The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Olympia

823

OLYMPIA.

preserved by A. Lawson Esq., the owner of that place.

Another very remarkable use of these vessels of earthenware among the Greeks was to put infants into them to be exposed (Apistoph. Ran. 1188; Schol. ad loo. ; Moeris, 5. v. 'EyKvrpiar^s), or to be carried anywhere. (Aristoph. Tkesm. 512— 516 ; Schol. ad loc.) Hence the exposure of chil­dren was called t>yxy'rp'l&iv (Hesych. s.«.), and the miserable women who practised it €yxvTP/Lcr~ rptai. (Suidas, s. V.)

In monumental inscriptions the term olla is fre­quently applied to the pots which were used to re­ceive the ashes of the slaves or inferior members of a family, and which were either exposed to view in the niches of the columbarium, or immured in such a manner as to show the lid only. Some good specimens of cinerary ollae are preserved in the British Museum in a small apartment so con­structed as to exhibit accurately the manner of arranging them. (See above, p. 561 ; and nume­rous plates in Bartoli1s Antichi Sepolcri.)

The lid of the olla was called eTn'flrjjua and operculum. It generally corresponded in the ma­ terial and the style of ornament with the olla itself. (Herod, i. 48 ; Col. I c.) [J. Y.]

OLYMPIA (oAi$/«ria\ usually called the Olympic games, the greatest of the national fes­tivals of the Greeks. It was celebrated ?t 01}rm-pia in Elis, the name given to a small plain to the west of Pisa, which was bounded on the north and north-east by the mountains Cronius and Olympus, on the south by the river Alpheus, and on the west by the Cladeus, which flows into the Alpheus. Otympia does not appear to have been a town, but rather a collection of temples and public buildings, the description of which does not come within the plan of this work.

The origin of the Olympic Games is buried in obscurity. The legends of the Elean priests attri­buted the institution of the festival to the Idaean Heracles, and referred it to the time of Cronos. Ac­cording to their account, Rhea committed her new­born Zeus to the Idaean Dactyli, also called Care­tes, of whom five brothers, Heracles, Paeonaeus, Epimedes, lasius, and Idas, came from Ida in Crete, to Olympia, where a temple had been erected to Cronos by the men of the golden age ; and Heracles the eldest conquered his brothers in a foot-race, and was crowned with the wild olive-tree. Heracles hereupon established a contest, which was to be celebrated every five years, be­cause he and his brothers were five in number. ( Paus. v. 7. § 4.) Fifty years after Deucalion's flood they said that Clymenus, the son of Cardis, a de­scendant of the Idaean Heracles, came from Crete, and celebrated the festival ; but that Endymion, the son of Aethlius, deprived Clymenus of the sovereignty, and offered the kingdom as a prize to his sons in the foot-race ; that a generation after Endymion the festival was celebrated by Pelops to the honour of the Olympian Zeus ; that when the sons of Pelops were scattered through Pelopon-' nesus, Amythaon, the son of Cretheus and a rela­tion of Endymion, celebrated it; that to him suc­ceeded Pelias and Neleus in conjunction, then Augeas, and at last Heracles, the son of Amphi­tryon, after the taking of Elis. Afterwards Oxy-lus is mentioned as presiding over the games, and then they are said to have been discontinued till their revival by Iphitus. (Paus. v. 8. § 1, 2.) Most

OLYMPIA.

ancient writers, however, attribute the institution' of the games to Heracles, the son of Amphitryon (Apollocl. ii. 7. § 2 ; Diod. iv. 14 ; compare Strabo, viii. p. 355), while others represent Atreus as their founder. (Veil. Pat. i. 8 ; Hermann, Pol. Ant. § 23. n. 10.)

Strabo (viii. pp. 354,355) rejects all these legends, and sa}rs that the festival was first instituted after the return of the Heraclidae to the Peloponnesus by the Aetolians, who united themselves with tho Eleans. It is impossible to say what credit is to be given to the ancient traditions respecting the in­stitution of the festival ; but they appear to show that religious festivals had been celebrated at Olympia from the earliest times, and it is difficult to conceive that the Peloponnesians and the other Greeks would have attached such importance to this festival, unless Olympia had long been re­garded as a hallowed site. The first historical fact connected with the Olympian Games is their re­vival by Iphitus, king of Elis, who is said to have accomplished it with the assistance of Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, and Cleosthenes of Pisa ; and the names of Iphitus and Lycurgus were inscribed on a disc in commemoration of the event; which disc Pausanias saw in the temple of Hera at Olympia. (Paus. v. 4. § 4, v. 20. § 1; Plut. Lye. 1.23.) It would appear from this tradition, as Thirl wall (Hist, of Greece, ii. p. 386) has remarked, that Sparta con­curred with the two states most interested in the establishment of the festival, and mainly contri­buted to procure the consent of the other Pelopon­nesians. The celebration of the festival may have been discontinued in consequence of the troubles consequent upon the Dorian invasion, and we are told that Iphitus was commanded by the Delphic oracle to revive it as a remedy for intestine com­motions and for pestilence, with which Greece was then afflicted. Iphitus thereupon induced the Eleans to sacrifice to Heracles, whom they had formerly regarded as an enemy, and from this time the games were regularly celebrated. (Paus. /. c.) Different dates are assigned to Iphitus by ancient writers, some placing his revival of the Olympiad at b. c. 884, and others, as Callimachus, at b. c. 828. (Clinton, Fast, flell. p. 409. t.) The interval of four years between each celebration of the festival was called an Olympiad ; but the Olym­piads were not employed as a chronological aera till the victory of Coroebus in the foot-race b. c.

776. [OLYMP1AS.]

The most important point in the renewal of the festival by Iphitus was the establishment of the etfe%e£p£a, or sacred armistice, the formula for pro­claiming which was inscribed in a circle on the disc mentioned above. The proclamation was made by peace-heralds (n-Troz/Sor^opot), first in Elis and afterwards in the other parts of Greece ; it put a stop to all warfare for the month in which the games were celebrated, and which was called tepojji7]via. The territory of Elis itself was con­sidered especially sacred during its continuance, and no armed force could enter it without incur­ring the guilt of sacrilege. When the Spartans on one occasion sent forces against the fortress Phyr-cum and Lepreum during the existence of the Olympic truce (e^ tcus 3O\v/j.Triaitcus o"7ro*'<5a?s), they were fined by the Eleans, according to the Olympic law, 2000 minae, being two for each Hoplite. (Thucyd. v. 49.) The Eleans, however, pretended not only that their lands were inviolable

Pages
About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index

827

828

829
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.