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λαμπαδηδρομία, also λαμπαδηφορία). A torch-race, such as were celebrated at

Torch used in the race. (Coin in Mionnet, pl. 49, fig. 6.)

Athens, Corinth, Ceos, Syros, Amphipolis, Byzantium, and other places, in honour of different deities, and probably at any great funeral games. At Athens it took place on five special occasions: at the Promethea, in honour of Prometheus; at the Panathenaea, in honour of Athené; after the Apaturia, in honour of Hephaestus; and in honour of Bendis.

The race was run usually on foot, but sometimes on horses by ephebi. The torches were of two kinds—one a sort of candlestick, shown in the above illustration, and the other one of a more conventional kind, like that shown in the article Fax. There were two different methods of conducting the race. The first or earlier system required lines of runners (λαμπαδισταί or λαμποδηφόροι), posted at intervals, the first in each line who receives the torch, or takes it from the altar, running at his best speed and handing it to the second in his own line, and the second to the third, until the last in the line is reached, who runs with it up to the appointed spot. Of course, if any torch went out, the line to which it belonged was out of the race. The victory (νικᾶν λαμπάδι) fell to that line of runners whose torch first reached the goal alight. Assuming that all the gymnasiarchs contended on each occasion, there would be ten such lines (or, after B.C. 307, twelve), one for each tribe; but it is possible that each gymnasiarch performed his service only once a year, and that only a certain number were told off for each festival. All the runners in the winning line or chain contributed to the victory, and this may possi bly be the explanation of the well-known line of Aeschylus ( Ag. 314), “the last and the first (i. e. all alike in the chain) are successful.” The beacons are all victorious, because all belong to the successful chain of light, as in the torch-race each person in the line shares the victory.

A different kind of torch-race is described by Pausanias (i. 30.2), in which there was no handing of the torch from one to another, but several torch-bearers started, possibly one for each tribe; the first who reached the goal with his torch alight won; the competition was individual, not one chain of runners against another; and it is no doubt to such a race that inscriptions, which speak of a single victor with a single prize, refer. The race in honour of Bendis was run on horseback.

The starting-point of the race at Athens was the altar of Prometheus in the Academy, and the course was through the Ceramicus to the city, a little more than a mile. The archon basileus presided and awarded the prize.

The origin of the custom is probably to be found in the honour paid to the giver of fire, Prometheus, and after him to the deities associated with the arts in which fire is used—Athené, Hephaestus, etc. See Preller, Griech. Mythol. p. 80 (1872).

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