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104. The same winter also the Athenians hallowed the isle of Delos, by the admonition indeed of a certain oracle. For Pisistratus also, the tyrant, hallowed the same before; not all, but only so much as was within the prospect of the temple. But now they hallowed it all over in this manner. [2] They took away all sepulchres whatsoever of such as had died there before, and for the future made an edict that none should be suffered to die nor any woman to bring forth child in the island; but [when they were near the time, either of the one or the other] they should be carried over into Rheneia. This Rheneia is so little a way distant from Delos that Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos, who was once of great power by sea and had the dominion of the other islands, when he won Rheneia dedicated the same to Apollo of Delos, tying it unto Delos with a chain. [3] And now after the hallowing of it, the Athenians instituted the keeping, every fifth year, of the Delian games.

There had also in old time been great concourse in Delos, both of Ionians and of the islanders round about. For they then came to see the games, with their wives and children, as the Ionians do now the games at Ephesus. [4] There were likewise matches set of bodily exercise and of music; and the cities did severally set forth dances. Which things to have been so, is principally declared by Homer in these verses of his hymn to Apollo:

But thou, Apollo, takest most delight
In Delos. There assemble in thy sight
The long-coat Ions, with their children dear
And venerable bedfellows; and there
In matches set of buffets, song, and dance,
Both show thee pastime and thy name advance.
[5] That there were also matches of music and that men resorted thither to contend therein he again maketh manifest in these verses of the same hymn. For after he hath spoken of the Delian dance of the women, he endeth their praise with these verses, wherein also he maketh mention of himself:
But well: let Phoebus and Diana be
Propitious; and farewell you, each one.
But yet remember me when I am gone:
And if of earthly men you chance to see
Any toil'd pilgrim, that shall ask you, Who,
O damsels, is the man that living here
Was sweet'st in song, and that most had your ear?
Then all, with a joint murmur, thereunto
Make answer thus: [6] A man deprived of seeing;
In the isle of sandy Chios is his being.
So much hath Homer witnessed touching the great meeting and solemnity celebrated of old in the isle of Delos. And the islanders and the Athenians, since that time, have continued still to send dancers along with their sacrificers; but the games and things of that kind were worn out, as is likely, by adversity till now that the Athenians restored the games and added the horse race, which was not before.

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load focus Notes (Charles F. Smith, 1894)
load focus Notes (E.C. Marchant, 1909)
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load focus Greek (1942)
load focus English (Benjamin Jowett, 1881)
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