Greek Athletics in the Roman World: Victory and Virtue (Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation)

Greek Athletics in the Roman World: Victory and Virtue (Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation)

Zahra Newby

Language: English

Pages: 329

ISBN: 0199279306

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The enduring importance of Greek athletic training and competition during the period of the Roman Empire has been a neglected subject in past scholarship on the ancient world. This book examines the impact that Greek athletics had on the Roman world, approaching it through the plentiful surviving visual evidence, viewed against textual and epigraphic sources. It shows that the traditional picture of Roman hostility has been much exaggerated. Instead Greek athletics came to exercise a profound influence upon Roman spectacle and bathing culture. In the Greek east of the empire too, athletics continued to thrive, providing Greek cities with a crucial means of asserting their cultural identity while also accommodating Roman imperial power.

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of Olympia may in part be due to a desire to modify or challenge other constructions of Greece, such as the Athenocentric version propagated especially by Hadrian. However, his discussion of the Olympic victory monuments which were scattered throughout the cities of Greece, and the ways in which a victory at Olympia serves to justify not only individual, but also civic, claims to identity, can also be traced elsewhere, in other literary texts such as Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius, as well as

Aravantinou, ‘Frammento di sarcofago’, 82. 121 A. D. Nock, ‘Sarcophagi and Symbolism’, AJA 50 (1946), 140–70; J. A. North, ‘These He Cannot Take’, JRS 73 (1983), 169–74. For discussions of the debate over the interpretation of funerary imagery see R. Turcan, ‘Les sarcophages romains et le problème du symbolisme funéraire’, in ANRW 16.2 (1978), 1700–35, and B. C. Ewald, ‘Death and Myth: New Books on Roman Sarcophagi’, AJA 103 (1999), 344–8. 122 J. Huskinson, Roman Children’s Sarcophagi: Their

the epigraphic record as being prominent at Rome in the early third century. Alexander was high priest of the athletic synod and Helix a victor in the Capitoline games of ad 218.61 The presence of such an image in an inn seems less to suggest a parallel between the viewers and the athletes, as the mosaics in the baths do, and can rather be compared with images on 57 See Carandini, Ricci, and de Vos, FilosoWana, 284–91, room 45a and b. Similar crowns are shown in the mosaic of female athletes,

visualizing athletics in the roman baths 73 Figure 3.13 The Farnese Heracles statue was found at the entrance to the frigidarium of the Baths of Caracalla at Rome, placed on the route which a bather would take from the palaestra to the frigidarium. The burly physique likens it to the mosaic images in the palaestra, forging a link between contemporary athletes and their patron deity. H: 3.17m. Severan copy of an original attributed to Lysippus. as scholars have noted, these Severan works also

writes about a banquet held by the emperor to celebrate the Saturnalia in which he declares that he was served wine as if by Ganymede himself: ‘these bestow pale wines; you would think them so many Idaean attendants’.156 Ganymede returns again in a second poem, written in thanks to Domitian for hosting a banquet for senators and knights in his palace on the See also Stewart, Art, Desire, 200–2 on the erotic attractions of the original satyr statue. See Liverani, Antiquarium, 71. 153 The

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