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Olympia

(6,171 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) | Sinn, Ulrich (Würzburg) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
This item can be found on the following maps: Dark Ages | Macedonia, Macedones | Mycenaean culture and archaeology | Oracles | Punic Wars | Athletes | Aegean Koine | Education / Culture (Ὀλυμπία/ Olympía, Latin Olympia). I. History [German version] A. Prehistory O. was located in the Pisatis (eastern Peloponnese), i.e. in the region of Pisa. The existence and location of Pisa  was already disputed in antiquity. However, the town is an important element in the myth of the origin of the shrine of O. and the games held there (Oenomaus [1], …

Wrestling

(658 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] I. Egypt and the Ancient Middle East In ancient times, wrestling, an age-old form of martial art, was widespread. The earliest representations in Egypt go back as far as the First Dynasty ( c. 3000 BC) [1. 533-564, L 1]. In seven Middle Kingdom graves of district princes in Banī Ḥasan there are depictions of in all some 500 wrestling pairs, some arranged in cinematographic sequences [1. L 15-21; 2. 70-72]. Wrestlers are also documented for the New Kingdom, including at sports festivals; Nubians among others are me…

Xenombrotus

(151 words)

Rowing

(302 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] Egyptian images of large ships being rowed allow the reconstruction of an ancient Egyptian technique characterized by an alternating cycle of sitting and standing while working the oars [1. 106-108]. In the rowing scene on the sphinx stele of Amenophis II (18th Dynasty: 1428-1397 BC), the king, as steersman, markedly outperforms his crew of rowers [2. 59]. Under Tutankhamon (18th Dynasty), teams performed on the Nile in a full-scale regatta [3]. In the Greek world, too, rowing competitions were far from unknown, though infrequent [4; 5]. There was an annual rowing agon off Hermion(e) (Paus. 2,35,1); at Athens, stelai with honorific inscriptions for kosmētaí (Kosmetes [1]) were decorated with rowing boats with crews of different sizes, implying that rowing formed part of the training of the ephebes ( ephēbeía ) [6. no. 35, 37, 38]. Virgil gave a poetic depiction of a rowing regatta in the context of the funeral games for Anchises; it was contested by four triremes of different sizes (Verg. Aen. 5,114-285); modifying the chariot-race in Homer's Iliad (23,262-652), the course of the race is described with vivid immediacy (drawing lots…

Long jump

(341 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (Greek ἅλμα; hálma; Lat. saltus). In Egypt a type of high long jump was known as a children's game already in the Old Kingdom [1. 619 f.]. In Graeco-Roman antiquity there is evidence of the long jump (LJ) as an individual competition only in myth (e.g. Hom. Od. 8,128). In actual athletic practice, however, it always occurs (presumably as the second discipline) in the context of the péntathlon . According to [2. 57-60], this is a continuous quintuple jump (cf. Them. in Aristot. Ph. 5,3) from standing. It was often performed to th…

Leontiscus

(136 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) | Ameling, Walter (Jena)
(Λεοντίσκος; Leontískos). [German version] [1] Olympic winner from Messana of Messana (Sicily). Two times Olympic winner in wrestling (456, 452 BC) [1]. He won his fights (in a similar manner to the pancratiast Sostratus) by breaking fingers (Paus. 6,4,3). His victor's statue in Olympia is by Pythagoras of Rhegium [2].…

Diaulos

(252 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (δίαυλος; díaulos) ‘double flute’ and by analogy ‘double run’; Greek athletic event, run over two lengths of the stadium or about 385 m overall [1. 69f.]. To prevent the runners on the outermost track from being disadvantaged during the relatively short distance, each runner had a separate turning-post and the neighbouring track was kept free for the second lap [2. 106-110; 3]. In this way the number of actual starting places was half the number of those actually available. A central turn as at Dolichus would inevitably have caused scrimmages and fouls. At Olympia the dia…

Diagoras

(491 words)

Author(s): Hölkeskamp, Karl-Joachim (Cologne) | Robbins, Emmet (Toronto) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
(Διαγόρας; Diagóras). [German version] [1] of Eretria Politician 6th cent. BC Towards the end of the 6th cent. BC (between 539 and 510?), D. overturned the ‘oligarchy of the knights’, allegedly for personal motives (Aristot. Pol. 5,5, 1306a 35-37) [1]. In posthumous tribute, a statue of D. was erected (Heraclides Lembus fr. 40 Dilts). Whether D. as nomo…

Javelin throwing

(167 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] Outside the Graeco-Roman world, sporting use of the javelin (ἀκόντιον; akóntion, δόρυ; dóry, Lat. iaculum) is attested only for Etruria [1. 306-314]. In Homer (Hom. Il. 23,618-623; 629-637; 884-897: uncontested victory for Agamemnon; Hom. Od. 4,625-627; 8,229), javelin-throwing is still a separate discipline. Later on, it is almost only conducted as the third discipline in the framework of the  pentathlon. The sling-strap fastened onto the javelin (ἀγκύλη; ankýlē, Lat. amentum) increased the distance of the throw, the distance determining the winn…

Korykos

(117 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (κώρυκος; kṓrykos, Lat. follis pugilatorius). A hanging sack of sand (filling also: flour, fig seeds), used by boxers ( Fist-fighting) and pancratists ( Pankration) as a training aid (Phil. Perì gymnastikês 57). It was also used for physiotherapeutic purposes (Gal. De sanitate tuenda 2,8,1-2; 2,10,1; Hippoc. Perì diaítēs 2,64; 3,81). For the well-known representation of the punching of the korykos on the Ficoronian Cista, see [1. fig. 119]. Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) Bibliography 1 R. Patrucco, Lo sport nella Grecia antica, 1972, 263-265. J. Jüthner, s.v. K. (5)…

Pythia

(1,432 words)

Author(s): Scherf, Johannes (Tübingen) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] [1] Prophetess of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi (Πυθία; Pythía). Prophetic seer of the oracle of Apollo Pythios at Delphi. In addition to her genuine designation as Pythía, her function is characterized by such epithets as mántis (Aesch. Eum. 29), prómantis (Hdt. 6,66), or prophȇtis (Eur. Ion 42). The P.'s establishment may have occurred after a period in which male priests were responsible for the promulgation (H. Hom. 3,393-396; [3. 215]). In the oracle's primeval period, the role of the seer was probably not fulfilled by…

Stadion

(1,137 words)

Author(s): Schulzki, Heinz-Joachim (Mannheim) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing)
(στάδιον; stádion). [German version] [1] Unit of length (Doric σπάδιον/ spádion). Greek unit of length equal to 6 pléthra ( pléthron ; cf. Hdt. 2,149,3) or 600 pous (foot). Depending on the underlying standard of the foot ( pous), this corresponds to a length of c. 162-210 m; the Attic stadion is equal to 186 m. The stadion for the race at Olympia had a length of 192.3 m, at Delphi 177.3 m, at Epidaurus 181.3 m, and at Athens 184.3 m. 8  stadia correspond approximately to 1 Roman mile ( mille passus) of 1500 m. In Greek literature, larger distances are generally indicated in stádia; if other…

Cleitomachus

(368 words)

Author(s): Stanzel, Karl-Heinz (Tübingen) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
(Κλειτόμαχος; Kleitómachos). [German version] [1] Academic philosopher Academic philosopher, probably born in 187/6 BC in Carthage, died in 110/109. Original name Hasdrubal (Philod. Academicorum Index 25.1-2). Presumably came to Athens in 163/2 (information in Diog. Laert. 4,67 is wrong). He entered the Academy in 159/8 After an elementary education of sorts with  Carneades [1], and studies in the Peripatos and the Stoa. Occasionally, his participation in the philosophers' delegation in 155 to Rome is …

Prizes (games)

(417 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] Evidence that prizes were given out in athletic competitions exists as early as for the Sumerians [1], Egyptians [2] and Hittites [3; 4] (silver ring; banquet; cake, silver, ram, the courtly office of royal bridle keeper). The woman as a prize in the bridal agon legitimizes rule (examples: the Egyptian tale of 'The enchanted Prince' [2. 67, 78]; myth of Pelops in Olympia [5]; Odysseus' arch…

Pentathlon

(466 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (πένταθλον; péntathlon). First ever multi-discipline event in the history of sport, held in Olympia allegedly from 708 BC for men, and just once for youths in 628 BC. Mythical derivation from the campaign of the Argonauts (Philostr. Perì gymnastikês 3) [1]. The strong iconographic presence and long tradition with sources that are at times difficult to analyse have led to appreciable differences in interpretation bot…

Discus throwing

(385 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] The discus (δίσκος, dískos) was originally a product of copper smelting, a solidified puddle. In origin a desirable Bronze Age commodity, it developed into a piece of sports equipment. In the Iliad (23,826-849), where it appears as σόλος ( sólos) (23,826, 839, 844; this poetic term also in Quint. Smyrn. 4,436), this link is still tangible, because in the discus throwing contest, the discus is both projectile and prize, however, anachronistically made of iron [2]. As a throwing disc made of metal (occasionally stone), between 17 and 32 cm in diameter and c. 4-5 kg in wei…

Dorieus

(553 words)

Author(s): Welwei, Karl-Wilhelm (Bochum) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) | Degani, Enzo (Bologna)
(Δωριεύς; Dorieús). [German version] [1] Spartan, son of Anaxandridas II Spartan, Agiad, son of Anaxandridas II and his first wife, older brother of the kings Leonidas and Cleombrotus, younger half-brother of Cleomenes I, who was born before D., but to the second wife of Anaxandridas, whom he due to the initial infertility of his first wife had additionally married at the direction of the ephors and gerontes. After Cleomenes as the eldest son had succeeded to the throne (Hdt. 5…

Olympic champions

(463 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (ὀλυμπιονῖκαι/ olympionîkai). The victory won at Olympia [IV] was considered the greatest of all victories in the Greek games. Pindar (Ol. 1,3-7) is not the only witness to this, the idea is also confirmed by the frequent accentuation of this place of competition in victory inscriptions [1; 2 passim]. The glory of Olympic champions, in which the home cities also bathed, was proverbial (Plat. Rep. 5,465d). Victory odes ( epiníkia ) were written to them (e.g. Pind. Ol. 4; 5 to Psaumis of Camarina, victor in the chariot race). Statue…
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