The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Gymnastics

GYMNASTICS.

262

the increasing inclination of grown men to look on at them and take part in them, the gymnasia, often adorned with beautiful sculptures, grew in extent and splendour of equipment. (See cut.)

The great court comprised a number of spaces serving a variety of purposes: for instance, the Sphebeidn, or hall where the ephebi practised, rooms for dressing and anointing, sanding or dusting the body, cold-water baths and dry sudatoria, spaces for playing at ball, open and covered pas­sages for running, wrestling, or walking. Attached to the colonnades on the outside were semicircular niches, furnished with stone seats, called exedrce. In these philo­sophers and rhetoricians would sit and talk with their disciples. A stddtdn, with a space for spectators to look on, and walks planted with trees, were often attached to the gymnasium. The whole was under the superintendence of a gymnasiarchos. The conduct of the youths was under the super­vision of sophrinistce. At Athens these officers were ten in number, and elected annually. The exercises were directed by the gyrnnastoe. For similar arrangements under the Roman empire see thekm^e.

Gymnastics. I Grecian. The art of physical exercises, so called because the Greeks practised them unclothed (gymnds). Various exercises of the kind, carried on in view of contests on festive occasions, are men­tioned as early as Homer. After the Homeric time they were, at all periods, widely prac­tised among the Greeks, and more so after they were legally prescribed as part of the regular educational course, especially at Athens and Sparta. They were, moreover, actively encouraged by the great national games, particularly the Olympian games, of which they formed the chief part. Heracles and Hermes were the tutelary gods of

f

ymnastics, which attained in Athens their ighest and most varied development. The object of the art was to develop the body harmoniously in health, activity, and beauty. Boys went through certain preliminary stages of gymnastics in the palcestrce, and carried on their further training to perfec­tion in the gymnasia. (See gymnasium.)

The different kinds of exercises were as follows : (1) Running (dromos or stadlori). This was the oldest of all, and for a long time the only one practised in the public games. In later times, indeed, it stood at the head of the list. The course was either single (stadion, nearly the eighth of a mile), or double (dzaulOs). The runner was some-

times equipped with helmet and greaves, but in later times only with the latter. The hardest of all was the long course or doUchSs. This was a distance of 24 stadia, between two and three English miles, which had to be run without stopping.

(2) Leaping (halma). This included the high and wide jump, and jumping down­wards. To strengthen the power of spring and secure the equilibrium of the body, especially in leaping downwards, it was common to use pieces of iron called halterls, not unlike our dumb-bells.

(3) Wrestling (pale). This was the piece de resistance of the Greek gymnastic. The combatants were allowed certain tricks which are now forbidden, as throttling, pushing, and twisting the fingers. Standing upright, each wrestler tried to throw the other down, and if one of them was thrown thrice, he was regarded as beaten, unless the contest was continued on the ground. In this case the one who was thrown tried to get up, while the other tried to hinder hifn, until he owned himself vanquished.

Before all gymnastic exercises the body was well rubbed with oil to make the limbs supple. But before wrestling it was also sprinkled with dust, partly to afford a firm hold, partly to prevent excessive perspiration.

(4) DiscSbolia, or throwing the discus. (See Discus.)

(5) Throwing the javelin (akontismds).

(1) * METHOD OF DISCHARGING THE JAVELIN WITH

the aid of an ammentum, ok thong. (Vase in British Museum: Rev. Arch., I860, ii 211.)

These five exercises together formed the pentathlon, or set of five, in which no one was accounted victorious who had not con­quered in all. Besides these there was

(6) The dangerous game of boxing (pyx, pygme~). In this the combatants struck out with each hand alternately, their hands being bound round with thongs so as to leave fingers and thumb free to form a clenched fist (see engraving). Athletes often fitted the thongs with strips of sharp and hardened

Pages
About | First | Index

261

262

263
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.