The Ancient Library

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On this page: Olympic Games (continued)



peted together, the first in the final heat being proclaimed victor. About 724 B.r, the double course (diaulOs) was introduced, in which the runners had to make a circuit of the goal and return to the starting-point: -1—-* 720 came the dOllclios or long race,



(Reduced from Overbeck's Gr. Plattik, fig. 93.)

with reliefs used to adorn the outer walls at each end of the cella or temple proper, six over the door of the prondOs, and six over that of the OpisthOdomds. All of these have been discovered: four by the French in 1829, and eight by the Germans in 1875-9. Their subjects are the labours of Heracles. The best preserved of the series, and one of them which, as compared with the rest, is apparently the work of a mature and well-trained school of sculpture, is that representing He­racles bearing the heavens. Atlas stands by, offering to Heracles the apples of the Hesperides, and on the other side one of the daughters of Atlas is touching the hero's burden with her arm, as though endeavouring to aid him in sustaining it (fig. 3).] In the chamber at the western end of the cella stood the greatest work of Greek art, wrought in gold and ivory by Phidias (q.v.). Outside the sacred inclosure, though still in direct con­nexion with it, were, to the west, the Gymnasium, and to the east the Hippodrome and the Stadium. [The Hippodrome has been washed away by the encroachments of the Alpheus. The Stadium, which was 600 Olympic feet in length, has been excavated to an extent sufficient to determine the length of the single course, between

where the distance of the stadium had to be covered either 6, 7, 8, 12, 20, or 29 time* [Scholiast on Soph., Electra 691]; in 708. the pentathlon, or five-fold contest, con­sisting of leaping, running, quoit (diskosi and spear-throwing, and wrestling (the last


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the starting-place and the goal, to be 192-27 metres = 630-81845073 English feet. The Olympic foot therefore measured '3204 of a metre = 1-05120030 feet. The parallel grooves in the slabs of stone at each end of the Stadium still show the spot where the feet of the competitors in _ the footrace were planted ~T~1" •«."... at the moment immediately preceding the start. There is room for 20 at either end, separated from one another by posts at intervals of four


Olympic feet from one another (fig. 4).]

The festival consisted of two parts: (1) the presentation of offerings, chiefly of course to Zeus, but also to the other gods and heroes, on the part of the Eleans, the sacred embassies and other visitors to the feast; and (2) the contents. In the first Olympiad the contest consisted of a simple match in the Stadium (race-course) which had a length of a trifle more than 210 yards. The runners ran in heats of four, and then the winners in each heat com-

being also practised by itself); in 688, box­ing. In 680 chariot-racing on the Hippo­drome was introduced, and, though this was twice as long as the Stadium, it had to be traversed from eight to twelve times in both directions (at first with four horses, after 500 with mules, and after 408 with two horses). From 648 there were races, in which the horsemen, towards the end of the race, had to leap from their horses and run beside them with the bridle in their hands. With the same year began the

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