« FöregåendeFortsätt »
blows, and of avoiding them with success. In wrestling it was not permitted to strike with the hand, nor in boxing to seize each other in the manner of the wrestlers; but in the Pancratium, it was not only allowed to make use of all the gripes and artifices of wrestling, but the hands and feet, and even the teeth and nails, might be employed to conquer an antagonist.
This combat was the most rude and dangerous. A Pancratiast in the Olympic games, called Arrichion, or Arrachion, perceiving himself almost suffocated by his adversary, who had fast hold of him by the throat, at the same time that he held him by the foot, broke one of his enemy's toes, the extreme anguish of which obliged him to ask quarter at the very instant Arri. chion himself expired. The Agonothetæ crowned Arrichion, though dead, and proclaimed him victor. Philostratus has left us a very lively description of a painting which represented this combat.
Of the Discus, or Quoit. The Discus was a kind of quoit of a round form, made sometimes of wood, but more frequently of stone, lead, or other metal, as iron or brass. Those who used this exercise were called Discoboli, that is, flingers of the Discus. The epithet, which signifies borne upon the shoulders, given this instrument by Homer, sufficiently shews that it was of too great a weight to be carried from place to place in the hands only, and that the shoulders were necessary for the support of such a burden any
space of time.
The intent of this exercise, as of almost all the others, was to invigorate the body, and to make it
more capable of supporting the weight and use of
In war they were often obliged to carry such loads, as appear excessive in these days, either of provisions, facines, pallisades; or in scaling of walls, when, to equal the height of them, several of the besiegers mounted upon the shoulders of each other.
The Athletæ, in hurling the Discus, put themselves into the best posture they could, to add force to their cast. They advanced one foot, upon which leaning the whole weight of their bodies, they poised the Discus in their hands, and then whirling it round several times almost horizontally, to add force to its motion, they threw it off with their joint strength of hands, arms, and body, which had all a share in the vigor of the discharge. He that fung the Discus farthest was the victor.
The most famous painters and sculptors of antiquity, in their endeavours to represent naturally the attitudes of the Discoboli, have left posterity many masterpieces in their several arts. Quintilian exceedingly extols a statue of that kind, which had been finished with infinite care and application by the celebrated Myron. i« What can be more finished, or express more happily the muscular distortions of the body in the exercise of the Discus, than the Discobolus of Myron ?”
Of the Pentathlum. The Greeks gave this name to an exercise composed of five others. It was the common opinion, that those five exercises were wrestling, running, leaping, throwing the dart, and the
i Quid tam distortum et elaboratum, quam est ille Discobolus Myroais? Quintil. lib. i. cap. 13.
Discus. It was believed that this sort of combat was decided in one day, and sometimes the same morning: and that the prize, which was single, could not be given but to the victor in all those exercises.
The exercise of leaping, and throwing the javelin, of which the first consisted in leaping a certain length, and the other in hitting a mark with a javelin at a certain distance, contributed to the forming of a soldier, by making him nimble and active in battle, and expert in Ainging the spear and dart.
Of races. Of all the exercises which the Athletæ cultivated with so much pains and industry for their appearance in the public games, running was in the highest estimation, and held the foremost rank. The Olympic games generally opened with races, and were solemnized at first with no other exercise.
The place where the Athletæ exercised themselves in running, was generally called the Stadium by the Greeks; as was that wherein they disputed in earnest As the list or course for these
games was at first but one * Stadium in length, it took its name from its measure, and was called the Stadium, whether precisely of that extent, or of a much greater. Under that denomination was included not only the space in which the Athletæ ran, but also that which contained the spectators of the gymnastic games. The place where the Athletæ contended, was called
for the prize.
* The Stadium was a land measure among the Greeks, and was, according to Herodotus, 1. ii. e. 149, six hundred feet in extent. Pliny says, lib. i. c. 23, that it was six hundred and twenty five. Those two authors may agree, considering the difference between the Greek and Roman foot ; besides which, the measure of the Stadium varies, according to the difference of times and places.
Scamma, from its lying lower than the rest of the Stadium, on each side of which, and its extremity, ran an ascent or kind of terrace, covered with seats and benches, upon which the spectators were seated. The most remarkable parts of the Stadium were its entrance, middle, and extremity.
The entrance of the course was marked at first only by a line drawn on the sand, from side to side of the Stadium. To that at length was substituted a kind of barrier, which was only a cord straightened tight in the front of the horses or men that were to run. It was sometimes a rail of wood. The opening of this barrier was the signal for the racers to start.
The middle of the stadium was remarkable only by the circumstance of having the prizes allotted to the victors set up there. St. Chrysostom draws a fine comparison from this custom. “As the judges," says he, “in the races and other games, expose in the midst of the Stadium, to the view of the champions, the crowns which they are to receive; in like manner the Lord, by the mouth of his prophets, has placed the prizes in the midst of the course, which he designs for those who have the courage to contend for them."
At the extremity of the Stadium was a goal, where the foot races ended, but in those of chariots and horses they were to run several times round it without stopping, and afterwards conclude the race by regaining the other extremity of the lists, from whence they started.
There were three kinds of races, the chariot, the horse, and the foot race. I shall begin with the last as the most simple, natural, and ancient,
1. Of the Foot Race. The runners, of whatever number they were, ranged themselves in a line, after having drawn lots for their places. "Whilst they waited the signal to start, they practised, by way of prelude, various motions to awaken their activity, and to keep their limbs pliable and in a right temper. They kept themselves breathing by small leaps, and making little excursions, that were a kind of trial of their speed and agility. Upon the signal's being given, they few towards the goal, with a rapidity scarce to be followed by the eye, which was solely to decide the victory; for the Agonistic laws prohibited, upon the most ignominious penalties, the attaining it by any foul method.
In the simple race, the extent of the stadium was run but once, at the end of which the prize attended the victor, that is, he who came in first. In the race called diaulos, the competitors ran twice that length, that is, after having arrived at the goal they returned to the barrier. To these may be added a third sort, called dolichos," which was the longest of all, as its name implies, and was composed of several diauli, Sometimes it consisted of twenty four stadia backwards and forwards, turning twelve times round the goal.
There were runners in ancient times, as well amongst the Greeks as Romans, who were much
... Tunc rite citatos
Star. THEB. lib. vi. y. 587, 8C
και Aonx.os. VOL. 1.