The End of Greek Athletics in Late Antiquity (Greek Culture in the Roman World)

The End of Greek Athletics in Late Antiquity (Greek Culture in the Roman World)

Language: English

Pages: 405

ISBN: 1107050782

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book presents the first comprehensive study of how and why athletic contests, a characteristic aspect of Greek culture for over a millennium, disappeared in late antiquity. In contrast to previous discussions, which focus on the ancient Olympics, the end of the most famous games is analysed here in the context of the collapse of the entire international agonistic circuit, which encompassed several hundred contests. The first part of the book describes this collapse by means of a detailed analysis of the fourth- and fifth-century history of the athletic games in each region of the Mediterranean: Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Italy, Gaul and northern Africa. The second half continues by explaining these developments, challenging traditional theories (especially the ban by the Christian emperor Theodosius I) and discussing in detail both the late antique socio-economic context and the late antique perceptions of athletics.

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possible by Christof Schuler, Rudolf Haensch, and the Jacobi Stiftung. Earlier versions of some chapters have been published as separate articles after being presented at conferences in Bloomington, Vienna, Exeter, and Nijmegen (Remijsen 2012, 2014, 2015a, and 2015b in the bibliography), and thus profited from the feedback of various respondents. Additionally, my research was aided by the kindness of several scholars who gave me access to their unpublished work, especially Ine Jacobs, Johannes

belonging to the Asklepios sanctuary, some lowquality restorations can be dated to the third and fourth centuries. The complex was abandoned with the rest of the sanctuary about 360–370.121 The gymnasium of Samos, which was attached to the stadium, was extensively renovated in the late third century. These works focused mainly on the baths, however, and even blocked the entrance to the palaistra, which seems to have gone out of use. The abandonment of the baths followed after an earthquake in the

unconscious, preconceptions. The traditional approach: a normative definition of decline The first academic studies of Greek athletics appeared in the nineteenth century.7 The popularity of contemporary sports, especially in Germany (‘Turnen’) and England (‘amateur athletics’), were a major factor in this development. Sources used by the pioneers of the field were, besides a few statues, mainly literary texts, such as the victory odes of Pindar or Pausanias’ books 5 and 6. These works of art and

unconscious, preconceptions. The traditional approach: a normative definition of decline The first academic studies of Greek athletics appeared in the nineteenth century.7 The popularity of contemporary sports, especially in Germany (‘Turnen’) and England (‘amateur athletics’), were a major factor in this development. Sources used by the pioneers of the field were, besides a few statues, mainly literary texts, such as the victory odes of Pindar or Pausanias’ books 5 and 6. These works of art and

Paneia, and the games at Hermopolis) took place in the winter between the third and fourth year of the Olympiad and in this way attached themselves to the circuit of the main Syrian games in the fourth year.28 Most Egyptian contests are not attested in agonistic inscriptions, however, as their catchment area was regional; they attracted 23 24 25 26 27 28 of this city shortly before the grant of polis status. These races were organized by gymnasium officials, the kosmetai. P.Oxy. IV 705

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