To this discourse of my brother's I subjoined, that I liked what he said, but could not see the reason of this order. And some of the company, thinking it unlikely that cuffing or wrestling should be a more ancient exercise than racing, desired me to search farther into the matter; and thus I spake upon the sudden. All these exercises seem to me to be representations of feats of arms and training therein; for after all, a man armed at all points is brought in to show that that is the end at which all these exercises and training aim. And the privilege granted to the conquerors—as they rode into the city, to throw down some part of the wall—hath this meaning, that walls are but a small advantage to that city which hath men able to fight and overcome. In Sparta those that were victors in any of the crowned games had an honorable place in the army, and were to fight near the King's person. Of all creatures a horse only can have a part in these games and win the crown, for that alone is designed by nature to be trained to war, and to prove assisting in a battle. If these things seem probable, let us consider farther, that it is the first work of a fighter to strike his enemy and ward the other's blows; the second, when they come up close and lay hold of one another, to trip and overturn him; and in this, they say, our countrymen being better wrestlers very much distressed [p. 250] the Spartans at the battle of Leuctra. Aeschylus describes a warrior thus,
One stout, and skilled to wrestle in his arms;and Sophocles somewhere says of the Trojans,
They rid the horse, they could the bow command,But it is the third and last, either when conquered to fly, or when conquerors to pursue. And therefore it is likely that cuffing is set first, wrestling next, and racing last; for the first bears the resemblance of charging or warding the blows; the second, of close fighting and repelling; and the third, of flying a victorious, or pursuing a routed enemy.
And wrestle with a rattling shield in hand.