Ancient Olympic Events


Philadelphia MS2444
Side A: trainer watching wrestlers
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Like the modern sport, an athlete needed to throw his opponent on the ground, landing on a hip, shoulder, or back for a fair fall. 3 throws were necessary to win a match. Biting was not allowed, and genital holds were also illegal. Attacks such as breaking your opponent's fingers were permitted.

Olympia,Palaestra: Eastern portico from N
Photograph by Michael Bennett

In one of Aristophanes's comedies, one character recommends that another rub his neck with lard in preparation for a heated argument with an adversary. The debater replies, "Spoken like a finished wrestling coach." (Aristophanes, Knights l.490ff.)

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This exhibit is a subset of materials from the Perseus Project database and is copyrighted. Please send us your comments.