The Ancient Library

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111 such contests, and who, in fact, made athletic exercises their profession. The athletae differed, therefore, from the agonistae (aycoyttrraO, who only pursued gymnastic exercises for the sake of improving their health and bodily strength, and who, though they sometimes contended for the prizes in the public games, did not devote their whole lives, like the athletae, to preparing for these contests. In early times there does not ap­pear to have been any distinction between the athletae and agonistae ; since we find that many individuals, who obtained prizes at the great na­tional games of the Greeks, were persons of con­siderable political importance, who were never con­sidered to pursue athletic exercises as a profession. Thus we read that Phayllus, of Crotona, who had thrice conquered in the Pythian games, commanded a vessel at the battle of Salamis (Herod, viii. 47 ; Pans. x. 9. § 1) ; and that Dorieus, of Rhodes, who had obtained the prize in all of the four great festivals, was celebrated in Greece for his opposition to the Athenians. (Paus. vi. 7. § 1, 2.) But as the individuals, who obtained the prizes in these games, received great honours and rewards, not only from their fellow-citizens, but also from foreign states, those persons who intended to con­tend for the prizes made extraordinary efforts to prepare themselves for the contest ; and it was soon found that, unless they subjected themselves to a severer course of training than was afforded by the ordinary exercises of the gymnasia, they would not have any chance of gaming the victory. Thus arose a class of individuals, to whom the term athletae was appropriated, and who became, in course of time, the only persons who contended in the public games.

Athletae were first introduced at Rome, b. c. 186, in the games exhibited by M. Fulvius, on the conclusion of the Aetollan war. (Liv. xxxix. 22.) Aemilius Paulus, after the conquest of Per­seus, b.c. 167, is said to have exhibited games at Amphipolis, at which athletae contended. (Liv. xlv. 32.) A certamen atliletarum (Val. Max. ii. 4. § 7) was also exhibited by Scaurus, in b. c. 59; and among the various games with which Julius Caesar gratified the people, we read of a contest of athletae, which lasted for three daj-s, and which was exhibited ih a temporary stadium in the Campus Martius. (Suet. Jul. 39.) Under the Roman emperors, and especially under Nero, who was passionately fond of the Grecian games, the number of athletae increased greatly in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor ; and many inscriptions respecting them have come down to us, which show that professional athletae were very numer­ous, and that they enjoyed several privileges. They formed at Rome a kind of corporation, and possessed a tabularium^ and a common hall — curia atliletarum (Orelli, Inscrip. 2588), in which they were accustomed to deliberate on all matters which had a reference to the interests of the body. We find that they were called Herculanei, and also ccystici, because they were accustomed to ex­ercise, in winter, in a covered place called xystus (Vitruv. vi. 10) ; and that they had a president, who was called xystarclms, and also apxiepevs.

Those athletae who conquered in any of the great national festivals of the Greeks were called hieronicae (tepovl/ccu), and received, as has been al­ready remarked, the greatest honours and rewards. Such a conqueror was considered to confer honour



upon the state to which he belonged ; he -entered his native city in triumph, through a breach made in the walls for his reception, to intimate, says Plutarch, that the state which possessed such a citizen had no occasion for walls. He usually passed through the walls in a chariot drawn by four white horses, and went along the principal street of the city to the temple of the guardian deity of the state, where hymns of victory were sung. Those games, which gave the conquerors the right of such an entrance into the city, were called iselastici (from etVeAauj/eip). This term was originally con­fined to the four great Grecian festivals, the Olympian, Isthmian, Nemean, and Pythian ; but was afterwards applied to other public games, as, for instance, to those instituted in Asia Minor. (Suet. Ner. 25 ; Dion Cass. Ixiii. 20 ; Plut. Symp. ii. 5. §2 ; Plin. Ep. x. 119, 120.) In the Greek states the victors in these games not only obtained the greatest glory and respect, but also substantial rewards. They were generally relieved from the payment of taxes, and also enjoyed the first seat (TrpoeSpia] in all public games and spectacles. Their statues were frequently erected at the cost of the state, in the most frequented part of the city, as the market-place, the gymnasia, and the neigh­bourhood of the temples. (Paus. vi. 13. § 1, vii. 17. § 3.) At Athens, according to a law of Solon, the conquerors in the Olympic games were re­warded with a prize of 500 drachmae, and the conquerors in the Isthmian, with one of 100 drachmae (Diog. Laert. i. 55 ; Pint. Sol. 23) ; and at Sparta they had the privilege of fighting near the person of the king. (Plut. Lye. 22.) The privileges of the athletae were preserved and in­creased by Augustus (Suet. Aug. 45) ; and the fol­lowing emperors appear to have always treated them with considerable favour. Those who conquered in the games called iselastici received, in the time of Trajan, a sum from the state, termed opsonia. (Plin. Ep. x. 119, 120 ; compare Vitruv. ix. Praef.) By a rescript of Diocletian and Maximian, those athletae who had obtained in the sacred games (sacri certaminis, by which is probably meant the iselastici ludi) not less than three crowns, and had not bribed their antagonists to give them the vic­tory, enjoyed immunity from all taxes. (Cod. 10. tit. 53.)

The term athletae, though sometimes applied metaphorically to other combatants, was properly limited to those who contended for the prize in the five following contests : — 1. Running (dpouos, cursus). 2. Wrestling (VaA^, lucta}. 3. Boxing (TrvyfJL^pugilatus). 4. The pentathlon (itfvraQKoi/), or, as the Romans called it, quinquertium. 5. The pancratium (TrayKpdriov). Of all these an account is given in separate articles. [stadium; luct.a ; pugilatus ; pentathlon ; pancratium.] These contests were divided into two kinds — the severe (jSape'a, JBapvrepa}, and the light' (kov^o, Kov<p6r€pa). Under the former were included wrestling, boxing, and the exercises of the pancra­tium, which consisted of wrestling and boxing com­bined, and was also called pammachion ; and under the latter, running, and the separate parts of the pentathlon, such as leaping, throwing the discus, &c. (Plat. Leg. viii. p. ^"^Euthyd. p. 271.)

Great attention was paid to the training of the athletae. They were generally trained in the palaestrae, which, in the Grecian states, were distinct places from the gymnasia, though they

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