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ASCOLIASMUS (ἀσκωλιασμός, ἀσκωλιάζειν, the leaping upon the leathern bag, ἀσκός) was one of the many kinds of amusement in which the Athenians indulged during the Anthesteria and other festivals in honour of Dionysus. The

Ascoliasmus, dancing on a wine-skin. (From an ancient gem in Krause.)

Athenians sacrificed a he-goat to the god, made a bag out of the skin, smeared it with oil, and then tried to dance upon it. The various accidents accompanying this attempt afforded great amusement to the spectators. The competitor who kept his balance longest was proclaimed the winner, and received the skin as a reward. The game is alluded to by Virgil (Georg. 2.384), “mollibus in pratis unctos saluere per utres.” This term seems also to have included a variety of other games, the peculiarity of which consisted in hopping or standing on one leg. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Pl. 1129; Plat. Symp. p. 190, D, E; [p. 1.210]Pollux, 9.121; Suid. s.v. Hesych. sub voce Ἀσκαλιάζοντες; Aristot. Incess. Anim. 4, 8; Ael. H. V. 3.13; Varr. ap. Non. p. 21; Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik d. Hellenen, p. 399; Dennis, Etruria, ii. p. 342.)


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    • Aristophanes, Plutus, 1129
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