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SOSICLES of Coronea having at the Pythian games won the prize from all the poets, we gave him an entertainment. And the time for running, cuffing, wrestling, and the like drawing on, there was a great talk of the wrestlers; for there were many and very famous men, who came to try their skill. Lysimachus, one of the company, a procurator of the Amphictyons, said he heard a grammarian lately affirm that wrestling was the most ancient exercise of all, as even the very name witnessed; for some modern things have the names of more ancient [p. 247] transferred to them; thus tuning a pipe is called fitting it, and playing on it is called striking; both these being transferred to it from the harp. Thus all places of exercise they call wrestling schools, wrestling being the oldest exercise, and therefore denominating the newer sorts. That, said I, is no good argument, for these palaestras or wrestling schools are called so from wrestling (πάλη), not because it is the most ancient exercise, but because it is the only sort in which they use clay (πηλός), dust, and oil; for in these there is neither racing nor cuffing, but wrestling only, and that part of the pancratium in which they struggle on the ground,—for the pancratium comprises. both wrestling and cuffing. Besides, it is unlikely that wrestling, being more artificial and methodical than any other sort of exercise, should likewise be the most ancient; for mere want or necessity, putting us upon new inventions, produces simple and inartificial things first, and such as have more of force in them than sleight and skill. This ended, Sosicles said: You speak right, and I will confirm your discourse from the very name; for, in my opinion, πάλη, wrestling, is derived from παλέυειν, i. e. to throw down by sleight and artifice. And Philinus said, it seems to me to be derived from παλαιστή, the palm of the hand, for wrestlers use that part most, as cuffers do the πυγμή, fist; and hence both these sorts of exercises have their proper names, the one πάλη, the other πυγμή. Besides, since the poets use the word παλύνειν for καταπάσσειν and συμπάσσειν, to sprinkle, and this action is most frequent amongst wrestlers, this exercise πάλη may receive its name from that word. But more, consider that racers strive to be distant from one another; cuffers, by the judges of the field, are not permitted to take hold; and none but wrestlers come up close breast to breast, and clasp one another round the waist, and most of their turnings, liftings, lockings, bring them very close. It is probable therefore that this exercise [p. 248] is called πάλη from πλησιάζειν or πέλας γίγνεσθαι, to come up close or to be near together.
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