). Foot-racing, being one of the most
natural, was also one of the most primitive of athletic sports. We often
read of it in the Homeric poems (e.g. Il.
ff.). In historic times, at the national festivals of Greece,
several species of it had come into vogue. We may distinguish four sorts:
) the στάδιον
(or simply δρόμος
) the δίαυλος,
) the ἐφίππιος
) the δολιχὸς δρόμος
proparox). A strange feature in these races was that
they were (according to Lucian, Anachars.
27) run not on hard
and firm ground, but over a deeply-sanded surface.
) The στάδιον
(see fig. 1) was a race in which the runners (σταδιοδρόμοι
) traversed the arena in a direct
line (whence it was called εὐφύς,
from one extremity to the other. This distance, as
measured by the Olympic stade, which became the general standard, was about
600 feet. The στάδιον
corresponds to our
“sprint,” in which the runner does the whole race at his
highest speed. Describing its origin, Philostratus (who lived in the 3rd
century A.D.) says: “When the Eleans had slain the customary victims,
and the pieces of flesh were laid upon the altar on which as yet no fire
had been kindled, the runners (οἱ
) were posted at the space of a stade from the altar,
just in front of which stood the priest, torch in hand, and acting as
umpire. Towards him they ran, and the runner who came in first received
the torch, lit the sacred fire, and was hailed as
Olympionikês.” (Philostr. Gymn.
the same writer we learn that the Olympic games up to the date of their
thirteenth celebration consisted only of this contest.
1. The Stadion. (Krause.)
) The δίαυλος,
or double course (properly= double pipe), required that
the runners (διαυλοδρόμοι
traversing the arena as in the στάδιον,
turn round a post (καμπτήρ
) and run back to
their starting-point. Hence it was called δρόμος
). Explaining the
origin of this race, Philostratus says: “When the Eleans had
sacrificed, and it became the duty of the deputies from the rest of
Greece to perform this ceremony, that the latter might lose no time in
approaching, the runners ran a stade from the altar in their direction
as if to summon the Hellenic nation, and then, without stopping, ran
back to the place they had started from as if to announce that Hellas
was about to come with joy to discharge the holy rite.” He tells
us also that the δίαυλος
did not form part
of the games until the 14th Olympiad.
) The ἐφίππιος
(as it is termed Eurip.
825) did not, as might seem from its name, signify
a horse-race, but a race of sufficient length to try the power of a horse
(see Hermann-Blümner, Privatalt.
p. 346). It was a
test therefore of endurance as well as speed, being four stades in length;
that is, twice as long as the δίαυλος.
) The true test of staying power, however, was the
or long race (vid.
fig. 2), added
2. The Dolichos. (Krause.)
to the Olympic games (according to Philostratus,
12) in Olymp. 15. The length of this race has been
variously described as 7, 12, 20, or 24 stades. We may suppose that it [p. 1.582]
differed on different occasions. Boeckh
conjectured that 7 stades was the normal length, and that, when we read of
its being 24, we must suppose the δόλιχος
to be intended. To a modern 24 stades does not appear
excessively long for a race of this kind, and Plato (Legg.
viii. p. 833apassage in which the proposer of regulations for an ideal state
seems to keep close to the limits of the actual: notice, for example, the
words καφάπερ νῦν
) would have his δολιχοδρόμοι,
though wearing heavy armour, run
60 to 100 stades over most difficult ground. Being ignorant of important
details, such as the time in which the race was run, we cannot form a
decided opinion on questions as to its length.
In the more ancient times runners, like other athletes, contended at the
games wearing a girdle (διάζωμα,
) around the waist (see Thuc. 1.6
; Plat. Rep.
p. 452 D). In
historic times, however, they competed either quite naked, or more or less
fully armed. As to the origin of the armed-race (ὁπλίτης δρόμος
), Philostratus mentions several traditions,
the most probable being that which he himself adopts as true ; viz. that,
since with the termination of the games the truce also terminated, prudence
suggested that the competitors should wear armour in the final race. The
fact of the armed-race having been generally, though not always, the last
event in the games, in some measure confirms this theory of Philostratus,
whose words are: παριέναι [τὸν ὁπλίτην δρόμον]
ἐς τοὺς ἀγῶνας πολέμου ἀρχῆς ἕνεκα, δηλούσης τῆς ἀσπίδος
ὅτι πέπαυται ἐκεχειρία, δεῖ δὲ ὅπλων.
of this race goes back into the mythical times, being attributed to Tydeus,
and the rest of the famous seven. It was practised first at the Nemean
games, and long afterwards introduced at Olympia. In it the runners bore
either helmet, shield, and greaves, or helmet and shield only (as in fig.
3. The Armed-race. (Krause.)
About the length of the ὁπλίτης δρόμος
have not much information. We gather from Aristoph. Birds 292
, with the Scholiast's note, that the
was occasionally run in armour,
and from the words of Philostratus (Gymn.
7), ἐνόπλους τε καὶ ἱππίους,
that the armed-race
was sometimes 4 stades long. Nor need the absence of positive testimony on
the point prevent us from assuming that the latter varied in length, just as
did the other races above described. Plato, as we saw, would have his
run 60 to 100 stades--an
extravagant proposal, if it were not customary in his time to run the
Competition in foot-racing was open to runners of all ages, whether boys
), striplings (ἀγένειοι
), or grown men (ἄνδρες
). See, for this division of ages, the passage in the
already referred to. Only those who belonged to
the same class, as regards age (ἡλικιῶται
were permitted to compete with one another; seniors, of course, not being
allowed to enter against their juniors. In Sparta even maidens competed.
That boys contended even in the armed-race appears from an extant vase,
representing two boys running with shields, which bear the letters ΑΘΕ,
indicating in all probability the
occasion of the Panathenaic festival (Grasberger, Die leibl. Erzieh.
bei den Griechen und Römern,
The competitors being too numerous to contend all together, were entered in
successive groups (τάξεις
); those who
should form each group, as well as the order in which the groups should run,
being determined by lot (συνταχφῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ
). When all the τάξεις
in turn had run, the victors in each were formed into one group, which ran a
final heat for the prize.
If we compare figs. 1 and 2, representing men competing in the στάδιον
respectively, we notice that in the former case the
runners wave their hands violently backwards and forwards, whereas, in the
latter, they have their elbows closely pressed against their sides. This is
in keeping with modern practice; but yet there are grounds for doubting
whether the Greeks entertained the views inculcated by modern trainers as to
the proper method of managing the hands while running. Photius has the note:
παρατεῖναι τὰς χεῖρας τὸ ἐν τῷ τρέχειν
: and it is significant that in Homer (Hom. Il. 23.772
) Athenê, in answer
to the prayer of Odysseus, rendered his hands as well as his lower limbs
nimble (γυῖα δ᾽ἔφηκεν ἐλαφρά, πόδας, καὶ
). But perhaps the words of Photius, as well
as those of Homer, refer only to sprint racing. Another variation from the
practice of modern runners is referred to by Cicero (Tusc.
2.23.56), where he speaks of them as shouting: “Nisi forte ut se
intendat ad firmitatem, ut in stadio cursores exclamant quam maxime
possunt.” But this too was, perhaps, confined to the stadium.
It is doubtless owing to their want of instruments for accurately measuring
small portions of time that the Greeks have left us scarcely any means of
computing the speed which footracers attained in the various kinds of
For some special forms of the foot-race, see LAMPADEDROMIA
We have very meagre information regarding foot-racing as practised by the
Romans. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (7.71, 73), it formed part
of the Ludi Magni from the time of their institution. He, too, tells us that
the runners wore the subligaculum
loins. In the Capitoline games (according to Dio Cassius, 67.8) young women,
after the Spartan fashion, took part in the competition. Beyond these scanty
notices and vague references to running for healthful exercise in the Campus
Martius, very little has been handed down to us. This running in the Campus
was not always competitive: that it was sometimes so, however, is plain from
( “sive levem cursu vincere
quaeris Athan” ).
For chariot-racing, see under CIRCUS
and [p. 1.583]HIPPODROMUS
(Cf. Krause, Gymnastik u.
Agonistik der Hellenen.