
monument in the Altis. The Messenians, says Pausanias, omitted to insert
the name of their enemies from fear of the Spartans, but no such fear
deterred the Eleans, who celebrated a victory won at Olympia itself in
the war at the beginning of the fourth century by setting up a trophy in
the Altis with an inscription on the shield that it was dedicated out of
the spoils of the Lacedaemonians, and their final triumph over the
Arcadians after the 104th Olympiad was commemorated by a colossal
monument that rivalled the Victory of the Messenians.[197]

Interest at Olympia was no longer confined to religious ceremonies and
sports. It is true that there were no musical or dramatic competitions
such as were held at other festivals. The contests for heralds and
trumpeters introduced in 396 B.C. had certainly no such character.[198]
But the gathering together of crowds from all parts of the Greek world
afforded a unique opportunity for profit and advertisement which
appealed to many classes, not only to the huckster and pedlar, who
provided for the material wants of the people,[199] to the acrobat and
mountebank, who catered for their amusement, but to the man of science,
of literature, and of art. The artist, the writer, or the inventor had
little means of making himself known outside his own city except by
travelling from place to place. All such flocked to Olympia, where all
would find an appreciative and critical audience. Lucian[200] tells us
that Herodotus was the first to realise the unique possibilities of
Olympia for purposes of advertisement, and read his history to the
people in the Opisthodome of the temple of Zeus; and another account
adds that the youthful Thucydides, who happened to be present, was moved
to tears by his recitation. He is also said to have recited his work at
Athens, Thebes, and Corinth. Whatever the truth of these stories, it is
certain that the practice of public recitation was widely spread in the
fifth century, and nowhere could such an audience be found as at
Olympia. Moreover, the demand for hymns of victory and athletic statues
must have brought thither poets and artists before the day of Herodotus.
The practice commended itself especially to the sophists and
rhetoricians who travelled about amassing large sums of money by their
learning, real or pretended. Some of these have been already mentioned.

Olympia was a meeting-place for all. There one might have seen Socrates
listening with polite amusement to the encyclopaedic Hippias of Elis as
he proclaimed to an admiring audience his varied knowledge and
accomplishments, and told them that everything he had about his person
was the work of his own hands, from the shoes on his feet to the girdle
of his tunic, fine as the most costly fabric of Persia. There, too, one
might have seen many another whose person is familiar to us in Plato’s
dialogues, the great Gorgias himself, with his pupil, Polus, “impetuous
as a runaway colt”; or Prodicus of Ceos declaiming in that fine bass
voice of his on subtleties of language or of grammar. Or one might have
listened to the mathematician, Oenopides, explaining to a select few the
mysteries of the great year, a diagram of which, engraved on a bronze
tablet, he had set up in the Altis. There one might have gazed on Zeuxis
as he strutted about in his peacock clothes, displaying to the world his
vanity and wealth. Every one who had anything to sell, to exhibit, or
make known came to Olympia, which thus became a centre from which
Hellenic culture was diffused throughout the world.

This expansion of interests is evident in the list of honorary statues
which cease in this period to be confined to victors in the games. Thus
the Samians commemorated the freedom which they thought they had gained
by the victory of Aegospotami by setting up in the Altis a statue of
Lysander.[201] The statue of Gorgias has been already mentioned. In
Macedonian times the custom spread, while the number of athletic statues
steadily declined. Besides kings and princes, the historian Anaximenes
of Lampsacus and the philosopher Aristotle received this honour.[202]

Neutrality was the natural and obvious policy of the Eleans. Removed by
their geographical situation from the main stress and turmoil of Greek
politics, they appreciated to the full the advantages of the position
which they had usurped as sole guardians of the Olympian precinct, and
lost no opportunity of enforcing and extending the privilege attaching
to that position. Thus they claimed for the whole of Elis the sanctity
belonging to the sacred plain; their lives were consecrated and their
territory immune from war.[203] Elis city was the official headquarters
of Olympia, with which it was connected by a sacred road, and there all
competitors were forced to assemble to undergo a month’s training before
the games. Yet the scanty records of history show that the immunity
enjoyed by the Eleans was due more to the accident of their position
than to a general recognition of their sanctity. Religious scruples,
though often convenient as an excuse, were seldom allowed to stand in
the way of more practical considerations. Hence the Eleans, however
anxious to preserve their neutrality, could not avoid being involved in
the complications caused by the Peloponnesian war. Sparta must have
regarded with jealousy and suspicion the influence possessed by Athens
and the growth of democracy in the new state. In Triphylia and Arcadia
the cause of the Pisatans was still popular, and the control of Elis was
regarded as an act of usurpation. It was in connection with Lepreum, one
of the cities of the old Pisatan league, that difficulties arose.

Sparta had interfered in a quarrel between Elis and Lepreum, which from
the commencement of the Peloponnesian war had refused to pay its tribute
of a talent to Olympian Zeus, and a Spartan force of 1000 men was
despatched in the summer of 424 B.C. to the help of the Lepreates. The
Eleans complained that this act was a violation of the Olympic truce
which had just been proclaimed, and imposed a fine of 2000 minae—2 minae
per head—payable half to Olympian Zeus, half to themselves. The Spartans
refused to pay, and after fruitless negotiations the Eleans, unable to
obtain satisfaction, excommunicated Sparta, and forbade her to take any
part in the forthcoming festival. So, says Thucydides,[204] while all
other states were represented the Spartans and Lepreates had no
representatives, and offered their sacrifices at home. Alarmed at their
own bold action, the Eleans had so little confidence in the protection
of sanctity that they put their whole force under arms and summoned
assistance from Argos, Mantinea, and Athens. The alarm of the assembly
was increased by another insult inflicted on Sparta in the course of the
games. Lichas, the son of Arcesilaus, a member of the Spartan royal
family, unable to compete in his own name, had entered his team for the
chariot-race under the name of the Boeotian commonwealth. When his
chariot won, he advanced boldly into the course to bind the fillet of
victory on the charioteer’s head, but was publicly driven off by the
officials and beaten with their rods. Yet in spite of this fresh insult
Sparta, deeming the occasion inexpedient to excite the religious
susceptibilities of Greece, did nothing, but bided her time, and Elis,
three years afterwards, joined the Argive alliance.

Sparta never forgot and never forgave. In 399 Agis led an army against
Elis, nominally to force Elis to acknowledge the independence of the
Arcadian and Triphylian towns, in reality to wreak vengeance for her
conduct during the Peloponnesian war. Agis had also a recent and more
personal grievance. Having gone to Olympia to consult the oracle, he had
been refused an answer by the Eleans, who invoked an ancient canon
forbidding oracles to be given to Greeks engaged in war against Greeks.
This time their sanctity could not save them. Frightened away the first
year by a providential earthquake,[205] Agis returned in the following
summer, and, reinforced by the Triphylian towns, advanced to Olympia,
where he offered the sacrifice which had been forbidden before. He then
marched through the rich plains of Elis, the plunder of which attracted
to his standard numerous Arcadian and Achaean volunteers. In spite of
assistance from Xenias and the oligarchical party he failed to take the
city, but finally, by occupying a fortified post on the border and
ravaging the country, he reduced the Eleans to complete submission. They
were forced to raze their fortifications, surrender their harbour, and
acknowledge the independence of all the towns of Arcadia and Triphylia.
Only the presidency of the Olympic festival was left to them, for,
though the Pisatans claimed it as having belonged to them originally,
the Spartans refused to acknowledge their claim, considering, says
Xenophon, that they were country bumpkins, and incapable of exercising
the presidency, a remarkable testimony to the efficiency of the Elean

The effects of this humiliation were seen in the scandals which
disgraced the following Olympiads. The prestige of the festival itself
must have suffered. In the next Olympiad, 396 B.C., the competition was
so reduced that no less than six events were won by Eleans.[207]

The Spartans had refused to deprive the Eleans of the presidency from no
respect for their sanctity, but from disinclination to increase the
importance of the country districts of Arcadia and Triphylia. How little
real respect they had for religious tradition may be judged from the
conduct of Agesilaus at the Isthmia in 390 B.C., when, at the head of an
army, he interrupted the games, and, in conjunction with the Corinthian
exiles, himself presided at them.[208] The rise of Thebes once more
raised the hopes of the disappointed Triphylians.[209] In 371 B.C.
Arcadia was consolidated into the Pan-Arcadian league, with its
headquarters at the newly founded Megalopolis. The Messenians, who had
been so prominent at Olympia in its early days, recovered their liberty.
The Messenian exiles from every part flocked to the rising city of
Messene, founded by Epaminondas, at the foot of Mount Ithome, and they
celebrated their return by winning a victory at Olympia in the boys’
foot-race—the first victory, says Pausanias, that they had won since
their exile.[210] Everything seemed favourable to the Triphylians.
Unfortunately a breach occurred between Thebes and Arcadia, and when
Thebes, following the example of Sparta and Athens, sent Pelopidas to
Persia to secure the sanction of the great king for her authority, the
terms of the imperial rescript reaffirmed the rights of Elis in
Triphylia. The Arcadian ambassador, the pankratiast Antiochus, returned
home in dudgeon, without even deigning to receive the royal gifts.

The Arcadians refused to accept the king’s rescript. When in 365 the
Eleans attempted to assert their authority over Lasion, on the Arcadian
border, they were driven off by the Arcadians, who followed up their
success by overrunning Elis, and occupied Olympia itself, fortifying and
garrisoning the hill of Cronus. The next year, under the protection of
the whole armed force of Arcadia, the Pisatans at last found themselves
presiding over the games. But the festival was not to pass off
undisturbed. The Eleans, with some Achaean allies, arrived on the west
bank of the Cladeus while the pentathlon was in progress. There was
general alarm among the spectators, who had just left the Stadium and
were congregated on the steps of the Treasuries and in the Colonnades
watching the progress of the wrestling match which took place in the
open space between the buildings and the great altar. The Arcadian
troops advanced to the Cladeus and fell in opposite to the Eleans. But
the latter, having crossed the river, charged them with unexpected
courage, and drove them back into the Altis, where a desperate fight
took place in the space “between the Council House, the shrine of
Hestia, and the Theatre adjoining these buildings.”[211] There, however,
they were exposed to a shower of missiles from the roofs of the Council
House, the Colonnades, and the Temple of Zeus. And though they
maintained the combat and bore their opponents back towards the altar,
their losses were heavy, and Stratolas, their captain, being slain, they
drew off to their encampment. During the night the Arcadians, fearful of
a renewed attack, occupied themselves in pulling to pieces their
elaborately constructed quarters between the Altis and the Cladeus and
making a stockade of the material; and in the morning the Eleans, seeing
the strength of the fortifications, returned home, leaving the Pisatans
to celebrate the festival. Their triumph was only short-lived. The
religious feeling of Greece, outraged by the sacrilege at Olympia, was
still further scandalized by the appropriation of the sacred treasures
of Zeus for the use of the Arcadian league. There was disunion in the
league itself, and when, two years later, the Peloponnese was once more
threatened by a Theban invasion, the Arcadians made peace with Elis and
acknowledged her rights over Olympia.

This was the last attempt of the Pisatans. The Eleans rapidly recovered
their power. The 104th Olympiad was expunged from the records and
declared an Anolympiad. And the triumph of the Eleans was commemorated
by a colossal statue of Zeus, with an inscription truly appropriate to
the part which Olympia had played in Greek history—“The Eleans for
concord” (Ϝαλείων περὶ ὁμονοίαρ).[212]

Footnote 144:

  The first trainer of whom we hear is Tisias, who trained Glaucus of
  Carystus (Philostratus, _Gym._ 20). Pindar mentions Menander (_N._ v.;
  cp. Bacchylides xii.), Orseas (_I._ iii.), Ilas (_O._ xi.), Melesias
  (_O._ viii.; _N._ iv., vi.).

Footnote 145:

  _Symposium_, 2, 17.

Footnote 146:

  _Mem._ iii. 10, 6; iii. 8, 4; cp. P. Gardner, _Grammar of Greek Art_,
  p. 17.

Footnote 147:

  _Greek Sculpture_, p. 550; and _J.H.S._ 1905, p. 235.

Footnote 148:

  _B.M. Vases_, 607. Quite different is the type of the long-distance
  runner of B. 611 (328 B.C.) and B. 609 (333 B.C.), and of the
  Hoplitodromos of B. 608 (336 B.C.). _Vide_ Figs. 51, 58.

Footnote 149:

  Paus. vi. 7, 10 τυρὸν ἐκ τῶν ταλάρων. Diogen. Laert. ἰσχάσι ξηραῖς καὶ
  πυροῖς. Philostrat. _Gym._ 43 αἵ τε μᾶζαι καὶ τῶν ἄρτων οἱ ἅπτιστοι
  καὶ μὴ ζυμῖται καὶ τῶν κρεῶν τὰ βόειά τε καὶ ταύρεια καὶ τράγεια καὶ
  δόρκοι. _Vide_ Jüthner, _Philostratus_, pp. 268 ff., and Krause,
  _Gym._ pp. 654 ff.

Footnote 150:

  _B.C.H._, 1899, p. 611. I have accepted the rendering of the
  inscription given by A. D. Keramopoullos in Ἐφ. Ἀρχ., 1906, p. 167.
  Instead of the name Εὐδρόμου, an utterly unknown hero, of whose shrine
  not a vestige has been found, he reads δρόμου. He repeats a
  misstatement made in Dar.-Sagl., Paully-Wissowa, and other
  dictionaries to the effect that athletes were not allowed to drink any
  wine. The _only_ authority for the statement is a single passage from
  Galen, _de Salub. vict. rat._, in which he says that “after exercise
  athletes do not drink wine but water first, having learnt this from
  experience!” An egregious example of the absurdities which crowd the
  pages of our dictionaries!

Footnote 151:

  Paus. vi. 7, 3; Diogen. Laert. viii. 13; Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxiii. 7.

Footnote 152:

  Xen. _Mem._ i. 2, 4; Aristoph. _Pax_, 33, 34; Aristot. _Eth. Nic._ ii.
  6, 7. Eating like a wrestler was proverbial.

Footnote 153:

  _Pol._ v. 1339 a. Krause (_Gym._ p. 645, n. 3), and other writers
  following him, discredit this statement, not realizing that Aristotle
  is speaking of professional athletics. Of the eight examples quoted by
  Krause of athletes who had won victories both as boys and as men, five
  belong to the sixth or early fifth century, one is later than
  Aristotle, one is contemporary with him, the date of the eighth is

Footnote 154:

  Corn. Nepos, _Epam._ 2.

Footnote 155:

  _Rep._ iii. 404 A; cp. Arist. _Pol._ 1335 b.

Footnote 156:

  Plutarch, _Vit. Alexander_ and _Philopoemon_.

Footnote 157:

  Galen, Προτρεπτ. λόγ. ii. ἡ δὲ τῶν ἀθλητῶν ἐπ’ ἄκρον εὐεξία σφαλερά τε
  καὶ εὐμετάπτωτος. Krause, _Gym._ p. 47, n. 1.

Footnote 158:

  _Leg._ 794 ff.

Footnote 159:

  _Leg._ 833 ff.

Footnote 160:

  Rep. 406 B; _Protag._ 316 D; Aristot. _Rhet._ i. 5.

  An entirely different view of Herodicus is ably stated by Dr. Jüthner
  in the introduction to his Philostratus. He regards Herodicus as the
  father of scientific and medical gymnastic, as applied to the
  preservation of health and the cure of disease, and he claims that
  Plato himself shows warm recognition of his merits in the passage in
  the _Protagoras_, where he classes him with Homer, Hesiod, and others,
  among the great sophists who beguiled mankind. The passage certainly
  proves the ability and popularity of Herodicus, but I can see in it no
  evidence that Plato did not genuinely dislike his system. The
  strongest proof of the unscientific and useless character of his
  system is supplied by the deterioration of the athlete and of the
  national physique, which dates from this period.

Footnote 161:

  Plato, _Leg._ 839 C.

Footnote 162:

  Plutarch, _Vita. Alexand._ 35.

Footnote 163:

  _Plutus_, 1161.

Footnote 164:

  Xen. _Hell._ i. 5, 19; Paus. vi. 7, 4.

Footnote 165:

  _Mem._ iii. 12. For the contrast between ἀθλητής and ἰδιωτής cp.
  _Hieron_, 4, 6; _Mem._ iii. 7, 7.

Footnote 166:

  _Nub._ 961-1023; _Ran._ 1086.

Footnote 167:

  Thus in the present day professional football-players are largely
  drawn from the country districts of Scotland.

Footnote 168:

  Plato, _Meno_, 93 D.

Footnote 169:

  _Nubes_, passim.

Footnote 170:

  Thuc. vi. 16, 2. The epinikion written by Euripides states that he was
  first, second, and third. So too does Isocrates, _de Bigis_, 34.

Footnote 171:

  _vide infra_, Fig. 165.

Footnote 172:

  Part of the inscription was found in 1877, and is now in the Museum at
  Sparta. Tod, _Sparta Mus. Cat._ 440. The rest has been recently
  discovered during the excavations of the British School, and is
  discussed in the _B.S.A._ xiii. p. 174. It contains a list of
  victories won by Damonon and his son, Enymacratidas, in the
  chariot-race, horse-race, and foot-races at nine local festivals, most
  of them in Laconia. The inscription belongs to the middle or end of
  the fifth century. It throws an interesting light on the number of
  local festivals at this period.

Footnote 173:

  _Ox. Pap._ ii. 222.

Footnote 174:

  Paus. vi. 2, 6.

Footnote 175:

  Paus. vi. 18, 4.

Footnote 176:

  Paus. v. 21, 5.

Footnote 177:

  Paus. v. 21, 5.

Footnote 178:

  Paus. vi. 3, 7.

Footnote 179:

  Paus. vi. 1, 4.

Footnote 180:

  These changes were particularly connected with the Athenian Iphicrates
  and Jason of Therae.

Footnote 181:

  Taking the lists given by Hyde, pp. 75-77, we find that between Ols.
  84-106 out of 54 statues 20 were in honour of boxers, 6 of
  pankratiasts, 11 of wrestling, 7 of runners, 2 of pentathletes, and 8
  of chariots or horses.

Footnote 182:

  Isocrates, _Panegyric_, 43 ff.; Lysias, _Olymp._

Footnote 183:

  Thuc. v. 49; cp. viii. 10 of the Isthmia.

Footnote 184:

  Isocrates, _de Bigis_, 32, ὁρῶν τὴν ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ πανήγυριν ὑπὸ πάντων
  ἀνθρώπων ἀγαπωμένην καὶ τοὺς Ἕλληνας ἐπίδειξιν ἐν αὐτῇ ποιουμένους
  πλούτου καὶ ῥώμης καὶ παιδεύσεως, κτλ.

Footnote 185:

  Paus. v. 23, 4.

Footnote 186:

  Paus. v. 12, 8; Thuc. v. 47.

Footnote 187:

  Thuc. iii. 8 ff.

Footnote 188:

  Phil. _Vita. Soph._ i. p. 209.

Footnote 189:

  Paus. vi. 17, 7; _Ol. Ins._ 293.

Footnote 190:

  Paus. vi. 3, 11; _Anth. Pal._ xiii. 5; Hyde, _Olymp. Stat._ p. 33.

Footnote 191:

  Lysias, _Olympiakos_; Dionys. Hal. _Jud. de Lysia_, p. 519; Diodor.
  xiv. 109. A similar tale is narrated by Aelian of Themistocles, who is
  said to have urged the Greeks in 476 not to allow Hieron of Syracuse
  to compete, on the ground that he had not shared in the dangers of
  Greece. Ael. _V.H._ 9. 5.

Footnote 192:

  Isocrates, _Panegyrikos_.

Footnote 193:

  Helmet of Argives (_Ol. Ins._ 250), spears of Sicyonians, Methonii,
  Tarentines (_Ins._ 245, 247, 254), of Argives and Athenians for
  Tanagra (Paus. v. 10, 4).

Footnote 194:

  Paus. v. 24; _Ol. Ins._ 252.

Footnote 195:

  Such must certainly have been the statue of Victory by Calamis set up
  by the Mantineans. Paus. v. 26, 6.

Footnote 196:

  Paus. v. 26, 1.

Footnote 197:

  Paus. v. 27, 11; 24, 4.

Footnote 198:

  They were merely competitions in strength of lung. Herodorus of
  Megara, a famous trumpeter who won ten times at Olympia, was said to
  be able to blow two trumpets at once with such force that no one could
  stand in his neighbourhood. Athen. 10, 7, p. 415.

Footnote 199:

  Hence the term “Mercatus Olympiacus,” Vell. Paterc. i. 8; Cicero,
  _Tuscul._ v. 3; Krause, _Olympia_, p. 190, n. 2.

Footnote 200:

  Lucian, _Herodotus_.

Footnote 201:

  Paus. vi. 3, 14.

Footnote 202:

  Paus. vi. 18, 2.

Footnote 203:

  Polyb. iv. 73.

Footnote 204:

  Thuc. v. 31 and 49.

Footnote 205:

  From Pausanias, v. 4, 8, and 27, 11; vi. 2, 8, we gather that the
  Eleans, in the course of this war, obtained a decided success in a
  fight which took place at Olympia, and erected a trophy for the same
  in the Altis. Was it really this success which prevented the Spartans
  from depriving them of the presidency of the games, or have we here
  the Elean version of the war?

Footnote 206:

  Xenophon, _Hell._ iii. 2, 31.

Footnote 207:

  Förster, _Ol. Sieger_.

Footnote 208:

  Xenophon, _Hell._ iv. 5. 1, 2.

Footnote 209:

  Inscriptions found at Olympia illustrate the political relations of
  this time. In _Ol. Ins._ 31, Theban, Sicyonian, and Argive benefactors
  of Olympia are named πρόξενοι of the Arcadians. In _Ol. Ins._ 36, two
  Sicyonians are named πρόοξενοι and θεαροδόκοι of the Pisatans.
  Curtius, _Ol._ Text, i. 50.

Footnote 210:

  Compare the triumphant inscription on Sophius of Messene, who won the
  same events _circa_ 300 B.C. Paus. vi. 2, 10, and 3, 2.

Footnote 211:

  The view adopted above is that of the late Mr. Louis Dyer, and is
  fully discussed by him in _J.H.S._ vol. xxviii. pp. 250 ff. The word
  θέατρον is here used of the arrangements for spectators overlooking
  the bare north-eastern corner of the Altis, and consisting in (1) the
  tiers of steps at the foot of the treasuries, (2) the Colonnade and
  its southward extension by the Hellanodiceon.

Footnote 212:

  _Ol. Ins._ 260.

                              CHAPTER VII
                 THE DECLINE OF ATHLETICS, 338-146 B.C.

From this time onward there is little change to record in the history of
athletics. Competitions became more and more the monopoly of
professionals and all the evils attendant on professionalism became
rampant. The training of the athlete became more artificial and more
irrational, rendering him still more unfit for practical life. The
degeneration of the physical type and of the artistic ideal is evident
in the statue known as the Farnese Heracles, a copy of a Lysippean
original exaggerated by the copyist to suit the taste of a later and
more decadent age. Those huge bulging muscles,[213] which even repose
cannot relax, are a type of clumsy, useless strength, utterly foreign to
the ideal of the fifth century, or to that of Lysippus himself as we
know it from the Agias. Perhaps it was the type of those professional
strong men who called themselves successors of Heracles as having, like
Heracles, won the wrestling and pankration at Olympia on the same
day.[214] The first of these was Caprus of Elis, who in the year 212
defeated, in the pankration, the redoubtable Cleitomachus of Thebes, who
is sometimes supposed to be the original of the boxer of the Terme (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 21. Farnese Heracles, by Glycon. Naples. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 125.)]

A tale told by Polybius about the latter throws a curious light on the
state of sport at the time.[215] He had, it appears, incurred the
displeasure of King Ptolemy—presumably Ptolemy IV.—who went to the
trouble and expense of training and sending to Olympia a rival boxer,
Aristonicus, to compete with him. The contest excited great public
interest, and the fickle crowd favoured the new man until Cleitomachus,
exasperated at their attitude, taunted them with backing one who was
fighting not for the glory of Greece but for King Ptolemy. This appeal
caused such a revulsion of feeling that Aristonicus was vanquished, not,
says our author, so much by Cleitomachus as by the crowd. With such
hired prize-fighters it was only natural that methods became more
brutal, and science deteriorated. The increasing weight of the caestus
rendered boxing a contest of brute strength and fit to take its place in
the Roman gladiatorial shows. The science of wrestling had also
suffered. As early as 364 B.C. we read of one Sostratus of Sicyon who
won the wrestling at Olympia not by skill in wrestling but by breaking
his opponent’s fingers.

Corruption naturally throve under such conditions.[216] Only Olympia,
thanks to its ancient prestige and sanctity, maintained the purity of
sport, and though even there all sport was professional, cases of
corruption were rare.

The decay of athletics was accompanied by an increased activity in the
construction and improvement of gymnasia and stadia, which continued all
through Hellenistic and Roman times. The stadia at Olympia and Delphi
were reconstructed during the fourth century; the Panathenaic stadium at
Athens was the work of the Athenian administrator Lycurgus, who also
rebuilt the Lyceum Gymnasium, planted it with trees, and built a new
palaestra or wrestling-school in it. But this building activity did not
denote any improvement of the national athletics. The people took little
interest in the games, save as a spectacle, and the improvements made in
the stadia were connected solely with the accommodation and comfort of
spectators. Some of these buildings were the work of a sort of athletic
revival, a temporary demand for physical and military training. Such a
movement occurred at Athens in the time of Alexander, under the wise
leadership of Lycurgus, who, among the numerous services which he
rendered to Athens, reorganized the Athenian epheboi. More often these
buildings were the monuments of the generosity or vanity of wealthy
princes or ambitious citizens.

But the palaestra and gymnasium, even in the fourth century were no
longer devoted principally to gymnastics. The colonnades of the
palaestra, the shady walks of the gymnasium were popular resorts and
lounging-places. There the Athenian gentleman would betake himself in
the afternoon to get an appetite for his evening meal; and a whole
series of rooms was provided for his accommodation—dressing-rooms,
oiling-rooms, dusting-rooms, bath-rooms, cloisters where he could take
his exercise in wet weather, rooms for ball-play, and, for the more
active, wrestling-rings and running tracks. Many of the rooms and the
walks were provided with benches and seats for the convenience of
visitors and spectators. Sophists especially resorted there in the hope
of attracting pupils; some of them attached themselves to particular
gymnasia. Plato delivered his discourses in the Academy; Aristotle took
his morning and evening walks in the Lyceum. Gradually the social and
educational side of the gymnasium became more important than the
athletic. The gymnasium of Cynosarges in the fourth century was the
meeting-place of a celebrated club known as the Sixty Wits. The earlier
gymnasia of Athens had been outside the walls. The first gymnasium
inside the walls was the gift of the versatile Ptolemaeus Philadelphia
(285-247 B.C.), the founder of the museum and library of Alexandria. The
gymnasium at Athens bore witness to the culture of its founder: it
contained a library formed and increased by contributions from the
students who attended it. Lectures continued to be given in it by
philosophers and men of science down to the time of Cicero, who listened
there to the lectures of Antiochus. These gymnasia were intimately
connected with the life of the epheboi in whose training philosophy and
literature were rapidly taking the place formerly occupied by athletics
and military science. From this ephebic training grew up what has been
aptly called the University of Athens, to which the young Romans of the
time of Cicero resorted to study philosophy.

Our knowledge of the training given to the epheboi is mostly derived
from inscriptions of this period or later. The Athenian inscriptions
date from the year 334 B.C. to the third century A.D.[217] These
inscriptions contain lists of the epheboi and decrees in honour of the
epheboi themselves and of their officers. The physical training of the
epheboi was largely military in character, and particular attention was
paid to those exercises which were likely to be of service in war. This
training was under the general supervision of the Kosmetes, one of whose
duties was to provide the necessary oil for use in the gymnasium. Under
him were subordinate officials, the hoplomachos, a sort of fencing
instructor; the akontistes, toxotes, and katapaltaphetes or aphetes, who
taught the use of the javelin, bow, and catapult respectively. At the
local festivals competitions were held to test the proficiency of men
and youths in these and other more purely athletic accomplishments. Many
of these competitions, especially those for the younger, were confined
to local competitors. Sometimes they took the form of squad competitions
between companies representing local tribes and divisions. Torch-races
between individuals or teams on foot or on horseback figure frequently
on the programme. At Athens cavalry parades formed an important feature
of these festivals. The most splendid of these local festivals, the
Panathenaea, must be reserved for fuller discussion, but a few examples
of the inscriptions dealing with the less-known festivals, will
illustrate the character of the festivals and of the physical training
of the young in the period.

The Thesea at Athens had been founded shortly after the Persian wars,
when, in accordance with the oracle’s command, the bones of Theseus were
brought from Scyros and reburied at Athens. The programme comprised
parades, gymnastic, naval, and equestrian competitions, and a great
public sacrifice. We have a list of the victors at this festival in an
inscription recording a decree of honour to Nicogenes who held the
office of Agonothetes, or official manager of the games, for the year
161 B.C.[218] Among the services rendered by Nicogenes, it is recorded
that he provided prizes and money for other expenses out of his own
pocket, and that he took special pains to prevent any competitor in the
torch-race from “losing through foul play.” For these services, and for
his goodwill towards the Council and people of Athens, Nicogenes is to
be crowned with a golden crown, and proclamation thereof is to be made
at the Dionysia, the Panathenaea, the Eleusinia, and—a strange fourth in
such a list—the Ptolemaea!

Similar training and similar competitions are found at many other
places, at Ceos, Teos, Chios, Samos, and Tralles.[219] A third-century
inscription of Ceos contains arrangements for the holding of a festival
at a cost of 65 drachmae. A gymnasiarch is to be chosen to organize the
torch-race, take general supervision of the training in the gymnasium,
three times a month to take the epheboi out to practise with the bow and
javelin and catapult, and to inflict a fine on any who did not attend.
The prizes for the men’s competitions are: for archery, first prize, a
bow and quiver; second prize, a bow;—for the javelin, first prize, three
spears and a helmet; second prize, three spears; while the boy victors
in these events are to receive a portion of meat. There are prizes also
for the use of the catapult and for a torch-race.

At Teos in the third century a patriotic citizen, Polythrous, presented
the State with the sum of 34,000 drachmae for the education of boys and
girls. The interest on this sum was used to provide salaries for various
instructors, including two paidotribai or athletic instructors, at a
salary of 500 drachmae each, a hoplomachos at a salary of 300 drachmae,
and an instructor in the use of the javelin and the bow at 250 drachmae.
The hoplomachos was required to give at least two month’s instruction.
The highest paid of all the staff was the teacher of music, who received
600 drachmae. The general supervision of this education was in the hands
of a paidonomos, who, it is specified, must not be less than forty years
of age. In the present day, in making appointments to head-masterships
it is commonly specified that candidates must not be over forty. Which
is right?

Such training seems to have been universal in Greek states. The
instances given suffice to show how entirely it differed from the
training of athletes who competed in the great games. Unfortunately
education in Greece was, except at Sparta, purely voluntary, and the
training afforded only affected, therefore, a small portion of the

We have been anticipating; we must now return to the history of Olympia
under the Macedonians. It was the policy of the kings of Macedon to
encourage and support in every way the Panhellenic festival, and
especially Olympia. In the first place, the Macedonians were regarded by
the other Greeks almost as barbarians, and it was of supreme importance
that their claim to be considered Greeks had been recognized by the most
exclusively Hellenic of all festivals. It will be remembered that
Alexander, the son of Amyntas, had established this claim for the royal
family of Macedon at the close of the sixth century, when he had been
allowed to compete in the foot-race at Olympia. A century later
Archelaus won a victory in the chariot-race. This able and energetic
prince aimed at spreading Greek culture through his dominions. He
invited to his court Greek poets, philosophers, and artists; above all,
to show his respect for Olympia, he founded at Dium a new Olympic
festival of nine days in honour of Zeus and the nine Muses.[220] The
precedent was widely followed during Hellenistic and Roman times, when a
host of festivals sprung up bearing the title of the four great
Panhellenic meetings. The new Olympia were not confined to athletic
contests, which seem to have been less important than dramatic
competitions, and their pomp and splendour are indications of the
growing taste for spectacular effect.

Philip and Alexander had special reasons for associating themselves with
the Panhellenic festivals. Like the tyrants of an earlier age, they
realized that if they were to unite Greece under their rule it must be
by utilizing those forces which made for unity. Two places in particular
represented the spirit of national unity,—Delphi, in Northern Greece,
and Olympia in the Peloponnese,—and of both festivals the Macedonians
made full use.

Already in 370 B.C. the ambitious tyrant of Thessaly, Jason of Pherae,
who dreamt of invading Persia as commander of united Greece, had schemed
to consolidate his power by setting himself up as president of the
Pythian games. He had made preparation to celebrate the festival with
barbarian pomp, sending messengers to all the cities of Thessaly, to bid
them provide oxen, sheep, and goats for the sacrifices, and offering a
crown of gold as a prize for the finest ox.[221] But his scheme was
frustrated by his assassination, which was doubtless partly due to his
attempted usurpation of the sacred functions. Fortune was kinder to
Philip. The Sacred war gave him an opportunity of posing as the
protector and saviour of Delphi. His defeat of the Phocians and
restoration of Delphi to the Delphians were rewarded by his election to
the place on the Amphictionic Board, of which the Phocians were
deprived, and in 346 he received the further honour of being nominated
as the president of the approaching games. Thus he stood out the
acknowledged head of the most ancient and influential league in Greece.
Only Athens protested, but her protest was unavailing, and Philip’s
newly-acquired dignity was the death-blow to her opposition.

At Olympia Philip had already ingratiated himself with the authorities
by a victory in the horse-race in 356 B.C., and two victories in the
four-horse chariot-race in the two following Olympiads. The news of his
victory in the horse-race reached him, says Plutarch, shortly after his
capture of Potidaea, and on the same day he received the news of a
victory gained by Parmenio over the Illyrians, and of the birth of
Alexander. Following the example of the tyrants of Sicily, he
commemorated his victories in the chariot-race by representing a chariot
on his coins. After the battle of Chaeronea Philip marched into the
Peloponnese, and having ravaged Laconia and reduced Sparta to impotence,
summoned a congress of all the Greek states at Corinth. Then he came
forward as the champion of united Hellas, declaring his resolve of
leading a new crusade against Persia, and was appointed by the congress
sole commander of the forces of Greece. It will be remembered how time
after time this policy of union against Persia had been preached at
Olympia, and nowhere can Philip’s proclamation have been more welcome.
Did he visit Olympia in person? It is tempting to suppose so. At least
we may connect with this time the founding of the Philippeum, a small
circular building consisting of a cella surrounded by eighteen Ionic
columns, and containing statues in gold and ivory of Philip himself and
his ancestors, and even of female members of his family, Eurydice and
Olympias. The Philippeum seems to have been an offering similar in
character to the treasuries of an earlier age, the founders of which by
their erection sought to establish for themselves a right and _locus
standi_ in the management of the festival. There was no room for further
buildings on the treasury terrace itself, and a yet more honourable and
unique position was found for Philip’s monument to the south-west of the
Heraeum within the limits of the Altis itself, the boundary of which had
to be moved westward to enclose it. It was the first such building to be
placed within the Altis, the first to bear the name of its founder, who
was thereby placed on a level with the mythical presidents of Olympia,
Pelops and Oenomaus, and acknowledged as the freely-appointed leader of
united Greece at the very centre of Panhellenism.

Philip was assassinated in the very act of celebrating the marriage of
his daughter Cleopatra with Alexander of Epirus by a magnificent
festival at Aegae, where the lavish prodigality of the Macedonian
expended itself in banquets, gymnastic and musical contests, dramatic
competitions, and every variety of attraction which could appeal to and
impress the imagination of the Greek world. Even the name Olympia was
given to the games at Aegae, and the statues of the twelve gods of the
Olympic pantheon were carried in procession to the theatre followed by
the statue of Philip himself who thus anticipated the claim of Alexander
to divine honours.

Alexander’s ambition was too vast to find satisfaction in victories at
Olympia. He treated with contempt the athletics of his day. Though
himself vigorous and athletic of body, he had an aversion for the
exercises of the palaestra, regarding them as useless for war. When
asked whether he would compete in the foot-race at Olympia, he replied,
“Yes, if I had kings for my antagonists.” There is no doubt that his
refusal was fully justified; he could gain no honour by entering into
competition with professionals. But though he despised the athletic part
of the festivals, he appreciated to the full their social and political
importance. He recognized the importance of amusing the people. He
celebrated his victories by brilliant Olympic games at Aegae and at
Dium, at which he offered prizes for tragic poets, musicians, and
rhapsodists, and entertained the people not with athletic competitions
but with the hunting of wild beasts, and with fencing or fighting with
the staff. Similar entertainments were provided by the king at various
places in his triumphal progress through Asia. Olympia itself was to him
the true capital of Greece. In spite of his personal aversion to
athletic competitions, he is related to have restored to liberty
Dionysodorus of Thebes, whom he had taken prisoner at Issus, in
consideration of his claims as an Olympic victor.[222] Thither during
the course of his eastern campaigns he sent dispatches which were
publicly read at the festival. There in 324 Nicanor arrived as bearer of
two imperial mandates bidding the cities of Greece receive back their
exiles and acknowledge Alexander as a god. This decree was publicly read
by the herald in the presence of 20,000 exiles who had mustered for the

The conquests of Alexander opened the door for the extension of
Hellenism over the eastern world, and of this extension, an interesting
illustration was discovered at Olympia. It is the monument of Philonides
of Crete, who describes himself as courier of King Alexander, and road
surveyor of (βηματωτής) of Asia. On one side of the pedestal is a bronze
tablet on which Curtius aptly suggests was engraved a map of Asia,
enabling visitors to Olympia to trace the course of his master’s
conquests.[223] Under his successors Asia and Egypt became Hellenized,
and this process is illustrated by the appearance in the lists of
Olympic victors of athletes from the newly-founded cities, and later on
from the kingdoms and provinces of Asia. The new cities sought to
reproduce the main features of the old Hellenic ideal, and from this
ideal athletics and the athletic festivals were inseparable. Everywhere
athletic festivals were founded bearing the names of the ancient
festivals, everywhere elaborate stadia and gymnasia were erected. The
athletic enthusiasm which had died out in the mother country revived in
many of her daughter cities: especially was this the case in Alexandria,
which under the rule of the Ptolemaei became a stronghold of
Hellenism.[224] This revival of athletic interest, if somewhat
artificial, must have helped to keep alive the ancient festivals of the

At Olympia the building of the Philippeum after Chaeronea was the first
of a series of improvements, stimulated, no doubt, by Macedonian
encouragement, perhaps paid for by Macedonian gold. The choice of a site
for the Philippeum had, as we have seen, necessitated a reconstruction
of the western boundary of the Altis. A similar reconstruction took
place on the east, where the old Stoa was extended and rebuilt, and as
part of the same scheme, the west and southern sides of the Stadium were
banked up so as to provide better accommodation for the spectators. At
the same time a passage was made through the north side of the western
embankment on the site of the later Roman tunnelled passage and gateway
giving entrance into the Stadium. The use of this entrance was probably
confined to officials and athletes: for the latter the sight of the
Zanes lining the steps outside the entrance served as a warning only too

The chronology of the various Olympic buildings is full of difficulty,
especially from the fourth century onward. But we are probably justified
in assigning to the early period of Macedonian influence the building of
the Theocoleon on the west side of the Altis close to the ancient
Heroum, to serve as quarters for the Olympic priesthood, and of the
Leonidaeum to the south of it. The latter building was the gift of
Leonidas of Naxos. The inscription on the pedestal of his statue, which
has been found, is apparently contemporary with the inscription on the
monument of Philonides, Alexander’s courier, which stood close by, and
the architectural evidence agrees with this date.[225] In later times
the building served as the headquarters of the Roman governors, and this
fact renders probable the view that it was originally intended for the
use of distinguished visitors. The arrangements for the entertainment of
visitors, and for the requirements of the priesthood as provided in the
Leonidaeum and the Theocoleon seem entirely in keeping with the pomp and
state which were so marked a feature of Macedonian festivities. A record
of hospitality shown at Olympia by another islander is preserved on a
bronze tablet containing the decree of the Hellanodicae in honour of one
Democrates of Tenedos, a wrestler whose strength was such that when he
stood behind a line no man could draw him across it. He and his father
had taken up their residence in Elis, and the decree, which dates about
the first half of the third century, records that in consideration of
his services in entertaining guests at the festival, he shall be named
Proxenos and Benefactor, and shall have a place of honour in the
Dionysian festival and a share in the sacrifices.[226]

On the death of Alexander, Elis joined in the general revolt of the
Greek states against Macedon, but on the failure of the revolt found
herself once more compelled to acquiesce in the Macedonian supremacy.
From this time she seems to have adopted a wise policy of neutrality,
and amid the struggles of rival kings and leagues the sanctity of
Olympia was respected and her support courted by all parties. The only
occasion on which this sanctity was violated was when Telesphorus, who
had revolted from Antigonus, plundered the treasury of Olympia, but the
plunder was restored not long afterwards by the unprincipled usurper and
murderer Ptolemaeus Ceraunus, who hoped to win the support of Olympia
for his ambitious schemes.

The neutrality of Elis is evident in the votive offerings of the period.
Side by side with the statues of Antigonus Monophthalmus and his son
Demetrius we find the statues of Spartan kings, of Areus who tried to
free Greece from the yoke of Macedon, and Cleomenes who attempted to
revive the military hegemony of Sparta, of Aratus of Sicyon, the founder
of the Achaean league and enemy of Sparta and Macedon alike, of
Ptolemaeus Philadelphus of Egypt at whose hospitable court the opponents
of Macedon found shelter in defeat; lastly of that brilliant but
semi-barbarian conqueror Pyrrhus of Epirus, who in his meteoric career
twice occupied the throne of Macedon. Some of these statues were the
gifts of the kings themselves, some of the Eleans or other states that
wished to show honour to the individual or win favour at Olympia. The
statue of Pyrrhus was the gift of the Elean seer Thrasybulus, who took
part in the campaigns of Aratus against Sparta, and was himself honoured
by a statue in the Altis. Perhaps the honour shown to Pyrrhus was due to
his friendship with the Aetolians, whose connexion with Elis dates back
to the earliest days of the festival. The Eleans early joined the
Aetolian league, and showed their loyalty to their friends by refusing
to desert them in spite of the most tempting offers of Philip V.
Numerous statues in the Altis bore witness to this friendship. Especial
interest attaches to that of the Aetolian Pleistaenus, whose father
Eurydamus, as leader of the Aetolian forces, helped in the memorable
fight near Delphi, which saved Greece from Brennus and his barbarous
horde of Gauls.[227] Lastly, we may notice the significant monument of
Antigonus Doson set up after the defeat of Cleomenes at Sellasia in 222
B.C. Greece was represented crowning with one hand Antigonus, with the
other Philip Arridaeus the nominal successor of Alexander, while
opposite stood a similar group, in which Elis crowned Demetrius
Poliorketes and Ptolemaeus the son of Lagus. Both groups it seems
probable, as Curtius suggests, were the gift of Antigonus Doson,
recalling as they did the earlier group of the personified Ekecheiria
crowning Iphitus, and setting forth in emblematic fashion the renewal of
Olympic peace and restoration of unity under the beneficent rule of the
princes of Macedon.

The period of Macedonian influence is marked by numerous victories
gained by Macedonians, or by citizens of Macedonian towns such as
Amphipolis or the newly-founded Philippi. But the Macedonian kings had
little leisure or peace for competing at festivals, being occupied with
more serious contests. And the same is true for the most part of the
princes of Asia. From Pergamum, left in peace for a period under the
strong rule of Philetaerus, we have an interesting inscription which
records the victory in the chariot-race at Olympia of Attalus, brother
of Philetaerus and father of Attalus I.[228] But in Egypt life was more
settled, and more prosperous, and the Ptolemaei showed themselves
devoted supporters of the Hellenic festivals. Ptolemaeus, the son of
Lagus, won the chariot-race with a pair of colts in 314 B.C. at Delphi,
where he was proclaimed a Macedonian. For, adds Pausanias, the Ptolemaei
delighted to call themselves Macedonians. At Olympia he dedicated
statues, one of himself and another of an unnamed athlete. His successor
Philadelphus erected the statue of Areus of Sparta as a monument, says
his inscription, of his goodwill to himself and to all Greece.[229]
Among those who took refuge at his court was Glaucon of Athens,
distinguished not only for a victory in the chariot-race 260 B.C., but
for his spirited resistance to Antigonus. His statue at Olympia was
erected by Ptolemy Euergetes. There, too, was the statue of Belistiche
of Macedon, the mistress of Philadelphus, who won the pair-horse
chariot-race for colts on the first occasion that this event was
introduced, in Ol. 129. The statues of Philadelphus and Arsinoë, his
wife and sister, were set up by the Samian Callicrates on lofty pillars
placed upon a raised basement of stone in front of the Echo

It has been already mentioned that Philadelphus founded a gymnasium at
Athens. Curtius suggests that the palaestra and gymnasium at Olympia
were the work of the same benefactor. Neither of these buildings is
likely to be earlier than his time, but there is no real proof to
connect them with Philadelphus. The fact recorded by Pausanias that
Euanoridas, who won the boys’ wrestling match in 252 B.C., afterwards as
Hellanodicas had the list of Olympic victors inscribed and set up in the
gymnasium at Olympia, proves at the most that the gymnasium must have
existed at the close of the third century.[231] There is still less
evidence for Curtius’ view that the founding of the gymnasium and
palaestra was an attempt to counteract the one-sided athleticism of
Olympia by founding a sort of public school at Olympia where the youth
of Greece could receive mental as well as physical instruction. Olympia
was not, and was not likely to become, a residential place. This is
proved by the story of the eccentric philosopher Alexinus the Litigious,
as he was nicknamed, who tried to set up there a school of philosophy
but failed, being deserted by all his followers owing to the want of
accommodation and difficulty of obtaining supplies. The palaestra of
Olympia, which will be described in a later chapter, was of the ordinary
Greek type, and the fact that some of the rooms were provided with
benches does not prove that the place was intended for a school. Seats
and stools are no uncommon accompaniment of athletic scenes on the
vases, where they serve, among other purposes, for the athletes to put
their clothes upon. That the gymnasium and palaestra were intended for
competitors at the festivals and were little used at other times is
proved by an inscription at Delphi which contains the contracts for
preparing for the festival not only the stadium and hippodrome, but also
the gymnasium and palaestra.[232] Before the festival and during it
these must have been thronged with athletes practising, and must have
been as favourite a resort of visitors interested in their performances
as is the paddock to-day at Epsom or Ascot.

I have dwelt at some length on the monuments of this period because they
illustrate the extension of Hellenism and therefore of the influence of
Olympia over the East. Further, while honorary statues of distinguished
men are multiplied the athletic statues gradually fall off in number,
ceasing almost entirely after the middle of the second century.[233] Of
the thirty-two statues erected during this period no less than fifteen
were erected by the Eleans, a striking testimony to the wealth of
Olympia. In the list of Olympic victors the noticeable feature is the
almost complete disappearance of names from Sicily and Italy,[234] and
also from the old states of the mainland, such as Athens and Sparta.
Their place is taken by competitors from the East, from Aetolia and
Achaia and the newer cities of the Peloponnese.

Though, as we have said above, athletics were largely neglected by the
upper classes, we still as at all times find a few notable exceptions.
Such were Aratus, who, though his only victory at Olympia was in the
chariot-race, is stated to have won various successes in the pentathlon,
the competition which appealed least to professionals; on the other
hand, the other great general of the Achaean league, Philopoemen, would
have nothing to do with athletics, and even forbade his soldiers to take
part in training which only unfitted them for the hardships of a
campaign. Another notable pentathlete was Gorgus of Messene, who won
considerable renown as a statesman and was sent as ambassador to Philip
III. of Macedon. Besides the pentathlon he won the diaulos and the race
in armour.

The falling off in competition and the growth of professionalism are
shown by the number of men who won victories in more than one event at
the same festival. Philinus of Cos, who won the stadium race in Ols.
129, 130, is credited with three other victories at Olympia, four in the
Pythia, four in the Nemea, and eleven in the Isthmia—twenty-four in all.
A still finer record is that of Leonidas of Rhodes, who won all four
foot-races in three successive Olympiads 164-156 B.C., thus three times
earning the title of τριαστής or triple victor given to those who won
the stade-race, diaulos, and dolichos. Besides the professional runner,
we have the professional fighter represented by the successors of
Heracles already alluded to, with regard to whom we may add that with
the exception of Caprus of Elis all holders of the title came from the
East. The successors of Heracles are further honoured with the title of
παράδοξος or παραδοξονίκης, and in the second century we find for the
first time in Olympic inscriptions the term περίοδος or περιοδονίκης
used of those who won victories in all the four great festivals which
formed the athletic cycle or period. Such terms suggest the age of
athletic “records” which was to come under the Romans.

Two more equestrian events were added during this period—the two-horse
chariot-race for colts, and the riding-race for colts, introduced in
Ols. 129 and 131 respectively. Both these events, introduced obviously
with the intention of encouraging horse breeding, had been introduced
half a century earlier at Delphi, doubtless owing to Macedonian
influence. Lastly in Ol. 145 the athletic programme was completed by the
introduction of the pankration for boys, which was won by Phaedimus,
described variously as from Alexandria Troas, or from Naukratis in
Egypt. The pankration was not a competition suited for boys, and it was
a true athletic feeling which had so long excluded it from the boys’
events at Olympia. Its introduction is significant of the growing love
of sensational and brutal displays which we associate rather with the
Romans than the Greeks. It was only a few years later that Antiochus
Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.) introduced into Syria the Roman gladiatorial
games, and though the innovation at first met with criticism and
opposition, the Greeks only too soon became accustomed to such sights.

With the advent of the Romans the history of Greek athletics really
ends, though the athletic festivals were destined to survive four
centuries or more under their patronage. The Romans posed as the
champions and kinsmen of the Greeks, and like the Macedonians fully
realised the importance of these festivals. As early as 228 B.C. they
had been admitted to participation in the Eleusinian mysteries and the
Isthmian games, in recognition of their services in freeing the Adriatic
from Illyrian pirates, though it may be doubtful if Roman citizens
deigned to compete in the actual sports. Again in 196 B.C. it was at the
Isthmian games that Flamininus proclaimed the liberation of Greece from
the tyranny of Macedon. At Olympia Titus Manlius had appeared as
ambassador in 208 B.C. to secure the support of the Sicilian and Italian
Greeks against their common foe Carthage. Finally Mummius commemorated
the defeat of the Achaeans, the destruction of Corinth, and the
restoration of unity to Greece by dedicating at Olympia a bronze statue
of Zeus and twenty-one golden shields arrayed above the colonnade
surrounding the temple of Zeus. But the unity thus commemorated was
secured at the cost of liberty.

It was the spirit of independence which had given life to those great
athletic meetings where the free citizens of free states contended not
for personal glory so much as for the honour of their states. These
states were no longer free, and all the pomp and splendour lavished on
the festivals by their imperial patrons could not recall to life the
spirit that had fled.

Footnote 213:

  Quintilian aptly contrasts the bulging muscles, “tori,” of such
  athletes with the “lacertus” of soldiers.

Footnote 214:

  Paus. v. 21, 10.

Footnote 215:

  Polyb. 27, 7 A.

Footnote 216:

  A third-century inscription from Epidaurus, Dittenb. _Syll._ 2nd Ed.,
  689, records that three athletes, a stadiodromos, a pentathlete, and a
  pankratiast, were fined 1000 staters each διὰ τὸ φθείρειν τοὺς ἀγῶνας.
  The next inscription, 690, records a similar fine on certain actors.

Footnote 217:

  Roberts and Gardner, _Greek Epigraphy_, ii. p. 145.

Footnote 218:

  Roberts and Gardner, _Greek Epigraphy_, ii. 61, p. 162 ( = _I.G._ ii.
  444); cp. _I.G._ ii. 445, 446. Mommsen, _Feste der Stadt Athens_, pp.
  278 ff.

Footnote 219:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., 522, 523, 524, 672, 673, 674.

Footnote 220:

  Krause, _Olymp._ p. 215. Diodorus and Ulpian assign the founding of
  these games to Archelaus, another account assigns it to Philip II.

Footnote 221:

  Xen. _Hell._ vi. 4, 29.

Footnote 222:

  Arr. _Anab._ ii. 15.

Footnote 223:

  _Ol. Ins._ 276, 277. Another such courier was Deinosthenes of Sparta,
  who won the foot-race in Ol. 116, and set up beside his statue a
  pillar giving the distance from Olympia to Sparta as 630 stades, and
  from Sparta to the next pillar (at Amyclae) as 30 stades. Paus. vi.
  16, 8; _Ol. Ins._ 171.

Footnote 224:

  Alexandrian victories in 272, 256, 240, 228, 212 B.C. _Vide_ Förster,
  _op. cit._

Footnote 225:

  _Ol. Ins._ 294.

Footnote 226:

  _Ol. Ins._ 39.

Footnote 227:

  This victory was commemorated by the founding of a new festival, the
  Soteria, which is mentioned in various athletic inscriptions of the

Footnote 228:

  Fränckel, _Antiq. Pergam._ viii. 1, pp. 8, 10.

Footnote 229:

  _Ol. Ins._ 308.

Footnote 230:

  _Ol. Ins._ 306, 307.

Footnote 231:

  Little weight can be attached to such a statement. The list may well
  have been transferred to the gymnasium when it was built. A similar
  list was set up by the father of Paraballon whose victory in the
  diaulos is placed by Hyde between Ol. 91-101, when the gymnasium
  certainly did not exist.

Footnote 232:

  _B.C.H._, 1899, pp. 565 ff. The inscription is dated by the archonship
  of Dion, 258 B.C.

Footnote 233:

  Of the statues seen by Pausanias none can be much later than 150 B.C.
  (_vide_ Hyde, _Olymp. Statues_). The Olympic inscriptions show that
  the custom was revived at the close of the first century B.C. _Ins._
  213, 219, 224, 225, etc.

Footnote 234:

  The only statue from Sicily is that of Hieron II. of Syracuse.

                              CHAPTER VIII
                       ATHLETICS UNDER THE ROMANS

Greek athletics must have been familiar to the Romans from early times.
We have seen how prominent a part the Greek cities of Italy and Sicily
had taken in the festivals of Greece during the sixth and fifth
centuries. The popularity of athletics among the Etruscans is proved by
the numerous scenes painted on the walls of Etruscan tombs, where every
variety of sport is represented. The “ludi Maximi” of Rome herself show
strong traces of Greek influence. Moreover the Romans, like all vigorous
nations, were fond of physical exercises—running, wrestling, throwing
the diskos and the spear, and especially games of ball. But they were
not fond of competitions. Consequently athletics never acquired at Rome
the importance which they possessed in Greece, and their festivals, if
originally similar in character to those of Greece, soon became mere
spectacles in which the performers, whether actors, riders, or athletes,
were professionals belonging to subject races and the lower classes,
hired for the amusement of the Roman citizens. Rome recognized no peers
among the neighbouring states, and free competition between independent
states was therefore impossible at Rome. Moreover, the centuries of
struggle during which she step by step extended and consolidated her
power had left little time or inclination for less serious contests, and
had developed in her citizens a strongly practical type of character
that could feel no sympathy with the athletic ideal of Greece. To the
Roman as to the Spartan athletics were nothing but a means to an end,
and that end military efficiency. To devote to sport the time and energy
necessary to secure success at Olympia, to submit for months to the
tyranny of a trainer, often a man of no birth or position, and above all
to exhibit oneself naked before the eyes of one’s fellow-citizens—these
were things quite inconsistent with the Roman’s idea of his dignity as a
citizen. Even as spectacles the Greek sports did not appeal to his
taste. Brutalized by incessant war, he preferred more exciting contests,
and took more pleasure in the gladiatorial shows of his Etruscan and
Campanian neighbours than in musical or gymnastic competitions. It was
186 B.C. that Greek athletes and actors first appeared at the Roman
games; but a more pleasing innovation must have been the importation in
the same year of lions and panthers from Africa to provide more exciting
sport for the spectators in the circus. When in 167 B.C. some famous
Greek flute-players who were performing at a festival failed to please
the Roman audience, the managers ordered them to box, a performance
which caused boundless delight to the spectators.

When in the second century B.C. the Romans were first brought into
closer contact with Greece, they found ample justification for their
anti-athletic prejudice in the vicious and corrupt state into which
athletics had fallen at that period in Greece. The competitions were in
the hands of professional athletes, whose training rendered them useless
as soldiers; the gymnasia, instead of producing healthy, useful
citizens, had become schools of idleness and immorality; from a physical
and military point of view the whole nation had degenerated. The
athletic festivals were useful political factors, and as such the Romans
knew how to utilize them. Some, like Aemilius Paulus, standing before
the Zeus of Pheidias might feel something of the beauty and the grandeur
of the Greek ideal, or, like Cato, that odd mixture of conservatism and
Hellenism, might train their sons in the athletic exercises of Greece;
but the mass of the nation was unaffected; for a long time no gymnasia
or palaestrae rose in Rome, no Roman deigned to compete in the games of

The old Roman prejudice died hard. More than a century after the
founding of the Empire, in spite of imperial Philhellenism, we find an
echo of it in the reign of Nero, in the protests of the old school
against the introduction in Rome of a festival on Greek lines. “The
youths were degenerating under the influence of foreign tastes, passing
their time in athletics, in idling, and low intrigues; what remained for
them but to strip themselves naked, put on the caestus, and practise
such battles instead of the arms of legitimate warfare?”[235]

Such being the feeling of Rome towards Greek athletics, it is no matter
for wonder that in spite of the growing influence of Hellenism, the
festivals languished during the century which followed the fall of
Corinth. In 80 B.C. Sulla transferred the whole Olympic festival,
athletes and all, to Rome, leaving only the boys’ foot-race to be
decided at Olympia. Perhaps his object was to transfer the festival
permanently to Rome; but ere another Olympiad came round Sulla himself
was dead, and his purpose was never accomplished. But the prestige of
the festival suffered. We possess the list of Olympic victors for the
year 72 B.C. In this Olympiad, as in the Olympiad which followed the
Spartan invasion of 399 B.C., the falling off in the competition is
marked by a series of local victories. Eight, possibly eleven events
fell to Elis, Hecatomnus, the winner of three of the foot-races, being
variously assigned to Elis and Miletus; two events fell to Sicyon, one
to Cyparissia in Messenia, the remaining four events being divided
between Alexandria, Mysia, Asia, and Cos. Elis carried off all the
equestrian events. In the Olympic inscriptions which belong to this
period it is remarkable that nearly all the victors are Eleans and
nearly all their victories are gained in the horse-races.[236] This
local predominance, coupled with the depression produced by Sulla’s
invasion, may account for the fact, recorded by Africanus, that the
chariot-race and perhaps other equestrian events were discontinued in
the year 68 B.C., not to be revived until the time of the Empire.[237]

Meanwhile a change had come over the character of the Roman people. No
longer occupied incessantly in war, the dwellers in the capital had
become more and more addicted to amusements. Festival after festival was
added to their calendar, and ambitious politicians vied with one another
in the variety and magnificence of the entertainments which they
provided in the hopes of winning the favour of the sovereign people.
These entertainments, though containing athletic and equestrian
competitions, were, however, purely spectacular, and it was regarded as
a disgrace for a Roman citizen to take part in them personally. The
character of these entertainments and their difference from the Greek
festivals may be illustrated by the account given by Suetonius of those
provided by Julius Caesar.[238] Besides a variety of dramatic and
musical performances, there were the games in the circus, athletic
displays, and a sea-fight. In these certain Roman citizens of position
actually took part. There was a gladiatorial contest between Furius
Leptinus, a member of a praetorian family, and Quintus Calpenus, an
ex-senator. The Pyrrhic dance was performed by noble youths from Asia
and Bithynia; and one Decimus Laberius, a Roman knight, actually
performed in a farce of his own composition, for which he was handsomely
rewarded by Caesar, and restored to the rank which he had forfeited by
his performance. At the games in the circus youths of noble birth took
part in the chariot and horse-races. Two companies of boys exhibited the
semi-military manœuvres called the Trojan game. Five days were occupied
in _venationes_, or combats with wild beasts, and there was a sham fight
between two forces consisting each of 500 foot-soldiers, 30 cavalry and
20 elephants. To provide more space for this performance the metae of
the circus were removed and a camp was formed at either end. A temporary
stand was erected in the field of Mars, where athletic competitions took
place lasting three days. Lastly, a huge artificial lake was constructed
in which biremes, triremes, and quadriremes from Tyre and Egypt joined
in mimic battle. All the neighbouring roads and streets were occupied by
the tents of visitors, and so great was the crowd that many were crushed
to death. But Caesar himself, the giver of all, cared for none of these
things; and his enemies accused him of amusing himself with reading and
writing when he ought to have been watching the progress of the

With the Empire a new era opened for Greece. As the conquests of
Alexander had spread Hellenism throughout the East, so the Roman Empire
gradually hellenized the whole civilized world. Though Greece was
incorporated in the Roman Empire, cities like Athens and Sparta
preserved the outward forms of independence; the bodies which controlled
her ancient festivals continued to exercise their hereditary functions,
and were treated as a rule with all honour and respect. In the sphere of
literature and art Greece had long been recognized as the mistress and
teacher of her conqueror. Hence the feeling of subjection disappeared,
and so complete was the fusion between conquered and conqueror that in
the second century, while the ancient families of Elis or of Sparta bore
the names of their Roman patrons, such as the Julii, or the Flavii, and
were enrolled in Roman tribes, the Greek language had become the
language of communication throughout all the Eastern half of the Empire,
and at Rome herself was supplanting Latin as the language of literature.
These results were largely due to the Philhellenism of the emperors, and
nowhere is this Philhellenism more conspicuous than in connection with
athletic festivals. The old festivals were celebrated with increased
splendour and ceremony, new festivals were introduced in close imitation
of them, sumptuous race-courses and gymnasia were provided not merely in
Greece but in Italy and in Rome herself, athletic guilds were formed;
and though the athletic revival was purely professional and had little
effect on the people, whether of Greece or Rome, the privileges and
rewards showered on the successful athletes were certainly no less
substantial if less honourable than those bestowed on the victors of the
fifth century B.C.

The Julii claimed admission to the festivals of Greece as the
descendants and heirs of the gods who presided over those festivals. At
Olympia their claim was recognized by the re-dedication to their service
of the little temple of the Mother of the Gods, in which were placed the
statues of Augustus and his successors. Under their patronage the
festival recovered much of its ancient glory. The horse-races, which had
been discontinued, were revived shortly before our era, when members of
the imperial family, emulating the triumphs of the princes of Sicily and
Macedon, entered as competitors for the Olympic crown. Inscriptions
record the victory of the youthful Tiberius in the chariot-race, and a
few years later of Germanicus Caesar in the same event. The building of
the arched entrance into the stadium and other improvements possibly
belong to the reign of Augustus. The remarkable continuity of Olympic
administration is shown by a series of inscriptions recording the names
of the various officials connected with the sanctuary.[240] These lists
begin in 30 B.C. and continue down to A.D. 265. They include every
variety of official, from the seers and heralds of the sacred truce down
to the cook and baker who provided the sacrificial feasts, and perhaps
catered for the higher officials and for distinguished visitors. One
important officer bore the title of official guide or exegetes; his duty
doubtless was to explain to the crowds of visitors the historical
monuments of the Altis. In the second century, owing to the increasing
numbers of visitors a second guide was appointed. It was from these
guides that Pausanias derived much of the information contained in his
books on Elis. The higher offices seem to have formed a regular scale of
honours, a _cursus honorum_, hereditary in the families of the Elean
nobility, most of whom bear Roman names. It is curious to find one
bearing the name of Flavius Heracleitus, who had the charge of the
statue of Zeus, calling himself a descendant of Pheidias. The activity
of the administration is shown by the revival of the practice of
dedicating honorary statues of athletes and others: perhaps it is to
this revival that we may ascribe the rule recorded by Pliny that
portrait statues were only allowed in the case of athletes who had won
three Olympic victories.[241] It is in the inscriptions of these
honorary statues that after a long interval we find mention of the
council who seem to have held supreme authority over the sanctuary and
whose sanction was necessary for the erection of statues in the
Altis.[242] The revival of ancient forms of administration is
characteristic of Roman conservatism and love of order.

The Philhellenism of the Caesars and their Roman love of archaism are
particularly manifest in the numerous festivals founded by them in
various parts of the Empire. Of most of these we know little besides the
names which are mentioned in inscriptions and on coins; a few deserve
special notice and may be taken as typical of the rest. Augustus
celebrated his victory at Actium, not only by holding Actian games at
Rome but by instituting at the newly founded Nicopolis an Actian
festival intended to rival or even surpass Olympia. A local festival had
long been held at Actium every two years. The new festival which,
besides athletic, musical, and equestrian competitions, included a
regatta, was, like the Olympic festival, held every four years. The
victors received crowns and bore the title Actianicae, and the Actiads
were intended to form the basis of a new chronology which was to
supplant that of the Olympiads. We feel in all this something of that
spirit of conscious rivalry between Rome and Greece which made the Roman
poet herald the _Aeneid_ as a work greater than the _Iliad_. But though
in imperial inscriptions the Actia rank with, or even take precedence of
the Panhellenic festivals, the new games were destined never to acquire
the prestige of the old.

The same spirit of conscious rivalry appears again in the proud title
“ἰσολύμπια” applied to the Augustalia at Naples. These games, founded in
1 B.C., were reorganized in A.D. 2 as a quinquennial festival with the
magniloquent name “Italica Romaia Sebasta Isolympia.” The new era which
began with them was reckoned by “Italids.” The terms ἰσολύμπια and
ἰσοπύθια referred originally to the conditions of competition and
particularly to the age of competitors. Thus the expressions Olympian,
Pythian, Isthmian boys, denote boys within the age-limit for the boys’
events at these respective festivals. Under the Empire the terms have
often merely an honorary significance, and such apparently is the use of
the word here. A long, unfortunately much mutilated, inscription[243]
found at Olympia contains regulations for this festival, for the age of
competitors, the date of entry, provision for them during the time of
training, and the penalties imposed for any breach of these rules. The
festival fell into two parts, the first part of which, like the old
Olympia, consisted only of equestrian and athletic events. The prize, as
at Olympia, was a wreath. The second part, as we learn from another
inscription, resembled the Pythian and Nemean festivals in its
regulations with regard to ages and prizes. It contained, besides
athletic and equestrian events, musical and dramatic competitions, and
some of the competitions were confined to citizens of Naples. The prizes
consisted in sums of money.

Somewhat similar was the character of the Olympic and Pythian festivals
which we find in Rome, Athens, Ephesus, and a number of other places.
The right to bestow these titles must originally have rested with the
authorities at Olympia and Delphi, but seems later to have been
exercised by the emperors.[244] Each new festival founded was the
beginning of a new series of Olympiads. At Rome the great Capitolia,
founded by Domitian in A.D. 86, bore the title Olympia, and Flavius
Archibius, an Olympic victor in Ols. 220, 221, is also described as
victor at Rome in the 3rd and following Olympiads. The judges at these
festivals were sometimes called Hellanodicae,[245] and doubtless many
other features of the original festivals were reproduced. Perhaps the
most interesting of all these games are those held at Daphne near
Antioch. Founded originally by Antiochus Epiphanes, they obtained from
the Eleans the title of Olympia in A.D. 44. Their interest lies in the
fact that the model of Olympia was followed in every particular, not
only in the programme and administration, but in the relations existing
between Daphne and Antioch, which corresponded entirely to these between
Olympia and Elis. In the fourth century a fierce dispute arose between a
popular party, which wished to transfer the important part of the
festival from Daphne to Antioch, and the conservative party headed by
Libanius, who characterized the proposed change as sacrilege and a
violation of the true Olympia. We have frequent references to the
festival in the writings of St. Chrysostom, for a long time presbyter at
Antioch; and it continued to be celebrated as late as the reign of
Justinus in the sixth century.[246]

Imperial patronage was not at all times an unmixed blessing for the
Greeks. Caligula would have carried off to Rome the statue of Olympian
Zeus had he not been prevented by the miraculous protest of the statue
itself. Nero actually carried off to Rome thousands of works of art, and
in his jealousy caused the statues of victors at the games to be pulled
down and thrown into the sewers. Despite his pretended flattery of the
Greeks and desire to win their approbation for his art, he had so little
respect for religion that he caused the times of the festivals to be
altered so that they might all be celebrated during his visit to
Greece.[247] At Olympia contests in tragedy and singing were introduced
into the programme at his behest; a house was built for his
entertainment at the south-east corner of the Altis, and almost opposite
it a magnificent processional entrance was constructed, the Altis wall
being at the same time extended southward so as to include the
triangular strip between the old wall and the northern line of the
council house. The story of his performances at the games is a piteous
proof of the degradation of the festivals and of the servility of the
Greeks. At Olympia he won crowns in the chariot-races, in the
competitions for singing and for tragedy, and in the heralds’
competition. For the latter he entered wherever he competed in order to
have the privilege of proclaiming his victories with his own voice. In
the hippodrome he appeared in a chariot drawn by ten horses; thrown from
his chariot, he was picked up and replaced, resumed the race, and was
finally awarded the prize by the obsequious officials. Though he was
said to be fond of wrestling, he had sufficient respect for Roman
prejudice to abstain from exhibiting his skill in the stadium, and
contented himself with playing the part of a brabeutes, sitting on the
ground during the rounds, and with his own hands pulling the combatants
back if they got too far away. The servile Hellanodicae were rewarded
with Roman citizenship and with large sums of money, which they had to
disgorge in the reign of his successor. Finally, at the end of his tour,
he proclaimed himself at the Isthmian games as the restorer of the
liberty of Greece. Returning to Italy with 1808 crowns which he had won,
he was welcomed at Naples with all the most extravagant honours which
were ever recorded to have been paid to an Olympia victor. A breach was
made in the city wall through which he entered in a chariot drawn by
white horses. The same farce was repeated at Antium and Albanum. He
entered Rome in the chariot in which Augustus had triumphed, clothed in
purple, with the Olympic crown upon his head, and holding the Pythian
crown in his right hand, while before him marched a procession of
courtiers carrying the crowns which he had won, and proclaiming to the
populace the names and details of his triumphs. No wonder that such as
remained of the old Roman stock regarded the competitions of the Greeks
with amused contempt, that Seneca and other writers of the first century
were unanimous in their condemnation of Greek athletics, and that the
Olympic competitor became the butt of the epigrammatist. That Olympia
survived even this degradation is perhaps the strongest proof of its

While the emperors were introducing Greek festivals into Italy, the
influence of Rome was degrading and brutalizing the public taste of
Greece. Gladiatorial shows had been introduced into the East nearly two
centuries before Christ. They had long been popular with the
cosmopolitan crowds of Antioch and Alexandria. In Greece they found a
congenial home in the equally cosmopolitan crowd of Corinth, which,
refounded as a Roman colony by Julius Caesar, quickly regained her
commercial supremacy, and eclipsed even the records of her past in
wealth and luxury and vice. Athens followed and even improved upon the
example set by her rival. For while at Corinth the gladiatorial shows
had been held in a ravine outside the city, at Athens they were
exhibited in the theatre of Dionysus.[248]

The growing love of excitement and bloodshed is evident in boxing. The
caestus had, as we have seen, become gradually more ponderous and more
murderous, and boxing consequently less scientific. Every one is
familiar with the description of the boxing match in the _Aeneid_. The
brutal, unscientific fight is in perfect keeping with the ponderous
character of the weapons, and even the gentle and refined Vergil can
only represent a heroic fight by heaping horror upon horror, and by
ascribing the heavy caestus to heroic times, he actually reverses the
whole history of boxing. We should not perhaps take Vergil’s description
as typical of Greek boxing even in his day, but only of the feeling at
Rome, where scientific boxing was of so little account that even
Augustus preferred to watch a fight between two street roughs to a match
between trained boxers. But the brutality of boxing even in Greece is
strikingly illustrated in a collection of epigrams written by or
collected by one Lucilius in the reign of Nero. Their tone of
persiflage, so different from that of the early Greek epigrammatist, is
just what we should expect from such an age. Some of them are skits upon
the athletes or would-be athletes of the age; a whole series are devoted
to describing the disfigurement and mutilation of the boxer. Here is an
old translation of one of them which may be taken as typical of them

             This victor, glorious in his olive wreath,
             Had once eyes, eyebrows, nose, and ears and teeth.
             But turning cestus champion, to his cost,
             These, and still worse! his heritage he lost,
             For by his brother su’d, disowned, at last
             Confronted with his picture he was cast.[249]

Dion Chrysostom gives us an interesting glimpse of the Isthmia during
the first century, in the story he tells of Diogenes’ visit to the
festival.[250] The scene is laid in the fourth century B.C., but the
details are clearly drawn from the orator’s own experience. Diogenes the
Cynic happens to visit Corinth at the time of the festival. There, at
the cross-roads of the world, he finds gathered together visitors from
Ionia and Sicily, from Italy and Libya, from Massilia and the
Borysthenes. Around the temple of Poseidon are wretched sophists
shouting and abusing one another, their pupils are fighting, historians
are reading meaningless compositions, poets are reciting verses,
miracle-mongers are working miracles, augurs are interpreting omens,
thousands of orators are wrangling, and merchants of every sort are
bargaining. The crowd, regardless of all other interests, is watching
the performances of the athletes, “mere slaves,” he calls them, “that
run and jump and dance.” Here Diogenes sees a band of friends carrying a
victor in the foot-race in triumphant procession, while the people shout
and cheer and heap upon him fillets and garlands. The Cynic stops him
and points out that after all he is not as swift as the hare or the
deer, the most cowardly of animals. He himself has won a victory over
adversaries that cannot be overcome by men “stuffed and puffed, who
spend whole days in eating and snore all night like pigs,” for he has
won a victory over pain and pleasure. Finally he boldly puts upon his
head the celery crown, and when the indignant officials protest, asks
them, “Will ye take the crown from me and give it to him who is stuffed
with most meat?” The rhetoric is for the most part mere commonplace of
the schools; yet we cannot doubt that the description is true of the
Isthmia and of other festivals, especially of those in the rich cities
of the East.

In such soil corruption throve. Philostratus, writing more than a
century later, tells us that victories were publicly bought and sold;
even the trainers encouraged the traffic, lending money for bribery to
athletes at exorbitant rates of interest.[251] At the Isthmia a
competitor who had promised his rival 3000 drachmae to let him win,
refused to pay on the ground that he had won on his merits. Recourse was
had to the oath, and the defeated competitor publicly swore before the
altar of Poseidon that he had been promised the money if he allowed
himself to be defeated. “What,” adds Philostratus, “might not happen in
Ionia or in Asia?”

At Olympia the honour of the games was still maintained. Bribery was
severely punished. In Ols. 192 (12 B.C.) and 226 (A.D. 125) we read of
fines exacted for corruption from which as of old Zanes were
erected.[252] In the former case it was a father who bribed his son’s
opponent, and the fine was therefore exacted from the parents. In Ol.
218 (A.D. 93) one Apollonius of Alexandria was fined for coming too
late and thereby disqualifying himself from competition. He pleaded
that he had been detained by contrary winds. But it was proved that
the plea was false, and that the real cause of his delay was that he
had been “pot-hunting” in Ionia. It seems as if the authorities at
Olympia even made an attempt to check the arrogant pretensions and
self-advertisements of the professional fighter by abolishing the
title “Successor of Heracles.” The title was won for the last time in
Ol. 204 (A.D. 37) by one Nicostratus, after whose victories the Eleans
made a secret decree that no one should thereafter be allowed to win
in both wrestling and the pankration. The account given by Dion of the
Isthmia gathers force from its contrast with the veneration which he
expresses for the Olympia, and his charming picture of the youthful
Melancomas.[253] He and his father, himself an Olympic victor, seem
even in that age of athletic decay to have lived up to the ideal of
the best days.

A curious development of professionalism which we now meet with was the
growth of athletic guilds resembling the dramatic guilds which had long
existed. Victorious athletes at Rome, as in Greece, received certain
privileges, including maintenance at the public cost, which privilege
Maecenas advised Augustus to confine to winners at Olympia and Delphi
and Rome.[254] Augustus, we are told, maintained and increased the
privileges of athletes.[255] Guilds were one of the features of the
early Empire, and it was therefore natural for athletes to form such
combinations. These athletic guilds were called Xystoi from the xystos
or covered colonnade which formed part of a gymnasium. The most famous
of these clubs was that of the Herculanei,[256] a club which seems
originally to have been formed at Sardis. In the reign of Trajan it was
dissolved and transferred to Rome. One M. Ulpius came to the emperor as
their spokesman to petition for quarters at Rome, and we possess copies
of two letters of Trajan granting their petition.[257] He appoints them
a house where they may keep their sacred things and records, near the
baths built by his grandfather Trajan, and conveniently situated for the
great Capitolia. Here they had a gymnasium and a council-chamber in
which discussions could take place on all questions affecting the
welfare of athletes, the holding of competitions, and the erection of
honorary statues. They were a sacred guild, and within their precinct
were statues of emperors and members of the guild. Their president or
xystarches was also high-priest of the guild. He was often a
distinguished athlete and held the office for life; and with it also the
office of overseer of the imperial baths. The religious character of
these guilds is a curious survival of the immemorial connexion between
religion and athletics. Sometimes there were special competitions for
members of certain guilds. At the Augustalia at Naples we find a series
of competitions confined to members of the Augustan class, while mention
is also made of a pankration for Claudian boys. These expressions seem
to denote clubs or guilds bearing the name of Augustus and
Claudius.[258] The most important guild at Naples was “the holy
itinerant synod of the Alexandrini.” The term περιπολιστική, which
corresponds to our “nomads” or “wanderers,” indicates that they did not
confine their attentions to local festivals, but went about from place
to place.[259] An Olympic inscription of the year A.D. 85 records the
erection of a statue in honour of Lucius Vetulenus Laetus by the whole
body of athletes gathered together “from the inhabited world” for the
festival, and by the holy synod of the Xystos.[260] This particular
xystos was presumably a local Elean guild. The title xystarches is known
also at Sparta, and occurs in an inscription recently discovered at
Sparta by the British excavators. The inscription contains regulations
for a Spartan festival, probably the Leonidaea, a festival held in
honour of those who fell at Thermopylae, and confined to Spartan
competitors.[261] The xystarches is to place oil in the stadium, and
discharge the usual duties of his post. As the president of the local
gymnasium, he naturally took an important part in local festivals. He
seems generally to have been a man of some importance, often an old
athlete. His duties were probably as vague and depended as much on his
personal inclination as those of the president of a modern athletic

[Illustration: Fig. 22. Athletics under the Romans. From a mosaic found
at Tusculum.]

A mosaic found at Tusculum (Fig. 22) gives a vivid picture of the life
of these professional athletes under the Empire. A comparison of these
scenes with those represented on the Panaetius kylix in Fig. 17 will
illustrate better than any description the difference between the two

The renaissance of Hellenism which marked the second century brought
with it a revival of the Greek athletic festivals and Greek athletics,
which, under the patronage of the “Greekling” Hadrian and his
successors, attained an outward prosperity and splendour unparalleled
since the fifth century. It was the object of these emperors, who were
as much at home in Greece as in Italy, to revive the glories of the
past, and restore to the mainland of Greece that pre-eminence in the
Hellenic world which had been usurped by the great cities of the East.
Everywhere splendid buildings testified to the lavish munificence, if
not always to the good taste, of the emperors, and of wealthy subjects
who emulated their example. Countless monuments and inscriptions
throughout Greece bear witness to the activity of Hadrian. At Athens he
built a gymnasium and library, at Corinth he provided baths, at Nemea he
instituted a winter festival, while at Mantinea and Argos he founded
quinquennial festivals in honour of his beloved Antinous, whose cult
spread rapidly throughout the Empire. His reverence for Olympia and its
ideals is shown by a series of coins bearing on one side the emperor’s
head, on the other a representation of the Zeus of Pheidias.[262] But
Hadrian’s monuments sink into insignificance in comparison with the
prodigal generosity of Herodes Atticus, who rebuilt in stone the stadia
at Delphi and Athens, the latter in marble from Pentelicus. At Olympia
he contributed to the comfort of the spectators by providing a new
system of water-supply, while he left a more conspicuous if less useful
monument of himself in the so-called exedra, a pompous and incongruous
semicircular building erected between the Heraeum and the western end of
the treasuries, at the only vacant spot commanding a view of the altar
of Zeus. The exedra was dedicated to Zeus in the name of his wife
Regilla, who held at Olympia the honoured position of priestess to
Demeter Chamyne. Statues of Regilla and Herodes were placed by the
Eleans in the exedra, which also contained the statues of Hadrian,
Antoninus and other members of the imperial family, who from this place
of honour seemed to look on for ever as spectators and patrons of the
festival. Under such patronage the games attracted crowds from all parts
of the “inhabited world,” and indeed exercised considerable influence.
For the religious idea expressed in the statue of Olympian Zeus
fascinated the thought of the age. But for the Greeks themselves
regeneration was no longer possible. Physically, morally, politically
they were too degenerate. In the Olympic records of the second century
there are few names from the mother-country; most of the victors came
from the cities of Egypt and the East, especially from Alexandria. The
marble stadium of Herodes Atticus at Athens witnessed all the
brutalities of the Roman gladiatorial shows.

The artificiality of the athletic revival is nowhere more evident than
in the numerous inscriptions of this period, which in their pompous
verbosity afford a striking contrast to the severe simplicity of the
time when athletics were a real part of the national life. As we read
them we feel ourselves in another world, a world-of professionalism, of
self-advertisement, and of records, which bears no little resemblance to
that in which we are living to-day. Compare, for example, the simple
inscriptions at Olympia recording the victories of the Diagoridae[263]
with the first-century inscription in honour of Publius Cornelius
Ariston of Ephesus, who won the boys’ pankration in Ol. 207 (A.D. 49),
or better still with the second-century inscriptions found in Italy
enumerating the exploits of Titus Flavius Artemidorus of Adana of
Cilicia, or of Marcus Aurelius Asclepiades of Alexandria. The very names
are significant of the change that has taken place. “Diagoras (son) of
Damagetus a Rhodian” such is the simple formula of early days. The only
description of the contest vouchsafed is the name of the festival and
the event, with the single word ἀκονιτεί added occasionally to denote a
“walk over.” Occasionally a simple couplet is added. But the pedestal of
Ariston’s statue[264] had inscribed on it, besides the usual formula, a
poem of twenty-four lines describing his powers and his fame, how in a
field of seven he won all his heats without having the advantage of a
bye, and how his glory was proclaimed not only throughout all Hellas but
throughout Asia.

A few examples of these inscriptions will best illustrate the character
of the age. They begin with a fulsome list of the victor’s honorary
titles. That on Asclepiades[265] informs us that he and his father both
held for life the office of “high-priest of the whole xystos and
overseer of the imperial baths,” that he was “chief of the temple
guardians of Great Serapis, a citizen of Alexandria, Hermopolis, and
Puteoli, and councillor of Neapolis, Elis, Athens, and many other
cities.” Then follows a glowing description of his unbeaten record as “a
pankratiast, a periodonikes invincible, immovable,[266] unrivalled.” “I
neither challenged any nor did any one in my time dare to challenge me,
nor did I divide the crown with any, nor did I decline a contest or
enter any protest,[267] nor did I abandon any contest, nor take part in
a contest to please royalty, nor did I gain a victory in any new-fangled
games, but in all the contests for which I ever entered my name I was
crowned in the actual ring and was approved in all the preliminary
trials.” This emphatic insistence on the cleanness of his record is
clearly an answer to those malicious attacks of which he complains at
the end of the inscription, and which caused him to abandon athletics.

He proceeds to enumerate his victories in a manner which reminds one of
nothing so much as those photographs which we see often in illustrated
papers representing some professional athlete with his whole body
covered with medals, belts and scarves which he has won, or standing
triumphant in the midst of his cups and trophies. “I contended,” he
says, “among three nations in Italy, in Hellas, and in Asia, and in all
the contests mentioned below I was victorious in the pankration,—in the
Olympia at Pisa in Ol. 240, in the Pythia at Delphi twice, at the
Isthmia twice, in the Nemea twice, at the contest for the shield of Hera
at Argos, in the Capitolia at Rome twice, in the Eusebea at Puteoli
twice, in the Sebasta at Neapolis twice, five times at Athens in various
games, five times at Smyrna, three times at the Augustea at Pergamum,
three times at Ephesus, at Epidaurus in the Asclepiea, at Rhodes in the
Haliea, at Sardis in the Chrysanthina, besides numerous games for money
prizes (Θεματείτας), including the Heraclea in Lacedaemon, the games at
Mantinea and others.” In this list Olympia and Adriania are mentioned at
Athens, Smyrna, and Ephesus. At Ephesus one of his victories was won at
the Balbillea founded by the celebrated astrologer Balbillus in the
reign of Vespasian. It is interesting to compare this list of victories
with the victories won by Diagoras of Rhodes or Epharmostus of Locrian
Opous which are enumerated in the odes of Pindar.[268] With the
exception of Rhodes, all their recorded victories were won in festivals
of the mother-country, at the four Panhellenic festivals, at Argos,
Athens, Pellene, Aegina, Megara, and at various places in Arcadia and
Boeotia. The difference may be summed up in the word οἰκουμένη which
occurs frequently in late inscriptions. The games are no longer
Hellenic, they are Oecumenical, and with this change their whole
character is altered. Even at Olympia, most Hellenic of all festivals,
athletes and spectators alike are gathered no longer from Hellas only
but from “the inhabited world.”[269]

In the enumeration of his exploits Asclepiades constantly records that
“on various occasions” he brought his opponents to a standstill
(στήσας), sometimes without further comment, but usually with the words
“from the start, after the first lot, after the second lot.” The phrase
seems to imply that on these occasions his opponents all withdrew from
the competition after the first or second heat, or even before any
contest. Such incidents may have been misinterpreted by his enemies, who
maliciously accused him of bribing or intimidating his rivals. At all
events, he tells us that after six years he retired from athletics at
the age of twenty-five, owing “to the dangers and jealousy which beset
him.” After an interval of some years he was induced to reappear at the
Olympic games of his native Alexandria, where he won the pankration in
the sixth Alexandrine Olympiad.[270]

It was an age of record-breaking. We see it in the expenditure on
magnificent buildings and entertainments, in which each new public
benefactor aimed at surpassing the work of his predecessors, and it is
no wonder that the same spirit affected athletics. The inscription set
up by the itinerant synod of the Alexandrines in honour of Flavius
Archibius,[271] and recording his long list of victories, is punctuated
by the incessant refrain, “first of mankind.” For example, in the
Pythian festival he won the pankration at one Pythiad, the pankration
and wrestling in the next, the pankration again in the next, “first of
mankind.” Similarly, Marcus Tullius of Apamea in Bithynia describes
himself as “the first boxer from all time”[272] to win a certain series
of victories. Such phrases are of constant occurrence. A passage in
Pliny’s _Natural History_[273] suggests that at Rome records were kept
in long-distance running, and that running against time was a popular
amusement. After describing various feats of strength, he notes how
records in distance-running had been frequently broken. The record of
Pheidippides, he says, long held the field until Philonides, and Anystis
in Alexander’s time ran from Sicyon to Elis and back, a distance of 1300
stades, in a single day. “In the circus,” he adds, “we know that some
athletes have run 160 miles in a day; and recently in the Consulship of
Fonteius and Vipsanius, a youth of eight (surely a mistake for eighteen)
ran 75 miles between mid-day and sunset.” The accuracy of Pliny’s
statements on athletics is not beyond question, but the passage is good
evidence as to the practice of the times.

The second century was an age of antiquarianism. Conscious of their own
inferiority, men thought to make up for their want of originality by
studying and reproducing the forms of the past, regardless of the fact
that these forms had lost their meaning. The writings of this period
abound in allusions to the great athletes of earlier times. Lucian of
Samosata sets forth at length the old athletic ideal in his dialogue
entitled “Anacharsis,” in which he makes Solon defend Greek athletics
against the criticism of the barbarian. The gist of his argument is that
athletics make a man a better and more useful citizen, and fit him to
serve his city in peace and war. But alas! the cosmopolitan Greek of his
day had no longer any city to defend, and the appeal to civic patriotism
can have carried little weight with men who claimed the citizenship of
half-a-dozen cities at the same time. Philostratus, an equally
enthusiastic admirer of the old athletes, seeks to find a cure for the
athletic degeneracy of his own time by a return to the simpler and more
rational methods of training of the past. But his appeal likewise fell
on deaf ears. Athletics had become the monopoly of professional trainers
and quacks, who regarded them merely as a source of selfish profit.

Olympia, above all, appealed to the antiquarian spirit of the age. It is
chiefly to the traveller and antiquarian Pausanias, who visited Elis in
173 A.D., that we owe our knowledge of the festival. The mass of details
which he gathered from the official guides of Olympia is sure evidence
of the interest which the festival aroused. Phlegon of Tralles, like
Aristotle in Macedonian times, revised and edited the Olympic register,
making it the chronological basis of his history from 776 B.C. to 137
A.D. One C. Asinius Quadratus carried his zeal for Olympia to such
lengths as to place the founding of Rome in the year of the first
Olympiad, for which act of flattery he received from the Eleans a
monument, “because he had honoured Olympia both in word and deed.”[274]
Others, not content with a chronology that dated back only to Coroebus,
invented a new Olympic era 800 years earlier. On an inscribed diskos
dedicated by Publius Asclepiades, a pentathlete of Corinth, the date is
given according to the two chronologies, Ol. 255 and Ol. 456! and also
by the name of the Alytarch for the year, “Flavius Scribonianus, kinsman
of senators and consulars.” Archaism took a more practical shape in the
minute observance of ceremonies and customs. In the inscription of
Claudius Rufus, mentioned in a previous chapter, he is commended
especially for having diligently practised in the sight of the
Hellanodicae, “in accordance with the ancestral custom of the games.”
Our knowledge of the usages of the festival is chiefly derived from
authors of this period. We have already seen how these usages were
reproduced in the new festivals.

No state preserved so large a measure of independence under Roman rule
as Sparta. In A.D. 214, when Caracalla appeared in Greece as a second
Alexander to lead a new war against the East, he appealed to Sparta for
assistance; and Sparta, as a free federate state, sent two regiments of
volunteers bearing the time-honoured names of the Laconian regiment, and
the regiment of Pitane, as her contribution to what an inscription
styles “the most fortunate alliance against the Persians.” The
excavations conducted by the British School of Athens have shed a flood
of light upon the history and condition of Sparta at this period.[275]
We see her as a flourishing provincial town with her Roman
fortifications, theatre, baths, and suburban villas. But though changed
in outward appearance, Sparta clung only the more tenaciously to the
traditions and customs which she derived from Lycurgus. The love of
archaism characteristic of this period showed itself in an exaggerated
revival of the Lycurgean discipline. Sparta, for centuries, had taken
little part in the athletic history of Greece. The one object of her
physical education was to produce endurance, and the supreme test of
this endurance was the so-called “Contest of Endurance” by means of
successive scourgings which took place upon the altar of Artemis. The
altar itself has been discovered standing on the site of earlier altars,
where from time immemorial this ancient ceremony had taken place. The
interest attaching to the contest in Roman times is shown by the
numerous references in contemporary writers; and still more by the fact
that towards the close of the second century A.D., a large theatre,
surrounding the altar, was built for the convenience of spectators. An
inscription discovered in the Artemisium records the victory of a boy in
this contest. Greek writers represent the contest as a humane substitute
for human sacrifice; but Professor Bosanquet[276] has shown that there
is good reason for thinking that Greek tradition mistook the meaning of
the ceremony, which originated in an ancient ritual practice of whipping
away boys who tried to steal cheeses from the altar; and that the
“Contest of Endurance” was a brutal exaggeration of the old practice,
due to the late and artificial revival of the Lycurgean discipline. It
certainly justifies, in part, the contemptuous tone in which
Philostratus speaks of Spartan athletics.

If Sparta took little part in the great competitions, she had her own
games and her own competitions. One of these, the Leonidaea, was
celebrated in honour of those who fell at Thermopylae. Two inscriptions
have been discovered containing regulations for this festival which it
appears must have been reorganized about the time of Nerva.[277] It was
a yearly festival, and only Spartans were allowed to compete. This is
perhaps the reason why the programme contained the pankration, an event
for which no Spartan might enter at other festivals. The most
interesting inscriptions are those referring to certain games in which
teams of Spartan boys competed. The late Mr. Kenneth Freeman, in his
book, _The Schools of Hellas_, maintained that the prototype of the
English public school system was to be found in the Spartan system of
education. Certainly the Spartan games resemble our English games more
closely than any other games of which we know in the ancient world. The
game of Platanistas was played on an island surrounded by a ditch,
between two teams of boys who, entering the ground by bridges at either
end, strove by fighting, hitting, kicking, and biting, to drive their
opponents into the water. But for the absence of the ball, this game
bears considerable resemblance to the primitive football scrimmage
before any of the existing rules were introduced, and, as we shall see,
ball games were of considerable importance at Sparta. The game of
Platanistas, like the scourging, may have had its origin in some ritual
practice denoted by the sacrifice of a boar, but in the time of
Pausanias it was certainly played in the form described.

A series of inscriptions, all with one exception dating from the time of
the Antonines, commemorate victories won by teams of ball-players at
some yearly competition.[278] The name σφαιρεῖς was given to Spartan
youths in their first year of manhood. The competitions took place in
the Dromos under the direction of the Bideoi, a board of five officials
responsible for the management of the Platanistas and other ephebic
games. The teams represented the local districts of Sparta called the
Obes, and it seems probable that the expenses connected with the team
were provided by a local obe official, the διαβετής, who is mentioned in
the inscriptions. Each team was under a captain called the πρέσβυς, but
the number of members in a team cannot be decided owing to the
mutilation of the inscriptions. It seems not to have been less than
fifteen. The competition was arranged on the tournament system, for
several inscriptions record the fact that the winning team had not drawn
a bye. Unfortunately, we have no clue to the manner of playing the game.

A yet more numerous group of inscriptions found in the Artemisium, and
belonging mostly to the same period, consists of dedications to Artemis
in honour of victories won by teams of young boys in certain musical and
athletic competitions.[279] The competitors seem to be mostly about the
age of ten, the age denoted by the term μικιζόμενοι, and each team was
under a captain, βοαγός, chosen perhaps for family reasons, who held the
title for life. There seem, however, to have been similar competitions
for older boys, for one of the inscriptions commemorates a βοαγός whose
team was successful in a boys’ competition and also in a competition for
youths of twenty (εἴρενες). Two musical contests are mentioned, called,
respectively, Μῶα and Κελῆα, the precise nature of which cannot be
determined. The third competition bears the name Καθθηρατόριν, which
seems to describe some rough game resembling the hunting of wild beasts,
perhaps some such game as prisoner’s base. The victor was crowned with
bay and received as a prize a sickle which was affixed to the inscribed
tablet and dedicated to Artemis. The presence of musical competitions
suggests that the narrowness of Spartan education has been perhaps
exaggerated by Greek historians. Much of our knowledge of Sparta is
derived from the accounts of her enemies.

In spite of all these outward signs of athletic life, the writers of
this period leave us in no doubt as to the real character of the
athletic revival. We are no longer forced to draw what inferences we can
from the doubtful evidence of casual allusions; we possess in the works
of Plutarch, Galen, and Philostratus definite treatises on physical
culture and gymnastic. Different as is the point of view of these
authors, they agree in condemning the athletics of their day, and prove
beyond possibility of doubt how far from realization was the old ideal
set forth by Lucian and Dion of Prusa. That old ideal, in which the
culture of body and of mind went hand in hand, was inseparable from the
ideal of free citizenship that existed when every citizen was both
soldier and politician, and when to develop mind and body to the full
extent of which each was capable was a duty that the citizen owed to the
state. All this had long been changed; war was now the business of paid
professional soldiers, politics of the imperial government. The
individual, thrown back on self, had no other interest but personal
profit and enjoyment. Speculative and mystical philosophy and religion
taught men to despise the body, and as a consequence the training of the
body no longer maintained its importance in education. Gymnastic,
deprived of its proper province in education, found itself confined to
the training of professional athletes, who developed the body but
neglected the mind. But as life became more sedentary and less active
the claims of the body reasserted themselves: hunting was impossible
except for the few, games were of little importance in most places,
hence there arose a need for artificial exercise, and the need was
supplied by the medical gymnastic which aimed at producing health. The
Romans, though they despised athletics, realized the importance of
exercise for maintaining health. The bath and massage were essential
parts of this gymnastic, and the exercises prescribed included walking,
gentle running, jumping up and down, the use of halteres as dumb-bells,
throwing the diskos and the javelin. Health-culture has its use for men
who lead a sedentary, artificial life, but it is not athletics; neither
is physical training or gymnastics, to use the word in its restricted
modern sense—invaluable as such training is in education of the young,
especially in thickly populated cities. But health-culture and
gymnastics lack the moral value which friendly rivalry gave once to
Greek athletics and gives to-day to the games of our public schools.
Professional athletics equally lack this moral value; for when
livelihood depends on success, rivalry ceases to be friendly, and the
door is opened for corruption. Both health-culture and professionalism
are poles removed from the true Greek ideal of athletics.

Plutarch’s opinion about the athletics of his day is evident from many
passages in his Lives, to which reference has already been made. His
tract on the Preservation of Health, intended as it is chiefly for the
ordinary, middle-aged, business man, hardly concerns us here except so
far as it continually condemns by implication the artificial and
unhealthy training to which athletes were subjected. Galen and
Philostratus are so little known to the ordinary reader, and their works
are so important, that some account of them is indispensable.

Born at Pergamum in A.D. 130, Galen studied philosophy and medicine at
Alexandria, Smyrna, and Corinth. At Alexandria he was appointed
physician to the school of gladiators. At the age of thirty-four he came
to Rome, where he became the friend and physician of the Emperor Marcus
Aurelius, but after a few years he returned to his native land. His wide
experience of men and countries, his knowledge of medicine and anatomy,
his breadth of mind and fearless love of truth make his judgment of
special value. He wrote numerous works on Health, but the two which are
of most importance to us here are his essay on “Exercise with the Small
Ball,” a masterly statement of the true principles of exercise, and his
“Exhortation to the Arts,” an attack on professional athletics.

The best of all exercises, he says in his treatise on Ball-play, are
those which combine bodily exertion with mental recreation, such as
hunting and ball-play. But ball-play has this advantage over hunting
that its cheapness puts it within reach of the very poorest, while even
the busiest man can find time for it. Moreover, it can be practised with
any degree of violence or moderation, at all times and in all
conditions. It exercises every part of the body, legs, hands, and
eyesight alike, and at the same time gives pleasure to the mind. In
contrast with athletic exercises, which make men slow or produce
one-sided development, ball-play produces strength and activity, and
therefore trains all those qualities which are most valuable for a
soldier. Finally, it is free from dangers, and does not expose the
player to all those accidents which too often leave the wrestler, “like
the Homeric Litai, either halt, or distorted, or altogether bereft of
some limb.” The practice of games of ball is of particular interest in
view of the importance which they possessed at Sparta. These games must
have varied in character almost as much as those with which we are
familiar to-day, and no better defence of such games has ever been
written, though we may doubt whether Galen would have approved of the
extent to which they are carried in the present day.

The ostensible object of the “Exhortation” is to urge men to devote
themselves to some art or profession which will last them all their
life; but the real subject of the discourse is whether athletics
deserves the title of an art or profession. τέχνη is defined as having
for its aim “the improvement of life,” and therefore there can be no art
in tumbling or walking the tight-rope. Does the athlete’s life benefit
the athlete himself or the state? To this question Galen replies
emphatically, “No.” “The mind is higher than the body, for the mind we
share with the gods, the body with the animals. In the blessings of the
mind athletes have no share. Beneath their mass of flesh and blood their
souls are stifled as in a sea of mud. Nor do they enjoy the best
blessings even of the body. Neglecting the old rule of health, which
prescribes moderation in all things, they spend their lives in
over-exercising, over-eating, over-sleeping, like pigs. Hence they
seldom live to old age, and if they do, they are crippled and liable to
all sorts of disease. They have not health nor have they beauty. Even
those that are naturally well-proportioned become fat and bloated; their
faces are often shapeless and unsightly, owing to the wounds received in
boxing or the pankration. They lose their eyes and their teeth, and
their limbs are strained. Even their vaunted strength is useless. They
can dig and plough, but they cannot fight. They cannot endure heat and
cold, nor, like Heracles, wear one garment summer and winter, go unshod
and sleep on the open ground: in all this they are weaker than new-born
babes.” Such is the picture which Galen draws of the professional
athletes of his day, most of whom, as we have seen, were boxers and
wrestlers; and we can judge of the truth of the picture from the mosaics
in the baths of Caracalla, where we see represented, in all their
brutality and coarseness, the portraits of those professional
prize-fighters and athletes whom the degraded and unathletic mob and
court of Rome delighted to honour (Fig. 23).[280] There they stand with
their clumsy, ill-proportioned bodies, their scarred and mutilated
faces, their small and brainless heads rendered yet more hideous by the
top-knot (cirrus) in which their scanty hair is tied. It is the last
stage in the decline of athletics, which had begun centuries earlier in
the exaggerated honours paid to mere bodily strength, to that lower
nature which man shares with the animals, and in which man must remain
the inferior of the animals. Galen ends his argument by pressing home
this lesson in a parable, in which he imagines an Olympia to which the
heralds have summoned all the animals to compete. There man would not
win a single event. The horse would win the long race, the hare the
short race, the deer the diaulos. None of the successors of Heracles
could compete with the lion or the elephant. And I expect, says he, that
the bull will win the crown for boxing, and the donkey in a kicking
match will carry off the crown. Yes, and in an elaborate history, donkey
will record that “once he defeated man in the pankration, and that it
was the twenty-and-first Olympiad when Brayer was victorious.”

[Illustration: Fig. 23. Professional boxer, from mosaic in Thermae of
Caracalla. Lateran.]

The athletes of the second century must at least be credited with a
certain amount of brute strength, but in the generation which succeeded
Galen even their strength fell off, if we may believe the statement of
Philostratus, who wrote in the first half of the third century. His work
on the art of gymnastic reads like an answer to Galen’s attack on
athletics, and is marked by a strong bias against the medical
profession, whom he holds responsible for enervating athletics by the
introduction of ridiculous and effeminate rules of diet.[281] By
gymnastic, he understands the art of training athletes, which in
opposition to Galen he describes as an art inferior to no other and akin
to the arts of the doctor and paidotribes. The latter is concerned
merely with actual exercises and movements, while the trainer requires a
knowledge of the human body which may enable him to prescribe in each
case the diet and training necessary to correct any defect. Thus the
gymnastes cures by exercise and massage diseases for which the doctor
employs potions, plasters, and fomentations. The decline in the
athlete’s physique Philostratus ascribes to a vicious system of training
due in the first instance to the quackery of doctors. The
valetudinarianism of the second century had produced, as it always does,
a host of impostors with quack systems and rules for health, some of
which were imported into athletics. Medicine, says Philostratus, has
pampered athletics, and rendered athletes dainty and luxurious. They are
told to remain seated, stuffed with food, for a long time before taking
exercise. Their diet consists of seasoned breads, of fish, and pork.
Different kinds of fish are credited with different qualities; their
pork must come from pigs fed only on cornel nuts and acorns and not
reared in the neighbourhood of the sea or of rivers. We all know this
sort of fad; our own age has produced by the score systems no less
absurd. The inventors of such systems always insist that their patients
must follow their rules without deviating from them a hairbreadth. So
the Greek trainers developed hard-and-fast systems of training which
they applied indifferently to all alike, to boys as well as men, without
any regard to the individual’s needs. Boys trained on the same
principles as men lost all the buoyancy and activity natural to their
age and became lazy, heavy, and sluggish. The most absurd of these
systems was that known as the Tetrad, a scheme of work for four days, by
which the athlete’s life was regulated. Each day had its own work. The
first day’s work, consisting of light and quick movements, “prepared”
the athlete; the second “extended” him and tested all his powers of
endurance; the third “relaxed” him by means of gentle movements; the
fourth, consisting apparently of movements of defence, left him in a
middle state.

Such is the somewhat obscure account given of the tetrad.[282] It was
intended clearly for pankratiasts and boxers who practically formed the
whole class of professional athletes. The principle of the gradual
increase and diminution of work on which it is founded is absolutely
sound, and is one of the essential principles of the “Ling” system of
physical training. The fault lay in the ignorant and pedantic
application of the principle. No deviation from its routine was
permitted, and no account was taken of the individual’s actual
condition. Philostratus tells a story of a contemporary athlete,
Gerenius, who three days after winning an Olympic victory celebrated his
success by a banquet at which he ate and drank things to which he was
not accustomed. The next day, suffering from indigestion and want of
sleep, he repaired to the gymnasium as usual, and being put through a
more than usually severe course of exercise by his irritated trainer,
actually died under the treatment. The tetrads, says Philostratus, have
ruined all athletic training; and the purpose of his book is to show the
absurdity of such artificial systems, and by introducing sounder
principles of athletics to restore the glory of the stadium. The main
principle which he inculcates is the necessity of a thorough knowledge
of the human body, and of suiting the training to the individual’s
requirements. He discusses at length the various physical qualities
which are best for different sports,—the qualities of the boxer, the
wrestler, or the runner,—and gives a fanciful classification of the
different types of athletes, the lion type, the eagle type, the bear
type, the plank type, the rope type! He has a profound reverence for the
traditions of Olympia, and regards the Eleans as the sole repositories
of athletic lore, accepting all that they tell him with childlike
simplicity. With much common sense he mingles an amount of rhetoric and
fancifulness such as we should expect from the credulous biographer of
Apollonius of Tyana, which seriously diminishes the practical value of
his work.[283]

With Philostratus our history draws to a close. The Olympic records of
Africanus end with Ol. 249 (A.D. 217); the last victor recorded on
Olympic Inscriptions is the herald Valerius Eclectus of Sinope, who won
the heralds’ competition in Ol. 256 and the three succeeding Olympiads;
the lists of Olympic officials cease almost at the same time. The Roman
empire was now engaged in a desperate struggle with hordes of invading
Goths, and in the struggle the Greeks were once more called upon to
fight for their country. The Goths were repulsed, but the silence which
ensues tells but too clearly of the effects of their ravages. The end
was close at hand. Hitherto the Greeks had preserved some semblance of
political liberty; but the policy of centralization and unification
introduced by Constantine stamped out the last vestiges of the city
state. The ancient festivals of Greece were the stronghold of paganism,
and therefore recognized as the greatest obstacle of Christianity, now
adopted as the Imperial religion. Delphi was dismantled by Constantine,
and its treasures removed to adorn his new-built Hippodrome at
Constantinople, and in the time of Julian its site was desolate. The
Olympic festival was abolished by the emperor Theodosius, though whether
by Theodosius I. or Theodosius II. is not certain. The generally
received tradition is that it was abolished in 393 by Theodosius I. The
emperor had set himself to sweep away all vestiges of paganism, but in
390 he had incurred the displeasure of the all-powerful St. Ambrose by
his cruel massacre of the Thessalonians, and had been forced to do
public penance for his sin. Was the edict that abolished the Olympia a
token of his new-born zeal for righteousness? Be this as it may, the
last Olympic victor whose name we know was the Armenian prince
Varazdates, who won the boxing-match in Ol. 291 (A.D. 385). Varazdates
traced his descent from the Arsacidae, and was subsequently placed by
Theodosius on the throne of Armenia. There is a pathetic irony in the
circumstance that, at the festival linked beyond all others with the
cause of Hellenism at war with barbarism, the last-recorded victor came
not from Hellas but from the land of her hereditary foes.

Footnote 235:

  Tacitus, _Annals_, xiv. 20. For the attitude of the Romans towards
  athletics _vide_ Wilkins, _Roman Education_, pp. 31-33.

Footnote 236:

  _Ol. Ins._ 191-210.

Footnote 237:

  Africanus states that the discontinuance of these events lasted from
  Ol. 178 to Ol. 194, when the chariot-race, after being “long
  prohibited,” was won by Germanicus. The inaccuracy of this statement
  is proved by the discovery of an earlier inscription recording the
  victory of Tiberius Claudius Nero. _Ol. Ins._ 220-221.

Footnote 238:

  _Julius Caesar_, c. 39.

Footnote 239:

  _Octavianus_, c. 45.

Footnote 240:

  _Ol. Ins._ 59-141.

Footnote 241:

  No satisfactory explanation of this rule has been offered. It
  certainly does not seem to have been always observed in earlier times.
  For example, Xenombrotus, _Ol. Ins._ 170, seems to have set up a
  portrait statue of himself for a single victory in the horse-race.

Footnote 242:

  Louis Dyer, “The Olympian Council House,” in _Harvard Studies_, vol.
  xix. pp. 36 ff.

Footnote 243:

  _Ol. Ins._ 56; cp. Mie, _Quaestiones Agonisticae_, p. 43.

Footnote 244:

  Krause, _Olympia_, p. 203.

Footnote 245:

  _I.G._ xiv. 739, πρωτελληνοδίκης ἐν Ἐφέσῳ καὶ ἐν Σμύρνη.

Footnote 246:

  Curtius, _Ol._ Text, i. 52; Krause, _Olympia_, p. 207.

Footnote 247:

  Suetonius, _Nero_, c. 23 ff.

Footnote 248:

  Dion of Prusa, _Or._ xxxi.

Footnote 249:

  _Anth. Pal._ xi. 75. The translation is taken from the “Dissertation
  on the Olympic Games,” in a translation of the _Odes of Pindar_, by
  Gilbert West (London, 1753), vol. ii. p. 92.

Footnote 250:

  _Or._ vii. Διογένης ἢ περὶ ἀρετῆς; _Or._ viii. Διογένης ἢ Ἰσθμικός.

Footnote 251:

  _Gym._ 45.

Footnote 252:

  Paus. v. 21.

Footnote 253:

  _Or._ xxix., xxx.

Footnote 254:

  Dio Cassius, lii. 30.

Footnote 255:

  Suetonius, _Octavianus_ 45.

Footnote 256:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 131; _I.G._ xiv. 1102-1110.

Footnote 257:

  _I.G._ xiv. 1054, 1055.

Footnote 258:

  Mie, _Quaestiones Agonisticae_, p. 46.

Footnote 259:

  _I.G._ xiv. 746.

Footnote 260:

  _Ol. Ins._ 436.

Footnote 261:

  _B.S.A._ xii. p. 452.

Footnote 262:

  _Historia Numorum_, p. 357.

Footnote 263:

  _Ol. Ins._ 150-153.

Footnote 264:

  _Ol. Ins._ 225.

Footnote 265:

  _I.G._ xiv. 1102-1104.

Footnote 266:

  The word ἀσυνέξωστος recalls the feats recorded of Milo and other
  athletes, whom no one could move from the place where they had taken
  their stand.

Footnote 267:

  Such I take to be the meaning of the words μήτ’ ἐπεξελθὼν μήτε
  παραιτησάμενος. But the precise meaning of this and the following
  phrases μήτε κατὰ χάριν βασιλικήν ἀγῶνα ἔχων μηδὲ καινὸν ἀγῶνα
  νεικήσας is hard to determine. ἐπεξελθόντα bears this meaning in the
  Iobacchi Inscription. Roberts and Gardner, _Epigraphy_ ii. 91, l. 92.
  The antithesis of παραιτησάμενος would rather suggest the rendering
  “seeking a contest,” _e.g._ “pot-hunting.”

Footnote 268:

  Pindar, _Ol._ vii., ix.

Footnote 269:

  _Ol. Ins._ 54, 436. Both inscriptions belong to the close of the first
  century A.D. In two earlier inscriptions of the time of Augustus (53,
  366) the distinction between οἱ Ἕλληνες and ἡ οἰκουμένη is still

Footnote 270:

  The Alexandrine Olympia were probably founded in A.D. 176 by Marcus
  Aurelius, _I.G._ xiv. 1102.

Footnote 271:

  _I.G._ xiv. 746.

Footnote 272:

  πρῶτος τῶν ἀπ’ αἰῶνος πυκτῶν, _I.G._ iii. 128. Cp. πρωτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς
  οἰκουμένης, _C.I.G._ 2723.

Footnote 273:

  _N.H._ vii. 20; cp. ii. 73.

Footnote 274:

  _Ol. Ins._ 356.

Footnote 275:

  The matter of this section is taken from the reports of the _B.S.A._,
  vols. xii., xiii.

Footnote 276:

  _B.S.A._ xii. 314.

Footnote 277:

  _B.S.A._ xii. 445 ff. Another Spartan festival mentioned in
  inscriptions is the Euryclea founded by Eurycles, a rich and powerful
  friend of Herod the Great, _C.I.G._ 1378, 1389.

Footnote 278:

  _B.S.A._ x. 63, xii. 212.

Footnote 279:

  _B.S.A._ xii. 352, xiii. 182.

Footnote 280:

  The whole mosaic is published by Secchi in his _Musaico Antoniniano_,
  and a large portion of it in Baumeister’s Denkmäler, Fig. 174.

Footnote 281:

  Dr. Jüthner, in the introduction to his _Philostratus_, shows that
  there was a long-standing quarrel between doctors and trainers. The
  doctors resented the encroachments of the trainers on their domain,
  and regarded them as ignorant and unscientific quacks.

Footnote 282:

  _Vide_ Jüthner, _op. cit._ pp. 285 ff.

Footnote 283:

  I am glad to find my estimate of Philostratus in substantial agreement
  with that of Dr. Jüthner. Philostratus had, as he shows, no technical
  knowledge of gymnastic. He was a rhetorician, writing an essay on what
  was evidently a burning question, and, like a modern journalist, he
  naturally derived his knowledge from one of the many technical
  treatises on gymnastic which existed, and as naturally made mistakes
  (_op. cit._ pp. 97-107).

                               CHAPTER IX
                          THE OLYMPIC FESTIVAL

[Illustration: Fig. 24. Staters of Elis, in British Museum (enlarged).
Fifth century. (_a_) Head of nymph Olympia. (_b_) Victory seated, with
palm; olive twig below.]

Many of the details and regulations connected with the Olympic festival
have been already mentioned in previous chapters, where the reader can
readily find them by consulting the index. In the present chapter we
shall attempt to give some account of the festival itself, as it existed
in the fifth century. First we must premise that the details of the
festival are involved in the greatest obscurity, largely owing to the
fact that the bulk of our information is derived from late writers whose
evidence as to what took place five or six hundred years before their
time must always be received with a certain amount of reserve. Still,
religious conservatism was nowhere stronger than at Olympia, and much
that is recorded of the second century of our era existed with little
difference in the fifth century B.C. Therefore, though many details
remain obscure we can feel fairly certain as to the general outline of
the festival.

The festival took place at the second or third full moon after the
summer solstice, in the months of Apollonios and Parthenios
respectively.[284] Its date was fixed by a cycle of eight years or
ninety-nine-months, the divergence between the year of twelve lunar
months and the solar year being rectified by the insertion of three
intercalary months, one in the first four years, two in the second. Thus
it fell alternately after forty-nine or fifty lunar months. The
fourteenth day of the month seems to have been reckoned as the day of
the full moon, though the actual full moon varied from the 14th to 15th.
This day must, from the earliest time, have been the central day of the
festival.[285] The Greek day was reckoned from sunset to sunset, and as
Greek custom demanded that sacrifice to the Olympian gods should be
offered in the morning, before mid-day,[286] it follows that the great
sacrifice to Zeus was offered on the morning after the full moon. The
festival lasted five days. According to Herodotus, a historian of the
fifth century, the five days’ festival was ordained by Heracles.[287]
Certainly it lasted five days in Pindar’s time.[288] Scholiasts of
various dates, while affirming that it lasted five days, state that it
began on the 10th or 11th and lasted till the 15th or 16th.[289] The
discrepancy may be due to the variation in the date of the full moon
already noticed, more probably to the addition to the festival of one or
more preliminary days necessitated in later times by the multiplication
of competitions and religious ceremonies. To these days the preliminary
business of the festival may have been transferred, but they were not
reckoned as part of the actual festival. The seventh ode of Bacchylides,
written in honour of Laches of Ceos, who won the boys’ foot-race in 452
B.C., proves beyond doubt that in this year the festival ended on the
sixteenth day. If then the festival lasted five days, the fourteenth,
the day of the full moon, was the central day of the whole festival. The
recognition of the importance of this fact is due to Ludwig Weniger,
whose conclusions I have in the main adopted in the following pages.

These five days included sacrifices, sports, and feasts. Sacrifices and
feasts, both private and public, formed part of each day’s programme,
especially of the first and last days, which must have been largely, if
not entirely, occupied by such ceremonies. How many days were devoted to
the actual sports we do not know. A scholiast states that they took
place on five days,[290] but the statement is unsupported and certainly
was not true of earlier times. The growth of the programme must have
necessitated readjustment from time to time, and an extension of the
time allotted to competitions. Such an extension took place, according
to Pausanias, in Ol. 77, though it did not, of course, take effect till
Ol. 78. “The order of the competition,” he says,[291] “existing in our
time—which is that the sacrifice to the god is offered after the
pentathlon and the horse-race—this order was introduced in the 77th
Olympiad. Previous to this date, events both for men and horses took
place on the same day. But on this occasion the competitors in the
pankration were kept on into the night, not having been called in time,
and the delay was caused by the horse-races and still more by the
pentathlon.” This passage gives no countenance to the statement commonly
made that at this time the length of the festival, or the number of days
allotted to sport was suddenly extended from one day to five. Nor does
it prove that before this date _all_ events for men took place on the
same day as events for horses, and that after this date _none_ did. If
the literal meaning of the words is pressed, it may be argued, and
indeed has been argued, that from this date a separate day was assigned
to the horse-races, and a separate day to the pentathlon. Unfortunately,
we have a definite statement by Xenophon[292] proving that in Ol. 104
the horse-races preceded the pentathlon on the same day. Those who
assert that they took place on different days are forced[293] to reject
the evidence of a contemporary writer, who lived for years in the
neighbourhood of Olympia, in favour of a doubtful interpretation of an
obscure and ill-expressed passage written by a traveller who owed his
information to a visit paid to Olympia some five hundred years later.
The alternative is to assume that after Xenophon’s time a separate day
was assigned to the horse-races, presumably at the time when the
programme of these events was raised to its full complement of six. But
this is a mere supposition. All that we can definitely assert is that,
after Ol. 77, the pentathlon and horse-races were transferred to the
_day before the sacrifice to the god_.

What is “the sacrifice to the god”? and when did it take place? On the
answer to these questions depends the interpretation of the passage of
Pausanias, and the reconstruction of the order of the festival. There
can be little doubt that the sacrifice was the official offering of a
hecatomb to Olympian Zeus by the Eleans.[294] It is generally assumed
that this took place on the 16th, the last day of the festival, and it
is certainly natural to connect it with the official banquet in the
Prytaneum which took place on the evening of that day. This arrangement
naturally appeals to a modern sentiment which demands a climax. But the
Greeks had not this sentiment, and there is a mass of evidence to prove
that the usual order of a Greek festival was—sacrifice, sports,
feast.[295] That this was the ancient order at Olympia is clear from two
odes in which Pindar describes the inauguration of the games by
Heracles. In the eleventh _Olympian_ we read how Heracles, returning
victorious from Cleonae, marked out the Altis, and paid honour to the
river Alpheus and the great gods. Then, having first offered sacrifice
of his spoil, he ordained the games, and in the evening the precinct
resounded, as in Pindar’s time, “with songs of festal glee.” So, too, in
the third ode, first he sanctifies the altars, then he ordains the
games. The scholiast, commenting on this ode, explains carefully that
the full moon came first, then followed the sacrifice, and “the rest of
the competitions.” If the games followed the sacrifice, the sacrifice
cannot have taken place on the 16th, but rather on the 14th, the morning
after the full moon. In speaking of “the rest of the competitions” he is
thinking, of course, of the order of the festival in his own time, and
this phrase is a strong argument in favour of the views of Weniger.

The meaning of Pausanias is now clear, and there is no need with modern
editors to assume that the passage is hopelessly corrupt. Previous to
Ol. 78 all the sports followed the sacrifice, mostly on the 15th; but I
see no reason why some should not have taken place on the afternoon of
the 14th, or even on the 16th. The preceding days were occupied with
preliminary business and various religious ceremonies. In Ol. 78 the
horse-races and the pentathlon were transferred to the 13th, the day
before the sacrifice. Some of the preliminary business may at the same
time have been shifted to the 11th day. If at a subsequent date separate
days were allotted to the horse-races and pentathlon, or if, as Weniger
suggests, the boys’ events were after the introduction of the boys’
pankration shifted to the 12th, the 10th day may also have been required
for the preliminaries; but there is not sufficient evidence for either
of these changes.

The same uncertainty prevails as to the order of the events, and still
more as to their distribution into days. The attempts which have been
made to prove that the order was the same as that preserved in two
fragments of the Olympic register must, in my opinion, be regarded as
failures. The order for the fifth century as given in the Oxyrhynchus
papyrus is as follows:—(1) Stade-race, (2) Diaulos, (3) Dolichos, (4)
Pentathlon, (5) Wrestling, (6) Boxing, (7) Pankration, (8) Boys’
foot-race, (9) Boys’ wrestling, (10) Boys’ boxing, (11) Race in armour,
(12) Chariot-race, (13) Horse-race. The list omits the mule chariot-race
(ἀπήνη) and the race for mares, which were discontinued after 444 B.C.
Phlegon’s list for Ol. 177 (72 B.C.) agrees with this except that the
boys’ pankration is added after the other events for boys, and the four
new equestrian events after the horse-race in their order of

The principle adopted in this list is obvious. The competition is
divided into athletic and equestrian. The athletic part is divided into
events for men and events for boys. Each division is arranged in the
order, real or fictitious, in which the various events were introduced.
The only exception is the race in armour, which is placed after the
boys’ events, owing to its late introduction, its peculiar character,
and the fact that it was the last event on the programme. The
arrangement is perfectly simple and logical, but it does not follow that
it was the order adopted in the sports. We have seen that in 468 B.C.
(Ol. 78) a change was made in the order, and we know that the
Hellanodicae had power to alter the order under special circumstances.
In Ol. 142, at the request of Cleitomachus, who was competing both in
boxing and in the pankration, they placed the pankration before the

From the general uncertainty a few facts emerge:—

1. Plutarch definitely states that at Olympia the boys’ competitions
took place before any of the men’s,[297] and there is no reason for
disbelieving his statement. In framing a register it may be natural to
place the most important events first; in arranging a programme it would
be a ludicrous anti-climax to do so.

2. The foot-races all came on the same day, and probably before any
other of the competitions for men. Their order is doubtful. Pausanias in
his account of Polites[298] implies that he won the dolichos first, then
the stade-race, lastly the diaulos. But practical considerations make
this unlikely. Unless a considerable time elapsed between the events it
is hard to imagine a three-miler proceeding at once to win a 200 yards
and a quarter! Learned writers who have discussed the question all seem
to have forgotten that in the stade race and perhaps in the diaulos
there was a round of preliminary heats, which may well have complicated
the order.[299]

3. Wrestling, boxing, and the pankration took place on the same day and
in the same order.[300]

4. The race in armour was the last event of the whole programme.[301] It
seems possible from the words of Philostratus that it came on the very
last day of the festival.

5. The pentathlon followed the horse-races, and in Xenophon’s time took
place on the same day, the day preceding the sacrifice. Previous to Ol.
78 these events may have followed the foot-races.

6. When the competitions for heralds and trumpeters were introduced in
Ol. 96, they naturally came off on the first day, seeing that the
winners had the privilege of officiating at the festival.

The horse-races and the men’s foot-races took place in the morning; the
pentathlon, and the heavy events, boxing, wrestling, and pankration,
after mid-day.[302] The pentathlon and horse-races, as we know, were in
Xenophon’s time on the same day, _i.e._ the 13th. The foot-races and
heavy events for men also presumably occupied one whole day, the
15th.[303] There was certainly no time on this day for the boys’ events,
which were not sufficiently numerous to occupy a whole day. We may
conjecture that they took place on the afternoon of the 14th. We arrive
therefore at the following probable arrangement for the period beginning
468 B.C.:—

     Chariot and horse-races        2nd day of festival (the


     Boys’ events                   afternoon of the 3rd day (the

     Foot-races for men

     Wrestling, boxing, pankration  4th day of festival (the

     Race in armour

It is uncertain when and where the victors were crowned.[304] The only
definite pronouncement on the point is that of a late scholiast, who
states that the prizes were distributed on the sixteenth day.[305] In
support of this statement is quoted the commencement of the seventh ode
of Bacchylides, unfortunately much mutilated, which appears to connect
the sixteenth day “with judgment for speed of foot and strength of
limb.” But it may be noted that the verb ἐγκρίνω here used, like the
ἁγνὰ κρίσις of which Pindar speaks, does not necessarily imply the
prize-giving, but would be equally applicable to the actual
competitions, or to the rejoicings and feast in which all the victors
took part on the sixteenth day. At the same time, this passage of
Bacchylides may well have given rise to the scholiast’s note on Pindar.
On the other hand, there are certain allusions which seem to indicate
that the victors were crowned by the Hellanodicas immediately after each
event. This is certainly the natural inference from the story told by
Pausanias of Apollonius, who having been disqualified by the
Hellanodicae in the boxing for arriving too late, bound on the boxing
thongs, and made a violent attack on Heracleides, to whom the
Hellanodicae had already awarded the crown, and who had the olive
already on his head.[306] Again, Ageus who won the long-distance race in
328 B.C. ran straight home to Argos and reported the news of his victory
the same day.[307] Surely he must have received the crown first.
Otherwise he must have returned that same night from Argos to Olympia in
order to receive his prize the next day! Lastly, the picture described
by Philostratus of the death of Arrhichion, who died in the moment of
victory in the pankration, represents the Hellanodicas in the act of
crowning him.[308] The stories themselves are fanciful, and their
evidence is by no means conclusive, but, agreeing as they do with the
undoubted practice of the heroic age,[309] it seems to me probable that
the victor received his crown immediately after his victory.

Let us now try to form some idea of the Olympic festival in the middle
of the fifth century, the moment of Olympia’s greatest glory, when
Libon’s temple had been completed, when the stadium and hippodrome had
been laid out, when Pindar and Bacchylides were still singing the
praises of the victors, and Myron and Polycleitus were immortalizing
them in bronze. Some details will be inserted for the sake of
convenience which may belong to a later date, but in such cases the fact
will be noted.

Some weeks before the actual festival the three truce-bearers of Zeus
(σπονδοφόροι), wearing crowns of olive and bearing heralds’ staves, set
forth from Elis to proclaim the sacred truce to all the states of Greece
and bid them to the festival. The truce began from the moment that they
left Elis, and lasted probably three months. During this time all
competitors and visitors on their way to or from the festival enjoyed
its protection, and none might bear arms within the sacred

Competitors were obliged to give in their names by a fixed date. If they
failed to do so, they rendered themselves liable to a fine or even to

In later times—we do not know when the custom was introduced—they
underwent thirty days’ training at Elis under the supervision of the
Hellanodicae, who had themselves undergone ten months training for their
duties. During this period, and during the festival itself, it seems
probable that they were lodged and boarded by the authorities of the
festival. The training at Elis was noted for its severity: the
Hellanodicae exacted absolute obedience to their orders, and punished
all infraction with the rod.[312] They tested the capabilities of the
athletes, rejecting those who were not fit; they satisfied themselves as
to their parentage and claim to compete; above all, they had opportunity
for judging the claims of boys and colts to compete as such.[313]
Philostratus tells us that at the close of the training they called
together the competitors and addressed them[314] in words which well
illustrate the high standard which Olympia maintained even under the

“If you have exercised yourself in a manner worthy of the Olympic
festival, if you have been guilty of no slothful or ignoble act, go on
with a good courage. You who have not so practised, go whither you

The whole company quitted Elis a few days before the festival. First
came the Hellanodicae and other officials, then the athletes and their
trainers, the horses and chariots, their owners, jockeys, and drivers.
They went by the sacred way, which, skirting the mountains, followed the
coast-line till it entered the valley of the Alpheus. The journey lasted
two days. At the fountain of Piera, which marked the boundary between
Elis and Olympia, a halt was made, a pig was sacrificed and other rites
of purification were performed.[315] The night was passed at Letrini,
and the next day the whole procession wound up the valley to

Meanwhile, visitors of all classes were flocking to Olympia from every
part of the Greek world. Some came to see, some to be seen; some for
pleasure, some for profit. Tyrants and statesmen, poets and
philosophers, peasants and fishermen, all met at Olympia. The whole
Greek world was represented from Marseilles to the Black Sea, from
Thrace to Africa. The country folk came on foot along the valleys of the
Peloponnese, the richer classes in chariots or on horseback. The river
Alpheus was still navigable, at its mouth was a small port, and tyrants
and merchant-princes from the West could sail in rich barges up to
Olympia itself. Particularly magnificent were the official embassies
from the various states, each of them anxious to outshine the rest. For
all this crowd there can have been little accommodation or provision at
Olympia. Competitors and members of the embassies may have been lodged
at the public expense. The rest had to provide for themselves. Some
slept in tents or booths of wood in the plain around the Altis, the
majority slept on the ground in the open air—no great hardship in summer
at Olympia. There was no town, or even village near, and the needs of
the assembly must have been supplied by merchants, hucksters, pedlars,
who brought in provisions from the country and set up rough stalls and
booths such as may be seen to-day at any local fair.

The first day of the festival, perhaps the day preceding the festival,
was devoted to preliminary business and sacrifice. There were no
competitions, except perhaps those for trumpeters and heralds, which
were not introduced till 396 B.C.; they took place near the entrance to
the stadium, the competitors taking their stand upon an altar. It was
probably on this day that the ceremony in the Council Chamber described
by Pausanias took place.[317] There the competitors, their trainers, and
their friends underwent a solemn scrutiny. They took their stand before
the statue of Zeus Horkios, who was represented with the thunderbolt in
his right hand as a warning to evildoers, and there having sacrificed a
pig, they swore on its entrails to use no unfair means to secure
victory, and further, that they had trained for ten months in a manner
worthy of the festival. The ceremony of the oath is represented on a
red-figured kylix in Fig. 132. Next came the turn of the judges who
decided on the eligibility of boys and colts to compete as such. They
swore to give their decisions honestly and without bribes, and not to
reveal the reasons for their decision. Then the final list of entries
was drawn up and published perhaps on a white board (λεύκωμα).[318]
Throughout the day there must have been various sacrifices both public
and private, but little is known of their details. All through the year
there was daily sacrifice at the great altar of Zeus. Sacrifice was
probably offered on this day at the six double altars which Pindar
mentions, and an offering of blood was made on the mound of Pelops.[319]
Competitors and their friends would offer sacrifices and vows at the
altars of the gods or heroes whom they regarded as their patrons, or who
were specially connected with the events in which they were
competing.[320] The superstitious would consult the oracles and
soothsayers as to their chances of success.[321] The crowd of
sight-seers would wander through the Altis admiring the statuary of the
treasuries or Libon’s new-built temple, perhaps listening to some
rhapsodist reciting Homer, or to Herodotus as he read the story of the
Persian wars, or else visiting the workshop to the west of the Altis
where Pheidias was busy on his ivory and gold statue of Zeus. There were
friends, too, to be seen and greeted—friends from distant parts of the
Mediterranean, who after years spent in the colonies had returned to
meet their kinsfolk and acquaintances at Olympia.

The following days were occupied with the sports, on the details of
which we need not dwell. These took place in the stadium, or the
hippodrome, some of them probably in the open space east of the altar of
Zeus. They began early in the morning and lasted all day. Before
daybreak every point of vantage was occupied. There were no seats:
spectators sat or stood on the banks of the stadium, or hippodrome, on
the slopes of the hill of Cronus, on the rows of steps beneath the
treasuries, on every point which commanded a view of the games or
ceremonies. They were bareheaded, and suffered severely from the sun,
and dust, and thirst. Yet nothing could damp their enthusiasm. As they
watched the sports they shouted and cheered on their friends and
favourites; in their excitement they sprang from their seats, waving
their arms, or their clothes, embracing their neighbours in their

A special entrance was reserved for the Hellanodicae and competitors at
the north-east corner of the Altis. The vaulted tunnel which served for
this purpose in Roman times still exists. Through this the Hellanodicae
entered first, robed in purple, with garlands on their heads, and took
their places on the seats reserved for them.[323] After them came the
competitors, and the herald proclaiming their names asked if any one had
any charge against any of them. Each day’s proceedings were opened by
the herald with a solemn proclamation.[324] Sometimes the Hellanodicas,
or some other distinguished person, delivered an address to the
assembled competitors. Each event in turn was proclaimed by the herald,
together with the names of the competitors, their fathers, and their
cities. Possibly the names were written on a white telegraph board
(λεύκωμα). In the case of any events requiring heats or ties, lots were
drawn in the presence of the Hellanodicae and spectators. The lots
marked with letters of the alphabet were thrown into a silver urn; each
competitor after uttering a prayer to Zeus drew one in turn, holding it
in his hand but not looking at it till all the lots were drawn. Then the
Hellanodicas went round and examined the lots, arranging the heats or
ties accordingly.[325] Each event was started with a blast of the
trumpet, and after each event the herald proclaimed the victor (Fig.

We have seen that the olive crowns were probably presented to the
victors at once. These crowns were made of branches cut from the sacred
olive-tree, “the olive of fair crowns” which stood behind the temple of
Zeus. They were cut with a golden sickle by a boy of pure Greek birth
whose parents were both living, and were placed on a tripod. At the time
of which we are speaking, the old iron tripod had been already replaced
by the ivory and gold table made by Colotes, which was kept in the
temple of Hera.[326] The table was probably set beside the seats of the
Hellanodicae. There, when the herald had proclaimed his name, the victor
advanced, having bound his head with fillets of wool, and the chief
Hellanodicas set on his head the olive crown, and in later times put in
his hand the palm of victory; while the spectators cheered and showered
upon him garlands, flowers, and presents of all sorts. The crowning of
the victor and the showering him with flowers (φυλλοβολία) are depicted
on the interiors of two kylices, in Figs. 25, 26.[327] In the case of a
tie or dead-heat the crown was not awarded, but was dedicated to the
god; hence the phrases ἱερὸν ποιεῖν, ἱερὸν γενέσθαι, _hieram facere_,
are used to express a dead-heat or draw.[328]

[Illustration: Fig. 25. R.-f. kylix. Bibliothèque Nationale, 532.]

[Illustration: Fig. 26. R.-f. kylix. Canino Coll.]

Then in the evening, beneath the brightness of the mid-month moon, the
precinct rang with revelry and song. The victors and their friends in
festal attire, with garlands on their heads, went in glad procession
round the Altis, while crowds of fellow-citizens chanted to the
accompaniment of the flute the old triumphal refrain of
Archilochus,[329] or some new hymn of victory written for the occasion
by Pindar or Bacchylides. The victors wore the crowns which they had
won, but there is no ground for the statement that they dedicated them
to Zeus; rather it seems that they took them home and dedicated them in
the temples of their own cities. The processionals followed by banquets
given by the victors.[330] Alcibiades after his victory in the
chariot-race entertained the whole assembly at a feast, and borrowed for
the occasion all the plate and vessels belonging to the Athenian
theoroi. Anaxilas of Rhegium and his son Leophron celebrated their
victories in like manner. Empedocles of Aetna being a Pythagorean, and
therefore a vegetarian, had an ox made of costly spices, which he
distributed to the spectators. The banquets often lasted all night long,
and in the morning the victors paid their vows and offered sacrifices to
the gods to whom they owed their victories.

The most brilliant of all the ceremonies was the great sacrifice to Zeus
on the morning after the full moon. The victors, the officials and the
representatives of the different states, went in stately procession to
the altar, where a hecatomb of oxen was sacrificed by the Eleans. This
was the opportunity for the theoroi to display their magnificence and
the wealth of their cities. So we can understand the indignation of the
Athenians at Alcibiades[331] when instead of returning to the theoroi
the vessels which he had borrowed for his banquet the evening before, he
used them the next morning for his private offering; so that when a few
hours later the Athenian theoroi took part in the public procession, the
positions were reversed, and the magnificence of the State appeared but
as the reflection of the magnificence of a private citizen.

Of the sacrifices, processions, and rejoicings on the last day of the
festival we know no details save that in the evening all the victors
were entertained at a public banquet in the Prytaneum. The rewards and
honours which they received on their return home have been described in
a previous chapter.

Footnote 284:

  L. Weniger, _Clio_, 1905, pp. 1-38.

Footnote 285:

  L. Weniger, _Clio_, 1904, pp. 126 ff.

Footnote 286:

  _Ib._ p. 127, n. 1.

Footnote 287:

  Quoted in Schol. Pindar, _Ol._ v. 6.

Footnote 288:

  Pindar, _Ol._ v. 6 ὑπὸ βουθυσίαις ἀέθλων τε πεμπταμέροις ἁμίλλαις. The
  reading and interpretation are much disputed. The scholiasts certainly
  interpreted πεμπταμέροις “as lasting five days,” and even if the
  reading πεμπταμέροις is correct, the occurrence of the form πεμπτάς
  for πεμπάσ, and the analogy of forms like ὀγδώκοντα, ἑβδομήκοντα make
  this meaning at least possible, while there is considerable evidence
  against the rendering “fifth-day contests.” Mie, _Quaestiones
  Agonisticae_, p. 29.

Footnote 289:

  Schol. Pindar, _Ol._ v. 8, iii. 33.

Footnote 290:

  Schol. vet. Pindar, _Ol._ v. 8 πεμπταμέροις ἁμίλλαις· ἐπεὶ ἐπὶ πέντα
  ἡμέρασ ῎θγετο αὐτὰ τὰ ἀγωνίσματα.

Footnote 291:

  v. 9, 3.

Footnote 292:

  _Hellen._ vii. 4.

Footnote 293:

  Carl Robert in _Hermes_ xxxv.; C. Gaspar in Dar.-Sagl. _s.v._
  “Olympia.” It had been my intention to discuss Robert’s theory in the
  _J.H.S._, but I find that nearly all my objections to it have been
  anticipated by Frederic Mie in _Philologus_, lx. Mie’s own theory has
  in its turn been superseded by Weniger’s, which alone offers a
  satisfactory explanation both of Xenophon and of Pausanias.

Footnote 294:

  Robert’s theory of the two sacrifices of thanksgiving offered after
  the pentathlon and horse-races on the 3rd and 5th days of the festival
  is pure fiction, and has been conclusively disproved by Mie, _l.c._

Footnote 295:

  _Clio_, 1904, p. 127; Krause, _Olympia_, p. 84.

Footnote 296:

  Paus. vi. 15, 5.

Footnote 297:

  _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 5.

Footnote 298:

  Paus. vi. 13, 3. The same order is twice adopted by Philostratus in
  _Gym._ ch. 4 and 32.

Footnote 299:

  If the final of the stade-race followed the dolichos, the heats would
  naturally precede it, so as to allow competitors a rest between the
  heats and the final.

Footnote 300:

  Paus. vi. 6, 5; vi. 15, 4.

Footnote 301:

  Plut. _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 5, 2; Paus. iii. 14, 3; Phil. _Gym._ 7;
  Artemidorus, _Oneirocrit._ i. 65.

Footnote 302:

  Paus. vi. 24, 1.

Footnote 303:

  Lucian, _Timon_, 50.

Footnote 304:

  Robert and Mie hold that the crowns were presented after each event,
  Weniger that they were all presented on the 16th.

Footnote 305:

  Schol. Pindar, _Ol._ v. 8 τῆς ἑκκαιδεκάτης ἐν ᾖ τὰ ἆθλα ἐδίδοτο. This
  is possibly a paraphrase of an earlier scholion on _Ol._ iii. 35 καὶ
  τῃ ἑκκαιδεκάτῃ γίνεται ἡ κρίσις.

Footnote 306:

  Paus. v. 21, 14.

Footnote 307:

  Africanus, 6, 67, R.

Footnote 308:

  _Imag._ ii. 6. This passage is particularly important, as the picture
  represents the very moment after the contest is over.

Footnote 309:

  In Homer the prizes are set at the finish of the race, or beside the
  ring, and are awarded immediately afterwards. They are represented
  similarly on black-figured vases. The same idea is suggested by the
  well-known epigram on Myron’s statue of Ladas, _Anth. Pal._ xvi. 54
  πηδήσει τάχα χαλκὸς ἐπὶ στέφος.

Footnote 310:

  Weniger, _Clio_, 1905, pp. 184-218.

Footnote 311:

  Paus. v. 21. 13, 14. Cp. _Ol. Ins._ 56, l. 20-30, regulations for the
  Augustalia at Naples, which were modelled on those of Olympia.
  Athletes were required to give in their names to the Agonothetai
  thirty days beforehand; if they failed to give full information, they
  incurred a fine; if a competitor arrived late, he had to report the
  cause to the Agonothetai, and any one might lodge a protest against
  him; if found guilty, he was disqualified from competing.

Footnote 312:

  Philostr. _Gym._ 11, 18, 54.

Footnote 313:

  _Ib._ 25; Paus. vi. 23, 24.

Footnote 314:

  _Vit. Apoll. Tyan._ v. 43.

Footnote 315:

  Paus. v. 16, 8.

Footnote 316:

  The statement that they quitted Elis a month before the festival is
  quite inconsistent with the account given by Pausanias vi. 23, 24, and
  with the narrative in Lucian’s _De Morte Peregrini_, ch. 31, 32. The
  scene of the earlier chapters is laid in Elis, where the Hellanodicae
  are training the athletes. From Elis Lucian goes straight on to the
  festival at Olympia. Perhaps the procession from Elis to Olympia took
  place on the 10th or 11th of the month.

Footnote 317:

  v. 24, 9.

Footnote 318:

  Dio Cass. lxxix. 10.

Footnote 319:

  Pind. _Ol._ v. 6; i. 90.

Footnote 320:

  Paus. vi. 20, 15; vii. 17, 14.

Footnote 321:

  _Anth. Pal._ xi. 16, 33.

Footnote 322:

  Philostrat. _Im._ ii. 6.

Footnote 323:

  The evidence for most of the statements contained in this paragraph is
  late. It will be found in Krause, _Olympia_, pp. 138, 139.

Footnote 324:

  Quoted in Julian, p. 318:

                       Ἄρχει μὲν Ἀγων, τῶν καλλίστων
                       Αθλων ταμίας. καιρὸς δε καλεῖ
                       μηκέτι μέλλειν. ἀλλὰ κλύοντες
                       τὰν ἁμετέραν κάρυκα βοάν....
                       Ιτ’ ἐς ἀντίπαλον ἴστασθε κρίσιν
                       Νίκης δε τέλος Ζηνὶ μελήσει.

  A similar proclamation closed the proceedings, _vide_ Lucian,
  _Demonax_, 65. Cp. _Clio_, 1904, pp. 141, 142.

Footnote 325:

  Lucian, _Hermotim._ 39.

Footnote 326:

  Paus. v. 20, 2.

Footnote 327:

  _Arch. Zeit._, 1853, 52, 3; Gerl. _A. V._ 274, 1. Cp. Stephani, _O. R.
  Atlas_, 1874, pl. vii.; Krause, _Olympia_, p. 173.

Footnote 328:

  _Ol. Ins._ 54, and notes thereon.

Footnote 329:

  Pindar, _Ol._ ix. 1, 2.

Footnote 330:

  Krause, _Olympia_, pp. 180, 181.

Footnote 331:

  Pseudo-Andocides, iv. 29, p. 126.

                               CHAPTER X

[Illustration: Fig. 27. Imperial coins of Delphi, in British Museum
(enlarged). (_a_) Prize table. (_b_) Crown of bay leaves.]

                             (1) The Pythia

We have seen how in 582 B.C. the old local musical festival which had
been held at Delphi every eight years was transformed into a Panhellenic
four-yearly festival with an athletic and equestrian programme copied
from Olympia under the presidency of the amphictyonic league. Delphi now
became a second centre of this league, which consisted originally of the
twelve tribes dwelling round the shrine of Demeter at Phylae or Anthela.
The league was administered by a council composed of two representatives
from each tribe, the Hieromnemones, who met twice a year in spring and
autumn at Phylae and Delphi alternately. Their autumn meeting must have
coincided every fourth year with the Pythian festival which took place
in the month of Boukatios, about the end of August. An amphictyonic law
of the year 380 B.C.[332] contains full details of the duties of the
Hieromnemones. Besides the general care of the sacred territory,
precinct, monuments, and revenues, they were responsible for all the
preparations necessary for the Pythia. They saw to the repairs of the
stadium, hippodrome, and other buildings; they arranged the programme,
made provision for the sacrifices and processions; they saw that the
sacred truce was duly proclaimed, and sent invitations to the various
states of Greece, while each Hieromnemon was individually responsible
for the state of the roads and bridges by which the official theorioi
would travel to the festival. At the games themselves certain of their
number, with the title of ἐπιμεληταί, acted as stewards and judges, and
presented the laurel crowns to the victors. The actual presidency at the
games seems usually to have been entrusted to the Thessalians, whose
influence predominated in the league.

Though as a festival the Pythia were second only to the Olympia, it may
be doubted whether from a purely athletic point of view they equalled in
importance the Nemea or even the Isthmia. The Peloponnese was, as we
have seen, the real home of Greek athletics, and, moreover, musical
competitions seem always to have held the chief place at Delphi, as was
but fitting in the precinct of Apollo. The chief event in the musical
programme remained throughout all time the ancient Hymn to Apollo, sung
to the lyre (κιθαρωδία), recounting his victory over the Python.
Chrysothemis, Philammon, and Thamyris were among the legendary victors
in this competition, which was said to have been won in the seventh
century four times in succession by Terpander of Lesbos. In 582 two
competitions were added: one in singing to the flute (αὐλωδία)—a
competition which was, however, at once discontinued—and a solo on the
flute, which, like the ancient hymn, represented the various phases in
the contest between Apollo and the Python. This was the celebrated
Pythian nome. The prize was won in 582, and on two subsequent occasions,
by Sacadas of Argos; and Pythocritus of Sicyon is credited with no less
than six successive victories, probably at the close of the sixth
century. Pindar’s twelfth Pythian ode was written to celebrate the
victory of Midas of Agrigentum in flute-playing. The musical programme
was completed in 558 B.C. by the introduction of a competition in
playing on the lyre, of a somewhat similar character. The first winner
was Agesilaus of Tegea. Under the Empire dramatic and poetical
competitions took place at the Pythia; but we cannot say whether they
existed at an earlier date. If we may trust Pliny’s[333] statement,
there must have been a competition in painting in the fifth century; for
he tells us that Timagoras of Chalcis defeated Panaenus, the brother or
nephew of Pheidias.

Next in importance to the musical competitions were the chariot and
horse races, which rivalled in popularity even those at Olympia. At
first they were confined, as at Olympia, to the four-horse chariot and
the horse race. The pair-horse chariot-race (συνωρίς) and the
chariot-race for colts were introduced at Delphi in 398 B.C. and 378
B.C., only a few years after their introduction at Olympia. The
remaining two events, the synoris for colts and the riding race for
colts, which were introduced at Delphi in 338 B.C. and 314 B.C., did not
figure at Olympia till the next century. The popularity of horse-racing
at Delphi was due to the wide-spread influence of the Delphic oracle
among the Greek colonies, and particularly to the intimate connexion
between Delphi and the great horse-breeding lands of Northern Greece,
which belonged to the Thessalian Amphictyony; at a later time also to
the influence of Macedon. Delphi was no less accessible than Olympia to
the Greeks on either side of the Corinthian Gulf, and to the colonies of
the West, and of Africa. The earliest victor in the chariot-race was
Cleisthenes of Sicyon, and in the fifth century we find among the
victors Megacles, the Alcmaeonid of Athens; Hieron of Syracuse, twice
victor in the horse-race, once in the chariot-race; Xenocrates of
Agrigentum, for whom Pindar wrote his earliest hymn of victory; and
Arcesilas of Cyrene. The “Charioteer” is supposed by some archaeologists
to be part of the monument commemorating the victory of Arcesilas.

Still more significant than these names is the number of competitors.
Pindar, in his ode on the victory of Arcesilas, states that in this race
no less than forty chariots fell. The entries, then, must have been
still more numerous. We may doubt whether such a field was possible at
Olympia. The princes of the West can have formed but a small portion of
the entries; few of them can have cared to undertake the expense and
labour necessary to compete so far from home unless they had a good
prospect of success. A field of forty implies large entries from the
home district, and the home district of Delphi afforded an abundant
supply of competitors. Northern Greece was a land of horses, and
therefore, as Aristotle remarks, of oligarchies. Thessaly, in
particular, was famed for producing the finest horses in Greece, and
Thebes was famous for its chariots.[334] In both countries the power was
in the hand of the land-owning classes, whose wealth consisted largely
in their studs of horses. In Thessaly cavalry were first organized and
employed for war. Thebes was credited with the first victory in the
chariot-race, Thessaly with the first victory in the horse-race at
Olympia. They had celebrated local festivals. Pindar’s second Pythian is
in honour of a victory in the chariot-race won by Hieron at some Theban
festival, either the Heraclea or the Iolaea, and the thirteenth ode of
Bacchylides celebrates the victory of Cleoptolemus of Thessaly in the
Thessalian Petraea. Some idea of the proportion of local entries at the
Pythia may be formed from the list of competitors given in the
description of the chariot-race in the _Electra_ of Sophocles. There are
ten competitors. One comes from Sparta, one from Achaea; Orestes himself
is proclaimed an Argive, but drives a team of Thessalian horses; two are
Libyans from Barca, which reminds us of the victory of Arcesilas; the
remaining five are an Athenian, a Boeotian, an Aetolian, a Magnesian,
and an Aenianian. The Magnetes and Aenianes were Thessalian tribes
belonging to the ancient Amphictyony. Thus five came from Northern
Greece, two from the colonies, and three from the Peloponnese, if we
suppose the Achaean to belong to the Peloponnesian and not to the
Thessalian Achaeans. The few records which we possess of the fourth
century and later suggest that the competition was now practically
confined to Northern Greece, the only exception being the victory of
Ptolemaeus, the son of Lagus, in 314 B.C., and he, though king of Egypt,
was a Macedonian. In the second century there seem to have been
horse-races in connexion with the official deputations, Pythaids, sent
from time to time from Athens to Delphi; but these deputations had no
necessary connexion with the Pythian games. In Roman times we find no
mention of horse or chariot races at Delphi, and we may therefore assume
that, owing to the impoverishment of Greece, these competitions had
ceased to exist.

The athletic programme was the same as that of Olympia, with the
addition of two races for boys, the diaulos and the dolichos. In 498
B.C. the race in armour, which had been introduced at Olympia a few
years previously, was introduced at Delphi, and in 346 B.C. the boys’
pankration, which did not appear at Olympia till 200 B.C. The strong
local element which we have noticed in the horse-races is apparent in
athletics, and in the fifth century the festival also attracted numerous
athletes from the colonies of the West. Many of those who were
victorious at Olympia were also victorious at Delphi. The scanty records
do not allow us to draw definite conclusions; but it seems probable that
the athletic competition did not reach the same standard as in the
festivals of the more athletic Peloponnese. Of individual athletes in
the fifth century Phayllus of Croton and Agias of Thessaly deserve
especial mention. Phayllus, who served with distinction in the Persian
wars, won two victories in the pentathlon and one in the stade-race,
which were commemorated by a statue the basis of which still exists.
Agias was a pankratiast of the fifth century. Daochus, a member of the
same family, two generations later set up in Thessaly a group of bronze
statues representing those of his family who had distinguished
themselves, including a statue of Agias by Lysippus. A replica of this
statue in marble has been found at Delphi (Fig. 20).

In Pindar’s time the athletic competitions as well as the horse-races
took place not at Delphi but in the Crisaean plain below. The
horse-races continued to be held there, Delphi itself affording no
suitable space for a hippodrome. But in the second half of the fifth
century the athletics were transferred to a new stadium constructed
above the precinct of Apollo. The change is connected by M. Homolle with
an attempt of the Phocians to reassert their rights to the control of
the games at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war.[335] The fourth
century was one of great activity among the states of Northern Greece,
in Thebes, in Thessaly, and in Macedon, and the Pythian festival
regained the importance which it had somewhat lost owing to the doubtful
part played by Delphi and the Northern States in the struggle with
Persia. The Pythian games appealed to the ambitious rulers of Thessaly
and Macedon in the same way as the Olympic games had to the tyrants of
an earlier age. Jason of Pherae usurped the presidency of the games, and
was preparing to celebrate them with extraordinary magnificence when his
ambition was cut short by his murder. Philip of Macedon was more
politic. By espousing the cause of the Amphictyons against the Phocians
in the Sacred war he won their gratitude, and was appointed by them as
president of the games. The new activity at Delphi may be seen in the
numerous additions to the programme made in this century. The gymnasium
was built in this period, and Aristotle undertook the task of drawing up
a register of Pythian victors, being assisted in the task by his nephew
Callistratus. A copy of this register was placed in the temple of

In 290 B.C. during the war between Demetrius Poliorketes and Pyrrhus,
the roads leading to Delphi were in possession of the Aetolians, and
Demetrius therefore ordered the Pythia to be celebrated at Athens, there
being, he said, no more fitting place for the worship of Apollo than
Athens, where he was regarded as the father of the race. The intimate
relations between Athens and Delphi at this period are proved by the
splendid deputations the Pythaids, as they were called, sent to Delphi
from time to time.[337] The splendour of the Pythaids reached its height
in the second century. Their arrival at Delphi was celebrated by
equestrian, musical and dramatic displays and competitions; but these
deputations did not necessarily coincide with the Pythian festival, and
after the capture of Athens by Sulla in 87 B.C. they practically ceased.

We know little of the Pythian games under the Empire: we have the names
of a few victors, many of them in musical or dramatic competitions,
others professional periodonikai. Nero won the Pythian crown, and in
return for it carried off hundreds of works of art from Delphi to Rome.
At a later period Herodes Atticus rebuilt the stadium in the form in
which it exists to-day. The Pythian games still existed in the time of
the Emperor Julian, and were probably abolished finally at the end of
the fourth century when the Olympic games were abolished.

The festival must have lasted several days, but the precise duration is
unknown. The musical competitions appear to have come first, then the
athletic events, and lastly the chariot and horse races. The boys’
events were not, as at Olympia, grouped together; but each boys’
competition preceded the corresponding competition for men.[338] The
prize was a wreath of bay leaves plucked in the vale of Tempe by a boy
whose parents were both living. It is represented on one of the coins in
Fig. 27, while the other coin shows the prize table and on it a crow,
five apples, a vase and a laurel wreath. As at Olympia, the victors had
the privilege of erecting their statues in or near the precinct. The
chief religious ceremony of the festival must have been the official
procession along the sacred way to the temple of Apollo.

[Illustration: Fig. 28. Imperial coin of Corinth, in British Museum

                            (2) The Isthmia

The Isthmian festival, though inferior in athletic standard to the
Olympia and in sanctity to the Pythia, was perhaps the most frequented
of all the Panhellenic festivals.[339] It was held in the second and
fourth year of each Olympiad, under the presidency of Corinth; and
though there is some doubt as to the exact date, it seems certain that
it was held in the spring, probably in April or early May.[340] No
festival was so central and so accessible to all parts of the Greek
world, whether by land or sea, and no place offered such innumerable
attractions to visitors of every sort as Corinth, the city of commerce
and of pleasure. The description which Dion Chrysostom has left of the
crowds which flocked to the Isthmia in the first century A.D. has
already been quoted. It reminds one of the crowd at a modern
race-meeting, where princes, statesmen, millionaires, jostle with
beggars, mountebanks, and sharpers. “The Isthmian festival,” says
Livy,[341] “owed its popularity not only to the national love of
witnessing contests of every sort in arts or strength or agility, but
especially to the advantageous situation of the Isthmus, which,
commanding the resources of two seas, was the natural meeting-place of
the human race, the mart of Greece and Asia.” In these words we have,
summed up, the essential characteristics of the Isthmia, the
attractiveness and variety of their programme, their cosmopolitanism,
and last but not least their commercial importance. Livy is speaking of
the time in the opening years of the second century, when Flamininus
proclaimed the liberty of Greece at the Isthmian festival. We cannot
doubt that he had also in his mind the revived splendour of the festival
in his own time, since Corinth which had been destroyed by Mummius had
been refounded by Julius Caesar and become the capital of Achaia. Of the
earlier history of the festival we unfortunately know little; but the
few notices which have survived indicate that from the very first the
character of the festival differed little from that ascribed to it by
Livy and Dion Chrysostom.

The reorganization of the ancient local festival in honour of Poseidon
as a Panhellenic trieteris seems to have taken place either during the
closing years of the Cypselidae, or shortly after their fall. These
princes had laid the foundation of the maritime and commercial greatness
of Corinth, which, under their patronage, took the lead in trade and
literature and art. From this time her wealth and luxury were
proverbial; but wealth and luxury are not the soil on which athletics
flourish best. Corinth was not an athletic state; few great athletes
hailed from her, and, whatever athletic vigour existed in early times in
families such as the Oligaethidae soon died away. The character of the
Isthmia cannot fail to have been determined by the character and
relations of Corinth.

Corinth, though traditionally Dorian, had little in common with the
other Dorian states of the Peloponnese. All her sympathies were Ionian.
With the Ionians of the East she was closely connected by that trade
which was the basis of her wealth, and by the common worship of
Poseidon. The influence of the East is clearly marked in the early art
of Corinth, especially in her pottery. Equally close were her relations
with Athens. We have seen that Theseus was one of the reputed founders
of the Isthmia; and that the Athenian theoroi had a special place of
privilege at the festival. Indeed, the Isthmia seem almost to have been
regarded as an Attic festival, and were an occasion of merry-making, a
sort of public holiday for all classes of Athens, even for slaves. Many
an Athenian was debarred from visiting Olympia by the length of the
journey, the heat, and other discomforts of the festival itself. The
Isthmia suffered from no such drawbacks; it was but a few hours’
journey, either by land or sea; the festival took place in the spring;
Corinth offered ample accommodation for such as could afford it; those
who could not afford it might take their tents with them and encamp in
the neighbourhood. Under these circumstances it is reasonable to suppose
that the Isthmia bore more resemblance to the Panathenaea, or even to
the Delia, both of which festivals were also said to have been founded
by Theseus, than they did to the more strenuous Olympia; and such few
facts as we know about the programme confirm this idea.

It is perhaps to this essential difference in character that we may
ascribe the sort of feud existing between the Olympia and the Isthmia.
The Olympia were accounted “the most athletic” of all festivals.[342]
The inferiority of the Isthmia in athletic prestige is proved by the
fact that Solon assigned only 100 drachmae to a winner at the Isthmia,
while he assigned 500 to an Olympic winner.

Of the history of the Isthmia in the fifth and fourth centuries we know
practically nothing. The records of victories in the games are too
scanty to enable us to form any trustworthy conclusions;[343] as far as
they go they indicate that the athletic competition was far more local
than at Olympia. There are hardly any names of victors recorded from
Sicily and Italy which figure so largely in the Olympic records. With
the exception of a few periodonikai the competitors come chiefly from
Corinth, Aegina, Thebes, and Athens, and some of the islands of the
Aegean. Bacchylides in his Second Ode on Argeius of Ceos mentions that
at this date the Ceans had already won seventy victories at the Isthmus,
and a Cean inscription, now at Athens, records numerous victories which
they had won at the Isthmia and the Nemea, including victories of
Argeius.[344] The Oligaethidae of Corinth had, according to Pindar,
themselves won sixty crowns at these two festivals, and the Timodemidae
of Athens had won eight victories at the Isthmus and seven at the Nemea.
We can find no such records as these at Olympia.[345]

During the Peloponnesian war the festival must have suffered greatly
from the enforced absence of the Athenians. In the _Peace_ of
Aristophanes, written shortly after the peace of Nicias, one of the
slaves expresses his delight at the prospect of once more taking part in
the Isthmia.[346] The Corinthians had probably equal cause for
rejoicing; without the Athenians and their allies the festival must have
been shorn of half its splendour. A few years later, in 412 B.C., we
find the Corinthians insisting vigorously on the observance of the
Isthmian truce, and turning a deaf ear to the suggestions of Sparta for
a joint expedition to free Chios from the Athenian yoke.[347] They even
invited the Athenians to the festival, and thus enabled them to discover
the plot of the Chians, and to destroy the fleet which sailed for Chios
at the conclusion of the festival. The policy of Corinth was to preserve
the balance of power. Her bitter opposition to Athens was the natural
result of commercial rivalry, but the supremacy of Sparta was still less
to her liking, and within a few years of the humiliation of Athens we
find her leagued with Athens, Thebes, and Argos in an anti-Spartan
league. The Spartans had no scruples as to the observance of festivals,
except when it suited their convenience; and Agesilaus, with certain
Corinthian exiles of the Spartan party, actually invaded Corinth during
the progress of the Isthmia.[348] The games were being conducted by the
Corinthians and Argives, who seem to have been for a time united into
one state. On the approach of Agesilaus they took to flight, and
Agesilaus himself encamped in the sacred precinct, while the Corinthian
exiles offered the customary sacrifice to Poseidon and conducted the
games. When Agesilaus withdrew, the Argives returned and celebrated the
festival all over again.

From this point we hear no more of the Isthmia till the Romans began to
interfere in Greek politics. The cosmopolitanism of the festival and the
commercial importance of the Isthmus as the meeting-place of East and
West naturally appealed to the Romans, and a new era of prosperity
opened for the Isthmia, which for a time seemed likely to eclipse even
Olympia. The Corinthians had no narrow national prejudices, and allowed
the Romans to take part in the Isthmia as early as 228 B.C.[349]
Consequently, it was at the Isthmus and not at Olympia that Flamininus
proclaimed the liberty of the Greeks in 196 B.C. Even the destruction of
Corinth was not allowed to interrupt the festival which continued to be
held under the presidency of Sicyon till the rebuilding of Corinth by
Julius Caesar.[350] Under the Empire Corinth became richer and more
luxurious, and the Isthmian festival more popular than ever. The
enthusiasm for athletic spectacles at Corinth seems to have made a deep
impression on St. Paul. Preachers are wont to draw glowing pictures of
the Isthmian games in this connexion. But few perhaps realize how
corrupt and degraded were Greek athletics during St. Paul’s lifetime,
and nowhere were they more degraded than at the Isthmia. Yet in outward
appearance the festival had never been more brilliant. Most of the
buildings, which excavations of the sanctuary of Poseidon have revealed,
belong to the period of Augustus and his successors.[351] Nero was so
deeply impressed with the importance of the site that he conceived the
idea of cutting a canal through the Isthmus, and was only prevented from
doing so by the opposition of certain ignorant scientists, who
maintained that the level of the sea was different in the Gulf of
Corinth and in the Aegean.[352] However, he took part in person at the
Isthmia, and issued a letter summoning the Greek world to the festival,
a copy of which has been recovered.[353] It appears that to suit the
emperor’s convenience the festival was postponed from the spring to
November, or perhaps it was celebrated a second time the same year. He
was proclaimed victor in singing to the lyre and also in the heralds’
competition; and in obedience to his wishes a competition in tragedy was
added to the programme, though, according to Lucian, such competitions
were barred by a special Isthmian law. He was forced, moreover, to
resort to force in order to secure his victory; for a certain Epirote,
possessed of a fine voice and less complaisant than the officials,
refused to withdraw from the competition unless the emperor paid him ten
talents; and Nero, recognizing that he would be defeated, despatched a
band of his creatures, who so battered and ill-treated the Epirote as to
spoil his voice. Finally, in imitation of Flamininus, he went through
the farce of bestowing freedom on the province, and himself proclaimed
his clemency standing in the middle of the stadium.

The venality of athletics at the Isthmia under the Empire is evident
from the story already quoted of a disappointed athlete, who actually
took proceedings to recover the amount of a bribe, and published his own
shame before all the assembled crowds.[354] Such an incident implies a
degraded public opinion and the absence of all true love of sport.
Indeed, it is evident from Dion Chrysostom that the Corinthians and
Athenians had already acquired from the Romans a taste for the more
exciting and more brutal exhibitions of the amphitheatre.[355] The
festival seems to have survived down to the time of the Emperor Julian;
but there was no longer any interest in athletic or musical
competitions. The vast sums spent by the Corinthians on their games were
spent, the emperor tells us, in the purchase of bears and leopards to be
hunted in the arena.[356]

The sanctuary of Poseidon where the Isthmian games were held has been
excavated, but the excavations throw little light on the history of the
games themselves. It consisted of a small acropolis surrounded by a
wall, the north side of which was formed by the great military wall that
guarded the Isthmus. The sacred way, according to Pausanias, was lined
on one side by a row of pine trees, on the other by statues of athletes
who had won victories at the festival. Traces have been found of the
temples of Poseidon and Palaemon, of the sacred way, of the theatre, and
of the stadium, but all are of late date. The stadium lay in a ravine,
formed by a stream which must have been diverted from its course, but
has now returned to it. It was about 650 feet long. It was seated with
marble; and some traces of the seats survive. An inscription in honour
of Publius Licinius Priscus, a Roman citizen of Corinth who lived in the
second century A.D., records that he built a stoa adjoining the stadium
with vaulted rooms opening into it.[357] The same benefactor provided,
at his own expense, buildings for the accommodation of the athletes, who
came to the Isthmia from “all the inhabited world,” and repaired various
buildings which had suffered from the ravages of time and earthquakes
including the “judging-rooms” (ἐγκριτηρίονς οἴκους), by which phrase,
apparently, are meant the rooms where competitors were examined and
classified. No traces of these buildings have been found, nor has the
site of the hippodrome been discovered.

[Illustration: Fig. 29. Silver Vase. Bibliothèque Nationale. Imperial

The festival must have lasted several days. It began with a sacrifice to
Poseidon,[358] and included athletic, equestrian, and musical
competitions, and perhaps also a regatta. The athletic and equestrian
events differed little from those at other festivals. There were
separate competitions for men, youths, and boys, and the youths’
competitions included the pankration.[359] There was also, as at Nemea,
a four stades’ or hippios foot-race.[360] The multiplication of boys’
events here, as at Nemea and at the Panathenaea, indicates the
comparatively local character of the competition at these festivals.

From the connexion of the festival with Poseidon we should expect to
find that the equestrian events were an important part of the programme.
Herodotus of Thebes and Xenocrates of Agrigentum won the chariot-race in
Pindar’s time,[361] and somewhat later one Theochrestus of Cyrene and
two Spartans, Xenarches and Polycles.[362] A horse named Lycus had in
the sixth century won two victories for Pheidolas of Corinth or his
sons.[363] These are all the records that we possess; but the occurrence
of the two-horse chariot on coins of Commodus may perhaps be an
indication that chariot-racing still took place at the Isthmia under the

There is no mention of musical contests previous to the third century
B.C., when a certain Nicocles of Tarentum won six victories as
kitharodos.[364] He claims apparently to have been the first victor in
this competition, but the existence of musical competitions from the
earliest days of the festival is rendered probable by the tradition that
in mythical times Olympus was victorious in flute-playing, Orpheus on
the lyre, Linus in song, and Eumolpus in singing to the lyre and the
flute.[365] In Roman times there were numerous musical competitions.
There must also have been poetical competitions. The poetess Aristomacha
of Erythrae is stated to have won a prize at the Isthmia, and a pupil of
Herodes won a prize for an enkomion.[366] During the Hellenistic age it
seems probable that there were dramatic competitions held in connexion
with the guilds of Dionysiac players, but these competitions must have
disappeared under the Empire. Finally, Pliny asserts that at the Isthmus
as at Delphi, a competition in painting existed in the time of

The only evidence for the regatta is the statement that in mythical
times the Argo won the boat-race at the Isthmus. The Isthmus was
certainly a fitting place for such a race: there were boat-races at the
Panathenaea, and the Athenian theoria came to the Isthmia in a ship. But
we have no definite information on the point.

In Pindar’s time the Isthmian crown[368] was made of wild celery, dry
celery, as the scholiast explains, to distinguish it from the fresh
celery of which the Nemean crown was made. According to later writers
the Isthmian crown was of pine leaves; the pine tree was sacred to
Poseidon, and an avenue of pines lined the sacred road at the Isthmus.
It seems not unlikely that the original crown was of pine leaves, and
this practice was revived under the Empire. On the coins of Augustus and
Nero the celery crown is still represented, while on those of Antoninus
Pius and Verus, we see the inscription Ἴσθμια encircled by a crown of
pine leaves[369] (Fig. 28).

[Illustration: Fig. 30. Scene from Silver Vase (Fig. 29).]

A scene connected with the Isthmian games occurs on a silver cup, which
was part of an offering dedicated to Mercurius of Canetum by Q. Domitius
Tutus (Figs. 29, 30). To the left is a victorious athlete crowned, and
holding in his hands a palm branch. Before him is a table on which
stands a herm, to which he has dedicated a fillet and a crown, which
curiously appears to be of oak leaves, not of pine or celery. Beyond the
table is seated an Agonothetes; and a woman holding a torch stands next
to him. In spite of the crown of oak, the identification of the scene
with the Isthmia is rendered certain by the representation of the
Acrocorinthus and Pegasus, to whom a nymph gives water from the fountain
of Peirene.[370]

[Illustration: Fig. 31. Imperial coin of Argos, in British Museum

                             (3) The Nemea

Little is known of the history of the Nemean games. Their importance
dates from the year 573 B.C., when they were re-organized as a
Panhellenic festival. This year was reckoned as the first Nemead, and
from this date the games were held regularly every two years in the
deep-lying vale of Nemea, “beneath the shadeless hills of Phlious.” The
presidency of the games belonged to the neighbouring town of Cleonae,
until about the year 460 B.C. it was usurped by the Argives, and in
spite of rival claims it remained in their hands ever afterwards. The
control of a Panhellenic festival was of considerable political
importance, and the Argives had no scruple in manipulating the sacred
truce to their own interests. On more than one occasion, it seems, a
Spartan invasion had been met by sacred heralds proclaiming the sacred
truce.[371] At last, Agesipolis in 390 B.C. appealed to Olympian Zeus
and Pythian Apollo for leave to disregard the fraudulent truce, and,
having obtained their approval, marched through Nemea, and gave such a
lesson to the Argives that they never again tried to shelter themselves
behind the truce.

At some date between this event and the close of the third century, the
festival itself was transferred to Argos. Aratus, when engaged in war
with Argos, made an attempt to restore the festival to the Cleonaeans
who had joined the Achaean league.[372] The games were once more held at
Nemea, and the athletes who had gone to compete at the rival games at
Argos were, in defiance of the sacred truce, arrested and sold as slaves
by the Achaeans. But the attempt of Aratus failed, and the festival
continued to be held at Argos under Argive presidency. It was at Argos
probably that musical competitions were first introduced into the
festival. Plutarch[373] relates how Philopoemen, after defeating the
Spartan tyrant Machanidas in the battle of Mantinea, came to Argos and
reviewed his troops before the people assembled for the games. He
entered the theatre during the musical competitions at the moment when
the musician Pylades was reciting the opening verse of the _Persae_ of

                   The palm of liberty for Greece I won—

and the whole assembly, struck by the coincidence, with one accord
hailed him as the saviour of Greece. Philip V. of Macedon had, some
years previously, been appointed by the Argives to preside over the
games on the ground that the kings of Macedon were of Argive descent,
and the same honour was afterwards bestowed on Flamininus.[374] Under
the Empire the festival was still celebrated at Argos. Hadrian seems to
have revived its glory. He instituted a winter festival, in which the
race in armour was a conspicuous feature, and he also revived the
hippios or four stades’ race which had fallen into disuse at the Nemea
and the Isthmia.[375] The Argive coins of Antoninus Pius bear the
inscription Νέμεια, surrounded by a celery wreath (Fig. 31), and the
latter occurs still later on the coins of Gallienus. Meanwhile the old
Nemean sanctuary had fallen so far into disuse that when Pausanias
visited Nemea, he found the temple of Nemean Zeus roofless and the
statue of the god gone.

Little is left to-day of the Nemean sanctuary, nor has the site ever
been properly excavated. There was no town at Nemea, merely a sanctuary
of Zeus with a stadium and a hippodrome, and we must suppose also a
gymnasium. The cypress grove in which the temple of Zeus stood has
disappeared, and of the temple itself only three pillars are left,
sufficient, however, to show that the temple cannot have been much
earlier than the close of the fifth century. The site of the stadium is
also visible in a deep ravine some 650 feet long, the end of which forms
a natural sphendone. There is no trace of hippodrome or gymnasium. There
are said to be traces of a theatre, but the statement appears to be
doubtful. Possibly the semicircular end of the stadium has been mistaken
for a theatre.[376]

The Nemea took place on the 12th day of the month Panemos, which seems
to correspond approximately to our July. The old idea that the festival
was held alternately in summer and winter is now abandoned, and it is
generally agreed that the winter Nemea was a local festival founded by
Hadrian. The duration of the festival is unknown; it must certainly have
lasted several days. The prize, as has been already stated, was a wreath
of wild celery (σέλινον), and the officials, who bore the title of
Hellanodicae, wore dusky robes of mourning in commemoration of the
funeral origin of the games.

The athletic programme, like that of the Isthmia, included numerous
events for boys and youths. The boys’ pentathlon was introduced in the
53rd Nemead, and in the next Nemead was won by Sogenes of Aegina; and
the boys’ pankration, an event not introduced at Olympia till a much
later period, was won by Pytheas of Aegina, and probably by Argeius of
Ceos, whose victory at the Isthmia has been already noticed.[377] There
was also a hippios-race for boys. Races in armour seem to have been a
special feature of the Nemea. They were run over the hippios course and
were, according to Philostratus, of great antiquity.[378]

We hear little of equestrian competitions. The chariot-race and the
horse-race are mentioned in the account of the mythical founding of the
games by the Seven Chieftains, and the chariot-race was won in the fifth
century by Chromius of Aetna, Alcibiades of Athens, and Xenarches of
Sparta; after this we hear no more of it. Nor have we any record of the
horse-race which, if we may argue from the mythical tradition, probably
existed. The site of the hippodrome is lost; Pausanias tells us that its
course was twice the length of the stadium.

There was a competition for trumpeters; but we have no record of musical
competitions previous to the transference of the festival to Argos. The
absence of any mention of musical competitions in the mythological
accounts of the founding of the Nemea, and the association of the Nemea
with Zeus and Heracles, makes it improbable that these events existed in
early times. The only victors in them known to us belong to the time of
the Empire. They are either kitharodoi, singers to the lyre, or
Pythaulai, players of the Pythian nome on the flute. In late times there
were probably dramatic competitions at Nemea, as at the Isthmus.

From the length of the athletic programme and the scarcity of records of
other competitions, we may safely infer that the interest of the Nemea
was almost entirely athletic. In fact, if Olympia was “the most athletic
of all festivals,” Nemea may almost claim second place. At Delphi the
musical competitions took precedence of the athletic, at the Isthmus
there was a variety of counter-attractions, even at Olympia the
chariot-race rivalled athletics in popularity. At the Nemea, previous to
their transference to Argos, athletics were supreme.[379]

The scanty records of victors in the Nemea seem to show that in the
fifth century competitors came mostly from the Peloponnese, from Athens,
and from the islands of the Aegean.[380] Particularly numerous are the
victors from Aegina, though the preponderance of this island in the
records may be partly due to the fact of its close connexion with
Pindar, most of the Aeginetan victors being known to us from his odes.
The Cean inscription, to which reference has already been made, shows
that here, as at the Isthmus, the Ceans were constant competitors. The
victories of the Oligaethidae of Corinth and the Timodemidae of Athens
have been already mentioned. On the other hand, we find few victors at
Nemea from either Italy or Sicily. In the succeeding centuries the
interest of the festival seems to have declined; the few victors known
to us are mostly Peloponnesian; many came from Elis. Under the Empire
the only recorded victors are professionals from Alexandria and the
powerful cities of Asia Minor.

Footnote 332:

  _C.I.G._ 1688.

Footnote 333:

  _N.H._ xxxv. 58.

Footnote 334:

  Pindar, _Fr._ 83.

Footnote 335:

  _B.C.H._ xxiii. p. 613.

Footnote 336:

  A list of victors in the Pythian games is given in Krause, _Pythien,
  Nemeen und Isthmien_, pp. 85 ff. Details of the stadium and gymnasium
  at Delphi will be found below, pp. 257, 483.

Footnote 337:

  _B.C.H._ xxx., 1906, pp. 191-328.

Footnote 338:

  Plut. _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 5; Sophocles, _El._ 698.

Footnote 339:

  Strabo viii. 6, 20; Aristid. _Isthm._ 45; Dion of Prusa, Διογ. ἡ Ἵσθμ.

Footnote 340:

  Unger, _Philologus_, xxxvii. p. 1.

Footnote 341:

  xxxiii. 32.

Footnote 342:

  Lucian, _Nero_, 1.

Footnote 343:

  Krause, _op. cit._ p. 209.

Footnote 344:

  A full account of this inscription is given in Jebb’s _Bacchylides_,
  pp. 187 ff.

Footnote 345:

  Pindar, _O._ xiii. 98; _N._ ii. 22.

Footnote 346:

  _Pax_, 880. In this play the personified Theoria comes back to earth
  in the train of Eirene, but Theoria is not confined to the Isthmian

Footnote 347:

  Thucyd. viii. 9.

Footnote 348:

  Xen. _Hell._ iv. 5.

Footnote 349:

  Polyb. ii. 13.

Footnote 350:

  Paus. ii. 2, 2.

Footnote 351:

  _Gaz. Arch._, 1884, 1885.

Footnote 352:

  Lucian, _Nero_.

Footnote 353:

  _B.C.H._ xii. 510-528.

Footnote 354:

  _Supra_, p. 174.

Footnote 355:

  _Supra_, p. 172.

Footnote 356:

  Julian, _Epist._ 35.

Footnote 357:

  _I.G._ iv. 203.

Footnote 358:

  Xen. _Hell._ iv. 5.

Footnote 359:

  Bacchylides i., ii.

Footnote 360:

  _Ib._ ix.

Footnote 361:

  Pindar, _I._ i., ii.

Footnote 362:

  Paus. vi. 1, 7; 2, 2.

Footnote 363:

  Paus. vi. 13, 10.

Footnote 364:

  _I.G._ ii. 1367.

Footnote 365:

  Hyginus, _Fab._ 165, 173.

Footnote 366:

  Plut. _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 4, v. 2, viii. 4.

Footnote 367:

  _H.N._ xxxv. 58.

Footnote 368:

  Krause, _op. cit._ p. 197.

Footnote 369:

  _B.M. Cat., Coins of Corinth_, 509-512, 564, 602, 624; cp. _I.G._ ii.
  1320, where we find Ἴσθμια enclosed in a wreath of pine leaves.

Footnote 370:

  The cup, which forms part of the Bernay treasure, is in the Cabinet
  des médailles at the Bibliothèque Nationale. Le Prevost, _Mém. sur la
  collection des vases de Bernay_, Pls. viii., ix.; Schreiber, _Atlas_,
  xxv. 1, 2.

Footnote 371:

  Xen. _Hell._ iv. 7, 2; v. 1, 29.

Footnote 372:

  Plutarch, _Aratus_, 17.

Footnote 373:

  Plutarch, _Philopoemen_, 11.

Footnote 374:

  Livy xxvii. 30, xxxiv. 41.

Footnote 375:

  Paus. v. 16, 4.

Footnote 376:

  Frazer, _Pausanias_, iii. 91.

Footnote 377:

  Pindar, _N._ v., vii.; Bacchylides, i. xii.

Footnote 378:

  Phil. _Gym._ 7; Paus. vi. 16, 4.

Footnote 379:

  The athletic character of the Nemea is emphasized in Bacchylides’
  Twelfth Ode, in which the origin of the pankration is traced to the
  victory of Heracles over the Nemean lion.

Footnote 380:

  Krause, _op. cit._ p. 147.

                               CHAPTER XI

It is impossible within the limits of this work to give any account of
the various local festivals which existed in every state of Greece. Such
an account would too often resolve itself into a barren list of names.
With regard to Athens we are more fully informed; and from the fifth
century onwards we may regard Athens as typical of the Greek world. A
brief account of the Athenian festivals and competitions will enable us
to form some idea of the part which such events occupied in the life of
the Greeks. Athens was not the most athletic of the states of Greece;
but nowhere was the love of festivals more developed, and nowhere were
competitions more various and more numerous. The Athenian must have
spent a large portion of his life in attending festivals and witnessing
competitions. In the following list I shall confine myself to those
festivals at which we know that there were competitions, and to the
festivals of Athens; but we must remember that there were many other
festivals in Athens itself, and that there were numerous competitions,
athletic or other, on the borders of Attica, at which Athenians could
attend as spectators or competitors.

The Attic year[381] commenced with the month of Hekatombaion (July), and
in this month took place the great festival of Athene Polias, the
Panathenaea, extending over several days and attracting visitors from
the whole Aegean world. The lesser Panathenaea were held yearly; the
great Panathenaea of which details will be found below, were held every
fourth year, the third year of each Olympiad.

In the next month, Metageitnion, the feast of the Heraclea took place at
Marathon. These were athletic games which seem to have been much
frequented in Pindar’s time.[382] The prize was a silver cup. There were
also Heraclea held at Athens in Cynosarges; but we have no evidence of
any competitions held there.

Next came the Eleusinia in the month of Boedromion, like the lesser
Panathenaea, celebrated yearly; but every second year of the Olympiad
they were celebrated as a trieteris, and every fourth year as a
pentaeteris. On these occasions there were athletics, horse-races,
musical competitions, and a special competition called “the contest of
the fathers” (πάτριος ἀγών), which seems to have been equestrian in
character. As at the feast of Athene the prize consisted in jars of
olive oil, so at Demeter’s feast it consisted in measures of corn and
barley. Epharmostus of Opous is stated by Pindar to have won a victory
in wrestling at Eleusis, and Herodotus of Thebes in the
chariot-race.[383] The Eleusinia claimed an antiquity greater than that
of the Olympia or the Isthmia, and the earliest athletic implement which
we possess is an inscribed jumping-weight found at Eleusis which cannot
be later than the beginning of the sixth century (Fig. 60).

The month of Pyanepsion (October) was a very busy one for the athletic
youth of Athens. First came the Oschophoria, a festal race in which two
boys, chosen from each tribe, raced, dressed in women’s clothes, from
the temple of Dionysus to the temple of Athene Skiras at Phalerum. They
carried bunches of grapes, and the winner received as his prize a mixed
drink, composed of wine, honey, cheese, flour, and oil.[384] On the
sixth day of the month began the Thesea, the great athletic festival of
the Athenian epheboi, and this was immediately followed by the
Epitaphia. The details of the programme will be discussed below. Lastly,
in connexion with the Apaturia there were musical competitions and
torch-races in honour of Prometheus and Hephaestus.

With October the athletic season seems to have ended. The winter months
and early spring were occupied with the dramatic competitions connected
with the Dionysia and Lenaea. There may, of course, have been lesser
competitions, of which we know nothing. At the “Country Dionysia,” for
example, there appear to have been various rustic sports, such as the
game of Askoliasmos,[385] which correspond to such sports as climbing
the greasy pole and other Mayday festivities.

The month of Munychion or April was the beginning of the boating season.
At the festival of Munychia there was a procession in honour of Artemis,
followed by boat-races in the harbour.[386] At a later date these were
replaced by a mimic naval battle, for which prizes were also given.[387]
Then the epheboi sailed to Salamis to celebrate the Aiantea. There were
more boat-races, and also a long-distance foot-race, in which the youths
of Athens competed with the youths of Salamis.

In the same month took place the Athenian Olympia, founded by the
Peisistratidae at the time when they commenced to build the temple of
Olympian Zeus. There were athletic and equestrian competitions. It is
perhaps to this festival that Pindar alludes, when he says that
Timodemus won “at home crowns more than may be numbered in the games of
Zeus.”[388] The festival was apparently a yearly one. It was reorganized
on a more magnificent scale by Hadrian.

During the rest of the year there are few important competitions. There
were musical competitions at the Thargelia, torch-races on horseback and
on foot at the Bendidea, founded in the fourth century, and, lastly,
more boat-races at the Diisoteria in the month of Skirophorion.

This list, though probably far from complete, will give some idea of the
number of competitions and festivals in Attica. The competitions fall
into two divisions, those, like the Panathenaea, which, though not
Panhellenic, were open to competitors from all parts of Greece, and
those, like the Thesea, which were practically confined to inhabitants
of Athens. The character of these festivals will be readily understood
from the programme of the Panathenaea and the Thesea, with regard to
which we have considerable information from inscriptions and other

The Panathenaic festival undoubtedly occupied several days. According to
the highly probable scheme suggested by August Mommsen,[389] it began on
the 21st day of Hekatombaion, and lasted nine days. The first three days
were occupied by musical competitions, the next two by athletics, the
sixth by horse and chariot races, the seventh by the Pyrrhic and other
military competitions. The seventh day closed with the torch-races in
the evening, which were the beginning of an all-night revel, Pannychis,
which preceded the procession and sacrifices on the 28th day of the
month—the great day of the festival. A regatta on the last day brought
the festival to the end.

The details of the sacrifices and procession do not concern us here. The
procession is known to us from the frieze of the Parthenon. Its object
was the offering to Athena of the new peplos or mantle wrought by
certain selected maidens of Athens, and interwoven with scenes
representing the battle between the gods and the giants. In the
procession the whole population of Athens was represented, and not only
that of Athens but also that of Athenian colonies and allies who sent to
the Panathenaea official deputies bearing their offerings and
sacrifices.[390] An admirable account of the procession will be found in
the British Museum _Guide to the Parthenon Sculptures_, while those who
wish for fuller information as to the literary evidence will find it in
Michaelis’ _Parthenon_ or Mommsen’s _Feste der Stadt Athen_.

The musical competitions certainly date back to the time of
Peisistratus, who reorganized the earlier yearly festival as a
pentaeteris, increased the programme, and gave to the festival a wider
and more popular scope. It was either Peisistratus himself or his son,
Hipparchus, who organized recitations by rhapsodists of the Homeric
poems, which had perhaps taken place at a yet earlier date at Brauron.
These recitations were confined to Homer, and it is recorded as a
special mark of honour that an exception was made in favour of the
_Perseis_ of Choerilus, which described the triumph of Athens over
Xerxes.[391] There seem also to have been competitions in lyric and
elegiac poetry.

According to Plutarch[392] Pericles was the first to introduce contests
in singing and playing on the lyre and on the flute. The competitions
were held in the newly built Odeum, and Pericles himself presided as
judge. In the first part of his statement Plutarch is mistaken. Midas of
Agrigentum, whose Pythian victory on the flute is celebrated in one of
Pindar’s earliest odes, is also credited with a victory in the
Panathenaea.[393] The existence of musical competitions at a yet earlier
date is proved by two small sixth-century Panathenaic amphorae in the
British Museum.[394] One represents a citharist playing on the chelys,
the other a player on the double flute, standing on a platform before a
bearded man, clothed in a long chiton and striped himation, while at the
side of the platform is seated a judge similarly clothed and holding a
wand. The vase from which our illustration is taken belongs to the class
of vase described as imitations of Panathenaic amphorae (Fig. 32). The
musical competition is represented on both sides. At a later date the
musical prizes consisted in a sum of silver and crowns of gold. In any
case, the small amphorae cannot have been used to hold oil, and may be
regarded as commemorative prizes bestowed on musicians, perhaps in
addition to some more substantial prize, on the analogy of the larger
amphorae bestowed on victors in athletics or chariot-races.

[Illustration: Fig. 32. Small Panathenaic(?) amphora, in British Museum,
B. 188. Sixth century.]

An early black-figured kylix in the British Museum points to the
existence of choral and dramatic competitions at the Panathenaea (Fig.
33). The central group represents a sacrifice to Athene, who stands
beside her altar armed with shield and spear, much as she is depicted on
Panathenaic vases. Advancing towards the altar is a procession formed of
a tragic chorus, a comic chorus, and a dithyrambic chorus. Diogenes
Laertius[395] states that dramatic competitions existed at the
Panathenaea, but we have no further information concerning them.

[Illustration: Fig. 33. B.-f. kylix, in British Museum, B. 80.]

The musical programme for the fourth century is partly known to us from
an inscription, which is unfortunately much mutilated.[396] The opening
lines, which apparently referred to the recitations of rhapsodists, are
almost entirely wanting. Then come four competitions. For singers to the
lyre there are no less than five prizes: a crown of gold valued at 1000
drachmae with 500 drachmae of silver for the winner; prizes of 1200,
600, 400, and 300 drachmae respectively for the next four in order of
merit. The “men singers to the flute” receive only two prizes—the first
a crown of 300 drachmae, the second a sum of 100 drachmae. For “men
players on the lyre” there are three prizes: the first is a crown valued
at 500 drachmae; the third is a sum of 100 drachmae; the amount of the
second prize is uncertain. Flute-players again have only two prizes, the
figures for which are missing in the inscription. There were doubtless
many other competitions. The insertion of the word “men” before “singers
to the flute” and “players on the lyre” implies that there were also
musical contests for boys, as was undoubtedly the case at
Aphrodisias.[397] Another competition mentioned in connection with the
Panathenaea was called συναυλία,[398] by which perhaps is meant a duet
on flutes. The preference shown at Athens for the lyre over the flute is
noticeable in the value of the prizes assigned for these events. Playing
on the lyre was part of every Athenian’s education, but whereas
flute-playing had become popular in the early part of the fifth century,
it did not commend itself to Athenian educationalists. Its moral effect
was considered bad, and it was an ungraceful performance which distorted
the face. So it was in the fourth century left for the most part to
professional flute-girls.[399] From the number of prizes offered it is
obvious that there must have been large entries for the musical
competitions, and Mommsen is probably right in assigning three days to
these events.

Next came the athletic competitions. The early Panathenaic vases show
that all the events of the Olympic programme existed in the Panathenaea
in the sixth century, and that there were competitions for men and boys,
but there is no evidence as to the division of boys into boys and youths
at this period. In the fourth century the inscription already mentioned
proves the existence of all three classes.[400] There were five events
for boys and youths respectively, the stade-race, the pentathlon,
wrestling, boxing, and the pankration. There were two prizes for each
event, consisting of so many amphorae of oil; the winner received five
times as many amphorae as the second. The following table shows the
amounts of amphorae awarded in the different events:—

                        Boys             Youths
                        (παῖδες).        (ἀγένειοι).

                        1st       2nd    1st Prize.  2nd
                        Prize.    Prize.             Prize.

             Stadion    50        10     60          12

             Pentathlon 30        6      40          8

             Pale       30        6      40          8

             Pygme      30        6      40          8

             Pankration 40        8      50          10

The portion of the inscription referring to men’s events is wanting, but
we know from Panathenaic vases and other sources that the programme for
men included the diaulos, the dolichos, the hippios-race,[401] and the
race in armour. When the last two events were introduced we cannot say:
the diaulos and dolichos certainly existed in the sixth century. The
dolichos is frequently represented on early Panathenaic vases, and a
fragment of such a vase found at Athens bears the inscription: “I am a
diaulos runner.” The prizes for men were of course proportionately
higher than those for boys and youths. In inscriptions of the second
century we find that the pentathlon has disappeared from the programme
for boys; but two races have been added in its place, the dolichos and
the diaulos. The programme for youths and men remains unchanged. The
whole programme can hardly have taken less than two days. Probably the
first day comprised the ten or eleven events for boys and youths, the
second day the nine events for men. In the fourth century we learn from
Plato that the sports opened with the stade-race, which was followed by
the diaulos, the hippios, and the dolichos. The last event was the race
in armour—a favourite subject of the Athenian vase-painters, and
frequently associated on the red-figured vases with the pankration,
which immediately preceded it. In the second century it seems probable
from the inscriptions that each day began with a long-distance race; the
first day with the boys’ dolichos, the second day with the men’s.

A noticeable feature in this programme is the large proportion of events
for boys and youths. All events were open to competitors from all the
Greek states; but events for the young naturally appeal chiefly to local
competition. Such being the case, we should expect to find Athens well
represented in the lists. But the reverse is the case. Out of more than
sixty names only seven are Athenians, and of these five are
pankratiasts.[402] These figures show how utterly unathletic Athens
became after the fifth century in spite of all her competitions.
Watching sports never makes an athletic nation; at Athens it produced a
crowd of idle critics and spectators. Nearly half the victors known to
us come from Asia Minor and the Aegean: not only Colophon and Ephesus,
but Tyre and Sidon figure in the lists. On the mainland Corinth, Sicyon,
Argos, Boeotia, and Epirus are best represented.

Previous to the erection of the Panathenaic stadium by Lycurgus the
athletic competitions took place in the deme of Echelidae, and this site
continued to be the scene of the chariot and horse races. The Hippodrome
of Athens is stated to have been of the unusual length of eight
stades.[403] The Athenians were at all periods passionately fond of
horses. The four-horse chariot-race, the pair-horse chariot-race, and
the horse-race are represented on the Panathenaic amphorae of the sixth
century. The earliest of these vases which we possess, the Burgon vase
in the British Museum, was the prize for the pair-horse
chariot-race.[404] The apobates race must have existed in the fifth
century, for the apobates is represented on the frieze of the Parthenon.

For the fourth century we have only a portion of the equestrian
programme, preserved in the inscription already quoted. We have
apparently only the last six events, with the number of measures of oil
presented for each of them. The inscription runs as follows:—

                                              1st Prize. 2nd Prize.

     Chariot-race for colts (ἵππων ζεύγει     40         8

     Chariot-race for full-grown horses       140        40
     (ἵππων ζεύγει ἀδηφάγῳ)[405]

     War (πολεμιστηρίοις), horse-race (ἵππῳ   16         4
     κέλητι νικώντι)

     War (πολεμιστηρίοις), chariot-race       30         6
     (ἵππων ζεύγει νικῶντι)

     Processional chariot-race (ζεύγει        4          1
     πομπικῷ νικῶντι)

     Javelin throwing on horseback (ἀφ’ ἵππου 5          1

In the light of later inscriptions it seems probable that the last four
events, if not all six, were confined to Athenian competitors. In this
case there must have been other events open to all comers. The
introduction of local events of a military type was undoubtedly due to
the development of Athenian cavalry in the latter part of the fifth
century. According to Photius the war-horse was not really a horse used
for war, but merely one equipped as for war in competitions. It is just
possible that in the second century the race for war-horses had become a
purely artificial event and the war-horse had then as little practical
value as the Athenian hoplite of that time. But we can hardly suppose
that this was the case in the fourth century, when Athens still
possessed a real army. Every Athenian of the first two classes was bound
to provide a horse for military service, and the races for war-horses
must have been introduced in order to encourage cavalry training, just
as the hoplite race had been intended for the benefit of the heavy-armed
infantry. But the war-horse was not the same type of animal as the
highly-trained and expensive race-horse, and the difference is marked in
the amount of the prizes. The team of war-horses receives only 30
amphorae, the team of race-horses 140. The same difference exists in the
present day between the prizes given at military or hunt steeple-chases,
and those given for race-horses. Still smaller are the prizes for the
processional chariots. In this event the chariots and horses may
possibly have been provided by the State.

We do not know how many events constituted the full programme in the
fourth century; an inscription of the second century enumerates
twenty-four events, and another, which is incomplete, contained at least
as many.[406] It is possible that on these occasions the programme was
exceptionally elaborate, owing to the presence of kings and other
distinguished visitors at the festival. Certainly the inscriptions prove
that at this period the programme varied considerably from time to time.
On one occasion, when four sons of King Attalus were present, it appears
that there were three if not four chariot-races for their benefit. Three
of their names appear as victors in the chariot-race; the name of the
fourth also occurs, but the inscription is here broken, and the name of
the event which he won is lost. Still, making allowance for such
circumstances, we can form a fairly accurate idea of the programme as it
existed at this time and probably also in the fourth century.

The programme is divided into open events (ἐκ πάντων) and local events
(ἐκ τῶν πολιτῶν). The open events are the six events of the Olympic
programme. These take place in the hippodrome. The local events take
place partly in the hippodrome, partly in the city in the neighbourhood
of the Eleusinium, where perhaps the races ended. Some of the events are
ceremonial in character, others military. Of the latter some are
confined to soldiers. There are three riding races for officers (ἐκ τῶν
φυλάρχων), a straight race (ἄκαμπτον) and a diaulos, and a diaulos ἐν
ὅπλοις, _i.e._ in which the riders wear full armour. Similarly there are
three races for cavalry (ἐκ τῶν ἱππέων). In all these races the riders
rode their war-horses (ἵππῳ πολεμιστῇ). There are twelve events open to
all citizens—five held at the Eleusinium, seven in the hippodrome. These
include no less than eleven chariot-races, three ceremonial,—the
apobates race, and two races in processional chariots,—four races in
racing chariots over the straight and the double course, and four races
in war-chariots (ἅρματι πολεμιστηρίῳ, συνωρίδι πολεμιστηρίᾳ) by which
perhaps we may understand that, as in Homeric days, there were two men
in each chariot, the driver and the soldier. There was only one
horse-race, a race ἵππῳ πολυδρόμῳ, by which word I am inclined to
understand a war-horse, though it may be merely a variant for fully

The “apobates”[407] was a ceremonial race peculiar to Athens and
Boeotia, and recalled, according to tradition, the invention of the
chariot by Erechtheus. At the founding of the Panathenaea he had himself
appeared as charioteer, having with him in his chariot a companion armed
with small round shield and triple-crested helmet, as represented in the
frieze of the Parthenon. The event undoubtedly preserves the tradition
of Homeric warfare when the chieftain was driven to the scene of action
and dismounted to fight, remounting again for pursuit or flight. There
is some doubt as to the manner of the race. According to one
statement[408] the apobates mounted the chariot in full course, by
placing a foot on the wheel, and again dismounted, the performance being
repeated apparently at fixed intervals.

[Illustration: Fig. 34. Votive Relief. Acropolis Museum. Hellenistic

This account finds some confirmation in one of the groups of the
Parthenon frieze, which represents the apobates in the very act of
mounting a chariot.[409] Dionysius of Halicarnassus[410] makes no
mention of the mounting, but states that at the close of the race,
apparently the beginning of the last lap, the apobates dismounted, and
from this point chariots and apobatai raced together to the finish. The
two accounts are not really irreconcilable if we suppose that Dionysius
is thinking merely of the finish, the most interesting part of the race.
In most of the groups on the north side of the Parthenon the apobates is
represented in the act of dismounting, as he is in Fig. 34. In those on
the south side he is standing in the chariot or by its side.[411] The
latter scene represents the moment before the race, the other scenes
different moments in the race, and there is no need to assume with
Michaelis two different motives for the south and north frieze. In
inscriptions the twofold character of the race is brought out by the
mention of charioteer and apobates as two separate victors. The
charioteer is described as ἡνίοχος ἐγβιβάζων, the charioteer “who lets
his companion dismount,” a title which suggests the assistance which the
charioteer could render to his fellow by a momentary checking of the
pace. The course of the race seems to have been from the Cerameicus to
the Eleusinium, on the slopes of the Acropolis.

So extensive a programme required at least two days: in one inscription
a torch-race is inserted in the middle of the programme, perhaps as
marking the close of the first day. The popularity of the Panathenaea in
the second century is proved by the number of distinguished competitors.
Besides the sons of King Attalus mentioned already, we find Mastanabas,
the son of King Mastanassus, King Antiochus, the son of Antiochus
Epiphanes, and Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, who competed as an Athenian
citizen of the Ptolemaid tribe. There are numerous victors from Argos,
and the lists include the names of several women. In one list alone we
find two victories won by women, or perhaps by the same woman from
Argos, and a third won by a woman of Alexandria.

Besides these individual competitions, there seems to have been a
cavalry competition between tribes, which took place in the hippodrome,
though we do not know on what day. This ἀνθιππασία[412] was a sort of
sham-fight between two squadrons, each consisting of the cavalry of five
tribes under the command of a hipparchos. Xenophon describes the sight
with enthusiasm. They pursued one another in turn, charged, passed
through each other’s lines, wheeled round, and charging down the whole
length of the hippodrome came to a sudden halt, front to front. It seems
that prizes were given to the tribe which performed best, or perhaps to
their officers.

The day after the horse-races was occupied by a series of competitions
between companies or tribes, in which the local and religious character
of the festival is yet more clearly manifest. First came the Pyrrhic
chorus, an event which took place at the lesser Panathenaea as well as
the great.[413] Our inscription enumerates three prizes: one for boys,
one for youths, one for men. Each prize is an ox of the value of 100
drachmae, which furnished the victors with a victim for sacrifice and
provision for a feast. The composition of the Pyrrhic chorus is known to
us from a relief on the basis of a statue set up by Atarbus to
commemorate the victories gained at the Panathenaea by a cyclic chorus,
and a Pyrrhic chorus that he had provided in the archonship of
Cephisodorus, _i.e._ either 366 or 323 B.C.[414] On one side is
represented the Pyrrhic chorus (Fig. 35): it consists of eight youths
linked, and armed with helmets and shields, who move in rhythmic dance
under the direction of a trainer, robed in a long mantle and holding in
his hand a scroll. The whole Pyrrhic chorus of boys, youths, and men
must therefore have numbered twenty-four. Whether they competed as a
single chorus or as three is uncertain. On the other side of the relief
we see a cyclic chorus, also consisting of eight youths, but clothed in
long mantles wrapt close about them, and revolving apparently in a
circle. Next came two competitions between tribes, for which the prize
again is the sacrificial ox, destined perhaps to be led in the
procession of the morrow. The first competition is for εὐανδρία, which
in the fourth century seems to mean merely “good looks.” In the
Panathenaic procession certain old men were selected for their beauty to
carry the sacred olive branches. Each tribe chose certain
representatives, and this competition was apparently intended to decide
which tribe should provide these “handsome old men.”[415] The nature of
the second competition is not stated in the inscription, but as the next
line refers to the torch-race, it is probable that this too was a
competition for good looks, to decide which tribe should take part in
the evening’s torch-race. The torch-race at the Panathenaea was an
individual competition, in which the winner received a hydria valued at
30 drachmae.

[Illustration: Fig. 35. Relief on monument of Atarbus. Acropolis Museum.
Fourth century.]

Lastly, the regatta which took place on the last day of the festival was
also a competition between tribes. According to the inscription two
prizes were offered: the winning tribe received 200 drachmae for a feast
besides some other object, possibly three oxen, valued at 300 drachmae.
The prize for the second place is also broken off in the inscription,
but its value was 200 drachmae. Of the details of the regatta we know
nothing. Perhaps we may connect with the Panathenaea a relief found at
Athens representing torch-race, wrestling, and boat-race (Fig. 36). It
forms part of an ephebic inscription of Roman times in the archonship of
C. Helvidius.[416]

The prizes in the athletic and equestrian events consisted, as we have
seen, in certain quantities of oil. This oil, which was obtained from
the sacred olive-trees scattered over Attica, belonged to the state, and
none might sell or export it except the victors in the games. The
olive-trees were under the care of the Areopagus, and were every year
inspected by its officials, and the oil itself was collected by the
archon, who handed it over to the treasurers of the festival. In later
time this system was abolished and the land was assessed at a certain
number of olive-trees, each proprietor being required to supply a
certain quota of oil to the state.[417]

[Illustration: Fig. 36. Relief on Stele. Athens, National Museum, 3300.
Imperial period.]

Besides this the victor received as a memento “a richly painted
amphora.”[418] In view of the care with which these amphorae were
preserved it seems unlikely that the victor received more than one such
amphora. A large number of them are still in existence. They date from
the middle of the sixth to the close of the fourth century. They are
painted in black on a red ground or panel. On one side is an athletic
scene, typical of the event for which the amphora was given; on the
other, the figure of Athene clothed in her aegis, and brandishing her
shield and spear. She stands usually between two Doric pillars
surmounted by some emblem, a cock, sphinx, siren, panther, or vase, or
in later times by the figure of Victory or Triptolemus. Along the
left-hand pillar runs an inscription: “One of the prizes from Athens,”
ΤΟΝΑΘΕΝΕΘΕΝ.Α.ΘΥΟΝ: to which is added on the Burgon amphora[419] the
word ΕΜΙ, “I am.” On the early amphorae the letters are parallel, on the
later at right angles to the column. To the inscription is sometimes
added the name of the archon. The earliest of these dated vases belongs
to the archonship of Polyzelus in 367 B.C., the latest to that of
Polemon in 312 B.C.[420] Two fragmentary inscriptions suggest that
sometimes the name of the Kosmetes, or Agonothetes, was substituted for
that of the archon.[421] The dates of the archon do not always coincide
with the years in which the great Panathenaea took place; and Michaelis
therefore assigns such vases to the lesser Panathenaea. It seems more
likely that, as the oil was collected every year by the archons, the
inscription merely records the name of the archon who collected the oil.
On two vases we also find the name of the vase-painter.[422]

[Illustration: Fig. 37. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 144.
Sixth century.]

The scene on the reverse usually represents the actual contest.
Occasionally the name of the event is added. On some of the
sixth-century amphorae, made perhaps before the tradition was absolutely
fixed, the painter seems to have allowed himself more licence in his
choice of subject. Thus a British Museum amphora represents the
proclamation of a victory in the horse-race (Fig. 37). The victorious
youth is mounted on his horse, and in front of him stands a herald in
full official robes, from whose lips issue the words: “The horse of
Dyneicetus is victorious”: ΔΥΝΕΙΚΕΤΥ: ΗΙΠΠΟΣ: ΝΙΚΑΙ. Behind the rider an
attendant bears a wreath and a tripod: we often hear of tripods as
prizes; perhaps in early days they may have been given as prizes at the
Panathenaea. On another amphora in the British Museum (Fig. 38) a seated
athlothetes binds a fillet of wool on a youthful victor’s head. The
latest of the signed vases has a more fanciful representation of
victory.[423] Two naked youths have just received palm branches from an
athlothetes, by whom a herald stands. One of the youths is standing
still, the other, who is perhaps a victor in the foot-race, runs off
joyfully. Occasionally the reference to the contest is more obscure. For
example, on one early Panathenaic vase in the British Museum the battle
of the Giants is depicted, on another an acrobatic scene[424] (Fig. 39).
The Athenians were intensely fond of acrobatic performances, and, as we
know from the story of Hippocleides,[425] even high-born Athenians did
not disdain to acquire proficiency in them. The scene is certainly in
keeping with all that we know of Athenian festivals, where such
side-shows must have been common. Are we, however, to suppose that a
sacred prize amphora was actually given as a prize for acrobats? or was
this a special mark of honour bestowed on some popular acrobat, like the
statue erected at a later age at Athens in honour of a professional
ball-player? Perhaps the simplest course is to regard the vase as an
imitation Panathenaic amphora. It was found at Camirus in Rhodes, and
its provenance, its general character, and the absence of the usual
inscription render this explanation probable.[426] Imitation Panathenaic
amphorae are numerous: many of them bear representations of musical
contests for which, in Aristotle’s time at least, a different prize was
given. There are also numerous small amphorae, the object of which is
uncertain. Were they prizes for boys’ events, or second prizes? These
are some of the numerous questions with regard to these interesting
vases which still await solution.

[Illustration: Fig. 38. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 138.
Sixth century.]

The painted vases come to a sudden close at the end of the fourth
century.[427] The name “Panathenaic vase” occurs occasionally at a later
date; but appears merely to denote a particular shape of vase. But a
representation of a Panathenaic amphora was found a few years ago on the
mosaic floor of a house in Delos, belonging to the early part of the
second century.[428] The complete absence of any evidence for their
existence in the previous century makes it probable that the vase, which
represented a chariot-race, was an heirloom which had been won by some
ancestor of the builder of the house. The Panathenaic amphora is,
however, still represented on Athenian coins, and on a late relief
adorning a marble chair which was probably one of the seats reserved for
the judges or agonothetai at the Panathenaea[429] (Fig. 40). The vase,
which holds a branch, stands on a table, on which are also three crowns.
Underneath the table is a palm branch, and by the side of it is
represented Athene’s sacred olive-tree. The appearance of the vase on
the relief and on coins suggests that at this period the earthenware
vase had been replaced by a metal vase, but this theory still awaits

[Illustration: Fig. 39. Panathenaic (?) amphora from Camirus.
Bibliothèque Nationale, 243.]

Though the Panathenaic programme contained a considerable number of
local events, these were of quite secondary importance in comparison
with the open competitions which, if hardly Panhellenic, were certainly
Pan-Ionic. It was for these open competitions that the sacred oil and
the Panathenaic amphorae were awarded. In the Thesea, on the contrary,
most of the competitions were confined to the youth of Attica, and even
in those which were open to foreigners, the extreme rareness of foreign
successes sufficiently indicates the local character of the festival.

The Thesea[430] were instituted in the year 476 or 475 B.C. to celebrate
the discovery and restoration to Athens of the bones of the national
hero Theseus. The popularity of the worship of Theseus at this period is
abundantly attested by the red-figured vases, on which the story of
Theseus now takes the place of the labours of Heracles. The Thesea were
associated with certain primitive agricultural rites, the Pyanepsia and
Oschophoria, ceremonies of the harvest and the vintage, in which the
legend of Theseus had been somehow incorporated. They were followed
immediately by the Epitaphia, a funeral festival in memory of those who
had fallen fighting for their state, which had been held occasionally
from the earliest times, but did not take its place as a permanent
festival till the time of Pericles, or even later.

[Illustration: Fig. 40. Marble chair of judge at Panathenaea. Imperial

Our knowledge of the programme of the Thesea is derived from
inscriptions of the second century B.C.,[431] with regard to which I
need only repeat that late though they are, such was the religious
conservatism of the Greeks, that they may be considered as representing
the general character of the festival in the fifth century, and that
such changes as had been introduced were merely changes in detail.
Theseus was the patron of the Athenian ephebos, and the Thesea were
essentially the games of the epheboi. The festival was a yearly one, and
included a procession, sacrifice, torch-races, athletics, and
horse-races. There was also a banquet provided at the public cost for
all free citizens.

The programme of sports opened with the usual competitions for heralds
and trumpeters, followed by certain military competitions for general
smartness and equipment, εὐανδρία and εὐοπλία. These were divided into
three or more classes: first, “the picked troops,” οἱ ἐπιλέκτοι; next
the foreign troops, οἱ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν; lastly, the cavalry, οἱ ἱππεῖς,
as a subdivision of which we find the Tarantini, so called from their
equipment. The competition was between tribes, or, in the case of the
foreign troops, regiments (τάγματα), the captain of the successful tribe
or regiment being mentioned in the inscriptions. It is evident that
εὐανδρία is used here in a slightly different sense to that in which it
is used in the Panathenaic inscriptions. There, as we have seen, the
object of the competition was purely ceremonial, here it is manifestly
military. εὐανδρία like many another word varies in meaning with the
object to which it is applied. When used of a regiment, it implies good
physique, activity, and general smartness. There is a certain pathos in
the existence of these elaborate military reviews and competitions at an
age when Athens had no more any freedom to defend, and when her military
service was of no practical value. It may be that with the loss of the
reality she clung the more closely to the empty form and semblance of an
army. But it seems to me more probable that these competitions were not
the futile invention of her decadence, but were the survival of the
great outburst of patriotism and militarism in the fifth century.

Next came torch-races. At the Thesea these seem to have been contests
between teams. There are torch-races for boys, epheboi, and men;
sometimes also for young men, νεανίσκοι, who come between the epheboi
and the men. The teams are sometimes representatives of a particular
palaestra or gymnasium—boys from the palaestra of Timeas or Antigenes,
youths or men from the Lyceum. The mention of a torch-race of the
Tarantini indicates that there were also torch-races on horseback.

The athletic programme contains the seven ordinary competitions—the
dolichos, stade-race, diaulos, wrestling, boxing, pankration, and the
race in armour—and in addition certain military competitions,
hoplomachia, and javelin-throwing. The hoplomachia, which must have been
somewhat similar to our fencing or bayonet competitions, was of two
sorts: one with the hoplite’s round shield and spear, ἐν ἀσπιδίῳ καὶ
δόρατι; the other with the oblong target and sword of the light-armed
soldier, ἐν θυρεῷ καὶ μαχαίρα. There are no less than five different
classes for these events: there were competitions for boys of the first,
second, and third age, open competitions for boys (ἑκ πάντων), and
competitions for men. The two younger classes of boys were excluded from
the long race, but all classes took part in the five following events.
The race in armour was confined to men, javelin throwing to epheboi. The
hoplomachia was open to three classes of boys, and to the epheboi. The
boys’ open competitions and the men’s were open to foreign competitors,
though few appear to have been successful;[432] the other competitions
were confined to the youth of Athens.

The equestrian events are similar in character. A chariot race is only
mentioned in one inscription, and there the reference is possibly to an
apobates race. The rest of the events are horse-races. There is one race
apparently with race-horses (λάμπρῳ ἵππῳ), the rest are military races,
either for officers or for men, over the single or the double course.
Lastly, there is an open competition (ἐκ πάντων), and javelin throwing
on horseback. Not a single foreigner occurs among the names of the
victors; but it must not be forgotten how extremely fragmentary is our

At the Epitaphia which followed the Thesea there were further
competitions, torch-races and military displays. We hear in particular
of a race in heavy armour, in which the epheboi ran, starting from the
Polyandreum in the Cerameicus.

Footnote 381:

  The following section is taken chiefly from A. Mommsen’s _Feste der
  Stadt Athen_.

Footnote 382:

  _O._ ix. 89, xiii. 110; _I._ viii. 79.

Footnote 383:

  _O._ ix.; _I._ 1.

Footnote 384:

  Athen. 495 F.

Footnote 385:

  _Vide_ p. 296.

Footnote 386:

  _I.G._ ii. 466, 468, 470, 471.

Footnote 387:

  _I.G._ iii. 1160.

Footnote 388:

  _N._ ii. 23.

Footnote 389:

  _Op. cit._ p. 153.

Footnote 390:

  _e.g._ Priene, _Priene Inschriften_, 5; a decree of the people of
  Priene not later than 326 B.C. for the sending of two Theoroi to
  Athens with a panoplia. Similarly Colophon 306 B.C., _I.G._ ii. 164,
  ii. 5.

Footnote 391:

  Suidas, ii. 2, p. 1691.

Footnote 392:

  _Pericles_, 13.

Footnote 393:

  Schol. to Pindar, _P._ xii.

Footnote 394:

  _B.M. Vases_, B. 139, 141; cp. _Berl. Vas._ 1873.

Footnote 395:

  iii. 56.

Footnote 396:

  _I.G._ ii. 965.

Footnote 397:

  _I.G._ ii. 2758.

Footnote 398:

  Pollux, iv. 83.

Footnote 399:

  Plato, _Rep._ 398-399; Aristotle, _Pol._ 1341 a.

Footnote 400:

  _I.G._ ii. 965; cp. 966-970.

Footnote 401:

  Plato, _Leg._ 833 A.

Footnote 402:

  Mommsen, p. 83.

Footnote 403:

  _Etym. M._, ἐν Ἐχελιδῶν.

Footnote 404:

  _B.M._, B. 130.

Footnote 405:

  ἀδηφάγος, “eating its full,” appears to be a fanciful synonym for
  τέλειος, perhaps with a special reference to the cost of breeding
  race-horses. To those familiar with the ordinary type of horse
  existing in Greece to-day, there is a peculiar appropriateness about
  the word. In the Thesean inscription, _I.G._ ii. 445, λαμπρός has a
  similar meaning.

Footnote 406:

  _I.G._ ii. 968, 969.

Footnote 407:

  Mommsen, _op. cit._ p. 89.

Footnote 408:

  Bekker, _Anecd._ 426.

Footnote 409:

  _B.M. Guide to Parthenon_, p. 109.

Footnote 410:

  vii. 73.

Footnote 411:

  _Op. cit._ pp. 102 ff., 121.

Footnote 412:

  _I.G._ ii. 1291, 5, 1305b; Xen. _Hipparch._ 3, 11.

Footnote 413:

  Lys. 21. 1, 4.

Footnote 414:

  Beulé, _L’Acropole d’Athènes_, ii. pl. 4; Schreiber, _Atlas_, xx. 8,

Footnote 415:

  Xenoph. _Quaest. Symp._ iv. 17; Athen. p. 565 F.

Footnote 416:

  Ἐφ. Ἀρχ. 1862, Pl. xxix.

Footnote 417:

  1-1/2 kotylai for each tree. These details are mostly derived from
  Aristotle, Ἀθ. πολιτ. 60.

Footnote 418:

  Pindar, _N._ x. 36.

Footnote 419:

  _B.M. Vases_, B. 130.

Footnote 420:

  _B.M._ B. 603; _American Journal of Archaeology_, ii. p. 332, xii. p.

Footnote 421:

  Cecil Smith in _B.S.A._ iii. 194 ff.

Footnote 422:

  Sikelos, 5th cent., Kittos, 4th cent., _B.M._ B. 604.

Footnote 423:

  _Mon. d. I._ X. 48, g. 11.

Footnote 424:

  B. 145; Salzmann, _Nécropole de Camiros_, lvii.

Footnote 425:

  Hdt. vi. 129.

Footnote 426:

  On either side of Athene is a diminutive figure of a man, a most
  unorthodox addition. The inscription is wanting on most of the smaller

Footnote 427:

  Cecil Smith in _B.S.A._ iii. 183 ff.

Footnote 428:

  _Ib._ Pl. xvi.

Footnote 429:

  Stuart and Revett, _Antiquities of Athens_, iii. 3, p. 20; Schreiber,
  _Atlas_, xxv. 9.

Footnote 430:

  Mommsen, _op cit._ p. 278 ff.

Footnote 431:

  _I.G._ ii. 444-450.

Footnote 432:

  Only four foreigners’ names appear, Mommsen, _op. cit._ p. 295, n. 1;
  F. Mie in _Ath. Mitth._ xxxiv. p. 1. Mie distinguishes the term in ἐκ
  πάντων, which occurs in athletic and equestrian events, and denotes
  competitions open to all comers, and the term διὰ πάντων, which occurs
  only in musical competitions, and appears to denote a final
  competition in which all the competitors in different musical events
  took part.

                                PART II

                              CHAPTER XII
                              THE STADIUM

The stadium[433] or racecourse of the Greeks was the natural development
of that primitive type of race which is described in Homer, and which we
may still see at school treats and rustic meetings. The competitors,
drawn up in a line, race to some distant point which is the finish, or,
turning round this point, race back again to the starting-point. Here we
have the germ of the stade or straight race, and of the diaulos, and
other turning races, as the Greeks called them (κάμπειοι). The start is
marked by a post (νύσσα) or by a line drawn in the sand (γραμμή), and
the finish or turning-point (καμπτῆρες) by a similar post or by some
natural object, a stone, or tree-stump.

From this primitive course two types of racecourse are derived. Both
differ from the modern oval course in that they are long, narrow, and
straight, the runners not describing a curve but running straight up and
down the track. The first, which we may call the hippodrome type, is
that in which the runners race round two posts placed at either end of
the course and connected by one or more intermediate posts, or by a low
wall called by the Romans the “spina.” One or both ends of the course
were rounded off for the convenience of spectators, and this circular
end was known as the σφενδόνη. This form was long regarded as the
regular type of the Greek racecourse; but recent excavations have
rendered it probable that though used by the Greeks for horse-races it
was not employed by them for the foot-race, at least until Roman times.
The true Greek stadium, as we now know, was strictly rectangular, both
starting-point and finish being marked by parallel lines of stone slabs
(βαλβίς, βατήρ), and even the seats at the end following the same lines.

For such a course any fairly level plain was suitable; but for the
convenience of spectators it was natural to select some level stretch
surrounded on one or more sides by some rising ground, along the foot of
a hill as at Olympia, or in a dip between two hills as at Epidaurus or
Athens. All that was required in such cases was to level the ground for
the actual track, and to improve the natural standing-ground by an
artificial embankment, which might or might not be afterwards provided
with seats. Most of the stadia in Greece, says Pausanias, were formed by
such an embankment;[434] it was not till a comparatively late period
that the seats were built up on masses of masonry and surrounded by
walls and colonnades. The length of the actual track was always a stade
or 600 feet; but, as there was no universal standard of measurement, the
length of the stadium varied locally with the length of the foot.

The simplest of all Greek stadia was that at Olympia, and it retained
its simplicity throughout its history.[435] We have seen that before the
middle of the fifth century all the games were held in the plain
commanded by the treasury terrace, and that the permanent running track
was first constructed about 450 B.C., after the completion of the first
eastern colonnade. At this date the ground at the foot of the hill of
Cronus was levelled so as to form a parallelogram some 212 metres long
by 29 broad, somewhat broader, however, at the centre than at the ends.
This parallelogram was enclosed by a stone sill, and within this sill at
a distance of about a metre ran an open stone gutter, opening at regular
intervals into stone basins. This gutter, fed from the conduit which ran
along the foot of the treasury steps, provided competitors and
spectators with the water which they must have sorely needed, exposed as
they were all day long, without protection, to the parching rays of the
summer sun. The running track lay some 10 feet below the level of the
Altis, and slightly below the level of the surrounding plain which
sloped gradually upwards to the south towards the bank of the Alpheus.
The only accommodation for spectators was afforded by the slopes of the
hill of Cronus and this open plain, which it has been calculated would
have accommodated from 20,000 to 30,000 people. At a later date,
possibly after the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., the ends and
southern slope were raised by an artificial embankment. This embankment
extended to the south some 40 metres from the actual track, and on it
some 40,000 or 45,000 spectators could find standing room. The ends of
the embankment were straight, there was no curved theatre or σφενδόνη,
nor during the whole history of the stadium did any seats exist. Seats,
probably of wood, were provided for a few privileged officials, but the
spectators stood or reclined on the banks. At the north-west corner of
the stadium a postern gate communicated with the Altis by means of a
tunnel through the embankment, which in Roman times was roofed with a
stone vault. This was the secret entrance reserved for officials and
competitors.[436] The spectators found their way into the stadium over
the embankments or along the slopes of Mount Cronius.

[Illustration: Fig. 41. Portion of starting lines at Olympia.]

The most interesting discovery at Olympia was that of the actual lines
which marked the start and finish of the races (Fig. 41). These lines
consist of stone sills about 18 inches wide extending nearly the whole
breadth of the course. Each sill is divided at intervals of about 4 feet
by square sockets obviously intended to hold posts. Between each pair of
sockets are two parallel grooves cut in stone about 7 inches apart.
Their object was clearly to mark the place for the runners’ feet. There
are twenty of these sections in the western sill and twenty-one in the
eastern sill, one of which is, however, a short one. Each section
afforded room for a single runner. The western sill is 11 metres from
the end of the stadium, the eastern only 9-1/2. The distance between the
two sills is 192·27 metres, which gives ·32045 as the length of the
Olympic foot. The Olympic foot was said to have been determined by
Heracles, who measured out the stadium with his own feet. Hence the
stadium at Olympia is slightly longer than other stadia on the

The discovery of similar stone sills in the gymnasium at Olympia, and
subsequently at Delphi and Epidaurus, makes it probable that they were
universally employed in Greek stadia, though it is impossible definitely
to fix the date at which they replaced the earlier custom of marking the
lines in the sand. The reason why the lines are alike at either end is
obvious. In the stade-race the finish was at the opposite end from the
start, in the diaulos and other races consisting of an even number of
stades the runners finished where they started. Hence, as it was clearly
desirable that all races should finish at the same point, it was
necessary to have starting lines at both ends. At Olympia it seems
probable that the finish was at the eastern end of the course. Here were
the seats of the Hellanodicae, and opposite them was the seat of the
priestess of Demeter Chamyne, the only married woman, possibly the only
woman, who was allowed to be a spectator at the Olympia.

Closely resembling the Olympic stadium was that at Epidaurus,[438] where
the festival of the Asclepiea was celebrated as early as the time of
Pindar. It lies in a shallow trough formed by two low ridges descending
into the plain from the hills which encircle the sanctuary of Asclepius.
The bottom of the valley has been levelled and its eastern end and part
of the sides raised by an embankment. Its western end lies open giving
free access to visitors, who here as at all Greek festivals might enter
freely without payment. The actual track is 181·30 metres long. Finish
and start are alike, marked at either end by a pair of stone pillars
between which lies a row of stone slabs with parallel grooves and
sockets precisely similar to those found at Olympia, save that there are
only eleven divisions and that the parallel grooves are somewhat closer,
about four inches apart. The fact that traces of lead were found in some
of the sockets confirms the view that iron posts were fastened in them.
The pillars possibly belong to an earlier time than the slabs, when
start and finish were still marked by lines drawn in the sand between
the pillars. The stone slabs seem to have been added in Macedonian times
when the stadium was improved, and a record of this reconstruction is
preserved in an inscription which states that one Philon of Corinth
having undertaken a contract for providing the starting lines (ὕσπλακα)
and having failed to fulfil his contract within the specified time was
condemned by the Agonothetes and Hellanodicae to pay a fine of 500
drachmae.[439] A still later, possibly Roman arrangement for the start
is seen in five half pillars placed at either end in front of the stone
sill which they were obviously intended to supersede (Fig. 42). On each
side these pillars have a shallow groove intended apparently to hold
some form of barrier or starting gate, such as we find used in the Roman
Circus.[440] A further difficulty is caused by the remains of four small
stone platforms which stood immediately in front of the stone sills, two
at each end between the outside pillars and the edge of the course.
Their use is quite unknown; but the fact that they completely block the
grooved starting lines immediately behind them proves that they belonged
to some later arrangement. Possibly they are remains of an intermediate
arrangement between the stone sill and the pillars, or possibly they
served for starters and judges in later times.

[Illustration: Fig. 42. The Stadium of Epidaurus, S.E. corner, showing
the starting lines and rectangular end. (From a photograph by Mr. Emery

Another interesting feature of the course is that it was marked off on
either side at distances of a plethron (100 feet) by small square
pillars. These pillars would have been very useful for races in which,
as in the girls’ race at the Olympic Heraea, only a portion of the
course was run. They may also have served for measuring the distance in
a javelin or diskos throw. The finish of the course was obviously at the
east end, round which alone the rows of seats extend. Between the actual
finish and the seats is a further space some 16 metres deep, which may
have been used like the curved sphendone of later times for events like
wrestling which did not require much room. The three sides of the
rectangle were surrounded by a stone border a little less than a yard
from the embankment and seats. This contained an open runnel supplied
with water by a pipe at the north-east corner of the stadium, and
opening out at intervals of 30 yards into oblong basins, like those
found at Olympia.

The seating arrangements like the starting lines bear traces of
different periods; in contrast to Olympia it seems that from early times
a certain number of seats were provided, if we may dignify by the name
of seats the five rows of small stones cemented with mud which enclose
the eastern end of the course. Beyond the points where these terminate
are numerous tiers of seats on either side built of large blocks of
dressed stone. The irregularity in the number and dressing of the stones
shows that they were not constructed all at the same time. Some of them
bear the inscriptions of the dedicators, which seem to date from the
Macedonian period to the close of the Roman Republic. But even these
seats cease entirely in the western half of the stadium, where as at
Olympia spectators can only have stood or reclined on the banks.
Staircases give access at intervals to the seats. In the centre of the
seats on the northern side is an arched passage communicating with a
square enclosure on the other side of the embankment. The enclosure was
possibly the place of assembly for officials and competitors who entered
the stadium in state through the arch-way. On the southern side of the
stadium close to the finish are four stone blocks some 15 feet long and
16 inches high which were probably the seats of the Hellanodicae. Lower
down, opposite to the arched passage, there are remains of a curved seat
which may also have served for officials. It is rather more than 40
yards from the finish, and if the javelin or diskos were thrown from the
finish, would have been a convenient seat for judges in these events. It
seems likely too that, at all events after the erection of the later
seats, wrestling and other events of the sort took place opposite these
seats and not at the east end of the course. Behind this curved seat a
broad staircase leads to a platform half-way up the seats. Here,
Cavvadias conjectures, stood the table on which the prizes were placed,
here the herald proclaimed the victor’s name and city, and here the
victors received their crowns from the hands of the Hellanodicae. From
this point too we may suppose, when the games for the day were finished,
the Hellanodicae followed by the victors started in a triumphal
procession, and passing through the official entrance on the north side,
made their way to the temple of Asclepius to render thanks and pay their
vows to the patron of the festival.

[Illustration: Fig. 43. Stadium of Epidaurus.]

A further stage in the development of the stadium is seen in the stadium
of Delphi, the best preserved and the most romantic in its situation of
all Greek stadia. It lies on a rocky shelf to the north-west of the
sacred precinct at the foot of the cliffs of Parnassus, which rise sheer
above it to a height of 800 feet, and looking down over the valley of
the Pleistus and the Crisaean plain. As at Olympia, there seems to have
been no permanent stadium till the second half of the fifth
century.[441] In Pindar’s time the athletic competitions took place in
the plain below, where, for want of sufficient room at Delphi itself,
the hippodrome must have continued to exist.[442] It seems probable that
the change took place between the years 448 and 421 B.C. when the
control of the festival was in the hands of the Phocians. To construct a
stadium on the steep slope of the mountain it was necessary to build a
massive retaining wall, and the date of this wall is approximately fixed
by a fifth-century inscription built into it forbidding the introduction
of wine into the dromos.[443]

[Illustration: Fig. 44. Stadium of Delphi.]

The stadium as we see it to-day is mainly the work of Herodes Atticus,
who is said by Pausanias to have reseated it with marble, as he
certainly did at Athens.[444] The French excavations, however, show that
Pausanias’ statement can hardly be accurate. The seats are not of marble
but of local stone, and are apparently quite complete. There is no sign
of any marble facing having existed, and not a trace of marble has been
found in the stadium. If marble was used at all, it can only have been
for special parts of the seats. Yet even without marble the appearance
of the stadium is sufficiently imposing. The actual track is bounded at
either end by a stone sill similar to those found at Olympia and
Epidaurus. The stone sill is composed of 17 or 18 sections, and the
parallel grooves are about 3-1/2 in. apart. The length of the track is
177·5 metres, and its breadth varies from 25-1/2 metres at the ends to
28-1/2 metres in the centre. The object of this curve, which we find at
Athens and in a much less marked degree elsewhere, was to give a better
view of the whole course to the spectators. The west end terminates in a
shallow curved sphendone 9-1/2 metres deep, and the east end is
similarly curved, though the curve is interrupted at the south by the
main entrance to the stadium from the precinct below. In this eastern
end there stand four pillars of poor and late workmanship which seem to
have formed a triumphal entrance for officials and competitors. The two
sides and the western sphendone are surrounded by rows of stone seats
raised on a stone basement 5 feet high. There are six rows of seats on
the south and west, twelve on the north, affording places for some 7000
spectators, though many more could find room on the slopes above the
stadium to the north. Flights of steps at the east end gave access to
two corridors which ran right round the stadium, above and below the
tiers of seats. The latter were further divided by flights of steps
placed at regular intervals. There were thirteen of these on either
side, dividing the stadium into twelve equal lengths of half a plethron,
and these divisions may have served like the similar divisions at
Epidaurus for purposes of measurement. Another detail which recalls the
stadium of Epidaurus is a seat of honour occupying the centre of the
first two rows of seats on the north side.

[Illustration: Fig. 45. The starting lines at Delphi. (From a photograph
by Mr. Emery Walker.)]

Such was the Pythian stadium as restored by Herodes Atticus. Before his
time it must have been something much simpler. The curved end and the
stone seats did not exist. Instead, the northern slope was roughly
levelled and an embankment raised above the southern retaining wall, so
that the track seemed to lie in a trough, from which fact it derived its
popular name the Lakkoma or “hollow.” In the intervals between the
festivals it can have been used but little; it was overgrown with weeds,
perhaps it was used for pasturage. Hence, as the time for the festival
approached, the stadium had to be set in order, and the work was let out
on contract. We have various records of these contracts. In 338 B.C. one
Helixius obtained the contract for work on the Pythian stadium. In the
accounts of the Archonship of Dion (258 B.C.) a number of items of work
are enumerated in connexion with the gymnasium, stadium, and hippodrome,
which throw invaluable light on the details of these institutions.[445]

First the course itself and the surrounding embankments (τὰ στέφοντα)
were thoroughly cleared of weeds and rubbish. This clearing (ἐκκάθαρσις)
cost 15 staters. Then the track and the jumping-places (τὰ ἅλματα) were
dug up and rolled (σκάψις καὶ ὁμάλιξις) at a further cost of 110
staters, and finally it was covered with 600 medimnoi of white sand,
which, at 1-2/3 obols per medimnos, amounted to 83 staters 4 obols. Next
a barrier (φράξις) was erected round the course at a cost of 5 staters,
and a scaffolding of seats costing 29 staters. The small amount spent on
the last item proves that the erection was merely a temporary structure,
probably of wood, intended not for the whole body of spectators, but
merely for a few distinguished persons. 36 staters were expended on the
starting lines and turning posts (καμπτῆρες), and 8 staters on the
arrangements for the pentathlon, presumably those for throwing the
diskos and the javelin. Further, 77-1/2 staters were spent—if the
restoration of the inscription is correct—on arrangements for the
boxers, a considerable sum in proportion to other items, which suggests
that some sort of raised platform may have been erected to enable as
many as possible to view this extremely popular event. A stage, too, was
erected for musical competitions, and a triumphal arch, or ψάλις,
probably on the site occupied afterwards by the four pillars described

[Illustration: Fig. 46. The Stadium of Delphi.]

The temporary character of these arrangements is indicated sufficiently
by their cost. The stater was equal to two Aeginetic drachmae of 96
grains, and equivalent approximately to two shillings of our money,
though its purchasing power was considerably greater. In the time of
Pericles an Attic drachma of 67 grains was a day’s wage for an artisan;
in the third century its purchasing power was probably less. Allowing
half a drachma as the wage for a labourer, we find that the clearing of
the course and embankments took 60 men a day’s work.

The recent restoration of the Panathenaic stadium[446] for the revived
Olympic games has enabled us to realize something of the splendour which
it owed to its reconstruction by Herodes Atticus in the second century
of our era. Previous to the fourth century B.C., the Panathenaic games
seem to have been held at some spot in the deme of Echelidae which lay
between the Peiraeus and Athens. No traces of this stadium have yet been
found, and it is probable that the arrangements were as simple as those
existing in early time at Olympia. We gather from Xenophon that there
was no artificial barrier to keep spectators off the course; in his
treatise on the duty of a cavalry officer he recommends that horsemen
should be placed in front of the crowds at reviews and races to keep
them in order, but at sufficient intervals not to interfere with the
spectators’ view.[447] The first permanent stadium was constructed by
Lycurgus in the second half of the fourth century, in a deep ravine on
the left bank of the Ilissus. The land was the property of a patriotic
citizen Demias, who as a mark of respect to Lycurgus presented it to the
state. Other citizens followed his example: one Eudemus, who lent a
thousand yoke of oxen for the work, was rewarded by a public vote of
thanks. The work consisted in closing up the southern end of the ravine
by an embankment and levelling the ground for the course, which was
further separated from the spectators by a low wall, behind which ran a
conduit for carrying off the rain-water. The finish and start were
probably marked out as at Olympia by lines of stone slabs, but there
were no seats for spectators except for officials and distinguished
visitors. We hear of repairs made in the stadium at various times, but
it probably maintained substantially its original form till the time of
Herodes Atticus. Most of the remains discovered belong to his

The arena which was enclosed by a marble parapet measured something over
205 metres long by 33 metres broad. It ended in a semicircular sphendone
which was separated from the actual running track by the stone starting
line of which remains have been found. As, however, no trace has been
discovered of the corresponding line at the other end, it is impossible
to determine definitely the length of the course. It must have been
approximately 177 metres. At either end of the starting line stood a
stone pillar, and between these pillars stood four curious double-headed
herms. Two of these have been found almost intact, and portions of the
other two have also been found.[448] They consist of square pillars
about 6 feet high, on which stand back to back two heads, one bearded,
the other beardless, sometimes said to represent a youthful Apollo and a
bearded Dionysus. The heads, which are of rude and unfinished
workmanship, are probably second-century copies of early originals. The
pillars are divided to the height of 3 feet by a narrow slit through
which, it has been suggested, may have passed the rope used in starting
the races. The position of these herms along the starting line reminds
one, however, of the somewhat similar rows of pillars at Epidaurus and
Priene. The pillars at Epidaurus, it will be remembered, had likewise
grooves on either side, though these did not as at Athens extend right
through the pillars. In view of this resemblance it seems probable that
both grooves and slits served for fixing either a sort of starting gate
or a barrier used to enclose the course when dangerous exhibitions, such
as fights of wild beasts, took place. Such shows it is known were
exhibited in the stadium. The Emperor Hadrian on one occasion presented
1000 wild animals for this purpose. It was probably to secure the safety
of the spectators on such occasions that the seats surrounding the whole
arena were raised on a marble basement nearly 6 feet high. Above this
rose 46 rows of marble seats, capable of seating at least 50,000
spectators. At the point where the curve of the sphendone began on the
northern side a vaulted passage led underneath the seats and through the
hill into the valley beyond. This passage may have served originally
like the secret entrance at Olympia for the entrance of officials and
competitors. In its later and more elaborate form it was probably
intended by Herodes for the introduction of wild beasts, like the
similar vaults in Roman amphitheatres. The principal entrance was at the
other end of the stadium, near the Ilissus, where, it seems, elaborate
Propylaea were erected, while the whole effect was greatly enhanced by a
marble Doric colonnade which crowned the hills above the upper seats of
the sphendone.

The stadium at Priene[449] presents similar difficulties to those at
Epidaurus and Athens. It appears to have been constructed at the same
time as the lower gymnasium in the second century B.C., but to have been
considerably modified in later times. It is built inside the south wall
of the town, and is supported along the south side by a massive
retaining wall. The ends are square, and the seats are placed along the
north side only. There are twelve rows of marble seats, the lowest of
which rest on a marble basement 3-1/2 feet high. The marble seats are
only found in the centre, extending for a distance of about a third of
the course. Beyond them at either end the spectators must have sat on
wooden seats or on the embankment. In the absence of any sphendone, the
ceremonial part of the games, the proclamation of the victors, and
presenting of prizes must have taken place in the centre of the course.
Above the seats is a terrace, behind which is a Doric colonnade
extending the whole length of the stadium. The starting lines at the
west end have been discovered; but excavations at the east end have been
fruitless. The western starting line shows traces of an earlier and of a
later arrangement. The earlier arrangement is represented by eight
square slabs in which are cut sockets for posts of wood or metal, such
as are found at Olympia and elsewhere, but there is no sign of the slabs
marked with parallel grooves between the pillars. Just behind this line
of slabs is a row of ten pillar bases standing on a stone sill, in which
is cut a runnel extending the whole length of the sill with two short
offshoots in the centre. This runnel, which clearly served to carry off
some of the water which naturally drained down into the stadium, must
have been covered by stone slabs between the pillars. Only small
fragments of the pillars have been found; but these seem to indicate
that there were longitudinal grooves down the sides which may have
served for some form of barrier or starting gate. The total length of
the stadium is 191 metres; perhaps the actual course was as at Delphi
about 177 metres.

It is unnecessary to describe in detail the remains of the numerous
other stadia which have been found in Greek lands; but a few
peculiarities which they present may be noted as illustrating the
development of the stadium and the way in which the Greeks adapted
themselves to the character of the ground. At Messene advantage was
taken as elsewhere of a shallow valley.[450] The stadium consists of two
parts—an old embanked part, forming the actual racecourse, and an
unusually elaborate sphendone. In the former the sides of the valley
were carefully banked up into terraces, but no stone seats were provided
and no attempt was made to render the two sides parallel. The sphendone
was considerably narrower than the actual course and of unusual depth,
the sides of the semicircle being continued for some distance in
straight parallel lines. It is seated with stone, and the height above
is enclosed in an elaborate square court surrounded on three sides by
colonnades, which are continued along both sides of the course. A
similar narrowing of the entrance of the sphendone occurs at
Ephesus,[451] where the curve of the sphendone is produced on either
side so as to project into the course. This elaboration of the sphendone
is clearly connected with its use for musical and dramatic performances,
and marks the declining importance of athletic competitions. At Aezani
one end of the stadium was rounded; the other was straight, and formed
the stage of an elaborate stone theatre. Finally, the last stage in the
evolution of the stadium is reached at Aphrodisias in Caria.[452] Here
the course is symmetrical with a sphendone at either end, and the whole
is surrounded by a colonnade and wall, through which fifteen openings
along one side afford entrance to the spectators’ seats, and various
underground passages give access through the side of the hill to the
arena. It is only in its proportions, its narrowness as compared with
its length, that such a stadium differs from the Roman amphitheatre.
Indeed, we learn that the large stadium at Laodicea was actually
converted into an amphitheatre.[453]

In all the stadia described the essential part is the rectangular
course, bounded at either end by a straight line. Not one of the stadia
which have been excavated has revealed any trace of the three pillars or
metae forming a line down the middle of the course which were the
characteristic features of the Greek hippodrome and Roman circus, and
which still figure in the descriptions and plans which our handbooks and
dictionaries give of the Greek stadium. The only authority for this
arrangement is the note of a scholiast on the well-known description of
the Pythian games in the _Electra_ of Sophocles.[454] He states that
there were in the course three stones or square pillars, bearing on one
side the respective inscriptions ἀρίστευε, σπεῦδε, κάμψον—“Be stout,”
“Make speed,” “Turn.” Now it is by no means certain that the worthy
scholiast is referring to the foot-race at all; the note on the pillars
would be far more appropriate in connexion with the horse-race, in
which, as every reader will recollect, the pillar is the cause of the
supposed catastrophe to Orestes; moreover, practically the same note is
repeated in connexion with the chariot-race by another scholiast, who
implies that there were several of these square pillars along the
course. But even if the passage is intended to refer to the stadium, it
does not follow that the posts are in the centre of the course, and the
description would apply equally well to the square pillars which are
placed along both sides of the course at Epidaurus, if we suppose them
to be inscribed. When in 1870 the first of the double herms at Athens
was found, it was at once concluded to be one of these three pillars,
but the subsequent discovery of portions of the other three herms almost
_in situ_ along the starting line proves this view to be untenable. At
the same time, though we must abandon the idea of any line of metae for
the Greek stadium, we shall find that in the long race the runners did
probably race round two pillars placed in the centre of the starting
lines at either end, but these pillars must have been of metal or wood.

The examples described above enable us to trace with some certainty the
history of the Greek stadium. In its simplest form it is a long
parallelogram, marked by two lines at either end. The spectators stand
along the course on raised banks, natural or artificial. Stone seats
occur first perhaps in the fifth century at Epidaurus. In the second
half of the third century more elaborate stone seats appear near the
centre of the course, which seems to have been usually the place of
honour. The curved sphendone with its rows of seats does not appear till
the Hellenistic period. Finally, when both ends are curved the stadium
approaches the type of the Roman circus, and the resemblance is
increased by the addition of colonnades either round the sphendone or
round the whole course. The development of the actual racecourse is more
rapid: the needs of competitors came before the needs of spectators. The
starting lines and finish seem to have been first marked by pillars
temporary or permanent on either side. These pillars exist at Epidaurus,
and survive at a much later period in the Panathenaic stadium. Pillars
are commonly represented in athletic scenes on fifth-century vases.[455]
Often they are merely the shorthand symbol used by the vase-painter to
denote the buildings of the gymnasium or palaestra. In foot-races and
horse-races it is reasonable to suppose that they represent the pillars
at the start or finish of the race. They occur chiefly on the
red-figured vases, and the usual type is that of a fluted pillar often
standing on a square basis. The starting lines with double grooves
appear certainly in Macedonian times, though their introduction may well
date back to the laying out of the stadia at Olympia and Delphi in the
fifth century. The importance attached to the starting lines is proved
by their frequent mention in inscriptions. Finally, in Roman times these
starting lines were superseded by a row of pillars, between which was
fixed some sort of barrier. The details and use of all these
arrangements will be more conveniently discussed in connexion with the
actual foot-race.

The stadium was used for other events besides the foot-race; but where
these took place and what arrangements were made for them we cannot say.
The Delphic inscription quoted above proves that special arrangements
were made for the jump, for throwing the diskos or javelin, and for
boxing. It is reasonable to suppose that the starting lines were
utilized for the diskos and the javelin, which must certainly have been
thrown along the length of the course. It is probable that at a later
period wrestling and boxing matches took place in the sphendone. But in
many earlier stadia there was hardly sufficient room at the end for
these events, which would have been too far removed from the bulk of the
spectators. At Olympia we have seen reason for thinking that they took
place not in the stadium but in the Altis. Otherwise it seems likely
that they were held in the centre of the stadium, where seats of honour
seem often to have been erected. But all this is mere conjecture.

Footnote 433:

  Krause, _Gym._ pp. 131 ff.; _J.H.S._ xxiii. pp. 261 ff.

Footnote 434:

  Paus. ii. 27. 5. The stadium of Epidaurus is στάδιον οἷα Ἕλλησι τὰ
  πολλὰ γῆς χῶμα. Cp. viii. 47. 4, ix. 23. 1, of the stadia of Tegea and
  Thebes. That at Corinth in contrast is described as λίθου λευκοῦ, ii.
  1. 7; cp. Delphi x. 32. 1, and _infra_.

Footnote 435:

  _Ol._ Text. ii. 63 ff.; Frazer, _Pausanias_, iv. 78.

Footnote 436:

  Paus. vi. 20, 8.

Footnote 437:

  The stadium of Pergamum was, however, 210 m. according to Dörpfeld,
  the standard settled by Philetaerus being higher than that on the
  mainland. _Ath. Mitth._ xxxiii. 341.

Footnote 438:

  Πρακτικά. 1902, pp. 78-92, Pl. A-D; Frazer, _Pausanius_, v. 576.

Footnote 439:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., ii. 688.

Footnote 440:

  A drawing from the Codex Ursinianus in the Vatican, published in _Röm.
  Mitth._ 1890, p. 156, Taf. vii., represents runners standing behind a
  wooden barrier.

Footnote 441:

  _B.C.H._, 1899, pp. 601-615.

Footnote 442:

  Pindar, _Pyth._ viii. 19-20, x. 15, xi. 21.

Footnote 443:

  _B.C.H._ _l.c._ p. 611, and _supra_, p. 126.

Footnote 444:

  Pausanias, x. 32, 1.

Footnote 445:

  _B.C.H._, 1899, pp. 564, 613.

Footnote 446:

  Frazer, _Pausanias_, ii. 205; Politis in _The Olympic Games_ in 1896,
  pp. 31 ff.

Footnote 447:

  _Hipparch._ ch. 3.

Footnote 448:

  One may be seen in the museum at Athens, another has been re-erected
  in the stadium.

Footnote 449:

  Wiegand u. Schrader, _Priene_, pp. 258 ff.

Footnote 450:

  Schreiber, _Atlas_, xxvi. 1; Blouet, _Expéd. de Morée_, ii. Pl. xxxix.
  The stadium is stated to belong to the third century B.C.

Footnote 451:

  Krause, _Gym._ Pl. iv. 5.

Footnote 452:

  _Ionian Antiquities of the Dilettanti_, iii. Pl. xxi.

Footnote 453:

  _Ib._ ii. Pl. lxxxiv. Durm, _Baukunst der Griechen_, gives in his
  “Register” numerous references to accounts by early travellers of
  stadia at Aezani, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Laodicea, Messene, Perga,

Footnote 454:

  _Electra_, 680 ff.

Footnote 455:

  On earlier black-figured vases the finish is represented by tripods or
  vases set as prizes (Gerh. _A. V._ 257), or by the seats of the judges
  as on the Amphiaraus vase (Fig. 3).

                              CHAPTER XIII
                             THE FOOT-RACE

The length of the various foot-races was determined for the Greeks by
the length of the stadium. The stade-race, as its name implies, was a
single length, approximately 200 yards. The diaulos was twice the length
of the stadium, or 400 yards. The length of the dolichos or long race is
variously stated as 7, 12, 20, or 24 stades, from seven furlongs to
nearly three miles.[456] The divergence of these statements is probably
due to the fact that the distances varied at different festivals, and at
different periods, as they do at the present day. For Olympia the
evidence is slightly in favour of a 24 stades race. These three races
seem to have been universal. At the Isthmia, Nemea, and Panathenaea
there was also a double diaulos of four stades called the horse diaulos
(ἵππιος or ἐφίππιος) from the fact that the length of the course in the
hippodrome was two stades, or double that of the stadium.[457] There
were different races for different ages, and it is possible that the
boys’ races were shorter than those for men. Plato, in sketching his
ideal scheme of physical education, lays down that boys are to run half
the length of the men’s course, and the “beardless” two-thirds of the
course.[458] We do not know whether his scheme had any foundation in
fact, but it is certain that in the girls’ races at Olympia the course
was one-sixth shorter than the usual course.[459] Besides these purely
athletic events, there were races in armour, introduced for military
purposes towards the close of the sixth century, and various ceremonial
races such as the torch-race, survivals of ancient religious rites.

It will be convenient here to say a few words as to the ages of
competitors. What is true of the foot-race holds good, of course, of all
other competitions.

The classification of competitors according to age varied at different
festivals. At Olympia and Delphi there were only two classes, men and
boys. An inscription containing regulations for the Augustalia at
Neapolis lays down that competitors in boys’ events must be over
seventeen and under twenty years of age.[460] As the Augustalia were
modelled closely on the Olympia, it seems probable that these were the
Olympic limits of age. But it is reasonable to suppose that a certain
latitude was allowed, and that the Hellanodicae exercised considerable
discretion in their judgment, taking into account not merely a
competitor’s reputed age, but also his size and strength. Thus we are
told that Agesilaus induced the officials to admit as a competitor in
the boys’ competitions a young Athenian whom they would otherwise have
disqualified because he was bigger than the other boys. On the other
hand, one Nicasylus of Rhodes, who was eighteen years of age, was
actually disqualified, and accordingly entered for and won the men’s
competition.[461] The possibility of a boy winning among men proves that
the upper limit of age was a high one. It is mentioned as a remarkable
record that a youth of twenty should be victorious in the open events at
all the four Panhellenic festivals.[462] In view of these facts, we may
regard with some suspicion the story told by Pausanias that one Damiscus
of Messene won the boys’ foot-race at the tender age of twelve![463]

At the Nemea and Isthmia we find a threefold division into boys, youths
(ἀγένειοι), and men. The ages denoted by these terms varied according to
the regulations of different festivals. In later inscriptions we find
the expressions “Pythian boys,” “Isthmian boys” used to denote boys
within the limits of age prescribed at these festivals.[464]
Approximately it seems likely that the boys were those between the ages
of twelve and sixteen, the beardless those between sixteen and
twenty.[465] Elsewhere, especially in local competitions, we have a far
more elaborate classification. At the Erotidia in Boeotia the boys were
divided into “the younger” and “the older.”[466] In Chios we find five
classes—boys, younger epheboi, middle epheboi, older epheboi, men.[467]
At the Athenian Thesea there are competitions for boys of the first,
second, and third ages, confined to Athenians, and an open competition
for boys of any age.[468] Similarly, in the girls’ foot-races at the
Olympic Heraea the girls are divided into three ages.[469]

There is a general but mistaken idea that the stade-race was honoured
above all other events among the Greeks.[470] There is no evidence for
assigning pre-eminence to the foot-race over other events, or to the
stade-race over other foot-races. It is true that Xenophanes speaks of
speed of foot as honoured more than strength. The fact that out of the
eight athletic events for men existing at Olympia in his day, four were
foot-races, while the foot-race also formed part of the pentathlon, is
sufficient explanation of such a statement. But an examination of the
Epinikia of Pindar and Bacchylides, or the list of athletic statues at
Olympia, is sufficient to prove that Xenophanes’ words must not be
pressed. Out of 25 athletic odes of Pindar, 6 are in honour of victories
in the foot-race, including one for a double victory in the pentathlon
and stade-race, 19 for other events. In Bacchylides three out of nine
odes are for victories in the foot-race. At Olympia 45 statues were
erected for victories in the four foot-races, 59 for victories in
boxing, 39 for wrestling, 20 for the pankration.[471] These figures are
conclusive for Olympia and the Peloponnese. The only evidence to the
contrary comes from Athens. At the Panathenaea the winner of the
stade-race received 50 amphorae of oil, the pankratiast 40, and the
other winners only 30.[472] The inscription which records these facts
refers only to competitions for boys and youths, but probably the same
proportion was observed in those for men. The popularity of the
foot-race at Athens is shown by the fact that at the Panathenaea in the
second century there were no less than nine foot-races, not counting
that in the pentathlon. Of the Panathenaic vases which we possess many
more belong to the foot-race than to any other event. Most of the
victories gained by the Athenians at Olympia were in the short-distance
races, the only other event in which they show excellence being the
pankration. These facts are in entire accordance with all that we know
of the Athenian character, which combined with a certain reckless daring
and love of adventure a constitutional dislike of prolonged
exertion.[473] But the home of Greek athletics was not Athens but the
Peloponnese, and here at least the stade-race enjoyed no pre-eminence.
The selection of the winner of this race as eponymos for the Olympiad
has been explained already as due to the fact that this race came first
in the list; it may also be due in part to the literary supremacy of

From a very early time the Greeks discarded the use of the loin-cloth in
racing, and ran absolutely naked. For this, as for all athletic
exercises, the body was carefully oiled. Bacchylides describes how
Aglaus of Athens in the double diaulos, as at the finish of the race he
rushed on into the cheering crowds, bespattered with oil the garments of
the spectators.[474] Competitors ran barefooted and bareheaded. The soft
leather boots (ἐνδρομίδες) which Pollux says that they wore, were worn
only by couriers and messengers, not by athletes.[475] We see no trace
of them on the vases.

We have seen that the start (ἄφεσις) of the running track was marked by
two parallel grooves a few inches apart. Though the evidence of the
excavations does not allow us accurately to determine the date of the
stone sills in which these lines are cut, the frequent allusions in
writers of the fifth century to the starting line (γράμμη) proves beyond
all doubt that this was the method of starting in the fifth century and
earlier. Here, as an old song tells us, the herald summoned the
competitors to “take their stand foot to foot,” just as we see them
represented on vases.[476] The signal to start was given by the herald
calling “Go” (ἄπιτε),[477] or perhaps as in the chariot-race, by a blast
of the trumpet.[478] Then, as to-day, runners would try to get a good
start, and poach a yard or two. But Greek methods of discipline were
more drastic than our own. “Those who start too soon are beaten,” says
Adeimantus to Themistocles in the historic council before Salamis.[479]

[Illustration: Fig. 47. R.-f. Amphora. Louvre.]

But what was the use of the double line? Here again the parallel grooves
can have been no innovation introduced with the stone sills; they must
surely represent the practice of an earlier time. Two lines were cut in
stone, because two lines had been marked in the sand previously. They
certainly cannot have been intended to give a firm foothold for the
runners’ feet, nor is there a particle of evidence for the natural and
attractive suggestion that the Greek started off his hands like the
modern sprinter, and that the grooves afforded a grip for his
fingers.[480] The lines seem only to have been intended to mark the
position for both feet. Why this was done is doubtful. The position
implied is somewhat cramped for a starter. Perhaps the object was to
render it more difficult to poach at the start. Be this as it may, it is
certain that the Greek runner did start with his feet close together in
the position required by the lines.[481] The position is depicted on
several vases; but the best example of it is the charming bronze
statuette of a hoplitodromos from Tübingen (Fig. 12).[482] He stands
with his right foot a few inches behind the left, the toes of the right
nearly level with the left instep. Both knees are slightly bent, the
body is leaning forward, and the right arm is advanced to preserve the
balance. The whole attitude is that of a man on the alert, ready to
start at any moment. The shield on the left arm has been broken away. On
a red-figured amphora in the Louvre (Fig. 47)[483] a hoplitodromos is
represented in an almost identical position. Opposite stands a draped
and wreathed official with his right arm extended and his hand turned
somewhat upwards and backwards. It is a singularly appropriate gesture,
which we often meet with in athletic scenes. We seem almost to hear him
say to the runners, “Steady on the mark.” Another drawing shows us an
unarmed runner standing beside a pillar ready to start, while a youthful
official holds over him a forked rod with which to correct him if he
leaves the mark too soon (Fig. 48). The position of the feet is the
same, but the body is inclined more forwards, and having no shield to
inconvenience him he holds both arms to the front. A more upright
position is shown in Fig. 49, which is taken from Hartwig’s
_Meisterschalen_. The attitude illustrated in these examples is in its
essence the same as that adopted by many runners in the present day, the
chief difference being that the modern runner starts with his feet
somewhat wider apart, and his position is therefore less cramped.

[Illustration: Fig. 48. R.-f. kylix. Formerly at Naples.]

[Illustration: Fig. 49. R.-f. kylix. Chiusi.]

Such was the position adopted at the start in the fifth century, and it
continued as long as and wherever the double-grooved starting lines
continued to be used. It seems, however, that sometimes the runners were
stationed behind a barrier formed by a rope (ὕσπληξ) or by a wooden bar,
and that the signal for the start was given by dropping this rope or
bar.[484] Ropes, as we know, were used in the chariot-race, a separate
rope being stretched in front of each chariot. Aristophanes uses the
phrase “from a single rope” (ὥσπερ ἀπὸ μιᾶς ὑσπλάγιδος) to denote a
simultaneous movement “of one accord.”[485] The vase paintings do not
furnish the faintest indication of the use of a rope in the foot-race.
The only possible trace of its use revealed by excavation is the line of
herms at Athens, which cannot be earlier than imperial times. The posts,
which were placed in the square sockets along the starting line, cannot
have been used to support a rope; for such a rope is incompatible with
the use of the starting lines. There is no evidence of its use in the
foot-race till the third century B.C., when we find reference to the
ὕσπληγες in inscriptions relating to the stadia at Epidaurus and
Athens,[486] and an undoubted allusion to it in the poet Lycophron, who
speaks of a “winged runner bursting through the balbis rope.”[487] Even
then we may doubt whether its use was ever universal. With a rope a
false start is impossible; and yet allusions to runners poaching at the
start occur in literature from Herodotus to Plutarch, or even
later.[488] Still, it is certain that a rope was sometimes used, that it
was raised at some height above the ground and stretched tight in front
of the runners, and that the signal to start was given by the dropping
of the rope. A late epigram tells us that this was accompanied by an
audible sound.[489] In default of definite evidence, it may be suggested
that it was worked by a spring, perhaps somewhat after the manner of the
modern starting-gate. Some support for this suggestion is afforded by
the use of the word ὕσπληξ to denote a spring hunting-trap.

Allusion is also made to a bar of wood placed in front of the runners,
the removal of which gave the signal to start.[490] Such a barrier can
hardly have been introduced earlier than the time of the Empire, and was
probably borrowed from the Roman circus. As stated in the last chapter,
it is possible that the grooves in the pillars at Athens and Epidaurus
served to hold some solid barrier of this sort.

In the stade-race, the runners were divided into heats (τάξεις), which
were drawn by putting into a helmet lots marked with the different
letters of the alphabet.[491] If, as seems probable at Olympia, each
heat consisted of four, there would be four lots marked A, four B, and
so on. It appears that there was no second draw, but that all the
winners of heats ran together in the final, so that the final winner had
won twice.[492] The starting lines at Olympia provided room for twenty
runners at once. In short races the field is often a large one, and we
hear of no less than seven Crotoniats winning their heats in a single
Olympiad.[493] There is no reason for supposing that the heats were
always limited to four. The number would naturally be determined by the
number of entries and the length of the starting lines. On the
Panathenaic vases representing this race we find usually four, but
sometimes two, three, or five runners taking part, though it is unsafe
to draw conclusions from this evidence, the number of figures being
largely determined in a drawing by considerations of space.[494] Of one
thing we may feel sure in spite of assertions to the contrary in modern
text-books: the heats were so arranged as to avoid the necessity of a
bye. A single odd runner would be attached to one of the heats, two or
more would form a heat by themselves. Whether heats were employed in the
longer races we have no evidence to determine.

The runners were separated from one another at the start by posts placed
in the stone sill, and in later times by more massive pillars, and
similar posts or pillars marked the finish or turning point. It has been
suggested that ropes were fastened to these posts, which ran the length
of the course and separated the runners from one another. Unfortunately,
there is no evidence for this natural and attractive explanation, and
such evidence as we do possess is unfavourable. We hear occasionally of
runners interfering with one another by holding, tripping, and running
across.[495] Such foul practices seem to have been rare, and were of
course strictly forbidden. The competitors at Olympia swore a solemn
oath to abstain from all foul play. But on a roped course these
practices are impossible. They may, of course, have been confined to the
long-distance races, in which the course was certainly not roped. But
this is mere supposition, and in the dearth of evidence we must look for
some other explanation of the posts. In the first place they must have
served as guide-posts for the runners, a very necessary aid in a broad
track 200 yards long,—in which it is by no means easy to run straight
without assistance. Possibly each post was distinguished by some special
sign or colour. Then in the diaulos the runners probably turned round
these posts, each turning round his own post. Finally, as the use of the
tape seems to have been unknown at the finish, they must have given the
judges a most useful line for judging a close finish. It is possible
that the first who touched his pillar won, and that in the turn the
runners had to touch their respective pillars. But this is mere

[Illustration: Fig. 50. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth century. (_Mon. d.
I._ I. xxii. 7 b.)]

In the stade-race each runner ran straight to the post opposite his
starting point. The manner of running the other races is more difficult
to determine. The centre socket in one of the lines at Olympia is larger
than the rest, and Dr. Dörpfeld is of opinion that in the diaulos and
dolichos the other posts were removed and only the central one was left,
round which all competitors raced. In the diaulos such a system would
have put those who started on the outside at a serious disadvantage
compared with those who started in the centre, a disadvantage
accentuated by the confusion and crowding at the turn. It seems
therefore probable that the runners raced each to his own post, and
turning round it to the left raced back along the parallel track. In the
longer races the objection is less important, and the representations of
the dolichos on vases seem to show that all the runners raced round and
round the central posts at either end. On an early Panathenaic vase
(Fig. 50) four runners are shown running to the left towards a rough
post. The foremost runner has just reached the post, his left foot just
passing it, but he has not yet turned. The style of running shows that
the post denotes the turn and not the finish.[496]

[Illustration: Fig. 51. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 609.
Archonship of Niceratus, 333 B.C.]

The difference in style between the sprinter and the long-distance
runner is clearly marked on Panathenaic vases. The style of the latter
is excellent; his arms are held close in to the sides, yet swinging
freely without any stiffness; his body is slightly inclined forward,
with chest advanced and head erect; and he moves with a long sweeping
stride, running on the ball of the foot, but without raising the heel
unduly (Fig. 51). At the finish he, too, like the sprinter, swung his
arms violently in making his spurt, using them as wings, says
Philostratus.[497] This idea of the winged runner seems to have
influenced the early representation of the stade runner, which at first
sight appears almost grotesque. He seems to be advancing by a series of
leaps and bounds with arms and fingers spreadeagled (Fig. 52).

[Illustration: Fig. 52. Panathenaic amphora. Munich, 498. Sixth

In criticizing these drawings we must not forget that the subjects on
the Panathenaic vases are usually treated in a conventional manner. The
earliest of these vases are archaic work of the sixth century, the
latest archaistic work of the fourth century, and, as is usual in
objects connected with religion, the conventions of the earlier period
are preserved in the later. Now, if we make allowance for the
limitations of the early artist, and the extreme difficulty of the
subject, we shall find that the artists have succeeded in reproducing
the essential points of a sprint. The runners run well on the ball of
the foot, the heel somewhat higher than in the long race; their knees
are well raised and their bodies erect. The movement of the arms seems
exaggerated at first, till we compare the vase paintings with snapshot
photographs of a short-distance race. Then we see that every sprinter
uses his arms. The Americans have certainly reduced running to a
science, and I will therefore quote a passage from a well-known American
trainer and athlete: “The arms are of great service in sprinting, and
the importance of this fact is generally under-estimated. They are used
in _bent form and moved almost straight forward and back_, not sideways
across the body.”[498] This is just what we see on the vases. Why, then,
is the effect grotesque? Because the vase painter has made the right arm
move with the right leg and _vice versa_, whereas, in reality, the right
arm moves with the left leg. A similar mistake may often be observed in
the drawings of horses. In both cases the mistake is due partly to the
difficulty of representing the action accurately; partly, and this is
true especially of the finer red-figured vases, to artistic causes. A
side view of a sprinter always looks awkward, and the artist therefore
tries to improve upon nature. But that the Greek really used his arms
just as we do is shown by the fact that on some of the later Panathenaic
vases the arms are represented quite correctly (Fig. 53), and
occasionally even on sixth-century vases, as in the leading runner of
Fig. 52.[499] The grotesqueness of movement is enhanced by the stiff
manner in which the fingers are outstretched—another purely artistic
peculiarity, which we need not therefore, as a popular lecturer did
recently, hold up as an example for the imitation of modern athletes. As
a matter of fact, the action of the Greek sprinter is not so violent as
that of the modern, and this is natural, seeing that the Greeks had no
race shorter than 200 yards.

In the diaulos and hippios the style must have been less violent.
Perhaps some of the existing vases represent these events, but owing to
the absence of any inscription we cannot say for certain. One fragment
found at Athens bears the inscription “I am a diaulos runner”; and the
style, as we should expect, is a compromise between that of the sprinter
and that of the long-distance runner. The arms are swung, but not as
violently as in the sprint, while the stride is long and even, the knees
not raised unduly.[500] On another fragment found at Athens we find the
position of the arms typical of the dolichos combined with the high
action of the sprinter. Unfortunately this fragment is uninscribed.[501]

[Illustration: Fig. 53. Panathenaic amphora. Fourth century. (Stephani,
_C. R. Atlas_, 1876, Pl. i.)]

The physical types represented on these vases vary considerably. On the
earlier vases a short, thick-set, bearded type prevails, with powerful
shoulders and thighs. On the later vases we see greater length of limb.
The thinness of the sprinters is sometimes exaggerated to the point of
emaciation. On the other hand, some of the long-distance runners, in
spite of their length of limb, seem too heavy in build for the distance.
They are of the type of the Apoxyomenos, who, though he might be
excellent over 200 yards or quarter of a mile, is too heavy for a
three-mile race.

A peculiarity ascribed in our text-books to the Greek runner is the
habit of encouraging himself to greater efforts by shouting as he ran,
with all the strength of his lungs. The only evidence for so absurd and
improbable a practice is a rhetorical passage in Cicero,[502] who can
hardly be regarded as an authority on Greek athletics, even on those of
his own day, when athletics were at their lowest ebb. Nor need we credit
the statement that the Greeks raced in deep sand. Lucian, it is true,
describes the youths in the gymnasium practising running in the sand as
a severe form of exercise,[503] but the account preserved of the careful
preparation of the stadium at Delphi proves that the racing track was
something very different.

It is difficult to form any estimate of value as to the respective
merits of different districts in different branches of athletics. The
evidence is too fragmentary and extends over too vast a period. Many of
the extraordinary performances which Pausanias records belong to the
time of the Empire. For the period of Greek independence it seems safe
to say that in the Peloponnese the Spartans and Arcadians were most
successful in the foot-race, and outside the Peloponnese, the Crotoniats
and Cretans.[504] The excellence of the latter in long-distance running
is illustrated by Xenophon’s account of the games held by the remnant of
the ten thousand at Trapezus, at which no less than sixty Cretans
competed in the dolichos.[505] Most of the celebrated runners have been
mentioned in the course of our history. To these we may add the names of
Phayllus of Croton, a stadiodromos and pentathlete, of whom we shall
have more to say, and Ladas of Sparta, a long-distance runner of the
fifth century, who must not be confused with a later Ladas of Achaea,
who won the stade-race in Ol. 125. The popular idea that Ladas died as
he reached the goal, in the very moment of victory, is hardly creditable
to the training of the most famous runner of his day. It seems to be a
myth, derived from a misunderstanding of the epigram which describes the
statue of the runner made by Myron.[506] Pausanias merely tells us that
he died shortly after his victory, on his way home. We have no means of
comparing the performances of Greek runners with those of our own. We
hear of a sprinter who could outrun and catch hares,[507] of another
runner who raced a horse from Coronea to Thebes and beat it.[508]
Pheidippides, as we all know, ran from Athens to Sparta in two days;
Ageus, who won the long race at Olympia in Ol. 113, is reported to have
carried the news of his victory to Argos on the same day; and a still
better performance is recorded in a fourth-century inscription found at
Epidaurus of one Drumos, who records as an “example of manliness,” that
he brought the news of his Olympic victory from Elis to Epidaurus on the
same day. The distance as the crow flies is nearly ninety miles.[509]
All this is too vague for comparison. Such scanty evidence suggests that
the Greeks obtained a generally high standard of excellence in running,
and that such superiority as they may have possessed was shown rather in
long races than in short.

The race in armour was first introduced at the close of the sixth
century.[510] It was a military exercise, and its introduction was an
attempt to restore to athletics that practical character which under the
stress of competition was even then in danger of being lost. Its
practical character naturally won for it the approval of Plato, who
proposed to introduce in his ideal state races in heavy and in light
armour. Appealing as it did to the whole body of soldier-citizens rather
than to specialized athletes, it was an extremely popular event, and its
popularity was enhanced by its picturesqueness, which made it a
favourite subject for the vase painter. For the same reason it seems not
to have possessed, at all events in later times, the same athletic
importance as the purely athletic events: it was no race for the
specialist; rather it belonged to that class of mixed athletics, such as
obstacle races and races in uniform, which are a popular and also a
valuable feature in military sports. Hence at Olympia and elsewhere the
race in armour was an appropriate close to the athletic programme,[511]
marking as it did the connexion between athletic training and real life.

[Illustration: Fig. 54. R.-f. kylix ascribed to Euphronius. Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale, 523.]

There were many varieties of the armed race, differing from one another
in distance, in equipment, and in rules. The most strenuous of all these
competitions was that at the Eleutheria at Plataea, partly, Philostratus
tells us, owing to the length of the course; partly owing to the
completeness of the armour worn, which enveloped the athlete from head
to foot; partly owing to a remarkable rule that any competitor who
having once won the race entered again and failed incurred the penalty
of death. Perhaps this regulation means no more than that no previous
winner was allowed to compete a second time.[512] At Nemea the race was
over the hippios course of four stades, at Olympia and at Athens it was
a diaulos of two stades.[513] Elsewhere the distance may have been
different. Similarly the equipment varied. The runners at Olympia
originally wore helmets and greaves, and carried round shields,
twenty-five of which were kept there for the use of competitors. The
wearing of greaves was discontinued at a later date.[514] The vase
paintings, which mostly represent Athenian practice, show that while the
usage varied previous to 520 B.C., greaves became general after that
date, but disappear entirely after 450 B.C.[515] There is no evidence
that the runners ever carried weapons. The danger of such a practice is
obvious. We often see processions of hoplites thus armed proceeding at a
double, and these are often described as races.[516] It seems safer and
more reasonable to regard them merely as military processions, or
perhaps competitions such as we know took place at the Athenian

[Illustration: Fig. 55. R.-f. kylix. Formerly in Berlin. (_J.H.S._
xxiii. p. 278.)]

All the various details of the race are pictured on the vases. On a
red-figured vase by Euphronius in Paris we see the preparations for the
race (Fig. 54). In the centre stands a robed official or trainer with
his rod, and around him are various runners practising. One of them is
putting on his armour, others, perhaps, are engaged in a preliminary
canter such as is described by Statius.[517] The position at the start
has already been described. From the number of shields kept for this
race at Olympia it would seem that the field was usually a large one, as
we should expect, and certain vases representing the turn indicate that
whatever was the case in the unarmed diaulos the runners in armour
raced, not each round his separate post, but all together round the
central post, turning round it to the left. This critical moment is
perhaps represented in the left-hand group on the Euphronius kylix,
where the runner to the left has just completed the turn, and is
starting on his way back, but has not yet got into his stride. Another
vase shows a pair of runners—one checking his pace before the turn, and
another in the very act of turning (Fig. 55). Their attitude seems to
show that the turn took place round a pillar, and that the runners had
not merely to toe the line. The most complete picture of the race is
represented on a red-figured kylix in Berlin (Fig. 56). On one side we
see a group of three. To the right a runner is in the position of the
start; to the left another is almost in the act of swinging round the
post at the turn. Both these runners move to the left; the central
runner, who is already starting back, moves to the right. On the other
side we see three runners in full race, one of whom is guilty of the
fatal mistake of looking round. Is he protesting against his
fellow-runner for some unfairness?

[Illustration: Fig. 56. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 2307.]

[Illustration: Fig. 57. R.-f. kylix. British Museum, E. 818.]

Finally, on a red-figured vase in the British Museum, we see the finish
of the race (Fig. 57). A bearded runner who has passed the winning post
looks back in triumph on his rival, who, as he reaches the goal, seems
to have thrown down his shield in disgust. The winner holds in his hand
his helmet, which he has just taken off. This gesture, which occurs on a
number of vases, seems to be symbolical of victory. What could be more
natural at the finish of a 400 yards’ race over the hot sand and beneath
the scorching sun of Olympia than to take off the heavy, cumbrous
helmet? The action reminds one, too, of a cricketer who after a fine
innings takes off his cap as he returns to the pavilion. Of the style of
the runners little need be said; it resembles the style of the stade
runner in the swinging of the arm, and for obvious reasons of symmetry
the vase painter always makes the right arm work with the right leg, the
left arm, which holds the shield, being generally stationary. The type
of runner represented on Panathenaic vases is, as we should expect,
sturdier and heavier than is shown in other races. The hoplites on one
in the British Museum exhibit that length of body in comparison with
length of leg which Philostratus mentions as a useful quality for this
event, and we may further note that they run on a flat foot (Fig. 58).
Yet in spite of such examples a foreign archeologist has maintained that
the hoplitodromos advanced by a series of leaps and bounds, and has
deduced therefrom the theory that jumping was the best training for this
race, and that therefore the statue of a hoplitodromos practising,
described by Pausanias, represented him not running, but jumping! The
Greek athlete has certainly been hardly treated by some of his admirers.

[Illustration: Fig. 58. Panathenaic amphora. British Museum, B. 608.
Archonship of Pythodelus, 336 B.C.]

The popularity of the armed race in the fifth century is partly due to
that spirit of military enthusiasm which animated athletics after the
Persian wars, and partly to its attractiveness as a spectacle. There is
something amusing in the sight of a body of men racing at full speed in
incongruous costume, and the comic element in the armed race is brought
out in the _Birds_ of Aristophanes,[518] where Peisthetaerus as he
watches the chorus of birds advancing on the stage with their quaint
plumage and crests aptly compares them to the hoplites assembling to run
the diaulos. Amusing incidents must have been frequent, especially in
the crowding at the turning post. On vases, for example, we often see a
runner who has dropt his shield, or stoops to pick it up.[519] A race of
this kind naturally lends itself to variations, and of these we have
evidence on the vases. A red-figured kylix at Munich shows two armed
runners racing to the left, holding their shields in front of them in a
decidedly quaint style (Fig. 59). Three others race in the opposite
direction, two of them with helmets only, the third unarmed. The sponge
and other implements hanging on the walls indicate that the scene is
placed in the gymnasium where athletes are practising; but the idea
suggested is undoubtedly that of a race in which the runners at the end
of the lap put down their shields and ran the next lap without them, and
then, perhaps, doffed their helmets also. No certainty is attainable as
to details, but the vases establish the general fact that such
variations did exist at different places.[520]

[Illustration: Fig. 59. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 1240.]

The comic element is still more apparent in the Lampadadromia and in the
Oschophoria described above.[521] These old ritual races hardly come
within the sphere of true athletics, although connected with the
gymnasia and the training of the epheboi. They are of the type of events
which we find in the modern gymkhana, and it is therefore unnecessary to
describe them here at length.

The torch-race was widely spread throughout Greek lands and its
popularity was maintained till Roman times. At Athens there were
torch-races at the Panathenaea, at the Epitaphia and the Thesea, and in
the time of Socrates a torch-race on horseback was instituted at the
festival of Bendis. The torch-race took place at night. There were two
principal varieties of it—one a race between individuals, the other
between teams. In the former the runners started from the altar of
Prometheus in the Academy, and raced into the city, the one who arrived
first with his torch lighted being proclaimed victor. The efforts of the
runners to keep their torches alight as they ran along stooping like
boys in an egg and spoon race caused endless amusement among the
spectators, and as they passed through the narrow gateway into the city,
the ribald dwellers in the potters’ quarter sped them on their way with
loud resounding slaps.[522] The team-race is familiar to all from the
famous simile in the _Agamemnon_. The members of the teams were posted
at intervals along the way; the first runner handed it to the second as
he reached him, and so on till it came to the last. The team that
brought their torch still lighted to the finish first was declared the
winner. The teams must have been originally representative of the
tribes. In the first century B.C. we find teams mentioned from various
palaestrae; thus victories are recorded of boys from the palaestra of
Timeas, and of Antigenes, or from the Lyceum.[523] The training of the
teams was a voluntary service (λειτουργία) performed by the
Gymnasiarchoi, or by special officials, the Lampadarchoi, whose names
are mentioned on inscriptions when their teams won. There were
torch-races for boys and youths of various ages. Aristophanes speaks of
torch-racing and hunting as the fashionable amusements of a smart
youth.[524] At a later time the torch-race is mentioned in inscriptions
as one of the duties expected from the epheboi, rather as a ceremonial
duty than as an athletic exercise.[525] The religious character of the
race was maintained in Roman times. An inscription from Scyros
prescribes penalties for any one, whether slave or freeman, found guilty
of unfair practices in the torch-races of the tribes. If a slave, he is
to be scourged and his master fined; if a freeman or one of the runners,
he is not only to be fined but considered a “sacrilegious person and

Little is known of the methods of training employed by Greek runners.
The gymnasia at Olympia and Delphi were provided with running tracks
corresponding in length to the actual stadia, and that at Olympia was
provided with grooved starting sills. Thus the runners could practise
the start, and, what was equally important, the turn, under the same
conditions as obtained in competition. To gain endurance they ran in
heavy sand. Aristotle mentions as an exercise practised in the palaestra
running or rather waddling on the knees![527] At a later date we learn
from Epictetus that the training for the long-distance runner was
different from that of the sprinter in its regulations for diet,
massage, and food; but he gives us no details.[528] Philostratus tells
us that the long-distance runner instead of training over the whole
course would run eight or ten stades only, a practice quite in accord
with that of the present day.[529] In those degenerate days athletes had
also recourse to quack medicines and charms. A concoction of equisetum
was recommended as a cure for the stitch, and some runners for a similar
purpose wore a girdle of horses’ teeth. Athletes have always been

Footnote 456:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 348.

Footnote 457:

  Bacchylides, ix. τετραέλικτον ἐπεὶ κάμψεν δρόμον; Eurip. _Electra_,
  825; Pausanias, vi. 16, 4; Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., 676.

Footnote 458:

  _Leg._ viii. 833, C, D.

Footnote 459:

  Pausanias, v. 16, 2.

Footnote 460:

  _Ol. Inschr._ 56.

Footnote 461:

  Pausanias, vi. 14, 1.

Footnote 462:

  _Ib._ 15, 1.

Footnote 463:

  _Ib._ 2, 10.

Footnote 464:

  Mie, _Quaestiones Agonisticae_, p. 48; Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd. Ed., 677,

Footnote 465:

  Roberts and Gardner, _Greek Epigraphy_, ii. p. 166.

Footnote 466:

  _C.I.G._ 1590.

Footnote 467:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., 524.

Footnote 468:

  _I.G._ ii. 444.

Footnote 469:

  Pausanias, v. 16, 2.

Footnote 470:

  In _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 266 I have myself made the mistake.

Footnote 471:

  These figures are drawn up from the tables given in Hyde’s _De
  Olympionicarum Statuis_.

Footnote 472:

  _I.G._ ii. 965. _Vide supra_, p. 234.

Footnote 473:

  Mr. R. E. Macnaghten, in a very suggestive paper in the _Classical
  Review_, xxi. p. 13, attributes to the Athenians the degradation in
  meaning of all words denoting toil, among which he cites ἄθλιος.

Footnote 474:

  Bacchylides, ix.

Footnote 475:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 362.

Footnote 476:

  Pomtow, _Poetae Lyrici Graeci Minores_, ii. p. 154 βαλβῖδι ποδῶν
  θέντες πόδα παρ πόδα. Julian, 318.

Footnote 477:

  Aristophanes, _Eq._ 1161.

Footnote 478:

  Sophocles, _El._ 711.

Footnote 479:

  Hdt. viii. 59.

Footnote 480:

  The only vase which could possibly represent this position is a r.-f.
  skyphos reproduced in _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 283. It represents a
  hoplitodromos leaning forward, his right hand resting on the ground.
  But it will be remarked that his feet are in the usual position, level
  with the pillar where the starting lines should be. Opposite stands an
  official in the attitude shown in Fig. 47, and I am now inclined to
  think that the runner in practising a start has overbalanced himself,
  and that the official is telling him to get back to his mark.

Footnote 481:

  _J.H.S._ xxiii. pp. 269 ff.

Footnote 482:

  _Jahrb._ 1886, Pl. ix. Cp. Dr. Hauser in _Jahrb._ 1887 and 1895; M. A.
  de Ridder in _B.C.H._, 1897; criticisms on the same in _J.H.S._ _l.c._

Footnote 483:

  _Bull. Nap. nouv. sér._ vi. 7; _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 270, Fig. 1.

Footnote 484:

  The passages relating to the ὕσπληξ are collected by me in _J.H.S._
  xxiii. p. 263. To these may be added, Bekker, _Anecd._ 220, 31 βαλβίς.
  Ξῦλα δύο τῶν δρομέων ἀφ’ ὧν σχοινίον τί διατέταται, ὃ καλεῖται βαλβίς,
  ἵνα ἐνεῦθεν ἐκδράμωσιν οἱ ἀγωνιζόμενοι; Fränckel, _Antiq. Pergam._
  viii. 1, p. 8, 10, epigram on the victory of Attalus in the
  chariot-race; Schol. to Aristoph. _Eq._ 1159 βαλβίς· ἡ ὑπὸ τὴν ὕσπληγα
  γενομένη γράμμη.

Footnote 485:

  _Lysist._ 1000.

Footnote 486:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., 688; Ἐφ. Ἀρχ., 1884, 169.

Footnote 487:

  Lycophron 13 βαλβῖδα μηρίνθου σχάσας.

Footnote 488:

  _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 264.

Footnote 489:

  _Anth. Pal._ ix. 557.

Footnote 490:

  Schol. to Aristoph. _Eq._ 1159 βαλβὶς δὲ καλεῖται τὸ ἐν τῇ ἄρχῃ τοῦ
  δρόμου κείμενον ἐγκαρσίως ξῦλον, ὃ καὶ ἀφετήριον καλεῖται, ὅπερ μετὰ
  τὸ ἐτοιμασθῆναι τοὺς δρομέας εἰς τὸ δραμεῖν ἀφαιρούμενοι ἀφίεσαν

Footnote 491:

  This is the method for drawing the ties for wrestling and boxing
  described by Lucian, _Hermotim_, 40.

Footnote 492:

  Pausanias, vi. 13, 2. The text of the passage is unfortunately

Footnote 493:

  Strabo, vi. 12.

Footnote 494:

  Out of fifteen such vases, one has two runners, three have three,
  three have five, and eight have four. The number four is more usual
  also in representations of the longer races.

Footnote 495:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 363. _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 262. In Vergil Nisus trips
  Salius, _Aen._ v. 335; in Statius, vi. 616, Idas seizes Parthenopaeus
  by the hair. More important is a passage in Lucian, _Calumn. non
  temere cred._ 12 ἄναθλος ἀνταγωνιστὴς ἀπογνοὺς τὴν ἐκ τοῦ τάχους
  ἐλπίδα ἐπὶ τὴν κακοτεχνίαν ἐτράπετο καὶ τοῦτο μόνον ἐξ ἅπαντος σκοπεῖ
  ὅπως τὸν τρέχοντα ἐπιοχὼν ἣ ἐμποδίσας ἐπιστομιεῖ. Cp. Cicero, _de
  Officiis_, iii. 10.

Footnote 496:

  It is unnecessary to repeat here the arguments on which these
  conclusions are based. They are stated fully in _J.H.S._ xxiii. p.

Footnote 497:

  _Gym._ 32 οἷον πτερούμενοι ὑπὸ τῶν χειρῶν. Winged figures are very
  frequent in early Greek art: a very beautiful later representation of
  a winged runner occurs on a r.-f. vase published in _B.C.H._, 1899, p.

Footnote 498:

  _Practical Track and Field Athletics_, by John Graham and Ellery H.
  Clark (D. Nutt), p. 24. A photograph of two runners (Pl. vi.) taken in
  an actual race bears a striking resemblance to the pictures on Greek

Footnote 499:

  _C.R._, 1876, Pl. i.

Footnote 500:

  _National Museum_, 761.

Footnote 501:

  _Mon. d. I._ X. 48 h, 15.

Footnote 502:

  _Tusc. Disp._ ii. 23.

Footnote 503:

  _Anacharsis_ 27.

Footnote 504:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 379.

Footnote 505:

  Xen. _Anab._ iv. 8, 27. The Damonon inscription records the successes
  of Damonon and his son in local festivals. Damonon won many victories
  in the stade and diaulos; his son twice won the stade, the diaulos and
  the long race on the same day. The inscription is a good proof of the
  athletic ability of the Spartans in the fifth century; specialization
  in athletics found no favour at Sparta, _B.S.A._ xiii. 179.

Footnote 506:

  _Anth. Plan._ iv. 54; Pausanias, iii. 21.

Footnote 507:

  Philostr. _Gym._ 23.

Footnote 508:

  Diodor. Sic. xiv. 11.

Footnote 509:

  Jul. Africanus, Ol. 113; _I.G._ iv. 1349.

Footnote 510:

  Artemidor. i. 63; Plutarch, _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 5; Pausanias, iii. 14,
  3; Philostr. _Gym._ 7; Heliodor. _Aeth._ iv.

Footnote 511:

  For a full discussion of the armed race _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 280
  ff. On vases this race is frequently connected with boxing and the
  pankration, the events which probably preceded it in the programme.
  _Vide_ Figs. 54, 151.

Footnote 512:

  Phil. _Gym._ 8, 24. I have already pointed out that Philostratus is
  somewhat credulous, and too much inclined to accept without
  investigation the tales poured into his ears by the authorities at
  Elis and elsewhere. It was the fashion in his time to exaggerate the
  Spartan severity of Greek athletics.

Footnote 513:

  For Nemea _vide_ Philostratus, _l.c._; for Olympia, Paus. ii. 11, 8;
  for Athens Aristoph. _Av._ 291, and Scholiast.

Footnote 514:

  Paus. v. 12, 8; vi. 10, 4.

Footnote 515:

  Hauser, _Jahrb._, 1895, p. 199.

Footnote 516:

  _B.M. Vases_, E. 22; Gerh. _A. V._ 258, 1.

Footnote 517:

  _Theb._ vi. 587.

Footnote 518:

  _Av._ 291.

Footnote 519:

  _J.H.S._ _l.c._ pp. 284-287.

Footnote 520:

  _J.H.S._ _l.c._ pp. 282-284. The argument which I drew from the use of
  the epithet ποικίλοι in the passage of Philostratus must be abandoned.
  Dr. Jüthner’s recent edition of the _Gymnastik_ proves that there is
  no authority for this reading; he himself suggests πάλαιοι. The
  general conclusions drawn in my article are not really affected by the

Footnote 521:

  P. 228.

Footnote 522:

  Aristophanes, _Ran._ 1087; _Lysistr._ 1002.

Footnote 523:

  _I.G._ ii. 444, 446.

Footnote 524:

  _Vesp._ 1203.

Footnote 525:

  _I.G._ 444.

Footnote 526:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., 680.

Footnote 527:

  _De Gressu Animal._ p. 709.

Footnote 528:

  Arrian, iii. 22.

Footnote 529:

  _Gym._ 11.

Footnote 530:

  Pliny, _H. N._ xxvi. 13, 83; xxviii. 19, 78. The spleen was supposed
  to cause stitch; Plautus, _Merc._ i. 2, 14.

                              CHAPTER XIV
                         THE JUMP AND HALTERES

Jumping is not a military exercise but an amusement of peace. It is
useful, of course, at times for a soldier to be able to leap over any
obstacle in his way. But the Homeric chieftain was not suitably dressed
for such feats of agility, whether he went to war in Mycenaean style
with his long-shadowing spear and towerlike shield reaching down to his
feet, or like the later hoplite arrayed in panoply of bronze. For flight
or pursuit he trusted in his chariot and horses. Hence jumping was no
part of his training, and it is mentioned in Homer only as an
accomplishment of the peaceful Phaeacian traders. Pindar, true to
Homeric tradition, does not include it among the sports introduced by
Heracles in the first Olympic games, and Plato has no use for it in the
training of his soldier-citizens. In athletic festivals the jump was one
of the events of the pentathlon, but never existed as an independent
competition. Yet it must have been always a popular exercise and
amusement, and its popularity during the sixth and fifth centuries is
shown by the frequency with which it is depicted on vases. Pentathletes
were sometimes represented with jumping weights in their hands, and the
jump seems to have been regarded as the typical event of the
pentathlon.[531] Perhaps it owed its importance to the part which the
jumping weights played in physical training, at least in later times.
They were used much in the same way as the modern dumb-bells, and many
of the modern dumb-bell exercises were known to the Greeks and freely
practised, especially in medical gymnastics.

The only form of jumping that had any place in athletic competitions was
the long jump. The explanation of this is obvious. Greece was not a land
of fences or hedges, and the only natural obstacles which it afforded
were streams and ditches. There is no ground for the statement
frequently made that the Greeks practised also the high jump, and the
deep jump, much less that they practised the pole jump. They certainly
used a spear or a pole in vaulting on horseback (Fig. 174), but the
so-called jumping poles are now universally recognized as either
javelins or measuring rods. A certain number of vase paintings may
possibly represent the high jump, but they may just as well represent a
standing long jump; none represent jumping from a height, or the deep

It would be rash to say that such exercises were never practised; but
certainly they were unknown in athletic competitions. In the daily life
of the palaestra and gymnasium there must have been countless exercises
and feats practised, of which no record survives. Lucian describes the
athletes in the gymnasium jumping up and down like runners, but without
moving from their places, and kicking the air.[532] The exercise is that
known in the modern gymnasium as “knees up,” and is apparently the same
as that described by Seneca as “the fuller’s jump,”[533] from its
resemblance to the action of a fuller jumping up and down on the clothes
in his tub. The Spartan Lampito in the _Lysistrata_ of Aristophanes
ascribes her complexion and figure to her athletic training, and
mentions an exercise, not unknown in foreign gymnasia and
dancing-schools, of jumping up and down and kicking the buttocks with
alternate feet.[534] Another Spartan lady claims to have made a record
by repeating this feat a thousand times. But these tricks belong rather
to the sphere of dancing than to that of athletics, though we must
remember that dancing was an important part of Greek physical training.
Its value consisted chiefly in graceful and rhythmic movement; but its
practice also involved a variety of jumps, hops, flings, and kicks.
Hopping (ἀσκωλιασμός)[535] was a favourite amusement, but can hardly
claim to be classed under athletics, unless we suppose that the Greek
jump was a hop, skip, and jump.[536] At the Dionysia there was a popular
competition in which the competitors had to hop on to a greased
wine-skin full of wine. He who succeeded in hopping on to it and staying
there took it as a prize, while the falls of the unsuccessful were a
source of boundless amusement to the populace. Mr. Henry Balfour informs
me that the game still exists in Northern Greece.

The Greeks jumped into a pit (σκάμμα)[537] the ground of which had been
carefully dug up and levelled. The same term skamma is also used of the
wrestling ring. The picks (σκαπάναι) used for loosening the ground are
frequently represented on athletic scenes on the vases, and the exercise
of digging with them was regarded as a valuable means of training,
especially for wrestlers and boxers.[538] The ground of the skamma was
soft, so as to take the impress of the jumper’s feet. No jump was
allowed to be measured unless the impress of the feet was regular, says
Philostratus, meaning thereby that if the jumper fell or stumbled or
landed with one foot in advance of the other, the jump was not
counted.[539] In all athletics the Greeks attached great importance to
style. If we are to believe the legends recorded by scholiasts and
lexicographers about Phaÿllus, the length of the skamma was 50 feet. One
version of this story is that Phaÿllus having jumped 5 feet beyond the
skamma, on to the hard ground, broke his leg—a contingency by no means
unlikely if such a jump were possible.[540]

The take-off (βατήρ) was at one end of the skamma. It is marked in vase
paintings, sometimes by spears or poles placed in the ground, sometimes
by pillars similar to those that mark the start of the running
track.[541] Possibly the stone starting-lines of the stadium may have
served as the bater. The word merely denotes a stepping-place or
threshold. We know that the bater must have been hard and firm,[542] but
whether it was made of wood or stone we cannot say. There is no evidence
for the use of any kind of spring-board in athletics.[543]

The jumps were measured by rods (κανόνες),[544] and the individual jumps
were marked either by pegs or by lines drawn in the sand. On a vase in
the British Museum (Fig. 67) three vertical lines are drawn beneath the
figure of a jumper in mid-air, and three similar lines occur under a
jumper depicted on an Etruscan carnelian. They mark the jumps of
previous competitors, but may equally well be interpreted as pegs or as
lines in the sand. Certainly they are not, as has been sometimes
suggested, spikes or arrows set there to give zest and danger to the
sport. The acrobat might turn somersaults over swords and spikes, but
the acrobat was a slave-girl usually, not a free citizen, and the Greeks
fully appreciated the difference between acrobatics and athletics.

[Illustration: Fig. 60. Leaden halter found at Eleusis. Athens, National
Museum, 9075.]

The Greek jumper generally used jumping weights (ἁλτῆρες). These
halteres were of stone or metal, and differed considerably in shape and
weight. We cannot say when their use came in. Homer does not mention
them, but we find them already in existence at the very beginning of the
sixth century, if not earlier. To this period belongs an inscribed
halter of lead found at Eleusis, perhaps one of a pair, dedicated by a
certain Epaenetus to commemorate his victory in the jump (Fig. 60).[545]
It is merely an oblong piece of lead about 4-1/2 inches long, 1-1/2
broad, and with the sides slightly concave, varying in depth from 1-1/4
inch at either end to less than an inch in the centre. It weighs 4 lbs.
2 oz. (1·888 kg.).

[Illustration: Fig. 61. Halteres in the British Museum. (_a_) Cast of
halter found at Olympia, L. 11-1/2 in. (_b_) Limestone halter found at
Camirus, L. 7-1/2 in. (_c_) Leaden halter, L. 8 in.]

The vase paintings show that a large variety of shapes existed during
the sixth and fifth centuries. There are two main types. On the earliest
black-figured vases the halter appears as a nearly semicircular piece of
metal or stone with a deep recess on the straight or lower side, which
affords a convenient grip. The two club-like ends are equal, and the
effect is that of a curved flattened dumb-bell. This type does not occur
after the sixth century, towards the close of which the halter is
improved by an increase in the size of the end projecting to the front,
and a decrease in the hinder part. Numerous modifications of this type
appear on the vases, differing mainly in the size and shape of the
club-like ends. The British Museum possesses a pair of these halteres
(Fig. 61). They are of lead about 8 inches long, affording a comfortable
grip for the hand in the centre. One of the pair is damaged, the other
weighs about 2 lbs. 5 oz. (1·072 kg.). A similar pair found at Athens
are in the Museum at Copenhagen. They are somewhat shorter and heavier
(1·610 and 1·480 kg. respectively), and the recess is so narrow that
they can only have been held by the smaller end, and not in the centre.

Side by side with this club-like type we find in the fifth century
another type consisting of an elongated, roughly semispherical block of
metal or stone, thickest in the middle, with the ends pointed or
rounded, the upper side being pierced or cut away, so as to furnish a
grip for the thumb and fingers. These are the “old-fashioned” dumb-bells
which Pausanias describes as held by a statue of Agon, which was
dedicated by Micythus in the second half of the fifth century. Of this
type we possess two interesting examples both of stone, a pair of
halteres found at Corinth, and now in the Museum at Athens, and a single
halter found at Olympia, and now at Berlin, a cast of which may be seen
in the British Museum. Those from Corinth (Fig. 62) are nearly 10-1/4
inches long, and 4 inches deep by 3 broad. A little distance behind the
centre they are cut through, the depression on one side affording a hold
for the thumb, that on the other side for the four fingers. The Olympic
halter (Fig. 61) is larger and more primitive. It is a right-handed
halter 11-1/2 inches long, and weighs over 10 lbs., or four times as
much as the leaden halteres in the British Museum. The surface of the
stone is left rough, and the grip is formed by cutting away the stone on
either side, so as to enable the hand to grasp it.

[Illustration: Fig. 62. Stone halter found at Corinth (10 inches).]

After the fifth century there is no evidence as to the form of the
halteres until Roman times. On Roman copies of athletic statues a new
cylindrical type of halter is represented, and the same appears on
mosaics and wall paintings.[546] It is merely a cylinder slightly
narrower at the centre than at the ends, like a dice-box, and though
very useful for dumb-bell exercises, can hardly have been as handy for
jumping as the earlier types. We do not know when this type came in. The
British Museum possesses a curious example of it, found at Camirus in
Rhodes (Fig. 61). It is made of limestone, 7-1/2 inches long, and
carefully grooved, so as to afford grips for the thumb and each of the
fingers. References in late authors indicate that the halteres were
usually not of stone, but of lead.

Philostratus distinguishes two kinds of halteres: “the long,” which
“exercise shoulders and hands”; the spherical, which “also exercise the
fingers.”[547] It is clear that these cannot correspond to the two types
which we found prevalent in the fifth century. For Pausanias regards one
at least of these types as “old-fashioned,” and Philostratus is speaking
of the halteres in use in his own day. Though he describes the halteres
as an “invention of the pentathlon, and invented, as its name denotes,
for the jump,” his ideas of their use for this purpose are of the
vaguest,[548] and he regards them principally as a means of training,
employed, he says, by all athletes alike, “whether heavy or light.” It
seems, therefore, that his “long halteres” are those used by the heavy
athletes, the boxer or the wrestler, while the spherical ones are those
used by light athletes, the runner or the spear-thrower. The former may
be identified with the cylindrical halteres; the latter are perhaps
little more than balls of wood or lead, such as are recommended by a
medical writer in the early fifth century A.D., for the use of those
suffering from gout in their hands.[549]

The manner of using the halteres is clearly shown on the vases. The
principle is the same as that of a standing jump, the utilization of the
swing of the arms to assist the spring of the legs. The jumper swings
the halteres forwards and upwards till they are level with, or higher
than, his head, and then swings them vigorously downwards, at the same
time bending his body till his hands are just below his knees. The
actual jump takes place on the return swing. As the hands swing to the
front, and the centre of gravity is shifted forward, the knees, which
have been bent on the back swing, are vigorously straightened, and the
swing of the halteres combines with the push of the legs to propel the
body forwards. In the case of a standing jump the preliminary swing may
be repeated two or three times.

[Illustration: Fig. 63. R.-f. pelike, in British Museum, E. 427.]

It is this preliminary swing which is most frequently depicted on vases.
On a red-figured pelike in the British Museum (Fig. 63) we see a youth
preparing to jump. The right leg, which is advanced, is straight, and he
is just in the act of swinging the halteres to the front. Opposite him
stands a flute-player in a long striped and spotted robe, playing the
double flute. The jump was always accompanied by music. But why the
jumper especially required this assistance is not clear. Philostratus
gives as the reason that the Greeks regarded the jump as the most
strenuous of all exercises. But this is hardly satisfactory. It seems
probable that in early days flute-playing was a common accompaniment of
all athletic exercises. The Argives wrestled to the accompaniment of the
flute. On the chest of Cypselus, Admetus, and Mopsus were represented
boxing to music, on vases the flute-player accompanies the
diskos-thrower in his exercise, and less frequently the
spear-thrower.[550] Possibly the rhythmical swing of the diskos and the
halteres may have been assisted by the strains of music. But I suspect
that the special connexion between the jump and the flute dates from the
time when the halteres had already begun to be used as dumb-bells, and
it was found that music was of great assistance as an accompaniment of
physical drill for large classes.

The two typical moments in the swing, and those therefore which the
artist usually selects, are the top of the upward swing and the bottom
of the downward swing, though the two types are connected by a closely
graduated series of intermediate types.[551]

[Illustration: Fig. 64. R.-f. krater. Copenhagen (?). (_Annali_, 1846,

A good example of the upward swing occurs on a red-figured krater
presented by Campana to the King of Denmark (Fig. 64). It is a scene
from the life of the gymnasium, and represents youths practising the
exercises of the pentathlon. A diskos in its case hangs on the wall. In
the centre stands a flute-player. To the left a youth has swung the
halteres vigorously upward; his body is thrown well back, and its weight
rests on the right leg, which is behind, the left foot being lifted off
the ground by the swing. Next to him stands a javelin-thrower, who has
just adjusted the thong of his javelin, and is drawing back his arm to
throw. Beyond the flute-player a diskos-thrower prepares to throw the
diskos. All three are depicted at similar stages in their respective
exercises. They seem to be moving in time to the music. The fourth
figure is also that of a jumper: he is in the attitude of a runner
suddenly checking his pace; perhaps he is practising a long jump, and
after a short run checks himself in order to swing the halteres before
the spring. The upward swing is also represented on black-figured vases,
but less vigorously, and with the arms raised slightly higher and
somewhat bent.

[Illustration: Fig. 65. R.-f. kylix. Bologna. (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._

The downward swing is represented on a red-figured kylix found at
Bologna (Fig. 65). The same motive is repeated in a number of
red-figured vases, though it does not occur on earlier vases. The scene
takes place in a gymnasium, as the strigils and other objects hanging on
the walls show. A robed trainer in the centre is resting on his staff
and directing the practice of two jumpers. The pillar and javelins on
either side mark the bater from which the jumpers take off. The
impression produced is of an exercise performed in time to music, or by
word of command. Perhaps the Greek trainer taught his pupils jumping “by
numbers” as the modern instructor teaches vaulting. At all events, the
position shown is one essential to a jumper swinging the halteres before
his spring, and is not a mere gymnastic exercise. Nor does the scene
represent jumpers jumping from a height, as one writer has suggested. A
jumper doing so in this position with weights would probably perform a
somersault or land on his head.

[Illustration: Fig. 66. R.-f. kylix. Bourguignon Coll. (_Arch. Zeit._,
1884, xvi.)]

On another red-figured kylix we see an excellent picture of a jumper in
mid-air (Fig. 66). The style is perfect: he has jumped high, and arms
and legs are extended to the front and almost parallel. This vase also
represents a practice-scene from the gymnasium. To the right stands a
trainer ready to correct any mistake with his rod, and to the left
another jumper is swinging his halteres in a somewhat curious style, to
which we shall refer again. On the other side of the kylix we see
another trainer, a diskobolos, and another jumper, while a pick lies on
the ground.

Immediately before alighting the jumper quickly forces his arms
backwards, a movement which increases the length of the jump and enables
him to land firmly and securely. This moment is admirably represented on
a black-figured imitation Corinthian amphora in the British Museum (Fig.
67). The three lines underneath the jumper represent the jumps of other
competitors, as has been already explained. A somewhat later moment is
shown in an Etruscan wall-painting in a tomb at Chiusi.[552] The jumper
is in the very act of alighting and his body is almost straight.

[Illustration: Fig. 67. B.-f. amphora. British Museum, B. 48.]

The method of swinging the halteres and the positions depicted on the
vases seem at first sight more suitable for a standing jump than a
running jump, and the Greek jump has therefore been described usually as
a standing jump. A representation of a jumper running with halteres
occurs, however, on a number of vases both black-figured and
red-figured.[553] The realism of the earlier vases despite their
grotesqueness makes their evidence very valuable. The run as represented
on these vases is by no means incompatible with the use of the halteres.
It is not like the run of the modern long-jumper who uses his pace to
increase his spring, but like that of the high-jumper, consisting of a
few short, springy steps, intended to prepare the limbs and muscles for
the final spring. A somewhat exaggerated picture of such a run is seen
on a Panathenaic amphora at Leyden,[554] representing the pentathlon
(Fig. 108), and a later picture of it occurs on the interior of a
red-figured kylix by Euphronius (Fig. 68). A jumper running appears as
the device of a shield on a kylix in the British Museum, representing a
hoplitodromos arming for the race.[555] The run in all these cases is
similar, and is quite reconcilable with the upward and downward swings
of the halteres. The jumper starts with arms close to the side and takes
a short run, holding the halteres to the front. As he nears the bater he
checks himself in the manner represented in Fig. 64. As he does so he
swings the halteres upwards, and then with a slow stride forwards swings
them down again, and on the return swing takes off. Such a run is in
accordance with the practice of modern professionals who use jumping

[Illustration: Fig. 68. R.-f. kylix. (Klein, _Euphronius_, p. 306.)]

It seems, then, that the Greeks certainly practised the running jump,
and probably also the standing jump. In the pentathlon the somewhat
doubtful evidence of the Panathenaic amphorae is in favour of a running

The pentathlete in competition seems always to have used the halteres,
but in the gymnasia jumping was also practised without weights.
Sometimes the jumper is represented swinging his arms in the same way as
he does with the halteres, but on several vases a totally distinct type
occurs.[557] The jumper stands with both feet together, knees well bent,
and arms stretched to the front. On one vase he seems to be standing on
a low bema or platform, and opposite him is a short pillar, over which
Krause supposes he is preparing to jump. The attitude is, however, quite
as appropriate to the long jump as to the high jump, and on the interior
of a red-figured kylix in Munich we see an almost identical figure, but
with the pillar behind and not in front of him. The best example of this
attitude is found on a red-figured pelike belonging to Dr. Hauser (Fig.
69). Opposite to the jumper stands a robed trainer, stretching out his
hand with a familiar gesture of command. There can be no doubt that
these figures represent jumpers, but whether long jumpers or high
jumpers we cannot say for certain. What is certain is that the jump is a
standing jump.

[Illustration: Fig. 69. R.-f. pelike, belonging to Dr. Hauser. (_J.H.S._
xxiii. p. 272.)]

The use of jumping weights adds considerably to the length of jump
possible. The present record for the long jump without weights is 24
feet 11-3/4 inches, whereas with jumping weights and off a board 29 feet
7 inches has been cleared by a jumper, who unassisted could probably not
have jumped more than 21 feet. But neither weights nor spring-board can
explain the discrepancy between these figures and the feats ascribed to
the Greeks. Till recently it was commonly stated, and perhaps believed,
that the Greeks jumped 50 feet or more. Even if we make the fullest
allowance for the fact that jumping was a national exercise of the
Greeks, a single jump of 50 feet is a physical impossibility. Two
explanations are possible. Either the Greek jump was not a single jump
or the record is pure fiction.

It has been suggested that the Greek jump was a hop, step, and jump, in
which case the jump of 55 feet ascribed to Phaÿllus would be a very fine
performance, but not perhaps impossible. Unfortunately there is
absolutely no evidence in support of this suggestion. For the suggestion
that the jump was a triple jump some evidence may be found in the fact
that a triple jump is known in the present day in parts of Northern
Greece. By itself this fact can hardly be regarded as adequate proof,
and there is, I believe, good reason for discrediting all the evidence
on which the supposed record rests. The evidence consists in (1) the
well-known epigram on Phaÿllus, which states that he jumped 55
feet;[558] (2) various statements of scholiasts and lexicographers of
late and mostly uncertain date; (3) a passage in Africanus, who states
that one Chionis, an Olympic victor in Ol. 29 (_i.e._ seven or eight
hundred years before the time of Africanus), jumped 52 feet.

The 52 feet of Africanus is probably a simple mistake for 22 feet, which
is the reading of the Armenian Latin text. The various statements of
scholiasts and others can all be traced back to the epigram on Phaÿllus,
and to an explanation given by some collector of proverbs on the use of
the phrase “to jump beyond the pit,”[559] to denote something
extraordinary or excessive, and they have no independent value apart
from the epigram.

The Phaÿllus of the epigram is identified by the scholiasts with
Phaÿllus of Croton, who in the first half of the fifth century won two
victories in the pentathlon and one in the foot-race at Delphi, but won
no victory at Olympia. He fought at Salamis in a ship equipped at his
own expense. Aristophanes alludes to one Phaÿllus, probably the same
man, as a noted runner. He had a statue at Delphi which Pausanias saw,
and Alexander the Great is said to have honoured his memory by sending a
portion of his Asiatic spoils to Croton. He was evidently a popular
hero, just the sort of man about whose exploits all sorts of tales
arise. But though Herodotus, Aristophanes, Plutarch, and Pausanias all
mention him, they know nothing of the epigram or of the jump. Moreover,
according to one statement the epigram was inscribed on the basis of his
statue. Parts of this basis and of the inscription have been recently
found at Delphi, but, needless to say, there is no trace of the epigram.
When the epigram was written we cannot say. Certainly it is not a
contemporary commemorative epigram. We meet with it first in Zenobius, a
collector of proverbs who lived in the time of Hadrian, and the
artificiality of its style is characteristic of the epigrams of this
period. But whatever its date it can hardly be regarded as serious
evidence. The sporting story is notorious, and the sporting epigram is
even less trustworthy than the sporting story. The pages of the
_Anthology_ abound in epigrams on famous athletes such as Milo and
Ladas, some of them no less incredible. Milo, we are told in one
epigram, picked up a four-year-old heifer at Olympia, and after carrying
it round the Altis in triumph, killed it and ate it all in a single day.
Nobody has yet elaborated a theory to account for this extraordinary
gastronomic feat, and yet it rests upon just as good evidence as
Phaÿllus’ jump. The mere fact that the numbers five and ten were used by
the Greeks proverbially, just as we use the terms “half a dozen” or “a
dozen,” sufficiently explains why an epigrammatist wishing to describe a
prodigious jump should select such a number as fifty-five.

In Roman times the halteres were used as dumb-bells. The details of such
exercises preserved in medical writings prove that they were very
similar to those in use at the present day.[560] Antyllus describes
three kinds of this “halter-throwing” (ἁλτηροβολία). The first consists
in bending and straightening the arms, an exercise which strengthens the
arms and shoulders. In the other two exercises the arms are extended and
take little part in the movement, which consists in lunging with the
arms advanced as in boxing, or in alternately bending and straightening
the trunk. The former strengthens the legs chiefly, the latter the back.
Galen adds a variety of the latter exercise for strengthening the side
muscles of the body. The performer places the halteres 6 feet apart, and
standing between them picks up first the left-hand halter with his right
hand, next the right-hand halter with his left, and then replaces them,
repeating the movement. The prominence given to exercises for developing
the important muscles of the trunk is interesting, because the careful
representation of these muscles in Greek sculpture and on vases shows
that they were developed to a marked degree by the athletic exercises of
the Greeks. Wrestling, jumping, and throwing the diskos all helped to
develop these muscles. The absence of light clothing round the waist
contributed to the same result, and, above all, the fact that the Greek
stood and walked, but seldom sat. In the present day these muscles are
the worst developed of all muscles in the ordinary man, a result due
partly to the character of our games, partly to our clothing, chiefly to
our habit of sitting, and sitting in a radically wrong position. It is
to these causes that we may ascribe the general absence in the modern
figure of the roll of flesh above the iliac crest which is so prominent
in all ancient sculpture, and the difference in the form of the iliac

[Illustration: Fig. 70. R.-f. oinochoe. British Museum, E. 561.]

When were the halteres first used as dumb-bells? We have no definite
evidence, but I venture to suggest as probable that the practice began
about the time of the Persian wars, when the Greeks first consciously
realized the national importance of athletic training. The first signs
of such a use of the halteres occur on the red-figured vases. It began,
I conjecture, in connexion with the jump. We have seen how certain vase
paintings suggest that the various movements of the jump and the
swinging of the halteres were practised in classes and in rhythmical
time. Take the swing of the halteres and make of it a separate exercise,
and you have at once a familiar and valuable dumb-bell exercise. Not
that this exercise was practised by the Greeks at this period
consciously as a physical exercise; it was an exercise for jumpers, and
practised for the sake of the jump. It was soon found that the swinging
of halteres was useful for other exercises. In Fig. 66 we see to the
left a youth swinging the halteres sideways, his head is turned towards
his extended left arm, and his right arm is bent, the hand being level
with the breast. The type occurs on several vases, sometimes the left,
sometimes the right arm being extended, but the head is always turned
towards the extended hand. Now, if we compare this type with the type of
the javelin-thrower drawing back his javelin to throw, we shall find
that the position of body, arms, legs, and head is identical in the two
types. Does it not seem, then, that we have here a halter exercise
suggested by javelin-throwing, perhaps invented by the javelin-thrower
to develop the special muscles and practise the special positions
required for the throw? Perhaps we may recognize an intermediate
position of this swing on a red-figured oinochoe in the British Museum
(Fig. 70). In this sideways swing of the halteres we have another
familiar exercise of the modern gymnasium. Such exercises intended
originally for the jumper or javelin-thrower were subsequently adopted
by trainers and medical men, and were incorporated by them in their
systems of physical training. This conjectural history of the use of the
halteres is confirmed by the fact that on later vases, when athletic
scenes have given place to groups of idle epheboi, the halteres are
still frequently seen hanging on the wall as the symbol of athletic

Footnote 531:

  _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 60; Paus. v. 27, 8; vi. 3, 10.

Footnote 532:

  _Anacharsis_, 4.

Footnote 533:

  _Ep._ xv.

Footnote 534:

  _Lysistrata_, 82; cp. Krause, _Gym._ p. 398, n. 11.

Footnote 535:

  Aristoph. _Plut._ 1129; Plato, _Symp._ 190 D; cp. Krause, _Gym._ p.

Footnote 536:

  _Vide_ _J.H.S._ xxiv. pp. 74 ff.

Footnote 537:

  _J.H.S._ xxiv. pp. 70 ff., where I have shown that there is no
  distinction between σκάμμα and τὰ ἐσκαμμένα.

Footnote 538:

  Theocrit. iv. 10.

Footnote 539:

  _Gym._ 55 οὐ γὰρ συγχωροῦσι διαμετρεῖν τὸ πήδημα ἢν μὴ ἀρτίως ἔχῃ τοῦ

Footnote 540:

  All the evidence about Phaÿllus is collected and discussed in _J.H.S._
  xxiv. _l.c._

Footnote 541:

  Fig. 65; cp. _J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 186.

Footnote 542:

  This is clear from the proverb κέκρουκα τὸν βατῆρα.

Footnote 543:

  The bater is perhaps represented on a vase reproduced by Krause,
  _Gym._ ix. 23, as a small raised platform. We may remark that in this
  case the jump is a standing one and without halteres.

Footnote 544:

  Pollux, iii. 151. The so-called measuring ropes and compasses have
  been shown by Jüthner to be merely boxing thongs and amenta.

Footnote 545:

  Ἐφ. Ἀρχ., 1883, 190. Roberts and Gardner, ii. 391, give the
  inscription Ἁλ(λ)όμενος νίκησεν Ἐπαίνετος οὕνεκα τοῦδε ἁ.

Footnote 546:

  e.g. _supra_, Fig. 22; cp. Jüthner, _Antike Turngeräthe_, pp. 10, 11.

Footnote 547:

  _Gym._ 55. Dr. Jüthner in his _Antike Turngeräthe_, p. 11, identifies
  them, wrongly as I think, with the two early types. It is hard to see
  how either of these types could exercise the fingers.

Footnote 548:

  “They lighten the jump, serving as a guide to the hands, and enabling
  the jumper to land firmly and evenly.”

Footnote 549:

  Caelius Aurelianus, _De morb. acut. et chron._ v. 2, 38. Such
  sufferers are to be given “wax to mould, or _manipuli_, which athletes
  call halteres, to hold, and to move, either of wax or of wood, at
  first with only a little lead, afterwards gradually increased in

Footnote 550:

  Plutarch, _De musica_, 1140; Paus. v. 17, 10.

Footnote 551:

  For vase paintings representing jumpers in various positions _vide_
  _J.H.S._ xxiv. pp. 184 ff.

Footnote 552:

  Inghirami, _Mus. Chius._ cxxv.; Krause, ix. c. 25.

Footnote 553:

  _J.H.S._ xxiv. p. 187.

Footnote 554:

  _J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 260.

Footnote 555:

  _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 288, Fig. 15.

Footnote 556:

  Mr. George Rowdon, who formerly held the championship for the high
  jump, once gave me the following description of the method of using
  weights in the high jump: “The jumper starts about 14 yards from the
  posts, taking two-thirds of the distance with short, quick steps,
  scarcely swinging the weights at all, after which he takes one or two
  comparatively long, slow strides, swinging the bells together twice,
  and on the second swing taking off from the ground as the bells come
  to the front.” The weights used are usually 5 lb. dumb-bells or even
  heavier. The run for the long jump with such weights would be very
  similar, the chief difference being that while in the high jump the
  weights are thrown away at the moment of jumping, in the long jump
  they are retained.

Footnote 557:

  _J.H.S._ xxiv. pp. 193, 194.

Footnote 558:

  _Anth. Pal._ App. 297—

                  πέντ’ ἐπὶ πεντήκοντα πόδας πήδησε Φάϋλλος
                  δίσκευσεν δ’ ἑκατὸν πέντ’ ἀπολειπομένων.

  The argument in the following passage is stated more fully in _J.H.S._
  xxiv. pp. 77 ff., where the reader will find full references.

Footnote 559:

  ἄλλεσθαι ὑπὲρ τὸ σκάμμα. _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 71.

Footnote 560:

  In Oribasius, vi. 14. 34, the passages from Antyllus and Galen are
  quoted. The chapter of Oribasius on exercises contains a variety of
  interesting quotations from earlier medical writers.

Footnote 561:

  On this subject _vide_ Ernst Brücke, _The Human Figure_, translated by
  William Anderson, pp. 115 ff.

                               CHAPTER XV
                          THROWING THE DISKOS

It will be remembered that while frequent reference is made in the
Homeric poems to throwing the diskos,[562] the weight thrown at the
games of Patroclus was a lump of unwrought iron described as “solos.”
The word diskos seems already to have acquired its special athletic
meaning, but there is in Homer nothing distinctively athletic about
“solos,” which probably meant originally a boulder, then a mass of iron.
Later writers occasionally use “solos” as equivalent to diskos, and
scholiasts and lexicographers are much exercised in distinguishing the
two terms.[563] Their arbitrary and often contradictory distinctions
still find a place in our dictionaries and commentaries. The diskos,
they tell us, is flat, the solos round and ball-shaped; the diskos of
stone, the solos of metal; the diskos has a hole in it and is thrown by
means of a cord; the solos is solid. The first distinction is fairly
accurate: the diskos is more or less flat, the solos is a mass which may
be roundish. As to material, we know that the diskos was made in stone
and in metal; the solos might also be stone or metal. As to the hole and
cord, authorities differ: some assign them to the diskos, some to the
solos. That they belonged to the solos is disproved by every passage in
which the word is used; that they belonged to the diskos is still more
conclusively disproved by the monuments. The origin of this blunder,
which is ascribed to Eratosthenes, may perhaps be found in some popular
game in which a round object is bowled along by means of a cord wound
round it. A game of this sort called “ruzzola” is still played in parts
of Italy on the roads, much to the danger of pedestrians.[564] It is
played with round stones about a foot in diameter, or sometimes with
cheeses, which are believed to be improved by the treatment. A more
probable explanation of the mistake is that suggested to me by Mr. J. L.
Myres, and already accepted in Chapter II., that the scholia to _Iliad_
xxiii. have become dislocated, and that the hole and string belong not
to the diskos or the solos, but to the word καλαῦροψ mentioned in the
same passage. This word, usually interpreted as a shepherd’s staff, is
explained by Mr. Myres as a kind of bolas, an implement formed by a
string to which one or more perforated stones are attached, which is
used in the present day in South America for catching cattle, and is
still a plaything with boys in the country districts of Greece. Whatever
the explanation, the hole and string have nothing to do either with
diskos or with solos, nor is there any ground for the statement that the
solos was an athletic implement distinct from the diskos. The popular
translation of diskos as “quoit” is erroneous and most misleading.

[Illustration: Fig. 71. B.-f. amphora, in British Museum, B. 271.]

The diskos of the fifth century was of bronze, but the Homeric diskos
was of stone, and Pindar, therefore, makes the heroes Niceus and Castor
hurl the older stone diskos rather than the bronze diskos of his own
day.[565] The stone diskos is clearly represented on the black-figured
vases of the sixth century as a thick white object (Fig. 71), but the
metal diskos must have been introduced before the close of this century.
The British Museum possesses a bronze diskos found at Cephallenia which
bears a sixth-century inscription (Fig. 73).

[Illustration: Fig. 72. Bronze diskos found at Aegina. Berlin.]

There exist in our museums various inscribed and carved marble
diskoi.[566] But though in size and shape they differ little from the
bronze specimens, they are too fragile and thin for actual use, and
their inscriptions prove clearly that they are merely votive offerings.
The practice of inscribing and dedicating diskoi was an ancient one, as
we see from the diskos of Iphitos dedicated at Olympia. With regard to
the metal diskos we are more fortunate. Of the fifteen specimens which
we possess, four are probably votive offerings, but one of these
certainly, possibly three, had also been used; the rest were certainly
intended for use. Their weights and measurements can be best seen from
the following table:—

   Finding-place.  Museum.              Weight in Diameter Thickness
                                        kilos.    in cms.  in mms.

   1. Olympia      Olympia, _Inv._ 7567 5·707     34       5-13

   2. Corfu        B.M. 2691            3·992     23       6-13

   3. Gela         Vienna               3·800     28       7

   4. Amyclae      Athens, De Ridder,   3·349     19
                   _Cat._ 530

   5. Olympia      Olympia, _Inv._ 4257 2·945 (?) 22       6-12

   6. Olympia      Olympia, _Inv._      2·775     18       11-12

   7. Olympia      Rome, Museo          2·378     21, 21·5

   8. Olympia      Olympia, _Inv._ 2859 2·083     19, 22·5 3 at edge

   9. Sicily       B.M. 248             2·075     21       5

   10. Olympia     Berlin               2·023     17·5     9-10

   11. Aegina      Berlin               1·984     21

   12. Olympia     Berlin               1·721     20       7

   13. Olympia     Berlin, _Inv._ 2286  1·353 (?) 20·5     4

   14. Olympia     Olympia, _Inv._      1·268     17       4-12

   15. Cephallenia B.M. 3207            1·245     16·5     5

Of these diskoi No. 1 is ornamented with concentric circles and bears on
one side a dedication by the Corinthian pentathlete Publius Asclepiades,
on the other side the name of the alytarch. The difference in the date,
which is given respectively as Ol. 255 and 456, has been already
explained.[567] From its style and weight it is probable that it was
purely a votive offering and was never intended for use. Nos. 9 and 11
are of cast bronze, engraved on one side with the figure of a jumper, on
the other with that of a javelin-thrower (Fig. 72). The engraving
belongs to the best period except that of the javelin-thrower on the
British Museum diskos, which, if not actually spurious, is probably a
late addition. Though in weight and size they approximate closely to
Nos. 8 and 10, their flatness and the sharpness of their edges makes it
doubtful if they were ever actually used. No. 11 is also ornamented with
concentric circles. No. 3 had originally an inlaid dolphin, possibly of
silver. No. 12 is of lead and has probably lost considerably in weight.
No. 15, which is very badly worn, must also have been considerably
heavier (Fig. 73). It bears the following inscription in archaic letters
of the sixth century:[568] “Exoïdas dedicated me to the twin sons of
Great Zeus, the bronze diskos wherewith he conquered the high-souled

The dimensions of the diskos as represented in art correspond with those
given in our table. On the vases, too, the diskos is often ornamented
with concentric circles, as in Nos. 1 or 2, or with various forms of
crosses and dots; while the dolphin on the diskos from Gela has its
counterpart in the owl, the symbol of Athens, which is frequently
depicted on Attic vases.[569]

When not in use, the diskos was kept in a sort of sling, the two ends of
which were tied in a knot. In such a sling the diskos is often
represented hanging on the wall or carried in the hands of some youth
(Fig. 17).

[Illustration: Fig. 73. Diskos of Exoïdas. British Museum, 3207.]

It is difficult to form any definite conclusion as to the size and
weight of the diskos used in competitions. The diskoi are all more or
less worn, and the weights are therefore only approximate. They seem,
however, to fall into certain groups. The best marked group is formed by
Nos. 8-11 and perhaps 12, which suggest a standard of about 2·1 kilos.
Heavier standards are suggested by Nos. 2 and 3, and by Nos. 4 and 5,
say 4·0 and 2·8 kilos respectively, while Nos. 14 and 15 point to a
standard of 1·3. The difference between these standards is partially due
to the fact, vouched for by Pausanias, that boys used a smaller and
lighter diskos than men.[570] No doubt the standard varied greatly at
different times and places. At Olympia three bronze diskoi were kept in
the treasury of the Sicyonians[571] for the use of competitors in the
pentathlon, and it seems probable that the diskos used there was heavier
than that in use elsewhere.[572] Unfortunately, though there was only
one competition with the diskos at Olympia, there are great differences
in the eight diskoi found there, and no conclusion is possible even for
Olympia. If any inference can be drawn from the heavy votive diskos
dedicated by Publius in the third century A.D., it would be that in
later times the weight of the diskos was greatly increased, much, of
course, to the detriment of the sport. Certainly the lightest diskos
which we possess is the sixth-century diskos from Cephallenia.

The scanty records which we possess give us little help towards
determining the weight used. Phaÿllus is said to have thrown the diskos
95 feet, and Philostratus speaks of the hero Protesilaus throwing beyond
a hundred cubits, and that with a diskos twice the size of the
Olympian.[573] Statius, again, describes Phlegyas as hurling a diskos
across the Alpheus at its widest.[574] As far as they go, these data
agree with the one fact emphasized by ancient writers that the diskos
was a heavy object. In the revived Olympic games a diskos is used
weighing 2 kilos. It is made of wood with a metal core, and is a clumsy,
ugly object for which there is absolutely no authority, infinitely
inferior in every way to the ancient diskos. J. Sheridan threw it 135
ft. 8 in. at Athens in 1906, throwing in the free style, while in the
cramped and artificial Greek style he succeeded in throwing 124 ft. 8
in. in the games of 1908. It would seem then that the men’s diskos was
probably heavier than 2 kilos; usually but not always, for Exoïdas, as
we have seen, used one much lighter.

The place from which the diskos was thrown was called the βαλβίς. Our
knowledge of the balbis is derived entirely from an obscure and much
misunderstood passage in Philostratus,[575] describing the death of
Hyacinthus who was accidentally killed by Apollo with a diskos. “The
balbis,” he says, “is small and sufficient for one man, marked off
except behind, and it supports the right leg, the front part of the body
leaning forward while it takes the weight off the other leg which is to
be swung forward and follow through with the right hand.” Then follows a
description of the method of throwing the diskos, evidently based on
Myron’s diskobolos, perhaps an extract from some handbook of gymnastics.
“The thrower is to bend his head to the right and stoop so as to catch a
glimpse of his (right) side, and to throw the diskos with a rope-like
pull, and putting all the force of the right side into the throw.”

All that we learn from this passage is, that the balbis was marked off
by a line in front, and by lines on the side, but not behind, so that
the thrower could take as many preliminary steps as he chose. There is
nothing to show that it was in any way a raised platform, much less a
sloping platform such as has been adopted by the modern Greeks for the
so-called “Hellenic style.”[576] This extraordinary platform is 80 cm.
long by 70 cm. wide, with a height of not more than 15 cm. behind and
not less than 5 cm. in front. The only authority for this platform is
Dr. Kietz’ interpretation of an old, corrupt reading of the passage in
Philostratus just quoted. Even if the old text were correct its evidence
would be worthless in face of the manifest absurdity of the idea, and
the fact that in all the numerous representations of the diskobolos
there is not the slightest trace of such a platform. Again, the
following words, as has been pointed out, are an obvious reminiscence of
Myron’s diskobolos. Can any one conceive of Myron’s statue tilted
forward on a sloping platform? Were it so, there would be indeed some
excuse for Herbert Spencer’s criticism that he is about to fall on his

It is natural to suppose that in the stadium the diskos and spear were
thrown from the line of stone slabs which mark the start, and which are
also called βαλβῖδες. The stone pillars placed along the sides of the
course at regular intervals would have been useful for measuring the
distance of the throw. But there is no direct evidence for identifying
the balbis with the starting lines. In the Delphic inscription,
containing contracts for the Pythian festival,[577] we find mention of
“the arrangements for the pentathletes,” the contract for which was
eight staters. These would seem to refer to arrangements for the diskos
and spear competitions, _i.e._ the balbis and means for measuring the

The throw was measured from the front line of the balbis to the place
where the diskos or spear fell, and it is obvious that the competitor
might not overstep this line under penalty of disqualification.[578] In
the gymnasia this line might be marked out temporarily by means of
spears stuck in the ground on either side, or, as Dr. Pernice has
suggested, by a line traced on the sand, though I cannot agree with his
interpretation of certain vases on which he fancies the tracing of this
line to be represented.[579] The place where the diskos fell was marked
by a peg or arrow as described by Statius,[580] and on several vases we
see a diskobolos in the act of putting down or taking up such a mark
(Fig. 74).

[Illustration: Fig. 74. (_a_) R.-f. kylix. Chiusi. (_b_) R.-f. kylix.
Würzburg, 357, A.]

In the modern “free style” the diskos is thrown from a circular area
2-1/2 metres in diameter, and the method of throwing is a modification
of throwing the hammer, the thrower’s body making two or three complete
turns. There is no trace in ancient times of such a method or of a
circular area and, effective as it is, we may doubt if it would ever
have been invented but for the experience acquired in hammer-throwing or
in slinging weights.

Throwing the diskos has acquired a practical interest of late years
owing to the revival of this event in the modern Olympic Games.
Unfortunately neither of the styles at present in vogue can be regarded
as satisfactory from an archaeological standpoint. For our knowledge of
the ancient method of throwing we depend almost entirely on the
monuments. The scanty literary evidence has no independent value.
Fortunately the monumental evidence is exceptionally rich and varied.
The two statues—the Standing Diskobolos and Myron’s Diskobolos—are of
first-rate importance, such works being independent of the accidents
which affect the types in the lesser arts. Besides these we have a
multitude of vases, bronzes, coins, and gems connected with this
subject. Most of the schemes based upon this evidence are, however, more
or less unsatisfactory, because the authors have failed to recognise two
important factors.[581] In the first place, apparent divergence of type
is often due not to a difference in motive but to artistic causes, to
differences in material, or space, or to the age or style of the
artists. Secondly, though the principle of the Greek throw appears to
have been always the same, there can be no doubt that the styles of
individual performers were as varied as the styles of modern golfers,
and these differences of style were naturally reflected in art. Hence
the absurdity of endeavouring, as so many writers have done, to force
all the attitudes depicted on the vases into a single series of

The principle of the throw is clearly shown in Myron’s Diskobolos (Fig.
13). The thrower, taking his stand with the right foot forward, swings
or lifts the diskos to the front in his left hand, and then grasping it
with his right hand, swings it vigorously downwards and backwards,
turning both head and body to the right until he reaches the position
represented by Myron. The right foot is the pivot on which the whole
body swings. This swing of the body round a fixed point is of the
essence of the swing of the diskos as it is of the swing of a golf club.
The force comes not from the arms, which merely connect the body and the
weight, but from the lift of the thighs and the swing of the body.

If we confine ourselves to the two statues, we see that no movement of
the feet is necessary in the preliminary movements; but this simple
scheme fails to explain a number of vase paintings and bronzes
representing intermediate positions in which the diskobolos has his left
foot forward. There are two types of such frequent occurrence that we
may feel sure that they belong to the usual method of throwing the

[Illustration: Fig. 76. R.-f. kylix, in _British Museum_, E. 6.]

1. The diskobolos holds the diskos in front of him in both hands (Fig.

2. He holds the diskos flat in his right hand which is turned outwards
so that the diskos rests against the forearm. The left hand is usually
raised above the head.[582]

[Illustration: Fig. 77. B.-f. kelebe. British Museum, B. 361.]

The first of these positions is the natural connecting link between the
preliminary stance and Myron’s statue. If no movement of the feet took
place, we should expect to find that the right foot was always advanced.
In many cases this is so, but in the majority the left foot is advanced
(Fig. 77). This circumstance can hardly be due to accident, or
carelessness, or even to the tendency general in Greek sculpture to put
the left foot forward. The uniformity of other details is remarkable.
The advanced leg is always straight or nearly so, the other leg more or
less bent. The right hand always grasps the diskos, the left merely
supports it. We are forced to conclude, therefore, either that the
thrower took up his stand with the left foot forward, or that, as the
diskos swung forward in the left hand, the left foot was advanced. How
then did he pass from this position with the left foot forward to the
position of Myron’s statue? The change of feet may be effected in two
ways—either by making another step forward with the right foot, or by
drawing back the left foot. The former was the method adopted by some of
the competitors in the Olympic games of 1896. Starting with the left
foot forward, the thrower raised the diskos in both hands to a level
with the shoulders and at the moment of swinging it back advanced the
right foot, stepping forward again with the left in making the actual
throw. This method requires room for three steps, the impetus being
helped by this forward movement. The other method requires room only for
one step, and the pendulum-like swing of the left leg, first forward,
then back, and finally forward again, seems at least equally effective
as helping the swing of the body, like the preliminary waggle of a golf
club. Both methods are effective and it seems probable from the vases
that both were employed. The former method is suggested by Fig. 79, the
latter by Fig. 78.

[Illustration: Fig. 78. R.-f. krater of Amasis. Corneto.]

[Illustration: Fig. 79. R.-f. pelike, in British Museum, E. 395.]

[Illustration: Fig. 80. Interior of Fig. 66.]

An examination of the second type with the diskos flat in the right hand
confirms these conclusions. This type is an excellent illustration of
differences due to artistic causes. The attitude of the body varies from
the stiff upright pose of archaic bronzes and vases to the graceful
curves of the stooping figure on a vase assigned to Euphronius (Fig.
80). Sometimes the body is inclined forward, sometimes it is upright,
sometimes it is thrown well back. The essential point, however, is the
position of the arms, and this is always constant. The diskos rests
against the right forearm, and the left hand is raised above the head or
stretched to the front. There can be little doubt that in all these
cases the moment represented is the backward swing of the diskos. The
position of the right hand turned outward is necessary to prevent the
diskos from slipping while the left arm is raised to balance the body as
it swings. The best example of this type is a beautiful little bronze,
exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1903 (Fig. 81). Here the
right foot is well advanced, the right knee bent, and the weight, as in
Myron’s statue, rests entirely on the right leg, the left foot touching
the ground only with the toes. This is the normal position of the right
leg: but just as in the first type when the normal position was with the
left foot forward we found numerous exceptions with the right foot
advanced, so here the left foot is occasionally in front.[583] This
variation points to a variation in the style of throwing. A thrower who
has advanced the left foot in the forward swing, must, as we have seen,
either advance the right foot, or draw back the left to reach the
position of Myron’s statue. If he draws back the left foot, he may let
go the diskos with the left hand first, in which case we have the diskos
swinging back in the right hand and the left leg still advanced. If,
however, he draws back the left leg first, he will for a moment be still
holding the diskos in both hands but the right leg will be still
advanced, and it is noticeable that on vases which show this attitude,
the left foot rests very lightly on the ground and the body is slightly
inclined forward. The precise moment at which the change takes place is
just one of those details in which we should expect to find a difference
in style.

[Illustration: Fig. 81. Fifth-century bronze. (_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 18.)]

We see then that while the principle observed in Myron’s statue remained
constant, considerable latitude was allowed as to the movements of the
feet and the style of throwing. Bearing this in mind, we may proceed to
reconstruct the method of throwing.

[Illustration: Fig. 75. The Standing Diskobolos. Vatican. Copy of
fifth-century original.]

(_a_) _The Stance and Preliminary Movements._—After first rubbing the
diskos with sand to secure a firm grip as described by Statius, the
thrower takes his stand on the balbis, which is marked out by a line in
front, and possibly at the sides, but not behind, so that he may take as
many steps as he pleases. He takes his stand a little behind the front
line, carefully measuring with his eye the space which he requires, so
as not to overstep the line before the diskos has quitted his hand. This
is the precise moment represented in the Standing Diskobolos (Fig. 75).
The care with which the thrower is planting his right foot, the firm
grip which the toes are taking of the ground, and the consequent
contraction of the muscles of the calf, all indicate that though for the
moment the weight may rest on the left leg, it will immediately be
transferred to the right. The position is one of rest; but it is the
rest which precedes action, and every line of the figure betokens the
readiness for action. Particularly noticeable is the direction of the
head and eyes. The head is inclined to the right and slightly downwards,
and the eyes are fixed on the ground a few feet in front; he is, as I
said, measuring his distance. The right forearm is said to be modern; if
so, the restoration is particularly happy; the position of the arm is
found in certain bronzes resembling the statue, and the nervous curl of
the fingers appropriately suggests the alertness which characterises the
whole figure.

Starting, then, in this position, the thrower swings the diskos forward.
He may either keep the left leg stationary or bring it forward. In the
latter case he will be in the position depicted on the exterior of the
Panaetius kylix in Munich (Fig. 17). The left leg is advanced and
straight, the body leans forward, and the right hand is extended to the
front, ready to grip the diskos as it swings to the front. The
completion of the movement is shown on the interior of the same kylix
where the thrower grasps the diskos in both hands, his body leaning
backward with a pendulum-like movement preparatory to the swing

The position of the standing diskobolos is reproduced in certain bronzes
but does not occur on the vases. The latter suggest an alternative
method of starting, the diskos being swung forward not in the left hand
but in both hands. Such is perhaps the explanation of the figure on a
black-figured lekythos in the British Museum (Fig. 82) and of certain
other vases.

[Illustration: Fig. 82. B.-f. lekythos, in British Museum, B. 576.]

[Illustration: Fig. 83. Bronze statuette. New York.]

A totally distinct stance is represented by a fine bronze in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Fig. 83). The thrower stands
with the right foot forward and the diskos raised in the left hand level
with the head. A similar type occurs on several vases, the best of which
is a red-figured krater in the Ashmolean at Oxford.[584] From this
position the diskos is raised above the head in both hands. This moment
is represented in a bronze in the National Museum at Athens.[585] The
thumb of the left hand is turned inwards on the inside of the diskos,
whereas on the vases it is usually on the outside. The thumb could not
be on the inside if the diskos was swung upwards in the manner first
described. There can therefore be no doubt that we have here a totally
distinct style. A British Museum bronze (Fig. 84) carries the movement a
little further and shows the moment of transition to the downward swing.
The diskos, instead of being upright, lies flat on the palm of the right
hand, while the left hand only touches it lightly and is on the point of
letting go. Here, too, the thumb is on the inside. In all these bronzes
the right leg is advanced, and it seems probable, therefore, that there
has been no movement of the feet.

[Illustration: Fig. 84. Bronze diskobolos, in British Museum, 675.]

(_b_) _The Backward Swing._—At this point the left hand releases its
hold and the diskos is swung back in the right hand. If the right foot
is in front, no change of feet is necessary; if the left is in front,
either the left must be drawn back or the right foot advanced. The body,
which at the end of the swing forward was upright or inclined backwards,
is bent first forwards and then sideways, the head following the
movements of the body. The diskos is held flat in the hand and the hand
turned outwards till it passes the body. We have already seen several
representations of the early part of the swing. The later part is finely
represented on a red-figured kylix in the Louvre (Fig. 85), and a
fragment of an alabastron at Würzburg shows an interesting back view of
the same movement.

[Illustration: Fig. 85. R.-f. kylix. Louvre.]

The top of the swing is, of course, represented in Myron’s statue. An
interesting variation of the top of the swing occurs on a number of
coins of Cos belonging to the early part of the fifth century (Fig. 86).
These coins have been often misinterpreted and supposed to represent a
distinct moment either before or after the top of the swing. A few
experiments would convince any one that no one but a contortionist could
pass from this position to that of Myron’s statue or _vice versa_. An
examination of a series of these coins leads to the conclusion that the
peculiarities which they present are due to artistic causes. The maker
of the coin die has tried to represent the top of the swing from the
front, and the difficulty of the task has been too much for him. The
amount of foreshortening required to represent the forward bend of the
body was far beyond him, and even if it had not been, the success of the
result on a coin would be more than doubtful. He therefore adopted the
obvious expedient of bending the body to the right instead of forwards.
The bend of the right arm which is noticeable on some of the coins is
clearly due to considerations of space. The diskos is represented at
right angles to the body, because, if drawn parallel, it would appear
from the front as a thin line, which in so small a space would be almost
unrecognisable. The position of the unemployed left hand may point to a
difference in the style of throwing.

[Illustration: Fig. 86. Coins of Cos, in British Museum (enlarged).]

(_c_) _The Throw._—“The diskobolos,” says Lucian, speaking of Myron’s
statue, “seems as if he would straighten himself up at the throw.”[586]
At the beginning of the swing forward the extensor muscles come into
play, and by a vigorous lift from the right thigh the whole body is
raised and straightened. This momentary but most important movement is
cleverly represented on two vases, a Panathenaic vase in Naples and a
black-figured hydria in the British Museum (Figs. 87, 88).[587] The
attitude depicted is unique in Greek athletic art, which prefers
positions of comparative rest and equilibrium. But here we have a sort
of snapshot, an impressionist picture of a position almost too momentary
to be seen, too unstable to maintain. On the Panathenaic vase
especially, the thrower seems to be flying from the ground in a way
which recalls the figures of winged Victory so strongly as to suggest
the idea that the attitude is borrowed from that type. The diskobolos,
however, has no wings, and unless he quickly recovers his equilibrium by
advancing one foot, he must fall to the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 87. Panathenaic amphora. Naples, Racc. Cum. 184.]

The modern thrower in the Hellenic style does contrive to rid himself of
the diskos in this attitude without advancing the left foot, but the
throw inevitably suffers, and there is no evidence that the ancients
ever imposed such a restriction. Moreover, in the modern style the
downward swing of the diskos almost precedes the straightening of the
body; on the vase the body is already lifted while the diskos remains
behind. The inevitable conclusion is that the actual throw takes place
off the left foot which is advanced before the diskos leaves the hand.
This is the only rational method of throwing, and that this was the
method of the Greeks is proved by the evidence of literature and art.
“The left foot,” says Philostratus in the passage already quoted, “must
be swung forward and follow through with the right hand.” These words
are confirmed by the less definite language of Lucian and Statius, and
by the vases. A red-figured kylix at Boulogne (Fig. 89) shows the early
part of the movement, and the continuation is seen on a black-figured
hydria in Vienna (Fig. 90). On both vases the diskobolos strides forward
with the left leg.

The so-called bronze diskoboloi of Naples are said to represent the
movement after the throw, but this interpretation seems impossible, in
view of the position of the arms and the alertness and expectancy
expressed both by the figures and the heads, and I have no doubt that
they are really wrestling boys. Moreover, as the diskos leaves the hand,
the natural tendency is to advance the right foot to prevent the thrower
from falling forward, and in the bronzes the left foot is advanced. The
attitude of the follow through must have been somewhat similar to that
of the youth on the right hand in Fig. 89, but it is impossible with
certainty to identify such figures with diskos throwers.

[Illustration: Fig. 88. B.-f. hydria. British Museum, E. 164.]

[Illustration: Fig. 89. R.-f. kylix. Boulogne.]

In modern throwing competitions it is generally the rule that the
thrower may not overstep the line till the object has quitted the hand.
If this was the rule of the Greeks, the diskos thrower was not allowed
to overstep the line with the left foot; such a rule offers a natural
explanation of the position of the head in the Standing Diskobolos
described above. Dr. Pernice has recently tried to prove that the diskos
thrower took his stand with the right foot immediately behind the line,
and that it was this foot which was not allowed to cross the line. There
is little difference between his view and mine, seeing that in any case
the right foot is stationary till the throw is completed, and only
follows through after the diskos has left the hand. In support of his
view Dr. Pernice cites certain vases where, as he says, a figure is
seated on the ground carefully watching the thrower’s right foot.[588]
This evidence seems to me far from conclusive, seated figures being
commonly introduced in early art for the sake of variety or to fill
empty spaces. Moreover, this view does not explain the position of the
statue. In the dearth of further evidence no certainty is attainable.

A summary of the movements described may be useful—

    1. The stance.

        (_a_) Position of standing diskobolos (Fig. 75), or

        (_b_) Diskos held in both hands level with the waist (Fig. 82),

        (_c_) Diskos raised in left hand level with the head (Fig. 83).

From these positions, with or without a change of foot, the diskos is
raised to

    2. Position with left foot forward (usually) and diskos in both

        (_a_) Extended horizontally to the front (Fig. 76, etc.), or

        (_b_) Raised above the head.

    3. The diskos is swung downwards, resting on the right forearm. If
    the left foot is forward, either before or in the course of the

        (_a_) The left foot is drawn back (Fig. 78), or

        (_b_) The right foot is advanced (Fig. 79), so that we reach

    4. The position of Myron’s diskobolos (Fig. 13).

    5. At the beginning of the swing forward the body is straightened
    (Figs. 87, 88).

    6. And as the diskos swings down, the left foot is vigorously
    advanced (Figs. 89, 90).

    7. Finally after the diskos has left the hand, the right foot is
    again advanced.

[Illustration: Fig. 90. B.-f. hydria. Vienna, 318.]

We see then that the principle contained in Myron’s statue remains
fixed, while there is room for considerable diversity in style and
detail, especially in the movement of the feet. This scheme differs
essentially from both the styles employed in the modern Olympic games.
The “free style” abandons the principle; the so-called Hellenic style
demands a slavish adherence to an artificial model. When diskos-throwing
was first revived in Athens in 1896, the Greeks and other competitors,
taking for model Myron’s statue and untrammelled by theories, naturally
developed a style which certainly approximated to the true style of the
ancients. A new method was invented shortly afterwards by foreign
athletes, particularly Americans, who applied to the diskos the
principles employed in throwing the hammer and the heavy weight, in
which the force is gained by one or more complete turns of the body.
This method was certainly effective, but it was not Greek, and it
destroyed the distinctive character of the exercise. This annoyed the
Greeks, and to check such innovations they devised the so-called
“Hellenic style,” and in the last two Olympic games there were separate
competitions in the two styles. Unfortunately “the Hellenic style” is as
far removed from the true style as the free style. The throw is made
from the ridiculous sloping balbis already described, and it is ordained
that because Myron’s diskobolos has his right foot forward, the right
foot must be kept forward till the completion of the throw. A more
senseless restriction it is hard to imagine. Not only is it fatal to all
grace and freedom of movement, but it shows a complete misunderstanding
of the statue, and is, as we have seen, contrary to all the evidence of
literature and art. The mistake is much to be regretted. Diskos-throwing
is a valuable and graceful exercise, which well deserves to find a place
in our modern sports; but if ever it is to regain its popularity, it
must be by a return to the true methods of the ancients.

In heroic times throwing the diskos was a separate event, and various
gods and heroes excelled therein; in historical times it only occurs as
part of the pentathlon, and as such it was accompanied by the flute as
represented in Fig. 77. The only separate competition with the diskos
was at Olbia, a Milesian colony in Scythia, at the festival of Achilles
Pontarches.[589] The diskos, however, seems to have played an important
part in the life of the gymnasium and palaestra if we may judge from the
frequent allusions to it in literature and the countless representations
of it in art. It even won favour with the Romans, who despised most
Greek sports, and Horace mentions throwing the diskos and the javelin as
manly exercises fit for a young soldier.[590] As a physical exercise it
was certainly valuable. According to Lucian it strengthened the
shoulders and gave tone to the extremities.[591] Doctors approved of it,
and Aretaeus recommends it as a cure for chronic headache and

Footnote 562:

  For this chapter _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxvii. 1-36, where full references
  will be found; and Jüthner’s _Antike Turngeräthe_, pp. 18 ff.

Footnote 563:

  References collected by Jüthner, pp. 19-21.

Footnote 564:

  Dodwell, _Tour through Greece_, 1819, ii. p. 39.

Footnote 565:

  _Ol._ x. 72; _Isthm._ i. 23.

Footnote 566:

  Cambridge, _Fitzwilliam Museum_, 70, 72; Kavvadias Ἰλυπτὰ τοῦ Ἐθνικοῦ
  Μους. 93; Salzmann, _Nécropole de Camiros_, Pl. viii.

Footnote 567:

  _supra_, p. 183.

Footnote 568:

  Ἐχσοίδα(ς) μ’ ἀνέθηκε ΔιϜὸς Φο(ύ)ροιν μεγάλοιο χάλκεον ᾦ νίκασε
  Κεφαλ(λ)ᾶνας μεγαθύμους.

Footnote 569:

  Jüthner, pp. 28, 29; Figs. 21, 22, 23.

Footnote 570:

  Paus. i. 35, 3.

Footnote 571:

  Paus. vi. 19, 3.

Footnote 572:

  Philostratus, _Heroic._ p. 291.

Footnote 573:


Footnote 574:

  _Theb._ vi. 675.

Footnote 575:

  _Im._ i. 24 (Benndorf and Schenkl). Fully discussed in _J.H.S._ xxvii.
  9; cp. Jüthner in _Eranos Vindob._ p. 317; Pernice in _Jahrb._, 1908,
  p. 95.

Footnote 576:

  Cp. G. S. Robertson, “On throwing the Discos,” in _Official Handbook
  of the Olympic Games, 1908_, pp. 79-85.

Footnote 577:

  _vide_ p. 261.

Footnote 578:

  This is the obvious meaning of μὴ τέρμα προβάς in Pindar, _Nem._ vii.

Footnote 579:

  In _Jahrb._, 1908, pp. 95 ff., he enumerates Gerh. _A. V._ 22, Naples
  3084, _B.M. Vases_, E. 256. On the B.M. vase we see a familiar type of
  a youth preparing to throw a javelin; the vase in Gerh. represents the
  same type, but left-handed, whether by accident or intention; the
  Naples vase is equally inconclusive.

Footnote 580:

  _Theb._ vi. 679-712.

Footnote 581:

  _Vide_ Kietz, _Diskoswurf_, Munich, 1892. Six in _Gaz. Archéolog._
  1888, 291. Jüthner _l.c._ Chryssaphis, _Bulletin du Comité des Jeux
  Olympiques 1906_, p. 57. Criticisms of these schemes will be found in
  _J.H.S._ _l.c._

Footnote 582:

  A full list of the vases and bronzes representing these two types is
  given in _J.H.S._ _l.c._ pp. 14-24.

Footnote 583:

  _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 18.

Footnote 584:

  No. 561.

Footnote 585:

  No. 7412. Cp. r.-f. amphora, Munich, 374, published in Hoppin’s

Footnote 586:

  _Philopseud._ 18.

Footnote 587:

  Dr. Jüthner deduces from these vases his theory of the _Kreisschwung_,
  an impossible method of throwing the diskos by whirling the arm right
  round, for a criticism of which _vide_ _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 33.

Footnote 588:

  Gerh. _A. V._ 260, Naples 3084, _B. M. Vases_, B. 361 (Fig. 77), and a
  lekythos in Boulogne (_J.H.S._ _l.c._ Fig. 22).

Footnote 589:

  _C.I.G._ i. 2076.

Footnote 590:

  _Carm._ i. 8, 10.

Footnote 591:

  _Anacharsis_, 27.

Footnote 592:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 464, n. 9.

                              CHAPTER XVI
                          THROWING THE JAVELIN

The javelin used in Greek sports is called variously ἄκων, ἀκόντιον,
μεσάγκυλον, ἀποτομάς.[593] The latter term appears to denote merely a
lath or stick, and accurately describes the javelin as represented on
the vases. A straight pole, in length nearly equal to the height of a
man, though occasionally longer, and about the thickness of a man’s
finger, it is one of the commonest objects in palaestra scenes, whether
in use or planted in the ground singly or in pairs, perhaps to mark a
starting-line for jump or throw. These rods were formerly described as
jumping-poles, but the fact that the throwing-strap or ankyle is often
attached to them proves that they are nothing more than javelins. At the
same time there is no reason why they should not have served as
measuring rods (κανόνες) for measuring the jump, a use which is perhaps
represented on the British Museum kelebe (Fig. 77).

The athletic javelin is in the vast majority of cases pointless. On
early black-figured vases such as the kelebe just mentioned, it is
represented by a black line which seems to taper, but this is a mere
accident of technique, the natural result of a line drawn with a single
rapid stroke of brush or pen. On the red-figured vases the rod is
usually square at the end, and often appears to have a blunt cap or
ferule, indicated by a thickening of the end, or by a black patch or by
lines which represent the binding by which it is attached. Such, we may
suppose, were the javelins which Xenophon recommends cavalry soldiers to
use in practice, provided with a round end (ἐσφαιρωμένα) like the button
on the modern foil or bayonet.[594] These caps served not only for
protection, but to give to the head of the javelin the necessary weight,
without which it would not fly properly. Blunt javelins were naturally
used for practice, especially for distance throws.

Pointed javelins are rarely represented in athletic scenes; but their
use even in practice is shown by the speech of Antiphon in defence of a
youth who accidentally hit and killed a boy who ran across the range as
he was throwing.[595] On the vases which represent javelin throwing on
horseback at a target, the javelins are all pointed, and in two cases
have long leaflike heads such as we see in hunting scenes.[596] For
throwing at a target, pointed javelins were necessary, at all events in
competitions: but the enormous preponderance of the blunt javelins
justifies the conclusion that these were generally used for practice,
and that, down to the close of the fifth century distance-throwing was
more usual than throwing at a target.

Whether pointed or blunt, the athletic javelin was evidently a light
weapon, and Anacharsis contemptuously contrasts it with more formidable
weapons which are not carried about by the wind.[597] It was thrown by
means of a thong, called ἀγκύλη or amentum, fastened near the centre of
the javelin, which was therefore called μεσάγκυλον. The amentum was a
leather thong, a foot or eighteen inches in length, if we may judge from
the numerous representations of a javelin thrower (ἀκοντιστής) holding
the javelin in one hand, and the thong in the other.[598] It was
detachable, but before use was firmly bound round the shaft, in such a
way as to leave a loop three to four inches long, in which the thrower
inserted his first, or his first and middle fingers. The point of
attachment was near the centre of gravity, in the lightheaded javelins
of athletics almost in the centre of the shaft, in the heavier javelins
of war or the chase generally nearer to the head. Possibly, too, its
place varied, according as the javelin was to be thrown for distance, or
at a mark. By putting the amentum behind the centre of gravity, it is
possible to increase the distance thrown, but at a sacrifice of
accuracy. Hence the athlete fastened it to suit his taste shortly before
use. On the British Museum hydria shown in Fig. 88 a youth is seated on
the ground in the act of attaching the amentum. On a red-figured kylix
at Würzburg (Fig. 91) we see a youth winding the amentum round the
shaft, while he holds the other end tight with his foot. Some of the
ways in which the amentum was fastened can be seen in the accompanying
illustration. The clearest example is that from the Alexander Mosaic in
Naples (Fig. 92_e_). In every case it is only the actual loop which is
left free.

[Illustration: Fig. 91. R.-f. kylix. Würzburg, 432.]

The amentum was no invention of the gymnasium but was adopted by the
gymnasium from war and the chase. Whether it was used in Homeric times
we cannot say. The principle of the sling was certainly known to the
Homeric shepherd, and besides the long-shadowing spear of the chieftain,
there was a lighter and shorter weapon (αἰγανέη) which like the bow was
used for hunting, and by the common soldiery in war and in sport. The
warrior vase from Mycenae[599] shows two types of spear, a long spear
clenched firmly in the hand, and a short spear raised almost at arm’s
length behind the head, the hand being pointed as if the fingers were
extended as they are in holding the amentum.

From the sixth century onwards the amentum was used for throwing the
javelin in war, in hunting, and in the chase. It is frequently
represented on early black-figured vases. Its use is admirably shown on
the interior of a Chalcidian kylix in the British Museum, where a fully
armed warrior with his fingers inserted in the thong, prepares to throw
a javelin with a sort of underhand throw, a throw in which certain
savages to-day are said to be extraordinarily skilful (Fig. 93). The
more usual overhand throw is employed by some of the warriors on the
François vase (Fig. 94), who advance to the attack with arms drawn back
and fingers inserted in the thong in the manner which Xenophon
recommends to his peltasts.[600] The fingering and the whole attitude
are precisely the same as we find in athletic scenes, except that in the
latter the head is usually turned backward, a position obviously
ill-suited to the warrior or hunter. In a boar-hunting scene, depicted
on a Corinthian vase in the British Museum, B. 37, javelins fitted with
amenta are seen sticking in the boar’s back, a clear proof that they
were fixed to the shaft and did not remain in the thrower’s hand.

[Illustration: Fig. 92. Various methods of attaching the amentum.
(_J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 250.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 94. François vase. Florence.]

The light javelin, fitted with the amentum, was primarily intended for
throwing; but the vases show that it could also be used for thrusting or
stabbing, in which case the thong served as a convenient handle or grip.
It also marked the proper place to grasp the javelin, and is therefore
occasionally represented on the long spear, which, though generally used
for thrusting, could on occasions be thrown. These long spears were the
weapons of the Homeric chieftains and of the hoplites who formed the
chief strength of the Greek forces at the time of the Persian wars. The
light javelin was the weapon of the common soldiery and light-armed
troops, and its real importance dates from the closing years of the
Peloponnesian War, when the value of light-armed troops and cavalry
began to be realized. These light-armed troops were mostly mercenaries,
Lydians, Mysians, Arcadians, Aetolians, Thessalians, Thracians. All
these races were skilled in the use of the javelin. At Athens, where the
cavalry were recruited from the ranks of the young nobles, the javelin
was the special weapon of the ephebos, who is frequently represented on
horseback, holding in his hand a pair of javelins. Javelin throwing was
an important part of his training; competitions in it were multiplied,
and in the third century B.C. we find special teachers of the javelin,
ἀκοντισταί, engaged by the state to train the epheboi at Athens and

[Illustration: Fig. 93. B.-f. kylix. British Museum, B. 380.]

The distribution of the amentum[602] is a point of some interest and
importance. It does not seem to have been a Greek invention. It was
known at an early date in Italy, and was freely used by Etruscans,
Samnites, and Messapians, but it does not appear to have been used in
the Roman army till after the Punic Wars. The tragula, the weapon of the
Spanish in the second Punic War, was thrown with an amentum. In Caesar’s
time it was the weapon of the Gallic cavalry. From this time it was
widely used by the light-armed mercenaries. There are traces of the
amentum on the Roman weapons found at Alise Sainte Reine, and we even
find it attached to the heavy spear of the legionary. Going yet further
afield, we find it represented on an embossed sword-belt discovered at
Watsch in Austria, and there is reason to suppose that the light
javelins found at La Tène were thus thrown. Undoubtedly the amentum was
known in Denmark in the early Iron Age. Remains of it have been found at
Nydam. The spears found there are 8 to 10 feet long. On the middle of
the shaft are often visible certain small bronze rivets, between which a
cord was fastened. In some cases the cord was found still fastened
between the rivets. Lastly, we find the amentum frequently mentioned in
old Irish story. Thus in the battle of Moyreth “Cuanna, pressing his
foot on the solid earth, put his finger in the string of his
broad-headed spear and made a cast at Congal.” This loop, called
_suanem_ or _suaineamh_, was made of silk or flax, and the laigan or
spear to which it was attached is said to have been brought to Ireland
by Gaulish mercenaries in the fourth century B.C. An interesting
survival of this old Irish spear with its loop is seen in a picture of
Captain Thomas Lee, painted in 1594, now in the possession of Lord

We see, then, that the amentum was known throughout Greece and Italy, in
Spain and Gaul, in Central Europe, in Denmark, and Ireland. The light
javelin to which it belongs is the weapon of the less highly civilized
peoples. It is a weapon of the chase and of the common people, but it
plays little part in the heavily-equipped citizen armies of Greece and
Rome. In both lands it comes into prominence with the organization of
light-armed troops, and then chiefly as the weapon of subject states and
mercenaries. Hence we are forced to the conclusion that the amentum was
the invention of the tribes of Central Europe, and in the course of
their wanderings was carried throughout the southern and western
portions of the Continent.

[Illustration: Fig. 95. Illustrations of the use of the throwing-thong.
_a_, _b_, Jüthner, Figs. 47, 48. Reconstruction of throw. _c_, Detail
from _B.M. Vases_, B. 134. _d_, The ounep of New Caledonia.]

The fixed amentum does not appear to be known outside Europe, but
somewhat similar contrivances exist to-day among savage tribes. Such is
the ounep used by the people of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. It
is a thickish cord, 6 or 8 inches long, with a loop at one end and a
knot at the other. The spears are 9 to 12 feet long, with a slight
projection just behind the centre of gravity, behind which the cord is
placed and twisted over the knot in such a way as to untie as the spear
is thrown, remaining itself in the thrower’s hand. Examples of it can be
seen in the Ethnographical Gallery of the British Museum, and our
illustration is taken from a drawing exhibited there (Fig. 95). A
combination of this thong with the throwing-stick is found in New
Zealand. The throwing-stick is by far the commonest contrivance for
increasing the throw of a spear. It is widely used in Australia,
Melanesia, Central America, and among the Eskimos, but is unknown in
Europe, although throwing-sticks made of bone appear to have been used
by Palaeolithic man in France.

The working of the amentum can be easily understood from our
illustration. In preparing for an overhand throw the spear rests on the
web between the thumb and fingers, but is really held by the two fingers
inserted in the loop and projecting above the shaft. At the moment of
throw the position is reversed; the pull on the amentum gives a
half-turn to the shaft, and the javelin is held only by the amentum, the
fingers being below the shaft. The action of the amentum is similar to
that of the rifling of a gun. By imparting a rotatory movement to the
missile it not only helps it to keep its direction but also increases
its carry and penetrating power. The carry is further increased by the
additional leverage given to the thrower’s arm. It is obvious that, as
Philostratus points out,[603] length of finger was a considerable
advantage to a javelin thrower.

The effect of the amentum on a light javelin has been demonstrated by
practical experiments carried out by General Reffye for the Emperor
Napoleon. It was found that a javelin which could only be thrown 20
metres by hand could, after a little practice, be thrown 80 metres, with
the help of an amentum. Jüthner further records that an inexperienced
thrower increased his throw from 25 to 65 metres by its use. The meaning
of these figures can be realised from the fact that the record for
javelin throwing made by Lemming, the winner at the Olympic games, was
only 57·33 metres. It must be noted, however, that the javelin used in
these games was a heavy one, weighing 800 grammes (about 2 lbs.),
whereas the Greek javelin was very much lighter.[604]

[Illustration: Fig. 96. R.-f. psykter. Bourguignon Coll.]

The method of throwing the javelin is clearly shown on the vases. Two
things are necessary: the amentum must be firmly fastened to the shaft,
and the loop must be drawn tight by the fingers before the throw. The
fastening of the amentum has been already described. On a red-figured
psykter (Fig. 96) we see the next stage in the preparation. A group of
youths are preparing to practise under the supervision of a paidotribes
and his assistant, while two other paidotribai are occupied with a pair
of wrestlers. Two of the youths are testing the bindings; resting one
end of the javelin on the ground, and holding it firm with their left
hand, they pass the right hand along the shaft to see that the binding
is secure. A third in the same position is passing his fingers through
the loop, the lines of which have disappeared. A fourth has already
inserted his fingers in the loop, and, raising the javelin breast-high,
presses it forward with his left hand so as to draw the thong tight.

Two styles of javelin throwing can be distinguished, one in which the
javelin is horizontal, the other in which it is pointed more or less
upwards. The horizontal style is the practical style of war or the
chase, the other the style of pure athletics. In the latter distance is
the one and only object, and the thrower may take his time; in the
former distance is only a secondary consideration compared with force
and accuracy, and everything depends on rapidity of action. It is the
difference between throwing in a cricket ball from the long field and
throwing it in competition.

(_a_) _The Practical Style._—The soldier or hunter must have his javelin
ready for use at a moment’s notice. He therefore carries it with his
fingers passed through the loop (διηγκυλισμένος). He may carry it
horizontally at his side, as does the warrior in Fig. 93, but a freer
and more natural position is with the arm bent and the javelin sloped
over the shoulder and pointed downwards. From this position he can draw
his arm straight back for the throw, or raise the elbow so that the
javelin is level with his head, the natural position for taking aim.
This manner of holding the javelin is implied or represented in numerous
scenes of war or the chase, and is equally serviceable on horseback or
on foot. Perhaps the best examples of it occur on two Panathenaic vases
representing the pentathlon, one in the British Museum, the other in
Leyden (Figs. 107, 108). On the Leyden vase the akontistes carries his
javelin still on the slope; so does the athlete who heads the procession
on the British Museum vase, but the other akontistes has raised it
horizontally. This position with the javelin poised on a level with the
head is the natural position for starting, whether the thrower uses an
amentum or not. The javelin may remain in this position during the run,
or may be at once drawn back. Where time was no object, the thrower
might, before starting to run, adjust the javelin by pressing the point
back with the left hand, in the manner represented on a black-figured
stamnos in the Museo Gregoriano (Fig. 97).

[Illustration: Fig. 97. B.-f. stamnos. Vatican.]

From the carry the arm is drawn back to its full extent, as shown on the
François vase (Fig. 94). In the actual throw the movement is reversed,
arm and spear travelling back through the same positions, except that
when the amentum is used the hand at once releases the shaft of the
spear, which is merely held by means of the thong. A realistic picture
of this moment is shown on an early black-figured vase from the
Acropolis, the lower zone of which contains a cavalry fight between
archers and javelin throwers (Fig. 98).

[Illustration: Fig. 98. B.-f. vase. Acropolis, Athens, 606.]

This style of throw is typical of the black-figured vases, and quite
distinct from that which we find general on the red-figured vases of the
fifth century. It is the practical style of the chase and of war adapted
to sport. It is, of course, the natural style for throwing at a target,
and at first sight one is tempted to suppose that this is what the
artists wish to represent; but the care with which they emphasize the
bluntness of the javelins is conclusive for a distance throw.

(_b_) _The Athletic Style._—The purely athletic character of the style
depicted on the red-figured vases is obvious from the most casual
inspection. Till the actual moment of the throw the head is turned
backwards, the eyes fixed on the right hand, a position equally absurd
for war, or the chase, or aiming at any sort of mark. After carefully
adjusting and testing the amentum in the manner described, and inserting
one or two fingers in the loop, the thrower extends his right arm
backwards to its full extent, while, with his left hand opposite his
breast, he holds the end of the spear, and pushes it backwards to draw
the thongs tight. The spear is sometimes horizontal, sometimes pointed
downwards, as we see it on the British Museum amphora, E. 256 (Fig. 99).
On this vase it will be noticed that the little finger and the third
finger, which play no part in the practical style in which the spear is
poised above the shoulder, are required to keep the javelin steady when
the right hand is dropped.

[Illustration: Fig. 99. R.-f. amphora, in British Museum, E. 256.]

[Illustration: Fig. 100. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 562 A.]

[Illustration: Fig. 101. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 3139 inv.]

As the thrower starts to run, he draws his right hand still further
backwards, turning his body sideways, and extends his left arm to the
front. On a Munich kylix (Fig. 100) we see two consecutive positions;
the youth on the left still steadies the javelin with his left hand, the
youth on the right has just let go. The next moment, with the left hand
fully extended to the front, is represented on a kylix in Berlin (Fig.
101). From the position of the head and arm it is obvious that the
violent, rapid run, of which some authors speak, is an impossibility.
Just as in throwing a cricket ball, the run consists of a few short,
springy steps. Immediately before the throw a further turn of the body
to the right takes place, the right knee being well bent and the right
shoulder dropped, while the hand is turned outwards, so that the shaft
almost rests on the palm of the hand. This attitude is vividly depicted
on a Torlonia kylix (Fig. 102).

[Illustration: Fig. 102. R.-f. kylix. Torlonia, 270 (148).]

The actual throw is very rarely shown, and the artists who attempt it
fall into hopeless confusion. For example, on the Munich kylix (Fig.
100) the youth in the centre is intended to be throwing a javelin to the
right, but the fingering of the right hand is only compatible with a
throw to the left. Not much better is the drawing of the javelin thrower
on the Panaetius kylix (Fig. 17). Here, as in a red-figured amphora in
Munich (Fig. 103), though the general attitude is vigorous and lifelike,
the position of the hand is hopeless, the wrist being curved over the
shaft instead of bent back under it. The amentum too is conspicuous by
its absence. The carelessness of the painters of red-figured vases in
such details is in marked contrast to the carefulness of the earlier
painters. This is partly due to the fact that the athletic types have
become conventional, partly to the fact that, whereas in the
black-figured vases the amentum was painted black like the spear itself,
on the red-figured vases it had to be added in some other colour,
usually white or purple, after the rest of the drawing was finished.
Hence this detail was often omitted altogether, or if inserted, was the
first to be obliterated.

[Illustration: Fig. 103. R.-f. amphora. Munich, 408.]

The javelin was usually thrown with a short run, but one or two vase
paintings suggest that a standing throw was also practised. Such is the
figure on a kylix in Rome (Fig. 104), the attitude being evidently
borrowed from that of the diskobolos. Possibly the Torlonia kylix may
also represent a standing throw.

[Illustration: Fig. 104. R.-f. kylix. Rome(?) (Jüthner, _Ant. Turn._
Fig. 43.)]

Was the javelin thrown with the left hand as well as the right? Plato
recommends the training of both hands alike, and the fact that the Greek
always carried two javelins, often one in either hand, renders the
suggestion possible. But the only direct proof of a left-handed throw is
a figure on a kylix of Nicosthenes in Berlin.[605] Even if a left-handed
throw was practised in the gymnasia, there is no evidence of it in
competitions. Nor is there any evidence to show that the Greeks ever
threw the javelin without the amentum. The omission of the amentum on
the vases is a detail too untrustworthy to warrant us in drawing any
definite conclusion from it.

It is hardly necessary to point out that the vases in which the spear is
pointed upwards offer no support at all to the remarkable theory that
the Greeks practised high throwing “le tir en haut,” as it is described
by a French writer. To obtain the maximum of distance it is, of course,
absolutely necessary to throw high. A similar theory has been put
forward for the diskos. One wonders how “le lancement en haut” of the
diskos was measured.

In the games of Patroclus javelin throwing was a separate event. Here,
and wherever it is mentioned in Homer as a sport, the competition is for
distance only. Throwing at a mark may be implied in the association of
javelin throwing with the bow, which meets us again in fourth-century
inscriptions, and Pindar definitely refers to such a competition when he
describes how at the founding of the Olympic games “Phrastor with the
javelin hit the mark.”[606] On a fragment of a large vase found on the
Acropolis which represents the funeral games of Pelias a javelin
competition is shown. The prize is a tripod, and the javelins are not
the blunt weapons of the palaestra, but have broad metal points. On one
of them the amentum is clearly shown.[607]

As the weapon of the chase, every Greek boy must from boyhood have
practised throwing the javelin both for distance and at any improvised
target. At an early date its use was taught in the gymnasia, and its
popularity is shown by the numerous representations of it in art, and by
the frequent metaphors which Pindar borrows from it. But in the Greek
games, at least, the javelin, like the diskos, only figured as part of
the pentathlon, and with the exception of the competition on horseback
at Athens, there is no evidence for any separate competition for javelin
throwing, either for distance or at a target, till the fourth century.

Towards the close of the fifth century increased importance was given to
the javelin as the weapon of light-armed troops and of the epheboi; and
from the fourth century onwards we find ἀκοντισμός quoted in
inscriptions as a separate competition at Athens and elsewhere.[608] The
association of the javelin and the bow suggests that in these
competitions some sort of target was used, and the case cited by
Antiphon proves the use of a target and pointed javelins in practice.
But the only direct evidence for such a competition, apart from that on
horseback, is furnished by two later inscriptions from Larisa of the
time of Hadrian which mention victors σκοπῷ πεζῶν and σκοπῶ ἱππέων.[609]

What was the character of the competition in the pentathlon? The
question has been discussed at wearisome length by commentators on
Pindar and others, but Dr. Jüthner’s conclusion seems to me
incontestable, namely, that the competition in the pentathlon was one
for distance only.

On this point the evidence of the vases seems conclusive. The javelins
are blunt, the head is turned backward just before the throw, and there
is no sign of any target. The last point is particularly convincing
because in the competition on horseback the target is always
represented. Certain archaeologists, it is true, have discovered
evidence of targets in the badly-drawn amenta held in the hand of the
javelin thrower on the Panaetius kylix and other vases. These have been
interpreted as compasses for drawing circles on the ground at which the
throwers aimed; or again as a sort of croquet-hoop stuck in the ground
to serve as target! The authors of these delightful suggestions forget
that the hunter or soldier does not aim at his opponent’s feet but at
his body, and that if a target is used it is at a reasonable height.

The literary evidence agrees with that of the vases. The passages of
Pindar referring to a mark, with the exception of the passage already
quoted on the Olympic games, have no necessary connexion with any
competition, certainly none with the pentathlon. They are metaphors
borrowed from the practice of everyday life. One passage in Pindar
certainly refers to the pentathlon, two others possibly; all three
indicate a distance-throw.[610] Lastly, Lucian, in a passage referring
to Olympia and therefore to the pentathlon, definitely states that in
throwing the javelin athletes compete for distance.[611]

[Illustration: Fig. 105. R.-f. kylix. Berlin, 2728.]

The conditions for throwing the javelin must have been similar to those
for the diskos. The competitors threw from behind a line which they were
not allowed to overstep. This line was perhaps the starting-line of the
stadium; it is certainly the τέρμα of Pindar’s Seventh Nemean Ode. It
appears probable from this ode that a competitor who overstepped the
line was disqualified from taking any further part in the competition.
On a kylix in Berlin the line is marked by a pillar in front of, or
perhaps on a level with, the thrower (Fig. 105). Further, common-sense
and the safety of the spectators required that the throw should keep
within certain limits as regards direction; and this is implied by
Pindar when in the first Pythian he prays that his throw may not fall
“outside the lists,” ἔξω ἀγῶνοσς, but that with a far throw he may
surpass all his rivals.

The javelins which we see so frequently sticking in the ground in
palaestra scenes have been adduced as an argument to prove that no throw
counted unless the javelin stuck in the ground; clearly an impossible
condition with blunt javelins on the hard-baked ground of Greece. How
the throw was measured we know no more than in the case of the diskos.
Nor do we know how many throws were allowed. Various scraps of evidence
have been brought forward to prove that two or three throws were
allowed, but the evidence is quite inconclusive.

We have seen that from an early date the javelin was employed by
horsemen, both in war and in the chase. At Athens, especially,
horsemanship, was the duty and also the recreation of the richer
classes. Plato tells us that Themistocles himself taught his son
Cleophantus not only to ride but to throw the javelin standing on
horseback, and in the _Laws_ he recommends javelin throwing on horseback
as a useful accomplishment.[612] Xenophon,[613] in his treatise on the
duties of a cavalry officer, urges the latter to encourage his men to
practise the javelin and to stir up emulation among them by offering
prizes. In his treatise on horsemanship he gives further instructions.
Velocity and distance are the most important points for war. To secure
these, he tells us, the thrower must advance the left side of the body
and draw back the right, straightening himself from the thighs and
holding the javelin pointed slightly upwards. If, however, the object is
accuracy, the javelin must point straight at the mark. At Athens there
were competitions in this sport as early as the fifth century. At the
Panathenaea five amphorae of oil were given for the first prize, and one
for the second. In the second century this competition is mentioned in
inscriptions relating to the Thesea. The Larisa inscription already
referred to makes it probable that it still existed in Thessaly in the
time of Hadrian.

[Illustration: Fig. 106. Panathenaic amphora. British Museum.]

Fortunately we are able to supplement these scanty details from the
vases. A fifth-century aryballos from Eretria, now at Athens, a
fourth-century krater in the Louvre,[614] and a Panathenaic amphora in
the British Museum (Fig. 106), give vivid pictures of the competition.
The target is a shield with a crown forming a sort of bull’s-eye in the
centre, raised on a post to a level with the horses’ heads. The
competitors gallop past this target, hurling their javelins at it as
they pass. The javelins are pointed, and are held a little above the
shoulder with the point directed slightly downwards towards the target.
The riders on the Panathenaic vase wear the typical dress of the
Athenian ephebos, a flat, broad-brimmed hat called petasos, and a
bright-bordered chiton fastened over the shoulder. On the Eretria vase
they also wear high boots, and on the krater in the Louvre the hats are
replaced by wreaths, and winged victories hover over the riders bearing

The Panathenaic amphora of course refers to the Panathenaic festival,
and the festal character of the other vases suggests a definite
connexion with some other festival or festivals, but we can say no more.
The sport was probably a common one in Attica, Thessaly, and other
horse-breeding lands, and formed an attractive feature of other
festivals besides the Thesea and Panathenaea. There is certainly no
ground for connecting it with the Argive Heraea.

Footnote 593:

  Jüthner, _Antike Turngeräthe_, p. 37; _J.H.S._ xxvii. pp. 249-273.

Footnote 594:

  _De re equestri_, viii. 10.

Footnote 595:

  _Tetralogia_, ii. 4. An example of the pointed javelin occurs in Fig.

Footnote 596:

  _Vide infra_, p. 358.

Footnote 597:

  Lucian, _Anacharsis_, 32.

Footnote 598:

  Jüthner, _l.c._, Figs. 34, 35, 36. Jüthner proves conclusively that
  the objects represented on the Panaetius kylix and elsewhere (Fig. 17)
  are not compasses, but amenta misdrawn.

Footnote 599:

  Schliemann-Schuchardt (Eng. Trans.), Figs. 284, 285.

Footnote 600:

  _Anab._ v. 2, 12.

Footnote 601:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., ii. 520, 521, 522, 523.

Footnote 602:

  For fuller details _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxvii. p. 255.

Footnote 603:

  _Gym._ 31, and Jüthner’s note, p. 249.

Footnote 604:

  The lightness of the Greek javelin is illustrated by Xenophon. In the
  passage of the Ten Thousand through the mountainous territory of the
  Carduchi, the Greeks picked up the long arrows of the enemy, and,
  fitting thongs to them (ἐναγκυλῶντες), used them as javelins. By means
  of a thong it is possible to throw a dart too light to be thrown
  effectively by hand alone. _Anab._ iv. 2, 28.

Footnote 605:

  _Berlin Vas._, 1805.

Footnote 606:

  _Ol._ x. 71.

Footnote 607:

  _Vasen von d. Acrop._ 590, Pl. xxvii.

Footnote 608:

  Ceos, Sestos, Samos, Tralles, Larisa. _Vide_ _J.H.S._ _l.c._ notes 21
  and 53.

Footnote 609:

  Ditt. _Syll._ 2nd Ed., ii. 670, 671.

Footnote 610:

  _Nem._ vii. 70; _Isthm._ ii. 35; _Pyth._ i. 44.

Footnote 611:

  Lucian, _Anacharsis_, 27.

Footnote 612:

  _Meno_ 93 D; _Leg._ 834 D.

Footnote 613:

  _Hipparch._ i. 6; _De re equest._ viii. 10.

Footnote 614:

  Collignon, 1478; Millin, i. 45. Both vases are reproduced by P.
  Wolters, _Zu griechischen Agonen_ (Würzburg Programm, 1901).

                              CHAPTER XVII
                             THE PENTATHLON

The pentathlon was a combined competition in five events, running,
jumping, throwing the diskos, throwing the javelin, and wrestling. This
is one of the few facts regarding the pentathlon which may be regarded
as absolutely certain. These five events are vouched for by three
epigrams, one of them assigned to Simonides, and by the repeated
testimony of Philostratos in his _Gymnastike_.[615] Nothing proves more
conclusively the utter unreliability of the statements on athletics made
by late scholiasts and lexicographers, than the mistakes which they
contrive to make on a matter so clearly established. The lexicon of
Phavorinus, following certain late scholia, substitutes boxing for
throwing the javelin; and Photius quotes certain writers as substituting
the pankration for the jump. Stranger still, such mistakes survive in
the present day; and our own standard Greek Lexicon by Liddell and Scott
contains, in the latest edition, the appalling statement that the five
exercises were the jump, the diskos, running, wrestling, boxing, the
last being afterwards exchanged for javelin throwing. After this we are
not surprised to find quoted the antiquated theory of Böckh, that “no
one received a prize unless he was winner in all five events,” a theory
that was disproved by Philip, years before the first edition of Liddell
and Scott was published. The introduction of boxing into the pentathlon
is due to the mischievous habit of using such inaccurate expressions as
“the Homeric pentathlon.”[616] In heroic days, as Pindar tells us, there
was no pentathlon, “but for each several feat there was a prize.”[617]

[Illustration: Fig. 107. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 134.
Sixth century.]

Of these five events, three—the jump, the diskos, and the javelin—were
peculiar to the pentathlon, and formed its characteristic feature. These
three events were regarded as typical of the whole competition; on the
Panathenaic vases given as prizes for the competition one or more of
these three events, on two vases all three of them, are represented[618]
(Figs. 107, 108). The same events are among the commonest on other
vases, especially red-figured vases; but we are not justified in
connecting these with the pentathlon, or using them as evidence in
discussing the pentathlon. These scenes for the most part represent the
daily life of the gymnasium, and all that they prove is the important
part which these sports played in that life. They were the only three
events which required any form of apparatus; the exercises seem to have
been taught in classes, and were performed both in practice and in
competition to the accompaniment of the flute. If any of the three was
regarded as more representative than another, it was the jump, which
perhaps owed its importance partly to the extensive use of halteres in
the gymnasium. The halteres were the special symbol of the pentathlon,
and were frequently represented on statues of victorious

[Illustration: Fig. 108. Panathenaic amphora. Leyden. Sixth century.]

These three events, together with running and wrestling, were
representative of the whole physical training of the Greeks, and the
pentathlete was the typical product of that training. Inferior to the
specialised athletes in his special events he was superior to him in
general development, in that harmonious union of strength and activity
which produces perfect physical beauty; and this beauty of the
pentathlete won him the special commendation of thinkers such as
Aristotle, who condemned all exaggerated or one-sided development.[620]

A combined competition like the pentathlon is obviously later than any
of the individual events of which it is composed, and implies a
considerable development in athletics and physical education. Not that
we are to regard it with certain German writers as an elaborate scheme
based on abstract physiological principles evolved with much expenditure
of midnight oil out of the brain of some athletic student. The
pentathlon was the natural product of a number of exercises which had
been familiar for centuries. But before the idea could originate of
combining these exercises into a single competition to find the best
all-round athlete, these exercises must have become part of the national
education. The combination implies a certain amount of thought and
conscious reflexion. There is in it an artificiality of which we find no
trace in the Homeric sports. In view of this it is remarkable that,
according to Greek tradition, the pentathlon was introduced at Olympia
as early as the 18th Olympiad.

No importance need be attached to the statement of Philostratus that the
pentathlon was invented by Jason. The Greeks always loved to trace their
institutions back to heroic times. As, however, the passage which
contains the statement is of considerable importance in discussing the
method of deciding the pentathlon, it will be useful to quote it in

“Before the time of Jason there were separate crowns for the jump, the
diskos, and the spear. At the time of the _Argo’s_ voyage Telamon was
the best at throwing the diskos, Lynceus with the javelin, the sons of
Boreas were best at running and jumping, and Peleus was second in these
events but was superior to all in wrestling. Accordingly, when they were
holding sports in Lemnos, Jason, they say, wishing to please Peleus
combined the five events, and thus Peleus secured the victory on the

The order of the events and the method of deciding the pentathlon have
given rise to a literature equally extensive and inconclusive.[622]
Almost every combination of events has been tried, and every conceivable
method has been devised. Many of the systems proposed are so utterly
unpractical that they have only to be stated to be rejected by any one
with a rudimentary knowledge of practical athletics. None can be
regarded as established. The evidence is too scanty and too
contradictory. It consists largely in extracts from scholiasts and
lexicographers, and we have seen in considering the constitution of the
pentathlon the untrustworthiness of this class of evidence. It is well,
therefore, to recognise from the outset that whatever solutions we may
accept are only provisional, and that it is therefore in the highest
degree unsafe to use such theories as evidence in the interpretation of
Pindar or other poets.

First, as to the order of events, it must be premised that we are not
certain that the order was fixed, and did not vary at different times
and places. Still, the conservatism of the Greeks in such matters
certainly makes it probable that there was a fixed order at Olympia, and
that this order was generally adopted elsewhere. At all events we shall
assume that this was so. The one fact which we know for certain about
the order is that wrestling came last. Bacchylides definitely describes
it as last, and the evidence of Bacchylides is confirmed by Herodotus
and Xenophon.[623] Describing the attack on Olympia by the Eleans in Ol.
104, when the Arcadians had usurped the presidency of the games,
Xenophon says: “They had already finished the horse-race and the events
of the pentathlon held in the dromos (τὰ δρομικὰ τοῦ πεντάθλου) and
those who had reached the wrestling were no longer in the dromos but
were wrestling between the dromos and the altar.” It is generally agreed
that τὰ δρομικά are the first four events, which were held in the
stadium, whereas according to the view set forth in a previous chapter
wrestling took place in the open space in front of the treasury
steps.[624] At all events, it is clear from Xenophon’s words that
wrestling came last, and common sense tells us that this was the only
possible position for it consistent with fairness. After several hard
bouts of wrestling no competitor could do himself justice in the other

For the order of the first four events we have to fall back on the
uncertain and contradictory evidence of various passages in which the
events of the pentathlon are enumerated. Now in none of these passages
is the order of events of any importance to the writer; in the case of
an epigram it is obvious that the order is likely to be modified by
metrical considerations. Still, the probability remains that such
passages will in spite of metre and carelessness reflect more or less
the actual order.[625] Thus we find that in five passages wrestling
comes last, in two passages it comes first, and in both of these the
order of events is merely reversed, in one passage it comes second. The
epigram of Simonides gives the following order: Jump, foot-race, diskos,
javelin, wrestling. The epigram quoted by Eustathius gives the same
order except that the foot-race comes fourth instead of second. Now,
except in the epigram of Simonides, the three events peculiar to the
pentathlon are always grouped together. It is probable, therefore, that
they were grouped together in practice, and that the foot-race cannot
have occupied the second place. Why Simonides put it after the jump is
obvious, neither δρόμος nor ποδωκείν could possibly begin a hexameter.
The foot-race, therefore, came either first or fourth. Once more, if we
examine the lists we find the foot-race first in two lists, last in the
two reversed lists, while two scholia follow the epigram and place it
fourth. As the order in these scholia is identical with that of the
epigram, it is doubtful whether they have any independent authority. The
evidence, therefore, is slightly in favour of first place for the
foot-race, and this order receives some slight support from the passage
in Philostratus already quoted concerning the pentathlon of Peleus, and
the passage of Herodotus discussed below about Tisamenus and Hieronymus.

For the remaining events the lists appear to support the order of the
two epigrams—jump, diskos, javelin, though there is not much to show
whether the diskos or the javelin came first. Certain passages in
Bacchylides and Pindar have been quoted to prove that the diskos
preceded the javelin.[626] On the two Panathenaic vases reproduced
above, the javelin comes between the jump and the diskos. This is the
position assigned to it by Philostratus when he enumerates the events of
the pentathlon. Unfortunately the value of this passage is lessened by
the distinction which he introduces between light events and heavy
events. The heavy events, he says, are wrestling and throwing the
diskos; the light events, the javelin, the jump, and the foot-race. The
order is obviously reversed, but whether all three light events preceded
both heavy events or not cannot be decided from this passage. Such
distinctions give us no clue to the actual order, and all attempts to
discover the system on which the order of events depended are absolutely
futile. It is easy enough to argue that all the exercises were arranged
in an ascending scale, or that easy exercises alternated with difficult,
that similar exercises were grouped together, or that leg exercises
alternated with arm exercises, and if we were constructing an ideal
pentathlon such arguments might be of some use. As it is, we are not
concerned with an ideal pentathlon but with that of the Greeks, and
there is not a particle of evidence to prove that the Greeks arranged
their pentathlon on any abstract principle however plausible. All we can
do is to confine ourselves to the actual evidence, and the order which
this evidence renders _probable_ is foot-race, jump, diskos, javelin,

It is unnecessary to discuss in full the various systems that have been
suggested for deciding the pentathlon. These systems for the most part
fall into certain well-defined groups based on certain hypotheses, and
it will be sufficient briefly to examine these hypotheses.

The old hypothesis perpetuated by Liddell and Scott, that victory in all
five events[627] was necessary, may be briefly dismissed as not only
unpractical but contrary to the little evidence which we possess. On
such a system a victory in the pentathlon must have been an extremely
rare event; for it can seldom have happened that one competitor won all
five events. The idea seems to have arisen from the epigram of
Simonides, and from a misunderstanding of an important passage in
Herodotus (ix. 33), which is in reality a conclusive proof against it.

“Tisamenus,” says Herodotus, “came within a single contest or fall
(πάλαισμα) of victory, being matched against Hieronymus of Andros.”
Pausanias confirms the victory of Hieronymus (vi. 14), and says of
Tisamenus (iii. 11, 6), “In two events he was first, for he was superior
to Hieronymus in running and jumping, but he was defeated by him in
wrestling and so failed to win the victory.” The true interpretation of
the passage is obvious. “Tisamenus came within a single contest of
victory,” _i.e._ he won two events but lost the odd; or perhaps we may
go farther still and give to πάλαισμα its literal meaning, “a fall in
wrestling.” He came within a “single fall” of winning.

Each had won two events, each had scored two falls in wrestling, and the
whole contest depended on the last fall![628] just as we talk of winning
a golf match by a single putt, or winning a rubber by the odd trick.

Yet obvious as this interpretation is, Hermann and other more recent
German writers have asserted that, according to Herodotus, Tisamenus won
the first four events, and only missed the victory because he was
defeated in wrestling. It is more than doubtful whether the words of
Herodotus can bear the meaning “he missed victory by wrestling only”;
but apart from this, Hermann’s theory is absolutely contradicted by the
very circumstantial statements of Pausanias. If Tisamenus won all four
events, why should Pausanias expressly state that he won two? If victory
in all five events was necessary, how can Hieronymus have won the
pentathlon, seeing that on Hermann’s showing he only won one event? If
victory in five events was not necessary, is it not ridiculous to
suppose that a solitary victory in wrestling should have not only
cancelled the four victories of Tisamenus, but secured the prize for

The only inference which we are justified in drawing from the story of
Tisamenus is that victory in three out of the five events was
sufficient. This is expressly stated by a scholiast to Aristides, and is
implied in a highly metaphorical passage in Plutarch describing the
different points in which the letter A is superior to all the other
letters of the alphabet.[629] It has been further inferred that victory
in three events was not only sufficient but necessary. The writers who
have taken this view generally assume that with several competitors
competing against one another it would be unusual for any individual to
win three events, and various elaborate theories have been devised to
get over this difficulty. Of these theories by far the most reasonable
was that suggested by Professor Percy Gardner in the first volume of the
_Journal of Hellenic Studies_. He supposed that the pentathlon was
treated as a single event, and the competition was conducted as a
tournament, the competitors being arranged in pairs, and each pair
competing against each other in all five contests. The winner of each
pair, and therefore the final winner, must necessarily have won three
out of the five events. This plan has the conspicuous merit of fairness
and simplicity, but it is open to several serious objections. In
particular, the passage of Xenophon quoted above seems decisive against
it, for Xenophon’s words naturally mean that all the events in the
dromos took place before any of the wrestling. There are many practical
objections. The length of such a competition would have made it tedious
to spectators and competitors alike, and it must have degenerated into a
mere test of endurance, in which the elements of skill, activity, and
grace which made the pentathlon so popular would have been lost. I need
not dwell on the hopelessly unpractical modifications of this theory
proposed by Dr. Marquardt, nor on the ludicrously unfair systems
suggested by Fedde, and more recently by Legrand in Daremberg and
Saglio, the principle of which is the arrangement of all competitors in
groups of three. It will be sufficient to examine the two assumptions on
which these theories rest, viz. that in an open competition it would be
unusual for any competitor to win three events, and that victory in
three events was necessary. If these assumptions prove to be unfounded,
the _raison d’être_ of all these theories disappears at once; for they
have no merit whatsoever except that they satisfy these supposed

In considering the first point we must remember that the pentathlete was
not a specialist in any one exercise, but an all-round athlete who
combined strength and activity. Among competitors of this sort it is not
unusual to find one or two men surpassing their fellows not in one event
but in several, especially if most of the events require much the same
qualities and physique. This was undoubtedly the case with the
pentathlon. It is obvious that the same man might often win the
foot-race and the long jump, or the diskos and the spear. Though less
obvious it is equally probable that the diskos and the long jump might
fall to the same man. It is not uncommon to find a hammer-thrower who is
also a good long-jumper. The reason is that weight-throwing and jumping
both require a harmonious well-timed effort of every part of the body.
The use of jumping weights increased the resemblance between the two
exercises; for the swing of the weights was not unlike the swing of the
diskos. The general development and complete control of the muscles
necessary for these events would give an equal advantage in wrestling,
especially with men of the same weight, for the heavy-weight wrestler
would be excluded by the very nature of the pentathlon. These
considerations make it probable that the five events would commonly be
divided between two or at most three competitors, and the few details
which we know of actual winners confirms this view. Phayllus of Croton
must have won the jump, the diskos, and the foot-race, for he won the
stade-race at Delphi. Hieronymus won the diskos, spear, and wrestling.
So apparently did Automedes of Phlius.[630] Diophon, the subject of
Simonides’ epigram, apparently won all five events. The only example to
the contrary is the mythical pentathlon of Peleus, in which none of the
heroes won more than one event.

The pentathlon of Peleus is fatal to the second assumption that victory
in three events was necessary. We must either reject the evidence of the
story, or abandon the assumption. And inasmuch as there is absolutely no
proof of the assumption, the latter is the only course. The principal
evidence on which the assumption is based has already been stated. The
utmost that we can infer is that victory in three events was sufficient,
and was by no means an unfamiliar result. We may further add the
statement of Pollux that the term used for victory in the pentathlon was
ἀποτριάξαι, “to win a treble,” a statement confirmed by a quite
unintelligible scholion on the Agamemnon. The word τριάσσειν is properly
a wrestling term, meaning “to win three falls,” “to win in wrestling,”
and so generally “to win a victory” or “conquer.” The cognate words
τριάκτηρ and ἀτρίακτος mean no more than “conqueror,” “unconquered.”
There is no evidence of the connexion of the word in early times with
the pentathlon; but the fact that wrestling was the last event in the
pentathlon is itself sufficient explanation of the late use of the word
ἀποτριίξαι to denote victory in the pentathlon, especially if, as was
frequently the case, the final victory was decided by the wrestling. It
is, of course, possible that the word contained some allusion to a
victory in three events, but this supposition is unproved and
unnecessary, and certainly does not warrant the assumption that victory
in three events was necessary.[631] Such being the case we may reject
all theories based upon this assumption. Above all, there is no longer
any necessity for dividing competitors into heats of two or three.

A common feature in the systems proposed is the gradual reduction of the
number of competitors at each stage of the competition, so that in the
final wrestling only two or three competitors were left. The only
evidence for the theory in this form is the rhetorical passage in
Plutarch already noticed—evidence as untrustworthy as it is possible to
conceive. There is, however, more evidence for a modified form of the
theory, viz. that only those who had qualified in the first four
competitions were allowed to compete in the wrestling. This appears to
me now the only possible conclusion from the words of Xenophon already
quoted:[632] “The events in the dromos were already finished, and _those
who had reached the wrestling_ were no longer in the dromos, etc.” Such
a system would give an advantage to the all-round athlete, and exclude
the specialised wrestler. But what constituted qualification? It
certainly was not confined to the winners in the first four events,
otherwise Peleus would have been excluded; nor does it seem to me
probable that only the two or three who had obtained the best averages
in the first four competitions were permitted to wrestle. Speculation is
useless; we must be content for the present to accept Xenophon’s words,
and hope that some inscription or papyrus may be discovered to enlighten

Much has been written by archaeologists about the bye (ἔφεδρος) in the
pentathlon. It is not a little curious that there is absolutely no
evidence for a bye in the pentathlon at all. We hear of a bye in
wrestling, in boxing, and in the pankration, but in no other
competitions. Of course, if all competitors competed in wrestling a bye
was unavoidable. But a bye necessarily introduces an element of luck,
especially in a long competition, and we may be sure that the Greeks
avoided it as far as possible. If only a certain number of competitors
were admitted to the wrestling, the necessity for a bye could be easily
avoided. German archaeologists, with a strange perverseness, seem to
delight in introducing compulsory byes at every turn.

So far, then, we have established the principle that _victory in three
events was sufficient_ but not necessary. If no competitor won three
events, or two won two events, how was the victory decided? The
pentathlon of Peleus supplies the answer. Each of the heroes won one
event. Peleus, besides winning the wrestling, was second in the other
four events. Only two explanations of the victory of Peleus are
possible. Either wrestling counted more than other events, an assumption
adopted by various writers, but contrary to the whole spirit of the
pentathlon, or _in case of a tie at least, account was taken of second
or third places_, _i.e._ the result was decided by marks. These two
principles, that the result was decided in the first place by victories
in the separate events, and in the case of a tie by some system of
marks, are sufficient to explain all possible cases, though the details
of their application are uncertain. Let us try to see how the
competition would work out on these lines.

The pentathlon began with the foot-race. The distance was a stade. The
race might be run in heats if necessary; but there is no evidence for
them in the pentathlon. The starting lines at Olympia could accommodate
twenty starters, and it does not seem probable that there were often so
many entries. The competitions in jumping, throwing the diskos and the
javelin, were conducted as in the present day, all competing against
all. The jump was a long jump; the diskos and the javelin were thrown
for distance, not at a mark. Wrestling was conducted on the tournament
principle. “Upright wrestling” only was allowed, and three falls were
required for victory. Only those who had qualified in the first four
events took part in the wrestling. If there were only two competitors,
one of them must have won three events. Suppose there were more, at
least five, A, B, C, D, E; there is no evidence that it was possible to
win the pentathlon without being first in at least one event, and,
therefore, what holds good of five will hold good of any smaller or
larger number. There are only four possible cases.

(1) A 3, B 2, or B 1, C 1.—A wins by the first principle.

(2) A 2, B 2, C 1.—The victory would depend on the result of the fifth
event which C won. If this event were wrestling, it would be reasonable
to suppose that other competitors would drop out, and A and B would be
matched together. If the event won by C was one of the earlier events,
the issue must have been decided by the performances of A and B in that
event, or perhaps by marks, _i.e._ by their performances in all the

(3) A 2, B 1, C 1, D 1.—This is a very doubtful case: the victory might
be awarded to A as having won more firsts than any of the others, or it
might be decided by marks.

(4) A 1, B 1, C 1, D 1, E 1.—In this highly improbable case victory can
only have been decided by marks.

Complications may have been introduced by dead heats or ties: all such
cases would, no doubt, have been settled by the same common-sense
principles. This scheme, which I stated more fully in vol. xxiii. of the
_Journal of Hellenic Studies_, is not affected by the modification which
I have since adopted about admission to the wrestling. It is in entire
accordance with modern athletic experience, and there is no passage in
any ancient author which contradicts it.

Footnote 615:

  Epigram of Simonides on Diophon—

                   Ἴσθμια καὶ Πυθοῖ Διοφῶν ὁ Φίλωνος ἐνίκα
                   ἅλμα, ποδωκείην, δίσκον, ἄκοντα, πάλην.

  Epigram quoted by Eustathius, _Il._ Ψ 621, p. 1320—

               ἅλμα ποδῶν δίσκου τε βολὴ καὶ ἄκοντος ἐρωὴ
               καὶ δρόμος ἤδε πάλη· μία δ’ ἔπλετο πᾶσι τελευτή.

  cp. Epigram of Lucilius, _Anth. Pal._ xi. 84; Philostratus, _Gym._ 3,
  11, 31, 55; Artemidorus, _Oneir._ i. 55; and numerous scholia.

Footnote 616:

  _E.g._ of the games at the court of Alcinous. No argument can be based
  on the accidental occurrence on vases of boxing together with some of
  the events of the pentathlon, _e.g._ Fig. 150.

Footnote 617:

  _Isthm._ i. 26.

Footnote 618:

  Three events, _B.M._ B. 134. _Arch. Zeit._, 1881, ix.; diskos and
  javelin, _B.M._ B. 142, _Mus. Greg._ xliii. 2 b; jump and javelin,
  _Munich_, 656; diskos, _B.M._ B. 136, 602, etc.; javelin, _B.M._ 605,

Footnote 619:

  _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 60.

Footnote 620:

  Aristot. _Rhet._ i. 5; cp. Plato, _Amatores_ 135 D, E.

Footnote 621:

  Phil. _Gym._ 3.

Footnote 622:

  To the works enumerated by me in _J.H.S._ xxiii. pp. 55 ff., I may add
  K. E. Heinrich, _Über das Pentathlon d. Gr._, Würzburg, 1892; C. A. M.
  Fennell in _Pindar: Isthm. and Nem. Odes_, 1883; Ph. E. Legrand in
  Dar.-Sagl. _s.c._ “Quinquertium,” 1907.

Footnote 623:

  Bacch. ix. 30-36 τελευταίας ἀμάρυγμα πάλας; Hdt. ix. 33; Xen.
  _Hellen._ vii. 4. 29.

Footnote 624:

  _Vide_ p. 120.

Footnote 625:

  The following are the orders given in the various lists:—

     1. Simonides                   jump, race, diskos, javelin,

     2. Epigram quoted by           jump, diskos, javelin, race,
     Eustathius                     wrestling.

     3. Schol. Pind. _Isthm._ i. 26

     4. Schol. Soph. _El._ 631

     5. Artemidorus, _Oneirocrit._  race, diskos, jump, javelin,
     i. 55                          wrestling.

     6. Schol. Plato, _Amat._ 135 E race, diskos, jump, javelin,

     7. Phil. _Gym._ 3 (reversed)   race, jump, javelin, diskos,

     8. Schol. Aristid. _Pan._ p.   race, wrestling, diskos,
     112                            javelin, jump.

     9. Epigram _Anth. Pal._ xi. 84 wrestling, race, diskos, jump,

  In 6 and 7 the order of the text is obviously reversed, and I have
  therefore reversed again. No. 9 is of very little value and may be

Footnote 626:

  Bacch. ix. 30-36; Pind. _Nem._ v. 72; _Isthm._ ii. 30. Little value
  can be attached to these passages or to the vases.

Footnote 627:

  The system adopted by Böckh, Hermann and Dissen.

Footnote 628:

  This interpretation is, I am glad to find, adopted by Dr. Jüthner in
  his recent edition of Philostratus.

Footnote 629:

  Schol. Aristid. _Pan._ p. 112 οὐκ ὅτι πάντως οἱ πένταθλοι πάντα
  νικῶσιν· ἀρκεῖ γὰρ αὑτοῖς γ’ τῶν έ πρὸς νίκην. Plut. _Symp._ ix. 2 διὸ
  τοῖς τρισὶν ὥσπερ οἱ πένταθλοι περίεστι καὶ νικᾷ.

Footnote 630:

  Bacchylides, _l.c._

Footnote 631:

  For a fuller treatment of this point _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 63, and
  Jüthner, _Philostratus_, p. 207. The passage quoted by me from
  Philostratus on p. 65 n. 47, γυμνάζεταί τι τῶν τριῶν, appears to be
  corrupt and cannot be used as evidence for speaking of τριαγμός as
  applied to the three events of the pentathlon which secured victory,
  or the three events peculiar to the pentathlon, and Jüthner seems to
  me correct in his criticism that this use of the word is “mehr als

Footnote 632:

  In _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 65 I was mistaken in rejecting this conclusion.
  I cannot, however, accept as proved either Holwerda’s or Heinrich’s
  application of it. Holwerda in particular, like many of the Germans,
  attaches an altogether undue importance to wrestling, which was
  certainly not the most important of the five events.

                             CHAPTER XVIII

Wrestling is perhaps the oldest and most universal of all sports. The
wall-paintings of Beni Hassan show that almost every hold or throw known
to modern wrestlers was known to the Egyptians 2500 years before our
era. The popularity of wrestling among the Greeks is proved by the
constant metaphors from this sport, and by the frequency with which
scenes from the wrestling ring appear not only in athletic literature
and art but also in mythological subjects. Despite the changes in Greek
athletics caused by professionalism, which affected wrestling and boxing
more than any other sports, the popularity of wrestling remained
unabated. On early black-figured vases Heracles is constantly
represented employing the regular holds of the palaestra not only
against the giant Antaeus but against monsters such as Achelous or the
Triton, or even against the Nemean lion, and centuries later the
language in which Ovid and Lucan describe these combats is in every
detail borrowed from the same source. Still more is this the case with
the wrestling match between Cercyon and Theseus which occurs so often on
the red-figured vases of Athens. On coins wrestling types survive into
imperial times. The fight with the Nemean lion is represented on the
fourth-century gold coins of Syracuse, and that with Antaeus on imperial
coins of Alexandria (Fig. 109).

[Illustration: Fig. 109. Wrestling types on coins, in British Museum.
_a_, _b_, _c_, Aspendus, fifth and fourth centuries. _d_, Heraclea in
Lucania, fourth century. _e_, _f_, Syracuse, _circa_ 400 B.C. _g_,
Alexandria, Antoninus Pius. (_J.H.S._ xxv. p. 271.)]

These fights are one of the many forms under which Greek imagination
loved to picture the triumph of civilization and science over barbarism
and brute force. To the Greek wrestling was a science and an art.
Theseus, the reputed discoverer of scientific wrestling, is said to have
learnt its rules from Athena herself.[633] The greatest importance was
attached to grace and skill; it was not sufficient to throw an opponent,
it had to be done correctly and in good style.[634] Hence even when
athletics had become corrupted by professionalism, wrestling remained
for the most part free from that brutality which has so often brought
discredit on one of the noblest of sports. Pausanias records the case of
a certain Sicilian wrestler, Leontiscus, who defeated his opponents by
trying to break their fingers.[635] But such tactics did not commend
themselves to the Greeks, although it does not seem that they were
formally prohibited, and Pausanias expresses his disapproval by the
comment that he did not understand how to throw his opponents.

The very name palaestra sufficiently indicates the early importance of
wrestling in Greek education, an importance which it maintained even
during the Empire. The method of instruction was strictly
progressive.[636] There were separate rules for men and boys; the
different movements, grips, and throws were taught as separate figures,
the simpler movements first, then the more complicated. In learning them
the pupils were grouped in pairs, and more than one pair could be taught
at the same time. In the early stages a beginner would be paired with a
more advanced pupil, who would help him. Later on the movements were
combined, and practice was allowed in free play. The paidotribes seems
to have enforced his instruction with a free use of the rod. In Fig. 96
a vivid picture of a wrestling lesson is seen. A pair of paidotribai are
engaged in instructing a pair of youthful wrestlers. One of the latter
has seized his opponent round the waist and prepares to give him the
heave; the other has allowed him to obtain his grip and stands with
outstretched hands waiting for the paidotribes to give his next order.

There were doubtless numerous text-books of drill in wrestling and other
sports for the use of paidotribai. A fragment of such a text-book has
been found on a papyrus of the second century A.D.[637] It contains
orders for executing a number of different grips and throws, and each
section ends with the order “complete the grip” (πλέξον) or “throw him”
(ῥεῖψον). The sections dealing with the throws are hopelessly mutilated,
but considerable portions of four sections dealing with the grips
remain. Unfortunately, the brevity of the commands, characteristic of
all drill books, makes them extremely difficult to understand
accurately, and the interpretation is too technical to deal with here.

Competitions in wrestling, boxing, and the pankration were conducted in
the same way as a modern tournament. Lucian’s description of the manner
of drawing lots has already been quoted. In case of an odd number of
competitors one of them drew a bye. This of course gave him a
considerable advantage in the next round over a less fortunate rival,
who had perhaps been exhausted by his previous contest. Thus the crown
may sometimes have depended on the luck of the lot. It is to such an
accident that Pindar refers at the close of the sixth Nemean Ode when he
says that Alcimidas and his brother were deprived of two Olympic crowns
by the fall of the lot. So it is mentioned as an additional distinction
for an athlete to have won a crown without drawing the bye, and
Pausanias speaks with some contempt of such as have ere now won the
olive by the unreasonableness of the lot and not by their own
strength.[638] There is, of course, no ground for the idea that one who
had drawn a bye in the first round remained a bye till the final. To
draw a bye in a single round is quite sufficient advantage, and
archaeologists should really credit the Greeks with a certain amount of
practical common-sense.

The number of competitors varied. Lucian, in the passage referred to,
speaks of five or twelve competitors,[639] and this statement agrees
generally with our other evidence. Pindar’s heroes, the Aeginetan
wrestlers Alcimedon and Aristomenes,[640] were each victorious over four
rivals, that is, in four rounds. The same number is mentioned in the
Olympic inscriptions on the wrestler Xenocles and the boxer
Philippus.[641] Four rounds imply nine to sixteen competitors. A long
epigram on Ariston,[642] who won the pankration in Ol. 207, tells us
that there were seven competitors, and that he took part in all three
rounds and did not owe his crown to the luck of the lot.

Sometimes a famous athlete was allowed a walk over, in which case he was
said to have won ἀκονιτεί, without dust, that is, without having even
dusted his body with the fine sand which athletes used before exercise.
Such a victory is recorded of Milo at some unknown festival when he was
the only competitor in wrestling.[643] The first victory of this sort
recorded at Olympia is that of Dromeus in the pankration of Ol. 75.[644]
An inscription found at Olympia enumerating the victories of the
Diagoridae at Rhodes records that Dorieus won a victory in boxing
(ἀκονιτεί) at the Pythia.[645] These instances, which could be
multiplied, are sufficient to prove that Philostratus is mistaken when
he asserts that no crown was awarded at Olympia without competition
(ἀκονιτεί).[646] The case of Dorieus disproves the similar statement
made by Heliodorus with regard to the Pythia.[647] There can hardly have
been any necessity for such a rule in early times, but a rule requiring
more than one competitor may well have been introduced at the time of
the athletic revival under the Empire, if not at the Olympia or Pythia,
at some of the many festivals which bore their names. A rule to this
effect might be reasonably expected at festivals where valuable prizes
were offered.

The Greeks distinguished two styles of wrestling, one which they called
“upright wrestling” or wrestling proper (ὀρθὴ πάλη, or σταδιαία
πάλη,[648] or simply πάλη) in which the object was to throw an opponent
to the ground (καταβλητική), the other “ground wrestling” (κύλισις or
ἁλίνδησις) in which the struggle was continued on the ground till one or
other of the combatants acknowledged defeat. The former was the only
wrestling admitted in the pentathlon and in wrestling competitions
proper; the latter did not exist as a separate competition, but only as
part of the pankration, in which hitting and kicking were also

In the practice of the palaestra ground wrestling as well as wrestling
proper was freely indulged in. We gather from Lucian that separate
places were assigned to the two exercises. Ground wrestling took place
in some place under cover, and the ground was watered till it became
muddy.[650] The mud rendered the body slippery and difficult to hold,
and so rendered accidents less likely; while wallowing in the mud was
supposed to have a most beneficial effect on the skin. Wrestling proper
took place on the sandy ground in the centre of palaestra. This was
called the skamma, the same word that is used for the jumping pit. It
denotes a place dug up, levelled and sanded so as to form a smooth soft
surface. For actual competitions a skamma must have been provided
somewhere in the stadium, probably, where such existed, in the
semicircular theatre at the end.

In heroic times boxers and wrestlers wore a loin-cloth (περίζωμα), such
as is occasionally depicted on black-figured vases (Fig. 128), but this
loin-cloth seems to have been usually discarded even in the sixth
century. Wrestlers, especially boys, sometimes wore ear-caps (Fig. 17),
but there is no evidence of their use in competitions. For obvious
reasons they always wore their hair short.[651] Professional athletes
under the Empire wore the little hair that was left uncut, tied up in an
unsightly little topknot called the “cirrus.”[652]

In the present chapter we are concerned only with wrestling proper.
Before discussing its rules let me utter an emphatic protest against the
slanderous fallacy implied in the use of the term Graeco-Roman to
describe a style of wrestling in vogue in some of the Music Halls at the
present day. There is nothing in Greek wrestling proper, or in the
pankration, which bears any resemblance to, or can offer any
justification for, this most useless and absurd of all systems, which,
as Mr. Walter Armstrong remarks, might have been invented for the
express purpose of bringing a grand and useful exercise into disrepute.

We have no definite statement as to the rules of Greek wrestling, and
are forced to infer them from the somewhat fragmentary evidence of
literature and art. The two essential points which distinguish one style
of wrestling from another are the definition of a fair throw and the
nature of the holds allowed.

In most modern styles a man is considered thrown only when both
shoulders, or one shoulder and one hip touch the ground at the same
time; in the Cumberland and Westmorland style he is thrown if he touches
the ground with any portion of his body, or even with his knee. A throw
may be either a clean throw or the result of a struggle on the ground.
With the Greeks it is practically undisputed that only clean throws
counted; if one or both wrestlers fell to the ground the bout was
finished. Further, it is certain that a fall on the back, on the
shoulders, or the hip counted as a fair throw.[653] An epigram on one
Damostratus is conclusive evidence for the back, an epigram on
Cleitomachus for the shoulders.[654] Another epigram relates how Milo,
advancing to receive his crown after a “dustless” victory, slipped and
fell on his hip, whereupon the people cried out not to crown a man who
had fallen without an adversary.[655] The question of a fall on the knee
is more difficult. The passages quoted from Aeschylus are doubtful, and
capable of being interpreted either way. So is the epigram on Milo
ascribed to Simonides, which states that he won seven victories at Pisa
without ever falling on his knee.[656] The evidence of the monuments is
divided. We have a group of bronzes, apparently copies of some
well-known Hellenistic original, which represent a wrestler who has
fallen on one knee (Figs. 130, 131). His victorious opponent stands over
him with one hand pressing down his neck, with the other forcing back
his arm. There can be no doubt that he is in a position to throw him on
his back if necessary, but he seems to make no effort to do so. On the
other hand, we have a group of vases and wall-paintings representing the
throw known as “the flying mare,” in which the wrestler as he throws his
opponent over his head sinks on one knee (Figs. 114, 115). Various
explanations are possible, the most plausible being that these scenes
really belong to the pankration; but none of them is quite convincing.
Where the evidence is so evenly balanced, certainty is impossible. On
the whole I am inclined to abandon the view which I formerly held and to
accept Jüthner’s view that a fall on the knee did not count.

What happened if both wrestlers fell together? The only evidence for
this is the wrestling match in the _Iliad_, described in our second
chapter. There it will be remembered that in the first bout Odysseus
fell on the top of Ajax, in the second they both fell sideways, after
which Achilles declared the contest drawn. From this we inferred that if
both wrestlers fell together no fall was counted. The accounts of
wrestling in later writers are merely literary imitations of Homer, and
of little independent value.

One fall did not decide the victory; three falls were necessary. There
are numerous allusions in literature to the three throws.[657] The
technical word for winning a victory in wrestling was τριάσσειν, “to
treble,” and the victor was called τριακτήρ. At first sight it seems
uncertain whether the reference is to three bouts or three falls. But
the latter interpretation is the only one which suits every passage, and
is rendered certain by the categorical statement of Seneca that a
wrestler thrice thrown lost the prize.[658]

So much for the actual throw and the number of throws necessary for
victory. We pass on to the question of the means employed by the Greek
wrestler to throw his opponent. In particular, was tripping allowed, and
were leg-holds allowed? In the artificial “Graeco-Roman” style of to-day
tripping is forbidden and no holds are allowed below the waist. Tripping
is seldom represented in art; but the frequent references to it in
literature from the time of Homer to that of Lucian leave no doubt that
it played an important part in Greek wrestling, as it has in every
rational system in every age.[659] The evidence for leg-holds is less
definite, but it seems certain that in practice at least the Greeks made
little use of them. This is the natural inference from a passage in the
_Laws_,[660] where Plato contrasts the methods of the pankration in
which leg-holds and kicking played a conspicuous part with the methods
of upright wrestling. The latter is the only form of wrestling which he
will admit as useful in his ideal states, and he defines it as
consisting in “the disentangling of neck and hands and sides,” a
masterly definition showing a true understanding of wrestling, for the
wrestler’s art is shown more perhaps in his ability to escape from or
break a grip than in his skill in fixing one. The vases show that the
omission of leg-holds in Plato’s definition is no accident. In the
pankration one competitor is frequently represented in the act of
seizing another’s foot in order to throw him; Antaeus and Cercyon, whose
methods Plato in the above passage strongly condemns, are commonly
depicted as grabbing at the feet of Heracles and Theseus. But in
wrestling proper, though arm, neck, and body-holds occur constantly, we
never see a leg-hold. It is probable that this is the result not so much
of a direct prohibition as of the practical riskiness of such a hold
under the conditions of upright wrestling. A wrestler who stoops low
enough to catch an opponent’s foot is certain to be thrown himself if he
misses his grip. On the other hand, there is no practical objection when
once the wrestlers are engaged to catching hold of an opponent’s thigh
whether for offence or defence. Indeed, one of the commands of the
papyrus implies that it was lawful to take a grip between an opponent’s
legs, or round the thigh.[661] In wrestling groups which represent the
heave we sometimes see a wrestler trying to save himself by seizing the
other’s legs. Perhaps we may recognize as a wrestling scene a group
which occurs on an Etruscan tomb.[662] One man has lifted another on to
his shoulder, with his right arm clasped round his right thigh, and his
left hand holding his right hand. He may intend to throw him, or he may
merely be carrying him. Further, we must remember that upright wrestling
formed part of the pankration, and such groups may therefore belong to
the pankration.

The conditions of Greek wrestling may be summed up as follows:—

    1. If a wrestler fell on any part of the body, hip, back or
    shoulder, it was a fair fall.

    2. If both wrestlers fell together, nothing was counted.

    3. Three falls were necessary to secure victory.

    4. Tripping was allowed.

    5. Leg-holds, if not actually prohibited, were rarely used.

The positions of the Greek wrestler, the grips and the throws which he
employed, are known to us from numerous monuments. In view of the number
of the monuments and the complexity of the subject it is impossible
within the limits of this work to treat them exhaustively, and I must
confine myself to the most important and most interesting of the types

The attitude adopted by the Greek wrestler before taking hold was very
similar to that of the modern wrestler. Taking a firm stand with his
feet somewhat apart and knees slightly bent, rounding (γυρώσας) his back
and shoulders, his neck advanced but pressed down into the shoulder
blades, his waist drawn in (σφηκώσας), he tried to avoid giving any
opening (λαβή) himself, while his outstretched hands were ready to seize
any opportunity offered by his opponent.[663] This position is
frequently represented in art; but no better illustration of it can be
found than the Naples wrestling-boys, generally miscalled Diskoboloi
(Fig. 110).

[Illustration: Fig. 110. One of a pair of bronze wrestling boys,
generally known as Diskoboloi. Naples. (Photograph by Brogi.)]

Generally the wrestlers stand square to one another, and prepare to take
hold somewhat in the style of Westmorland and Cumberland wrestlers,
“leaning against one another like gable rafters of a house,” or “butting
against each other like rams,” or “resting their heads on each other’s
shoulders.”[664] This position, known apparently as σύστασις, is
frequently depicted on the vases (Fig. 111). Needless to say, this type
does not represent a preliminary “butting-match,” as a certain foreign
archaeologist seems to imagine, it is the natural position of two
wrestlers engaging. Sometimes their heads do crash together as they
meet. I read recently an account of a wrestling match in which the heads
of the two wrestlers met with a noise which could be heard through the
whole house.

[Illustration: Fig. 111. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 603.
Archonship of Polyzelus, 367 B.C.]

Sometimes instead of taking hold from the front the wrestlers try to
obtain a hold from the side as in preparing for “the heave,” and in such
a case the bodies are turned sideways to one another, a position
described as παράθεσις.[665] A not very satisfactory illustration of
such a position is shown on a British Museum kylix representing Theseus
and Cercyon[666] (Fig. 112), with which we may compare the group of
Heracles and Antaeus on the frieze of the theatre at Delphi,[667] where
the sideways position is more clearly marked. Theseus and Heracles seem
in both cases to have avoided the ponderous rush of their foes by
stepping sideways.

[Illustration: Fig. 112. R.-f. kylix, in British Museum, E. 84.]

[Illustration: Fig. 113. Group from British Museum amphora, B. 295 (Fig.

In endeavouring to obtain a hold wrestlers frequently seize one another
by the wrist. This action which is probably denoted by δράσσειν is often
a purely defensive movement to prevent an opponent from obtaining a hold
on the neck or body. Sometimes, as on a Munich amphora (Fig. 123), each
wrestler holds the other by the wrist. Sometimes one wrestler holds both
his opponent’s wrists. Such holds are merely momentary and of little
importance. A more effective hold was obtained by seizing an opponent’s
arm with both hands, one hand seizing the wrist, the other gripping him
at the elbow or under the armpit (Fig. 113). This seems to have been a
very favourite hold and led to one very effective fall of which we have
many illustrations.

It is the throw known in modern wrestling as the flying mare and is
probably what Lucian describes as εἰς ὕψος ἀναβαστάσαι.[668] Having
seized his opponent’s arm in the manner described the wrestler rapidly
turns his back on him,[669] draws his arm over his own shoulder, using
it as a lever by which to throw him clean over his head, at the same
time he stoops forward, sometimes sinking on one knee or both. The
beginning of the throw is seen on an Etruscan wall painting.[670] One
wrestler has swung his opponent off his feet and hoisted him over his
shoulder. His right hand still grasps his left wrist, and his left hand
has been transferred to his neck, and he leans forward in order to
complete the throw. A somewhat later moment occurs on a British Museum
kylix (Fig. 114). The drawing is rough and careless, and the stoop of
the legs is probably exaggerated because otherwise the group would be
too high for the vase space. Two wonderfully life-like pictures of this
throw occur on a kylix in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris (Figs. 54,
115). On the interior we see the victor kneeling on one knee; he has let
go with his right hand, and his opponent, left unsupported, is about to
fall on his back. The exterior, which is unfortunately much mutilated,
shows the same fall a moment later, the falling wrestler tries to save
himself by placing his right hand on the ground. This throw was
undoubtedly common to wrestling proper and to the pankration. A
black-figured amphora in the British Museum, B. 193, represents Heracles
employing it against the Nemean lion.

[Illustration: Fig. 114. R.-f. kylix, in British Museum, E. 94.]

[Illustration: Fig. 115. R.-f. kylix. Paris. (Interior of Fig. 54.)]

Returning to the arm-hold which leads to this throw, we find several
methods of meeting it represented. On the Amphiaraus vase (Fig. 3)
Peleus has seized with both hands the left arm of Hippaleimus. The
latter with his free right hand grips Peleus under the right arm-pit,
and thus weakens his grip and prevents him from turning round. A similar
defence is shown on the black-figured amphora in the British Museum, B.
295, where the attack is made on the right arm. A Berlin amphora by
Andocides (Fig. 116) shows another style of counter. The wrestler to the
left grasps his opponent’s left wrist, but the latter, by a quick move
forward, has rendered useless the right hand which should have grasped
his upper arm, and passing his own right hand behind his back grasps his
right arm just above the elbow. In all these cases the object is to
prevent the opponent turning round or to loosen his grip. The latter
object is noticeable on the coins of Aspendus (Fig. 109), where the
left-hand wrestler grasps with both hands his opponent’s left, while the
latter with his right hand grasps his right wrist or left upper arm. We
may remark how on some of the coins the right-hand wrestler’s hand hangs
down helplessly as if rendered powerless by the grip.

[Illustration: Fig. 116. R.-f. amphora. Berlin, 2159.]

Greek wrestling was governed, it would seem, more by a tradition of good
form than by actual rules. Thus, though it was not regarded as good form
to seize an opponent’s fingers and break them, as Leontiscus did, such
practices do not appear to have been actually prohibited. They were well
enough in the pankration, where the object was to force an opponent, by
any means to acknowledge defeat, but they could hardly be regarded as
legitimate means for throwing an opponent, which was the object of true

The neck is an obvious and effective place by which to obtain a hold,
and strength of neck is essential to a wrestler.[671] Pindar, in the
seventh Nemean ode, speaks of the wrestler’s “strength and neck
invincible,” and Xenophon, describing the training of the Spartans, says
that they exercised alike legs and arms and neck. In the _Knights_ of
Aristophanes Demos advises the sausage-seller to grease his neck in
order to escape from Cleon’s grip. The technical word for obtaining a
neck-hold is τραχηλίζειν. Neck-holds were freely used in the pankration,
but rather for the purpose of choking an opponent than of throwing him.

Several varieties of neck-hold are exhibited on the vases. On a
red-figured krater in the Ashmolean (Fig. 117) one wrestler seizes the
other’s wrist with his left hand, his neck with his right. The wrestler
so attacked defends himself by seizing the other under the left arm-pit
with his left hand. An interesting feature of this vase is the figure of
winged Victory seated upon a pillar watching the contest. A different
defence is shown on the black-figured amphora in the British Museum, B.
295 (Fig. 118). Here the left-hand wrestler grasps with his left hand
his opponent’s right which is seizing his neck. We may notice that he
grasps it at one of the weakest points just below the elbow. Yet another
means of defence is to seize the opponent’s neck.

[Illustration: Fig. 117. R.-f. krater. Oxford, Ashmolean, 288.]

[Illustration: Fig. 118. Reverse of Fig. 143. British Museum, B. 295.]

Perhaps the best illustration of a neck-hold occurs on a black-figured
amphora in Munich, representing the wrestling match between Peleus and
Atalanta, which took place at the funeral games of Pelias (Fig. 119).
Peleus has apparently tried to seize Atalanta’s right arm with both
hands, but Atalanta, moving forward, seizes him by the back of the neck,
very much in the style of a modern wrestler. The picture reminds us how
in the gymnasia of Chios young men and maidens might be seen wrestling
with one another.[672]

[Illustration: Fig. 119. B.-f. amphora. Munich, 584.]

The neck-hold is commonly employed by Heracles in his fight with the
Nemean lion. Sometimes his left arm is round the animal’s neck, while
his right hand grasps its left paw, sometimes both hands are clasped
round its neck. The interlocking of the hands is the same as that
employed by Westmorland and Cumberland wrestlers to-day, the hands being
turned so that the palms face one another and the fingers hooked
together. On an amphora in Munich Heracles employs this same grip
against Antaeus, who, sinking on one knee, grabs characteristically but
vainly at the hero’s foot.[673]

Of the actual throws to which a neck-hold led we have little evidence in
the monuments. On a psykter of Euthymides Theseus has secured a powerful
hold on Cercyon with one arm passed over his left shoulder, the other
under his right arm-pit and swings him off his feet.[674] Tripping was
doubtless freely employed with these holds, but the only illustration of
this combination occurs in a group of bronzes discussed below. Similarly
the movement described as ἕδραν στρέφειν, to turn one’s buttocks towards
an opponent was certainly combined with neck-holds. A good illustration
of this occurs on a Panathenaic vase in Boulogne (Fig. 120).

[Illustration: Fig. 120. Panathenaic amphora. Boulogne, Musée
Municipale, 441.]

Passing on to body-holds we find a preliminary position represented on a
Panathenaic vase in the British Museum (Fig. 111). The wrestlers have
each one hand round the other’s back, and one of them with his other
hand grasps the other’s wrist.

A very effective body-hold is obtained by seizing the opponent round the
waist with both hands: he can then be lifted off his feet and swung to
the ground. The hold may be obtained from the front, from behind, or
from the side, and all three forms are constantly represented. There are
various technical terms for such grips,[675] and the effectiveness of
the grip is shown by the proverbial use of the expression μέσον ἔχειν,
to hold by the waist.

The body-hold from the front is difficult to obtain, but when obtained
is extremely effective. It is the hold by which Hackenschmidt, a few
years ago, gained his sensational victory over Madrali. But clumsiness
and slowness are fatal, for, as the wrestler stoops to obtain the under
grip, his opponent can either, by a sideways movement, obtain a hold for
the heave, or falling on him may force him to the ground. This is the
fate which continually befalls Cercyon and Antaeus as they rush in
blindly, head down, in hope of obtaining this hold.[676] The danger of
it is well illustrated by a pair of groups from a black-figured amphora
in Munich (Fig. 121). In both cases a bearded athlete rushes in to seize
his opponent by the waist: the upper group is merely preliminary; in the
lower group his opponent, unable to secure a hold for the heave owing to
the grip on his right hand, seems to be pressing on him with all his
weight to bear him to the ground. Perhaps a further stage is represented
on a red-figured kylix in the Museum at Philadelphia (Fig. 122). One
wrestler has already lost his balance, and is supporting himself with
both hands on the ground. The other with his left hand holds his right
arm down, and with the other prepares to take a body-hold and roll him
over. Usually then the body-hold from the front is unsuccessful. On the
Berlin amphora (Fig. 116) we see a youth who has successfully obtained
this hold on a bearded athlete, and lifts him off his feet in order to
throw him.

[Illustration: Fig. 121. B.-f. amphora. Munich, 1336.]

[Illustration: Fig. 122. R.-f. kylix. Philadelphia.]

[Illustration: Fig. 123. B.-f. amphora. Munich, 495.]

More commonly the hold is secured from behind in the manner represented
on a black-figured amphora in Munich (Fig. 123). We may notice that the
wrestler in mid air has, in defence, hooked his right foot round his
opponent’s leg. The hands are interlocked in the manner already
described. But despite of these realistic touches the drawing as a whole
is stiff and lifeless, and contrasts strangely with the much more
vigorous portrayal of the same type on gems and coins. The type is
particularly connected with Heracles and Antaeus. The lifting of Antaeus
is first represented on the fourth century coins of Tarentum. From this
time it is constantly repeated in bronzes and statues, and especially on
coins and gems.[677] Roman poets said that Antaeus being the son of
earth derived fresh force from his mother each time he touched earth,
and that Heracles therefore lifted him from earth and squeezed him to
death in mid air. This version of the story is, however, unknown to the
literature and art of Greece; and though it may have originated in a
mistaken interpretation of the type which we are considering, cannot
possibly be regarded as its motive. With a few doubtful exceptions
Heracles is always represented as lifting Antaeus, not to crush him, but
to swing him to the ground, and nowhere is this motive clearer than on
some of the imperial coins, such as the coin of Antoninus Pius shown in
Fig. 109.

For no throw have we such abundant evidence as for “the heave,” the hold
for which is obtained from the side by passing one hand across and round
the opponent’s back, and the other underneath him. This is the hold
which is being practised in the wrestling lesson shown in Fig. 96. It is
a hold sometimes employed by Heracles against Antaeus, but is
particularly characteristic of Theseus. Two kylikes in the British
Museum (Figs. 124, 125) will sufficiently illustrate it. On the one
Cercyon has endeavoured vainly to save himself by applying a similar
hold to Theseus, but too late; on the other vase he has already been
swung off the ground, one arm still clasps Theseus’ back, the other hand
reaches for the ground or grabs at the foot of his adversary. The
popularity of “the heave” among the Greeks is shown by a far more
important monument. A metope from the Theseum shows Theseus in the very
act of turning Cercyon over to throw him (Fig. 126). A yet later moment
is represented in a well-known bronze statuette now in Paris (Fig. 127).
The victor here has turned his opponent completely over, and standing
upright prepares to drop him on the ground. On an Attic stele already
mentioned, representing Athenian sports, a wrestler is in the act of
falling headlong to the ground, and as he slips through his opponent’s
hands clasps his leg to save himself (Fig. 36). The heave and the holds
necessary for it are clearly described in the late epics of Quintus
Smyrnaeus and Nonnus.[678]

[Illustration: Fig. 124. R.-f. kylix. British Museum, E. 48.]

[Illustration: Fig. 125. B.-f. kylix, in British Museum, E. 36.]

[Illustration: Fig. 126. Metope of Theseum. Theseus and Cercyon. (_Greek
Sculpture_, Fig. 66.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 127. Bronze wrestling group. Paris.]

Some of the holds described must have been combined with various turns
of the body. Thus to obtain a hold from behind a wrestler must either
force his opponent to shift his position (μεταβιβάζειν), or shift his
own position so as to get behind him (μεταβαίνειν), while the wrestler
so attacked will naturally turn round himself (μεταβαλέσθαι). The last
two terms occur in two consecutive lines of the Oxyrhynchus papyrus. One
pupil is told to get behind his fellow and grip him, the other is
ordered at once to turn round himself.[679] The use of the preposition
μετά in these compounds suggests the “afterplay” of Cornish wrestling.

A sudden turn of the body is often used when a hold has been already
obtained, in order to twist an opponent off his feet. The modern throws
known as the “buttock” and “cross-buttock” find their Greek equivalent
in the phrase ἕδραν στρέφειν, to turn the buttock. The cross-buttock
differs chiefly from the buttock in that the legs come more into play,
and we may therefore infer that this is the special throw whereof
Theocritus speaks when he relates how Heracles learnt from Harpalacus
“all the tricks wherewith the nimble Argive cross-buttockers (ἀπὸ
σκελέων ἑδροστρόφοι) give each other the fall.”[680] It was evidently a
favourite throw. Theophrastus, in his character of the late learner who
wishes to be thought thoroughly accomplished and up-to-date, remarks
that “in the bath he is continually giving the cross-buttock as if
wrestling.”[681] Cannot we picture this athletic fraud strutting about
the bath cross-buttocking imaginary opponents, just as his modern
counterpart bowls imaginary balls, or with his walking-stick wings
imaginary birds?

[Illustration: Fig. 128. B.-f. amphora. Vatican.]

These movements may be illustrated by a group on a black-figured vase in
the Museo Gregoriano (Fig. 128). The wrestler to the left has obtained a
hold round his opponent’s waist, either from in front or from behind. In
the former case his opponent must have immediately turned round. Anyhow,
by throwing his weight well forward, he frustrates the attempt to lift
him, and puts himself in an advantageous position for swinging the other
off his feet. Somewhat similar must have been the motive of a much
mutilated group on a metope of the treasury of the Athenians at Delphi,
representing the exploits of Theseus, except that the figures are more

[Illustration: Fig. 129. Bronze group, in the British Museum.]

A throw somewhat resembling the cross-buttock is represented in a
recently acquired bronze of the British Museum (Fig. 129). As two other
replicas[683] exist it seems probable that it is a copy of some
well-known Hellenistic group in bronze or marble. A thick-set bearded
man is wrestling with a powerful youth, and with his back turned to him
twists him off his feet by a most curious arm-lock. With his right hand
he forces his opponent’s right arm back across his own thigh, while he
has slipped his left arm under his left armpit and gripped his neck,
thus rendering the imprisoned arm quite useless, and obtaining a
leverage similar to that of our half Nelson. Perhaps the grip was
obtained in the following way. The man seizes the youth’s right arm, and
by a quick movement pulls him towards him and turns him round,
μεταβιβάζει, at the same time stepping himself to the left so as to be
behind him. He then slips his left hand under his left armpit so as to
grasp his neck and force it down. The grip obtained he turns round to
the right and twists him over.

We have seen that tripping (ὑποσκελίζειν) was at all times an essential
part of Greek wrestling. There are various technical terms for the
different chips, but their interpretation is very uncertain and the
monuments give little help. The words βάλλω, βολή, and their compounds,
are used to denote both arm and leg movements. Perhaps we may recognise
in ἑμβοληή the modern “hank” and in παρεμβολή the “back heel,” the foot
being hooked round the opponent’s leg from the inside and the outside
respectively. The latter term occurs in an amusing passage of Lucian’s
_Ocypus_.[684] Ocypus, who is suffering from gout but will not
acknowledge it, alleges, among various excuses for his lameness, that he
hurt his foot in trying a back heel. By analogy the term διαβολή, if
used of a leg movement, may mean the “outside stroke.” The chip by which
Odysseus threw Ajax is described by Eustathius as μεταπλασμός or
παρακαταγωγή. From the Homeric account these terms ought to correspond
to the “inside click” or “hank.” Some such click is perhaps intended on
the vases in Figs. 116, 123, where one wrestler, lifted from the ground,
clicks his foot round his opponent’s leg.

The best illustration of tripping is furnished by a group of bronzes
representing a wrestler fallen on one knee and supporting himself on his
left arm, while his opponent stands over him with his left leg still
hooked round his, and his right foot behind. So far all the bronzes
agree, but in the position of the arms there are two varieties. In the
St. Petersburg bronze (Fig. 130) the victor forces the other’s head down
with his left hand, and with his right presses his right arm back in the
same way as in the bronze in the British Museum (Fig. 129). In the
Constantinople bronze (Fig. 131) he holds his opponent’s neck with his
right hand, while with his left he has twisted backwards his arm and
shoulder. In both cases he makes the attack from behind. In the first
case he seizes his opponent’s right hand with his own right, places his
arm across his neck, and at the same time hooks his left leg round the
other’s left leg; then pressing his neck forward he forces his right arm
backwards, using it as a lever to twist him off his feet. The other as
he falls puts out his left hand to save himself and falls with his left
hand and right knee on the ground. In the other type he seizes the
other’s left hand with his own left and pulls it across his back, at the
same time forcing his head forwards and downwards with his right hand,
and hooking his left leg. The fall is still more inevitable. All the
bronzes seem to represent the fall as completed, and the victor has no
appearance of continuing his attack. If a fall on the knee was a fair
fall no further explanation is wanted. In any case the fallen man’s
position is hopeless, and he can at any moment be rolled over on the

[Illustration: Fig. 130. Bronze. St. Petersburg.]

[Illustration: Fig. 131. Bronze. Constantinople.]

These bronzes are probably copies of some well-known Hellenistic group.
The number of replicas which exist of it attest the importance of the
original statue and the popularity of the throw represented. It is the
sort of attack that must naturally have commended itself to boys playing
tricks on one another, or street roughs attacking innocent passers-by
from behind. And it is, I believe, the very trick by which Aristophanes,
in the _Knights_, describes the way in which Cleon cheated simple old
country gentlemen. “Whenever you find such a one,” say the chorus, “you
fetch him home from the Chersonese, and as the old gentleman is walking
along unsuspectingly star-gazing you suddenly throw your arm across his
neck (διαβαλών), hook his leg (ἀγκυρίσας), and, pulling his shoulder
back, kick him in the stomach (ἐνεκολήβασας).”[685] Horse-play of this
character was not unknown among the fashionable youth of Athens.
Demosthenes relates how Conon and his sons set upon Ariston, tripped him
up, threw him in the mud, and jumped upon him; and several of the terms
which the orator uses are, like those of Aristophanes, terms familiar in
the wrestling school.

In no sport is there greater variety of styles and rules than in
wrestling. Almost every country has a style of its own. In Greece the
Panhellenic festivals helped to preserve uniformity of rule, but there
was still room for much diversity of style.[686] The Sicilians in
particular had a style of their own, the rules for which had been drawn
up by one Oricadmus.[687] There was also a “Thessalian chip,”[688] but
in what the Sicilians or Thessalians excelled we do not know. The
Argives, who were specially famed for their skill in wrestling, are
described by Theocritus as “cross-buttockers.” On the other hand, the
Spartans disdained the science of wrestling and the teaching of
trainers, and relied on mere strength and endurance.[689] Plutarch
ascribes the victory of the Thebans at Leuctra to their superiority over
the Spartans in wrestling.[690] Individuals, too, had their favourite
chips. It is recorded of Cleitostratus of Rhodes who won the wrestling
at Olympia in Ol. 147 that he owed his victories to the use of the

Footnote 633:

  Schol. Pindar, _Nem._ v. 49.

Footnote 634:

  Aelian, _Var. Hist._ ii. 4. Cp. _J.H.S._ xxv. p. 19, n. 27.

Footnote 635:

  vi. 4, 2.

Footnote 636:

  _J.H.S._ _l.c._ p. 15. Freeman, _Schools of Hellas_, p. 130.

Footnote 637:

  _Ox. Pap._ iii. 466. For a full discussion of it _vide_ Jüthner,
  _Philostratus_, p. 26. With the papyrus may be compared a curious
  passage in Lucian’s _Asinus_, c. 9, and an epigram in _Anth. Pal._
  xii. 206. The latter, like the passage in Lucian, is probably erotic.
  Such a metaphorical use of wrestling terms is common. Cp. Aristoph.
  _Pax_ 895, _Av._ 442, and the expressions ἀνακλινοπάλη, κλινοπάλη.

Footnote 638:

  _Ol. Ins._ 225, 226, 54; Paus. vi. 1, 2.

Footnote 639:

  _Hermotim._ 40.

Footnote 640:

  _Ol._ viii. 68; _Pyth._ viii. 81.

Footnote 641:

  _Ol. Ins._ 164, 174.

Footnote 642:

  _Ib._ 225, 226.

Footnote 643:

  _Anth. Pal._ xi. 316.

Footnote 644:

  Paus. vi. 11, 4.

Footnote 645:

  _Ol. Ins._ 153.

Footnote 646:

  _Gym._ 11; _vide_ Jüthner’s note, p. 206.

Footnote 647:

  _Aethiop._ iv. 2.

Footnote 648:

  Philostrat. _Vit. Soph._ 225, perhaps a mistake for σταδαία.

Footnote 649:

  _Vide_ Jüthner, _Philostratus_, p. 212.

Footnote 650:

  _Ib._ pp. 206, 297. This place was called ἁλινδήθρα, Aristoph. _Ran._
  904. Cp. Lucian, _Anacharsis_, 2, 28, 29.

Footnote 651:

  Euripides, _Bacchae_, 455.

Footnote 652:

  Krause, _Gym._ p. 541, n. 6.

Footnote 653:

  _J.H.S._ xxv. 21. Cp. Jüthner, _Philostratus_, p. 212.

Footnote 654:

  _Anth. Plan._ iii. 25; _Anth. Pal._ ix. 588. Cp. Aristoph. _Eq._ 571;
  Aeschylus, _Suppl._ 90.

Footnote 655:

  _Anth. Pal._ xi. 316.

Footnote 656:

  _Agamemnon_ 63; _Persae_ 914; _Anth. Plan._ iii. 24.

Footnote 657:

  Collected in my article on the Pentathlon, _J.H.S._ xxiii. p. 63; cp.
  xxv. p. 26. Jüthner, _Philostratus_, 207.

Footnote 658:

  “Luctator ter abjectus perdidit palmam.” Cp. Sophocles, _Fr._ 678.

Footnote 659:

  _J.H.S._ xxv. 29. where I have somewhat understated the evidence for

Footnote 660:

  796 A, B, discussed more fully _op. cit._ p. 27.

Footnote 661:

  l. 26, σύ κατὰ τῶν δύο πλέον, for the interpretation of which see
  Jüthner, p. 28.

Footnote 662:

  _Mus. Greg._ i. 103.

Footnote 663:

  Heliodorus, _Aethiop._ x. 31.

Footnote 664:

  Homer, _Il._ xxiii. 712; Lucian, _Anacharsis_, 1; Philostrat. _Vit.
  Soph._ 225.

Footnote 665:

  Plutarch, _Symp._ ii. 4, enumerates as wrestling terms συστάσεις,
  παραθέσεις, ἐμβολαί, παρεμβολαί. Jüthner in his interesting account of
  the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus appears to deny this interpretation, but
  suggests no satisfactory alternative.

Footnote 666:

  On the interior of this kylix the same group is repeated, but the
  moment is not quite the same. Cercyon appears to be trying to draw

Footnote 667:

  Homolle, _Fouilles de Delphes_, iv. 76.

Footnote 668:

  _Anacharsis_, 24.

Footnote 669:

  A small ivory statuette of two boys wrestling, recently acquired by
  the British Museum, perhaps represents the moment of the turn.

Footnote 670:

  Dar.-Sagl. 4624.

Footnote 671:

  Phil. _Gym._ 35; Xen. _Lac. Rep._ 5, 9; Aristoph. _Eq._ 491.

Footnote 672:

  Athenaeus xiii. p. 566.

Footnote 673:

  Munich, 3; Gerh. _A. V._ 114. In _J.H.S._ xxv. I have dealt more fully
  with the fights of Heracles.

Footnote 674:

  Schreiber, _Atlas_, xxiv. 10.

Footnote 675:

  _J.H.S._ xxv. p. 280, διαλαμβάνειν, μεσοφέρδειν, μεσοφέρδην, μέσον
  ἔχειν; διαλαμβάνειν means to clasp both hands round an opponent’s
  waist; περιτιθέναι means rather to put one arm round an opponent as in
  taking a grip for the heave, but does not necessarily imply that the
  hands are clasped. _Vide_ Jüthner, _Philostratus_, p. 28.

Footnote 676:

  _Vide_ _J. H. S._ xxv. pp. 281 ff., and Figs. 18, 19, 20.

Footnote 677:

  For references see _J.H.S._ p. 283, n. 76.

Footnote 678:

  Quintus iv. 215; Nonnus xxxvii. 553-601. For a brief account of these
  _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxv. p. 25.

Footnote 679:

  l. 25 σὺ αὐτον μεταβὰς πλέξον· σὺ μεταβαλοῦ.

Footnote 680:

  xxiv. 111.

Footnote 681:

  _Char._ xxvii.

Footnote 682:

  _Fouilles de Delphes_, iv. 46, 47.

Footnote 683:

  _Collection Philip_, Paris, 1905, No. 484; de Ridder, _Collection de
  Clercy_, Paris, 1905, iii. 253, Pl. xli. 3.

Footnote 684:

  _Ocypus_, 60.

Footnote 685:

  _Equites_, 261-3; Demosthenes _in Cononem_, 8. For a full discussion
  of this passage and of the bronzes _vide_ _J.H.S._ xxv. pp. 289-293.

Footnote 686:

  Krause, _Gym._ 428.

Footnote 687:

  Aelian, _Var. Hist._ xi.

Footnote 688:

  Eustathius, _Il._ ii. p. 331, 18, 39.

Footnote 689:

  Epigram on a Spartan by Damagetus, _Anth. Plan._ i. 1.

Footnote 690:

  _Quaest. Symp._ ii. 5, 2.

                              CHAPTER XIX

No sport was older, and none was more popular at all periods among the
Greeks than boxing. Its antiquity and its popularity are manifest in
their mythology.[691] Apollo himself is said to have defeated Ares in
boxing at Olympia, and the Delphians sacrificed to Apollo the Boxer
(πύκτης), a conclusive proof that boxing was regarded by the Greeks as a
contest of skill rather than of brute strength. Heracles, Tydeus, and
Polydeuces were all famous boxers, and the invention of boxing is
ascribed to Theseus. Both in the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ boxing
appears as a common accomplishment and a popular sport; it was
represented, according to Hesiod, on the shield of Heracles. The
discoveries of Cnossus have shown that boxing was known in the Aegean
centuries before the arrival of the Greeks. The survival of the
tradition in these parts may perhaps explain the extraordinary
popularity of boxing in the East, and particularly among the Ionians.
Boxing formed part of the ancient Delian festival, and the laws of
boxing in use at Olympia were ascribed to Onomastus of Smyrna. It was
also extremely popular among the Arcadians, but found less favour with
the Spartans who, though claiming to have invented boxing at first as a
military exercise, abandoned it at an early date and took no part in
boxing competitions.[692]

The early inhabitants of Crete are thought to have worn some kind of
glove or caestus. But the boxing of historic times was far more nearly
akin to fighting with bare fists, from which, of course, all boxing
originated. The fight between Odysseus and Irus in the _Odyssey_ proves
that fights with bare fists were frequent in Homeric times. But the
competitors in the funeral games of Patroclus had their hands covered
with well-cut thongs of ox-hide, such as we find represented later on
the vases. The use of some sort of covering or protection for the hand
necessarily determines the whole system of fighting, and it will be
convenient, therefore, before we consider the style of Greek boxing, to
trace the history and development of what for convenience we may call
the Greek gloves.[693] The simplest form of glove consisted in long,
thin thongs wound round the hands. They were made of ox-hide, raw or
simply dressed with oil or fat so as to render them supple. Later
writers described them as “soft gloves,” ἵμαντες μαλακώτεροι or μείλιχαι
in contrast with the more formidable implements in use in their own
time.[694] In reality they must have been far from soft, and like the
light gloves used sometimes in modern fights they served to protect the
knuckles from swelling, and so to increase the power of attack rather
than to deaden the force of the blow. From the vase paintings they
appear to be ten or twelve feet long, and the number of windings
represented require at least that length.

[Illustration: Fig. 132. R.-f. kylix, in British Museum, E. 63.]

[Illustration: Fig. 133. R.-f. kylix, in British Museum, E. 39.]

These thongs are among the commonest objects on the vases. Sometimes we
see them gathered into a bundle; and carried in the hand. A fragment of
a red-figured kylix in the British Museum, E. 63, shows a procession of
youthful boxers standing before an official (Fig. 132). They appear to
be competitors taking the preliminary oath to observe all the laws of
the games. Their right hands are raised, and in their left they carry
bundles of thongs. Similarly on the interior of another British Museum
kylix, E. 39, a youthful boxer with the thongs in his left hand stands
over an altar (Fig. 133). His attitude expresses surprise and excitement
at something which he sees upon the altar, perhaps, as Dr. Jüthner
suggests,[695] at the appearance of the victim, from the burning of
which he seeks an omen of his success in the games (μαντεῖον δί
ἐμπύρων). On the exterior of the same kylix the artist has drawn a
series of boxing scenes. On one side two youths are preparing or waiting
their turn to box, one holds in his hands a pair of thongs, one of which
he is handing to his fellow. The latter holds a thong outstretched with
both hands. At either end the thong is gathered into a loop. This type,
which is of very frequent occurrence, is often misinterpreted, the thong
being regarded either as a jumping rope, or as a rope used in a sort of
pulling match or tug-of-war, which was a familiar boys’ game in Plato’s
time.[696] But Dr. Jüthner has proved conclusively that the objects
represented are boxing thongs.[697]

Very frequently, as in the vase with which we are dealing, we see one or
both ends of the thong gathered into a loop. This arrangement is clearly
connected with the method of fastening the thong. Philostratus, in
describing the meilichai, says that the four fingers were inserted into
a loop in such a way as to allow the hand to be clenched, and were held
tight by a cord fastened round the forearm.[698] Cord and loop are
merely parts of the leather thong. The act of binding the thong is
frequently pictured on the red-figured vases, but the drawing of the
thongs is too small and usually too sketchy to allow us to form any
conclusion as to the precise method.[699] Probably there were various
methods in use. The thumb is always free and usually uncovered, though
occasionally the thong is wound round the thumb separately.[700] As a
rule the thong is wound several times round the four fingers and
knuckles, passed diagonally across the palm and back of the hand, and
wound round the wrist, the binding sometimes being carried some distance
up the forearm. The interior of a British Museum kylix, E. 78 (Fig.
134), shows a youth in the act of binding the thong on his right arm,
pulling the end tight with his left hand. In this case it seems that the
fingers are bound first, and the thong is fastened round the wrist. On a
B.M. amphora (Fig. 135) representing a later type of glove the order
appears to be reversed.

[Illustration: Fig. 134. Interior of Fig. 151. British Museum, E. 78.]

[Illustration: Fig. 135. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 607.
Archonship of Pythodelus, B.C. 336.]

The meilichai were the only form of boxing glove used in the sixth and
fifth centuries, and they continued in use, at all events for practice
in the palaestra, during the fourth century. Early in this century,
however, they seem to have been superseded in competition by more
formidable gloves which Plato describes as σφαῖραι, and which he
recommends for use in his ideal state as more closely reproducing the
conditions of actual warfare. These σφαῖραι or balls have been
identified by Dr. Jüthner with a type of glove represented on certain
Panathenaic vases of the fourth century, and also on some Etruscan
cistae which belong to the early part of the third century. On the
latter the ball-like appearance to which they owed their name is clearly
marked. On the well-known Ficoroni cista[701] the hand appears to be
covered by a glove which leaves the fingers free but extends almost the
whole length of the forearm; and the glove is bound on by triple thongs,
crossing and recrossing each other, and finally gathered together into a
bunch, and secured by passing through a loop at the back of the hand.
Very similar is the type represented on the B.M. amphora (Fig. 135)
which bears the name of the Archon Pythodelus, 336 B.C. The glove seems
to be formed of thick bands of some soft substance stretching along the
arm, and bound round by stout, stiff leather thongs fastened apparently
between the fingers and the thumb. The youth to the left, who is waiting
to fight the winner, is drawing the end tight with his teeth. On the
right is represented, in place of the usual judge, a draped and winged
figure of Victory bearing in her hand a palm. A similar glove is
represented on another Panathenaic vase, in the Louvre, belonging to the
Archonship of Hegesias in 324 B.C.

[Illustration: Fig. 136. Boxer. Terme Museum, Rome. (From a photograph
by Anderson.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 137. Right hand of boxer, from Sorrento. Naples.]

To bind on the hand these complicated thongs must have been a
troublesome and lengthy process. And the introduction of the sphairai
was followed almost immediately by the invention of gloves which could
be drawn on or off more readily. These gloves, which are appropriately
described as ἵμαντες ὀξεῖς, are familiar to us from the seated boxer in
the Terme at Rome (Fig. 136). They occur also in a marble figure of a
boxer from Sorrento which is now at Naples (Fig. 137), on an arm also at
Naples, and on a hand found at Verona.[702] They consist of two parts, a
glove and a hard leather ring encircling the knuckles. The glove extends
half-way down the forearm and ends in a thick strip of fleece serving
doubtless to protect the arm, which might easily be broken by a blow
from so formidable a weapon; the glove itself appears from the way in
which the straps cut into it to have been padded; the ends of the
fingers are cut off and there is an opening on the inside. On the
knuckles the glove is provided with a thick pad which prevents the ring
in which the fingers are inserted from slipping down. This ring is
formed of three to five strips of hard, stiff leather, bound together by
small straps, and held in its place by thongs bound round the wrist. It
is about an inch wide and half an inch thick, and its sharp, projecting
edges must have rendered it a weapon of offence fully as effective as
the modern knuckle-duster. Under these circumstances it is amusing to
learn from Philostratus that the thumb was not allowed to take any part
in the blow for fear of causing severe and unsightly wounds (ὑπὲρ
συμμετρίας τῶν τραυμάτων) and that for the same reason the use of
pigskin was forbidden.[703] In later writers the term “sphairai” seems
to be used of these ἵμαντες ὀξεῖς, and inasmuch as they were too
dangerous for use in practice, soft, padded gloves were used in the
palaestra called ἐπίσθαιρα.[704]

These gloves continued in use with but little variation till the second
century A.D. at least. Indeed it is doubtful if any other form was ever
used in the true Greek festivals. The latest representation of them in
art is a relief now in the Lateran supposed to represent the fight
between Entellus and Dares.[705] The influence of Roman feeling is seen
in the fact that both combatants instead of being naked wear a chiton
tucked up so as to leave the right shoulder bare.[706] The gloves differ
little from those described above, except that the thumb is protected by
leather thongs, though not bound up with the fingers. Pausanias,
Plutarch, and Philostratus know no other form of glove, and none of
these writers makes any reference to the masses of lead and iron with
which, according to Roman poets, the caestus was loaded. The ἵμαντες
ὀξεῖς were certainly capable of inflicting all the injuries on which the
writers of epigrams in the _Anthology_ delight to dwell.[707] The use of
metal to render the caestus heavier and more dangerous is a purely Roman
invention, utterly barbarous and entirely fatal to all science in
boxing. The Roman caestus may have figured in some of those gladiatorial
shows which found favour in some parts of Greece under the empire, but
the silence of Philostratus and others proves that it was never used at
Olympia, or indeed at any place when any vestige of the athletic
tradition of Greece yet lingered.

The caestus has really no place in the history of Greek athletics except
in so far as it is a development of the ἵμαντες ὀξεῖς or σφαῖραι of the
Greeks. Completely ignorant of true boxing, the Romans assumed that the
power of attack could be increased by additional weight. They did not
understand that in boxing a quick, sharp blow is far more dangerous and
effective than a slow, heavy blow, and that the more the hand is
weighted, the slower the blow is, and therefore the easier to guard
against or avoid. According to the poets they increased the weight by
sewing pieces of lead and iron into the glove. In the existing
representations of the caestus the hand seems to be encased in a hard
ball or cylinder, from the back of which over the knuckles is a toothed
protection presumably of metal, which sometimes takes the form of two or
three spikes. These spikes have been sometimes mistaken for the fingers,
but their true nature has been conclusively shown by Dr. Jüthner. At the
same time the owner was protected by a padded sleeve extending almost to
the shoulder. This sleeve is usually made of a skin or fleece with the
rough side turned outwards and is secured by straps. On the Lateran
Mosaic the whole arm appears to be encased in a hard sheath (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 138. Caestus, from mosaic in the Thermae of
Caracalla. Lateran Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 139. Bronze situla. Watsch.]

In the preceding sketch no mention has been made of a very curious form
of caestus represented on the bronze situlae found at Bologna and in the
Tyrol, because, as Dr. Jüthner has pointed out, this form finds no place
in the development of the Greek boxing glove.[709] So-called boxing
scenes are of common occurrence on these situlae; the form of the weapon
is most clearly shown on the well-known situla from Watsch (Fig. 139),
on which two boxers are depicted fighting over a helmet placed on a
stand between them and holding in their hands objects exactly resembling
modern dumb-bells. In fact one is tempted to suppose that they really
are halteres shaped like dumb-bells, and that the scene depicted is not
so much a boxing match as some sort of athletic dance. Certainly the
style of the performance has as little connexion with true boxing as
these objects have with boxing gloves. But the composition of the group
seems to show that it really is a crude and barbarous representation of
boxing. The helmet placed between the two figures is, of course, the
prize for which they are fighting, and cannot possibly represent any
sort of barrier between the two combatants as a recent writer has
suggested.[710] In archaic art the tripods, cauldrons, or helmets which
are the objects of competition are frequently represented. In a race the
prize is naturally placed at the finish; in a combat it is no less
naturally placed between the combatants. The same scheme of composition
occurs on the walls of tombs at Tarquinii and Clusium,[711] and on the
fragment of a black-figured vase in the British Museum found at Daphnae
in Egypt (Fig. 140).[712] On the Etruscan tombs the scheme is not
confined to boxers. In the Tomba degli Auguri at Tarquinii a pair of
wrestlers[713] are wrestling over three large bowls placed between them;
but no one could suppose for a moment that the bowls were in reality so
placed. The numerous athletic scenes on those tombs bear witness to the
popularity of athletics and especially of boxing among the Etruscans;
but they do not justify us in assuming any connexion between Etruscan
art and that of the situlae, nor between Etruscan athletics and the
athletics of the Tyrol. The athletic scenes on Etruscan tombs are
nothing but imitations of the athletic scenes on the Greek vases which
we know were from an early period imported into Etruria. The diskoi,
halteres, and himantes differ little from those on the vases, such
differences as do occur being possibly due to the fact that the Etruscan
artist did not quite understand what he was copying. The scheme of
composition is usually Greek; that the particular boxing scheme which we
are discussing is Greek is proved by the vase from Daphnae. Such
resemblance then as exists between the Etruscan scheme and that on the
situlae is clearly due to the fact that both were imitated from the
Greeks, unless we are to maintain that the situlae were the original for
both Etruscans and Greeks. But if the scheme of composition on the
situlae is Greek, what shall we say of the form of caestus? It certainly
cannot have been derived from or even suggested by anything that Greek
boxers ever wore. Two explanations alone are possible. Either we have a
picture of some barbarous form of combat belonging to the Tyrol in which
such weapons were used,[714] or the makers of the situlae, ignorant of
Greek athletics, have mistaken the halteres of the Greeks for weapons
used in boxing.

[Illustration: Fig. 140. Fragment of b.-f. situla, in British Museum, B.

The history of Greek boxing may be divided then into three main periods.
The first is the period of the soft thongs or meilichai, and extends
from Homeric times to the close of the sixth century; the second is that
of the “sharp thongs” and sphairai, extending from the fourth century
into late Roman times; the third is that of the weighted caestus, though
as has been shown it is doubtful whether this was really Greek. The
changes in the form of the glove must have greatly modified the style of
boxing and even the scanty evidence which we possess allows us to trace
to some extent the change in style. For the first period we have the
evidence of Homer, and of the painted vases of the sixth and fifth
centuries: for the second period we have the evidence of a few
Panathenaic vases, and of Theocritus and Apollonius Rhodius, both of
whom have left us descriptions of fights which doubtless reflect the
practice of their own day: for the last period we have the extremely
unreliable evidence of Vergil and other Roman poets. There is also much
scattered information referring to different periods contained in the
writings of Plutarch, Pausanias, Lucian, and Philostratus. These writers
for the most part derive their information from earlier records, and it
is often difficult to estimate the value of their evidence. It is,
therefore, extremely important to consider first of all in its proper
order such evidence as can be dated with certainty. The neglect of this
precaution has led to many ill-considered and misleading statements
about the Greek boxer. Thus in a well-known dictionary, I find a
paragraph constructed with sublime indifference to dates from some
sixteen authors, Greek, Latin, and Byzantine, from the time of Homer to
that of Eustathius. The events referred to in this miscellaneous
collection of writers cover a period of at least a thousand years, and
from this farrago of evidence the author has produced a generalised
picture of the Greek boxer equally applicable or inapplicable to a
Homeric warrior or a Roman gladiator. The result is still worse when a
writer like Professor Mahaffy[715] bases a wholesale condemnation of
Greek boxing on Vergil’s description of the fight between Dares and
Entellus and a few stories of uncertain date. Before we consider such
criticism in detail we will first see what we can learn from a
chronological study of the evidence.

In Homer boxing, like wrestling, is already a specialised sport, though
the pankration, which combined the two, did not yet exist. The art of
boxing was hereditary in certain families, and custom had already
evolved a body of tacitly accepted rules for the regulation of a fight.
This is evident not merely from the description in the _Iliad_, but
still more so in the ease with which the suitors arrange all the
preliminaries for the impromptu fight between Odysseus and Irus. In the
latter bare fists are used; but otherwise the conditions of the two
fights are precisely similar. These conditions, which seem never to have
altered during the long history of Greek boxing, determined the whole
history of the sport, and are largely responsible for the differences
which distinguish Greek boxing from modern.

In the first place, there was no regular ring, beyond what was formed by
the spectators. Greek boxers had ample space and there was therefore no
opportunity for cornering an opponent. The only reference to any such
thing is in Theocritus’ account of the fight between Polydeuces and
Amycus, where the Greeks were afraid for the moment lest “the giant’s
weight might crush their champion in a narrow place.”[716] The
narrowness of the place is evidently noted here as something unusual.
The scene of the fight is the wooded dell at the foot of a lofty cliff
where Amycus makes his abode and waits to waylay strangers. A fitting
place for a robber but very different from the open ground where sports
were wont to be held, and where brute strength could have no chance
against the trained skill of the boxer. It was only the “narrow place”
which gave the bully a momentary advantage, and the passage, therefore,
really confirms the view that the boxing ring was wide and open. These
conditions tend to discourage close fighting and to encourage defensive
and waiting tactics.

Other circumstances contributed to the same result. There were no rounds
in Greek boxing. The opponents fought to a finish. It might happen that
both were too exhausted and by mutual consent paused to take breath; but
usually the fight went on until one of the two was incapable of fighting
any more, or acknowledged himself defeated (ἀπειπεῖν) by holding up his
hand. This signal of defeat is often depicted on vase paintings. A good
example of it occurs on the amphora in the British Museum, reproduced in
Fig. 141. In such fights forcing tactics do not pay, the boxer who makes
the pace too fast exhausts himself to no purpose; in the descriptions of
fights which we possess it is usually the clumsy, untrained boxer who
forces the pace and tries to rush his opponent, with disastrous effects
to himself. Caution was therefore the rule of the Greek boxer; and the
fighting was therefore usually slow. We shall see to what absurd lengths
this caution was carried in later times.

[Illustration: Fig. 141. B.-f. amphora, in British Museum, B. 271.]

Lastly, classification by weights was unknown to the Greeks. Their
competitions were open to all comers whatever their weight, and under
the conditions described, weight had perhaps even greater advantage than
it has to-day. Consequently boxing became more and more the monopoly of
heavy weights and became less and less scientific.

These conditions were not unlike those existing in the early days of the
English prize-ring, except that in the latter bare fists were used and
wrestling was allowed. The use of gloves or thongs renders wrestling
impracticable, and it appears, therefore, never to have been allowed in
Greek boxing. But there is an element of artificiality about all
fighting with covered hands. Modern boxers tell us that the use of
gloves has corrupted the true art of self-defence because the boxer with
gloves may expose himself to blows which would effectually end the fight
with bare fists. I doubt whether such a thing could be said of the Greek
thongs, which certainly can never have deadened the blow in the least.
Consequently boxing remained with the Greeks essentially the art of
“defence.” In late times we hear of boxers winning competitions without
even being hit by their opponents, a feat which would be quite
impossible under modern conditions.[717] But though the true tradition
of fighting was preserved in the pankration, and though in Homer we find
the same tactics employed whether with bare fists or with boxing thongs,
it is undoubtedly true that an artificial style was at an early date
developed in Greek boxing, and the artificiality was increased by the
changes which converted the simple boxing thongs into a formidable
weapon both for offence and defence. So the style of fighting employed
by the boxer diverged more and more from that of the pankratiast, and
whereas in the fifth century it is not infrequent to find families like
the Diagoridae distinguished in both boxing and the pankration, this
combination becomes rarer, and the so-called successors of Heracles of a
later age were those who won the pankration and wrestling.

The two Homeric fights have been already fully described in a previous
chapter. They give us little information as to the style of Greek
boxing, except that both fights were decided by knock-out blows on the
jaw or thereabouts, delivered presumably with the right hand much in the
same way as in modern boxing. Nor are the vase paintings as enlightening
as we should expect from the number of vases on which boxing is
indicated. The fact is that a boxing match is a supremely difficult
subject for an artist, as may be readily realised by a glance at the
illustrations in modern books on athletics. The Greek vase painter
instinctively avoided violent movement, and often preferred to represent
a sport not by the actual performance but by some preliminary scene.
Hence the large number of vases on which he has represented boxing by
groups of men holding or adjusting the himantes.[718] Even when he did
depict the actual fight he confined himself to a small number of
conventional types. There is less conventionality and more originality
shown on the early black-figured than on the red-figured vases; but the
crowding of figures on these early vases was incompatible with a true
representation of open fighting, and consequently on many of these vases
the boxing is confined to short arm punching and chopping, the grotesque
effect of which is frequently heightened by the blood which flows
copiously from the noses of the combatants. A good example of this style
is seen in Fig. 142, taken from a black-figured stamnos in the
Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, where, it will be observed, the
athletes all wear the archaic loin-cloth. On the red-figured vases a
more open style of fighting prevails. We are not, however, justified
thereby in assuming any change of style in the actual fighting; the
difference is due chiefly, if not entirely, to artistic causes. In
spite, however, of this lack of variety on the vases we can, I think,
draw certain conclusions from them as to the attitude and methods of the
Greek boxer.

[Illustration: Fig. 142. B.-f. stamnos. Bibliothèque Nationale, 252.]

There can be no doubt as to the position assumed by the Greek boxer when
he first “puts up his hands.” It is the moment most frequently depicted
on the vases. He stands with body upright and head erect, the feet well
apart, and the left foot advanced. The left leg is usually slightly
bent, the foot pointing straight forwards, while the right foot is
sometimes at right angles to it, pointing outwards in the correct
position for a lunge with the left. The left arm, which is used for
guarding, is extended almost straight, the hand sometimes closed,
sometimes open. The right arm is drawn back for striking, the elbow
sometimes dropped, but more usually raised level with or even higher
than the shoulder. This position is clearly shown on a series of vases
from the British Museum, from which our illustrations are taken,
extending from the sixth century to the fourth century B.C. They are a
black-figured amphora by Nicosthenes (Fig. 143), two red-figured kylikes
one of which is signed by Duris (Figs. 133, 151), and two Panathenaic
vases of the latter half of the fourth century (Figs. 135, 148).

On all these vases and on most other vases containing boxing scenes the
left leg is vigorously advanced. Mr. Frost, in his article on Greek
boxing in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vol. xxvi., to which I am
indebted for many useful hints, maintains that this is merely a
conventional rendering, and that the Greek boxer really stood with his
feet nearly level, like the early pugilists of the English prize-ring.
Little evidence is adduced for this statement, and he seems to me to
have been misled by the analogy of the prize-ring, forgetting that our
knowledge of Greek boxing begins at the point where the history of the
prize-ring ends. In the prize-ring bare fists were used, and clinching,
wrestling, and throwing were allowed; whereas in Greek boxing the hand
always had some form of covering, and no clinching or wrestling was
allowed. Moreover, Mr. Frost’s theory does not seem to me to explain the
facts. If both feet were approximately level we should expect to find
that in a fair proportion of cases the right foot was advanced,
especially as symmetry, which exercised a strong influence over the
Greek painter, would naturally prompt him to represent one boxer with
the right foot, the other with the left foot in advance, an arrangement
by no means uncommon in wrestling groups. In boxing, however, such
symmetrical groups are extremely rare, and the left foot is nearly
always advanced, and in several cases is shown in the very act of
lunging. Indeed, so far from holding the body square, it would appear
from the vases that the Greeks exaggerated the sideways position. For
frequently the left foot and left arm of one boxer are represented as
outside or to the right of the left foot and arm of his opponent (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 143. B.-f. amphora, in British Museum, B. 295.]

This sideways position with the left arm extended was an elective guard
for the head and kept an opponent at a distance, but it left the body
quite unprotected, a mistake which would be fatal in the confined space
of the modern ring with a strong and active opponent. This exposure of
the body is, as Mr. Frost has pointed out, characteristic of all Greek
boxing as depicted on the vases, and this peculiarity is connected with
a fact which, as far as I know, has not been observed before, that the
Greek boxer confined his attention almost exclusively to his opponent’s
head. Whether it was that he did not realise the use of body blows, or
that he considered them bad form, or that they were prohibited, it is
certain that he made little or no use of them. There is not, as far as I
know, a single representation of a body blow; the injuries inflicted are
all injuries to the head; in the few cases where body blows are
mentioned they are delivered by unscientific fighters, such as Irus and
Amycus, and appear to be ill-aimed or short blows, which, missing the
head, have fallen on the shoulder or chest. The only exception which I
know is the fatal blow by which Damoxenus, according to Pausanias, slew
Creugas at the Nemean games;[720] but though there was doubtless some
foundation for the story the details are so manifestly fabulous that
they are valueless as evidence. On the other hand a passage in
Philostratus affords a strong presumption that boxing was practically,
if not formally, confined to head blows. He tells us that boxing was
invented by the Spartans because they did not wear helmets, considering
the shield the only manly form of protection.[721] They practised boxing
in order to learn to ward off blows from the head and to harden the
face. Further, in describing the physical qualities of the boxer he
regards a prominent stomach as a possible advantage, because it renders
it less easy for an opponent to reach the face! Nor does he anywhere
make any reference to body blows. Boxing like fencing is governed by
artificial laws, and it is just possible that the laws of Greek boxing
prohibited intentional blows on the body, just as blows below the belt
are prohibited to-day. Perhaps they were forbidden by the unwritten law
of tradition. Whatever the explanation, the fact seems fairly
established that body hitting was not practised, and consequently the
body was left unguarded; and this peculiarity is perhaps the most
important difference between Greek and modern boxing, and had important
results on the history of the sport.

It would appear at first sight from the vases that the left hand was
used almost exclusively for guarding, and the right for attack. Though
the actual blow with the right is never represented, the right fist is
almost invariably clenched and drawn back for the blow. But this
statement requires considerable modification. In the first place, so
long as a boxer kept his left arm extended as guard, it was only
possible to reach his head with the right hand either by stepping to the
right so as to get outside his guard, or by breaking down his guard. In
the first case it was possible to deliver a swinging blow on the left
side of the chin—the knock-out blow described in Homer and Theocritus.
But as the opponent naturally met the movement by himself moving to the
right, the result was usually that the fighters circled round each other
ineffectively. This is perhaps the reason why the left foot and hand of
the boxer are so commonly represented to the right of his opponent’s
left foot and hand. But it can seldom have been possible to bring off
such a blow as a lead, and therefore an opening had to be made for the
use of the right hand by sparring with the left somewhat in the style of
fencers. In this sparring which is commonly depicted on the vases, the
hands are usually open. An instance of it occurs in Fig. 151, where a
pair of boxers are seen sparring with open hands apparently for
practice. Still better is the scene on a Panathenaic vase in Berlin
(Fig. 144). Here the left-hand boxer having made his opening prepares to
follow up the attack with his right, while his opponent draws back his
head out of reach and guards with both hands. Sometimes in such sparring
an opportunity occurred for delivering a blow with the left. On a
Panathenaic vase published by Stephani (Fig. 145) the right-hand boxer
in pressing the attack has exposed his head, and his opponent has shot
out his left hand without even closing it and hit him on the nose. This
leads us to a second point. Wherever the actual blow is represented, or
one boxer is represented as in the act of being knocked down, or having
been knocked down, the blow is delivered with the left hand. We may
therefore conclude that the Greek boxer used his left hand as much as
the right for attack, and that some of the most effective blows could be
delivered with the left. This conclusion is borne out by the
descriptions in Homer, Theocritus, and other writers, who with one
consent represent the Greek as a two-handed fighter.

[Illustration: Fig. 144. Panathenaic amphora. Berlin, 1831. Sixth

[Illustration: Fig. 145. Panathenaic amphora. Campana. Sixth century

The position of the right arm indicates that it was employed chiefly for
round or hook hits, upper cuts, and chopping blows, and a consideration
of the general attitude and guards of the Greek boxer shows that only
such blows were as a rule possible with the right. Sometimes the right
hand is swung back in preparation for the knock-out blow (Fig. 133),
sometimes it is raised slightly above the shoulder as if for a downward
chopping blow (Fig. 143), sometimes it is held on a level with or below
the shoulder, in which case a straight hit may be intended (Fig. 148).
But a straight hit was impossible unless the opponent’s guard had been
previously broken down or knocked aside with the left. With the left
hand, however, straight hits appear to be the rule, as indeed we should
expect from the position with the left leg advanced, and, as the heel of
the right foot is usually lifted from the ground, it appears that the
force of the blow was obtained correctly from a lunge. An excellent
illustration of such a blow is found on a kylix of Pamphaeus (Fig. 146).
The falling boxer raises his left hand to guard his head; but it is in
vain; for he lifts the forefinger of his right hand in acknowledgment of
defeat. Still better is the scene on a Panathenaic amphora in the Louvre
(Fig. 147) which represents a boxer knocking his opponent down with a
blow on the point of the chin. A further stage is depicted in one of the
groups on the Duris kylix (Fig. 133) where one boxer has already been
knocked down by his opponent’s left. He too raises his finger as a sign
that he is beaten. Sometimes a vigorous lunge with the left foot is

[Illustration: Fig. 146. R.-f. kylix of Pamphaeus. Corneto.]

[Illustration: Fig. 147. Panathenaic amphora. Louvre, F. 278.]

[Illustration: Fig. 148. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 612.
Fourth century.]

The view stated in the last paragraph is at variance with that put
forward by Professor Mahaffy and supported with some modification by Mr.
Frost. These writers maintain that the straight hit from the shoulder
was practically unknown to the Greek boxer. They argue partly from the
description of the fights in Theocritus and Vergil, which will be
discussed later; but their main argument is that the wounds received in
Greek boxing were chiefly on the side of the head and on the ear, and
that the Greek boxer was known throughout all Greek history as “a man
with the crushed ear.” The latter statement is absolutely erroneous. The
earliest reference to the crushed ear is in Plato, who uses the term to
describe those who aped Spartan manners and practised fighting like the
Spartans.[723] Now it is well known that scientific boxing was unknown
at Sparta: fighting there was in plenty with bare fists and no
regulations; but science in boxing and also in wrestling was despised by
the Spartans. Moreover, it seems that the crushed ear was quite as much
the sign of the pankratiast or even of the wrestler;[724] it appears to
have been very similar to the swollen ear which is so common among Rugby
football players. When we come to consider the literary evidence we
shall find that the crushed ear plays but little part; eyes, nose,
mouth, teeth, chin, come in for far more punishment than the ears, and
the vase paintings agree with the literary evidence. Bleeding at the
nose, cuts on the cheek, blows on the chin are freely depicted; but I do
not know a single vase which represents the crushed ear. So far as the
crushed ear is concerned, the charge against the Greek boxer of
neglecting straight hitting breaks down completely.

Nor does it seem to me at all easy to substantiate the statement also
made that the Greeks had no knowledge of foot-work, and that having
taken up their position they stood practically still. Naturally the
vases throw little light on such a point; but they do prove undoubtedly
that the Greeks understood how to give force to a blow by lunging, and
inasmuch as the lunge is always with the left foot, it seems probable
that they understood the importance of not changing feet. Further, in
all the descriptions of fights the value of quick foot-work is clearly
recognised. This appears even in late writers like Statius.[725] His
victor Alcidamas defeats his heavier opponent Capaneus by his greater
activity. Capaneus drives him round the ring but Alcidamas “avoids a
thousand deaths which flit around his temples by quick movement and by
the help of his feet.” When we find the value of foot-work recognised in
a writer like Statius, whose ideas of boxing are vitiated by the
brutalities of the Roman caestus, we are surely justified in assuming
that the Greeks of a better period were at least equally skilful. Still
more convincing is the evidence of Philostratus. “I do not approve,” he
says, “of men with big calves in any branch of athletics, and especially
in boxing. They are slow in advancing, and easily caught by an
opponent’s advance.”[726] Philostratus, it will be remembered, though
writing in the time of the Empire, aims at reviving the practice of the
old Greek athletes, and much of his material is derived from earlier
treatises on athletics. In describing the ideal boxer he lays particular
stress on activity and suppleness. So Bacchylides describes the youthful
Argeius of Ceos,[727] a victor in the boys’ boxing at the Isthmia, as
“stout of hand, with the spirit of a lion and light of foot.”

Such appear to be the general characteristics of the Greek boxer as
depicted on the vases. He used both hands freely, was active on his
feet, and had a considerable variety of attack. His style resembled the
freer style of American boxing which has recently become popular rather
than the somewhat conventional almost one-handed style which so long
prevailed in England. From later literature we learn that he was an
adept at dodging, “ducking,” and “slipping.” The defect of his style
appears to me to be the stiff, high guard with the left hand, which is
best explained on the supposition that he hit only at the head. This
guard is stiffer, and the arm straighter on the red-figured vases than
on the earlier black-figured vases, and this is still more the case on
the Panathenaic vases of the fourth century (Figs. 135, 148). The use of
the left hand for guarding cramped the attack and encouraged the use of
downward chopping blows, of which there are some traces on the vases.
This is probably the reason why the forearm was protected by leather
thongs. The introduction of the hard, cutting rims round the hand at the
close of the fifth century rendered the style of fighting still more
artificial, and necessitated still further protection for the forearm.
How difficult it must have been to get within the guard of a big boxer
with a long reach armed with these weapons will be realised from the
figure on the Panathenaic vase in Fig. 135. Thus a thoroughly vicious
style of boxing sprang up which accentuated the natural advantages of
the heavy-weight boxer. Instead of relying on activity and skill he
relied more and more on his stiff defence. He even practised holding up
his arm for long periods in order to weary his opponent, and the
absurdity of his style reaches its climax in the highly rhetorical tales
of Dion Chrysostom. Describing Melancomas, the favourite of the emperor
Titus, he says that he could keep up his guard for two whole days and so
forced his opponents to yield not merely before he had been struck
himself but even before he had struck them.[728] The story is
sufficiently remarkable; but, nothing daunted, Eusebius succeeds in
improving upon it and asserts that Melancomas by these tactics “killed
all his opponents,” an illustration of the growth of sporting stories
which may well make us sceptical of the evidence of late commentators.
Dion, however, is writing of a man who was his own contemporary, and,
making allowance for rhetorical exaggeration, we may therefore safely
accept his evidence as to the style of boxing in vogue at his time. Such
a defence explains the employment of those slogging, downward blows
which figure so largely in the descriptions of late Greek and Latin
poets. In these descriptions we can trace the decay of Greek boxing; but
the faults which were developed in Hellenistic and Roman times should
not be ascribed to the boxers of the fifth century. The changes in the
boxing thongs altered the whole character of the boxing.

Incomparably the best description of a fight which we possess is that
between Amycus and Polydeuces in the 22nd Idyll of Theocritus. It
illustrates the changes in Greek boxing; for it is a fight between a
boxer of the old heroic school who relies on science and activity, and
the coarse braggart prize-fighter with whom the poet was perhaps
familiar in Alexandria. We see the bully sitting in the sunshine beside
the spring, the muscles on his brawny arms standing out like rounded
rocks, just as they do in the Farnese Heracles. His ears are bruised and
crushed from many a fight. There he sits sulkily guarding the spring,
and when Polydeuces approaches and with courtly grace craves hospitality
he challenges him to battle. The boxing thongs are all ready to hand,
not soft thongs but hard (στερεοῖς). “Then,” says the poet, “they made
their hands strong with cords of ox-hide, and wound long thongs about
their arms.” Here we have the σφαῖραι depicted on the Ficoroni cista in
a picture of this very fight. A keen struggle ensued for position—which
should have the sun’s rays on his back—and the more active Polydeuces
naturally outwitted his clumsy opponent. Writers on athletics are wont
to dwell on this incident as typical of boxing at Olympia, and to
expatiate on the glare of the sun in the eyes, forgetful of the fact
that at midday, the hour at which it seems boxing took place, the rays
of the summer sun at Olympia must be too nearly vertical to make much
difference. Amycus, exasperated at the advantage gained, made a wild
rush at Polydeuces, attacking with both hands, but was promptly stopped
by a blow on the chin. Again, he rushed in head down, and for a time the
Greeks were afraid that he would crush Polydeuces by sheer weight in the
narrow space; but each time Polydeuces stopped his rushes with blows
right and left on mouth and jaws, till his eyes were swollen and he
could hardly see, and finally knocked him down with a blow on the bridge
of the nose. He managed, however, to pick himself up and the fight began
again; but his blows were short and wild, falling without effect on the
chest, or outside the neck, while Polydeuces kept smashing his face with
cruel blows. At last in desperation he seized Polydeuces’ left hand with
his left and tried to knock him out with a swinging right-hander,
“driving a huge fist up from his right haunch.” It is an admirable
description of a knock-out blow, but he was too slow; the very act of
seizing his opponent’s hand, an obvious illegality, spoilt his effort.
Polydeuces slipped his head aside and with his right struck him on the
temple “putting his shoulder into the blow,” and he followed up this
advantage by a left-hander on the mouth, “so that his teeth rattled.”
After this he continued to punish his face with quickly repeated blows
“till Amycus sank fainting on the ground, and begged for mercy.”

In this masterly description Theocritus shows an intimate knowledge of
boxing. It is a fight between science and brute strength. Amycus has the
advantage of height and weight, but he has no science and blunders
hopelessly. He rushes in head down, hits wildly with both hands,
neglects his guard, and finally commits a glaring breach of the rules of
boxing by seizing his opponent’s hand. Polydeuces acts on the defensive,
husbanding his strength by allowing the bully to exhaust himself, while
he avoids his rushes by dodging, or ducking, or stops them by well-aimed
blows on the face. Did he stop his rushes by swinging hits only, or by
straight hitting from the shoulder? The description appears to me
conclusive proof that even in the third century some of the Greeks
understood the art of hitting straight. I do not dwell on the evidence
of the words ἐμέεμπεσεν ὠμῷ, though I confess that the only
interpretation which is to me intelligible, is the ordinary one “he put
his shoulder into the blow.” It is rather the whole character of the
fight which implies straight hitting. Polydeuces is the smaller man, and
time after time he stops the other’s rushes with blows which fall on
chin, mouth, nose, eyes, forehead, in fact everywhere except on the ears
or side of the heads, the parts which should have suffered most
according to the argument of those who maintain that the Greeks did not
hit from the shoulder. As for the faults of Amycus, Theocritus is quite
aware that he is no trained boxer, and it is hardly fair to judge the
Greek boxer by him.

The account of this same fight in the _Argonautica_ of Apollonius
Rhodius[729] is somewhat similar, and though infinitely inferior as a
whole presents certain details of interest. The himantes are carefully
described; they are manufactured by Amycus himself; “rough and dry with
hard ridges round them” like the gloves worn by the boxer of the Terme.
Amycus makes the fighting; Polydeuces retreats and dodges his rushes,
but at last he stands his ground and a fight ensues so fast and furious
that both men, utterly exhausted, pause and separate by mutual consent.
After a moment they spring at one another again, and Amycus, rising on
tiptoe to his full height, aims a swinging downward blow at Polydeuces
“like one that slays an ox.” Polydeuces slips aside, and, before his
opponent has time to recover his balance or his guard, steps past him
and deals him a swinging blow above the ear which not only knocks him
out but kills him. The conclusion of the fight is an obvious imitation
of Homer. But the poet has introduced a feature of his own which finds
no place in Homer, when he describes Amycus as rising on tiptoe. The
detail is copied by Vergil who probably knew no better. But Apollonius
has more knowlege of athletics; it is the action not of a boxer but of
“one that slays an ox.” And yet, in spite of this, we find it stated by
modern writers, on the authority of these two poets, that the boxer
habitually rose on tiptoe to increase the weight of his blow! If we
would learn the principles of Greek boxing it must be from the practice
not of Amycus but of Polydeuces.

The boxing match between Entellus and Dares in the fifth _Aeneid_ need
not detain us long. Its character is obvious from the first in the
description of the caestus. Entellus throws into the ring the caestus of
the hero Eryx; they are made of seven ox-hides stiff with iron and lead,
and still stained with blood and brains, and at their sight Dares and
all the host tremble. “What!” cries Entellus, “do these frighten you?
What if you had seen the weapons of Hercules?” Finally by the advice of
Anchises these murderous weapons are rejected, but the point of interest
in this scene is that the poet’s Roman ideas have led him to reverse the
whole history of boxing. In reality the heavy caestus had developed
slowly from the simple leather thongs. But to the Roman murder and
bloodshed were the essence of a fight. And therefore as the heroes of
the past excelled in physique the men of the present, they must have
excelled them also in the bloodiness of their fights and the murderous
brutality of their weapons. The fight itself is in accordance with this

Both men rise on tiptoe and hammer each other as hard as they can.
Entellus is the bigger man and for a long time acts on the defensive,
keeping his more active opponent at a distance. At last, tired of such
tactics, he makes a big effort; rising on tiptoe to his full height he
ostentatiously lifts his arm on high, thus giving Dares full warning of
what is coming. The latter is not slow to take advantage of the warning;
he dodges the ponderous blow, and Entellus, unable to recover his
balance, falls to the ground. Exasperated by his fall, he picks himself
up and chases Dares all round the ring till Aeneas in mercy ends the
fight. Baulked of his vengeance on Dares he vents his rage and exhibits
his strength by killing with a single blow the ox which is his prize.
What a contrast to the finish in the _Iliad_ when the great-hearted
Epeius picks up his fallen opponent and gently sets him on his feet!
What a contrast even to the fight in Theocritus! There science is
matched against strength and science deservedly wins. Here both men are
as devoid of science as Vergil himself is devoid of all knowledge of
boxing; if either of the two has any claim to skill it is the defeated
Dares. Entellus owes his victory simply to brute strength. A still more
absurd result occurs in Statius; the lighter and more skilful boxer is
declared the victor, but is only saved from the fury and vengeance of
his defeated opponent by the intervention of Adrastus, who separates
them. But the brutalities and absurdities out of which these later
fights are concocted need no discussion.

Little is known of the laws regulating Greek boxing. The competitions
were conducted in the same manner as wrestling competitions, on the
tournament system, and to obtain a bye must have been a very great
advantage. We learn from Plutarch that no wrestling or clinching was
allowed.[730] It appears from the vases that there was no rule against
hitting a man who was down. The successful boxer is frequently depicted
as preparing to hit his fallen opponent, who under the circumstances
naturally gives in at once.[731] On the other hand, in Theocritus and
Vergil the fallen boxer certainly manages to rise again, either by his
own dexterity or his opponent’s forbearance. It appears also from the
story of Creugas and Damoxenus[732] that when a fight had continued long
without any result, the combatants sometimes agreed to exchange free
hits without guarding. A similar practice in wrestling was called
κλῖμαξ. It is further argued from this story that cases of fatal injury
inflicted on an opponent were severely punished; but the evidence seems
insufficient to justify a general statement. In the cases quoted in
support of such a law the offence appears to have consisted in some
unlawful and intentional act of violence.[733] Fatal accidents were
certain to occur occasionally; but there is no evidence that they were
at all frequent, nor do they seem to have been punished. It is not clear
what the offence was for which Damoxenus was dishonoured and deprived of
his victory. Pausanias seems to imply that because he hit Creugas with
his fingers extended, he hit several blows at the same time. Was hitting
with the hand open prohibited? It is certainly a reasonable prohibition.
Or can it be that hitting in the stomach was prohibited? We have no
evidence for deciding.

[Illustration: Fig. 149. Marble head of boxer, with ear-lappets.]

[Illustration: Fig. 150. B.-f. hydria, in British Museum, B. 326.]

We are not told how the Greeks taught boxing; perhaps it was in the same
way as they taught wrestling, by a sort of drill. Boys in the palaestra
had their ears and heads protected with ear-lappets (ἀμφωτίδες or
ἐπωτίδες)[734] or caps. The former are represented on a marble head
formerly in possession of Fabretti (Fig. 149).[735] They closely
resemble the ear-caps worn by modern football players, and were probably
made of padded leather. On the vases a close-fitting cap is often
represented (Fig. 17). Such protection was used both in wrestling and
boxing, but only, it seems, for practice and by boys, never in public
competitions. Boxers kept themselves in training by light sparring with
open hands, which was therefore known as ἀκροχειρισμός.[736] An example
of such sparring may be seen on an early black-figured hydria in the
British Museum (Fig. 150), or on the kylix in Fig. 151. In default of an
opponent they practised “shadow-fighting” (σκιαμαχία),[737] just as a
modern athlete will practise in front of a looking-glass. The statue of
the famous Glaucus represented him “shadow-fighting” because of his
skill in the use of his hands.[738] This form of practice was also known
as χειρονομία, or hand drill. Sometimes a κώρυκος or punch-ball was
employed (Fig. 179).[739] An exercise much recommended for boxers was
digging, and the pick (σκαπάνη) was therefore regarded as the badge of a

Footnote 691:

  For mythological references _vide_ Krause, pp. 498 ff.

Footnote 692:

  Philostr. _Gym._ 9, 12.

Footnote 693:

  For a fuller account of this subject the reader is referred to the
  admirable chapter in Dr. Jüthner’s _Antike Turngeräthe_, pp. 66-95,
  where he will find full references both literary and monumental.

Footnote 694:

  Paus. vi. 23, 4; viii. 40, 3. Plato, _Leg._ viii. 830 B.

Footnote 695:

  _Ant. Turn._ p. 67.

Footnote 696:

  Plato, _Theaet._ 27. Krause, p. 323, distinguishes two games, one
  described as διελκυστίνδα or διὰ γραμμῆς παίζειν, a tug-of-war between
  teams, the other called σκάπερδα or ἑλκυστίνδα, a game in which two
  youths tried to lift one another off the ground by means of a rope
  passed through a hole in a pillar. Roulez was the first to suggest
  this explanation of the thongs shown on vases. His explanation is
  adopted in a recent article on a fine r.-f. kylix representing
  wrestling and boxing scenes, Pl. xxxv. in the _Transactions of the
  University of Pennsylvania_, 1907, p. 140.

Footnote 697:

  _Op. cit._ p. 69.

Footnote 698:

  _Gym._ 10 ὥπλιστο δὲ ἡ ἀρχαία πυγμὴ τὸν τρόπον τοῦτον· ἐς στρόφιον οἱ
  τέτταρες τῶν δακτύλων ἐνεβιβάζοντο καὶ ὑπερέβαλλον τοῦ στροφίου
  τοσοῦτον ὅσον, εἰ συνάγοιντο, πὺξ εἶναι, συνείχοντο δὲ ὑπὸ σειρᾶς ἣν
  καθάπερ ἔρεισμα ἐβέβληντο ἐκ τοῦ πήχεος. Cp. Paus. viii. 40, 3.

Footnote 699:

  Sometimes the thongs are drawn only on the hand, sometimes only on the
  wrist, sometimes they are completely wanting. This is probably due to
  nothing but carelessness, but in some cases these lines, which were
  usually painted in after the rest of the figure was finished, may have
  simply worn off.

Footnote 700:

  Jüthner, Fig. 59.

Footnote 701:

  Jüthner, Fig. 66.

Footnote 702:

  Jüthner, p. 79, Figs. 62-64.

Footnote 703:

  _Gym._ 10.

Footnote 704:

  Plutarch, _Mor._ 825 E.

Footnote 705:

  Jüthner, Fig. 68. Helbig, 619.

Footnote 706:

  Cp. _Inschr. v. Priene_, 112, l. 91, where mention is made of boxing
  ἐν εἴμασι.

Footnote 707:

  The word μύρμηκες, which is used by the epigrammatists (_Anth. Pal._
  xi. 78), appears to be merely a humorous designation of these weapons,
  but to have no special significance.

Footnote 708:

  Jüthner, pp. 87 ff., Figs. 69-74; cp. Hans Lucas, _Jahrbuch_, 1904,
  pp. 127-136.

Footnote 709:

  Jüthner, Fig. 61, pp. 75, 76.

Footnote 710:

  R. M. Burrows, _Discoveries in Crete_, p. 35. As far as the athletic
  argument is concerned, the connexion which Professor Burrows suggests
  between Crete and Central Europe and Etruria appears to me entirely
  without foundation.

Footnote 711:

  Dennis, _Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria_, _passim_.

Footnote 712:

  _Tunis_, ii. 30.

Footnote 713:

  _Mon. d. I._ XI. Pl. 25.

Footnote 714:

  Athenaeus quotes Poseidonius as saying that the Celts were addicted to
  fights with arms, wounding and even killing one another. ἐν γὰρ τοῖς
  ὅπλοις ἀγερθέντες σκιαμαχοῦσι καὶ πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀκροχειρίζονται,
  Athen. 154 A.

Footnote 715:

  _Rambles in Greece_, 2nd Ed., p. 314. There is no foundation at all
  for his description of the meilichai as weights held in the hand and
  fastened by thongs.

Footnote 716:

  xxii. 93.

Footnote 717:

  Dion Chrysostom, _Orat._ 29.

Footnote 718:

  Jüthner, p. 71.

Footnote 719:

  Cp. Figs. 142, 145.

Footnote 720:

  Paus. viii. 40, 3.

Footnote 721:

  _Gym._ 10, 23.

Footnote 722:

  Benndorf, _Gr. Sic. Vasenb._ xxxi. 2; Gerhard, _A.V._ 177 (= Munich
  584); _Le Musée_, ii. p. 276, Fig. 24 (b.-f. vase at Boulogne). Other
  examples of a blow with the left hand are: a Fragment in the Louvre
  (Hartwig, _Meisterschalen_, Fig. 31); _Mus. Greg._ ii. 17 (very
  similar to B.M. B. 271); Krause, _Gym._ xviii. d. 66 f.; Brussels 336.
  In the Benndorf vase and some others the blow seems to be somewhat
  downward, which is probably due to the fact that the opponent is in
  the act of falling.

Footnote 723:

  _Gorgias_, 516 A; _Protag._ 342 B; cp. Theocritus xxii. 45. For full
  references _vide_ Krause, _Gym._ pp. 516, 517, and _J.H.S._ xxvi. p.

Footnote 724:

  Philostratus, _Heroic._ 180 τὰ δὰ ὧτα κατεαγὼς ἤν οὐκ ὑπὸ πάλης.

Footnote 725:

  _Theb._ vi. 731-825.

Footnote 726:

  _Gym._ 34 προσβῆναι ταῖς τῶν ἀντιπάλων κνήμαις ἄργοι καὶ εὐάλωτοι τῷ
  προσβάντι. Cp. c. 11 ὁ πύκτης τρωθήσεται καὶ τρώσει καὶ προσβήσεται
  ταῖς κνήμαις. To προσβῆναι I have given the somewhat wider sense of
  “advancing” or “lunging” which is undoubtedly implied in the following
  words, ὁρμητικώτερον τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ πυκτεύοντος ἢν μὴ συμβαίνωσιν οἱ
  μηροί. The addition of the words ταῖς τῶν ἀντιπάλων κνήμαις is a
  difficulty. There can be no question of “kicking” which was certainly
  not allowed in boxing, nor are any of the vases quoted by Jüthner in
  his note on the passage appropriate. The words can only mean
  “advancing against an opponent’s shins.” Shoving an opponent backwards
  in this way may occur in “in-fighting,” in which case his only remedy
  is “slipping.” But the tactics are not particularly effective, and
  shoving is not allowed in modern boxing. I have a suspicion that
  Philostratus was very vague in his ideas about boxing. As Jüthner has
  shown in his recent edition, Philostratus was a rhetorician, not a
  practical athlete, and he owed his athletic knowledge to some
  technical treatise on gymnastics, which he did not always quite

Footnote 727:

  Bacchylides i.

Footnote 728:

  Dion. _Orat._ xxix.; cp. Eustath. _Il._ Ψ 1322, 1324. Eusebius,
  _Histor. Syn._ p. 350, quoted in Krause, p. 510.

Footnote 729:

  ii. 25-97.

Footnote 730:

  _Symp._ ii. 4.

Footnote 731:

  Figs. 133, 141.

Footnote 732:

  Pausanias viii. 40.

Footnote 733:

  Paus. vi. 9, 6; Pindar, _Ol._ v. 34 Schol.

Footnote 734:

  Krause, p. 517.

Footnote 735:

  Fabretti, _De Columna Trajani_, p. 267. The evidence for these lappets
  is all late, but the caps belong to the fifth century B.C.

Footnote 736:

  Aristotle, _Nic. Eth._ iii. 1; Plato, _I. Alcib._ 107 E. For further
  references _vide_ Krause, p. 510, and _J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 14.

Footnote 737:

  Plato, _Legg._ viii. 830 C.

Footnote 738:

  Paus. vi. 10, 1.

Footnote 739:

  _Vide infra_, p. 478.

Footnote 740:

  Theocritus, iv. 10.

                               CHAPTER XX
                          THE PANKRATION[741]

The combination of boxing and wrestling known as the pankration was a
development of the primitive rough and tumble. To get his opponent down,
and by throttling, pummelling, biting, and kicking, to reduce him to
submission, is the natural instinct of the savage or the child. But this
rough and tumble was too undisciplined for athletic competition.
Competitions require law, and in the growth of law the simpler precedes
the more complex. Hence it was only natural that particular forms of
fighting such as boxing and wrestling should be systematized first, and
so made suitable for competition, before any attempt was made to reduce
to law the more complicated rough and tumble of which they both formed
part. Wrestling and boxing were known to Homer, but not the pankration,
and Greek tradition was following the natural order of development in
assigning the introduction at Olympia of wrestling to the 18th, of
boxing to the 23rd, and of the pankration to the 33rd Olympiad. In the
pankration as in boxing the contest continued till one or other of the
parties held up his hand in sign of defeat. At Sparta, where for this
reason the laws of Lycurgus forbade citizens to compete in these events,
the primitive rough and tumble unrestricted by law and unrefined by
science was allowed and encouraged as a test of endurance and a training
for war. The pankration at the great festivals was something quite
different; it was governed by the law of the games (νόμος ἐναγώνιος),
and was, at all events in the best period, a contest no less of skill
than of strength.

[Illustration: Fig. 151. R.-f. kylix. British Museum, E. 78.]

Modern writers turn up their eyes in holy horror at the brutality of the
pankration, and marvel that a race so refined as the Greeks could have
tolerated so brutal a sport. Undoubtedly the pankration might degenerate
into brutality, and perhaps sometimes actually did. So may football,
boxing, wrestling, unless they are controlled by rules, and unless the
rules are enforced. But the pankration was controlled by rules, and the
rules were enforced in the wrestling school and in the games by trainers
and officials under public control, and enforced with the rod in a
practical way which the modern umpire or referee may well envy, and the
rod was certainly not spared. Further, the rules were enforced by a
public opinion and tradition that in the best times certainly placed
skill and grace far above brute strength in all athletics. No branch of
athletics was more popular than the pankration. Philostratus describes
it as the fairest of all contests.[742] Mythology ascribed its invention
to Heracles and Theseus,[743] the typical representatives of science as
opposed to brute strength. What the pankration was in the fifth century
we can learn from Pindar. No less than eight of his odes are in praise
of pankratiasts, and from these odes can be illustrated every feature of
the poet’s athletic ideal. There was, of course, an element of danger,
but danger does not make a sport brutal. Serious injuries, even loss of
life, sometimes occurred, but these accidents were rare, rarer probably
than in football or in the hunting-field, and the Greeks certainly
regarded the pankration as less dangerous than boxing.[744] Finally, the
example of jiujitzu proves that such contests may be conducted without
any brutality as contests of pure skill.

The fullest account of the pankration occurs in Philostratus’
description of the death of Arrhichion, a famous pankratiast of the
sixth century, who expired at the very moment when his opponent
acknowledged himself beaten.[745] After describing the scene and the
excitement of the spectators, Philostratus adds a characteristic account
of the pankration. “Pankratiasts,” he says, “practise a hazardous style
of wrestling (κεκινδυνευμένῃ τῇ πάλη). They must employ falls backward
(ὑπτιασμῶν) which are not safe for the wrestler, and grips in which
victory must be obtained by falling (οἷον πίπτοντα). They must have
skill in various methods of strangling (ἄνχειν); they must also wrestle
with an opponent's ankle (σφυρῷ προσπαλαίουσι) and twist his arm
(στρεβλοῦσι), besides hitting and jumping on him, for all these
practices belong to the pankration, only biting and gouging (ὀρύττειν)
being excepted. The Spartans admit even these practices, but the Eleans
and the laws of the games exclude them, though they commend strangling.”

It would be difficult to give a more concise description. Wrestling,
hitting, and kicking are employed; the style of wrestling is hazardous;
victory is usually obtained by strangling; biting and gouging are alone
prohibited. The prohibition of gouging and biting is evidently a
quotation from the actual rules of Olympia. It is twice quoted by
Aristophanes.[746] Biting needs no comment. The meaning of the word
translated “gouging” is clear from Aristophanes. It means digging the
hand or fingers into the eyes, mouth, and other tender parts of the
body. A vivid illustration of “gouging” occurs on a British Museum kylix
(Fig. 151). One of the pankratiasts has inserted his thumb and finger
into his opponent’s eye as if to gouge it out, and the official is
hastening up with his rod uplifted to interfere and punish such foul
play. A somewhat similar scene is represented on a kylix in Baltimore
(Fig. 152), where a pankratiast inserts his thumb into the mouth of an
opponent whom he has thrown head over heels.

[Illustration: Fig. 152. R.-f. kylix. Baltimore.]

[Illustration: Fig. 153. R.-f. kylix. Berlin.]

The pankration naturally divides itself into two parts, the standing
pankration (τὸ ἄνω παγκράτιον) and the struggle on the ground (τὸ κάτω
παγκράτιον). In the former the opponents endeavoured to throw one
another heavily to the ground, by wrestling or kicking or hitting. There
was much preliminary sparring, appropriately described as
ἀκροχειρισμίς.[747] The hands were unprotected by thongs or other
covering, and, as is natural in a combination of wrestling and boxing,
the open hand and the fist were both used. Both are represented on the
fragment of a kylix in Berlin (Fig. 153). The fallen youth bleeds freely
from the nose, and bears on his back the imprint of his opponent’s
fingers. At the same time, his fist is clenched ready to strike. The
relative importance of wrestling and boxing in the pankration depended
much on the individual. The man with a long reach naturally preferred to
utilize his advantage in hitting; the short, thickset boxer generally
depended for victory on his wrestling.[748] The struggle was usually
decided on the ground. It is commonly stated that when one or other
opponent had fallen, hitting was no longer allowed. This purely modern
idea is conclusively disproved by such vases as the one just quoted.
Neither in boxing nor in the pankration was it forbidden to strike a man
who was down. As a rule, when both men were down hitting was of little
use, and the contest was usually decided by wrestling, especially by
twisting a limb, or by strangling. If, however, one opponent had been
knocked down by a heavy blow, he was usually at his opponent’s mercy,
and he commonly holds up his hand in sign of defeat, or else the
official is represented interfering to stop the contest.

The epithet “hazardous” by which Philostratus characterizes the
wrestling of the pankration is appropriate to such throws as “the flying
mare” and the various foot and leg holds which, though too risky for the
wrestler proper, were freely employed in the pankration, where it was
not sufficient only to throw an opponent, but he must be thrown heavily.
The use of the flying mare is illustrated on the Baltimore kylix (Fig.
152), where the left-hand wrestler proceeds to pummel his fallen
opponent. A much mutilated group on the kylix illustrated in Fig. 54
represents a throw from a leg-hold. A wrestler kneeling on one knee has
seized his opponent between the legs and lifts him up, bending forwards
as if to hurl him on to the ground. The scene is described by Anacharsis
in Lucian.[749] “Look,” he cries, “that fellow has picked up the other
by the legs and flung him to the ground, and falling on him, will not
suffer him to rise, but forces him into the mud, and at last, winding
his legs round his stomach, with his arm placed under his throat, he
strangles the poor wretch.”

[Illustration: Fig. 154. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth century. (_Mon. d.
I._ I. xxii.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 155. Panathenaic amphora. Sixth century. (_Mon. d.
I._ I. xxii.)]

A favourite trick of the pankratiast was to catch his opponent by the
foot, and lifting it up, to tilt him backwards. Antaeus is frequently
depicted grabbing thus at the foot of Heracles, but without
success.[750] The manœuvre is excellently illustrated on two Panathenaic
vases (Figs. 154, 155), and on the coins of Aspendus (Fig. 109). On a
gem in the British Museum (Fig. 162) a somewhat similar hold is adopted
by way of defence by a wrestler who has his head in chancery.

Sometimes a wrestler, having thrown his opponent, would lift him up by
the legs, and the other, to save himself from a heavy fall, would
balance himself on his hands and head. Philostratus, speaking of the
short, thickset athletes, whom he calls οἱ ἐν μικρῷ μεγάλοι[751]—the
type of the “pocket Hercules”—says, “They are quick and active, and able
to extricate themselves from the most hopeless grips, standing on their
heads as on a pedestal.” This manœuvre, quite familiar in modern
wrestling, is not represented in Greek art, but occurs on the wall
paintings of Beni-Hassan.

A wrestler who was thrown on his back was defeated. But a pankratiast
might intentionally throw himself on his back in order to throw his
opponent more heavily, or to throw him in a worse position. A manœuvre
of this sort called τὸ ἀποπτερνίζειν was invented, according to
Philostratus,[752] by a Cilician pankratiast, nicknamed for the
smallness of his stature, Halter or the Dumbbell. On his way to compete
at Delphi, he stopped at the shrine of the hero Protesilaus to ask him
how he should conquer his opponents. The hero replied, “By being
trampled upon” (πατούμενος). At first he was disconcerted by this
ambiguous answer, but after a little thought he understood that the
hero’s advice meant “that he was not to let go the foot of his opponent;
for the man who wrestles with the opponent’s foot must be constantly
trampled on and be underneath his opponent.” So he devised the “heel
trick,” by means of which he remained undefeated and won great renown.
This is probably the same method as that described in the passage of
Philostratus already quoted as “wrestling with the ankle.” Such a hold
ensures a heavy fall; but the peculiarity of the “Dumbbell’s” method
was, that instead of releasing the foot after throwing his opponent, he
preserved his hold, and by twisting or bending the foot forced him to
yield. This use of the ankle hold is well known in Japanese wrestling.
Arrhichion, we are told, forced his opponent to succumb by twisting his
foot out of its socket.

Another throw in which the thrower throws himself on his back is the
“stomach throw.” A wrestler seizes his opponent by the shoulders or arms
and throws himself backward, at the same time planting his foot in the
other’s stomach and thus throwing him heavily clean over his head, while
he himself falls lightly. This favourite throw of the Japanese is
depicted on the tombs of Beni-Hassan. It is accurately described by Dio
Cassius in his account of a fight between the Romans and Iazyges:[753]
“Whenever any of them fell backwards, he would drag his opponent after
him, and with his feet hurl him backwards as in wrestling.” Pindar in
his third Isthmian Ode is referring to tactics of this sort when he says
of Melissus: “In craft he is as the fox that spreadeth out her feet and
preventeth the swoop of the eagle.” The only representation which I know
of such a throw is on a black-figured hydria in Munich (Fig. 156), where
Antaeus lies on his back with his right hand grasping Heracles’ left
foot and his left leg kicking him in the stomach. As usual, Antaeus has
failed to execute the throw and Heracles has regained the advantage.

[Illustration: Fig. 156. B.-f. hydria. Munich, 114.]

The throws described in the last two paragraphs sufficiently illustrate
those “backward falls unsafe for the wrestler, and grips in which
victory must be obtained by falling,” which made the wrestling of the
pankration particularly hazardous.

[Illustration: Fig. 157. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 604.
Fourth century. Signed by the artist “Kittos.”]

[Illustration: Fig. 158. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 610.
Archonship of Nicetes, 332 B.C.]

Wrestling and boxing combined are depicted in a highly conventional
manner on two Panathenaic vases in the British Museum (Figs. 157, 158)
representing respectively the contest for youths and for men. On B 604 a
pankratiast has rushed in head down, allowing his opponent to catch his
head in the bend of his arm. It is not quite clear what the latter
intends to do, whether to complete the neck hold or to pummel him. In B
610 there is no doubt: the left-hand wrestler lifts his fist to pummel
the other’s head, which he still holds in the bend of his arm. Why he
allows his head to remain unnecessarily in such a position is not quite
clear. Perhaps he has really had his head in chancery, and unable to
break the grip, has bitten the other’s arm. A favourite Greek story told
by Plutarch of Alcibiades, and in another place of a Spartan wrestler,
illustrates this suggestion.[754] Being hard pressed and about to be
thrown, he bit his opponent’s hand. Letting go his hold, the latter
exclaimed, “You bite, Alcibiades, like a woman.” “No,” he replied, “like
a lion.” Biting, as we know, was strictly forbidden, and some
confirmation of the explanation of the vase may be found in the attitude
of the official on the right, who seems to be awarding the palm to the
other pankratiast. Other examples of biting in the pankration, whether
standing or on the ground, will be found in our illustrations.

Kicking was also a distinctive feature of the pankration. In
Theocritus,[755] Polydeuces being challenged to fight by Amycus,
inquires if it is to be a boxing match or whether kicking too was
allowed; and Galen,[756] in his skit on the Olympic games, awards the
prize for the pankration to the donkey, as the best of all animals in
kicking. A combination of kicking and boxing is represented on the two
Panathenaic vases in Figs. 154, 155. At least it seems to me probable
that the pankratiast on the left has caught his opponent’s foot in
mid-air as he was trying to kick him in the stomach. Kicking in the
stomach (γαστρίζειν)[757] appears to have been a favourite trick in the
pankration, as it is in the French _savate_. It is depicted in one of
the groups in the Tusculan mosaic (Fig. 22), and in a relief in the
Louvre. On another Panathenaic vase (Fig. 159) one pankratiast appears
in the act of catching the other’s leg as he lifts it in his onset. The
action of the latter rather resembles that described as jumping on an
opponent (ἐνάλλεσθαι) than of kicking. A better illustration of this
term is seen in Fig. 153, where one pankratiast is jumping on his fallen

[Illustration: Fig. 159. Panathenaic amphora. Lamberg Coll.]

Twisting an opponent’s arm or fingers (στρεβλοῦν) and strangling him
(ἄγχειν) are tricks belonging principally to the later stage of the
contest, when both opponents are on the ground, but opportunities for
them also occurred in standing wrestling. Twisting the arm has already
been illustrated in our chapter on wrestling (Figs. 129-131). Similarly
in the Uffizi group (Fig. 163) the upper wrestler twists his opponent’s
arm across his back, and the same motive occurs in one of the groups on
the frieze of Lysicrates’ monument. Pausanias tells us of one Sostratus,
a pankratiast of Sicyon, who, like Leontiscus in wrestling, forced his
opponents to yield by twisting and breaking their fingers.[758] At first
sight we are apt to condemn such practices as brutal and
unsportsmanlike, but the principle of twisting an opponent’s limb so as
to incapacitate him has been reduced to a science in Japanese wrestling.
The same may be said of “strangling,” the method of finishing a contest
of which the Eleans much approved. Almost any neck hold can be used to
throttle an opponent. Reference has already been made to the familiar
hold known as “getting the head in chancery,” illustrated on the gems in
Fig. 162. The most effective and favourite method of strangling an
opponent is that known as κλιμακισμός,[759] which consists in mounting
on an opponent’s back, winding the legs round his stomach, and the arms
round his neck. The klimakismos can be employed both in the standing
pankration and on the ground. On the Tusculan mosaic both types are
represented (Fig. 22), and we have references to both types in
literature. It is the favourite method of attack employed by Heracles in
his contests with the Triton and Achelous (Fig. 160), and is best known
to scholars from the account of the latter contest given in the chorus
of the _Trachiniae_, 407-530. In the standing pankration, in order to
execute the klimakismos it was necessary to get behind one’s opponent
either by making him turn round or by springing round him. This may be
illustrated from the humorous picture which Anacharsis draws of the
Greeks advancing to meet their foe like boxers with clenched fists.[760]
“And the enemy,” he says, “naturally cower before you and take to flight
for fear lest, as they stand gaping, you fill their mouth with sand, or
jumping round to get on their backs, twist your legs round their bellies
and strangle them to death, placing your arm beneath their helmets.” A
similar description of the klimakismos on the ground has already been

[Illustration: Fig. 160. Heracles and Triton. B.-f. amphora, in British
Museum, B. 223.]

[Illustration: Fig. 162. Graeco-Roman gems in British Museum.]

Ground wrestling must have been the most distinctive, as it certainly
was the most decisive, part of the pankration. It was probably as
complicated if not as long as it is at the present day, the combatants
sometimes sprawling at full length, sometimes on their knees,[761]
sometimes on the top of one another. It is this part of the pankration
to which Plato objected and which led him to exclude it from his ideal
state as useless for military training, because it did not teach men to
keep their feet.[762] Perhaps in Plato’s time the pankratiast, like the
modern Graeco-Roman wrestler, was apt to neglect the preliminary contest
and go down on the ground at once. Such grovelling, if it existed, was a
sign of the decay of these antagonistic sports, which, as we have seen,
had set in before Plato’s time; it was unknown to Pindar, who specially
emphasizes the importance of boxing in the pankration.[763] Ground
wrestling is seldom represented on the vases, except in the contest of
Heracles and Antaeus (Fig. 161); but groups of the kneeling type are
frequent on later gems, being particularly suitable for oblong or oval
spaces. The examples given in Fig. 162 from gems in the British Museum
explain themselves.

[Illustration: Fig. 161. Herakles and Antaeus. R.-f. kylix. Athens.]

[Illustration: Fig. 163. Group of pankratiasts. Uffizi Palace, Florence.
(From a photograph by Brogi.)]

The most important and interesting of all the monuments connected with
the pankration is the group of wrestlers in the Uffizi gallery in
Florence (Fig. 163). Unfortunately, it is considerably restored, but in
spite of recent criticism there seems to be no reason for doubting the
general correctness of the restoration.[764] The underneath wrestler
supports himself on his left arm, and his opponent’s immediate object is
to break down this support. This can be effected by a blow. For the
underneath wrestler’s right arm being secured, he can only guard his
head with his left. The situation can be illustrated by the description
in Heliodorus of the match between Theagenes and the Aethiopian
champion.[765] Theagenes forces the latter on to his knees, twines his
legs round him, and then knocks away his wrists, with which he is
keeping his chest off the ground. Having broken down this support, he
forces him down on his stomach on the ground. While a wrestler is
supporting himself on his hands and knees, his position is far from
hopeless, and he may by a quick and vigorous movement often overturn his
adversary and reverse matters. Such is the moment selected by the
sculptor; the victory is still undecided, the uppermost wrestler is
anxious to make sure of victory, the other is eagerly watching to take
advantage of any carelessness on his opponent’s part. How fatal any such
carelessness may be we learn from the story of Arrhichion.[766]
Arrhichion was being strangled by his opponent, who was on the top with
arms and legs entwined round him; but even as he was expiring he took
advantage of a momentary relaxation of the grip to kick his right leg
free, and rolling over so as to crush his opponent’s left side, he
seized his right foot and twisted it out of its socket with such
violence as to force him to yield, and so even with his last breath he
secured the victory.

There are numerous technical terms of wrestling and the pankration known
to us only from scholiasts and lexicographers. These are of very
doubtful interpretation and of no practical importance, and it is
therefore unnecessary to discuss them here.[767]

Footnote 741:

  _J.H.S._ xxvi. pp. 4-22.

Footnote 742:

  _Im._ ii. 6.

Footnote 743:

  Heracles, according to Bacchylides, xiii., first employed the art of
  the pankration against the Nemean lion; according to another
  tradition, Theseus employed it against the Minotaur.

Footnote 744:

  Paus. vi. 6, 5; 15, 5; Artemidor. _Oneir._ i. 64.

Footnote 745:

  _Im._ ii. 6.

Footnote 746:

  _Aves_, 442; _Pax_, 899.

Footnote 747:

  _J.H.S._ xxvi. p. 14.

Footnote 748:

  Phil. _Gym._ 36. I do not agree with Jüthner’s division of the text.
  He makes the account of οἱ ἐν μικρῷ μεγάλοι the beginning of the
  classification of athletic types which follows. Kayser rightly
  connected it with the account of wrestling and the pankration which

Footnote 749:

  _Anacharsis_, 1.

Footnote 750:

  _J.H.S._ xxv. pp. 283 ff., Figs. 19, 20.

Footnote 751:

  _Gym._ 36.

Footnote 752:

  _Heroic._ 53, 54. The word πτερνίζειν is used in the LXX. of Jacob
  supplanting Esau (Gen. xxvii. 36, cp. xxv. 26). _J.H.S._ xxvi. 20.

Footnote 753:

  lxxi. 7.

Footnote 754:

  _Alc._ 2; _Apophthegm. Lac._ 234 D, 44.

Footnote 755:

  xxii. 66.

Footnote 756:

  Προτρεπτ. ἐπὶ τέχνας, 36.

Footnote 757:

  Lucian, _Anachars._ 9; Aristoph. _Eq._ 273, 454; Pollux, iii. 150.

Footnote 758:

  Paus. vi. 4, 2.

Footnote 759:

  _J.H.S._ xxvi. 15.

Footnote 760:

  Lucian, _Anachars._ 31.

Footnote 761:

  From Lucian’s _Asinus_ we gather that knee wrestling (τὰ ἀπὸ γονάτων)
  was systematically taught in the palaestra. Cp. Aristoph. _Pax_, 895.

Footnote 762:

  _Legg._ 795, 834.

Footnote 763:

  _Nem._ iii. 29; _Isthm._ v. 60.

Footnote 764:

  _J.H.S._ xxv. 30, xxvi. 19.

Footnote 765:

  _Aeth._ x. 31, 32.

Footnote 766:

  Phil. _Im._ ii. 6; Paus. viii. 40, 2.

Footnote 767:

  Many of them are discussed in my articles in the _J.H.S._ xxv., xxvi.
  Cp. Grasberger, 349-374; Krause, 400-438, 534-556.

                              CHAPTER XXI
                             THE HIPPODROME

Chariot and horse races were so important a part of most Greek festivals
that, though we cannot strictly describe them as athletics, a brief
account of the hippodrome and the events which took place there will not
be out of place.

Hippodromes must have abounded in all parts of Greece which offered any
facilities for riding or driving. The fifth-century inscription of the
Spartan Damonon[768] enumerates sixty-eight victories won by himself and
his son in the chariot-race and the horse-race at no less than eight
distinct festivals, all of them in Laconia or in the immediate
neighbourhood. The plains of Argos, Athens, Euboea, and Thessaly were
famed for their breeds of horses, while the passionate devotion of the
Sicilian and Italian Greeks to horse-racing is proved by the constant
occurrence of the racing-chariot or the race-horse on the coins of
various cities from the beginning of the fifth century onwards.[769]

Yet of all the hippodromes which must have existed hardly a trace is
left, and we are forced to fall back on the scattered notices of
Pausanias and other writers. The fact is that the Greek hippodrome as a
rule was a very simple affair, hardly more elaborate than the course
selected on the plains of Troy for the funeral games of Patroclus or the
course of a local race meeting to-day. All that was necessary was a
fairly smooth open plain, if possible, in a valley or at the foot of
some hill, the slopes of which formed a natural stand for spectators.

At either end of the track a pillar was erected to mark the place where
chariots and horses turned. These pillars are generally represented on
coins and vases as Ionic or Doric columns; sometimes, it appears,
movable pillars[770] were used, perhaps for safety, like the posts used
in modern driving competitions. Occasionally we see a pillar which has
been knocked over by a chariot.[771] But usually the pillars were fixed,
and then it was the chariot that suffered. There is not a particle of
evidence for the existence in any Greek hippodrome of the low wall
(spina) which ran down the middle of the course between the pillars in
the Roman circus, though this wall regularly appears in the fanciful
plans of the hippodrome which adorn our works of reference. There were
no stone seats, and as a rule no permanent structures of any kind.[772]
Given the ground, the necessary arrangements for the start or the turn
could be readily made in a few days whenever required. In the intervals
between one festival and another the ground might be let out for
pasturage, as it was at Delos.

The only hippodrome of which any remains exist, almost the only one
which can be located, is that mentioned by Pausanias on Mount Lycaeus in
Arcadia.[773] It is 240 metres long by 105 broad. Possibly the actual
course was exactly a stade in length. It seems likely that the usual
course was two stades long, and that from this circumstance the
four-stades foot-race was called the “horse-race” (hippios).[774]

The hippodrome at Olympia was larger and more elaborate than the
ordinary hippodrome. Unfortunately, the floods of the Alpheus and other
catastrophes have removed every trace of its remains, and we must be
content with what we learn from Pausanias and other writers.[775] The
hippodrome lay between the stadium and the river. On its north side it
was bounded by the southern embankment of the stadium, and farther east
by a projecting spur of Mount Cronius. To the south a long embankment
protected it from the floods of the Alpheus. The western end was formed
by the portico of Agnaptus, but we do not know whether this portico
extended along the whole end. Here presumably was the official entrance;
there was another entrance at the south-east end of the course through
the embankment.

The dimensions of the hippodrome are given in a manuscript discovered in
the old Seraglio at Constantinople.[776] The circuit of the course was 8
stades (1538·16 m.), or nearly a mile. The width was 1 stade 4 plethra
(320·45 m.), and the length of the sides was 3 stades 1 plethron (608·85
m.). It is not clear how the circuit is measured, but the fact that
twice the long side + the short side gives the desired result suggests
that half the short sides only are counted, and that 1 stade 4 plethra
is the outside measurement, 5 plethra the inside measurement. The actual
course traversed by the horses measured from pillar to pillar and back
was, however, only 6 stades (1153·62 m.).

[Illustration: Fig. 164. Aphesis at Olympia. (After Weniger.)]

The elaborate starting gate (ἄφεσις), devised by Cleoetas probably in
the fifth century, and improved at a later date by Aristides, has been
described in a previous chapter (Fig. 164). It consisted of a triangular
structure like the prow of a ship, the apex pointing down the
course.[777] The base joined the portico of Agnaptus. Along the two
sides of the triangle which pointed down the course a number of stalls
were arranged in pairs on either side. In these stalls the chariots were
placed with a rope in front of each. At the signal the ropes in front of
the pair of chariots nearest the base were dropped or withdrawn; in what
way, we do not know. As these chariots drew level with the next pair,
the next pair of ropes were withdrawn, and so on till the whole field
was started. It is obvious, of course, that if the whole number of
stalls was not required, the unoccupied ones were those nearest the
base. The length of each side was 400 feet; we do not know how many
stalls there were. At Delphi, Pindar speaks of forty competitors in the
chariot-race. This must surely have been an exceptional field, and we
are not surprised to hear that of the forty the chariot of Arcesilas
alone reached the goal in safety. Still, the size of the aphesis at
Olympia implies large fields,[778] and if the base of the triangle was
400 feet, there would have been ample room for twenty stalls on either

The general arrangement of the aphesis is clear enough, but the absence
of all details renders it impossible to reconstruct the hippodrome with
any certainty. In view of its great width we may certainly reject the
old view that the base of the aphesis extended the whole width of the
course. We cannot for a moment imagine the pair of chariots near the
base starting at a distance of some 300 or even 150 yards from one
another. But if the inside measurement of the width of the hippodrome
was 5 plethra (168 yards), the base of the aphesis may quite well have
extended over half this distance, and a base of this width agrees well
with the length of the sides. We may assume, then, that the aphesis
occupied the whole or part of the southern half of the course. Positions
were, of course, assigned by lot, and undoubtedly the chariots on the
left had a slight advantage in point of distance, but this advantage
seems to have been greatly exaggerated, and was perhaps more than
compensated by the wider sweep which the outside chariots could take in
turning at the farther end of the course. Still, it is possible that, as
Pollack[779] suggests, the apex of the aphesis was turned slightly to
the left, so as to equalize the distance for all. In the circus of
Maxentius, where the _carceres_ occupy the whole breadth, they are for a
similar reason inclined towards the right. There is no proof that this
arrangement was adopted at Olympia, much less that the imaginary line
joining the two pillars was inclined like the spina at the circus, so
that the pillar nearest the start was farther from the south side of the
hippodrome than from the north, and thus more room was provided at the
points where the chariots were most crowded. The width of the Olympic
course made such an arrangement quite unnecessary.

This elaborate aphesis prevented the confusion and delay inevitable in
starting a large field all together; but it is hard to see how it
secured a fairer start than the ordinary plan of starting in a straight
line.[780] Probably, as Martin suggests, its object was chiefly
spectacular. At all events, though it was one of the wonders of Olympia,
it does not seem to have been imitated anywhere else.

Another notable feature of the hippodrome at Olympia was the altar
called Taraxippus—the terror of horses—which was supposed to inspire
horses as they passed it with a sudden panic, and so to cause the
numerous accidents for which the chariot-race was notorious. A mass of
superstition grew up about this altar, which was held to be the home of
some unfriendly demon. The altar seems to have been near the turn, where
accidents were most frequent. Some writers have supposed that, as the
horses turned the goal, they were frightened at the sight of their own
shadows cast in front of them by the morning sun. If so, the Greek horse
must have been a far less intelligent animal than the modern, which has
shown an extraordinary faculty of becoming accustomed rapidly to trains,
bicycles, motors,—sights far more disturbing than a shadow! Really,
there is no need for any such theory to explain the numerous accidents
which happened at the turn, and which superstition naturally ascribed to
some spirit; and we may therefore accept the rationalistic explanation
of Pausanias that Taraxippus was merely a name of Poseidon Hippios.
There was also, he tells us, a Taraxippus at the Isthmus, the spirit of
Glaucus the son of Sisyphus who was killed by his horses at the games of
Adrastus, while at Nemea the panic of the horses was caused by a gleam
like fire reflected from a red stone near the turn. But nowhere was
there any Taraxippus which inspired such terror as the Taraxippus at

The Olympic aphesis was something exceptional. Usually horses and
chariots were started much in the same way as runners. Lots were drawn
for places, and they drew up in line.[781] It appears that a rope
(ὕσπληξ) was stretched in front of the whole line, which was dropped, or
removed at the moment of starting. How this rope was dropped without
risk of entangling the horses’ feet, is a mystery; there is no record of
any accident caused at the start. The signal for the start was given by
a trumpet. The horse-races, being mostly of the diaulos type, finished
at the start. The only place where we hear of straight races is at
Athens. The starting-line, as in the stadium, was probably marked by
pillars at either end. The pillars represented on coins and vases may be
either these pillars or the pillars round which the horses turned. On a
fine Panathenaic vase (Fig. 165) recently discovered at Sparta there is
a spirited drawing of a four-horse chariot passing a pillar on its
right. As the turn always took place to the left, it is clear that
unless the artist has made a mistake, the pillar represents the finish.

[Illustration: Fig. 165. Panathenaic amphora found at Sparta. Sixth

We have seen that the fully developed programme comprised six events,
three for full-grown horses (τέλειοι), three for colts, for each class a
four-horse chariot-race (ἅρμα, τέθριππον), a horse race (κέλης), and a
pair-horse chariot-race (συνωρίς). The last event, which was really
perhaps the oldest of all, was not revived at Olympia till Ol. 93 (408
B.C.), but we learn from the Panathenaic vases that it existed as well
as the other two races in the sixth century; indeed the earliest of
these vases existing, the Burgon vase in the British Museum, was a prize
for this event. The three events for colts were not introduced either at
Olympia or Delphi till the fourth century. In 500 B.C. a mule
chariot-race (ἀπήνη) was introduced at Olympia, and four years later a
race for mares (κάλπη), in which the rider dismounted and finished the
race on foot. Both events were abolished in 444 B.C., perhaps from lack
of competition. At Athens we find a far more elaborate programme,
including races for war-horses and processional horses, the apobates’
race (Fig. 34), and a torch-race on horseback.

The four-horse chariots ran twelve times round the course, the
pair-horse chariots and colts’ four-horse chariots eight times, the
colts’ synoris three times. These are the figures given by the
Constantinople Manuscript, and they agree with what we learn from Pindar
and the scholia.[782] The four-horse chariot-race at Olympia was
therefore no less than seventy-two stades, nearly nine miles. The length
of the course, which at first sight seems excessive, undoubtedly checked
the pace, and thereby made for safety, but it makes it extremely
improbable that heats were ever allowed in chariot-races. All equestrian
events took place on the same day, and no team could be expected to race
seventy-two stades twice on a day. The riding races consisted of only a
single lap or six stades. This is the obvious conclusion of the story
told by Pausanias of the Corinthian mare Aura, who, having thrown her
rider at the start, continued her course, turned the pillar, and on
hearing the sound of the trumpet, spurted and came in first, and then
knowing that she had won, stopped.[783] There is of course nothing
remarkable in the story; indeed, I recollect seeing a very similar
incident on the Totnes racecourse, but modern racing rules do not allow
a horse thus to get rid of its rider’s weight.

From this story we learn that at some point, perhaps at the turn of the
last lap, a trumpet was blown. Perhaps the number of laps were marked by
a blast of the trumpet. Some means must certainly have been employed for
the information of the drivers. In the Roman circus the laps were marked
by figures of dolphins and eggs set upon pillars at either end. At each
lap one of the dolphins was turned round and one of the eggs probably
removed, but we know of no such arrangement in the hippodrome.

Two distinct types of chariot were used in Greek racing. The four-horse
chariot was a modification of the Homeric war-chariot. This war-chariot
consisted of a low car mounted on two wheels with a high framework in
front and at the sides, iii which the chieftain and the driver stood
side by side. It was open behind, so that the chieftain could readily
dismount to fight, and remount when he found it desirable. The racing
car was very similar, but was usually drawn by four horses instead of
two, had a lighter framework, and had only room for the charioteer. One
of the earliest representations of a racing car occurs on an
eighth-century vase in the British Museum.[784] The artist probably
intended to represent a two-horse car, but finding this too difficult
contented himself with one horse. The drivers are standing and wear the
regulation dress of the Greek charioteer, a long white chiton such as is
worn by the Delphi charioteer (Fig. 18). The type of racing car remains
the same, with but little difference, on Panathenaic vases from the
sixth to the fourth century, and on coins of Macedon and Sicily. On some
of the later vases, such as a Panathenaic vase B. 606 in the British
Museum, the car seems to be decidedly lighter, and the wheels higher
than on earlier vases. The driver has usually a whip or goad, and he
holds the reins with his left hand or with both hands. The two middle
horses (ζύγιοι) were harnessed to the yoke, which was attached to the
pole, and further supported by a strap fastened to the front rim of the
car. The other two horses were the trace-horses (σειραφόροι). The
details of the harness and of the chariot do not concern us here.

The two-horse chariot (συνωρίς) as represented on Panathenaic vases is
not really a chariot at all, but a sort of cart, the body of which has
been reduced so that nothing is left but the driver’s seat and a square
open framework on either side. The driver sits with his feet resting on
a footboard suspended from the pole. On the Burgon vase he wears a
short, sleeveless, purple chiton, and carries in one hand a goad, in the
other a long curved rod like a fishing-rod, to the end of which are
fastened certain pieces of metal, which we may suppose made a jingling
noise like bells.[785] On the two other Panathenaic vases in the Museum
connected with this race the drivers wear short, tight-fitting drawers,
which are not visible in our illustration (Fig. 166).

[Illustration: Fig. 166. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 132.
Sixth century.]

[Illustration: Fig 167. Silver tetradrachm and gold stater of Philip II.
of Macedon, in the British Museum (enlarged).]

This type of synoris seems to have been peculiar to Athens, for on coins
the two-horse chariot is similar to the four-horse chariot, and the
driver stands. Such a chariot appears on the gold coins of Philip II. of
Macedon (Fig. 167). Philip won victories at Olympia, in the riding-race
and in the four-horse chariot-race. The two-horse chariot must,
therefore, refer to some other victory, perhaps at the games of Dium, or
it may be merely an allusion to his name.

The mule car (ἀπήνη) differs little from the Athenian synoris. It is
represented on the coins of Rhegium and Messana. Sicily was famous for
its mules; and the introduction of this event at Olympia was probably
due to Sicilian influence. Of the four winners whose names we know one
was a Thessalian, three were Sicilians. The event evidently found no
favour with the Eleans, who abolished it at the first opportunity,
perhaps alleging as an excuse an ancient curse which prevented mules
from being bred in Elis.[786] The coin in our illustration (Fig. 168)
commemorates the victory of Anaxilas of Rhegium early in the fifth
century. On it the mule-car appears as little more than a box-seat
perched above two wheels.

[Illustration: Fig. 168. Silver tetradrachm of Rhegium, in British
Museum (enlarged). Early fifth century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 169. Panathenaic amphora, in British Museum, B. 133.
Sixth century.]

In the horse-races the jockeys rode without stirrups or saddle. On the
Panathenaic vase (Fig. 169) in the British Museum they appear as naked
youths with long hair; those on the Amphiaraus vase (Fig. 3) wear a
short chiton girt in closely. In a red-figured vase-painting in
Munich[787] one of the jockeys has been thrown from his horse in making
the turn, and is being dragged along still holding the rein. The
victories of Philip II. of Macedon have already been mentioned. His
victory in the horse-race at Olympia is commemorated by a coin bearing
on one side the figure of his victorious jockey holding in his hand the
palm (Fig. 167).

Of the Olympic κάλπη I know no illustration, but something very similar
to it occurs on the coins of Tarentum. The didrachms of Tarentum,[788]
from the fifth century to the end of the third century B.C., present a
wonderful variety of equestrian types which, as Dr. Evans says, “give
artistic expression to the passionate love of the turf which was so
distinguishing a feature of Tarentine public life.” The coin in our
illustration (Fig. 170), which belongs to the beginning of the third
century, represents a common type, a naked youth armed with a small
round shield in the act of vaulting off his horse. As was pointed out in
a previous chapter, the exercises of the apobates, whether in chariot or
on horseback, are really military; and this military character is marked
on the Tarentum coins by the addition of a shield. Another type
represented on the coins of Tarentum is the torch-race on horseback. The
coin selected (Fig. 170) is slightly later than the last, and is
ascribed by Dr. Evans to the hegemony of Pyrrhus.

[Illustration: Fig. 170. Silver staters of Tarentum, in the British
Museum (enlarged).]

Horses and mares were admitted alike to all races except the κάλπη,
which was confined to mares. The distinction between colts and horses
was one of the points decided by the Hellanodicae in the preliminary
dokimasia before the games. Pausanias cites the case of a Spartan
Lycinus, who had entered a team for the colts’ race, but as one of his
team was rejected by the judges, he entered them for the open
chariot-race, and won it.[789] The story is open to suspicion, because
the statue of Lycinus was made by Myron, and in Myron’s time the colts’
race had not been introduced.

Women, even if they could not be present in person at Olympia, were
allowed to enter their horses for the races. Cynisca, the sister of
Agesilaus, won two victories in the chariot-race about the year 380 B.C.
Horse-breeding and racing were growing very fashionable among the
Spartan nobles, and according to Plutarch, Agesilaus, wishing to read
his countrymen a lesson, persuaded his sister to try her fortune in the
chariot-race. “This he did to show the Greeks that a victory of that
kind did not depend upon any extraordinary spirit or abilities, but only
upon riches and expense.” It is to be feared that this lesson failed of
its effect, if we may judge from the honours paid to Cynisca. A bronze
representation of her horses was dedicated in the Heraeum, and her own
statue stood in the Altis, while at Sparta she was worshipped at a
heroum built in her honour. Shortly after her another Spartan lady,
Euryleonis, was victorious with the two-horse chariot. Belistiche, the
mistress of Philadelphus, was the first to win the two-horse
chariot-race for colts in 264 B.C. An Olympic inscription of the first
century mentions, among the victories won by Antiphanes of Elis and his
family, the victory of his daughter Theodota in the four-horse
chariot-race for colts. Numerous victories of women are recorded in
Athenian inscriptions.

Horses and chariots were sometimes entered not in the name of
individuals, but of states. In 480 B.C. the public horse of the Argives
(Ἀργείων δημόσιος) was successful at Olympia, and two Olympiads later
their public chariot won.[790] An Olympic victory not only shed honour
on the state, but must have been an excellent advertisement for all who
were interested in horse-breeding.

The drivers and jockeys were usually paid servants; but sometimes we
hear of the owner himself, or one of his family acting in this capacity.
Damonon, in the inscription referred to above, records with pride
certain races where he was his own charioteer. Pindar, in the first
Isthmian Ode, congratulates Herodotus of Thebes on not entrusting his
chariot to the hands of strangers. Thrasybulus probably drove his
father’s chariot in the victory commemorated in the sixth Pythian ode.
Carrhotus, the charioteer of Arcesilas of Cyrene, was his
brother-in-law. Next to the statue of Timon at Olympia was the statue of
his youthful son, Aepytus, who had ridden his horse to victory.[791]
Though the owner took the prize, the victory was due in no small degree
to the skill of the charioteer, and the latter was not undeservedly
sometimes associated with his master in the hymn of victory, or
represented in the monument which commemorated the victory.

No event could compare in brilliance or in excitement with the
four-horse chariot-race, the sport of kings in the Greek world. Each
turn in the course was fraught with danger, and there were twenty-three
turns. Every reader is familiar with the description of the
chariot-race, with its shifting fortunes, and its catastrophes, in the
_Electra_ of Sophocles. The danger of the turn was twofold, there was
the danger of striking the pillar with the chariot wheel in trying to
turn too close, there was the danger of collision with other chariots.
Both dangers are illustrated in the _Electra_. The first accident
occurred at the turn between the sixth and seventh round; “The Aenian’s
hard-mouthed horses bolt, and at the turn dash headlong into the
Barcaean car.” The Barcaean car was leading on the outside; to make the
turn, it had to sweep round in front of the Aenian car, thereby forcing
the latter to check its pace for fear of collision. Unfortunately, the
Aenian horses had bolted, and could not be checked, and therefore
charged into the back of the other chariot. The accident is perfectly
intelligible if we realise that the chariots were not racing in a line,
one behind the other, but were often side by side. The chariot on the
inside would naturally make a wide sweep after the pillar; the outside
chariot would make the sweep first, and try to turn close to the pillar
on the other side.[792] One accident leads to others. All the chariots
came to grief except that of Orestes, who drove last, keeping himself
for the finish, and the chariot of the Athenian, who cleverly pulled
aside, and checked his pace, letting the crowd of chariots rush on to
their destruction. Orestes started off in quick pursuit of him, but in
making the last turn he was too quick. The left-hand trace-horse had
been reined in to make the turn; the horses had already turned round the
pillar, but the chariot itself was not yet clear when Orestes gave the
rein to the left-hand horse. The horses dashed off down the straight,
and the wheel of the chariot caught the pillar, Orestes was thrown from
the chariot, and dragged along by the horses still entangled in the

Accidents of a milder character are often depicted on coins and vases.
On a red-figured hydria in Würzburg, one of the horses has broken his
traces and runs away.[793] A broken rein tangled round the forefoot of a
horse is a favourite motive on the fifth-century coins of Syracuse,
bearing the signature of Euaenetus.[794] It occurs also on one of the
coins of Catana shown in Fig. 171. The other coin has in the exergue an
object which seems to represent a broken chariot-wheel.

[Illustration: Fig. 171. Silver tetradrachms of Catana, in the British
Museum (enlarged). Fifth century.]

The chariot-race is depicted on the François vase, and also in the
Amphiaraus vase (Fig. 3). The scene on the latter is a particularly fine
picture of the crowding and confusion of the race. It represents the
finish. Three tripods are set for the prizes, and beyond them sit the
three judges.

[Illustration: Fig. 172. Decadrachm of Agrigentum, 413-406 B.C.
Decadrachm of Syracuse, 400-360 B.C.]

The finest representations of the chariot occur on the coins of Sicily
(Fig. 172). It is impossible to dwell on them in detail, and interesting
as they are artistically, they add little to our knowledge of the race.
Two examples must suffice; two decadrachms of Agrigentum and Syracuse
respectively. The former shows a spirited rendering of a four-horse
chariot, as the driver reins in his horses. The driver, contrary to
usual custom, is almost naked, probably he is the personification of the
river Acragas. Above him is an eagle flying away with a serpent in its
claws; below is the city emblem, a crab. Still more interesting is the
coin of Syracuse belonging to the series of medallions connected with
the defeat of the Athenians at the river Assinarus. This defeat was
commemorated by the festival of the Assinaria, which was celebrated for
the first time in 412. The coin in our illustration is the work of an
unknown artist, usually called “the New Artist.” The chariot is
represented in full career, and above the chariot floats a figure of
Victory holding a crown. The most interesting feature of the coin is the
group of objects in the exergue. They are a shield and helmet on either
side, in the middle a cuirass flanked by a pair of greaves. These form
the panoply of a heavy-armed soldier. Above the shield on the left is
the word ἆθλα, prizes, and there can be little doubt that these arms are
the spoils taken from the Athenian hoplites, which were offered as
prizes at the Assinarian games.

Chariot-racing was a costly amusement, and in the century before our era
it disappeared from the programme of Olympia, doubtless because of want
of competitors. It was restored spasmodically under the Empire, but
never recovered its old position in Greece. The racing of the hippodrome
had given place to the races of the rival factions in the Roman circus.
The account of the circus and its games belongs not to Greek history but
to Roman.

Footnote 768:

  _B.S.A._ xiii. pp. 174 ff.

Footnote 769:

  The four-horse chariot occurs on coins of Agrigentum, Camarina,
  Catana, Eryx, Gela, Himera, Leontini, Panormus, Segesta, Syracuse; the
  two-horse chariot on coins of Messana; the mule car on coins of
  Rhegium and Messana; numerous riding types on coins of Tarentum. In
  the early coinage of Syracuse the tetradrachm bears a four-horse
  chariot, the didrachm a horseman leading another horse, the drachma a
  horseman, and the obol a chariot-wheel. _Vide_ Hill, _Coins of
  Sicily_, pp. 43-46 and _passim_.

Footnote 770:

  Gerh. _A.V._ 267.

Footnote 771:

  _Mus. Greg._ ii. xxii. 1 A.

Footnote 772:

  In Roman times both stadium and hippodrome merge into the circus. The
  hippodrome at Constantinople is a purely Roman structure and does not
  concern us; so is the hippodrome at Pessinus (Texier, _Asie Mineure_,
  Pl. lxii.).

Footnote 773:

  Paus. viii. 38, 5; _Expédition en Morée_, ii. p. 37, Pls. xxxiii.

Footnote 774:

  Paus. vi. 16, 4; Plut. _Sol._ 23; Photius, p. 296.

Footnote 775:

  Paus. vi. 20. Many of the details are much disputed. I have followed
  in the main the account given by A. Martin in Dar.-Sagl. _s.v._

Footnote 776:

  Quoted in Dar.-Sagl., _s.v._ “Olympia,” p. 177, n. 5; cp. Frazer,
  _Pausanias_, v. p. 616, and Schoene in _Jahrb._ xii. p. 150. Schoene’s
  conclusions as to the distances of the races seem to me quite
  impossibly long.

Footnote 777:

  Martin’s statement that the part of the aphesis near the base was
  open, and the apex covered in, is hardly warranted by the words of
  Pausanias, and seems improbable.

Footnote 778:

  Alcibiades on one occasion entered no less than seven chariots of his
  own. Thuc. vi. 16, 2.

Footnote 779:

  Ervinus Pollack, _Hippodromika_. Leipsic, 1890.

Footnote 780:

  It can hardly have been as fair; for the outside chariots had the
  enormous advantage of a flying start. I conjecture, however, that the
  chariots did not really start racing till they were all in line, and
  that the object of the aphesis was partly to facilitate the getting
  them into line, no easy matter with a large field.

Footnote 781:

  Sophocles, _El._ 709.

Footnote 782:

  Pindar, _Ol._ ii. 50, iii. 33, vi. 75; _Pyth._ v. 30. The passages
  referring to the measurements are collected by Pollack, _op. cit._ pp.
  103 ff.

Footnote 783:

  Paus. vi. 13, 9.

Footnote 784:

  _J.H.S._ xix. p. 8. _B.M. Guide to Greek and Roman Life_, p. 200.

Footnote 785:

  In the catalogue this instrument is described as a καλαῦροψ, but I can
  find no authority for this use of the word.

Footnote 786:

  Paus. v. 5, 2.

Footnote 787:

  Munich, 805; Schreiber, _Atlas_, xxiv. 9.

Footnote 788:

  _The Horsemen of Tarentum_, _passim_.

Footnote 789:

  Paus. vi. 2, 1.

Footnote 790:

  _Oxyrhynchus Papyri_, ii. 222.

Footnote 791:

  Paus. vi. 2, 8.

Footnote 792:

  M. A. Bayfield in _Class. Rev._ xxii. p. 45.

Footnote 793:

  Gerh. _A.V._ 267.

Footnote 794:

  Hill, _Coins of Sicily_, p. 63.

                              CHAPTER XXII

In Homeric times the gymnasium and the palaestra did not exist. The
broad runs in Ithaca,[795] which are sometimes quoted as the prototype
of the Greek gymnasia, were not running-tracks but cattle-runs. The need
for special places for exercise first arose with the growth of city
life. At first these were no more than open spaces in some grove or
plain where the ground had been cleared for running or for wrestling.
Such were the “runs and wrestling rings” which Cleisthenes of Sicyon
prepared for his daughter’s suitors.[796] The place where the Spartan
youth exercised retained its ancient name the “Dromos” or run, even in
the time of Pausanias. The runs developed into the gymnasium, the
wrestling-ring into the palaestra.

The word “gymnasium” means, properly, an athletic exercise. By a natural
transference it comes to be used first in the plural, afterwards
collectively in the singular for a place set apart for such exercises.
It is a general term. The gymnasium is merely an athletic ground, or
playing-field, where all sorts of sport take place. It contains “runs
and wrestling-rings.” It may serve as a riding-school. Euripides speaks
of “gymnasia resounding with the tramp of horses.”[797] It may contain
buildings for the comfort of those who use it, but the essential part of
the gymnasium is the running-ground. On the other hand, the palaestra is
a special term for the wrestling-school. In its simplest form it is a
square enclosure, containing some provision for undressing and washing.
It is essentially a building. The palaestra may exist without a
gymnasium, but no gymnasium can exist without a palaestra. Moreover, in
a gymnasium the necessary buildings are naturally centred round the
palaestra. Hence the palaestra being architecturally the most important
part of the gymnasium, the two terms are in practice often used
synonymously. Yet the original distinction is never wholly obliterated;
in Pausanias the gymnasium is still the athletic ground, the palaestra
the wrestling-school.[798]

Gymnasia probably existed in most Greek states in the sixth century or
even earlier. Shade and water being essential for the comfort of those
who used them, the site selected was usually a grove beside some stream
outside the city. Such was the Platanistas at Sparta, an island formed
by the windings of the river, and taking its name from the plane trees
which surrounded it. Such were the three ancient gymnasia at Athens: the
Academea, the Lyceum, and the Cynosarges. All three were sacred groves
outside the walls of the city, the Academea on the west side, on the
banks of the Cephisus, the other two on the east near the Eridanus and
Ilissus. All three probably existed in the sixth century. The Academea
was first enclosed with a wall by Hipparchus, and was afterwards
improved by Cimon into a well-watered grove with trim avenues and walks.
The origin of the Lyceum was variously ascribed to Peisistratus,
Pericles, and Lycurgus. As it certainly existed in the time of Socrates,
it was probably founded by Peisistratus, if not earlier, and underwent
various improvements at the hands of Pericles and Lycurgus. The
gymnasium of Cynosarges was reserved for bastards, and those whose
parents were not both Athenian. Themistocles being the son of a Carian
mother, and resenting his exclusion from the other gymnasia, succeeded
in persuading some prominent young Athenians to accompany him to the
Cynosarges. Slaves were not allowed to take any part in athletics, which
were regarded as the distinctive mark of freeborn Greeks. The Academea
and Lyceum were large enough to serve as riding-schools and
parade-grounds for cavalry. The Athenian gymnasia were open to Athenians
of all ages; boys were certainly not excluded, though, as we shall see,
they were usually sent to the palaestra for education;[799] men of all
ages resorted to them for their daily exercise; competitors for the
games trained in them; above all, they were the training-school of the
epheboi, at all events from the fifth century onwards. “When a boy is
enrolled among the Epheboi,” says Socrates, in the Pseudo-Platonic
dialogue called _Axiochus_,[800] “then come the Lyceum and the Academea,
the rule of the gymnasiarchos, beatings with rods and ills innumerable.”
Consequently, the gymnasia were the favourite resort of sophists and
philosophers in search of pupils. Some philosophers habitually
frequented certain gymnasia, which thereby became connected with
particular schools of philosophy. In course of time literary studies
prevailed over athletics, and the gymnasium developed into a sort of

The existence of palaestrae at Athens in the sixth century is attested
by the speech of Aeschines against Timarchus. In this speech the orator
refers to certain laws ascribed to Solon for the regulation of schools
and palaestrae. The paidotribai were not to open the palaestrae before
sunrise, and were to close them before sunset. There were regulations as
to the class of boys to be admitted, their numbers and age, their
discipline and the conduct of the Hermaea, a boy’s festival celebrated
in the palaestrae. The actual text of the laws is spurious, but there is
no reason for doubting the existence of the regulations mentioned by
Aeschines, and their antiquity. But we must not confound the palaestrae
referred to with those which formed part of the gymnasia. The latter
were public institutions, mostly outside the city; the palaestrae for
which Solon laid down regulations were such of the private palaestrae as
were used for the physical education of boys. There were numerous
private palaestrae, some perhaps built by rich individuals for their own
use,[801] others kept by paidotribai[802] for profit. The publicity of
the gymnasia and their remoteness rendered them unsuitable for the
training of young boys. Parents and teachers naturally preferred the
comparative privacy of the palaestra in the city. Some of these may have
been attached to schools, others may have been reserved for boys of
certain ages, or special times may have been reserved in them for
different ages. Certainly it is at these palaestrae that the Athenian
boys received their physical training. But it is no more correct to say
that the palaestrae generally were reserved for the education of boys
under the age of eighteen, than it is to say that no boys under that age
were admitted to the gymnasia. Some of the palaestrae were certainly
used by older pupils. In Plato’s _Lysis_ the sophist Miccus is stated to
have established himself in a newly built palaestra. Boys of different
ages are trained there at different times, but the pupils of Miccus are
not boys, but epheboi or grown-up men, and these at all events had free
entry there at certain times. The fact is that there were palaestrae of
various sorts just as there are schools and colleges of various sorts in
England to-day. To treat all the palaestrae as similar, and to endeavour
to lay down hard and fast rules for all alike, is as ridiculous as it
would be to write a treatise on the schools of England in which no
distinction was made between primary schools and secondary schools, or
between a college which forms part of a university and a college which
is really a school.

Our knowledge of Greek gymnasia down to the fourth century is
practically confined to Athens. The earliest existing gymnasium is that
of Delphi, which belongs to the fourth century. The gymnasium at Olympia
cannot be earlier than the third century. The only contemporary evidence
for the fifth century is derived from the vase-paintings which give a
vivid picture of the life of the gymnasium at Athens in the first half
of this century, but yield only fragmentary evidence as to the
arrangements of the gymnasium. Yet this evidence agrees so well with the
remains discovered at Olympia and Delphi, and also with such scattered
allusions as we find in literature, especially in Plato’s dialogues,
that we may feel sure that the gymnasia and palaestrae of the fifth
century throughout Greece were substantially of the type which we find
in these places.[803]

The essential parts of the gymnasium or palaestra are clearly stated in
the treatise on the Athenian Republic,[804] which if not written by
Xenophon was probably written in the second half of the fifth century.
The writer, speaking of the progress of the Athenian democracy, says:
“As for gymnasia and baths and undressing-rooms some rich people have
their own, but the people have built for their own use many palaestrae,
dressing-rooms, and bath-rooms, and the mob has far more advantages in
these respects than the fortunate few.” In this passage we notice,
first, that there is no real distinction between gymnasium and
palaestra; if there is any distinction, it is merely that the palaestra
is somewhat more elaborate than the gymnasium, as the bath-room is more
than the bath. Both are merely places for exercise. Secondly, the
dressing-rooms and bath-rooms are clearly not independent buildings, but
are connected with the gymnasia. Bath-rooms might exist separately, but
what would be the use of separate undressing-rooms? Every gymnasium and
every palaestra must contain, besides the actual “runs and
wrestling-rings,” some place where those who use them may undress and
oil themselves before exercise, and may wash themselves afterwards.
These are the three essential parts of every such building, and all the
complicated arrangements of the gymnasia at Ephesus and Pergamum are
merely elaborations of these three requirements.

The dialogues of Plato illustrate alike the similarity and difference in
the arrangements of a gymnasium and palaestra. The scene of the _Lysis_
is laid in the new-built palaestra to which reference has already been
made. In general plan it resembles an ordinary one-storied Greek house.
It is surrounded by a wall (περίβολος), the only opening in which is a
door giving access to the street. Around this wall, on the inside, are
placed the various rooms which all open out into the central court
(αὐλή) which in the palaestra is considerably larger than in an ordinary
house. On entering, the visitor finds himself in a sort of ante-chamber,
from which he passes into a large hall called the apodyterion
(ἀποδυτήριον). The front of this hall is open, so that it commands a
view of the court, which is used for exercise. This hall, as its name
denotes, is the undressing-room. But, like the modern cricket pavilion,
it serves as a general meeting-place for all who frequent the palaestra.
There are seats around the walls for their convenience. A group of boys
are playing knuckle-bones when Socrates enters, and Socrates retreats to
the farther corner to find a seat. Probably, if there were no other
rooms, it was in the apodyterion that Miccus used to hold his classes.
There may, of course, have been other rooms around the court, certainly
there must have been some accommodation for washing, but as the
bath-room is not conducive to serious conversation it naturally plays no
part in these dialogues.

Now let us pass on to the Lyceum gymnasium.[805] The arrangement is
similar, but on a larger scale. Close to the entrance is the apodyterion
where Socrates takes his seat and watches people come and go. But
besides the court, there is a covered track (κατάστεγος δρόμος),
probably a colonnade running round one or more of the four sides of the
court. This covered dromos is the place where Athenian gentlemen take
their daily constitutional. As Socrates is waiting, two such enter, take
two or three turns in this dromos, and then return to the apodyterion.
Acumenos[806] indeed recommends a walk in the country as less fatiguing,
but the gymnasium is a more sociable place, there is more life and
amusement to be found there, and so the Athenian prefers it. But these
covered runs are not for athletes or epheboi except in the worst of
weather. For them tracks are provided in the park outside (ὁ ἔξω δρόμος)
where, as in the Academy, they may run races “mid a fragrance of smilax,
and leisure, and white poplar in the spring-season when the plane tree
whispers to the elm.”[807]

The pictures on the red-figured vases enable us to fill in these
outlines. These vases, manufactured mostly at Athens, between the years
520 and 440 B.C., represent the life of the Athenian epheboi, that is to
say, life in the public gymnasia. On them we see scenes from the
gymnasia proper, where youths are exercising, scenes from the
apodyterion, and scenes from the bath-room.

We will first take a kylix in the Munich Museum, which gives a general
picture of exercises in the gymnasium (Fig. 17). The scene takes place
within a walled enclosure. The background represents this wall, or
perhaps the wall of the apodyterion; for on it are hanging all the
paraphernalia of the gymnasium, diskoi in their slings, halteres
fastened together by a cord, strigils, oil-flasks, sponges. A pair of
Ionic pillars frame the picture suggesting, perhaps, a covered
colonnade. Sometimes these pillars are surmounted by a large flat block,
which clearly indicates a roof. The actual exercises take place in the
court in front, or the dromoi outside. In the ground are planted poles
and picks. The poles are used as javelins for practice, and perhaps as
measuring-rods; or as posts to mark the lines from which the jump is
practised, or the diskos and javelin thrown. The two bearded men are
instructors—paidotribai or gymnastai. Usually these are clothed in a
long mantle; here they are naked, probably because they are teaching by
example. One of them leans on the usual official staff and holds in his
right hand a jumping-weight; the other holds in one hand a rod or
javelin, in the other a thong for throwing the javelin, but it is not
quite clear what his attitude means. The youth who looks on, leaning
upon a pole, may be either a youthful assistant or a spectator.

[Illustration: Fig. 173. R.-f. kylix. Canino Coll.]

Another kylix gives a vivid picture of the discipline of the gymnasium
(Fig. 173). On one side are a pair of wrestlers, and looking on at them
is an instructor wearing his robe, leaning on his staff with his right
hand, while in his left he holds the forked rod with which he enforces
discipline. On the other side is an instructor in the act of using this
rod on some boxers. The youth who stands behind the first instructor
with the pick may be another boxer taking this form of exercise, but the
mantle rolled up round his waist suggests rather that he is an assistant
who is loosening the ground of the skamma used by wrestlers and jumpers.
On the interior of this vase is a third instructor, and a youth who
seems to be measuring the ground with his feet, perhaps measuring the
throw of a javelin, for he holds in his hands a javelin and its thong.
The careless drawing of this amentum caused it to be misinterpreted
formerly as a pair of compasses. Another figure frequently depicted in
these scenes is the flute-player,[808] who is usually dressed in a long,
gaudy robe, and wears round his head a curious sort of muzzle called
φορβεία. These flute-players were probably slaves attached to the

Many of the exercises depicted require considerable space. The javelin
and diskos could hardly be thrown with safety in the court of an
ordinary palaestra. The open dromoi were the places for such sports.
Here, too, it seems riding-lessons were given. Sometimes a group of
athletes and a riding scene are placed on opposite sides of the same
vase.[809] In these riding scenes pillars[810] are sometimes depicted,
oil-flasks and other objects hang on the walls, and the instructors are
the same as in athletic scenes. A good example of such a scene occurs on
a kylix in Munich (Fig. 174). There are three naked epheboi, one already
mounted, one leading a horse and holding in his hand the familiar forked
rod, the third is being instructed in the art of vaulting on to his
horse by means of a spear or pole. An oil-flask indicates the building,
while a tree suggests the groves of the gymnasium.

[Illustration: Fig. 174. R.-f. kylix. Munich, 515.]

[Illustration: Fig. 175. R.-f. kylix. Copenhagen.]

Scenes in the Apodyterion are very numerous, especially on later vases.
We will first take a kylix in the Museum at Copenhagen (Fig. 175). The
broad tops of the pillars suggest the roof of the room. Hanging or
leaning against the wall are the usual paraphernalia; one object seems
curious, it is a hare. Perhaps one of the epheboi has just caught it, or
he has brought it as a present to his trainer, or received it as a
present or prize.[811] A group of youths and trainers are standing about
or seated on stools. Some are fully dressed, others naked; one is
scraping himself with a strigil, another is just about to put on his
mantle; his walking-stick rests against the wall behind him. Some
clothes are placed on one of the stools. We can quite understand the
necessity of severe laws against theft in the gymnasia. A law attributed
to Solon imposed the penalty of death on any one who stole from the
Lyceum, or Acadamea, or Cynosarges a himation, or an oil-flask, or any
other object worth more than ten drachmae.[812]

After divesting himself of his clothes and placing them in as safe a
place as possible, the athlete next proceeded to anoint himself with oil
and carefully rub the oil into the skin. He might do so himself or
obtain the services of an attendant, the aleiptes. The terms aleiptes
and paidotribes indicate the importance which the Greeks attached to the
oiling and massaging of the body both before and after exercise. These
processes were afterwards developed into elaborate arts, and special
rooms were set apart for them, but in the fifth century they were
comparatively simple and took place either in the apodyterion or else in
the open air.[813] The oil was contained in little narrow necked flasks
of various shapes, lekythoi, aryballoi, alabastra. Each person probably
brought his own flask of oil and his strigil. At times of festival oil
was supplied free to all competitors, and in later times gymnasiarchoi
and other high officials showed their generosity by providing at their
own expense the oil required for the epheboi using the gymnasia. A
krater in Berlin (Fig. 176) shows a group of epheboi undressing and
preparing for exercise. One of them has just taken off his himation and
folded it up and is about to hand it to a slave-boy, either his own
slave or one attached to the gymnasium. Another has laid his himation on
a stool, and is pouring some oil from an aryballos into his left hand.
To his left stands a third ephebos resting on his stick, with his mantle
thrown loosely across his shoulders, while a small slave removes a thorn
from his foot. The other side of the vase illustrates the curious custom
of infibulation. Massaging is, as far as I know, not depicted on any
vases; but a drawing of an aleiptes rubbing down a boxer occurs on a
bronze cist in the Vatican[814] (Fig. 177).

[Illustration: Fig. 176. R.-f. krater. Berlin, 2180.]

[Illustration: Fig. 177. Bronze cista. Vatican.]

[Illustration: Fig. 178. R.-f. amphora. St. Petersburg, Hermitage,

It may have been in the Apodyterion, or else in some other corner of the
gymnasium, that the korykos (κώρυκος) was fixed up. In later times a
special room was provided for the korykos, but its use at this time is
proved by the caricature of a pankratiast using it which occurs on a
vase in St. Petersburg (Fig. 178). The korykos was a sort of punchball,
a leathern bag or skin filled with fig grains, meal, or sand, and
suspended from the branch of a tree or a beam. It varied in size. The
larger sort which was used by pankratiasts was about the size of a sack
of coals, and was hung so that the bottom of it was on a level with the
athlete’s waist. The boxer used a smaller korykos about the size of a
punchball hung on a level with his head, to judge from the picture of it
on the Ficoroni cist, a work of the third century B.C. (Fig. 179).[815]
In the later gymnasia a special room was set apart for ball-play; but
popular as ball games always were they seem to have been of little or no
importance in the gymnasia of the fifth century.

[Illustration: Fig. 179. Ficoroni cista. Kirchner Museum, Rome. Third
century B.C.]

The bathing arrangements in the gymnasium were severely simple. There
existed, indeed, even in the time of Herodotus and Aristophanes,
separate bathing establishments (βαλανεῖα) where hot baths and even
vapour baths were to be obtained.[816] But these balaneia had nothing to
do with the gymnasia, and are indeed sharply contrasted with them. To
frequent them was considered, at all events among old-fashioned folk, to
be a sign of effeminacy. Aristophanes bitterly complains that the effect
of the new-fashioned education was to empty the wrestling schools and
fill the balaneia, and Plato considers hot baths only suitable for the
old and feeble.[817] In later times elaborate baths of this type were
attached to the gymnasia, and became so important that the athletic part
of the building was little more than an apanage of the baths. But there
is no sign of such baths in connexion with the gymnasia of the fifth
century, nor do they exist in the later gymnasia at Delphi and Olympia.
The epheboi of the fifth century washed in cold water after exercise.
The simplest form of washing is represented on a black-figured hydria in
Leyden which dates from the close of the sixth century (Fig. 180).[818]
A group of men and boys are washing at a fountain which stands in the
grove of the gymnasium. Their clothes hang on the branches of the trees.
The fountain itself is under a portico, and the water issues from two
panthers’ heads under which a man and a boy are taking a douche and
rubbing themselves. On either side stand others preparing for the bath.
One on the left lifts in his right hand what is probably an oil-flask,
while on the right we see a youth engaged in powdering himself. Various
powders were used, a sort of lye obtained from wood ashes, an alkali
called litron and somewhat similar to nitre, and a kind of fuller’s
earth.[819] After oiling and powdering his body the bather rubbed
himself till a lather was obtained.

[Illustration: Fig. 180. B.-f. hydria. Leyden, 7794b.]

[Illustration: Fig. 181. Scene on r.-f. vase. (Tischbein, i. 58).]

On the red-figured vases the washing takes place in a bath-room forming
a part of the gymnasium and probably adjoining the apodyterion. In the
centre of this room is set a large stone or metal basin placed on a
stand. Close to it a cistern is sometimes represented, and on one vase
we see a youth pouring water into the basin from a bucket which he has
drawn up from the cistern by means of a rope and windlass[820] (Fig.
181). The inscription on the basin (δημόσια) shows that it is a public
bath. One youth is splashing the water over himself, but a more
satisfactory way of washing is to get a friend or assistant to swill a
bucket of water over you in the manner represented on a kylix in the
British Museum (Fig. 182). On the other side of this kylix is seen a
group of youths scraping themselves with strigils (στλεγγίδες). The
strigil was in constant use in the gymnasium to remove dirt and sweat
after exercise or remove moisture and lather after the bath. It was made
of iron or bronze, sometimes of silver or even of gold; the handles are
sometimes highly ornamental. Many of them exist in the British Museum
and elsewhere. Their shape will be best understood from the accompanying
illustration of a fifth-century strigil from the British Museum, on
which the owner’s name is inscribed (Fig. 183). A youth scraping himself
with a strigil is the motive of the well-known statue, the
“Apoxyomenos,” formerly ascribed to Lysippus.

[Illustration: Fig. 182. R.-f. kylix. British Museum, E. 83.]

[Illustration: Fig. 183. Strigil, in British Museum, inscribed κέλων.
Fifth century.]

Plunge baths (κολυμβήθραι) certainly existed at this period. A
red-figured amphora[821] in the Louvre signed by Andocides (_c._ 500
B.C.) shows a group of women bathing in a swimming bath. One is
swimming, while another is preparing to dive into the water. We shall
find plunge baths both at Delphi and Olympia, but we have no evidence
for their existence in the gymnasia of the fifth century.

In passing on to the gymnasia at Delphi and Olympia we must bear in mind
the essential difference which distinguishes them from the gymnasia at
Athens, which we have been considering. The latter were intended for the
regular use of a large resident population. At Delphi, and still more at
Olympia, the resident population was small and scattered; and though
they doubtless took advantage of the gymnasia, these buildings were
primarily erected, not for their use, but for the use of the competitors
in the four-yearly festivals. Hence there was no need for the shady
walks and avenues which formed so prominent a feature of the early
gymnasia at Athens, nor for the lecture-rooms and libraries which were
provided for the literary training of the epheboi in the gymnasia of
Ptolemaeus Philadelphus or Hadrian. The gymnasia at Delphi and Olympia
were strictly practical and athletic.

[Illustration: Fig. 184. Plan of gymnasium at Delphi. (_B.C.H._)]

The gymnasium at Delphi[822] is a good example of the skill with which
the Greeks adapted their buildings to the nature of the ground (Fig.
184). It lies a little to the south-west of the precinct of Apollo below
the road which runs from Itea to Arachova and on the steep slopes which
overhang the valley of the Pleistus. It is built on two terraces, the
upper of which forms a rectangle some 180 metres long by 25 or 30 metres
deep, and contains the running tracks, while the lower terrace contains
the palaestra proper and the baths. The fine retaining wall which
divides the two terraces, and other architectural remains point to the
existence of the gymnasium in the early part of the fourth century, and
most of the parts which have been excavated are mentioned in an
inscription containing the official accounts for repairing the stadium
and gymnasium in the year 258 B.C.

The upper terrace was bounded above by the outer wall of the gymnasium.
It contained a covered running-track 7 metres broad, and a double
uncovered track 20 metres broad. These are the ξυστόν and παραδρομίς of
the inscription. They are divided from one another by a stone water
channel which, besides carrying off rain water, provided water for the
athletes when training. Another channel, which divided the paradromis
into two unequal parts, carried water from the Castalian stream to the
baths in the lower terrace. The Ionic pillars which formed the colonnade
(περίστυλος) of the xystos are of poor and late workmanship, and seem to
have replaced an earlier Doric colonnade. Neither xystos nor paradromis
was paved; but, as we learn from the accounts of Dion’s archonship, they
were dug up, rolled, and covered with fine white sand. Six picks
(ἐπισκαφεῖα) were provided either for this work or for the use of the
athletes.[823] The length of the xystos, 180 metres, is approximately
that of the Delphic stadium, which was 177 metres.

The lower terrace contains an irregular enclosure forming the baths, and
a small palaestra 32 metres square. The latter consists of a small court
nearly 14 metres square, surrounded by a colonnade (περίστυλος) on to
which several rooms open on the north and west sides. The uses of these
rooms cannot be determined. The inscription mentions an apodyterion, a
κόνιμα, and two σφαιριστήρια. The κόνιμα is probably another name for
the skamma or wrestling ring which is also called κονίστρα, and if so
may be identified with the central court.[824] The wrestling ring was
covered with fine sand, and the contract appropriately mentions the
“sifting of the earth” in the konima (τᾶς γᾶς τὰν σάσιν) at a cost of
ten drachmae. The sphairisteria were rooms, or perhaps open courts, for
ball play. In one of them the ground was to be dug up and rolled, then
carefully raked over and levelled, and finally covered with black earth.
A wall, too, is mentioned in the sphairisterion. Among the various games
of ball practised by the Greeks we find mention of one which consisted
in bouncing the ball on the ground or against a wall, and striking it
back with the flat of the hand as it rebounded. The object was to keep
it up as many times as possible; the first to miss was called the
donkey, and had to submit to any penalty imposed by the winner or
“king,” as he was called.[825] The palaestra at Delphi was not spacious
enough for games in which the balls were thrown with any violence, but
the carefully prepared floor and the wall may well have served for the
games described, which seem to have been quite familiar in Plato’s time.
As athletics became professional, ball play seems to have become
increasingly popular, and the ball alley probably became a recognized
part of the palaestra. The little private palaestra owned by the “Man of
Petty Ambitions” (μικροφιλότιμος) in Theophrastus contains “a wrestling
arena and a sphairisterion,”[826] the two parts mentioned in the Delphic
inscription. Alexander the Great was specially fond of ball play, and
one Aristonicus of Carystus, described as his “sphairistes,” received at
the hands of the Athenians the citizenship and an honorary statue.[827]

The baths lay in an irregular enclosure to the north of the palaestra.
The washing arrangements are particularly interesting from their
resemblance to what we have seen pictured on the vases. The whole
enclosure was uncovered. The east side of it was formed by the retaining
wall of the upper terrace, and in this wall a series of fountains were
arranged precisely similar to those illustrated in Fig. 180. The water
was supplied from the conduit in the upper terrace and issued through
eleven bronze spouts in the shape of animals’ heads, placed at such a
height as to fall conveniently over the head and shoulders of the
bathers beneath. It was caught below in eleven basins, which were used
for washing in the manner represented on the vases, and from the basins
it fell into large stone troughs by which it was carried outside the
building to fall into the Castalian ravine. In the centre of the
enclosure was a circular plunge bath (κολυμβήθρα) 10 metres in diameter,
and 1·80 metres in depth, the sides of which sloped downwards towards
the centre in a series of stone steps. There were no warm baths in the
old gymnasium, but these seem to have been added in Roman times, and
their remains exist to the north of the older building.

[Illustration: Fig. 185. Plan of palaestra at Olympia.]

The gymnasium and palaestra at Olympia[828] (Fig. 185), situated on the
left bank of the Cladeus to the north-west of the Altis, are far more
symmetrical in plan and more elaborate than those at Delphi. The
palaestra appears to be somewhat older than the gymnasium, and was built
in the third century B.C. It is a building 66 metres square enclosing an
open court 41 metres square, surrounded by a colonnade of Doric columns
on which numerous rooms open. There are two entrances at the corners of
the southern wall, and a third door in the middle of the northern wall
gives access to the gymnasium proper. The two chief entrances consist of
pillared vestibules leading into small anterooms which open on to the
covered colonnade. In the eastern anteroom are remains of a hearth or
altar. Between the two anterooms is a long narrow room or gallery only
separated from the colonnade by a row of pillars, in which we may
certainly recognize the apodyterion. In the north-eastern corner is a
bathroom, and in it were found remains of a brick-lined bath of Roman
date 4 metres square and 1·38 metres deep. There is another basin in the
adjacent corner of the gymnasium at the point where the southern
corridor opens on to the street. There are no signs in the palaestra or
gymnasium of the warm baths which are so important a feature of the
gymnasium described by Vitruvius. In Roman times warm baths were
installed at Olympia not in the palaestra but in a separate building to
the south-west. It is impossible to determine the uses of the various
rooms surrounding the court. Some of them are closed with doors, and
doubtless served for storing the oil, sand, and other requisites of the
palaestra. The larger rooms are open in front. In five of the rooms
there are remains of stone seats round the walls, and the floor is paved
with concrete. Such rooms must have been used as exedrai or galleries
for the spectators, but hardly, as it is sometimes stated, as lecture
rooms for philosophers and other teachers, who would certainly have
preferred the greater publicity afforded by the opisthodome of the
temple of Zeus or by the stoai. The palaestra and gymnasium at Olympia
must have been practically confined to the use of competitors, and the
practice of these competitors naturally drew thither crowds of friends
and interested spectators. In some of the rooms there are traces of
altars and bases of statues. Such buildings were always under the
patronage of certain gods and heroes. Hermes was in a special sense the
patron of the palaestra, and at Athens festivals were held there in his
honour. At Elis one of the gymnasia contained altars to Idaean Heracles,
to Eros and Anteros, to Demeter and Persephone, and the statues of the
first three were placed in the gymnasium called Maltho which was
specially reserved for wrestlers. Honorary statues were also sometimes
placed in the gymnasia, and at Olympia there were tablets inscribed with
the lists of Olympic victors.

The most curious feature in the palaestra at Olympia is a strip of tiled
pavement along the north side of the court. It is 24 metres long by 5
metres broad, and consists of two bands of rough ribbed tiles 1·60
metres in breadth divided by a band of smooth tiles 1 metre broad, while
a double row of these same tiles runs along the upper edge of the
pavement. The edges of these smooth tiles are raised so as to form
continuous ridges running the whole length of the pavement. The purpose
of this curious pavement is unknown; it certainly cannot have been
intended as a wrestling ring, or as a jumping ground, as certain learned
writers have with unconscious humour suggested. The most plausible
hypothesis is that it was used for some unknown game of ball, and this
hypothesis finds some support from the existence of a somewhat similar
bowling alley in the larger Thermae at Pompeii, on which two large heavy
stone balls were actually found.[829]

Of the gymnasium proper which lay to the north of the palaestra nothing
remains but portions of the southern and eastern colonnades. All the
western side has been destroyed by the floods of the Cladeus. The
southern colonnade consisted of a single row of pillars parallel to the
north wall of the palaestra, with which it communicated by a door in the
centre of the wall. The eastern colonnade was not, however, continuous
with the east wall of the palaestra, but, to avoid the slope of Mount
Cronius, was diverted so as to form a slightly acute angle with the
southern colonnade. It was 210 metres long by nearly 12 metres broad,
and divided into two tracks by a row of Doric pillars. The similar row
of pillars which formed its western front began only on a level with the
third of the central pillars from the south, and ended with the third
pillar from the north. At these two points are traces of the attachment
of stone sills such as were found in the stadium, and the distance
between these two points, 192·27 metres, is exactly the distance of the
Olympic stadium. This double track was the xystos, or covered
running-track, and athletes could practise there under precisely the
same conditions as in the actual stadium. On the western side of the
gymnasium were rooms for the accommodation of competitors during the
festival, and possibly in front of them another xystos. In the centre of
the open court was constructed a sort of stone stand for the spectators
described by Pausanias as κρηπίς, the term which he uses for the rows of
stone steps below the treasury terrace in the Altis. But of this and of
the lodgings of the athletes, and of the paradromides or uncovered
tracks which doubtless existed here, not a trace is left.

The gymnasia at Epidaurus and Delos belong apparently to the same
period, and as far as can be judged from their scanty remains were very
similar in type. They bear a much closer resemblance to the buildings
described by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who lived in the time of
Augustus, than do the elaborate gymnasia of later times, which we find
at Ephesus and Pergamum. They differ, however, from the Vitruvian type
in the absence of hot baths. In Lucian’s time the Lyceum at Athens
certainly possessed a hot bath and a plunge bath, and perhaps these
existed in Hellenistic times. It is probable that such gymnasia, which
were the daily resort of the inhabitants of Athens, resembled the
Vitruvian type more closely than did the gymnasia of Olympia and Delphi,
which were chiefly used at the seasons of the festivals by competitors.
Now that excavation has revealed to us the actual plans of so many
gymnasia and palaestrae, the descriptions of Vitruvius are of only
secondary importance, and it is needless to discuss the various
reconstructions of his plans which the reader will find fully treated in
all books of reference. It will be sufficient here to discuss briefly
such of the various parts of the building mentioned by him as have not
already been noticed.

The palaestra of Vitruvius is of the same type as that at Olympia, a
square court surrounded by colonnades on to which the various rooms
enter. On three sides the colonnades are single, and the rooms are
provided with benches for the use of philosophers, rhetoricians, and men
of letters, who can sit there and converse with one another, or lecture
to their pupils. The colonnade on the fourth side, which faces south in
the ideal palaestra, is double, and the rooms behind it are devoted to
the needs of those who take exercise in the palaestra. These rooms are
elaborations of the simple apodyterion and bathroom. In the centre is a
large hall provided with seats called the ephebeion,[830] which probably
served rather as a general club-room for the epheboi than as a
dressing-room. For dressing and washing, full provision is made in the
rooms to left and right.

To the right are the elaiothesion, and a series of rooms connected with
the hot baths. The elaiothesion is the room where the oil was stored,
and perhaps also where athletes and bathers oiled themselves. Oil was
used not only before exercise, but both before and after the bath. A
large supply was required, and, as has been already mentioned, there was
no better way in which a gymnasiarchos could show his liberality than by
providing oil for the use of the epheboi at his own expense. We even
hear of cases where a sum of money was left to form an endowment for
this purpose.[831] The oil was kept in amphorae or tanks. A picture of
such a tank occurs on the funeral stele found at Prusa of one Diodorus,
a gymnasiarchos, who, we may suppose, had celebrated his term of office
by himself providing the oil (Fig. 186). It is a large circular tank,
somewhat resembling a font, supported on three elaborately wrought legs.
On its side hang three ladles (ἀρυτῆρες), which were used for measuring
out the oil. Each perhaps held a kyathos, a small liquid measure equal
to about 1/12 of a pint. A Spartan inscription referring to some
athletic contest, perhaps the Leonidaea, directs that the gymnasiarchos
shall provide daily four kyathoi for each man, three for each ageneios,
and two for each boy.

[Illustration: Fig. 186. Stele of Diodorus. Prusa. (Imperial period.)]

Next to the elaiothesion comes the frigidarium, a term usually denoting
the cold bath, but here apparently corresponding to the tepidarium of
the Roman baths, a room kept at a moderate temperature, heated if
necessary by a brazier, where bathers were oiled and scraped and
massaged before or after the bath.[832] A passage separates this room
from the propnigeion, a hot-air chamber connected with the furnace, and
adjoining this is the large vaulted sweating-room (_concamerata
sudatio_) which contains the hot-water bath (_calda lavatio_) and the
hot-air bath (_laconicum_). It is curious to find one of the principal
parts of those luxurious hot baths bearing a name which denotes its
Spartan origin. Perhaps the Spartans employed this means of reducing
weight in training. Exposure to the heat of the sun’s rays was a
recognized part of athletic training, and helped to give the skin the
rich brown tone which the Greeks so greatly admired. Philostratus in the
chapter in which he deals with this point ridicules the use of the
sweating-bath (πυριατήριον) and rubbing with oil without a bath
(ξηραλοιφεῖν) as parts of the unscientific system of training adopted by
the Spartans, the object of which was merely to produce the power of

On the other side of the ephebeion are three rooms, the korykeion, the
konisterion, and the cold bath. The korykeion can hardly mean anything
else than the room of the korykos, or punch-ball. Some writers have
objected to this interpretation on the ground that the korykos was not
of sufficient importance to have a room especially allotted to its use,
and they have therefore suggested that the korykos referred to in this
term was not a punch-ball but a basket or string bag, in which visitors
to the palaestra brought their luncheon. The explanation is ingenious,
but hardly satisfactory. The punch-ball, as we have seen, was known in
the fifth century, and is represented on works of art. It was used by
boxers and pankratiasts, and, as has been made clear in the first part
of this work, boxing and the pankration were by far the most popular
events, especially in Hellenistic and Roman times. Hence it is not
evident that the korykos was of secondary importance. Moreover, it is a
most significant coincidence that the chapter in Philostratus describing
the korykos follows immediately on the chapter on the various kinds of
konis, and in Vitruvius the korykeion and konisterion are next to one

If the above view is correct, the konisterion of Vitruvius is obviously
the powdering-room, where athletes powdered themselves before exercise.
This powder (κόνις) which they used must not be confused with the lye
(κονία) which was used in washing to form a lather. Indeed, its effects
were just the opposite; instead of forming a lather with the oil it
helped to dry it, and thus counteracted the excessive slipperiness which
the oil produced. Its effects on the body were regarded as no less
beneficial than those of the oil. It closed the pores of the skin,
checked excessive perspiration, and kept the body cool, thus protecting
it from chills and rendering it less susceptible to fatigue.[834] There
were also special sorts of powder credited with special virtues.[835]
One of a clayey nature (πηλώδης) was supposed to be particularly
cleansing; another resembling brick dust (ὀστρακώδης) produced
perspiration in bodies which were over-dry; a third of bituminous
character (ἀσφαλτώδης) warmed the skin. Two sorts, a black and a yellow,
both of an earthy character, were especially prized for making the body
supple and sleek, the yellow in particular imparting to the skin the
glossiness which was the sign of good training. The powder was kept in
baskets (σπυρίδες). Philostratus describes how it should be applied,
thrown on with a supple wrist and the fingers slightly opened so as to
fall like fine dust. But these are refinements for the few. The ordinary
youth contented himself with the ordinary earth or sand. Lucian in his
_Anacharsis_ describes the youths in the court of the gymnasium picking
up the sand and throwing it over one another. Sometimes it seems the
earth was mixed with water into a sort of mud, and then the simplest
plan was to roll in it. Under the Empire a special sort of ointment
(κήρωμα) was used, and the term ceroma was applied to part of the
palaestra; but the ceroma belongs to Rome, not to Greece.

The gymnasium of Vitruvius occupies an intermediate position between the
true Greek gymnasium and the type which was prevalent under the Empire.
The prominent feature of the latter is the elaboration of the buildings,
especially of those connected with the warm baths. Indeed, as every bath
had its court for exercise, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether
some particular building was a bathing establishment or a gymnasium. The
most familiar example of these later gymnasia is that at Ephesus; but as
the plans of it are to be found in every text-book it is unnecessary to
discuss it at length. It consists of a rectangular block of buildings
some 80 by 100 metres, standing in the centre of a large enclosed court.
Of this outer enclosure very few traces are left, and the imaginary
restoration of its courts commonly reproduced rests on no other
foundation than the desire of early archaeologists to accomplish the
absolutely impossible task of reproducing in it all the features of the
Vitruvian gymnasium. The central block of buildings, however, which we
may call the palaestra, is fairly well preserved, although the
identification of most of the rooms is extremely doubtful. Its plan is
almost exactly the reverse of the earlier palaestra. Round three sides
of the interior, if not all four sides, there runs a vaulted colonnade
(_cryptoporticus_), while the great central courtyard is almost entirely
occupied by the hot baths and buildings connected with them, the ancient
wrestling ring being reduced to a narrow strip along one side.

[Illustration: Fig. 187. Plan of lower gymnasium, Priene. (_Priene_,
Fig. 271.)]

The two gymnasia excavated by the Germans at Priene[836] illustrate the
earlier and the later types. The lower gymnasium (Fig. 187) which
adjoins the stadium near the south wall of the town appears to have been
built between the years 130 and 120 B.C. It is very similar in plan to
the Vitruvian palaestra, consisting of a court about 35 metres square
surrounded by a colonnade. On the north side, facing south, the
colonnade is double, as recommended by Vitruvius. On this side and on
the west a number of rooms open into it; on the other two sides there
are none. The entrance is in the centre of the west side, and is in the
form of an Ionic propylaion. To the north of it is an exedra fitted with
stone benches, and in the north-west corner is the Loutron or bathroom,
which is in excellent preservation and extremely interesting. Along the
north side is placed a row of stone troughs into which water flows from
a row of lions’ heads about 3 feet from the ground (Fig. 188). On either
side of the doorway in the south wall are remains of stone benches, in
front of which are troughs in the floor, so that people could sit there
and bathe their feet. There is no trace of any hot baths in this
gymnasium. In the centre of the north wall is the ephebeion, a large
lofty room, open in front save for two massive pillars. There are stone
benches round the walls, the upper part of which was decorated by an
elaborate arrangement of half pillars and architraves, on either side of
a round arched niche containing a large statue of a draped man. The
walls and pillars are covered with names of those who used the hall,
usually in the form ὁ τόπος Νέστορος τοῦ Νέστορος, “the place of Nestor,
the son of Nestor.” Another large hall at the north-east corner has some
traces of shelves, and may have been used as a place for undressing and
leaving clothes. The northern side of the gymnasium is cut out of the
slope of the hill, and was evidently two-storied. Above the ephebeion
seems to have been a large square room cut still farther back into the
hill. Perhaps there was an entrance from the street above into this
upper story. These upper rooms may have served as class-rooms. In
Hellenistic times the gymnasium was often a school where training was
given for mind as well as body.

[Illustration: Fig. 188. Bathroom in gymnasium at Priene. (_Priene_,
Fig. 278.)]

The upper gymnasium at Priene stood in the middle of the town. It was
the older of the two, for we learn from an inscription that it already
existed at the time when the lower gymnasium was being built. In its
original plan it seems to have been very similar; but so many
alterations have been made in it, and so much subsequent building has
taken place on the site, that we cannot be certain of its details. What
is certain is that in Roman times it was provided with hot baths. These
baths are referred to in an interesting inscription detailing the
services rendered by one Zosimus, who lived perhaps in the first century
B.C. “From a desire that every young man might attend the gymnasium for
the culture of his body, he had the furnace lighted all through the

Zosimus seems to have been an enthusiastic educationalist. Not only did
he provide for the physical training and recreation of the young “a
punch-ball, and hoops, and also balls and weapons,” he also provided for
the students a teacher in literature. He instituted competitions in all
accomplishments of mind and body, and showed the most lavish generosity
in furnishing oil and unguents in the gymnasium and in the bath, for all
visitors to the festivals of Priene. Among the competitions which he
instituted were a “squill fight” (σκιλλομαχία), and boxing in clothes
(ἐν εἵμασι). For the former he gave a heifer as a prize, while each
successful boxer received a golden fillet. The precise meaning of the
“squill fight” is uncertain; it was perhaps some sort of ceremonial
contest connected with the worship of Pan. The w