The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Pancratiastae – Pancratium

85 r


branches, and were called &a\\o(f>6pot (Etym. M. and Hesj'ch. s. v.) ; young men attended, at least in earlier times, in armour (Thucyd. vi. 56), and maidens who belonged to the noblest families of Athens carried baskets, containing offerings for the goddess, whence they were called Kavir](f>6poi. (Har-pocrat. s. v. Kavytydpos ; compare Thucyd. I. c.) Respecting the part which aliens took in this pro­cession, and the duties they had to perform, see hydriaphoria.

Men who had deserved well of the republic were rewarded with a gold crown at the great Pana-thenaea, and the herald had to announce the event during the gymnastic contests. (Demosth. de Coron. p. 265 ; compare Meurs. Panath. p. 43.) Prisoners also were allowed to enjoy freedom during the great Panathenaea. (Ulpian, ad Demosth. c. Timo-crat. p. 740 ; compare Demosth. de Fals. Leg. p. 394.)

(Compare J. Meursii, Panathenaea^ liber singu- Jaris, Lugd. Bat. 1619 ; C. Hoffmann, Panathe- naikoS) Cassel, 1835, 8vo. ; H. A. M tiller, Pa- nathenaica, Bonn, 1837, 8vo. ; C. 0. M tiller's Dissertation, Quo anni tempore Panathenaea ininora celebrata sint, which is reprinted in the Philological Museum, vol. ii. pp. 227—235.) [L. S.j

PANCRATIASTAE. [pancratium.]

PANCRATIUM (irayKpdriov) is composed of riTuv and /c/>c£tos, and accordingly signifies an athletic game, in which all the powers of the fighter were called into action. The pancratium was one of the games or gymnastic contests which were exhibited at all the great festivals of Greece; it consisted of boxing and wrestling (irvy^ and TraATj), and was reckoned to be one of the heavy or hard exercises (o/y&wV/mTa /3apea or /3api5repa), on account of the violent exertions it required, and for this reason it was not much practised in the gymnasia; and where it was practised, it was pro­bably not without modifications to render it easier for the boys. According to the ancient physicians it had very rarely a beneficial influence upon health. (H. Mercurial. De Art. Gymnast, v. 7.)

At Sparta the regular pancratium was forbidden, but the name was there applied to a fierce and irregular fight not controlled by any rules, in which even biting and scratching were not uncommon, and in which, in short, everything was allowed by which one of the parties might hope to overcome the other. In Homer we neither find the game nor the name of the pancratium mentioned, and as it was not introduced at the Olympic games until 01. 33 (Paus. v. 8. § 3), we may presume that the game, though it may have existed long before in a rude state, was not brought to any degree of per­fection until a short time before that event. It is scarcely possible to speak of an inventor of the pancratium, as it must have gradually arisen out of a rude mode of fighting, which is customary among all uncivilized nations, and which was kept up at Sparta in its original state. But the Greeks re­garded Theseus as the inventor of the pancratium, who for want of a sword was said to have used this mode of fighting against the Minotaurus. (Schol. ad Pind. Nem. v. 89.) Other legends re­presented Heracles as having been victor in the pancratium (Paus. v. 8. § 1 ; Hygin. Fab. 273), and later writers make other heroes also fight the pancratium (Lucan, Pharsal. iv. 613, &c.) ; but these are mere fictions. After the pancratium was once introduced at Olympia, it soon found its way


also into the other great games of Greece, and in the times of the Roman emperors we also find it practised in Italy. In 01. 145 the pancratium for boys was introduced at the Olympic games, and the first boy who gained the victory was Phaedimus, a native of a town in Troas. (Paus. v. 8, in fin.) This innovation had been adopted before in others of the national games, and in the 61st Pythiad (01. 108), we find a Theban boy of the name of Olaides as victor in the pancratium in the Pythian games. (Paus. x. 7. § 3.) At the Isthmian games the pancratium for boys is not mentioned till the reign of Domitian (Corsini, Dissert. Agon. p. 101) ; but this may be merely accidental, and the game may have been practised long before that time.

Philostratus (Imag. ii. 6) says that the pancra­tium of men was the most beautiful of all athletic contests ; and the combatants must certainly have shown to the spectators a variety of beautiful and exciting spectacles, as all the arts of boxing and wrestling appeared here united. (Aristot. Rhet. L 5 ; Plut. Sympos. ii. p. 638, c.) The combatants in the pancratium did not use the cestus, or if they did, it was the 'l^avres (JLaXaKcarepoi [CES-tus], so that the hands remained free, and wounds were not easily inflicted.

The name of these combatants was pancratiastae (Tra.'yKpa.Tiao'Tai} or Trct/^iaxoi. (Pollux iii. 30. 5.) They fought naked, and had their bodies anointed and covered with sand, by which they were en­abled to take hold of one another. (Philostr. /. c. ; Aristoph. Pax, 848.) In cases where the contests of the pancratiastae were not regulated by strict rules, it might, as at Sparta, sometimes happen, that the fighters made use of their teeth and nails (Philostr. /. c.; Lucian, Demonacc^ c. 49 ; Pint. Lac. Apophth. p. 234, d.) ; but such irregularities probably did not occur at any of the great public games.

When two pancratiastae began their contest, the first object which each of them endeavoured to accomplish, was to gain a favourable posi­tion, each trying to make the other stand so that the sun might shine in his face, or that other inconveniences might prevent his fighting with success. This struggle (asy&v Trepi rrjs <rra(r€a>i%, Aeschin. c. Ciesiph. p. 83, ed. Steph.) was only the introduction to the real contest, though in certain cases this preparatory struggle might terminate the whole game, as one of the parties might wear out the other by a series of stratagems, and compel him to give up further resistance. Sostratus of Sicyon had gained many a victory bjr such tricks. (Paus. vi. 4. § 1.) When the real contest began, each of the fighters might commence by boxing or by wrestling, accordingly as he thought he should be more successful in the one than in the other. The victory was not decided until one of the parties was killed, or lifted up a finger, thereby declaring that he was unable to continue the contest either from pain or fatigue. (Faber, Agonist, i. 8.) It usually happened that one of the combatants, by some trick or other, made his antagonist fall to the ground, and the wrestling, which then commenced, was called aya/cXii/OTrdA.?;, and continued until one of the parties declared himself conquered or was strangled, as was the case at Olympia with Arrhi-chion or Arrachion of Phigalia, in 01. 54. (Paus. viii. 40. §l,&c.; Euseb. Chron. p. 150, Scalig.) A lively description of a struggle of this kind is given by Philostratus (/. c*.). Sometimes one of

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



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of