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History of Boxing in Ancient Greece.

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  • History of Boxing in Ancient Greece.

    Proof of fistfights, most most likely in competitive configurations, exists in ancient Crete as soon as 1650 BC. This Greek boxing sport was handed the name pygmachia at some time and was put into the Olympic Games throughout the 23rd Olympiad within 688 BC. As well as the Olympic Games, it had been later featured within the Isthmian, Pythian, as well as Nemean Games. Pygmachia had been an immensely well-liked sport in historic Greece, enjoying a lifespan of that which was likely over the millennium.

    In this Greek entry within the history of boxing, competitors were completely nude aside from strips of leather-based wrapped around their own wrists, called oxys. Not just did this safeguard their hands, however the sharp edges from the cut leather might slice and gash the face area of the challenger. The athletes might fight without pause until one of these gave up, had been incapacitated, or had been killed. Naturally, this made pygmachia an infinitely more bloody and chaotic sport than contemporary renditions of boxing, though deaths were apparently not so common.

  • #2
    Originally posted by noorj View Post
    Proof of fistfights, most most likely in competitive configurations, exists in ancient Crete as soon as 1650 BC. This Greek boxing sport was handed the name pygmachia at some time and was put into the Olympic Games throughout the 23rd Olympiad within 688 BC. As well as the Olympic Games, it had been later featured within the Isthmian, Pythian, as well as Nemean Games. Pygmachia had been an immensely well-liked sport in historic Greece, enjoying a lifespan of that which was likely over the millennium.

    In this Greek entry within the history of boxing, competitors were completely nude aside from strips of leather-based wrapped around their own wrists, called oxys. Not just did this safeguard their hands, however the sharp edges from the cut leather might slice and gash the face area of the challenger. The athletes might fight without pause until one of these gave up, had been incapacitated, or had been killed. Naturally, this made pygmachia an infinitely more bloody and chaotic sport than contemporary renditions of boxing, though deaths were apparently not so common.
    How interested in this stuff are you? There is quite a lot if your of the mind to read it.

    I'm gonna post some information. I'll trust you know the difference between myth and history and that I don't need to point out what is myth and what is well researched history.

    I should note before I begin I claim no authority. I have simply copied, pasted, and transcribed or translated history books and other similar forms of sources. I assume you'll be able to tell my voice from the authors' when/if I interject.

    I hope there is no word cap on this forum.

    The ancient Greeks thought that the first Games in Olympia were organized by heroes and gods. In his first Olympic Ode, dated to the fifth century BC, Pindar tells us about Pelops, the founder of the Games. Pelops, the son of Tantalus, came from Asia Minor to participate to a chariot race organized by Oinomaos, the king of Pisa in the Peloponnese. Oinomaos was told of an oracle according to which the marriage of his daughter Hippodameia would cause his death. Thus, he ordered his people to kill all the suitors who came to participate in the game. However, Pelops insidiously killed Oinomaos during the race and ended up marring Hippodameia. As king of the area, he was the first to organize the games to purify himself or, according to another version, to thank the gods for his victory. The organization of the chariot race was illustrated in the eastern pediment of the temple of Zeus in the 5th century BC. In the same way, Hippodameia instituted the Heraean games for the same reason. These were running games, conducted every four years and restricted uniquely to maidens.The Idaean Heracles is another heroic figure associated to the first Games. Heracles came with his brothers Kouretes from Crete, defined the length of the stadium at Olympia, organized a foot race with his brothers and crowned the victor with a wreath of wild olive leaves. Pindar also records that it was Theban Heracles, the son of Zeus who brought the wild olive from the Hyperborean countries, founded the foot race, introduced the cult of Zeus and determined the boundaries of the Sacred Altis. The historian Strabo reports that the descendants of Heracles (the Herakleidai) first organized the games, after the spread of the Aitolian and Dorian groups to Pisa. According to this interpretation, the Aetolian groups who conquered Pisa settled there under their leader Oxylus in the Late Mycenean period, ca. 1200-1100 BC. This occupation led to conflicts with the indigenous people, as indicated by the later antagonism between Eleans who migrated from Aetolia, and Pisatans. According to an Elean myth, Zeus took control of the sanctuary and founded the games.

    Pausanius "With regard to the Olympic games, the Elean antiquaries say that Kronos first reigned in Heaven, and that a temple was made for him by the men of that age, who were named the Golden Race. When Zeus was born, Rhea entrusted the guardianship of her son to the Dactyls of Ida, who are the same as those called Curetes. They came from Cretan Ida—Heracles, Paeonaeus, Epimedes, Iasius and Idas.

    Heracles, being the eldest, matched his brothers, as a game, in a running-race, and crowned the winner with a branch of wild olive, of which they had such a copious supply that they slept on heaps of its leaves while still green. It is said to have been introduced into Greece by Heracles from the land of the Hyperboreans, men living beyond the home of the North Wind.

    Olen the Lycian, in his hymn to Achaeia, was the first to say that from these Hyperboreans Achaeia came to Delos. When Melanopus of Cyme composed an ode to Opis and Hecaerge declaring that these, even before Achaeia, came to Delos from the Hyperboreans.

    And Aristeas of Proconnesus—for he too made mention of the Hyperboreans—may perhaps have learnt even more about them from the Issedones, to whom he says in his poem that he came. Heracles of Ida, therefore, has the reputation of being the first to have held, on the occasion I mentioned, the games, and to have called them Olympic.

    Some say that Zeus wrestled here with Cronus himself for the throne, while others say that he held the games in honor of his victory over Cronus. The record of victors include Apollo, who outran Hermes and beat Ares at boxing. It is for this reason, they say, that the Pythian flute-song is played while the competitors in the pentathlum are jumping; for the flute-song is sacred to Apollo, and Apollo won Olympic victories."


    Pindar "Then the mighty son of Zeus, having gathered together all his host at Pisa and all the booty, measured a sacred grove for his sovereign father. Having fenced round the Altis he marked the bounds thereof in a clear space, and the plain encompassing it he ordained for rest and feasting. He set apart the choicest of the spoil for an offering from the war and sacrificed, and he ordained the fifth year feast with the first Olympiad and prizes of victory.".


    According to myth, Apollo invented boxing when he defeated and killed Phorbas, a fighter who forced travelers to Delphi to compete with him. Apollo defeated Ares in the first Olympia.

    Phorbas vs Apollo

    Philostratus: " This river, my boy, is the Boiotian Kephisos, a stream not unknown to the Mousai; and on its bank Phlegyans are encamped, barbarian people who do not yet live in cities. Of the two men boxing you doubtless see that one is Apollo, and the other is Phorbas, whom the Phlegyans have made king because he is tall beyond all of them and the most savage of the race. Apollo is boxing with him for the freedom of the road. For since Phorbas seized control of the road which leads straight to Phokis and Delphi, no one any longer sacrifices at Pytho or conducts paians in honour of the god, and the tripod's oracles and prophetic sayings and responses have wholly ceased. Phorbas separates himself from the rest of the Phlegyans when he makes his raids; for this oak-tree, my boy, he has taken as his home, and the Phlegyans visit him in these royal quarters in order, forsooth, to obtain justice. Catching those who journey toward the shrine, he sends the old men and children to the central camp of the Phlegyans for them to despoil and hold for ransom; but as for the stronger, he strips for a contest with them and overcomes some in wrestling, outruns others, and defeats others in the pancratium and in throwing the discus; then he cuts off their heads and suspends these on the oak, and beneath this defilement he spends his life. The heads hang dank from the branches, and some you see are withered and others fresh, while others have shrunken to bare skulls; and they grin and seem to lament as the wind blows on them. To Phorbas, as he exults over these ‘Olympian’ victories, has come Apollo in the likeness of a youthful boxer. As for the aspect of the god, he is represented as unshorn, my boy, and with his hair fastened up so that he may box with girt-up head; rays of light rise from about his brow and his cheek emits a smile mingled with wrath; keen is the glance of his eyes as it follows his uplifted hands. And the leather thongs are wrapped about his hands, which are more beautiful than if garlands adorned them. Already the god has overcome him in boxing, for the thrust of the right hand shows the hand still in action and not yet discontinuing the posture wherewith he has laid him low, but the Phlegyan is already stretched on the ground, and a poet will tell how much ground he covers; the wound has been inflicted on his temple, and the blood gushes forth from it as from a fountain. He is depicted as savage, and of swinelike features the kind that will feed upon strangers rather than simply kill them. Fire from heaven rushes down to smite the oak and set it afire, not, however, to obliterate all record of it; for the place where these events occurred, my boy, is still called ‘Heads of Oak.’"



    According to Philostratus boxing was a Spartan advent and martial art used for military training.

    Philostratos: "Boxing was a discovery of the Lakedaimonians, and Polydeukes was the best at it and for this reason the poets sang of him in this event. The ancient Lakedaimonians boxed for the following reason: they had no helmets, nor did they think it proper to their native land to fight in helmets. They felt that a shield, properly used, could serve in the place of a helmet. Therefore they practiced boxing in order to know how to ward off blows to the face, and they hardened their faces in order to be able to endure the blows which landed. After a time, however, they quit boxing and the pankration as well, because these contests are decided by one opponent acknowledging defeat and this might give an excuse for her detractors to accuse Sparta of a lack of spirit.

    The ancient boxing equipment was the following: the four fingers were bound up so that they extended beyond the strap sufficiently to allow the boxer to clench his fist. The strap continued to the forearm as a support for the wrist. Now the equipment has changed. They tan the hide of a fat ox and work it into the boxing himas, which is sharp and protrudes from the hand, and the thumb is not bound up with the fingers in order to prevent additional wounds, and thus the whole hand does not fight. For this reason they also prohibit pigskin himantes in the stadium because they believe them to cause painful and slow-healing wounds.

    The boxer should have a long hand and strong forearms and upper arms, broad shoulders, and a long neck. Thick wrists strike harder blows, thinner ones are flexible and strike more easily. He should have solid hips for support, since the thrust of striking out will unbalance him if his body is not set upon firm hips. I regard fat calves as worthless in every sport, and especially boxing. They are too slow for both offensive and defensive footwork. He should have a straight calf of proper proportion to his thigh, and his thighs should be set well apart from each other. The shape of the boxer is better for offense if his thighs do not come together. The best boxer has a small belly, for he is nimble and has good wind. On the other hand, a big belly will give some advantage to a boxer, for it will get in the way of the opponent who is striking for the face."


    Theokritos gives us an account of the Polydeukes version of the first boxing match: "A gigantic man was sitting there and sunning himself, an awesome sight. His ears were crushed from the rigors of boxing, his mighty chest and his broad back bulged with flesh of iron; he was like a colossal statue of hammered metal. The muscles on his firm arms just below the shoulder stood out like rounded stones which a winter's torrent rolls and polishes in great swirling eddies. Over his back there was slung a lion's skin fastened at his neck by the paws. And Polydeukes spoke to him thus:

    POLYDEUKES: Good day, stranger, whoever you are. What people are they who own this land?
    AMYKOS: Good day? How can the day be good when it brings to me men I never saw before?
    POLYDEUKES: Do not be afraid. We are not evil men, nor were our fathers before us.
    AMYKOS: I'm not afraid, and I'm not likely to learn to be afraid from the likes of you.
    POLYDEUKES: Are you completely uncultured, always perverse and sneering?
    AMYKOS: I am what you see, and I'm not trespassing on your land.
    POLYDEUKES: Oh, well, come along with us and you will return home again with gifts of friendship.
    AMYKOS: I don't want any gifts, and I've none for you.
    POLYDEUKES: Well, may we at least have a drink of this water?
    AMYKOS: You'll find out when you're a lot thirstier than now.
    POLYDEUKES: If you want money just say how much.
    AMYKOS: I want you to put up your dukes and fight me like a man.
    POLYDEUKES: In boxing? Or may we kick each other's legs, too, and ...
    AMYKOS: Shut up, put'em up, and do your damnedest.
    POLYDEUKES: Wait! Is there a prize for which we will fight?
    AMYKOS: If you win, you beat me, and if I win, I beat you.
    POLYDEUKES: Game****s fight on such terms.
    AMYKOS: I don't give a damn if we look like game****s or lions. You wanted a prize, and that's it.

    So spoke Amykos, and he picked up and blew upon a hollow shell, at whose blast the Bebrykians, whose hair is never cut, swiftly gathered beneath the shady plane trees.

    When the two combatants had strengthened their hands with oxhide straps and had wound the long himantes around their arms, they met in the middle of the gathering and breathed out mutual slaughter. At this point there was jostling between them in their eagerness to see who would get the sunlight at his back. By quick skill Polydeukes slipped by the huge man and the sun's ray struck Amykos full in the face. Then Amykos, enraged, rushed forward aiming his fist straight at the mark, but Polydeukes sidestepped and struck him on the point of his chin. Then, even more aroused, the giant battled wildly and, hunching over, he rushed heavily upon Polydeukes. The Bebrykians roared applause, while the heroes on the other side shouted words of encouragement to Polydeukes, for they feared that the giant fighter would press him into a corner and finish him. But Polydeukes, shifting his ground this way and that, striking now with his right, now with his left, cut Amykos up and checked his attack in spite of his huge size. The giant came to a standstill drunk with blows and spat out red blood, while all the heroes cheered when they saw the gashes around his mouth and jaws, and as his face swelled his eyes became narrower and narrower. Then Polydeukes continued to bewilder him by making feints from all directions, but when he saw that Amykos was utterly helpless, he drove his fist against his brow smack above the nose and laid bare his forehead to the bone, and Amykos went down hard, stretched out on the layers of leaves.But he got up again, and the fight became truly bitter; they dealt each other deadly blows from the hard himantes. But the giant kept throwing his punches at his opponent's chest and just below his neck while Polydeukes kept on battering Amykos' face all over. The giant's flesh shrank as he sweated and from a huge man he was fast becoming a small one whereas Polydeukes displayed ever-stouter limbs and a healthier color. Then Amykos, hoping desperately for a knockout punch, seized Polydeukes' left hand in his own left hand and leaned sideways in his forward lunge and reached down to his right side to bring up a huge haymaker. Had he landed the blow he would have knocked out the Spartan prince, but Polydeukes ducked out of the way and at the same time he hit Amykos beneath the left temple with a crisp right hand delivered straight from the shoulder; and blood spurted forth from Amykos' gaping temple. Immediately, with his now free left hand, he planted a punch on the giant's mouth, and the teeth rattled loose. With blows that thudded ever sharper and sharper, he battered the man's face until his cheeks were crushed in. Then finally Amykos went down flat on the ground and, dazed, he raised his hand and gave up the fight since he was close to death.

    Polydeukes, though he had won, did nothing brutal to Amykos, but did make him swear never again to insult strangers."



    Onomastos Rules as I know them:

    No wreslting of any kind, includes clinch.

    Any type of blow with the hand was allowed but no gouging, poking, digging or scratching with the fingers

    No barrier, ropes, lines drawn in sand, but there was limit. Umpire would be armed with sticks and form a barrier of themselves at the size of their discretion to control the match. If they wanted a smallers fighting area they just formed a smaller shape. Could be a square, circle, triangle, whatever they like really.

    No rounds, the fighting continues until one contestant concedes or can no longer support themselves. There is no count, they have as long as they need to get back up.

    No weight divisions, there were Men's and Boy's boxing. Opponents were chosen by lottery.

    Judges known as hellano***ai enforced the rules by beating offenders with a stick or whip. Same fellas as the barrier guys I spoke about prior.

    Fighters could agree to Klimax, the exchange of blows undefended, if the fight lasted too long.

    No downs, the fight is over when a fighter can no longer get up, but you can hit a downed opponent at any point. Hand on the ground, knee on the ground, sat flat on ass, doesn't matter. Unless they're snoozing or called it quits they're fair game.


    Equipment:

    Everything but the hands is what your momma gave you at birth and nothing more, they were naked.

    Through different periods they used different wraps. Generally speaking the Romans were a little more blood hungry and a little less sport hungry. There wraps were hardened with soft wraps underneath and weaponization on top. Everything from simple metal studs to complex caestus. The Greeks were all about the art of boxing and used wraps rather similar to present gloves. They were soft leather thongs wrapped from the knuckles to 3/4 of the forearm. the fingers were exposed and mobile. The Greek thongs were called hima or himantes, while the Roman's weaponized himantes were referred to as oxeis himantes and caestus. An oxeis himantes is a pre-formed and hardened himantes while a caestus is an oxeis himantes with studs or more, sometimes they used lead.


    Homer's Epeius vs. Eurylasis, the oldest record of a boxing match.


    Both pugilists aggressively step to center of ring. There appears to be little defense as the boxers exchange heavy punches. They both land often to the jaw which can be heard by spectators. Fatigue becomes a factor as both boxers profusely sweat. Eurylasis becomes distracted looking away toward the spectators. Epeius steps forward and lands a knockdown punch to jaw. Eurylasis’ legs buckle as he falls to ground. An unsteady Eurylasis flops about desperate until he lay still.

    he victor, Epeius, steps over to lift his defeated foe off ground. Eurylasis’ friends enter the ring to assist. Eurylasis is dazed and cannot walk unaided. The boxer’s head tilts to one side as he spits and vomits bloodied gore. Eurylasis remains looped and does not know who he is or what has happened. The friends leave the barely conscious boxer alone as the double cup is retrieved.


    Plutarch said that boxing was banned in Sparta by king Lycurgus because Spartans never surrender and the other city-states took this as poor sportsmanship rather than braggable culture.

    Boxing didn't get the name boxing until the Dark Ages. To the Greeks the sport was called Pygmachia. To the Romans it was called Pyx.

    Boxers were called Pygmachos.

    Boxing, Wrestling, and Pankration were considered downing or heavy events called Barea Athla.

    Akoniti means dustless, without challenge. No Contest.

    The Hellano***ai are 10 judges. 3 for the equestrian events, 3 for the pentathlon, 3 for all other events, and 1 coordinator of all the events. They were considered sacred and above reproach, with dignity, courage, grace, and respect. All would be housed in a place called the Hellano***aion

    Korykeion was the name of the room they'd punch their Korykos or punching-bag, in. Not to be confused with the apodyterion or changing room.

    I believe trainers were called gymnotribai or gymnastes.

    A Periodonikes was someone victorious at all four Panhellenic Games; Olympic, Isthmian, Nemean, and Pythian.

    kala ta chalepa - The more difficult the task the greater the glory.

    I spoke about Oxy, Hmantes, and Caestus already but I didn't work in Caestus studs and the likeness were nicknamed mymikes or ants for their stinging effect.

    The announcers were called grammateus, they introduced the participants.

    sphairai, I think, are like practice pads.

    The Olympic Champions:

    Archaic Era

    Onomastos of Smyrna - 688, 684, 680, & 676 BC

    Daippos of Kroton - 672 BC

    Komaios of Megara - 652 BC

    Pythagoras of Samos - 588 BC

    Tissandros of Sicilian Naxos - 572, 568, 564, & 560 BC

    Praxidamas of Aigina - 544 BC

    Glaukos of Karystos - 520 BC

    Philon of Korkyra 500 & 496 BC

    Kleomedes of Astypalaia - 492 BC

    Diognetos of Crete - 488 BC

    Euthymos of Lokroi - 484 BC

    Theagenes of Thasos - 480 BC

    Classical Era

    Euthymos of Lokroi - 476 & 472 BC

    Menalkes of Opous - 468 BC

    Diagoras of Rhodes - 464 BC

    Akousilaos of Rhodes - 448 BC

    Alkainetos of Lepreon - 444 BC

    Kleomachos of Maiandros - 424 BC

    Eukles of Rhodes - 404 BC

    Demarchos of Parrhasia - 400 BC

    Phormion of Halikarnassos - 392 BC

    Eupalos of Thessaly - 388 BC

    Damoxenidas of Mainalos - 384 BC

    Illegible of Samos - 380 BC

    Labax of Lepreon - 376 BC

    Aristion of Epidauros - 368 BC

    Philammon of Athens - 360 BC

    Asamon of Elis - 340 BC

    Mys or Taras - 336 BC

    Satyros of Elis - 332 & 328 BC

    Hellenistic Era

    Archippos of Mytilene - 300 BC

    Kallippos of Rhodes - 296 BC

    Cleoxenus of Alexandria - 240 BC

    Kleitomachos of Thebes - 212 BC

    Roman Era

    Epitherses of Erythrai - 184 & 180 BC

    D [three illegible letters] gonos of Rhodes - 160 & 156 BC

    Xenothemis of Miletos - 144 BC

    Agesarchos of Tritia - 120 BC

    Atyanas of Adramyttion - 72 BC

    Thaliarchos of Elis - 32 BC

    Nikophon of Miletos - 8 BC

    Demokrates of Maiandros - 25, 29, & 33 AD

    Melankomas of Caria - 49 AD

    Herakleides of Alexandria - 93 AD

    Marcus Tullius of Apameia - 141 & 145 AD

    Photion of Ephesos - 173, 197, & 201 AD

    Horus of Egypt - 364 AD

    Varazdat of Armenia - 385 AD



    Banned by Theodosius I in 393 AD:

    A.D. 394—The emperor Theodosius I bans all pagan festivals. The Olympics are officially disbanded—although archaeologists now suggest that they kept going in some form, perhaps in Christian guise. Phidias’ great statue of Zeus is packed up and transported to Constantinople for display in the emperor’s palace.


    The ancient Olympic Games ended in 393 A.D., when its pagan rituals were no longer tolerated by Christian emperors, and the Roman Empire itself was crumbling under the weight of barbarian invasions. The magnificent shrine where the Games were held, Olympia, was repeatedly sacked, its treasures destroyed, and its location forgotten by all but local peasants. It would not be for another thousand years, during the Renaissance, that Britons would join the European revival of interest in the classical world, and scholars would begin poring once again over rediscovered editions of Homer, Herodotus, and Sophocles. King Henry VIII appointed England’s first professors of Greek at Cambridge University in 1540, and at Oxford in 1541. Ancient sagas culled from Plutarch became grist for Shakespeare and other popular playwrights, while Pindar’s Olympic odes endowed the name of Olympia with a magical, talismanic ring. As a result, in the 1620s, a certain extravagant, history-loving lawyer named Richard Dover decreed the world’s first revived “Olympick” festival in—of all places—the green hillsides of the Cotswolds. At the time, Puritans were attacking England’s traditional rural festivals for promoting gambling, drinking, and lewd behavior, riddled as they were with pagan relics of fertility rites such as dancing around the Maypole. Dover’s Olympicks was an act of defiance against this dour movement, and as an annual event, it began to lure thousands of spectators of all social classes to sit on muddy hillsides near the village of Chipping Campden. A motley range of “sports” was on the schedule, including hammer throwing, bear baiting, shin kicking, and the brutally violent “fighting with cudgels,” which left the contestants bloody and toothless (an accidental echo of the most gory of the ancient Greek body contact sports, the pankration). The entire festival was marked by heavy imbibing of ale, and a genial air of license. To his credit, Dover also included a “Homeric harpist” in an attempt to lift the tone and thus attract the gentry. One English poet in 1636 hailed Dover as “an Hero of this our Age.” But the exuberant festival could not last. The Cotswald Games were canceled in 1644 due to nearby fighting during the Civil War. Dover died heartbroken six years later.

    Our modern conception of sport was actually born in Victorian Britain, as the growing middle class repressed the lawless, brutal rural competitions in favor of more civilized and regulated affairs. Teachers at exclusive public schools (that is, fee-paying schools for well-to-do young gentlemen) such as Eton and Rugby began to espouse the radical idea that physical education was crucial for health, moral well-being, team spirit, and general “manliness of character.” Rules for organized team sports such as football were codified, as were track-and-field events. Europeans and Americans looked on at first in bemusement, then in admiration, as the cult of sports took hold in Victorian society, and seemed to go hand-in-hand with the invincibility of the British Empire.

    This new passion for exercise dovetailed naturally with the interest in ancient Greece, which grew throughout the nineteenth century to a virtual British obsession. Interest had been rekindled in 1766, when a group of traveling English scholars from the Society of Dilettanti “rediscovered” the site of ancient Olympia in the Peloponnesus of Greece. By the 1800s, imaginative Oxford and Cambridge dons were idealizing the ancient athletic tradition, and studying Greek statues and vases to revive events like the javelin and discus throw, which had not been practiced for over a millennium.

    The admiration for the Greek ideal of the male physique was not purely aesthetic. For upper-crust Victorians, conversations about “Greek love,” of a man for a young boy, allowed the expression of ****erotic desires that were otherwise forbidden. (As historian Linda Dowling has put it, “the prestige of ancient Greece was so massive that invocations of Hellenism could cast a veil over even a hitherto unmentionable vice or crime.”) Sometimes the talk was less ethereal. The Victorian author Frank Harris tells a marvelous story of meeting Oscar Wilde at the Café Royal in London, where he was pontificating on the Olympic Games to two ****ney youths he was evidently trying to pick up. “Did you say they was naked?” one asked, according to Harris. “Of course,” Wilde replied, “nude, clothed only in sunshine and beauty.” When Wilde was prosecuted in 1895 for “acts of gross indecency,” he mounted a spirited defense of the “pure” male erotic companionship, citing the celebrated Greek sources he had studied in Dublin and Oxford.

    The Victorian enthusiasm for sports was accompanied by class-specific distortions. On the scantiest of evidence, scholars espoused the idea that ancient Greek athletes were all “amateurs” who competed without reward except for wreaths. (In fact, except at the Olympics and three other “crown” games, the ancients lavished material prizes on the victors, who gained instant celebrity status; even at the Olympics, the material rewards for athletes were enormous once they returned to their home cities.) This conveniently supported the new movement to keep the working classes out of top competitions, so that educated gentlemen could prove that they were superior to the masses in physical achievements as well as mind and character. Under the new rules, any athlete who had ever accepted financial reward for training or competing was disqualified from the most prestigious contests, ensuring that sports would be reserved for gilded youth who had the funds and leisure time to train. This cult of amateurism, which was espoused by official organizations like the Amateur Athletics Association, has been denounced by historian David C. Young as “a kind of historical hoax” twisting ancient Greek texts to maintain an elitist sporting culture.

    A more democratic development occurred in 1850, when an English country doctor (and devoted classicist) named William Penny Brookes began another version of a revived “Olympian Games” in a Shropshire village called Much Wenlock. Surrounded by emerald-green hills and attended by country gents, local merchants, and ruddy-faced farmers, the event had the air of a quaint rural carnival—although this time more sober than Dover’s “Olympicks.” It’s difficult to picture the event today without invoking Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for Brookes had a fondness for flamboyant costumes and theatrical rituals. The Olympian Herald wore a cloak and hat with a plume, and announced each competition with a bugle. A key event was the medieval-style “tilting at the ring,” where horseback riders would try to pierce a ring with a lance. Other competitions were a peculiar mix of the highbrow (foot races, cycling, archery, hurdles, and the pentathlon) to the indulgent (“races for old women”). Prizes ranged from silver trophies to a pound of fresh tea. From 1860, ten years after its inception, the games at Much Wenlock began a tradition of crowning its victors with a wreath, in homage to ancient tradition. The presenter was usually the local vicar’s daughter, who was outfitted less like an ancient Greek sylph than one of Queen Victoria’s dowdy nieces, in a heavy bustle dress.

    Brookes’s revived Olympian Games are still held in Shropshire every July, and many relics from the Victorian era, including the herald’s uniforms, are on view at the Much Wenlock Museum. In a sense, it is these games that are the seed of our modern Olympics. Not only did imitators of the event spring up around Britain, but Brookes espoused the notion that the Greeks themselves should revive an international version of the Olympics on their own soil. When he learned of a local Olympics being held in Athens in 1859, funded by a Greek businessman named Evangelos Zappos, he sent a Wenlock Cup to be awarded in a long footrace, along with encouragement that the festival should be turned into a much grander event. Brookes repeatedly pressed the idea of an international Olympics upon the Greek minister in London, without success; the Greeks felt that the enterprise would be too expensive for their struggling nation.

    Yet the fascination with the Greek world continued to grow as the celebrity archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the sites of Troy and Mycenae. From 1875, German archaeologists also began excavating the site of Olympia. When they revealed the sanctuary complex and unearthed 14,000 objects, including such masterpieces as the Hermes of Praxitiles, the pages of Homer and Pindar sprang to life. The world’s enthusiasm for the heroes of Greek antiquity was reaching fever pitch.

    Into this heady milieu stepped the young French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863–1937), a diminutive, obsessive, and wildly energetic figure who would eventually have himself proclaimed the “father of the modern Olympics.”

    Coubertin was raised in the shadow of France’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, and became a committed (and, in Paris, very unfashionable) Anglophile. He was enchanted as a teenager by the novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, a paean to the sporting traditions of Rugby School. Coubertin became convinced that the rigorous British athletic culture was the basis for the Empire’s success—a marked contrast to France’s evident physical “degeneracy”—and decided to become a fitness advocate. In 1883, at the age of twenty, lithe, muscular, and sporting an enormous handlebar mustache, Coubertin made a pilgrimage to the fields of Rugby to meet with British experts and study how their methods might be imported to France. He followed this in 1889 with a journey to the United States, where he discovered new spectator sports such as baseball and met with fitness luminary Teddy Roosevelt, who had taken up outdoor adventure and strenuous exercise as a way to overcome his sickly adolescence. Soon, Coubertin was advertising in European newspapers for assistance in organizing a congress on physical training for the coming Paris Exhibition. He was promptly contacted by that tireless British Olympic advocate, William Penny Brookes—who, at the very least, deserves the title of “grandfather of the modern Olympics.”

    In 1890, Coubertin accepted Brookes’s invitation to attend the Olympian Games at Much Wenlock. We do not know exactly what transpired between the mutton-chopped, eighty-one-year-old country squire, Brookes, and the excitable, twenty-seven-year-old Frenchman as they wandered the country pubs, enjoyed tea and scones, and witnessed a special session of the athletic extravaganza of Shropshire. But it’s clear that Coubertin was bewitched by the whole event, particularly with the florid pomp and ritual of the games, including the victory ceremony. (Correspondence between Brookes and Coubertin remains on display at the Raven Hotel in Much Wenlock, where victory dinners are traditionally held.)

    Historians have no doubt that Brookes espoused his idea that the Olympics should be revived on an international level—and that Coubertin, with his youthful energy, connections, wealth, and deft organizational skills, was the man to do it. On his return to France, Coubertin wrote that Brookes was a true pioneer: “If the Olympic Games that modern Greece has not yet been able to revive still survive today, it is due, not to a Greek, but to Dr W. P. Brookes.” In another essay, he raved: “It is safe to say that the Wenlock people alone have preserved and followed the true Olympian traditions.” Coubertin also swallowed some of the British academics’ class-based views of the ancient Games. His acceptance of the theory that the Greeks were “amateurs” would distort the rules of participation in the Games for decades. (In 1912, for example, U.S. athlete Jim Thorpe, a Native American from an impoverished background, was stripped of medals for his brilliant victories in Stockholm because he had once competed for a few dollars a week in semiprofessional baseball; the medals were eventually restored by the Olympic Committee in 1983, thirty years after his death.) Coubertin also accepted the romantic belief that the ancient “sacred truce,” which restricted warfare at the time of every Olympic Games, had been a genuine force for peace. (In fact, it was intended as a limited truce between the endlessly feuding Greek city-states to enable athletes and spectators to travel to Olympia in safety.) And Coubertin’s often-voiced Olympic credo—“to participate is more important than to win; for the essential thing in life is not to conquer but to struggle well”—would have been incomprehensible to the ancients, for whom victory was everything, and anything less was worthy of mockery.

    Brookes died one year before he could see his dream of an international Olympics realized, in Athens in 1896. Over time, Coubertin, an inveterate self-mythologizer, played down Brookes’s role as a mentor, preferring to cast himself as a heroic rénovateur. He would make two telling pilgrimages to Olympia itself. The first was early, in 1894, just after he had confirmed that the first Athens games would occur two years later. After wandering the ruins, he recognized his own arrogance in reviving the Olympics after a 1,500 year hiatus. (“I became aware in this sacred place of the size of the task which I had undertaken,” he wrote, “and I glimpsed all the hazards which would dog me on the way.”) His second visit was in 1927, after the Olympics had become a fixture. He was invited by the Greek government for the official unveiling of a stele, or stone pillar, in his honor. Now he took a more sober, long-range view of his efforts, and meditated more humbly on his achievement. Merit, he said, involves overcoming great obstacles. “Favored by lot in many respects I count no such victories to my credit.”

    Before his death in 1937, he arranged for his body to be buried with the remains of his wife in Lausanne, Switzerland, but his heart to be sent to Olympia, where it rests today inside his commemorative pillar. It was a classic Coubertin flourish, linking himself forever to the ancients who had disported there millennia before. The French baron certainly deserves his place of honor: No one but Coubertin had the passion or the political skill to carry the Olympic plan to fruition, and he spent his family fortune on the project, dying in virtual poverty. But he also tapped the unlikely roots of rural Britain.

    Perhaps there should be another monument to two less continental figures who played essential supporting roles—Richard Dover and William Penny Brookes—with statues of them both raising a glass of sherry to the ancient Greeks.



    Some tales about the champions:

    Onomastos:

    Olympic victor of boxing in 688, 684, 680, & 676 BC

    from the modern Izmir, Turkey. Yes, the first boxing champion was Asian.

    Pausanius: “At the twenty-third Festival they restored the prizes for boxing, and the winner was Onomastos of Smyrna, which was already a part of Ionia.”

    Philostratus: “Onomastos conquered as best boxer and thus linked the name of Smyrna with a glorious deed. For at one stroke Smyrna surpassed all cities of Ionia and Lydia, all on the Hellespont and in Phrygia, and all nations which inhabit Asia, and won first the Olympian crown of victory.”These cities are modern Turkish Anatolia.

    When Onomastos won the first Olympia boxing championship in 688 BC the addition of boxing to Olympia as a sport of respectability proved the Champion as reputation within a frightening, exciting, world of athletic violence.

    The same day Onomastos became a boxing Olympiad Champion, as spectators wildly applauded, he was presented a palm branch as symbolism and reward for his victory. Red ribbons were wrapped around his head and hands. There was no doubt boxing would survive as an Olympia event, but perhaps could be civilized with an official assortment of rules.

    In 684 BC, Onomastos successfully defended his Olympia boxing championship under rules written by himself.

    Philostratus: “Onomastos wrote rules for boxing, which the Eleans observed on account of the expert knowledge of the boxer; and the Arcadians were not offended that they were bound by contest rules which had their origin in effeminate Ionia.”

    Elia and Arcadia remain part of modern Greece. It would be as stunning in 684 BC as 2017 for modern Greece to concede a Turk as an expert at sports or anything. The neighboring regions change, but the attitude remains. Onomastos must have been very impressive to get his haters to co-sign his rules system.

    During 680 BC, Onomastos became the first official 3-time Olympia champion in any sport. The Olympia added chariot racing as an event that year as well. This is significant because Olympia now contained the identical sporting events as Homer’s, Iliad. Onomastos brought tremendous fame to the former Smyrna region itself. It is unknown exactly the years Homer lived, but the proximity of Smyrna was near Ionia. Both Onomastos and Homer are from the modern Izmir, Anatolia, Turkey.

    According to Homer and Theokritus, boxers engaged in **** talk thousands of years ago. For someone such as Onomastos such behavior would have been to gain a psychological advantage. The reputation and size of Onomastos might have frightened or concerned an opponent before a boxing bout began. It is natural to boxing and not necessarily bad sportsmanship for Onomastos to have an intimidation advantage as reward for his championship reign.

    No one knows what Onomastos actually looked like, but one can assume descriptions of the ideal boxer from the era he reigned over would reflect him. Philostratus: “The boxer should have long hands, and a strong forearm and upper arm, powerful shoulders and a long neck. As for the wrists, the thick are heavier for striking; the less thick, mobile and adroit in thrusting. Well-built hips should also support him, for the forward thrust of the hands throws the body off balance, if it does not rest on firm hips.”

    In 676 BC Onomastos successfully defended his boxing dominance with a 4th Olympia victory. Vergil communicated the words of an aging boxing champion: “No cowardice has banished love of honor or thought of renown. But my blood is chilled and dulled by sluggish age and my strength of body is numb and lifeless.” Vergil implies an older Onomastos-type champion who comprehends the hubris and braggart quality of his younger self which dominated boxing in the 680’s BC era.

    Onomastos probably lost a boxing bout sometime in his career, but no defeat is recorded.

    It is not unreasonable to assume the most difficult Olympia victory for Onomastos was the last, but it is impossible to know.

    the reputation of Onomastos, according to historian Christopher Shelton, would have been greater than Jack Broughton, Jem Belcher, Tom Hyer, John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis or Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko at their peak.

    Onomastos stepped through life and death and myth with transcendental language of world respect: the champ! At the peak of his boxing career, Onomastos was the most famous and respected pugilist of modern Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. It would be similar to Muhammad Ali’s legacy if no one knew the name of any other boxer. Onomastos created fame for a small region previously thought of as weak and inconsequential.

    Onomastos statue inscription read, from Pausanius: “My fatherland is Smyrna and my name is Onomastos; I am the son of Pheidileos, and I won four Olympia victories for boxing.” Two of the seven wonders of the Ancient World were in modern Turkey and now lay in ruins, which would likewise be the fate for any such Onomastos statue from 3k years ago.



    Daippos of Kroton:

    Victor of the 27th Olympic boxing tournament in 672 BC and became the first Olympic winner from western Greece.



    Komaios of Megara:

    Third of his brothers to win the boxing contest at the 32nd Olympics in 652 BC


    Pythagoras of Samos:

    In 588 BC, a young man from Samos made his way to the Olympic Games with the goal of winning the youth division in boxing. When registering, the officials told the young man that he was too old to compete with the boys. Spectators and competitors began to mock the Samian for his long hair and purple robes, accusing him of effeminacy for attempting to compete with the younger boys. Undeterred, the young man signed to fight with the adult boxers. Despite the contemptuous ridicule he had suffered from the crowd, Pythagoras won bout after bout, and was crowned victorious at the 48th Olympiad.

    According to the ancient historian Diogenes Laertius, this was the same Pythagoras of Samos who would go on to found the Brotherhood, a unique school of philosophers in Greek history. The Pythagoreans were incredibly well-respected, and their work influenced that of all the great philosophers who would follow them– including the famous trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Music and mathematics played especially important roles, to the Pythagoreans. These fields informed their philosophy, while their philosophy simultaneously inspired their musical and mathematical discoveries.

    Eratosthenes says, as Favorinus quotes him in the eighth book of his Universal History, that this philosopher was the first man who ever practised boxing in a scientific manner, in the 48th Olympiad

    Pythagoras was said to be the son of Apollo, god of boxing, logic, and music.

    Praxidamas of Aegina

    victorious in boxing at the fifty-ninth festival in 544 BC and the first athlete to have a statue dedicated at Olympia. According to Pausanias the statue of Praxidamas was made of cypress wood.


    Tissandros of Sicilian Naxos:

    Victor of the Olympia in 572, 568, 564, & 560 BC

    Four time Pythian Champion as well, but I've not found the dates. Pythian Games were held two years after Olympic games so he either started wining them in 574 or 570 BC.

    Pausanius: Naxos was founded in Sicily by the Chalcidians on the Euripus. Of the city not even the ruins are now to be seen, and that the name of Naxos has survived to after ages must be attributed to Tissandros, the son of Cleocritus. He won the boxing-match at Olympia four times. He had the same number of victories at Pytho, but at this time neither the Corinthians nor the Argives kept complete records of the victors at Nemea and the Isthmus.

    Philostratus: Some trained by competing in speed with horses and hares, bending or straightening thick iron plates, or by having themselves yoked with powerful oxen, and, finally by subduing bulls or even lions . The arms of the boxer Tissandros from Naxos, who swam around the promontories of the island, carried him far out to sea, this training himself and the body.

    According to 1st century historian Diodoras, the tyrant dictator of Syracuse named Dionysius had developed plans growing his influence by force. With the assistance of the Naxos traitor-general Procles the entire region was wiped from this world like excrament from a boot.

    Diodoras: Procles delivered his native city to Dionysius, who, after paying the promised gifts to the traitor and handing over his kinsman, sold the inhabitants into slavery, turned the property over to soldiers to plunder, and razed the walls and the dwellings. Now the territory of the Naxians he gave as a present to the neighboring Siceli.

    Dionysius failed in his attempt at eradicating evidence of Naxian society from history books. Tissandros of Naxos the eight time major title boxing champion permanently remains silently stoic as the pride of an exterminated community.

    Glaukos:

    Glaukos of Karystos was inexperienced when he won Olympia in 520 BC and it showed in the early matches. Glaukos was injured severely in more than one bout. In his most dramatic and finale contest, Glaukos was beaten so badly with many wounds profusely bleeding that spectators did not expect him to rise. It appeared that he had fainted. Glaukos slowly staggered to his feet again until his father/trainer Tisios shouted, “Son, the plough touch” and with an overhead clubbing of his opponent Glaukos shockingly knocked out his foe.

    Philostratus: “This plough-punch meant, namely to strike the opponent with his right; for in that hand Glaukos had so much power that once, in Euboeia, he had straightened a ploughshare, which was bent, by striking it with the right hand as is with a hammer.”

    Glaukos is not recorded as having won Olympia again, but was credited with 18 more major boxing championships at the Pythian, Isthmus, and Nemean games.

    It is impossible to say just how celebrated Glaukos was, but just over 150 years later it's clear to me those ancients felt Glaukos was an all time great.

    Aeschines mentions Glaukos in Against Ctesiphon: "And yet I am told that he intends to say that I am unfair in holding up his deeds for comparison with those of our fathers. For he will say that Philammon the boxer was crowned at Olympia, not as having defeated Glaucus, that famous man of ancient days, but because he beat the antagonists of his own time;1 as though you did not know that in the case of boxers the contest is of one man against another, but for those who claim a crown, the standard is virtue itself; since it is for this that they are crowned. For the herald must not lie when he makes his proclamation in the theater before the Greeks. Do not, then, recount to us how you have been a better citizen than Pataecion,2 but first attain unto nobility of character, and then call on the people for their grateful acknowledgment."

    Aeschines was a Grecian political orator and legal scholar who lost a legal dispute with Ctesiphon over the latter’s resolution to reward hated rival statesman, Demosthenes, with a governmental golden crown.

    Demosthenes, On the Crown, echoes: "Philammon did not leave Olympia without a crown, because he was not so strong as Glaucus of Carystus, or other bygone champions: he was crowned and proclaimed victor, because he fought better than the men who entered the ring against him. You must compare me with the orators of today; with yourself, for instance, or anyone you like: I exclude none."

    Philon of Korkyra

    2-time Olympic boxing champion in 500 and 496 BC Olympia. A statue was built in tribute to Philon with the inscription composed by Simonides: “My fatherland is Korkyra and my name is Philon. I am the son of Glaukos, and I won two Olympia victories for boxing.”

    I'm fairly certain Glaukos and Philon are the first father-son champion duo, and Tisios is the first trainer to train two champions making the Glaukos family the first boxing dynasty both in terms of crown lineage and training lineage. Glaukos claimed to be descended from the marine god Glaucus.

    Kleomedes of Astypalaia

    Kleomedes killed Ikkos of modern Epidaurus during the 492 BC Olympia by stabbing him in the heart with his fingers in an open-hand jab to the heart a bit like that character in indiana jones and the temple of doom, that kali ma guy.


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    The Hellano***ai disqualified Kleomedes for foul play because he used an open hand strike and Ikkos, in death, was declared the victor and champion.

    Kleomedes was overwhelmingly distraught with not being awarded his prize. He returned to Astypalaia and enraged over his Olympia failure pulled down a pillar with his great strength that held the roof of a school. Sixty children were crushed and smothered to death. Local citizenry were understandably outraged and began pelting the boxer with stones.

    The champion fled for safety until placing himself inside a heavy chest. The Astypalaian’s were initially unsuccessful with their attempts to open the chest and slay Kleomedes. Finally, they pried the chest open only to find the boxer was not there. The locals then sent envoys for advice from the Priestess of Delphi who told them, “Last of heroes is Kleomedes of Astypalaia. Honor him with sacrifices as being no longer a mortal.” The Astypalaians thought the missing Kleomedes was dead, but without body as proof the citizens of Astypalaia did as told and began to worship him as a hero.


    Diognetos of Crete

    Victor of the boxing crown at Olympia in 488 BC.

    Diognetos did not receive the crown and was even attacked by the Eleans because the adversary whom he had defeated and killed was called Herakles. As in Kleomedes' case it's not so much that Diognetos killed a person as much as the circumstances around the death, in this case being named after the most popular son of Zeus.

    Dishonored by the Hellano***ai and hated by the Eleans, still, Diognetos was worshiped as a hero by the Cretans.

    It's pretty crazy that the ancient Hellano***ai withheld honors from Diognetos solely because he killed a man named after a god, but what's even crazier is the modern Olympic Comittee didn't officially recognized Diognetos as an Olympic champion until 2014.

    The negativity boxing gained with Kleomedes killing Ikkos and Diognetos killing Herakles set the stage for one of ancient boxing's biggest stars to emerge. The ancient world was hungry for a champion that embodied their idealism, and by 484 BC they would have it.

    Euthymos The Italian:

    It would not be right for me to pass over the boxer Euthymos, his victories and his other glories. Euthymos was by birth one of the Italian Locrians, who dwell in the region near the headland called the West Point, and he was called son of Astycles. Local legend, however, makes him the son, not of this man, but of the river Caecinus, which divides Locris from the land of Rhegium and produces the marvel of the grasshoppers. For the grasshoppers within Locris as far as the Caecinus sing just like others, but across the Caecinus in the territory of Rhegium they do not utter a sound.

    This river then, according to tradition, was the father of Euthymos, who, though he won the prize for boxing at the seventy-fourth Olympic Festival, but was not to be so successful at the next. For Theagenes of Thasos, wishing to win the prizes for boxing and for the pancratium at the same Festival, overcame Euthymos at boxing, though he had not the strength to gain the wild olive in the pancratium because he was already exhausted in his fight with Euthymos.

    Thereupon the Hellano***ai fined Theagenes, to be sacred to the gods, and for the harm done to Euthymos, holding that it was merely to spite him that he entered for the boxing competition. For this reason they condemned him to pay an extra fine privately to Euthymos. At the seventy-sixth Festival Theagenes paid in full the money owed to the gods, and as compensation to Euthymos did not enter boxing. At this Festival, and also at the next following, Euthymos won the crown for boxing. His statue is the handiwork of Pythagoras, and is very well worth seeing.

    On his return to Italy Euthymos fought against the Ghost of Temesa, the story about whom is as follows; Odysseus, so they say, in his wanderings after the capture of Troy was carried down by gales to various cities of Italy and Sicily, and among them he came with his ships to Temesa. Here one of his sailors got drunk and violated a maiden, for which offence he was stoned to death by the natives.

    Now Odysseus, it is said, cared nothing about his loss and sailed away. But the ghost of the stoned man never ceased killing the people of Temesa without distinction, attacking both old and young, until, when the inhabitants had resolved to flee from Italy for good, the Pythian priestess forbad them to leave Temesa, and ordered them to propitiate the daimon, setting him a sanctuary apart and building a temple, and to give him every year as wife the fairest maiden in Temesa.

    So they performed the commands of the gods and suffered no more terrors from the ghost, but Euthymos happened to come to Temesa just at the time when the ghost was being propitiated in the usual way. Learning what was going on he had a strong desire to enter the temple, and not only to enter it but also to look at the maiden. When he saw her he first felt pity and afterwards love for her. The girl swore to marry him if he saved her, and so Euthymos with his armour on awaited the onslaught of the ghost.

    Euthymos won the fight, and the ghost was driven out of the land and disappeared, sinking into the depth of the sea. Euthymos had a distinguished wedding and the inhabitants were freed from the ghost forever.

    I heard another story also about Euthymos, how that he reached extreme old age, and escaping again from death departed from among men in another way. Temesa is still inhabited as I heard from a man who sailed there as a merchant.

    This I heard, and I also saw, by chance, a picture dealing with the subject. It was a copy of an ancient picture. There were a stripling, Sybaris, a river, Calabrus, and a spring, Lyca. Beside there were a hero-shrine and the city of Temesa, and in the midst was the ghost that Euthymos cast out. Horribly black in color, and exceedingly dreadful in all his appearance, he had a wolf's skin thrown round him as a garment. The letters on the picture gave his name as Lycas VII.

    So much for the story of Euthymos.




    Fight of the Millennium: Euthymos vs. Theagenes 480 BC:

    Xenophanes, from the modern Menderes, Izmir, Turkey 500 BC: “If one owns a victory by swiftness of foot, or in the pentathlon, where the grove of Zeus lies by Pisas’ stream at Olympia, or as a wrestler, or in painful boxing, or in that severe contest called the pankration, he would be more glorious in the eyes of the citizens than others. (The Olympia champion) would win a front seat at assemblies, and would be entertained by the city at the public table and he would receive a gift which would be a keepsake for him. If he won by means of horses he would get all these things although he did not deserve them, for our wisdom is better than the strength of men or horses. This (false glorification) is indeed of very wrong custom. Nor is it correct to prefer physical strength over excellent wisdom. For if there should be a man in the city good at boxing, or in the pentathlon, or in wrestling, or in swiftness of foot the city would not on that basis be better governed. Small gain would it be in any city when a citizen conquers at the sporting games on the banks of the Pisas, for this does not fill with wealth its secret chambers.”

    Euthymos was born circa 505 BCE in modern Locri of the Provincia di Reggio Calabrio, Italy. Pausanius mentioned that Euthymos might have been the son of Astycles, although adds: “Local legend, however, makes him the son, not of this man, but of the river Caecinus, which divides Locris from the land of Rhegium and produces the land of grasshoppers.” If those are my choices, that either Euthymos was the son of Astycles or a river – of course, I choose the former. It is likely that Euthymos was from a wealthier family and from youth was realized to have size, strength, shoulders and longer arms that would be ideal for boxing.

    Theagenes was born circa 500 BCE on the Greek island of Thasos. He received early public attention as a juvenile delinquent. Most boxing champions were products of wealthier families who hired trainers. It was hinted by Pausanius that perhaps Theagenes was a ******* child – which is not proof – but fathers abandoned impregnated women thousands of years ago as they do today. There is no way of knowing what internal forces motivated the behavior of Theagenes to make him such an angry boy – and later an angry man. Pausanius: “The Thasians say that Timosphenes was not the father of Theagenes, but a priest of the Thasian Herakles, a phantom of whom in the likeness of Timosphenes had intercourse with the mother of Theagenes.” A pattern of Theagenes which made him unusual was a personal quest that was almost messianic that he would be viewed after Achilles as the world’s greatest athlete in history, along with utter disregard or concern that people like him personally.

    At the age of nine, an oversized Theagenes openly defied society’s rules by stealing a bronze statue or item that he admired from a market and placed it on his shoulders for home. There are hints that whatever he stole was enormous for even an adult to carry – and this was a mere child. Pausanius: “The citizens were enraged at what he had done, but one of them, a respected man of advanced years, bade them not to kill the lad.” Apparently, the man spoke with Theagenes and convinced him to return the stolen item – likely with an apology. There is no suggestion of a father or mother speaking to the nine-year-old, but this stranger instead which calls into question whether the future celebrity athlete was from a traditional sporting well-to-do family unit.

    Meanwhile, a 60+ years-old, formerly wealthy Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama had abandoned his princess wife, Yasodhara, and child due to depression over inner-angst isolation for a vow of poverty and self-awareness. Sitting under a banyan tree with favorite milk-rice meal he battled his inner-demon, Mara, to become an idealized soul. Siddhartha not only wanted to advocate lack of ego or addiction to materialism, but actually be that person. Successful in his quest, he was reduced to begging for food so that he could understand humbleness. His father, King Suddhodana, was aghast and allowed his son and followers into the palace for a feast. Siddhartha’s movement was spreading with its theme: “Dukkha can be avoided and Nirvana achieved – via meditative self-awareness.” Siddhartha was re-named the Buddha; he who has realized the truth.

    The best boxer during the formative years for Euthymos and Theagenes was Philon from the Greek island of Korkyra. Philon was a 2-time boxing champion of the 500 BCE and 496 BCE Olympia. A statue was built in tribute for Philon with the description composed by Simondes: “My fatherland is Korkyra and my name is Philon. I am the son of Glaukos, and I won two Olympia victories for boxing.”

    Kleomedes, from the Greek Island of Istanbulya (Astypalaia), killed Ikkos of modern Epidaurus, Greece during the 492 BCE Olympia. The umpires disqualified Kleomedes for “foul play” so that Ikkos, in death, was declared the victor and champion. Kleomedes was overwhelmingly distraught not to be awarded the prize. He returned to Astypalaia, and enraged over his Olympia failure pulled down a pillar, with his great strength, that held the roof of a school. Sixty children were crushed and smothered to death. Local citizenry were understandably outraged and began pelting the boxer with stones. Kleomedes fled for safety until placing himself inside a heavy chest. Astypalaian’s were initially unsuccessful with their attempts to open the chest and slay the child-murderer. Finally, they pried the chest open only to find the boxer was not there. Astypalaia locals sent envoys for advice from the Priestess of Delphi who told them, “Last of heroes is Kleomedes of Astypalaia. Honor him with sacrifices as being no longer a mortal.” It appeared that the missing Kleomedes was dead, but without body as proof. The citizens of Astypalaia did as told and began to worship the boxing disgrace and child-murderer as a hero.

    Fotius, year 870 in Constantinople which is modern Istanbul, Turkey: “Diagnetus the Kritian boxer, winner in a competition, did not receive the crown but was even attacked by the Eleans because the adversary whom he had defeated and killed was called Herakles – like the hero. This Diagnetus is honored as hero by the Kritians.” The 2014 Grecian Olympics Committee recognizes Diagnetus as the boxing champion of 488 BCE. The Olympics were meant to utilize sports instead of war as healthy alternative. For a boxer of one city to kill another from a neighboring region would create understandable outrage. It could perhaps lead to war which is why Olympia rules usually disqualified the killer and awarded the championship (Olive Wreath) to the dead man – such as Ikkos. Diagnetus likely killed his opponent – if that’s what happened – at another boxing event. It would be normal, unfortunately, that Diagnetus’ local island, Kriti, would still view him as a hero and winner of the bout. Then and now – pugilist fans are proud when the boxer they like kills another in the ring, but are outraged when a boxer they dislike does the same. If Diagnetus, as a boxing champion, had killed another during a bout it would only emphasize the winner of the following Olympiad as hero.

    In 484 BCE, Euthymos was officially recognized as the greatest boxer by winning the championship at Olympia. The official prize was an Olive Wreath with adulation from throngs of strangers. There is always a section of boxing fans that loves its thugs – loves its villains – loves the idea of bullies because it is personal fantasy for themselves. But boxing is dependent on its heroes for continued survival. Pugilism has faced extinction for thousands of years until along comes a slugging villain to revive its popularity – followed by a hero boxer to retain argument that it’s a legal sport with redeeming social value.

    By the time Euthymos won his boxing championship at the 74th Olympiad, the Buddha was approximately 80 years-old and nearing death. The United States of America would not exist for nearly 2300 years, but conservative radio hosts would probably attack Siddhartha as a dangerous ‘radical’ liberal. He certainly espoused and practiced a movement that was the conservative antithesis of his time. He would ultimately encourage democracy and women’s rights. Siddhartha’s aunt and her friends became the first women to be officially accepted as nuns with recognition of their equality. Siddhartha did not fear death – and joked about it – with his only concern that the movement continue without corruption. Originally, the Buddha was supposed to be a transitory figurehead. But Siddhartha feared corruption if one man had too much power so he espoused that he would be the only Buddha and that majority votes should rule rather than smaller groups with greater power.

    Whether Euthymos as boxing Champion held an ego or Theagenes was jealous of the Locri’s fame – the two had some sort of verbal confrontation at the 480 BCE Olympia before competition began – with result that Theagenes spitefully entered the boxing event specifically to battle the defending Champion. Longevity of a legendary boxing bout is enhanced by scandal or controversy. It appeared at the outset to be a hero versus villain battle – and the wrong guy won.


    Theokritus wrote in the 3rd century BCE of an exchange between a taunting challenger versus the champion.

    CHALLENGER: “Up hands fight me – man against man.”

    CHAMPION: “Fisticuffs is it or feet and all? Mind you, I have a good eye.”

    CHALLENGER: “Fists be it, and you may do all your best and cunningest.”

    CHAMPION: “But who is he that I am supposed to bind thong to arm?”

    CHALLENGER: “You see him nigh; the man that shall fight you may be called a woman, but faith shall not deserve the name.”

    The boxing axiom, “Styles make fights,” has been consistently proven true. It might be enjoyable for boxing fans to theorize how one champion would fare versus another from separate eras – but you never know. Boxers and pankrationists were generally of different physical build. Wrestlers were often smaller, stockier and more agile. Boxers, such as Euthymos, would have been taller, strong upper-body with longer arms for reach advantage. Pankrationists, such as Theagenes, often fell in-between. Today, an athlete has free-will to defy stereotypes and expectations. Theagenes seems to be an unusual person and athlete. Most ancient athletes, which would likely include Euthymos, had their fates sealed within the early years of childhood. Parents and trainers decided the physical characteristics which compelled focused sports training – both athletic and moral.

    Philostratus: “Thick-calved persons, according to my observation, are not fitted for any sort of contest, least of all, however, for boxing; for they are especially sluggish in kicking the shin of an opponent, and on the other hand, are easily taken unaware by kicking. His shins ought, therefore, to be straight and proportionate, while the thighs should stand out far apart from each other; for the figure of the boxer is adapted for attack if the thighs are not close together.”

    Both Euthymos and Theagenes were ****y athletes who probably thought the other would be an easy conquest. Euthymos may have been successful prior with early knockouts while tiring himself when facing a guy who did concede or render unconscious easily. Theagenes clearly thought that Euthymos would be an easy knockout victim and would preserve enough strength to defeat Dromeus in the pankration final the same day.

    Theokritus: “And so the twain braced their hands with their leathern coils and twined the long straps about their arms and entered the ring breathing slaughter against the other.” Hand wraps for Euthymos/Theagenes were made of animal hide. Then – as now – hand wraps or gloves were not designed as offensive weapons but protection of the pugilist’s finger/knuckles hands.

    Philostratus offered some idea of boxing strategy with its popular stance. Philostratus: “It is best if the belly is drawn in; for such people are light and have good respiration. For all that, however, the belly (if it is prominent) gives the boxer a certain advantage, for such a belly hinders blows at the face, in that it checks the force of the blow.”

    Theagenes likely controlled momentum. He may have been unsuccessful with early offensive punches against someone better experienced at blocking, dodging or negating power. He might have utilized a strategy of attrition hoping his reputed physical strength and leg conditioning could withstand any Euthymos offensive power-punches. The island of Elis’ sun, heat and humidity would be an increasing fatigue factor without an early knockout.

    There would be blood, gore and possibly teeth loosened. If the violence was excessive pugilists would vomit and continue. The strategy of the time leaned toward head-hunting while defense protected likewise. The kicking of shins was allowed during a period of BCE Olympia boxing but is not dated. Euthymos would have utilized his reach-advantage with punches to the face. Theagenes might have accepted the freedom to land body punches, which was not the accepted stratagem but would weaken an opponent over a longer bout. Most bouts were one-sided with a boxer dominant. It would not be cowardly, but perhaps prudent for a boxer to feign unconsciousness rather than prolong their beating.

    It would have been interesting to view Euthymos parry punches. A great boxer would not flatly block a punch, but merely deflect. Theagenes likely engaged in questionable tactics such as holding an opponent in clinch or pushing Euthymos’ head down with full weight. If Euthymos held a reach advantage with superior boxing technique then Theagenes would have to be aggressive with forced inside-fighting. These antics would be illegal, but boxers have been breaking rules for over 3500+ years and will continue breaking rules in the year 5018.

    Either Euthymos or his second would have to concede. Theagenes may have been successful in pummeling eyes until the blind Champion had no choice but to concede. There are various injuries that would make it impossible for a boxer to continue. Whatever their ****iness when the bout began it must have been wildly exciting for spectators when they realized the two men were in the fight of their lives unlike any bout seen previous. How tragic it must have been for spectators to witness the great hero, Euthymos, bloodied and battered into submission. There must have been awe at spectacle of the invincible villain, Theagenes, exhausted with endurance sapped. They humbled one another – at least briefly – until they could recover from wounds inflicted upon the other.

    The 480 BC boxing bout remains the most controversial in Olympics history. Public outrage against Theagenes must have been enormous. It could have been viewed as admirable for Theagenes to compete in the pankration following his boxing championship – perhaps losing – or likely losing since he was the one that decided he was incapable of competition. It was unfair to the declared Olympia pankration champion, Dromeus from the modern Tripoli, because it did not allow him the opportunity to compete for victory. Obviously, it unfairly robbed spectators of a pankration final with a ‘quit’ due to injury and/or exhaustion that was avoidable.

    It would have been viewed as heroically flawed if Theagenes’ ego merely had got the best of him – which is exactly what happened – with an overreach of hubris ambition. Perhaps an apology or humbled confession of misguided goals would have served to soften the situation, but it is likely Theagenes was already angry with himself – angry with Euthymos – angry with public outcry – angry with Olympia officials so basically told one and all that they go to Hell.

    The two great pugilist’s slayed one another – each causing the other’s only recorded loss. A default is a loss with Theagenes’ pankration final. Theagenes was officially punished with multiple fines for conduct that was viewed to have been motivated by personal hatred. He was assessed a general fine for misconduct – a second fine for “the harm done to Euthymos” – and a third fine paid directly to Euthymos. He was also banned from competition as a boxer in future Olympia’s.


    At the 476 BC Olympia, Euthymos became the first boxer to reclaim a championship. Theagenes paid his fines so that he could compete as a pankrationist. He won the championship and his second Olive Wreath. Theagenes never completely regained Olympia prominence although he performed at championship caliber as both a pankrationist and boxer (24 major victories) at other sporting competitions. Theagenes built his legacy with these other major sporting championships, but the victory over Euthymos, along with his personal misconduct, continued to be the most famous and infamous moment of his career. The popularity of these two champions was a bonus to Olympia so it may not be coincidence that it would be stretched into five days following these games.

    At the 472 BC Olympia it appears Theagenes did not compete because there is no mention of him losing while he remained dominant as the athlete of 470’s BCE decade. Euthymos successfully defended his championship cementing his legacy as one of the greatest boxers in history. Euthymos won three Olympia Olive Wreaths – all for boxing – while Theagenes won two – for boxing and pankration. It is curious that Euthymos did not compete in other major boxing events throughout 470’s BCE. Euthymos was not as motivated by fame or money as two-sport celebrity, Theagenes.

    Whether Euthymos enjoyed the idolization, or felt it was out-of-proportion for those who love sports did not matter. When he entered a city, the men would shout with joy, “Hey Champ” while boys would trip over themselves to greet the Olympian hero, “It’s the Champ!” Euthymos stood as flesh-and-blood proof that anyone could accomplishment greatness – or at least dream of success and a better life.

    Theagenes probably expected and enjoyed the awe and envy in eyes of others when he entered a city, but remained a focused athlete intent on winning whatever the contest. He abandoned both boxing and pankration late in his athletic career to become a long distance running champion. His career concluded with 1400 wins over various events.

    Theagenes of Thasos:

    Pausanias:

    Not far from the kings mentioned stands a Thasian, Theagenes the son of Timosthenes. The Thasians say that Timosthenes was not the father of Theagenes, but a priest of Heracles, who as a phantom in the likeness of Timosthenes had intercourse with the mother of Theagenes.

    In his ninth year, they say, as he was going home from school, he was attracted by a bronze image of some god or other in the marketplace; so he caught up the image, placed it on one of his shoulders and carried it home.

    The citizens were enraged at what he had done, but one of them, a respected man of advanced years, bade them not to kill the lad, and ordered him to carry the image from his home back again to the market-place. This he did, and at once became famous for his strength, his feat being noised abroad through-out Greece.

    The achievements of Theagenes at the Olympian games have already – the most famous of them – been described in my story, how he beat Euthymus the boxer, and how he was fined by the Eleans. On this occasion the pancratium, it is said, was for the first time on record won without a contest, the victor being Dromeus of Mantineia. At the Festival following this, Theagenes was the winner in the pancratium.

    He also won three victories at Pytho. These were for boxing, while nine prizes at Nemea and ten at the Isthmus were won in some cases for the pancratium and in others for boxing. At Phthia in Thessaly he gave up training for boxing and the pancratium. He devoted himself to winning fame among the Greeks for his running also, and beat those who entered for the long race. His ambition was, I think, to rival Achilles by winning a prize for running in the fatherland of the swiftest of those who are called heroes. The total number of crowns that he won was one thousand four hundred.

    When he departed this life, one of those who were his enemies while he lived came every night to the statue of Theagenes and flogged the bronze as though he were ill-treating Theagenes himself. The statue put an end to the outrage by falling on him, but the sons of the dead man prosecuted the statue for murder. So the Thasians dropped the statue to the bottom of the sea, adopting the principle of Draco, who, when he framed for the Athenians laws to deal with homicide, inflicted banishment even on lifeless things, should one of them fall and kill a man.

    But in course of time, when the earth yielded no crop to the Thasians, they sent envoys to Delphi, and the god instructed them to receive back the exiles. At this command they received them back, but their restoration brought no remedy of the famine. So for the second time they went to the Pythian priestess, saying that although they had obeyed her instructions the wrath of the gods still abode with them.

    Whereupon the Pythian priestess replied to them: But you have forgotten your great Theagenes.

    When they could not think of a contrivance to recover the statue of Theagenes, fishermen, they say, after putting out to sea for a catch of fish caught the statue in their net and brought it back to land. The Thasians set it up in its original position, and are wont to sacrifice to him as to a god.

    There are many other places that I know of, both among Greeks and among barbarians, where images of Theagenes have been set up, who cures diseases and receives honors from the natives. The statue of Theagenes is in the Altis, being the work of Glaucias of Aegina.





    Diagoras of Rhodes:

    Diagoras of Rhodes, the son of Damagetus and great grandson of Damagetus, king of Ialissos, was one of the most famous boxers in antiquity. He is said to be impressive not only because of his size but because of his beauty. He was crowned as Olympic victor in boxing in 464 B.C, in the 79th Olympiad. He was twice crowned winner in the Nemean games, four times in the Isthmian, numerous times in games held at his homeland Rhodes, in the Panathenaea, in Argos, in Lykaion, in Aegina, in Megara and elsewhere.

    Diagoras was known for his unique boxing technique. He was called "euthymachos", because he never ducked or sidestepped a blow, but he kept his body erect during competition. He wanted an honest and decent victory, always followed the rules causing pride and admiration among his fans.

    He was fortunate enough to watch his sons receive the Olympic wreath and be Olympic victors themselves Damagetos in wrestling, Akousilaos and Dorieas both in the pankration as well as his grandsons Eucles and Peisidorus. In 448 BC, during the 83rd Olympiad, Diagoras, on top of his victorious sons' shoulders was cheered by the spectators. This was the most glorious moment of his life, and realizing this, a Spartan spectator shouted at him that it would be better if he were to die at that instant, since there was nothing more glorious than to ascend to Mount Olympus and to the gods. Hearing this, Diagoras, still held by his sons, lowered his head and quietly died.


    Pausanias, Description of Greece: Statues of Olympic Victors, translated W.H.S. Jones:

    So much for the story of Euthymus. After his statue stands a runner in the foot-race, Pytharchus of Mantinea, and a boxer, Charmides of Elis, both of whom won prizes in the contests for boys. When you have looked at these also you will reach the statues of the Rhodian athletes, Diagoras and his family. These were dedicated one after the other in the following order. Acusilaus, who received a crown for boxing in the men's class; Dorieus, the youngest, who won the pancratium at Olympia on three successive occasions. Even before Dorieus, Damagetus beat all those who had entered for the pancratium.

    These were brothers, being sons of Diagoras, and by them is set up also a statue of Diagoras himself, who won a victory for boxing in the men's class. The statue of Diagoras was made by the Megarian Callicles, the son of the Theocosmus who made the image of Zeus at Megara. The sons too of the daughters of Diagoras practised boxing and won Olympic victories: in the men's class Eucles, son of Callianax and Callipateira, daughter of Diagoras; in the boys' class Peisirodus, whose mother dressed herself as a man and a trainer, and took her son herself to the Olympic games.

    This Peisirodus is one of the statues in the Altis, and stands by the father of his mother. The story goes that Diagoras came to Olympia in the company of his sons Acusilaus and Damagetus. The youths on defeating their father proceeded to carry him through the crowd, while the Greeks pelted him with flowers and congratulated him on his sons. The family of Diagoras was originally, through the female line, Messenian, as he was descended from the daughter of Aristomenes.

    Dorieus, son of Diagoras, besides his Olympian victories, won eight at the Isthmian and seven at the Nemean games. He is also said to have won a Pythian victory without a contest. He and Peisirodus were proclaimed by the herald as of Thurii, for they had been pursued by their political enemies from Rhodes to Thurii in Italy. Dorieus subsequently returned to Rhodes. Of all men he most obviously showed his friendship with Sparta, for he actually fought against the Athenians with his own ships, until he was taken prisoner by Attic men-of-war and brought alive to Athens.

    Before he was brought to them the Athenians were wroth with Dorieus and used threats against him; but when they met in the assembly and beheld a man so great and famous in the guise of a prisoner, their feeling towards him changed, and they let him go away without doing him any hurt, and that though they might with justice have punished him severely.

    The death of Dorieus is told by Androtion in his Attic history. He says that the great King's fleet was then at Caunus, with Conon in command, who persuaded the Rhodian people to leave the Lacedaemonian alliance and to join the great King and the Athenians. Dorieus, he goes on to say, was at the time away from home in the interior of the Peloponnesus, and having been caught by some Lacedaemonians he was brought to Sparta, convicted of treachery by the Lacedaemonians and sentenced to death.

    If Androtion tells the truth, he appears to me to wish to put the Lacedaemonians on a level with the Athenians, because they too are open to the charge of precipitous action in their treatment of Thrasyllus and his fellow admirals at the battle of Arginusae. Such was the fame won by Diagoras and his family.

    Pindar, Odes: Olympian 7, translated by Ernest Myers:

    For Diagoras Of Rhodes

    Victor in Boxing

    Rhodes is said to have been colonised at the time of the Dorian migrations by Argive Dorians from Epidaurus, who were Herakleidai of of the family of Tlepolemus. They founded a confederacy of three cities, Kamiros, Lindos, and Ialysos. Ialysos was then ruled by the dynasty of the Eratidai. Their kingly power had now been extinct two hundred years, but the family was still pre-eminent in the state. Of this family was Diagoras, and probably the ode was sung at a family festival; but it commemorates the glories of the island generally. The Rhodians caused it to be engraved in letters of gold in the temple of Athene at Lindos.

    There is a noteworthy incident of the Peloponnesian war which should be remembered in connection with this ode. In the year 406, fifty-eight years after this victory of Diagoras, during the final and most embittering agony of Athens, one Dorieus, a son of Diagoras, and himself a famous athlete, was captured by the Athenians in a sea-fight. It was then the custom either to release prisoners of war for a ransom or else to put them to death. The Athenians asked no ransom of Dorieus, but set him free on the spot. It is said that he was afterwards put to death by the Lacedaemonians.

    As when from a wealthy hand one lifting a cup, made glad within with the dew of the vine, maketh gift thereof to a youth his daughter's spouse, a largess of the feast from home to home, an all-golden choicest treasure, that the banquet may have grace, and that he may glorify his kin; and therewith he maketh him envied in the eyes of the friends around him for a wedlock wherein hearts are wed—

    So also I, my liquid nectar sending, the Muses' gift, the sweet fruit of my soul, to men that are winners in the games at Pytho or Olympia make holy oflfering. Happy is he whom good report encompasseth; now on one man, now on another doth the Grace that quickeneth look favourably, and tune for him the lyre and the pipe's stops of music manifold.

    Thus to the sound of the twain am I come with Diagoras sailing home, to sing the sea-girt Rhodes, child of Aphrodite and bride of Helios, that to a mighty and fair-fighting man, who by Alpheos' stream and by Kastalia's hath won him crowns, I may for his boxing make award of glory, and to his father Demegetos in whom Justice hath her delight, dwellers in the isle of three cities with an Argive host, nigh to a promontory of spacious Asia.

    Fain would I truly tell from the beginning from Tlepolemos the message of my word, the common right of this puissant seed of Herakles. For on the father's side they claim from Zeus, and on the mother's from Astydameia, sons of Amyntor.

    Now round the minds of men hang follies unnumbered—this is the unachievable thing, to find what shall be best hap for a man both presently and also at the last. Yea for the very founder of this country once on a time struck with his staff of tough wild-olive-wood Alcmene's ******* brother Likymnios in Tiryns as he came forth from Madea's chamber, and slew him in the kindling of his wrath. So even the wise man's feet are turned astray by tumult of the soul.

    Then he came to enquire of the oracle of God. And he of the golden hair from his sweet-incensed shrine spake unto him of a sailing of ships that should be from the shore of Lerna unto a pasture ringed with sea, where sometime the great king of gods rained on the city golden snow, what time by Hephaistos' handicraft beneath the bronze-wrought axe from the crown of her father's head Athene leapt to light and cried aloud with an exceeding cry; and Heaven trembled at her coming, and Earth, the Mother.

    Then also the god who giveth light to men, Hyperion, bade his beloved sons see that they guard the payment of the debt, that they should build first for the goddess an altar in the sight of all men, and laying thereon a holy offering they should make glad the hearts of the father and of his daughter of the sounding spear. Now Reverence, Forethought's child, putteth valour and the joy of battle into the hearts of men; yet withal there cometh upon them bafflingly the cloud of forgetfulness and maketh the mind to swerve from the straight path of action. For they though they had brands burning yet kindled not the seed of flame, but with fireless rites they made a grove on the hill of the citadel. For them Zeus brought a yellow cloud into the sky and rained much gold upon the land; and Glaukopis herself gave them to excel the dwellers upon earth in every art of handicraft. For on their roads ran the semblances of beasts and creeping things: whereof they have great glory, for to him that hath knowledge the subtlety that is without deceit is the greater altogether.

    Now the ancient story of men saith that when Zeus and the other gods made division of the earth among them, not yet was island Rhodes apparent in the open sea, but in the briny depths lay hid. And for that Helios was otherwhere, none drew a lot for him; so they left him portionless of land, that holy god. And when he spake thereof Zeus would cast lots afresh; but he suffered him not, for that he said that beneath the hoary sea he saw a certain land waxing from its root in earth, that should bring forth food for many men, and rejoice in flocks. And straightway he bade her of the golden fillet, Lachesis, to stretch her hands on high, nor violate the gods' great oath, but with the son of Kronos promise him that the isle sent up to the light of heaven should be thenceforth a title of himself alone.

    And in the end of the matter his speech had fulfilment; there sprang up from the watery main an island, and the father who begetteth the keen rays of day hath the dominion thereof, even the lord of fire-breathing steeds. There sometime having lain with Rhodos he begat seven sons, who had of him minds wiser than any among the men of old; and one begat Kamiros, and Ialysos his eldest, and Lindos: and they held each apart their shares of cities, making threefold division of their father's land, and these men call their dwelling-places. There is a sweet amends for his piteous ill-hap, ordained for Tlepolemus leader of the Rhodians at the beginning, as for a god, even the leading thither of sheep for a savoury burnt-offering, and the award of honour in games.

    Of garlands from these games hath Diagoras twice won him crowns, and four times he had good luck at famous Isthmos and twice following at Nemea, and twice at rocky Athens. And at Argos the bronze shield knoweth him, and the deeds of Arcadia and of Thebes and the yearly games Bœotian, and Pellene and Aigina where six times he won; and the pillar of stone at Megara hath the same tale to tell.

    But do thou, O Father Zeus, who holdest sway on the mountain-ridges of Atabyrios glorify the accustomed Olympian winner's hymn, and the man who hath done valiantly with his fists: give him honour at the hands of citizens and of strangers; for he walketh in the straight way that abhorreth insolence, having learnt well the lessons his true soul hath taught him, which hath come to him from his noble sires. Darken not thou the light of one who springeth from the same stock of Kallianax. Surely with the joys of Eratidai the whole city maketh mirth. But the varying breezes even at the same point of time speed each upon their various ways.



    Philammon of Athens:

    Demosthenes "Philammon did not leave Olympia without a crown, because he was not so strong as Glaukos of Karystos, or other bygone champions: he was crowned and proclaimed victor, because he fought better than the men who entered the ring against him. You must compare me with the orators of today; with yourself, for instance, or anyone you like: I exclude none."

    Aeschines was a Grecian political orator and legal scholar who lost a legal dispute with Ktesiphon over the latter’s resolution to reward hated rival statesman, Demosthenes, with a governmental golden crown. Aeschines: “And yet I am told that he intends to say that I am unfair in holding up his deeds for comparison with those of our fathers. For he will say that Philammon the boxer was crowned at Olympia, not as having defeated Glaukos, that famous man of ancient days, but because he defeated the antagonists of his own time; as though you did not know that in case the boxers the contest is of one man against another, but for those who claim a crown the standard is virtue itself; since it is for this they are crowned. For the herald must not lie when he makes his proclamation in the theater before the Greeks. Do not, then, recount to us how you have been a better citizen than Pataecion, but first attain unto nobility of character, and then call on the people for their grateful acknowledgment"


    Aristotle mentioned Philammon and boxing more than once for examples of expressive language descriptions utilizing similes or metaphors. “Approved hyperboles are also metaphors. For instance, one may say of a man whose eye is all black and blue, ‘you would have thought he was a basket of mulberries,’ because the black eye is somewhat purple, but the great quantity constitutes the hyperbole. Again, when one says, ‘like this or that,’ there is a hyperbole differing only in the wording; ‘like Philammon punching the leather sack,’ or ‘you would have thought that he was Philammon fighting the sack’; ‘carrying his legs twisted like parsley,’ or ‘you would have thought that he had no legs, but parsley, they being so twisted.’ There is something youthful about hyperboles.”



    Melankomas of Caria:

    After coming up from the harbour, we strolled over at once to have a look at the athletes, just as if the sole purpose of our trip had been to view the contests. When we got near the gymnasium we saw a number running on the track outside of it, and there was a roar as the crowd cheered them on, and we also saw the athletes who were exercising in other ways. To those, however, we thought it hardly worthwhile to pay attention, but wherever we saw the biggest crowd, there we would stroll. So we noticed a great number of people standing near the Arcade of Heracles and a stream of others coming up, and some also going away because they could not see. At first we tried to see by looking over other people's shoulders, and with difficulty managed to catch a glimpse of the head of a man who was exercising with his hands up. Then we gradually got in closer. He was a very tall and beautiful young man, and besides, the exercises he was taking made his body seem, quite naturally, still taller and more beautiful. He was giving a most brilliant performance, and in so spirited a way that he seemed more like a man in an actual contest. Then, when he stopped exercising and the crowd began to draw away, we studied him more- He was shadow-boxing.

    Closely. He was just like one of the most carefully wrought statues, and also he had a colour like well blended bronze. After he had gone, we asked one of the bystanders, an old man, who he was and the man said with a frown : " Why that is Iatrocles, the opponent of Melancomas, the only man who would not give in to him, at least, that is, if he could help it. Still he could not get the better of him, for he was always defeated, sometimes after competing for a whole day. However, Iatrocles had already given up trying, so that in the last contest here in Naples, Melankomas defeated no opponent more quickly than he did Iatrocles. But you see how confident he is now, and how large a crowd he has about him as he takes his exercise. For my part, I really believe that he feels a malicious joy at the other man's misfortune ; and naturally enough, for he knows that not only the next crown but all others are now his own." " What! " I exclaimed, " Is Melancomas dead ? " for even we knew his name at least, although we had never seen the man himself. " Yes," he replied, " he died not long ago. I believe this is the second day since he was buried." " And in what respect," I asked, " was he superior to this man and to the others also? Was it in size, or in courage? " " That man, sir," he replied, " was more courageous and bigger than any other man in the world, not merely than any of his opponents; and furthermore, he was the most beautiful. Simply on account of his beauty, for even as it was, he attracted everybody's attention whenever he went anywhere, even that of people who did not know who he was. And yet he did not dress up in fine clothes or in any other way try to attract notice rather than to remain inconspicuous; but when he was stripped, nobody would look at anyone else although many boys and many men were training. And although beauty is sure to lead to softness, even with those who arc only moderately endowed with it, beautiful as he was, he was even more remarkable for his self-control and moderation; and though despising his beauty, he none the less preserved it in spite of his rough profession. At any rate, although boxing was his specialty, he remained as free from marks as any of the runners and he had trained so rigorously and went so far beyond others in toilsome exercising that he was able to remain for two whole days in succession with his hands up, and nobody could catch him letting them down or taking a rest, as athletes usually do. Then he used to force his opponents to give up, not only before he himself had received a blow but even before he had landed one on them. For he did not consider it courage to strike his opponent or to receive an injury himself, but thought this indicated lack of stamina and a desire to have done with the contest. But to last out the full time without either being done up by the weight of his arms, or becoming out of breath, or being distressed by the heat—that, he thought, was a splendid achievement."

    " He had the right idea though," said I, breaking in. " For in war too the worst soldiers throw away their shields though they know well enough that when unprotected they are more apt to be wounded. Thus, we see, they are overcome more by their exhaustion than by their wounds." " That is just the reason," he rejoined, " why, from the time Melancomas began to compete in the Pythian games, he was the first man to our knowledge who remained undefeated, after winning the most and the greatest crowns and facing antagonists who were neither negligible nor few in number.And his own father—a very famous man, the well-known Melancomas who came from Carla and among his other victories also won at Olympia—he had surpassed before he came to manhood; for his father did not remain undefeated. However, splendid as this young athlete was, he came to a wretched end, after enduring the laborious work of athletics to the uttermost without experiencing any of the joys of life. And he was by nature so exceedingly ambitious that even on his deathbed he inquired of Athenodorus, the pancratiast, who had been his friend from boyhood, just how many days of the athletic meet were left." And as he said this, the old man burst into tears. " Ah " said I, " it is pardonable in you to grieve so excessively; he must certainly be related to you in some way." " In heaven's name no," he answered, " no relation of mine. For he was neither a blood kinsman of mine, nor was he trained by me, no, I trained one of the boys among the pancratiasts. As for him, he was a youth who competed in both wrestling and boxing.

    such a splendid fellow that all who know him felt grief at his death." " Then," said I, " you have no reason for calling him wretched. On the contrary, he must be most blessed and fortunate if he was the sort of man report makes him. It was his good fortune to come of an illustrious family, to possess beauty, and, in addition, courage, physical strength, and self control —things that are certainly the greatest blessings. But what was indeed the most surprising thing about a man is, to have remained undefeated not only by his opponents but also by toil and heat and gluttony and sensuality for the man who is going to prove inferior to none of his opponents must first be undefeated by these things. And as for pleasures, who ever enjoyed greater than he, who, being very ambitious, always won, and being admired, knew that he was admired ? And it seems to me that the gods loved him exceedingly and honoured him especially in his death, in order that he might experience none of life's great sorrows. For if his life had been spared, he would inevitably have become more ugly after being most beautiful, weaker after being strongest, and perhaps have been defeated too. But the man who passes away in the midst of the greatest blessings after the finest achievements, that man has the happiest death and you will find that in ancient times too, those whom the gods loved had a short span of life."

    " Whom do you mean? " he asked. " Achilles," I replied, " and Patroclus and Hector and Memnon and Sarpedon," 1 and as I was going on to name still others, he exclaimed " What you have said is well suited to comfort those who are in mourning, and I wish that I could listen to you longer ; but really it is high time for me to be at the training of the boy, and I am off."


    "sirs! I cannot think of anything at all to say, so great is my grief alike and my consternation at this sudden bereavement; for not only on account of the office which I hold does the disaster come home to me more than to any other citizen, but Melancomas was also a personal friend of mine beyond all others, as most of you know. And to me at least it seems an absurd custom, when citizens die, that those most deeply afflicted should be thought the most fitting persons to speak at their obsequies since those who are most grief-stricken are for that very reason incapable of speech. Moreover, I am at the time of life when all men find that, while their ability to speak is always less than it was, yet the emotions of both joy and sorrow are greatest in intensity. Since, however, a eulogy spoken by a general over a good soldier who has passed away does him a greater honour, and one spoken by any ruler a greater honour than one spoken by a private citizen, so it devolves upon me also, in view of the office I hold, to speak to the best of my ability. And it would be in keeping with the merit of the deceased and my own youth to demand of me no lengthy or studied eulogy, but praise that comes from the heart.

    In the first place, he had the good fortune to be truly well-born. For it is not because he chanced to have forebears who were rich—nay, not even if they were kings but in other respects were quite without merit—that this man was well-born. That term applies to those who have come from good parents, as this man did. For his father stood out conspicuous among all men of his time for those fairest gifts—nobility of soul and bodily strength. This is proved by the victories that he won, both at Olympia and in the other games. Then he was himself by nature's gift the most beautiful of men, not only of those of the present day but, as one may infer from his surpassing beauty of absolutely all those of all time who have been renowned for beauty, all those I mean, who were born mortal. For the majority of those who have been regarded as beautiful because they did possess comeliness in certain parts of their body afterwards have got the reputation of being beautiful; since the eye ever wishes to direct itself to the most pleasing things to the neglect of what is inferior. And certain others were not favoured by nature with a beautiful body, but a lovely prime had arrived for them, so that those who met them, succumbing thereto, called it beauty, since the hey- day of life always bourgeons in all animals and plants alike. Thousands of persons of this sort can be found who at one time seem beautiful and at another time ugly and though they please some exceedingly, with others they get no notice at all. But when it is a question of perfect and true beauty, ft would be surprising if anyone ever possessed it as this man did. For he had it in his whole body and always

    to the same degree, both before he reached years of manhood and afterward and he would never have lived long enough, even if he had reached an extreme old age, to have dimmed his beauty. And here is an indication of the surpassing quality of his beauty, not that he stood out preeminent in any company of professional men, or was admired merely by some few who saw him, no indeed, but that he was always admired when in a company of those who are perhaps the most beautiful men in the world---the athletes among whom he moved. For the tallest and most comely men, whose bodies receive the most perfect care, are these. And he was seen by practically all mankind. For there was no city of repute, and no nation, which he did not visit; and among all alike the same opinion of him prevailed—that they had seen no one more beautiful. And since he was admired by the greatest numbers, and amongst the most beautiful men he alone possessed the fame of sheer beauty, it is evident that he was blessed with what we may term a form truly divine. I therefore in the first place felicitate him for his beauty, a thing which certainly is the most conspicuous of the blessings that can fall to man, which, while being most pleasing to gods and most pleasing to men, is yet fraught with least pain to its possessor and is easiest to recognize. For while the other blessings that a man may have might easily pass unnoticed, such as courage and temperance and wisdom, unless some deed should happen to reveal them, yet beauty cannot remain hidden. For it becomes manifest the moment its possessor appears, nay, one might say that it becomes manifest even sooner, so penetrating is the impression it makes on the senses. Furthermore, most men envy all other blessings and become hostile to their possessor, but beauty makes friends of those who perceive it and allows no one to become an enemy. But if anyone says that. I am uttering an encomium Of beauty and not of the man himself, his criticism is unjust. To illustrate: it would be called a eulogy of a man if we should dwell upon his manly courage. Very well, then when it is a matter of dispute as to whether a person possesses any given quality, then it is necessary to prove he does ; but when he is known to possess it. we need only to praise the nature of the good trait which is admittedly his. For the eulogy of this will be at the same time also a eulogy of its possessor. And what is most admirable in Melankomas is that, with all his beauty of figure, he surpassed in manly courage. Indeed, it seems to me that his soul vied with his body and strove to make herself the means of his winning a greater renown. He therefore, recognizing that, of all the activities conducive to courage, athletics is at once the most honourable and the most laborious, chose that. Indeed, for the soldier's career no opportunity existed, and the training also is less severe. And I for my part would venture to say that it is inferior also in that there is scope for courage alone in warfare, whereas athletics at one and the same time produce manliness, physical strength, and self-control. Furthermore, he chose, not the easiest branch of athletics, but the most laborious, since he trained for boxing. Now it is difficult to reach the top even in the humblest branch, let alone to surpass all others in the greatest and most difficult one, as this man did. To give the full record, one after another, of his crowns and the contests in which he won them is superfluous in the presence of you who know of them, and especially since anyone could name others who gained these same victories. But that which has fallen to the lot of no one else, although you are aware of it as well as I, yet for that very reason must be mentioned for even those who do not know of it also find it difficult to credit. I mean that, although he met so many antagonists and such good ones, he went down before none of them, and was himself always victorious Yet you could find in all the past no general who was never defeated, no hero in war wlio did not actually some time or other flee from battle. For one could not say of our friend that he remained undefeated simply because he died early, since, after all, he went through far more contests than anyone else and the chance of losing depends upon the attempts made and not upon the length of life. Furthermore, a person might have been amazed at this—that he won all his victories without being hit himself or hitting his opponent, so far superior was he in strength and in his power of endurance. For often he would fight throughout the whole day, in the hottest season of the year, and although he could have more quickly won the contest by striking a blow, he refused to do it. thinking that it was possible at times for the least competent boxer to overcome by a blow the very best man, if the chance for making it were offered; but he held that it was the truest victory when he forced his Opponent, although uninjured, to give up; for then the man was overcome, not by his injury, but by himself; and that for an adversary to give up because of the condition of his whole body and not simply of the part of his body that was struck, meant brilliant work on the part of the victor; whereas the man who rushed in to win as quickly as possible by striking and clinching was himself overcome by the heat and by the prolonged effort. But if anyone does not look at the matter in this light, let him reflect that boars and stags, as long as their strength holds out, do not come to close quarters with either men or dogs, and that it is only when they give out from exhaustion that they come in close and prefer wounds and death to enduring the fatigue of pursuit any longer. It is the same with men in war, although they know well that they are more likely to be struck when in flight than when they stand their ground, yet because they are unwilling to suffer distress through weariness any longer, they retire, in this way exposing themselves to the blows of their enemies in their rear. Therefore contempt for wounds is not a mark of courage but of the opposite. So I think that under one and the same head everything has been said, not only about manliness and courage, but also about selfcontrol and about temperance. For if Melancomas had not been self-controlled and temperate, I imagine that he would not have been so superior in strength, even if nature did make him the strongest man.

    And for my part I should not hesitate to say that even of all the ancient heroes whose praises everyone chants, he possessed valour inferior to none, inferior neither to those who warred at Troy nor to those who in later times repulsed the barbarians in Greece. Indeed, if he had lived in their day, his deeds would have matched theirs. And, speaking generally, I give athletics the preference over distinction in warfare on the following scores: first, that the best men in athletics would distinguish themselves in war also; for the man who is stronger in body and is able to endure hardship the longer time is, in my opinion, he who, whether unarmed or armed, is the better man; second, it is not the same thing to contend against untrained opponents and men who are inferior in every way, as it is to have for one's antagonists the best men drawn from the whole inhabited earth. Besides, in war the man who once conquers slays his antagonist, so as not to have the same opponent the second time; whereas in athletics the victory is just for that one day, and afterwards the victor has for his opponents, not only the men he has beaten, but anyone else who cares to challenge. Further, in athletics the better man proves superior to the inferior man, since he must conquer with nothing else but his courage and physical strength; while in war the might of steel, which is much superior to mere human flesh, does not allow the excellency of men's bodies to be tested and often takes the side of the inferior man. Moreover, everything that I have said about athletics I have also said about one who as an athlete, aye, and one who has been proved to be the best of the men in that profession; and perhaps both for me and for this audience my speech may appropriately show that this is for the best. Now since his was beauty of body, his was courage and a stout heart and, besides, self-control and the good fortune of never having been defeated, what man could be called happier than he? And yet for a man like him these twin virtues, courage and self-control, are most difficult to achieve since beauty is stronger than any other influence to make people conceited and to entice them to a life of luxury and case, as though they had no need of any other glory when they are noted for their comeliness, and as though an idle life were more pleasant. And one might find in reckoning over the most beautiful men of former times from the beginning that the great majority of them did no deed which gave proof of manliness or of virtue in general. Nay, while in the cane of Cloarrmede they thought it was because he disappeared from Lhesigh!. of man when a boy that he did not perform any brilliant exploit; yet regarding Adonis, or Phaon, or similar men, all of whom gained extraordinary fame for their loveliness, we hear nothing except about their beauty. The only exceedingly beautiful men who were brave that we can mention were Theseus and Achilles, and these men did not have very much self control for otherwise the former would not have carried off Helen by force, and the other would not have quarrelled at Troy for the reasons that he did. Hippolytus did have self control, but it is not clear whether or not he had manly courage, since hunting is no real proof of it. But the man who actually gained all the blessings found among mankind must be worthy to be accounted happy in his death also. For if the longest possible time were best for man, we might well have lamented over him in that regard; but as it is, seeing that all the life given to man is but short, you will find that with very many men it would have been much better if they had died sooner, so many are the misfortunes that overtake them. Again, in the case of the most eminent men of ancient times, history tell us that none of them reached a great age, neither Patroclus nor Antilochus, and further, neither Sarpedon, nor Memnon, nor Achilles, nor Hippolytus, nor the Boeotians, Otus and Ephialtes, who, Homer says, were the tallest and handsomest men ever born next to Orion, nor Orion himself. But these men perished owing to their folly, while the others whom I have mentioned were called by men children and offspring of gods. Now the gods would not have given an early death to their own children and those whom they especially loved if they did not consider this a good thing for mankind.

    Therefore, sirs, you should take these considerations into account and regard him as blessed, and should yourselves therefore be none the less eager for toil and the distinction it brings since you may be sure that if it should be anyone's lot to die too soon, he will be without part in any of these blessings for the man who gains fair renown departs laden with blessings. Come then, train zealously and toil hard, the younger men in the belief that this man's place has been left to them, the older in a way that befits their own achievements; yes, and take all the pride in these things that men should who live for praise and glory and are devotees of virtue. And as for the departed, honour him by remembrance, not by tears; for that tribute would not be a seemly one for noble men to give a noble man, nor should I commend Homer for caving that the sands and their armour were bedewed the tears of the Achaeans.However, he aimed rather to give poetic pleasure when he pictured excessive lamenting, but do bear your grief with self control.



    King Varazdat:

    In the 4th century Armenia was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. The Sassanid King Shapur II conspired to replace the Arsacid dynasty with a non-Arsacid but still Armenian dynasty. Following the murder of King Papes, Valens, the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378, sent Varazdat, a nephew of Pap, who as a young man was highly reputed for his mental and physical gifts, to hold the Armenian throne. Shapur II, having failed on the battlefield, now proposed to Valens in 375 that Armenia be divided between the two powers. The emperor rejected the proposal but sent two legates, Victor Magistrianus and Urbicius of Mesopotamia to the Persian king to discuss the question. Shapur II was told that his demands were unjust because the inhabitants of Armenia had been granted the right to live according to their decisions. Shapur II was also told that unless Roman troops assigned to protect the Iberian king in the west were allowed to pass unhindered, Shapur II would be forced into war with Rome. Valens was confident of this threat because he was counting on filling the ranks of his army with auxiliaries from the Goths that he had permitted to settle in Thrace. The two legates made a blunder during their return trip by accepting two regions, Asthianene and Belabitene, under Roman rule without proper authorization. This gave Shapur II a new bargaining chip to revive negotiations and in late 376 he sent Suren with an embassy offering Valens these two regions illegally accepted by the legates in exchange for Roman concessions. Suren was sent back with the message that Rome was unwilling to negotiate and would launch a tripartite invasion of Persia the following spring in 377. Shapur II responded by seizing back Asthianene and Belabitene and harassed the Roman troops in western Iberia. The Goths revolted in early 377 and Valens was forced to negotiate, eventually withdrawing Roman forces from Armenia in order to use them against the Goths. Valens himself died fighting the Goths in August 378 during the Battle of Adrianople paving way for Theodosius I to become East Augustus and then later the Emperor of both east and west Rome.

    The Roman emissary was tricked into exceeding the bounds of their authority in agreeing to the Persian proposal. In the meantime, the internal condition of Armenia was imperiled through friction between King Varazdat and the nakharars, culminating in the assassination of Musel Mamikonian, the leader of the latters' party. Manuel, the son of Musel, took up arms against the King and compelled him to flee from Armenia in 378, after four years of reign. Varazdat sought refuge in Rome. According to David Marshall in Armenia: Cradle of Civilization Valens sent Varazdat to the British Isles. His life was saved, but the country was thrown into confusion. The Persians took advantage of the turmoil and invaded Armenia; but their occupation was a short-lived one. Manuel formed a new provisional government allied with Persia. Shapur II garrisoned a 10,000 man army in Armenia under Suren, much like Valens in 377. Shapur II died in 379, and the Persians evacuated in haste. Manuel, the dynamic Mamikonian, had rallied a formidable national force for action. According to Faustus of Byzantium, Manuel was convinced that the Persian ruler was plotting against him and attacked the Persian emissary Suren and his 10,000 troops. Manuel decimated Suren's army but allowed Suren to live and leave. This led to an invasion of Armenia by the Persian forces. Armies under generals such as Varaz were sent to invade Armenia but were defeated by Manuel. According to Faustus, this led to seven years of peace for Armenia.He raised Arshak III and Vologases to the throne as co-kings of Armenia, under the nominal regency of their mother Zarmandukht. To end the political anarchy in the country, as Manuel was now the powerful regent-in-charge of Armenia, he married Arshaks III to his daughter Vardandukht. Manuel died in 385. Arshak III was king of Armenia until his death in 387.

    I failed to find confirmation for David Marshall assertion that Valens had sent Varazdat to the British Isles or even details on it. Had Emperor Valens sent Varazdat to the British Isles just before being killed at the battle of adrianople one has to wonder when did Varazdat return to Rome and why was he boxing in the Olympics rather than fighting for his throne. There are two sources for Varazdat being a champion. The first is Moses of Chorene's History of Armenia which had been known to historians for centuries, but was considered a unreliable information until 1994 when a golden plaque was unearthed in an ancient athlete's clubroom for the Olympics which lists champions from the first century to 385. David Marshall's book was written in the 70s under the understanding that Moses was probably wrong but since the 90s the historical community has done an about face on Moses of Chorene's records. So perhaps David's assertion should be discounted because according to Mister Marshall's book he believes Varazdat was sent to the British Isles and died there in obscurity without ever returning to fight for his throne or in the Olympics however according to Moses in The History of Armenia not only did Varzadat compete in the Olympics which is validated by a golden plaque, but was imprisoned and sent to Thule by Emperor Theodosius for attempting to marry his way back to power. However, Moses does not provide us with any dates or much detail.

    Moses of Chorene:

    But the well-deserving Augustus Theodosius, called the Great, in his twentieth year made king of Armenia in succession to Pap a certain Varazdat from the same Arsacid family. This Varazdat was young in years, spirited, personable, strong, full of all deeds of valor, and very expert at archery. Earlier he had fled from Shapuh to the emperor's court and had become a noted champion first by winning the pugilistic contest at Pisa, and then at Heliopolis in Hellas at midday he had killed lions, for which he was praised and honored by the contestants at the Olympic games.

    And as for his valor and bravery against the nation of the Longobards, I am bold to say that he was the equal of Saint Trdat for when five heroes from among the enemy attacked him, he killed them one after the other with the sword; and coming to some fortress he shot with arrows seventeen men on the wall, knocking them down one after the other like early-ripening fig trees blown down by a violent storm. He came as king to our country in the fifty-fifth year of Shapuh. In his first battle he encountered some Syrian brigands in the passes of Miran and putting them to flight he pursued them closely. But they crossed the Euphrates by the bridge at a narrow point and threw down the planks behind them. However. when he came up he jumped over the Euphrates, surpassing the long jump of twenty-two cubits by Chion the Laconian.There one could see a new Achilles jumping over the Scamander River. Terrified by this the brigands threw down their arms and surrendered.

    Therefore, as in his youth he had steeped himself in valiant deeds, likewise during his reign he did not heed the advice of the commanders of the Greek army. So he sent messengers to Shapuh saying that if he would give him one of his daughters to wife he would restore to him the land of Armenia. When the Greek generals became aware of this they warned the emperor. Then Emperor Theodosius ordered him to he arrested if he did not come of his own will at the emperor's summons. Therefore, under pressure, he went of his own will, hoping to deceive the Augustus. The emperor did not even honor him with an audience, but had him taken in iron bonds to T'ule, an island in the Ocean.

    From Moses's account of things and the dates given to us by the golden plaque it seems to me in 385 Varazdat was very much in the court of the Roman Emperor becoming a boxing champion and slaying lions. I assume the first "Shapuh" mentioned by Moses is Shapur II who you remembered conspired to remove Varazdat's dynasty setting into motion Vatazdat's exile from Armenia at the hands of Manuel and taking refuge in court of Emperor Valens and possibly being sent to the British Isles. I assume the later Shapur Moses mentions as "Shapuh" when speaking about Theodosius having Varazdat arrested is Shapur III son of the Shapur II because Shapur II died in 379 and Shapur III was the sasanian king from 383 to 388. Given Manuel Mamikonian died in 385 and the king he installed, Arshak III, died in 387 I don't think it's a great leap to suggest Varazdat was conspiring with or attempting to conspire with Shapur III to return their dynasties to power in Armenia and was exiled by Theodosius sometime between 387 and 388 for it. However, I have no sources for that. I couldn't find anything to confirm or debunk my theory.

    I feel it's unlikely Moses would mean Shapuh as one individual man throughout his account because the use of names as titles like Augustus in Rome and because no single Shapur fits the entire description. Shapur III couldn't have helped Varazdat when dealing with Manuel and Shapur II was too dead to conspire a way back to the Armenian throne after Varazdat became champion. Shapur I and Shapur IV's lives are entirely too far removed from Varazdat's own to possibly be considered. It seems occam's razor points to Moses saying Varazdat fled from Shapur II to the court of the Emperor, became a boxing champion and a bit of a hero, attempted to regain his throne through marriage with a daughter from Shapur III and was exiled from Rome for it.

    There's only three real sources for Varazdat from which all other works have derived their information, and while the three are not contradictory they do leave gaps. That said, I was able to pick up snippets for other sources to beef up the material and connect the three in a manner I believe is half decent. The three main sources for Varazdat are Moses of Chorene's "History of Armenia". Faustus of Byzantium "History of Armenians" and a mysterious bronze plaque that was excavated in the athlete’s clubhouse at Olympia in 1994 which listed winners from the first century A.D. to A.D. 385. To aid those sources I used Africanus, Aristotle, Eusebius, David Marshall's Armenia: Cradle of Civilization, and David C. Young's A Brief History of The Olympic Games. I may have quoted other books when looking at Valens and Theodosius's bits but other than a variant in word choice there isn't anything that I mention that can't be derived from one of the sources or one of the Davids' books.

    I don't remember where I picked it up, but I'm pretty sure Varazdat means something to the effect of Boar Giver or some such similar.




    Demarchos of Parrhasia:

    Victory of the Olympiad in the year 400 BC

    Pausanias: Description of Greece - As to the boxer, by name Damarchos, an Arcadian of Parrhasia, I cannot believe what romancers say about him, how he changed his shape into that of a wolf at the sacrifice of Lycaean Zeus, and how nine years after he became a man again. Nor do I think that the Arcadians either record this of him, otherwise it would have been recorded as well in the inscription at Olympia, which runs: This statue was dedicated by Damarchus, son of Dinytas, Parrhasian by birth from Arcadia.

    The festival of Lycaea involved human sacrifice to Zeus. A young boy was killed and then consumed by one of the participants, in this case by Damarchus, and as a result Zeus would transform the cannibal into a wolf.

    According to Pausanias the werewolf could once again live as a man provided he abstained from human flesh for nine years; if however the wolf tasted the flesh of a man he would remain a beast forever.

    Augustine and Pliny agree with the main aspects of the story but claim the requisite waiting period was ten years, not nine.

    The story is briefly alluded to in Plato’s masterpiece, The Republic, however in Plato's version there is no suggestion that the change could be undone.



    This concludes the Marchegiano Ancient Hellenistic Boxing novella.

    I do hope someone finds something in here interesting.

    Comment


    • #3
      Boxing been in the Olympic games for all those years, then a corrupt company ruins everything....

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by noorj View Post
        ...competitors were completely nude aside from strips of leather-based wrapped around their own wrists, called oxys.
        lol at this barbaric people :gay:

        Comment


        • #5
          I learned a lot about boxinging in the Ancient world.
          Now I just gotta look up pro wrestling, and wet t-shirt contests.

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh the boy loving Greeks! Get me to a diner!

            How did this ancient Boxing help Valerian and Crassus?

            Parthian and Persian warriors were very mighty. And we didn't need to get naked and rub ourselves with lubes to prove it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Zaroku View Post
              I learned a lot about boxinging in the Ancient world.
              Now I just gotta look up pro wrestling, and wet t-shirt contests.
              Little did he know I would take this and make it about ancient boxing.

              Ok, not wet t-shirts, but, let's be honest you're interested in ****. Boxing has ****:

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              <-- that's helen. yep, the war were fought for them ****.



              So much is the story of the Spartan Queens

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Zmerai Khan View Post
                Oh the boy loving Greeks! Get me to a diner!

                How did this ancient Boxing help Valerian and Crassus?

                Parthian and Persian warriors were very mighty. And we didn't need to get naked and rub ourselves with lubes to prove it.
                Persia's cool too bubba. Is that what this is about? You want us to show some love for ancient Persia?

                Can I throw Neo-Persia in? Where's the cut-off?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Zmerai Khan View Post
                  Oh the boy loving Greeks! Get me to a diner!

                  How did this ancient Boxing help Valerian and Crassus?

                  Parthian and Persian warriors were very mighty. And we didn't need to get naked and rub ourselves with lubes to prove it.
                  Are you upset that 300 Greeks humiliated the might of the Persian military? Is that what this is all about?

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                  • #10
                    Todays champs couldnt hold a candle to Ancient Greek fighters. Too technical, too tough.

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