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I am dedicating this page to the Olympic Victors. After all, winning is what the Olympics were and are all about.

While taking photos at the Olympia Archaeological Site, I was drawn to the sculpted and inscribed rectangular stone blocks that I saw along the paths and walkways around the Temple of Zeus. At first, I thought they were funerary stones but upon long search on the internet, I found out that they were the bases of the Olympic Victor Statues that were no longer on their pedestals. In 426 CE, Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the sanctuary and I assume is in good part responsible for the destruction of the statues.

Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, is famous for his "Description of Greece". In "Pausanias 6. 1 - 18", and in great detail, he describes around 200 statues of Olympian victors, including some of the sculptors that made them.

More recently in 1921, in the book "Olympic victor monuments and Greek athletic art", Walter Woodburn Hyde attempts to reconstruct the statues from archaeological fragments, coins, vase and wall paintings and he of course, draws from Pausanias and other authors. Since only meager remnants of these monuments have survived, the work is mainly concerned with the attempt to reconstruct their various types and poses. Here is a scholarly review of the book.

My special thanks to Dr. Michael B. Cosmopoulos, Professor of Archaeology, The Hellenic Government-Karakas Foundation, Endowed Professor in Greek Studies Department of Anthropology University of Missouri for translating the base of Julius the Athenian below.

Famous Athletes:

ASTYLOS OF KROTON: Astylos of Kroton in southern Italy won a total of six victory olive wreaths in three Olympiads (488-480 BC) in the stade and the diaulos (twice the stade) events. In the first Olympiad, he ran for Kroton and his compatriots honoured and glorified him. In the two successive Olympiads, however, he took part as a citizen of Syracuse. The people of Kroton punished him by demolishing his statue in their city and converting his house into a prison.

MILON OF KROTON: Milon, a pupil of the philosopher Pythagoras, was one of the most famous athletes in Antiquity. He came from the Greek city of Kroton in southern Italy. He was six times Olympic wrestling champion. He first won in 540 BC, in the youth wrestling event, and then five times in men's wrestling. This is a unique achievement even in today's competition context. He also won seven times in the Pythian Games, nine times in the Nemean Games, ten times in the Isthmian Games and innumerable times in small competitions. In the 67th Olympiad (512 BC), in his seventh attempt for the championship, he lost to a younger athlete, Timasitheus. There are many accounts of his achievements.

MELANKOMAS OF KARIA: Melankomas of Karia was crowned Olympic boxing champion in 49 BC, and was a winner in many other events. He went down in history for the way in which he fought. His movements were light, simple and fascinating. He would defeat his opponents without ever being hit himself, nor ever dealing a blow. He was reputed to fight for two days holding his arms out without ever lowering them. He attained his excellent competitive form through continuous and strenuous exercise.

LEONIDAS OF RHODES: Leonidas of Rhodes was one of the most famous runners in Antiquity. His was a unique achievement, even by today's standards. For four consecutive Olympiads (164-152 BC), he won three races, - the stade race, the diaulos race and the armour race. He won a total of 12 Olympic victory wreaths. He was acclaimed as a hero by his compatriots.

Books:

Links:

  1. Ancient Greek athletes
  2. Athletes and votive objects in Olympia
  3. The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. The British Muesum. PDF file.
  4. The Olympic Games in Antiquity. The Olympic Museum, 2nd edition 2007. PDF file.

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All the photos and text (except for external text quotes) are Copyright © by Jack Lupic and no reproduction is permitted.

 
 
Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription honoring Julius the Athenian. 3:32PM.

Upon request for translation of text on this base, on Jan. 6, 2013, Dr. Michael B. Cosmopoulos, Professor of Archaeology, The Hellenic Government-Karakas Foundation, Endowed Professor in Greek Studies Department of Anthropology University of Missouri wrote to me: Dear Mr. Lupic, I am not an epigraphist, so I cannot give you details about this inscription; as far as I can tell it mentions a wreath presented by the "City of the Messenians" to Julius the Athenian, son of Julius the Neapolitan. I hope this helps. Congratulations on your website, very informative. Sincerely, M. Cosmopoulos.

See also web page: Inscription honoring Julius the Athenian at Harvard and STATUES OF OLYMPIC VICTORS by PAUSANIAS.

The

 
     
Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:32PM   On the left side of the path are a number of bases that held the statues of Olympic Victors. 3:33PM.
For a close-up of the bases, click here.
  Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:54PM 
   
Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:53PM

 

  Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:53PM.

 

  Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:54PM

 

   
Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:54PM   Bases of Olympic Victor Statues with the dedicatory inscription. 3:56PM   Base of Olympic Victor Statue with the dedicatory inscription. 3:56PM
Six photo panorama from the Olympia's Tresuries & Temple of Hera (right) to north of the Olympic Stadium (left). The entrance to the stadium is to the far left where there is a lineup of tourists. Top part of the entrance arch is visible.
Behind the big tree on the left, additional eight Bases of Olympic Victor statues are visible.
For larger, 4403 x 675pix photo, click here.
The photos were stitched with Hugin Panorama photo stitcher.
 

Last update: April 02, 2016
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