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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 Isthmian Games.docx

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
Charles Stocking

rd Lecture 15 Isthmian Games – 3  Festival in the Periodos Sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia - Poseidon o Brother of Zeus o God of sea and horses - Earliest evidence of sanctuary – 1050 BCE o Focus of early sanctuary: ritual, communal dining - Isthmian games were in honour of Poseidon - Not the same level of competitiveness as Olympia – more of a place of gathering History of Corinth - City-state of Corinth controlled the sanctuary of Isthmia - Early tyranny  colonies of Syracuse and Corcyra - Early classical period: good relationship with Athens and Sparta; Spartan ally - Dispute between Athens and Sparta over Megara  Peloponnesian war - Corinthian war: Athens + Thebes + Corinth + Persia vs. Sparta & allies Isthmian Games - Began in 580 BCE - Held biennially - Events: o Footraces, pentathlon, pankration o Equestrian events o Mousikos Agon - Victory crown: Pine (later changed to celery to mimic Nemean games) 1 Mythic Foundation of Isthmian Games – Melikertes/Palaimon - Anger of Hera - Hermes gave Dionysis to Ino (sister of Semele, mother of Dionysis) - Ino and Athamas driven mad by Hera - Athamas kills his elder son Learkhos - Ino throws Melikertes into a basin of boiling water and then dumps the basin and corpse into the sea, jumping in as well  they are transformed into sea gods o Ino becomes Leukothea o Melikertes becomes Palaimon - Corpse of Melikertes washes ashore and is found by his uncle Sisyphos - Isthmian games are essential funeral games for Melikertes 2 Mythic Foundation for Isthmian Games: Theseus and Imitation of the Olympic Games - Theseus establishes the Isthmian Games in honor of Poseidon, in emulation of Heracles and the foundation of the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus. - Theseus and Heracles are second cousins - Theseus does not know who his father is – Aigeus or Posiedon? But Theseus had long since been secretly fired by the glory of Hercules, held him in the highest estimation, and was never more satisfied than in listening to any that gave an account of him; especially those that had seen him or had been present at any action or saying of his. Theseus entertained such admiration for the virtue of Hercules, that in the night his dreams were all of that hero's actions, and in the day a continual emulation stirred him up to perform the like. Besides, they were related as second cousins. He also instituted the games here, in emulation of Heracles, being ambitious because the Hellenes,
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