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Isthmia

(568 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] The Isthmia, held in the sanctuary of  Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth from 582 BC, belongs to the   períodos (περίοδος, circulation) of the Panhellenic agons. Myths connect the founding of the Isthmic Games with funeral games for the drowned Melicertes (Paus. 2,1,3) or with Theseus (Plut. Thes. 11e) [1]. Archaeological finds for athletic competitions do not precede the 6th cent. BC [2. (jumping-weight); 1. 76 (chariot)]. As early as 229 BC, the Romans were permitted to take par…

Pankration

(255 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (παγκράτιον; pankrátion). The third kind of fighting besides  wrestling and boxing in the programme of Greek agones (Sports festivals). Its goal was to “totally dominate” an opponent, with any means but biting and scratching being allowed for the purpose  (Philostr. Imag. 2,6,3). It is distinguishable in iconography from boxing by the lack of fist straps and from wrestling by the representation of fighting on the ground (Philostr. De gymnastica 11). The famous marble sculpture in F…

Bow-shooting

(369 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] In contrast to the ancient Middle East [1] and ancient Egypt [2. 42-54; 3. 1,139-189, 2, pl. 68-83, 446-450, folding plate A], where impressive reports and depictions of competitions or royal demonstrations in the art of bow-shooting (especially from Amenophis II, 1438-1412 BC) have survived, bow-shooting played only a modest role in athletic contests of later Greece [4.365-371; 5.155-158]. However, bow-shooting appears a number of times in both the Iliad (23,850-883; and, followi…

Fist-fighting

(875 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (πυγμή, πύξ; pygmḗ, pýx; pugilatio, pugilatus). There is already evidence of the discipline in the pre-Greek period (Egypt [1. N 1-2]; Mesopotamia [2. fig. 69; 3. 16f.]) and it was also practised in ancient marginal cultures (Etruria [4. 181-268]; representation on situlae [4. 168-174; 185f.; 226-231]; Lucania [5. 54f.]). In the early Greek Aegean area impressive documents from Thera (fresco of the so-called ‘boxing princes’) [6. pl. 38; 7. 43-45] and the depiction on a rhyton from Hagia Triada [6. pl. 106f.; 7. 43-45]…

Apobates

(258 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (ἀποβάτης; apobátēs). Relic of an early style of combat portrayed in Homer [1.31], the apobates contest, in which an armed man sprang from a moving chariot, had to run for a distance and then jump back aboard (?) while the driver kept the vehicle moving, evidently later enjoys high favour as a sporting event only in Athens [2.188-189; 3.138-141]. The complex discipline, where, besides equestrian qualities, great skill on the part of the armed runner and precise co-ordination between him and the …

Dolichos

(314 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (δόλιχος; dólichos). Longest running race at Greek sporting events. At Olympia, where the dolichos reportedly came into the program in 720 BC (15th Olympiad) as third sport, it probably covered a stretch of 20 stades ( c. 3,845 m) [1. 108f.]. Over that distance the disadvantage of turning around a central post ( Diaulos), was reduced. Graphic [2] and archaeological (Nemea [3]) evidence to this effect should therefore be taken seriously. A good turning technique created distinct advantages. Successful dolichos-runners were, by way of example, the periodonikai (vic…

Nemea

(1,080 words)

Author(s): Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) | Lafond, Yves (Bochum) | Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
(Νεμέα; Neméa). [German version] [1] Nymph after whom Nemea [2,3] was named Nymph, after whom N. [2,3] was named, daughter of the river god Asopus and Metope (Paus. 2,15,3; schol. Pind. Ol. 6,144 Dr.) or of Zeus and Selene (hypothesis c on Pind. Nem.); mother of Opheltes (Aesch. TrGF 3 F *149a). Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) [German version] [2] Name of a river, a basin and a sacred grove This item can be found on the following maps: Athletes | Education / Culture (Νεμέα; etymological meaning ‘pasture’; other etymology possibly after a nymph N. in Paus. 2,15,3). Name of: 1) a river whi…

Periodos, Periodonikes

(275 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (περίοδος/ períodos, περιοδονίκης/ periodoníkēs). The four most significant Panhellenic agons (Sports festivals) at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea and the Isthmus were brought together from the 3rd cent. BC under the term periodos ('circuit'). An athlete who had been victorious at least once in each of those games received the honorary title of periodoníkēs documented only from the 2nd cent. AD (cf. today's Grand Slam for success in the four most important international tennis tournaments of the year). Only c. 60 ancient athletes were entitled to this distinction …

Mnesibulus

(227 words)

Author(s): Engels, Johannes (Cologne) | Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
(Μνησίβουλος/ Mnēsíboulos). [German version] [1] Athenian defendant, after 356 BC The Athenian M. was involved after 356 BC in a lawsuit for false testimony ( pseudomartyrías díkē ) on behalf of his brother-in-law Theophemus in an earlier aikeía suit ( aikeías díkē ) (cf. Dem. Or. 47,5 and 53 = Apollodoros; Din. fr. 97 Conomis). Apollodorus [1]; Demosthenes [2] Engels, Johannes (Cologne) Bibliography Davies, 225-226  PA 10265  Traill, PAA 655710. [German version] [2] Condemned Athenian, before 324/3 BC Athenian from the deme of Acharnae, was condemned at first before 324/…

Theogenes

(485 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) | Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld) | Ameling, Walter (Jena)
(Θεογένης/ Theogénēs). [German version] [1] Athlete from Thasos, 5th cent. BC Famous fighter from the island of Thasos, Olympic champion in 480 BC (against Euthymus of Locri [1. nos. 191; 214; 222]) in fist-fighting [1. no. 201] and in 476 BC in pankration [1. no. 215]. This constellation of victories was first documented for T. on an inscription in Delphi [2. no. 37] dating from the 2nd cent. BC, which attests that the athlete was adored by his home polis for as long as four generations after his death. Pausanias tells of three victories in Delphi, ten in the Isthmia a…

Agonothetes

(400 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (ἀγωνοθέτης; agōnothétēs). While nothing is known of the office and function of the agonothete in pre-Greek times, Achilles as patron of the funeral games in honour of Patroclus already entirely fulfils the duties of later agonothetes (Hom. Il. 23,257-897) [1.81-82]. As patron he provides and distributes valuable prizes from among his own possessions, and repeated calls are made on his abilities as arbiter (disputes, distribution of special prizes). At the same time, he is active a…

Pythionikai

(225 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (Πυθιονῖκαι/ Pythionîkai, 'victors at the Pythian Games'). Victors at Olympia were in many cases also successful at the Pythia [2] [1]. A list of Pythionîkai was drawn up by Aristotle [6] and his relative Callisthenes [1] [2. 139-144; 3]. Some of the inscriptions written in their honour have survived (FdD 2,1; 2,400; [2. 141-144]). Twelve of the odes of Pindarus [2] are dedicated to Pythionîkai. In Delphi, important anathḗmata (Anathema) have been found, such as the 'charioteer' given by the Sicilian tyrant Polyzalus  [4. no. 13] and the votive g…

Riding

(494 words)

Author(s): Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne)
[German version] (Sport; κέλης/ kélēs). Although there is evidence, for instance from Egypt [1], of riding on horseback as early as the mid-2nd mill. BC, it was only in Greece that it became a sporting discipline, riding competitions having apparently taken place at the Olympic Games (Olympia IV) from 648 BC. Like chariot-racing (Circus II, Hippodromos [1]), riding was the province of the nobility. Among the 31 preserved names of Olympic victors in riding are well-known names such as Hieron [1] I, t…

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]. Decker, Wolfgang (Cologne) Bibliography 1 L. Moretti, Olympionikai, 1957, no. 271, 285 2 H.-V. Herrmann, Die Siegerstatuen von Olympia, in: Nikephoros 1, 1988, 154, no. 40. [German version] [2] Son of Ptolemy I, late 4th cent. BC Son of Ptolemy I and Thais, brother …

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 nomothetes introduced a ‘democratic constitution’ [2], has to remain a moot point. Hölkeskamp, Karl-Joachim (Cologne) Bibliography 1 F. Geyer, Topographie und Gesch. der Insel Euboia 1, 1903, 66f. 2 H.-J. Gehrke, Stasis, 1985, 63f. …

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…
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