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STA´DIUM (στάδιον, pl. in prose most often στάδιοι Doric σπάδιον; cf. Lat. spatium).

1. The foot-race course at Olympia and the other places in Greece where games were celebrated. It was originally intended for the foot-race, but the other contests which were added to the games from time to time [OLYMPIA] were also exhibited in the Stadium, except the horse-races, for which a place was set apart, of a similar form with the stadium, but larger: this was called the HIPPODROMUS (ἱππόδρομος).

The plan of the Olympic stadium, as discovered by recent excavations, was rectangular. This, however, is exceptional, for most others known to us were terminated at one end by a straight line, at the other by a semicircle having the breadth of the stadium for its base. Round this area were ranges of seats rising above one another in steps.

It was constructed in three different ways, according to the nature of the ground. The simplest form was that in which a place could be found which had by nature the required shape, as at Laodicea. Most commonly, however, a position was chosen on the side of a hill, and the stadium was formed on one side by the natural slope, on the other by a mound of earth (γῆς χωμα), as at Olympia, Thebes, and Epidaurus (Paus. 2.27.6; 6.20, § § 5, 6; 9.23.1). Sometimes, however, the stadium was on level ground, and mounds of earth were cast up round it to form seats, and covered with stone or marble. We have two celebrated examples of this construction in the Pythian stadium at Delphi and the Panathenaic at Athens. The former was originally constructed of Parnassian stone, and afterwards covered with Pentelic marble by Herodes Atticus (Paus. 10.32.1), who adorned in the same manner the stadium at Athens, which had been originally constructed on the banks of the Ilissus by the orator Lycurgus. The marble covering, which took four years to complete, has now disappeared, but the area is still left, with some ruins of the masonry (Paus. 1.19.7; Leake's Topography of Athens).

The stadium sometimes formed a part of the buildings of the gymnasium [GYMNASIUM], at other times it was placed in its neighbourhood, and often, as at Athens, stood entirely by itself. That at Olympia was just outside and slightly to the N.E. of the sacred enclosure called Altis.

The size of the Grecian stadia varied both in length and breadth; but this variety is possibly in some cases to be understood of the size of the whole enclosure, not of the length of the part marked out for the race; the latter would naturally have been fixed, while the former differed according to the accommodation to be provided for spectators, or the magnificence which the builder might wish to confer upon the structure. The length of the course, between the pillars which marked the beginning and the end of the race, was always 600 (Greek) feet, but the foot unit varied in size [vide MENSURA]. There was a tradition that Hercules measured it out at Olympia originally by his own foot. It is not improbable that Pheidon, who claimed to be a descendant of Hercules, and who presided as agonothete at the Olympic games, may have fixed the length of the stadium according to the standard of measure which he established.

The accounts left by ancient writers of the arrangement of the parts of the stadium are scanty, but from a comparison of them with existing remains of stadia we may collect the following particulars.

At one end a straight wall shut in the area, and here were the entrances, the starting-place for the runners, and (at Olympia) an altar of Endymion. At the other end, at or near the centre of the semicircle, and at the fixed distance from the starting-place, was the goal, which was the termination of the simple foot-race, the runners in which were called σταδιοδρόμοι: the race itself is called στάδιον and δρόμος: in the δρόμος the racers turned round this and came back to the starting-place. The starting-place and goal had various names: the former was called ἄφεσις, γραμμή, ὕσπληξ, and βαλβίς: the latter τέρμα, βατήρ, τέλος, καμπτήρ, and νύσσα. The term γραμμὴ is explained as the line along which the racers were placed before starting; ὕσπληξ, which means the lash of a whip, is supposed to have been a cord which was stretched in front of the racers to restrain their impatience, and which was let fall when the signal was given to start; the name καμπτὴρ was applied to the goal because the runners in the δίαυλος and δόλιχος turned round it to complete their course. These terms are often applied indifferently to the starting-place and the goal; probably because the starting-place was also the end of all races, except the simple στάδιον. The starting-place and goal were each marked by a square pillar (στῆλαι, κίονες κυβοειδεῖς), and half-way between these was a third. On the first was inscribed the word ἀρίστευε, on the second σπεῦδε, on the third κάμψον. The δολιχοδρόμοι turned round both the extreme pillars till they had completed the number of stadia of which their course consisted, which appears to have been different on different occasions, for the length of the δόλιχος δρόμος is variously stated at 6, 7, 8, 12, 20, and 24 stadia (Schol. ad Soph. Electr. 691).

The semicircular end of the area, which was called σφενδονή, and was not used in the races, was probably devoted to the other athletic sports. This σφενδονὴ is still clearly seen in the Ephesian and Messenian stadia, in the latter of which it is [p. 2.694]surrounded by 16 rows of seats. The area of the stadium was surrounded by the seats for spectators, which were separated from it by a low wall or podium.

Opposite to the goal, on one side of the stadium, were the seats of the Hellanodicae, for whom there was a secret entrance into the stadium (κρυπτὴ ἔσοδος), and on the other side was an altar of white marble, on which the priestesses of Demeter Chamyne sat to view the games. The area was generally adorned with altars and statues.

Such were the general form and arrangement of the Greek stadium. After the Roman conquest of Greece the form of the stadium was often modified so as to resemble the amphitheatre by making both its ends semicircular, and by surrounding it with seats supported by vaulted masonry, as in the Roman amphitheatre. The Ephesian stadium still has such seats round a portion of it. A restoration of this stadium is given in the following woodcut, copied from Krause.

Stadium at Ephesus, restored.

A is the boundary wall at the Aphesis, 77 feet deep, B C the sides, and D the semicircular end, of the same depth as A; F F the area, including the σφενδονή; b b pieces of masonry jutting out into the area; e e the entrances; from o to p is the length of an Olympic stadium; from q to z the range of amphitheatrical seats mentioned above.

The stadium at Olympia (as distinct from the area which formed the course) was, as has been already mentioned, rectangular, with a breadth of about 32 and a length of 211 metres. The foot of the embankments which enclosed the area was bordered by a ledge of stone. The area itself lay at a depth of about three metres below the level of the adjoining Altis. We may here mention a few details respecting the Olympic stadium restored to view by recent excavations. In the simple course--the στάδιον or δρόμος--the runners merely traversed once the space from the starting line to the goal. But in the double course, or δίαυλος, they traversed this space twice. The judges were stationed at the end where the goal stood. Hence runners in the δίαυλος--and also in the δόλιχος, which always consisted of an even number of στάδια--must be supposed to have started from this end, in order to finish in the immediate presence of the judges. Thus the arrangements for starting were of necessity alike at both ends. At Olympia, accordingly, a row of flags, reaching across the course at either end, formed the common basis on which the competitors took their places before starting. Standing here in a line, they were separated from one another by posts inserted perpendicularly in the stone. The sockets in which these posts stood are still visible. Each is about four Olympia feet distant from the one next to it, thus allowing ample room for that play of arms customary among ancient Greek runners.

Stadia were in later times used for other purposes than running, e. g. for wild-beast shows or hunts (κυνηγεσίαι). Hence (as appears from the ruins of the stadium at Ephesus, and from two inscriptions found in the ruins of the stadium at Laodicea) an amphitheatre was sometimes built in connexion with the stadium. The podium was built round the course, and furnished with iron rails as a protection against the wild animals.

Stadia were late in appearing at Rome. Julius Caesar erected a stadium for athletes upon the occasion of his fivefold triumph (Suet. Jul. 39). Augustus, too, seems to have built a stadium in the Campus Martins (Id. Aug. 43, 45). Domitian also is named as having founded a stadium in which young women competed for prizes in running (Id. Domit. 4 and 5). But the exercises of the stadium never attained at Rome the same degree of popularity as those of the circus and amphitheatre.

(Krause, Die Gymnastik und Agonistik der Hellenen, p. 131.14; Müller, Archäol. der Kunst, § 200; OLYMPIA

2. The word also signifies the chief Greek measure for itinerary distances, which was adopted by the Romans also, chiefly for nautical and astronomical measurements. It was equal to 600 Greek or 625 Roman feet, or to 125 Roman paces; and the Roman mile contained 8 stadia (Hdt. 2.149; Plin. Nat. 2.23.21; Columell. R. R. 5.1; Strabo vii. p.497). This standard prevailed throughout Greece, under the name of the Olympic stadium, so called because, as above stated, it was the exact length of the stadium or foot-race course at Olympia, measured between the pillars at the two extremities of the course. [p. 2.695]

As to the length of the Olympic stadium, actual measurement has now put an end to all dispute. From starting-point to goal the distance is 192.27 metres. Divided by 600, this gives .3205 metre as the length of the Olympic foot. As the Attic and Olympic foot-lengths were considerably less than this, we can understand how the fable obtained credence that the Olympic stadium was originally measured out by the foot of Hêrakles.

Respecting the origin of the stadium as unit of measurement, different opinions have been advanced. A recent view propounded by Prof. Ridgeway [for which see MENSURA p. 161] bids fair to become generally accepted. According to this, the stadium is simply the ancient furrowlength. He traces the institution of this unit back to the time when the Aryan peoples had not yet separated. (Vide, in addition to the authors above referred to, Bötticher, Olympia,2 and Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, Nos. 28, 29, 29a).

There were multiples of the measure, corresponding to the longer races; thus the δίαυλος was 2 στάδια, and the δόλιχος 6 or more. (See above.) The ἱππικὸν of 4 stadia we may presume to have been the length of one double course in the chariot-race, which would give 2 stadia for the distance between the pillars in the hippodrome. In mathematical geography, the ordinary computation was 600 stadia to a degree of a great circle of the earth's surface.

[P.S] [J.I.B]

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