). The term is in strictness
applied to those who contended for prizes (ἆθλα
) in the games which required strength, skill, and agility
of body, in contradistinction to those who engaged in equestrian and musical
contests; though in a general sense it is found extended even to these
(Poll. 3.143-4) and to horses (Lysias, de bonis Aristoph.
63), and is metaphorically used for one who is master in any laborious
pursuit (e. g. Plat. Rep.
543 B). We never find αθλητική
though the Latins spoke of ars
), but either
6.764), or ἄθλησις
(Dion Chrys. 1.540, Reiske), or
The contests of the athletae
were in running,
wrestling, boxing, the pentathlon, and the pancratium. Details of these will
be found in the separate articles [STADIUM; LUCTA;
PUGILATUS; PENTATHLON; PANCRATIUM]. Here we must confine ourselves
to a general sketch of the class of athletes.
In the early times in Greece athletic games were held occasionally at
festivals in honour of the gods and heroes, but especially at the funerals
of distinguished men: thus in the Iliad (xxiii.) games are held at the
funeral of Patroclus. But the warriors as a rule do not appear to have
trained specially for the games: as part of their general education, they
had been instructed in gymnastics. In this department Grecian legend told
how Hercules, Peleus, and Theseus had been celebrated (Philostratus,
1), as were also Castor and Pollux (Paus. 5.8
); but in
the Homeric age there were few who made athletics as such their special
business, though we must not forget the passage (Od. 8.164
) where Euryalus reproaches Ulysses as not being
“like an athlete,” nor that even in the Iliad (23.670
). Epeius the boxer says, “Is it
not enough that I am not skilled in battle? A man, I ween, cannot be
skilled in all pursuits.” Games were becoming fairly frequent,
and the special skill required in the contests was gradually demanding
increased application to the different branches of athletics.
But in the next age athletics became the national Hellenic sport, and never
ceased to be so till the latest times of the ancient world: for, in the
first instance, they satisfied the artistic instinct of the Greeks, as they
developed the human frame in strength and beauty. But as it was the national
sport, just as horse-racing with us, every department tended to become more
and more professionalised. The great festivals collected together the
greatest concourses of the members of the Hellenic race; and the emulation
to succeed before the immense gatherings of their countrymen, and the
extravagant honours and rewards bestowed by the cities on their citizens
when victorious, rendered victory in the games the most coveted distinction
a Greek could acquire, and so every means was resorted to in order to attain
the strength and skill necessary for success. But still those who contended,
though often of low extraction (Aristot. Rh.
b), were also often cultured men, members of the noblest
families, and men famous at home in war and politics, like Phayllus of
Croton (Hdt. 8.47
) and Dorieus of Rhodes (Paus. 6.7
professional class of athletes, however, who devoted their entire exertions
in that direction and who made their art a trade, had already arisen. These,
by increased training, greater development of the technical side of
gymnastics, and special application to details, acquired such proficiency
that it became all but hopeless for any but such a specially trained athlete
to contend in the games with any chance of success. The cultivated and upper
classes began to stand aloof, and to take part in the games chiefly by
running their chariots; while the professional athletes came to form a class
of low-born, uneducated, and vulgar men (Isocr. de Big.
34). Now, it is to these professional athletes that the term ἀθληταὶ
was most strictly applied in the
historical times; for they were those who contended for the prizes in the
games then: those who practised athletics in the old liberal but
unprofessional manner are said to have retained the generic term ἀγωνισταί.
(Pauly, i. p. 1992; yet cf. Lucian,
Frag. 1) speaks with bitter contempt of the
athletes, who, he says, are the greatest evil of the countless evils of
Hellas, who are slaves to their belly, a degenerating lot, useless in war,
unable to bear old age or misfortune--for their training is not an ennobling
training (ἔθη γὰρ οὐκ ἐθισθέντες
). On similar grounds Xenophanes (Frag. 2: Bergk, ii.p. 112),
who flourished about 540 B.C., had before strongly
censured as reckless and unreasonable the extravagant value the Greeks set
on mere strength for the games (strength which is otherwise perfectly
useless) as compared with intellectual cultivation. And he was quite right.
That pursuit which lacks the exercise of a cultivated mind, no matter how
much the majority passionately follows it, must become more and more
mechanical and vulgar, and so sink more and more in the estimation of the
cultivated classes. We see it ourselves in the case of those professionally
connected with the turf, who in many ways afford a good parallel to the
Greek professional athletes. In the excessive training the latter had to
submit to, the body was developed at the cost of the mind; and this was one
of the few cases in which the Greeks forgot their wonted moderation.
The athletic contests, just as were the “weights” in the Ring in
England, were divided into “light” (κοῦφα
) and “heavy” (βαρέα
) or “violent” (βιαια
): see Aristot. Pol.
fol.; Galen, 6.487, K.; Philostr. Gymn.
Saglio [p. 1.238]
（Dict. des Antiq.
remarks that the statues of the competitors in these two classes of contests
correspond to the types of Hercules and of Mercury, the two gods who
presided over athletics. Mercury exhibits the slight but muscular and wiry
figure of the “light” athletes, and Hercules the massive body
of the “heavy” ones. Philostratus (Gymn.
foil.) mentions other strange names of different classes of athletes: the
“eagle-like,” the “lathy” (σχιζίαι
), the “bears,” &c. The training
in each of the two main classes became severer and severer as time went on;
for more and more striking performances were expected. We hear of a rule
that the competitors at Olympia had to swear that they had diligently
devoted ten months to the recognised special training in athletics (Paus. 5.24
was to maintain that common system of athletic training which prevailed in
all Hellenic wrestling-schools (see Curtius, Hist. of Greece,
2.33, Eng. trans.). The ordinary gymnastic master who taught the youths
bodily exercises as a branch of general education was called παιδοτρίβης,
and he who trained those who were
intending to compete in the games was the γυμναστής
: but this distinction disappeared in later times
335). The γυμναστὴς
was in constant supervision of his
pupils, followed them to the games (Paus. 5.6
), where he made all necessary preparations
for their contest, and during the struggle stood by with words of
encouragement or reproach (Philostr. Gymn.
20). Just as a
physician, a trainer required implicit obedience in those for whom he
prescribed (Epictet. Enchir.
29). Subordinate to him was the
who originally, as his name
indicates, looked to the anointing of the body, but often, especially in
later times, took much more upon himself, became confused with the παιδορπίβης
(Schol. on Ar. Eq.
492), and used to prescribe the course of diet to be eaten (Aristot.
2.6, 7), and even how it was to be eaten: thus
he disapproved of too intellectual conversation (φιλολογεῖν
) during meals! (Plut. de san.
133,19.) The diet of athletes is said to have been (D. L. 8.1
cheese, dried figs, and wheat ; but Dromeus of Stymphalus (Paus. 6.7
according to others a trainer called Pythagoras (Plin. Nat. 23.63
; cf. Diog. Laert. l.c.
), introduced a meat diet. However, it is very unlikely that the
athletes were ever trained on anything but meat (see Philostr.
43). Pork was the principal meat used (Galen, 6.661),
though we find also beef (Plat. Rep.
1.338 C) and goat's
flesh (Ath. 9.402
a). Fish was considered bad
44). They probably drank water and not wine
after their exercises, as the latter was dangerous (Galen, 15.194); they had
to abstain from all cakes (Epictet. l.c.
). The bread
they ate was of a special kind (Galen, 6.180, K.), slightly leavened and
hardly baked at all (Philostr. Gymn.
43): this was perhaps
mentioned by Plautus
1.3, 12) and Juvenal (2.53). The usual course was to
eat bread for the morning meal and meat for the evening. After the morning
meal their exercises continued till the evening, interrupted only by a few
intervals (Galen, 6.168-9). Those who submitted to the severest training
(βίαιος τροφή, ἀναγκαιοφαγία,
) had to eat enormous masses of meat after the day's
exercise: two minae (= 2 2/3 Ibs.) was a very small amount for an athlete
(Galen, 8.843, K.), who generally slept it off late into the next day
(Galen, 1.28, K.), though we sometimes hear of athletes promoting digestion
by walking (Plin. Nat. 11.283
quantum of food was gradually increased (Arist. Eth. Nic.
2.6, 7); and the most ridiculous stories of the amount some of the
athletes--such as Milo, Theagenes, and others--used to eat, obtained
currency (Ath. 10.412
; cf. Theocr. 4.34). But
many athletes did really eat vast quantities of food; so much that their
appetite became proverbial (Aristoph. Peace
), and, says Pliny (Plin. Nat.
), was like a horse's; and further they got to be unable, to do
without the abnormal amount even for a day (Cic.
, 40). The aim of this excessive
eating appears to have been to acquire not so much that plump yet muscular
frame which is expressed by the verb σφριγᾶν,
and that harmonious inner development of the whole
constitution which Philostratus calls κρᾶσις,
and which he emphasises as the distinctive difference
between the former gymnastic training and the more scientific one of his own
day (42, 43, cf. 28); but to get mere mass and weight (ὄγκος καὶ βάρος
) of body, which was such an important
element in “heavy” contests like boxing and the pancratium.
Different trainers had, however, different regimens: thus Theon ordered warm
baths and diminution of food after completed exercises (Galen, 6.208); and
of course the training for runners was directed towards diminishing the
flesh (Galen, 5.905). Besides the ordinary training (κατασκευή
), there were also other treatments, consisting of
long-continued and violent movements, accompanied with shampooings by many
hands and with much oil (Galen, 6.117, 123, 222). For the obscure tetras
see Philostr. Gymn.
5.898; and Saglio, p. 518. It was a fourfold course of treatment, lasting
four days, which is not clearly enough defined, but which Philostratus
strongly disapproves of. The strictest continence was enjoined in all
athletic discipline (cf. Hor. A. P.
414), and by some
rigorously practised during the whole period of their training (Plat.
The exercises which athletes went through were the ordinary ones of the
palaestra and those required for the games; though we sometimes find
athletes going through exercises which were not departments of competition,
merely in order to increase their strength, such as putting heavy weights,
bending bars of iron, wrenching back the necks of bulls, knocking suspended
bags of sand backwards and forwards by blows of their fists (κωρυκοβολία,
&c.: cf. Lucian,
5; Philostr. Gymn.
working with a mattock (Theocr. 4.10), The athletes practised as a rule each
for a separate event (Philostr. Gymn.
43). Hence the
one-sidedness even of their physical training; and the fact that those who
trained for that event, which comprised the most varied exertions (such as
the pentathlon), were justly considered to have the best-proportioned frames
(Aristot. Rh. 1.5
). But sometimes the
athletes attempted more than one: for it was considered a great honour to be
victorious at Olympia in both wrestling and in the pancratium on the [p. 1.239]
same day. There were only seven such victors
besides their mythic predecessor, Hercules (Paus.
). A certain Polites conquered on the same
day in the three different kinds of races,--the stadion, the diaulos, and
the dolichos (Paus. 6.13
): and for other victories in more than a single event, see Pind. O. 13.30
Victors in the principal games were called ἱερονῖκαι;
those in the separate games, ὀλυμπιονῖκαι,
&c.; and those who were successful in
all four games were the περιοδονῖκαι.
Roman times, however, we find this latter term applied to celebrated
athletes who had been victors in a great number of games, even though they
were not the four great ones (cf. D. C. 63.8
Another strange title of distinguished athletes at Rome was παραδοξονίκης,
which was strictly applied to
those who conquered in both wrestling and the pancratium (Plut. Comp.
Cim. et Lucull.
In early times the athletes used to practise in the gymnasium,
where the young men, who had made some progress in
gymnastics and were advanced from the palaestra,
went through their ordinary unprofessional exercises.
In Roman times we find the athletes frequenting the palaestrae, the
gymnasia, xysti (covered places for use in bad weather, Vitr. 5.11
: hence athletes were
sometimes called xystici
), and the stadia.
There were exercising places in the great Roman thermae [BALNEAE
]. Athletes who had won
signal distinction in the sacred games were occasionally in Grecian cities
honoured by having special porticoes built for them to exercise in (Paus. 7.23
Originally the athletes used to contend with a girdle round their loins
or simple ζῶμα
), according to the custom of the Spartans
But very soon it became the custom to contend naked,--a custom introduced by
Orsippus (Paus. 1.44
). It was professional for Roman athletes to wear their hair tied
up in a knot called cirrus
(see figure of a
Roman athlete below), which explains a story in Suet. Nero 45
. The Greek as well as the Roman athletes used
sometimes to shave off their hair, in that tonsure which Aristophanes would
have called “the bowl crop” (σκαφίον,
838). Further, they occasionally wore, according to
), a cap (galericulum
); and as their wonderful style of boxing
consisted in swinging round their arms and not striking out straight from
the shoulder, they used to wear guards for the ears (ἀμφωτίδες
Poll. 2.83). For the battered ears of ancient boxers, see Plat.
342 B ; Mart. 7.32
He who took to the profession of an athlete seldom abandoned it before his
thirty-fifth year, which was considered the age at which he was in the prime
of manhood (Macrob. Somn. Scip.
1.4) ; but if he had never
won a victory by that time, he generally gave up the business. A successful
athlete continued to contend in the games till his strength failed (Plut. Cat. Ma. 4
); and, as might be
expected, in many cases, as he advanced in years, became a trainer of
younger men: e. g. Iccus (Paus. 6.10
The same causes which produced the excessive and one-sided training of men
produced a similar excessive training of boys. For there arose contests of
boys at the great festivals. The only distinction originally was between men
and boys (Dissen on Pind. O. 8.54
); but later
those below man's estate were divided into παῖδες
from about 13 to 16, and ἀγένειοι
from about 16 to 19 (Plat. Legg.
C). In Olympiad 37 (= 632 B.C.) there was the first contest of running and
wrestling for boys (Paus. 5.8
); in Ol. 38 (= 628 B.C.), the first and only
pentathlon (Paus. 5.9
); in Ol. 41 (= 616 B.C.), the first boxing match (Philostr.
13): but happily not till the 145th Olympiad (= 200
B.C.) the horrid pancratium (Paus. 5.8
), though we find this latter in the 61st
Pythian celebration (Paus. 10.7
); and in the Pythian games we find what we do
not find at Olympia, long races for boys (Paus.
). The training for these events
was too severe for the growing frame, and Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 5.4, 8
) raised his voice
earnestly against it, as detrimental to the development of the man, pointing
out how there were only two or three victors at the Olympic games both as
boys and as men.
But what can sober science avail against a national passion and the
extravagant praise and rewards which are bestowed on those who excel in what
the people delight to honour? To be an Olympic victor, said Cicero
13, 31), was esteemed by the Greeks as a greater
glory than a triumph at Rome. And indeed the victorious Greek athlete used
to have a kind of triumphal entry into the town his victory had ennobled
(Vitruv. ix. Pref.). Surrounded by a large crowd, sometimes with a grand
procession of chariots (Diod. 13.82
), clad in a
purple mantle like a king (Schol. on Ar. Nub.
70), he drove
into the city through a breach made in the wall for his chariot to pass
through--a symbol that cities which possessed such citizens had no need of
walls (Plut. Symp.
2.5). Then followed the banquet, during
which the victor heard his praises sung by a lyrical chorus and in verse of
the greatest poets of the day. Contests which involved the honour of such a
triumphal entry were technically called ἀγῶνες
which in early times were the four great
festivals only; but in Imperial Rome this privilege was extended to other
games (Plin. Ep. 10.119
). Solid material rewards, too, were
given. Even as reduced by Solon, the money reward the Athenians gave the
victor in the Olympic games was 500 drachmae, and 100 to the victor in any
of the other games (D. L. 1.2
; Plut. Sol. 23
sometimes he got maintenance in the Prytaneum and the honour of first seat
in the assemblies and theatre (προεδρία,
Xenophan. Frag. 2, 7, ed. Bergk). Statues were often erected to him in his
native city and at Olympia (Paus. 6.13
). In fact, Plato goes so far as to say
5.465 D) that the victor at the Olympic games
enjoyed a blessed life (βίος μακαριστός
10: cf. Pind. P.
; Cic. Tusc.
, 111) declared the honours of such a victor were as those of the
gods, and we do actually hear of a boxer being deified while alive (Plin. Nat. 7.152
). As a contrast, the
picture of the defeated competitor shows “a hateful return and
contemptuous greeting and a skulking path” (Pind. O. 8.69
). Can we wonder, then, when such
honourable rewards followed success and such humiliation followed defeat,
that there was occasionally [p. 1.240]
dealing and trafficking amongst the combatants, a rich competitor buying the
victory from a stronger but poorer one? An oath was required of the
combatants that they would not act in violation of the rules of the contest
and so bribery was comparatively rare in early times, though it became
frequent later (Philostr. Gymn.
45). It was punished by
severe fines, according to the rules of the Olympic games (Paus. l.c.
). We regard with wonder that species of bribery
which is recorded whereby a strange city paid a victorious athlete to
declare that he was their citizen, so that the city might be proclaimed as
victor; and we are not surprised that, after such falsehood, the native city
of the victor inflicted on him exile or some other mark of their indignation
Yet amongst the many judgments passed by. the ancients on the athletes, we
can hardly find any that are favourable. Allusion has been made to the
strictures of Xenophanes and Euripides, who attack them for their
uselessness to the state and want of cultivation. And even from the physical
point of view their training appeared to thoughtful men of science utterly
bad. Plato sees in the athletes a habit of body which is sleepy and very
subject to disease (Rep.
3.404 A), which is too highly and
extravagantly trained, and unfits them for social or political duties (ib.
407 B). They are without information, cultivation, or grace of manner; hard
and brutal, all violence and fierceness (ib. 410, 411). Aristotle declares
that the habit of body of athletes is not suitable for that vigorous
physical condition a citizen should have, nor for health and the procreation
of children. It is too one-sided, and the discipline which developed it is
too severe (Pol.
4.16, 3). Plutarch (de sanit. tuenda,
16, 20) disapproves of the
training generally. Galen devotes six long chapters (9-14) of his Προτρεπτικὸς Λόγος
to solemnly warning the
young men against devoting themselves to athletics, by showing what athletes
are in his opinion (1.20-39, Kühn). Man has a link, he says, with
God, and a link with the lower animals; athletics develops the latter only.
Athletes are like swine. Their flesh-sunk soul is without intellect, and no
better than the brutes (ἄλογα ζῶα
strictures on the physical side are, however, the most interesting. Owing to
their immoderate eating, sleeping, and exertion, athletes are, he says,
unhealthy. Their training is a training in disease. No class of men are more
liable to break down in health, or to sudden death (17.2, 363,
Kühn). Beauty is quite wanting in their lumpish, battered bodies.
Nor is their knock-down strength (ἰσχὺς
), though serviceable in just a few special events in
the games, of any use in agriculture or in war nor does it bring with it a
capability of enduring heat, cold, or fatigue. Nor are they ever rich: they
are wretched (ἄθλιοι
) in their lives, and
are so rightly called “athletes.” In fact, their whole
existence is one round of “eating, or drinking, or sleeping, or
evacuating, or rolling about in the mud and dust” (5.879, K.).
With such strictures, if we compare the view of Dio Chrysostom, who sees in
athletes generally, and Melancomas in particular, large beautiful bodies,
and the practice of athletes as generating courage and nobleness, strength
and temperance (Or.
29.538, 540, ed. Reiske), we must suppose
that the description, though perhaps true of Melancomas, yet was at best
only an affectionate tribute to the glory that was thought to have belonged
to the great Hellenic past, and in reality was a thoroughly ideal and false
view of the athletes of the Graeco-Roman civilization, and one which is
certainly not borne out by the repulsive portraits on the mosaic of the
Thermae of Caracalla; of which is subjoined as a specimen a single example.
The reader is referred for more hideous ones to Baumeister's
Roman Athlete. (From Baumeister.)
With Plutarch and Galen, however, we are in Roman times; and we must now
hastily review the rise of athletic games at Rome. Exhibitions of
gladiators, not of athletes, were the national sport. Cicero says to M.
7.1, 3) of the athletic contests exhibited by
Pompeius in 55 B.C.,
“Why should I think you regretted not having seen the athletes when
you have despised the gladiators?” A certain kind of athletics
had indeed been indigenous in Italy from the earliest times (Liv. 1.35
), and we hear of contests in wrestling
and boxing at the Roman games (Ter. Hecyra,
Prol. 25; Cic. Legg. 2.1. 5
38); but the whole practice was utterly unsystematic (cf. Suet. Aug. 45
), and so quite unlike the
elaborate manner in which it was cultivated in Greece (cf. Hor. Ep. 1.1
). It was from Greece that the scientific practice of athletics
came. In 186 B.C. M. Fulvius Nobilior gave the first exhibition of
professional Greek athletes at Rome (Liv.
). We do not, however, hear of a similar exhibition again till
Sulla's time (App. BC 1.99
), but there were
a few others during the last century of the republic (V. Max. 2.4
; D. C. 39.38
; Suet. Jul. 39
). Varro complains indeed of there
being a gymnasium at every villa (R. R.
2.1, 1), but this was
probably for [p. 1.241]
), not regular athletics. But
it was not till the Actian games were established by Augustus and other
periodic games (D. C. 51.1
), which comprised
gymnastic contests in their programme, that athletics got a steady footing
among the Romans. From that time these certamina
as they were called (Tac. Ann.
), became more and more popular. Nero in 60 A.D. built a
gymnasium (Suet. Nero 12
), and instituted a
new set of games called Neronia, of which athletics formed a part, as they
did also of the important Agon Capitolinus established by Domitian in 86 A.D., who further built a magnificent stadium for
athletics in the Campus Martius, large enough to hold 30,000 spectators
(Suet. Dom. 4
; Friedländer, p. 466). After this athletics gradually
attained increased prominence in the Roman games (cf. Vopisc.
19, 3), till finally in the fifth century they
supplanted the gladiatorial shows. Thus at the consular games of Flavius
Mallius Theodorus there were athletes, but no gladiators (Claudian,
de cons. Fl. M. Th.
288). For a full account of the Roman
athletic games, see Friedländer, op. cit.
It is highly noticeable, however, that the names of the athletes which are
preserved in inscriptions are almost all Greek ; not more than four or five
are Roman (Friedländer, p. 472). Everything connected with
athletics, technical terms and all, are Greek (cf. Juv.
). The reason is that for a long time it was considered quite
unbecoming of Roman dignity to be an athlete. The nakedness of the Greeks
offended the Roman sense of propriety (Cic.
, 70). The Romans saw the
uselessness for war of the athletic training, for they themselves had been,
as Polybius says (1.6, 6), “the true athletes in the feats of war,
trained in contests with the Samnites and Gauls.” They saw
further that it was a training too in laziness and vice, one more example of
the invasion of the pernicious practices of the Greeks (Plin. Nat. 35.163
). (There is a large mass
of evidence on Roman adverse opinion of gymnasia in Mayor on Juv. 3.68
.) But, like all things Greek, athletics
continued to grow in popularity, especially from the time of Nero.
Professional athletes used to give lessons for high pay (Mart. 7.32
), even to women (Juv.
); were often found among the
attendants of great houses (Mart. 3.58
) ; statues were erected to them (Plin. Nat. 35.5
), &c. M. Aurelius
was a regular frequenter of the palaestrae (Galen, 6.406), and so was
Alexander Severus (Lampr. Alex. Sev.
27). The athletes, as
free men (ingenui,
), always stood higher in social
estimation (Dig. 3
) than did the gladiators and actors. Later indeed
the stringency of this rule, which admitted only free men to the athletic
competitions, seems to have been somewhat relaxed, as Alexander Severus had
to reenact the law on the subject (Lampr. Alex. Sev.
the position of an actor must have been far higher in the Grecian provinces
than in Italy or the west (Friedländer, p. 480). The Olympic games
continued to maintain their glory: even Epictetus (Enchir.
29) would not disdain to be a victor thereat, “for it was a fine
). We hear of Olympic
victors being hired by the givers of spectacles for immense sums, even as
much as five talents (Dio Chrys. Or.
lxvi. = 2.351, ed.
Like all the classes in the community under the Roman empire, the athletes
crystallized into societies or guilds (σύνοδοι
). They were well organized, had presidents called
(Am. Marc. 21.1, 4), and used to make
provincial tours and give exhibitions (Friedländer, p. 475). The
chief of these societies in the second century was that of the Herculanei
(cf. C. I. G.
5906 foll.), who had their own special
gymnasium, with its council-chamber (curia,
Orelli, 2588), its records, its temple, and its president, who bore the
title of ἀρχιερεύς,
and who was also
overseer of the imperial baths. To this company a Christian called Johannes
appears to have belonged at the end of the fourth century
(Friedländer, pp. 475-6).
Augustus increased whatever privileges athletes already had in his day (Suet. Aug. 45
). Trajan fixed the remuneration
) to be given to victors at the
iselastic games (Plin. Ep. 10.119
); and a rescript of the emperors
Diocletian and Maximian (Cod. Just. 10.54
gave professional athletes who without bribery had been victorious in the
sacred games freedom from all taxes. We are told that there was not by any
means the same strictness of training among the athletes of the Roman empire
as there was in earlier times among the Greeks (cf. Philostr.
44). They are especially accused of being addicted to
wine (Sen. Ep.
15.1; Quint. Inst.
). But we must not lay
too much stress on such charges: for St. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 9.25) that
“every man who striveth in the games is temperate in all
things.” (Cf. Epictet. Enchir.
29.) But undoubtedly by
the time of Philostratus (240 A.D.) there was a marked decline
1, 2; cf. 43), which he attributes to unhealthy rules
of training, and to the fact that the medical art unduly intermeddled by
prescribing too mild a course of diet and discipline for professional
On athletics generally, the chief ancient work is Philostratus's Γυμναστικός
(see Kayser's Teubner text,
2.261-293). Modern writers are Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik der
Privatalterthümer der Griechen,
§ 36, 50; Becker-Göll, Charikles,
foll.; Grasberger, Erziehung und Unterricht im klassischen
vols. i. iii. passim; Guhl and Koner, Das Leben
der Griechen und Römer,
§ 52; and especially
Friedländer, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte
ii.3 459-491; M. Planck, in Pauly's
Bussemaker and Saglio, in
Dict. des Antiquités;
and Blümner, in
Baumeister's Denkmäler der klassischen
s. v. Athletae.