PAUSANIAS 5. 1 - 15
2. R. Anigrus & R. Acidas
3. Samia & Arene
4. Sillus & R. Selinus
5. Mt. Typaeum
6. R. Alpheius
7. The Olympic Games
8. Temple of Olympian Zeus
9. The Pelopeum at Olympia
10. Altar of Olympian Zeus
11. Altars at Olympia
1. Statues of Olympic Victors
1. The Treasuries of Olympia
2. Other Shrines at Olympia
3. The Stadiums of Olympia
4. Other Shrines at Olympia
5. Mt. Saurus & R. Erymanthus
6. Phrixa & R. Parthenia
7. Pisa & Harpina
9. R. Cytherus
11. Elis City
13. R. Larisus
DESCRIPTION OF GREECE 5. 1 - 15, TRANSLATED BY W. H. S. JONES
ELIS (MYTHICAL HISTORY)
[5.1.1] I. The Greeks who say that the Peloponnesus has five, and only five, divisions must agree that Arcadia contains both Arcadians and Eleans, that the second division belongs to the Achaeans, and the remaining three to the Dorians. Of the races dwelling in Peloponnesus the Arcadians and Achaeans are aborigines. When the Achaeans were driven from their land by the Dorians, they did not retire from Peloponnesus, but they cast out the Ionians and occupied the land called of old Aegialus, but now called Achaea from these Achaeans. The Arcadians, on the other hand, have from the beginning to to the present time continued in possession of their own country.
[5.1.2] The rest of Peloponnesus belongs to immigrants. The modern Corinthians are the latest inhabitants of Peloponnesus, and from my time1 to the time when they received their land from the Roman Emperor2 is two hundred and seventeen years. The Dryopians reached the Peloponnesus from Parnassus, the Dorians from Oeta.
[5.1.3] The Eleans we know crossed over from Calydon and Aetolia generally. Their earlier history I found to be as follows. The first to rule in this land, they say, was Aethlius, who was the son of Zeus and of Protogeneia, the daughter of Deucalion, and the father of Endymion.
[5.1.4] The Moon, they say, fell in love with this Endymion and bore him fifty daughters. Others with greater probability say that Endymion took a wife Asterodia – others say she was Cromia, the daughter of Itonus, the son of Amphictyon; others again, Hyperippe, the daughter of Arcas – but all agree that Endymion begat Paeon, Epeius, Aetolus, and also a daughter Eurycyda. Endymion set his sons to run a race at Olympia for the throne; Epeius won, and obtained the kingdom, and his subjects were then named Epeans for the first time.
[5.1.5] Of his brothers they say that Aetolus remained at home, while Paeon, vexed at his defeat, went into the farthest exile possible, and that the region beyond the river Axius was named after him Paeonia. As to the death of Endymion, the people of Heracleia near Miletus do not agree with the Eleans for while the Eleans show a tomb of Endymion, the folk of Heracleia say that he retired to Mount Latmus and give him honor, there being a shrine of Endymion on Latmus.
[5.1.6] Epeius married Anaxiroe, the daughter of Coronus, and begat a daughter Hyrmina, but no male issue. In the reign of Epeius the following events also occurred. Oenomaus was the son of Alxion (though poets proclaimed his father to be Ares, and the common report agrees with them), but while lord of the land of Pisa he was put down by Pelops the Lydian, who crossed over from Asia.
[5.1.7] On the death of Oenomaus, Pelops took possession of the land of Pisa and its bordering country Olympia, separating it from the land of Epeius. The Eleans said that Pelops was the first to found a temple of' Hermes in Peloponnesus and to sacrifice to the god, his purpose being to avert the wrath of the god for the death of Myrtilus.
[5.1.8] Aetolus, who came to the throne after Epeius, was made to flee from Peloponnesus, because the children of Apis tried and convicted him of unintentional homicide. For Apis, the son of Jason, from Pallantium in Arcadia, was run over and killed by the chariot of Aetolus at the games held in honor of Azan. Aetolus, son of Endymion, gave to the dwellers around the Achelous their name, when he fled to this part of the mainland. But the kingdom of the Epeans fell to Eleius, the son of Eurycyda, daughter of Endymion and, believe the tale who will, of Poseidon. It was Eleius who gave the inhabitants their present name of Eleans in place of Epeans.
[5.1.9] Eleius had a son Augeas. Those who exaggerate his glory give a turn to the name Eleius and make Helius3 to be the father of Augeas. This Augeas had so many cattle and flocks of goats that actually most of his land remained untilled because of the dung of the animals. Now he persuaded Heracles to cleanse for him the land from dung, either in return for a part of Elis or possibly for some other reward.
[5.1.10] Heracles accomplished this feat too, turning aside the stream of the Menius into the dung. But, because Heracles had accomplished his task by cunning, without toil, Augeas refused to give him his reward, and banished Phyleus, the elder of his two sons, for objecting that he was wronging a man who had been his benefactor. He made preparations himself to resist Heracles, should he attack Elis; more particularly he made friends with the sons of Actor and with Amarynceus. Amarynceus, besides being a good soldier,
[5.1.11] had a father, Pyttius, of Thessalian descent, who came from Thessaly to Elis. To Amarynceus, therefore, Augeas also gave a share in the government of Elis; Actor and his sons had a share in the kingdom and were natives of the country. For the father of Actor was Phorbas, son of Lapithus, and his mother was Hyrmina, daughter of Epeius. Actor named after her the city of Hyrmina, which he founded in Elis.
[5.2.1] II. Heracles accomplished no brilliant feat in the war with Augeas. For the sons of Actor were in the prime of courageous manhood, and always put to flight the allies under Heracles, until the Corinthians proclaimed the Isthmian truce, and the sons of Actor came as envoys to the meeting. Heracles set an ambush for then, at Cleonae and murdered them. As the murderer was unknown, Moline, more than any of the other children, devoted herself to detecting him.
[5.2.2] When she discovered him, the Eleans demanded satisfaction for the crime from the Argives, for at the time Heracles had his home at Tiryns. When the Argives refused them satisfaction, the Eleans as an alternative pressed the Corinthians entirely to exclude the Argive people from the Isthmian games. When they failed in this also, Moline is said to have laid curses on her countrymen, should they refuse to boycott the Isthmian festival. The curses of Moline are respected right down to the present day, and no athlete of Elis is wont to compete in the Isthmian games.
[5.2.3] There are two other accounts, differing from the one that I have given. According to one of them Cypselus, the tyrant of Corinth, dedicated to Zeus a golden image at Olympia. As Cypselus died before inscribing his own name on the offering, the Corinthians asked of the Eleans leave to inscribe the name of Corinth on it, but were refused. Wroth with the Eleans, they proclaimed that they must keep away from the Isthmian games. But how could the Corinthians themselves take part in the Olympic games if the Eleans against their will were shut out by the Corinthians from the Isthmian games?
[5.2.4] The other account is this. Prolaus, a distinguished Elean, had two sons, Philanthus and Lampus, by his wife Lysippe. These two came to the Isthmian games1 to compete in the boys' pancratium, and one of them intended to wrestle. Before they entered the ring they were strangled or done to death in some other way by their fellow competitors. Hence the curses of Lysippe on the Eleans, should they not voluntarily keep away from the Isthmian games. But this story too proves on examination to be silly.
[5.2.5] For Timon, a man of Elis, won victories in the pentathlum at the Greek games, and at Olympia there is even a statue of him, with an elegiac inscription giving the crowns he won and also the reason why he secured no Isthmian victory. The inscription sets forth the reason thus:–
But from going to the land of Sisyphus he was hindered by a quarrel
About the baleful death of the Molionids.
If the proposed emendation be adopted the meaning will be: “one to compete in the boys' pancratium, the other in wrestling.”
[5.3.1] III. Enough of my discussion of this question. Heracles afterwards took Elis and sacked it, with an army he had raised of Argives, Thebans and Arcadians. The Eleans were aided by the men of Pisa and of Pylus in Elis. The men of Pylus were punished by Heracles, but his expedition against Pisa was stopped by an oracle from Delphi to this effect
My father cares for Pisa, but to me in the hollows of Pytho.4
This oracle proved the salvation of Pisa. To Phyleus Heracles gave up the land of Elis and all the rest, more out of respect for Phyleus than because he wanted to do so: he allowed him to keep the prisoners, and Augeas to escape punishment.
[5.3.2] The women of Elis, it is said, seeing that their land had been deprived of its vigorous manhood, prayed to Athena that they might conceive at their first union with their husbands. Their prayer was answered, and they set up a sanctuary of Athena surnamed Mother. Both wives and husbands were so delighted at their union that they named the place itself, where they first met, Bady (sweet), and the river that runs thereby Bady Water, this being a word of their native dialect.
[5.3.3] When Phyleus had returned to Dulichium after organizing the affairs of Elis, Augeas died at an advanced age, and the kingdom of Elis devolved on Agasthenes, the son of Augeas, and on Amphimachus and Thalpius. For the sons of Actor married twin sisters, the daughters of Dexamenus who was king at Olenus; Amphimachus was born to one son and Theronice, Thalpius to her sister Theraephone and Eurytus.
[5.3.4] However, neither Amarynceus himself nor his son Diores remained common people. Incidentally this is shown by Homer5 in his list of the Eleans; he makes their whole fleet to consist of forty ships, half of them under the command of Amphimachus and Thalpius, and of the remaining twenty he puts ten under Diores, the son of Amarynceus, and ten under Polyxenus, the son of Agasthenes. Polyxenus came back safe from Troy and begat a son, Amphimachus. This name I think Polyxenus gave his son because of his friendship with Amphimachus, the son of Cteatus, who died at Troy.
[5.3.5] Amphimachus begat Eleius, and it was while Eleius was king in Elis that the assembly of the Dorian army under the sons of Aristomachus took place, with a view to returning to the Peloponnesus. To their kings was delivered this oracle, that they were to choose the “one with three eyes” to lead them on their return. When they were at a loss as to the meaning of the oracle, they were met by a man driving a mule, which was blind of one eye.
[5.3.6] Cresphontes inferred that this was the man indicated by the oracle, and so the Dorians made him one of themselves. He urged them to descend upon the Peloponnesus in ships, and not to attempt to go across the Isthmus with a land army. Such was his advice, and at the same time he led them on the voyage from Naupactus to Molycrium. In return they agreed to give him at his request the land of Elis. The man was Oxylus, son of Haemon, the son of Thoas. This was the Thoas who helped the sons of Atreus to destroy the empire of Priam, and from Thoas to Aetolus the son of Endymion are six generations.
[5.3.7] There were ties of kindred between the Heracleidae and the kings of Aetolia; in particular the mothers of Thoas, the son of Andraemon, and of Hyllus, the son of Heracles, were sisters.
It fell to the lot of Oxylus to be an outlaw from Aetolia. The story goes that as he was throwing the quoit he missed the mark and committed unintentional homicide. The man killed by the quoit, according to one account, was Thermius, the brother of Oxylus; according to another it was Alcidocus, the son of Scopius.
[5.4.1] IV. The following story is also told of Oxylus. He suspected that, when the sons of Aristomachus saw that the land of Elis was a goodly one, and cultivated throughout, they would be no longer willing to give it to him. He accordingly led the Dorians through Arcadia and not through Elis. Oxylus was anxious to get the kingdom of Elis without a battle, but Dius would not give way; he proposed that, instead of their fighting a pitched battle with all their forces, a single soldier should be chosen from each army to fight as its champion.
[5.4.2] This proposal chanced to find favour with both sides, and the champions chosen were the Elean Degmenus, an archer, and Pyraechmes, a slinger, to represent the Aetolians. Pyraechmes won and Oxylus got the kingdom. He allowed the old inhabitants, the Epeans, to keep their possessions, except that he introduced among them Aetolian colonists, giving them a share in the land. He assigned privileges to Dius, and kept up after the ancient manner the honors paid to heroes, especially the worship of Augeas, to whom even at the present day hero-sacrifice is offered.
[5.4.3] He is also said to have induced to come into the city the dwellers in the villages near the wall, and by increasing the number of the inhabitants to have made Elis larger and generally more prosperous. There also came to him an oracle from Delphi, that he should bring in as co-founder “the descendant of Pelops.” Oxylus made diligent search, and in his search he discovered Agorius, son of Damasius, son of Penthilus, son of Orestes. He brought Agorius himself from Helice in Achaia, and with him a small body of Achaeans.
[5.4.4] The wife of Oxylus they say was called Pieria, but beyond this nothing more about her is recorded. Oxylus is said to have had two sons, Aetolus and Laias. Aetolus died before his parents, who buried him in a tomb which they caused to be made right in the gate leading to Olympia and the sanctuary of Zeus. That they buried him thus was due to an oracle forbidding the corpse to be laid either without the city or within it. Right down to our own day the gymnasiarch sacrifices to Aetolus as to a hero every year.
[5.4.5] After Oxylus the kingdom devolved on Laias, son of Oxylus. His descendants, however, I find did not reign, and so I pass them by, though I know who they were; my narrative must not descend to men of common rank. Later on Iphitus, of the line of Oxylus and contemporary with Lycurgus, who drew up the code of laws for the Lacedaemonians, arranged the games at Olympia and reestablished afresh the Olympic festival and truce, after an interruption of uncertain length. The reason for this interruption I will set forth when my narrative deals with Olympia.6
[5.4.6] At this time Greece was grievously worn by internal strife and plague, and it occurred to Iphitus to ask the god at Delphi for deliverance from these evils. The story goes that the Pythian priestess ordained that Iphitus himself and the Eleans must renew the Olympic games. Iphitus also induced the Eleans to sacrifice to Heracles as to a god, whom hitherto they had looked upon as their enemy. The inscription at Olympia calls Iphitus the son of Haemon, but most of the Greeks say that his father was Praxonides and not Haemon, while the ancient records of Elis traced him to a father of the same name.
[5.4.7] The Eleans played their part in the Trojan war, and also in the battles of the Persian invasion of Greece. I pass over their struggles with the Pisans and Arcadians for the management of the Olympian games. Against their will they joined the Lacedaemonians in their invasion of Athenian territory, and shortly afterwards they rose up with the Mantineans and Argives against the Lacedaemonians, inducing Athens too to join the alliance.7
[5.4.8] When Agis invaded the land, and Xenias turned traitor, the Eleans won a battle near Olympia, routed the Lacedaemonians and drove them out of the sacred enclosure; but shortly afterwards the war was concluded by the treaty I have already spoken of in my account of the Lacedaemonians.8 9
[5.4.9] When Philip the son of Amyntas would not let Greece alone, the Eleans, weakened by civil strife, joined the Macedonian alliance, but they could not bring themselves to fight against the Greeks at Chaeroneia. They joined Philip's attack on the Lacedaemonians because of their old hatred of that people, but on the death of Alexander they fought on the side of the Greeks against Antipater and the Macedonians.
[5.5.1] V. Later on Aristotimus, the son of Damaretus, the son of Etymon, became despot of Elis, being aided in his attempt by Antigonus, the son of Demetrius, who was king in Macedonia. After a despotism of six months Aristotimus was deposed, a rising against him having been organized by Chilon, Hellanicus, Lampis and Cylon; Cylon it was who with his own hand killed the despot when he had sought sanctuary at the altar of Zeus the Saviour. Such were the wars of the Eleans, of which my present enumeration must serve as a summary.
[5.5.2] The land of Elis contains two marvels. Here, and here only in Greece, does fine flax grow; and secondly, only over the border, and not within it, can the mares be impregnated by asses. The cause of this is said to have been a curse. The fine flax of Elis is as fine as that of the Hebrews, but it is not so yellow.
[5.5.3] As you go from Elis there is a district stretching down to the sea. It is called Samicum, and above it on the right is what is called Triphylia, in which is the city Lepreus. The citizens of this city wish to belong to the Arcadians, but it is plain that from the beginning they have been subject to the Eleans. Such of them as have won Olympic victories have been announced by the herald as Eleans from Lepreus, and Aristophanes10 in a comedy calls Lepreus a town of the Eleans. Leaving the river Anigrus on the left there is a road leading to Lepreus; from Samicum another leads to it from Olympia and a third from Elis. The longest of them is a day's journey.
[5.5.4] The city got its name, they say, from its founder Lepreus the son of Pyrgeus. There was also a story that Lepreus contended with Heracles: that he was as good a trencherman. Each killed an ox at the same time and prepared it for the table. It turned out, even as Lepreus maintained, that he was as powerful a trencherman as Heracles. Afterwards he made bold to challenge him to a duel. Lepreus, they say, lost, was killed, and was buried in the land of Phigaleia. The Phigalians, however, could not show a tomb of Lepreus.
[5.5.5] I have heard some who maintained that Lepreus was founded by Leprea, the daughter of Pyrgeus. Others say that the first dwellers in the land were afflicted with the disease leprosy,11 and that the city received its name from the misfortune of the inhabitants. The Lepreans told me that in their city once was a temple of Zeus Leucaeus (Of the White Poplar), the grave of Lycurgus, son of Aleus, and the grave of Caucon, over which was the figure of a man holding a lyre.
[5.5.6] But as far as I could see they had no tomb of distinction, and no sanctuary of any deity save one of Demeter. Even this was built of unburnt brick, and contained no image. Not far from the city of the Lepreans is a spring called Arene, and they say that it derives its name from the wife of Aphareus.
[5.5.7] Returning again to Samicum, and passing through the district, we reach the mouth of the Anigrus. The current of this river is often held back by violent gales, which carry the sand from the open sea against it and stop the onward flow of the water. So whenever the sand has become soaked on both sides, by the sea without and by the river within, beasts and still more travellers on foot are in danger of sinking into it.
[5.5.8] The Anigrus descends from the mountain Lapithus in Arcadia, and right from its source its water does not smell sweet but actually stinks horribly. Before it receives the tributary Acidas it plainly cannot support fish-life at all. After the rivers unite, the fish that come down into the Anigrus with the water are uneatable, though before, if they are caught in the Acidas, they are eatable.
[5.5.9] I heard from an Ephesian that the Acidas was called Iardanus in ancient times. I repeat his statement, though I have nowhere found evidence in support of it. I am convinced that the peculiar odor of the Anigrus is due to the earth through which the water springs up, just as those rivers beyond Ionia, the exhalation from which is deadly to man, owe their peculiarity to the same cause. Some Greeks say that Chiron,
[5.5.10] others that Pylenor, another Centaur, when shot by Heracles fled wounded to this river and washed his hurt in it, and that it was the hydra's poison which gave the Anigrus its nasty smell. Others again attribute the quality of the river to Melampus the son of Amythaon, who threw into it the means he used to purify the daughters of Proetus.
[5.5.11] There is in Samicum a cave not far from the river, and called the Cave of the Anigrid Nymphs. Whoever enters it suffering from alphos or leuke12 first has to pray to the nymphs and to promise some sacrifice or other, after which he wipes the unhealthy parts of his body. Then, swimming through the river, he leaves his old uncleanness in its water, coming up sound and of one color.
[5.6.1] VI. Crossing the Anigrus and going to Olympia by the straight road, not far away on the right of the road you reach a high district with a city called Samia on it. This they say Polysperchon the Aetolian used as a fortified post against the Arcadians.
[5.6.2] As to the ruins of Arene, no Messenian and no Elean could point them out to me with certainty. Those who care to do so may make all sorts of different guesses about it, but the most plausible account seemed to me that of those who held that in the heroic age and even earlier Samicum was called Arene. These quoted too the words of the Iliad:–
There is a river Minyeius flowing into the sea near Arene. Hom. Il. 11.722-3
[5.6.3] These ruins are very near to the Anigrus; and, although it might be questioned whether Samicum was called Arene, yet the Arcadians are agreed that of old the Anigrus was called the Minyeius. One might well hold that the Neda near the sea was made the boundary between Elis and Messenia at the time of the return of the Heracleidae to the Peloponnesus.
[5.6.4] After the Anigrus, if you travel for a considerable distance through a district that is generally sandy and grows wild pines, you will see behind you on the left the ruins of Scillus. It was one of the cities of Triphylia but in the war between Pisa and Elis the citizens of Scillus openly helped Pisa against her enemy, and for this reason the Eleans utterly destroyed it.
[5.6.5] The Lacedaemonians afterwards separated Scillus from Elis and gave it to Xenophon, the son of Grylus, when he had been exiled from Athens, The reason for his banishment was that he had taken part in an expedition which Cyrus, the greatest enemy of the Athenian people, had organized against their friend, the Persian king.13 Cyrus, in fact, with his seat at Sardis, had been providing Lysander, the son of Aristocritus, and the Lacedaemonians with money for their fleet. Xenophon, accordingly, was banished and having made Scillus his home he built in honor of Ephesian Artemis a temple with a sanctuary and a sacred enclosure.
[5.6.6] Scillus is also a hunting-ground for wild boars and deer, and the land is crossed by a river called the Selinus. The guides of Elis said that the Eleans recovered Scillus again, and that Xenophon was tried by the Olympic Council for accepting the land from the Lacedaemonians, and, obtaining pardon from the Eleans, dwelt securely in Scillus. Moreover, at a little distance from the sanctuary was shown a tomb, and upon the grave is a statue of marble from the Pentelic quarry. The neighbors say that it is the tomb of Xenophon.
[5.6.7] As you go from Scillus along the road to Olympia, before you cross the Alpheius,there is a mountain with high, precipitous cliffs. It is called Mount Typaeum. It is a law of Elis to cast down it any women who are caught present at the Olympic games, or even on the other side of the Alpheius, on the days prohibited to women. However, they say that no woman has been caught, except Callipateira only; some, however, give the lady the name of Pherenice and not Callipateira.
[5.6.8] She, being a widow, disguised herself exactly like a gymnastic trainer, and brought her son to compete at Olympia. Peisirodus, for so her son was called, was victorious, and Callipateira, as she was jumping over the enclosure in which they keep the trainers shut up, bared her person. So her sex was discovered, but they let her go unpunished out of respect for her father, her brothers and her son, all of whom had been victorious at Olympia. But a law was passed that for the future trainers should strip before entering the arena.
[5.7.1] VII. By the time you reach Olympia the Alpheius is a large and very pleasant river to see, being fed by several tributaries, including seven very important ones. The Helisson joins the Alpheius passing through Megalopolis; the Brentheates comes out of the territory of that city; past Gortyna, where is a sanctuary of Asclepius, flows the Gortynius; from Melaeneae, between the territories of Megalopolis and Heraea, comes the Buphagus; from the land of the Clitorians the Ladon; from Mount Erymanthus a stream with the same name as the mountain. These come down into the Alpheius from Arcadia; the Cladeus comes from Elis to join it. The source of the Alpheius itself is in Arcadia, and not in Elis.
[5.7.2] There is another legend about the Alpheius. They say that there was a hunter called Alpheius, who fell in love with Arethusa, who was herself a huntress. Arethusa, unwilling to marry, crossed, they say, to the island opposite Syracuse called Ortygia, and there turned from a woman to a spring. Alpheius too was changed by his love into the river.
[5.7.3] This account of Alpheius . . . to Ortygia.14 But that the Alpheius passes through the sea and mingles his waters with the spring at this place I cannot disbelieve, as I know that the god at Delphi confirms the story. For when he despatched Archias the Corinthian to found Syracuse he uttered this oracle:
An isle, Ortygia, lies on the misty ocean
Over against Trinacria, where the mouth of Alpheius bubbles
Mingling with the springs of broad Arethusa.
For this reason, therefore, because the water of the Alpheius mingles with the Arethusa, I am convinced that the legend arose of the river's love-affair.
[5.7.4] Those Greeks or Egyptians who have gone up into Ethiopia beyond Syene as far as the Ethiopian city of Meroe all say that the Nile enters a lake, and passes through it as though it were dry land, and that after this it flows through lower Aethiopia into Egypt before coming down into the sea at Pharos. And in the land of the Hebrews, as I can myself bear witness, the river Jordan passes through a lake called Tiberias, and then, entering another lake called the Dead Sea, it disappears in it.
[5.7.5] The Dead Sea has the opposite qualities to those of any other water. Living creatures float in it naturally without swimming; dying creatures sink to the bottom. Hence the lake is barren of fish; their danger stares them in the face, and they flee back to the water which is their native element. The peculiarity of the Alpheius is shared by a river of Ionia. The source of it is on Mount Mycale, and having gone through the intervening sea the river rises again opposite Branchidae at the harbor called Panormus.
[5.7.6] These things then are as I have described them. As for the Olympic games, the most learned antiquaries of Elis say that Cronus was the first king of heaven, and that in his honor a temple was built in Olympia by the men of that age, who were named the Golden Race. When Zeus was born, Rhea entrusted the guardianship of her son to the Dactyls of Ida, who are the same as those called Curetes. They came from Cretan Ida – Heracles, Paeonaeus, Epimedes, Iasius and Idas.
[5.7.7] Heracles, being the eldest, matched his brothers, as a game, in a running-race, and crowned the winner with a branch of wild olive, of which they had such a copious supply that they slept on heaps of its leaves while still green. It is said to have been introduced into Greece by Heracles from the land of the Hyperboreans, men living beyond the home of the North Wind.
[5.7.8] Olen the Lycian, in his hymn to Achaeia, was the first to say that from these Hyperboreans Achaeia came to Delos. When Melanopus of Cyme composed an ode to Opis and Hecaerge declaring that these, even before Achaeia, came to Delos from the Hyperboreans.
[5.7.9] And Aristeas of Proconnesus – for he too made mention of the Hyperboreans – may perhaps have learnt even more about them from the Issedones, to whom he says in his poem that he came. Heracles of Ida, therefore, has the reputation of being the first to have held, on the occasion I mentioned, the games, and to have called them Olympic. So he established the custom of holding them every fifth15 year, because he and his brothers were five in number.
[5.7.10] Now some say that Zeus wrestled here with Cronus himself for the throne, while others say that he held the games in honor of his victory over Cronus. The record of victors include Apollo, who outran Hermes and beat Ares at boxing. It is for this reason, they say, that the Pythian flute-song is played while the competitors in the pentathlum are jumping; for the flute-song is sacred to Apollo, and Apollo won Olympic victories.
[5.8.1] VIII. Later on there came (they say) from Crete Clymenus, the son of Cardys, about fifty years after the flood came upon the Greeks in the time of Deucalion. He was descended from Heracles of Ida; he held the games at Olympia and set up an altar in honor of Heracles, his ancestor, and the other Curetes, giving to Heracles the surname of Parastates (Assistant). And Endymion, the son of Aethlius, deposed Clymenus, and set his sons a race in Olympia with the kingdom as the prize.
[5.8.2] And about a generation later than Endymion, Pelops held the games in honor of Olympian Zeus in a more splendid manner than any of his predecessors. When the sons of Pelops were scattered from Elis over all the rest of Peloponnesus, Amythaon, the son of Cretheus, and cousin of Endymion on his father's side (for they say that Aethlius too was the son of Aeolus, though supposed to be a son of Zeus), held the Olympian games, and after him Pelias and Neleus in common.
[5.8.3] Augeas too held them, and likewise Heracles, the son of Amphitryon, after the conquest of Elis. The victors crowned by Heracles include Iolaus, who won with the mares of Heracles. So of old a competitor was permitted to compete with mares which were not his own. Homer,16 at any rate, in the games held in honor of Patroclus, has told how Menelaus drove a pair of which one was Aetha, a mare of Agamemnon, while the other was his own horse.
[5.8.4] Moreover, Iolaus used to be charioteer to Heracles. So Iolaus won the chariot-race, and Iasius, an Arcadian, the horse-race; while of the sons of Tyndareus one won the foot-race and Polydeuces the boxing-match. Of Heracles himself it is said that he won victories at wrestling and the pancratium.
THE OLYMPIC GAMES (HISTORY)
[5.8.5] After the reign of Oxylus, who also celebrated the games, the Olympic festival was discontinued until the reign of Iphitus. When Iphitus, as I have already related,17 renewed the games, men had by this time forgotten the ancient tradition, the memory of which revived bit by bit, and as it revived they made additions to the games.
[5.8.6] This I can prove; for when the unbroken tradition of the Olympiads began there was first the foot-race, and Coroebus an Elean was victor. There is no statue of Coroebus at Olympia, but his grave is on the borders of Elis. Afterwards, at the fourteenth Festival,18 the double foot-race was added: Hypenus of Pisa won the prize of wild olive in the double race, and at the next Festival Acanthus of Lacedaemon won in the long course.
[5.8.7] At the eighteenth Festival they remembered the pentathlum and wrestling. Lampis won the first and Eurybatus the second, these also being Lacedaemonians. At the twenty-third Festival they restored the prizes for boxing, and the victor was Onomastus of Smyrna, which already was a part of Ionia. At the twenty-fifth they recognized the race of full-grown horses, and Pagondas of Thebes was proclaimed “victor in the chariot-race.”
[5.8.8] At the eighth Festival after this they admitted the pancratium for men and the horse-race. The horse-race was won by Crauxidas of Crannon, and Lygdamis of Syracuse overcame all who entered for the pancratium. Lygdamis has his tomb near the quarries at Syracuse, and according to the Syracusans he was as big as Heracles of Thebes, though I cannot vouch for the statement.
[5.8.9] The contests for boys have no authority in old tradition, but were established by the Eleans themselves because they approved of them. The prizes for running and wrestling open to boys were instituted at the thirty-seventh Festival; Hipposthenes of Lacedaemon won the prize for wrestling, and that for running was won by Polyneices of Elis. At the forty-first Festival they introduced boxing for boys, and the winner out of those who entered for it was Philytas of Sybaris.
[5.8.10] The race for men in armour was approved at the sixty-fifth Festival, to provide, I suppose, military training; the first winner of the race with shields was Damaretus of Heraea. The race for two full-grown horses, called synoris (chariot and pair), was instituted at the ninety-third Festival, and the winner was Evagoras of Elis. At the ninety-ninth Festival they resolved to hold contests for chariots drawn by foals, and Sybariades of Lacedaemon won the garland with his chariot and foals.
[5.8.11] Afterwards they added races for chariots and pairs of foals, and for single foals with rider. It is said that the victors proclaimed were: for the chariot and pair, Belistiche, a woman from the seaboard of Macedonia; for the ridden race, Tlepolemus of Lycia. Tlepolemus, they say, won at the hundred and thirty-first Festival, and Belistiche at the third before this. At the hundred and forty-fifth Festival prizes were offered for boys in the pancratium, the victory falling to Phaedimus, an Aeolian from the city Troas.
[5.9.1] IX. Certain contests, too, have been dropped at Olympia, the Eleans resolving to discontinue them. The pentathlum for boys was instituted at the thirty-eighth Festival; but after Eutelidas of Lace-daemon had received the wild olive for it, the Eleans disapproved of boys entering for this competition. The races for mule-carts, and the trotting-race, were instituted respectively at the seventieth Festival and the seventy-first, but were both abolished by proclamation at the eighty-fourth. When they were first instituted, Thersius of Thessaly won the race for mule-carts, while Pataecus, an Achaean from Dyme, won the trotting-race.
[5.9.2] The trotting-race was for mares, and in the last part of the course the riders jumped off and ran beside the mares, holding on to the bridle, just as at the present day those do who are called “mounters.” The mounters, however, differ from the riders in the trotting-race by having different badges, and by riding horses instead of mares. The cart-race was neither of venerable antiquity nor yet a graceful performance. Moreover, each cart was drawn by a pair of mules, not horses, and there is an ancient curse on the Eleans if this animal is even born in Elis.
[5.9.3] The order of the games in our own day, which places the sacrifices to the god for the pentathlum and chariot-races second, and those for the other competitions first, was fixed at the seventy-seventh Festival. Previously the contests for men and for horses were held on the same day. But at the Festival I mentioned the pancratiasts prolonged their contests till night-fall, because they were not summoned to the arena soon enough. The cause of the delay was partly the chariot-race, but still more the pentathlum. Callias of Athens was champion of the pancratiasts on this occasion, but never afterwards was the pancratium to be interfered with by the pentathlum or the chariots.
[5.9.4] The rules for the presidents of the games are not the same now as they were at the first institution of the festival. Iphitus acted as sole president, as likewise did the descendants of Oxylus after Iphitus. But at the fiftieth Festival two men, appointed by lot from all the Eleans, were entrusted with the management of the Olympic games, and for a long time after this the number of the presidents continued to be two.
[5.9.5] But at the ninety-fifth Festival nine umpires were appointed. To three of them were entrusted the chariot-races, another three were to supervise the pentathlum, the rest superintended the remaining contests. At the second Festival after this the tenth umpire was added. At the hundred and third Festival, the Eleans having twelve tribes, one umpire was chosen from each.
[5.9.6] But they were hard pressed in a war with the Arcadians and lost a portion of their territory, along with all the parishes included in the surrendered district, and so the number of tribes was reduced to eight in the hundred and fourth Olympiad. Thereupon were chosen umpires equal in number to the tribes. At the hundred and eighth Festival they returned again to the number of ten umpires, which has continued unchanged down to the present day.
[5.10.1] X. Many are the sights to be seen in Greece, and many are the wonders to be heard; but on nothing does Heaven bestow more care than on the Eleusinian rites and the Olympic games.
The sacred grove of Zeus has been called from of old Altis, a corruption of the word “alsos,” which means a grove. Pindar19 too calls the place Altis in an ode composed for an Olympic victor.
[5.10.2] The temple and the image were made for Zeus from spoils, when Pisa was crushed in war by the Eleans,20 and with Pisa such of the subject peoples as conspired together with her. The image itself was wrought by Pheidias, as is testified by an inscription written under the feet of Zeus:–
Pheidias, son of Charmides, an Athenian, made me.
The temple is in the Doric style, and the outside has columns all around it. It is built of native stone.
[5.10.3] Its height up to the pediment is sixty-eight feet, its breadth is ninety-five, its length two hundred and thirty. The architect was Libon, a native. The tiles are not of baked earth, but of Pentelic marble cut into the shape of tiles. The invention is said to be that of Byzes of Naxos, who they say made the images in Naxos on which is the inscription:–
To the offspring of Leto was I dedicated by Euergus,
A Naxian, son of Byzes, who first made tiles of stone.
This Byzes lived about the time of Alyattes the Lydian,21 when Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, reigned over the Medes.
[5.10.4] At Olympia a gilt caldron stands on each end of the roof, and a Victory, also gilt, is set in about the middle of the pediment. Under the image of Victory has been dedicated a golden shield, with Medusa the Gorgon in relief. The inscription on the shield declares who dedicated it and the reason why they did so. It runs thus:–
The temple has a golden shield; from Tanagra
The Lacedaemonians and their allies dedicated it,
A gift taken from the Argives, Athenians and Ionians,
The tithe offered for victory in war.
This battle I also mentioned in my history of Attica,22 Then I described the tombs that are at Athens.
[5.10.5] On the outside of the frieze that runs round the temple at Olympia, above the columns, are gilt shields one and twenty in number, an offering made by the Roman general Mummius when he had conquered the Achaeans in war, captured Corinth, and driven out its Dorian inhabitants.
[5.10.6] To come to the pediments: in the front pediment there is, not yet begun, the chariot-race between Pelops and Oenomaus, and preparation for the actual race is being made by both. An image of Zeus has been carved in about the middle of the pediment; on the right of Zeus is Oenomaus with a helmet on his head, and by him Sterope his wife, who was one of the daughters of Atlas. Myrtilus too, the charioteer of Oenomaus, sits in front of the horses, which are four in number. After him are two men. They have no names, but they too must be under orders from Oenomaus to attend to the horses.
[5.10.7] At the very edge lies Cladeus, the river which, in other ways also, the Eleans honor most after the Alpheius. On the left from Zeus are Pelops, Hippodameia, the charioteer of Pelops, horses, and two men, who are apparently grooms of Pelops. Then the pediment narrows again, and in this part of it is represented the Alpheius. The name of the charioteer of Pelops is, according to the account of the Troezenians, Sphaerus, but the guide at Olympia called him Cillas.
[5.10.8] The sculptures in the front pediment are by Paeonius, who came from Mende in Thrace;23 those in the back pediment are by Alcamenes,24 a contemporary of Pheidias, ranking next after him for skill as a sculptor. What he carved on the pediment is the fight between the Lapithae and the Centaurs at the marriage of Peirithous. In the center of the pediment is Peirithous.25 On one side of him is Eurytion, who has seized the wife of Peirithous, with Caeneus bringing help to Peirithous, and on the other side is Theseus defending himself against the Centaurs with an axe. One Centaur has seized a maid, another a boy in the prime of youth. Alcamenes, I think, carved this scene, because he had learned from Homer's26 poem that Peirithous was a son of Zeus, and because he knew that Theseus was a great grandson of Pelops.
[5.10.9] Most of the labours of Heracles are represented at Olympia. Above the doors of the temple is carved the hunting of the Arcadian boar, his exploit against Diomedes the Thracian, and that against Geryones at Erytheia; he is also about to receive the burden of Atlas, and he cleanses the land from dung for the Eleans. Above the doors of the rear chamber he is taking the girdle from the Amazon; and there are the affairs of the deer, of the bull at Cnossus, of the Stymphalian birds, of the hydra, and of the Argive lion.
[5.10.10] As you enter the bronze doors you see on the right, before the pillar, Iphitus being crowned by a woman, Ececheiria (Truce), as the elegiac couplet on the statue says. Within the temple stand pillars, and inside also are porticoes above, with an approach through them to the image. There has also been constructed a winding ascent to the roof.
THE STATUE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS
[5.11.1] XI. The god sits on a throne, and he is made of gold and ivory. On his head lies a garland which is a copy of olive shoots. In his right hand he carries a Victory, which, like the statue, is of ivory and gold; she wears a ribbon and – on her head – a garland. In the left hand of the god is a scepter, ornamented with every kind of metal, and the bird sitting on the scepter is the eagle. The sandals also of the god are of gold, as is likewise his robe. On the robe are embroidered figures of animals and the flowers of the lily.
[5.11.2] The throne is adorned with gold and with jewels, to say nothing of ebony and ivory. Upon it are painted figures and wrought images. There are four Victories, represented as dancing women, one at each foot of the throne, and two others at the base of each foot. On each of the two front feet are set Theban children ravished by sphinxes, while under the sphinxes Apollo and Artemis are shooting down the children of Niobe.
[5.11.3] Between the feet of the throne are four rods, each one stretching from foot to foot. The rod straight opposite the entrance has on it seven images; how the eighth of them disappeared nobody knows. These must be intended to be copies of obsolete contests, since in the time of Pheidias contests for boys had not yet been introduced.27 The figure of one binding his own head with a ribbon is said to resemble in appearance Pantarces, a stripling of Elis said to have been the love of Pheidias. Pantarces too won the wrestling-bout for boys at the eighty-sixth Festival.
[5.11.4] On the other rods is the band that with Heracles fights against the Amazons. The number of figures in the two parties is twenty-nine, and Theseus too is ranged among the allies of Heracles. The throne is supported not only by the feet, but also by an equal number of pillars standing between the feet. It is impossible to go under the throne, in the way we enter the inner part of the throne at Amyclae. At Olympia there are screens constructed like walls which keep people out.
[5.11.5] Of these screens the part opposite the doors is only covered with dark-blue paint; the other parts show pictures by Panaenus. Among them is Atlas, supporting heaven and earth, by whose side stands Heracles ready to receive the load of Atlas, along with Theseus; Perithous, Hellas, and Salamis carrying in her hand the ornament made for the top of a ship's bows; then Heracles' exploit against the Nemean lion, the outrage committed by Ajax on Cassandra,
[5.11.6] Hippodameia the daughter of Oenomaus with her mother, and Prometheus still held by his chains, though Heracles has been raised up to him. For among the stories told about Heracles is one that he killed the eagle which tormented Prometheus in the Caucasus, and set free Prometheus himself from his chains. Last in the picture come Penthesileia giving up the ghost and Achilles supporting her; two Hesperides are carrying the apples, the keeping of which, legend says, had been entrusted to them. This Panaenus was a brother of Pheidias; he also painted the picture of the battle of Marathon in the painted portico at Athens.
[5.11.7] On the uppermost parts of the throne Pheidias has made, above the head of the image, three Graces on one side and three Seasons on the other. These in epic poetry28 are included among the daughters of Zeus. Homer too in the Iliad29 says that the Seasons have been entrusted with the sky, just like guards of a king's court. The footstool of Zeus, called by the Athenians thranion, has golden lions and, in relief, the fight of Theseus against the Amazons, the first brave deed of the Athenians against foreigners.
[5.11.8] On the pedestal supporting the throne and Zeus with all his adornments are works in gold: the Sun mounted on a chariot, Zeus and Hera, Hephaestus, and by his side Grace. Close to her comes Hermes, and close to Hermes Hestia. After Hestia is Eros receiving Aphrodite as she rises from the sea, and Aphrodite is being crowned by Persuasion. There are also reliefs of Apollo with Artemis, of Athena and of Heracles; and near the end of the pedestal Amphitrite and Poseidon, while the Moon is driving what I think is a horse. Some have said that the steed of the goddess is a mule not a horse, and they tell a silly story about the mule.
[5.11.9] I know that the height and breadth of the Olympic Zeus have been measured and recorded; but I shall not praise those who made the measurements, for even their records fall far short of the impression made by a sight of the image. Nay, the god himself according to legend bore witness to the artistic skill of Pheidias. For when the image was quite finished Pheidias prayed the god to show by a sign whether the work was to his liking. Immediately, runs the legend, a thunderbolt fell on that part of the floor where down to the present day the bronze jar stood to cover the place.
[5.11.10] All the floor in front of the image is paved, not with white, but with black tiles. In a circle round the black stone runs a raised rim of Parian marble, to keep in the olive oil that is poured out. For olive oil is beneficial to the image at Olympia, and it is olive oil that keeps the ivory from being harmed by the marshiness of the Altis. On the Athenian Acropolis the ivory of the image they call the Maiden is benefited, not by olive oil, but by water. For the Acropolis, owing to its great height, is over-dry, so that the image, being made of ivory, needs water or dampness.
[5.11.11] When I asked at Epidaurus why they pour neither water nor olive oil on the image of Asclepius, the attendants at the sanctuary informed me that both the image of the god and the throne were built over a cistern.
[5.12.1] XII. Those who think that the projections from the mouth of an elephant are not horns but teeth of the animal should consider both the elk, a beast of the Celtic land, and also the Aethiopian bull. Male elks have horns on their brows, but the female does not grow them at all. Ethiopian bulls grow their horns on their noses. Who therefore would be greatly surprised at horns growing out of an animal's mouth?
[5.12.2] They may also correct their error from the following considerations. Horns drop off animals each year and grow again; the deer and the antelope undergo this experience, and so likewise does the elephant. But a tooth will never be found to grow again, at least after the animal is full-grown. So if the projections through the mouth were teeth and not horns, how could they grow up again? Again, a tooth refuses to yield to fire; but fire turns the horns of oxen and elephants from round to flat, and also into other shapes. However, the hippopotamus and the boar have tusks growing out of the lower jaw, but we do not see horns growing out of jaws.
[5.12.3] So be assured that an elephant's horns descend through the temples from above, and so bend outwards. My statement is not hearsay; I once saw an elephant's skull in the sanctuary of Artemis in Campania. The sanctuary is about thirty stades from Capua, which is the capital of Campania. So the elephant differs from all other animals in the way its horns grow, just as its size and shape are peculiar to itself. And the Greeks in my opinion showed an unsurpassed zeal and generosity in honoring the gods, in that they imported ivory from India and Aethiopia to make images.
VOTIVE OFFERINGS IN THE TEMPLE OF ZEUS
[5.12.4] In Olympia there is a woollen curtain, adorned with Assyrian weaving and Phoenician purple, which was dedicated by Antiochus,30 who also gave as offerings the golden aegis with the Gorgon on it above the theater at Athens. This curtain is not drawn upwards to the roof as is that in the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, but it is let down to the ground by cords.
[5.12.5] The offerings inside, or in the fore-temple include: a throne of Arimnestus, king of Etruria, who was the first foreigner to present an offering to the Olympic Zeus, and bronze horses of Cynisca, tokens of an Olympic victory. These are not as large as real horses, and stand in the fore-temple on the right as you enter. There is also a tripod, plated with bronze, upon which, before the table was made, were displayed the crowns for the victors.
[5.12.6] There are statues of emperors: Hadrian, of Parian marble dedicated by the cities of the Achaean confederacy, and Trajan, dedicated by all the Greeks. This emperor subdued the Getae beyond Thrace, and made war on Osroes the descendant of Arsaces and on the Parthians. Of his architectural achievements the most remarkable are baths called after him, a large circular theater, a building for horse-races which is actually two stades long, and the Forum at Rome, worth seeing not only for its general beauty but especially for its roof made of bronze.
[5.12.7] Of the statues set up in the round buildings, the amber one represents Augustus the Roman emperor, the ivory one they told me was a portrait of Nicomedes, king of Bithynia. After him the greatest city in Bithynia was renamed Nicomedeia;31 before him it was called Astacus, and its first founder was Zypoetes, a Thracian by birth to judge from his name. This amber of which the statue of Augustus is made, when found native in the sand of the Eridanus, is very rare and precious to men for many reasons; the other “amber” is an alloy of gold and silver.
[5.12.8] In the temple at Olympia are four offerings of Nero – three crowns representing wild-olive leaves, and one representing oak leaves. Here too are laid twenty-five bronze shields, which are for the armed men to carry in the race. Tablets too are set up, including one on which is written the oath sworn by the Eleans to the Athenians, the Argives and the Mantineans, that they would be their allies for a hundred years.32
[5.13.1] XIII. Within the Altis there is also a sacred enclosure consecrated to Pelops, whom the Eleans as much prefer in honor above the heroes of Olympia as they prefer Zeus over the other gods. To the right of the entrance of the temple of Zeus, on the north side, lies the Pelopium. It is far enough removed from the temple for statues and other offerings to stand in the intervening space, and beginning at about the middle of the temple it extends as far as the rear chamber. It is surrounded by a stone fence, within which trees grow and statues have been dedicated.
[5.13.2] The entrance is on the west. The sanctuary is said to have been set apart to Pelops by Heracles the son of Amphitryon. Heracles too was a great-grandson of Pelops, and he is also said to have sacrificed to him into the pit. Right down to the present day the magistrates of the year sacrifice to him, and the victim is a black ram. No portion of this sacrifice goes to the sooth-sayer, only the neck of the ram it is usual to give to the “woodman,” as he is called.
[5.13.3] The woodman is one of the servants of Zeus, and the task assigned to him is to supply cities and private individuals with wood for sacrifices at a fixed rate, wood of the white poplar, but of no other tree, being allowed. If anybody, whether Elean or stranger, eat of the meat of the victim sacrificed to Pelops, he may not enter the temple of Zeus. The same rule applies to those who sacrifice to Telephus at Pergamus on the river Caicus; these too may not go up to the temple of Asclepius before they have bathed.
[5.13.4] The following tale too is told. When the war of the Greeks against Troy was prolonged, the soothsayers prophesied to them that they would not take the city until they had fetched the bow and arrows of Heracles and a bone of Pelops. So it is said that they sent for Philoctetes to the camp, and from Pisa was brought to them a bone of Pelops – a shoulder-blade. As they were returning home, the ship carrying the bone of Pelops was wrecked off Euboea in the storm.
[5.13.5] Many years later than the capture of Troy, Damarmenus, a fisherman from Eretria, cast a net into the sea and drew up the bone. Marvelling at its size he kept it hidden in the sand. At last he went to Delphi, to inquire whose the bone was, and what he ought to do with it.
[5.13.6] It happened that by the providence of Heaven there was then at Delphi an Elean embassy praying for deliverance from a pestilence. So the Pythian priestess ordered the Eleans to recover the bones of Pelops, and Damarmenus to give back to the Eleans what he had found. He did so, and the Eleans repaid him by appointing him and his descendants to be guardians of the bone. The shoulder-blade of Pelops had disappeared by my time, because, I suppose, it had been hidden in the depths so long, and besides its age it was greatly decayed through the salt water.
[5.13.7] That Pelops and Tantalus once dwelt in my country there have remained signs right down to the present day. There is a lake called after Tantalus and a famous grave, and on a peak of Mount Sipylus there is a throne of Pelops beyond the sanctuary of Plastene the Mother. If you cross the river Hermus you see an image of Aphrodite in Temnus made of a living myrtle-tree. It is a tradition among us that it was dedicated by Pelops when he was propitiating the goddess and asking for Hippodameia to be his bride.
[5.13.8] The altar of Olympic Zeus is about equally distant from the Pelopium and the sanctuary of Hera, but it is in front of both. Some say that it was built by Idaean Heracles, others by the local heroes two generations later than Heracles. It has been made from the ash of the thighs of the victims sacrificed to Zeus, as is also the altar at Pergamus. There is an ashen altar of Samian Hera not a bit grander than what in Attica the Athenians call “improvised hearths.”
[5.13.9] The first stage of the altar at Olympia, called prothysis, has a circumference of one hundred and twenty-five feet; the circumference of the stage on the prothysis is thirty-two feet; the total height of the altar reaches to twenty-two feet. The victims themselves it is the custom to sacrifice on the lower stage, the prothysis. But the thighs they carry up to the highest part of the altar and burn them there.
[5.13.10] The steps that lead up to the prothysis from either side are made of stone, but those leading from the prothysis to the upper part of the altar are, like the altar itself, composed of ashes. The ascent to the prothysis may be made by maidens, and likewise by women, when they are not shut out from Olympia, but men only can ascend from the prothysis to the highest part of the altar. Even when the festival is not being held, sacrifice is offered to Zeus by private individuals and daily33 by the Eleans.
[5.13.11] Every year the soothsayers, keeping carefully to the nineteenth day of the month Elaphius,34 bring the ash from the town-hall, and making it into a paste with the water of the Alpheius they daub the altar therewith. But never may the ash be made into paste with other water, and for this reason the Alpheius is thought to be of all rivers the dearest to Olympic Zeus. There is also an altar at Didyma of the Milesians, which Heracles the Theban is said by the Milesians to have made from the blood of the victims. But in later times the blood of the sacrifices has not made the altar excessively large.
[5.14.1] XIV. The altar at Olympia shows another strange peculiarity, which is this. The kite, the bird of prey with the most rapacious nature, never harms those who are sacrificing at Olympia. Should ever a kite seize the entrails or some of the flesh, it is regarded as an unfavorable sign for the sacrificer. There is a story that when Heracles the son of Alcmena was sacrificing at Olympia he was much worried by the flies. So either on his own initiative or at somebody's suggestion he sacrificed to Zeus Averter of Flies, and thus the flies were diverted to the other side of the Alpheius. It is said that in the same way the Eleans too sacrifice to Zeus Averter of Flies, to drive35 the flies out of Olympia.
[5.14.2] The Eleans are wont to use for the sacrifices to Zeus the wood of the white poplar and of no other tree, preferring the white poplar, I think, simply and solely because Heracles brought it into Greece from Thesprotia. And it is my opinion that when Heracles sacrificed to Zeus at Olympia he himself burned the thigh bones of the victims upon wood of the white poplar. Heracles found the white poplar growing on the banks of the Acheron, the river in Thesprotia, and for this reason Homer36 calls it “Acheroid.”
[5.14.3] So from the first down to the present all rivers have not been equally suited for the growth of plants and trees. Tamarisks grow best and in the greatest numbers by the Maeander; the Boeotian Asopus can produce the tallest reeds; the persea tree flourishes only in the water of the Nile. So it is no wonder that the white poplar grew first by the Acheron and the wild olive by the Alpheius, and that the dark poplar is a nursling of the Celtic land of the Celtic Eridanus.
[5.14.4] Now that I have finished my account of the greatest altar, let me proceed to describe all the altars in Olympia. My narrative will follow in dealing with them the order in which the Eleans are wont to sacrifice on the altars. They sacrifice to Hestia first, secondly to Olympic Zeus, going to the altar within the temple, thirdly to Zeus Laoetas and to Poseidon Laoetas. This sacrifice too it is usual to offer on one altar. Fourthly and fifthly they sacrifice to Artemis and to Athena, Goddess of Booty,
[5.14.5] sixthly to the Worker Goddess. The descendants of Pheidias, called Cleansers, have received from the Eleans the privilege of cleaning the image of Zeus from the dirt that settles on it, and they sacrifice to the Worker Goddess before they begin to polish the image. There is another altar of Athena near the temple, and by it a square altar of Artemis rising gently to a height.
[5.14.6] After the altars I have enumerated there is one on which they sacrifice to Alpheius and Artemis together. The cause of this Pindar,37 I think, intimates in an ode, and I give it38 in my account of Letrini. Not far from it stands another altar of Alpheius, and by it one of Hephaestus. This altar of Hephaestus some Eleans call the altar of Warlike Zeus. These same Eleans also say that Oenomaus used to sacrifice to Warlike Zeus on this altar whenever he was about to begin a chariot-race with one of the suitors of Hippodameia.
[5.14.7] After this stands an altar of Heracles surnamed Parastates (Assistant); there are also altars of the brothers of Heracles – Epimedes, Idas, Paeonaeus, and Iasus; I am aware, however, that the altar of Idas is called by others the altar of Acesidas. At the place where are the foundations of the house of Oenomaus stand two altars: one is of Zeus of the Courtyard, which Oenomaus appears to have had built himself, and the other of Zeus of the Thunderbolt, which I believe they built later, when the thunderbolt had struck the house of Oenomaus.
[5.14.8] An account of the great altar I gave a little way back; it is called the altar of Olympian Zeus. By it is an altar of Unknown Gods, and after this an altar of Zeus Purifier, one of Victory, and another of Zeus – this time surnamed Underground. There are also altars of all gods, and of Hera surnamed Olympian, this too being made of ashes. They say that it was dedicated by Clymenus. After this comes an altar of Apollo and Hermes in common, because the Greeks have a story about them that Hermes invented the lyre and Apollo the lute.
[5.14.9] Next come an altar of Concord, another of Athena, and the altar of the Mother of the gods. Quite close to the entrance to the stadium are two altars; one they call the altar of Hermes of the Games, the other the altar of Opportunity. I know that a hymn to Opportunity is one of the poems of Ion of Chios; in the hymn Opportunity is made out to be the youngest child of Zeus. Near the treasury of the Sicyonians is an altar of Heracles, either one of the Curetes or the son of Alcmena, for both accounts are given.
[5.14.10] On what is called the Gaeum (sanctuary of Earth) is an altar of Earth; it too is of ashes. In more ancient days they say that there was an oracle also of Earth in this place. On what is called the Stomium (Mouth) the altar to Themis has been built. All round the altar of Zeus Descender runs a fence; this altar is near the great altar made of the ashes. The reader must remember that the altars have not been enumerated in the order in which they stand, but the order followed by my narrative is that followed by the Eleans in their sacrifices. By the sacred enclosure of Pelops is an altar of Dionysus and the Graces in common; between them is an altar of the Muses, and next to these an altar of the Nymphs.
[5.15.1] XV. Outside the Altis there is a building called the workshop of Pheidias, where he wrought the image of Zeus piece by piece. In the building is an altar to all the gods in common. Now return back again to the Altis opposite the Leonidaeum.
[5.15.2] The Leonidaeum is outside the sacred enclosure, but at the processional entrance to the Altis, which is the only way open to those who take part in the processions. It was dedicated by Leonidas, a native, but in my time the Roman governors of Greece used it as their lodging. Between the processional entrance and the Leonidaeum is a street, for the Eleans call streets what the Athenians call lanes.
[5.15.3] Well, there is in the Altis, when you are about to pass to the left of the Leonidaeum, an altar of Aphrodite, and after it one of the Seasons. About opposite the rear chamber a wild olive is growing on the right. It is called the olive of the Beautiful Crown, and from its leaves are made the crowns which it is customary to give to winners of Olympic contests. Near this wild olive stands an altar of Nymphs; these too are styled Nymphs of the Beautiful Crowns.
[5.15.4] Outside the Altis, but on the right of the Leonidaeum, is an altar of Artemis of the Market, and one has also been built for Mistresses, and in my account of Arcadia39 I will tell you about the goddess they call Mistress. After this is an altar of Zeus of the Market, and before what is called the Front Seats stands an altar of Apollo surnamed Pythian, and after it one of Dionysus. The last altar is said to be not old, and to have been dedicated by private individuals.
[5.15.5] As you go to the starting-point for the chariot-race there is an altar with an inscription “to the Bringer of Fate.” This is plainly a surname of Zeus, who knows the affairs of men, all that the Fates give them, and all that is not destined for them. Near there is also an oblong altar of Fates, after it one of Hermes, and the next two are of Zeus Most High. At the starting-point for the chariot-race, just about opposite the middle of it, there are in the open altars of Poseidon Horse-god and Hera Horse-goddess, and near the pillar an altar of the Dioscuri.
[5.15.6] At the entrance to what is called the Wedge there is on one side an altar of Ares Horse-god, on the other one of Athena Horse-goddess. On entering the Wedge itself you see altars of Good Luck, Pan and Aphrodite; at the innermost part of the Wedge an altar of the Nymphs called Blooming. An altar of Artemis stands on the right as you return from the Portico that the Eleans call the Portico of Agnaptus, giving to the building the name of its architect.
[5.15.7] After re-entering the Altis by the processional gate there are behind the Heraeum altars of the river Cladeus and of Artemis; the one after them is Apollo's, the fourth is of Artemis surnamed Coccoca, and the fifth is of Apollo Thermius. As to the Elean surname Thermius, the conjecture occurred to me that in the Attic dialect it would be thesmios (god of laws), but why Artemis is surnamed Coccoca I could not discover.
[5.15.8] Before what is called Theëcoleon is a building, in a corner of which has been set up an altar of Pan. The Town Hall of the Eleans is within the Altis, and it has been built beside the exit beyond the gymnasium. In this gymnasium are the running-tracks and the wrestling-grounds for the athletes. In front of the door of the Town Hall is an altar of Artemis Huntress.
[5.15.9] In the Town Hall itself, on the right as you enter the room where they have the hearth, is an altar of Pan. This hearth too is made of ashes, and on it fire burns every day and likewise every night. The ashes from this hearth, according to the account I have already given, they bring to the altar of Olympian Zeus, and what is brought from the hearth contributes a great deal to the size of the altar.
[5.15.10] Each month the Eleans sacrifice once on all the altars I have enumerated. They sacrifice in an ancient manner; for they burn on the altars incense with wheat which has been kneaded with honey, placing also on the altars twigs of olive, and using wine for a libation. Only to the Nymphs and the Mistresses are they not wont to pour wine in libation, nor do they pour it on the altar common to all the gods. The care of the sacrifices is given to a priest, holding office for one month, to soothsayers and libation-bearers, and also to a guide, a flute-player and the woodman.
[5.15.11] The traditional words spoken by them in the Town Hall at the libations, and the hymns which they sing, it were not right for me to introduce into my narrative. They pour libations, not only to the Greek gods, but also to the god in Libya, to Hera Ammonia and to Parammon, which is a surname of Hermes. From very early times it is plain that they used the oracle in Libya, and in the temple of Ammon are altars which the Eleans dedicated. On them are engraved the questions of the Eleans, the replies of the god, and the names of the men who came to Ammon from Elis. These are in the temple of Ammon.
[5.15.12] The Eleans also pour libations to all heroes and wives of heroes who are honored either in Elis or among the Aetolians. The songs sung in the Town Hall are in the Doric dialect, but they do not say who it was that composed them. The Eleans also have a banqueting room. This too is in the Town Hall, opposite the chamber where stands the hearth. In this room they entertain the winners in the Olympic games.
1. 174 A.D.
2. 44 B.C.
3. i.e. the Sun.
4. Hermann's emendation would mean: “but unto me be assigned Pytho.”
5. Hom. Il. 2.622
6. See Paus. 5.8.
7. 420 B.C.
8. 401-399 B.C.
9. See Paus. 3.8.
10. Aristoph. Birds 149
11. Not our leprosy, but a whitish, rough, scaly, skin-disease, possibly our psoriasis. See Galen 14.758.
12. For these skin.diseases see Galen 14.758. Alphos was probably our vitiligo, and leuce our leucodermia.
13. 401 B.C.
14. This sentence, obviously corrupt, seems to show a lacuna after Alpheion.The meaning probably would be to the effect that the story was an invention, to account for the disappearance of the Alpheius in the sea and its reappearance at Ortygia (es tên Ortugian).
15. That is, in the Greek way of counting. Between two Olympic festivals there were only four complete intervening years, but the Greeks included both years in which consecutive festivals were held. Thus, Ol. . . .Ol. . . .Ol. . . .Ol.
16. Hom. Il. 23.295
17. Paus. 5.4.5
18. The Greek word olpsmpias can mean either a celebration of the Olympic games or the interval between two consecutive celebrations. I have translated it by “Festival” in the first case and by “Olympiad” in the second.
19. Pind. O. 10.55
20. circa 570 B.C.
21. 609-560 B.C.
22. See Paus. 1.29.
23. circa 430 B.C.
24. There are good reasons, chronological and artistic, for thinking that neither Paeonius not Alcamenes carved the figures on the pediments.
25. This is supposed to be a mistake.
26. Hom. Il. 14.318
27. This statement is certainly incorrect; Pausanias himself says that contests for the boys were introduced at the thirty-seventh Festival, i.e. in 632 B.C. Several suggestions have been made for correcting the text. One of the most attractive is that of C. Robert (see Hermes XXIII. 1888, p. 451), who would read agônistôn for agônismatôn and transpose ou gar (for which he reads ara) pô . . . tês Pheidiou to after ogdoêkonta. This would mean: “So P. had not reached the age of boys at the time of Pheidias.”
28. Hes. Th. 901
29. Hom. Il. 5.470 foll.
30. Probably Antiochus Epiphanes, who was king of Syria 175-164 B.C.
31. 264 B.C.
32. 420 B.C.
33. It is possible thatana pasan êmeranmust be understood in the first clause from the second; “daily by individuals and by the Eleans.”
34. End of March and the beginning of April.
35. I take exelaunontesto be a conative present participle; Frazer takes it as an ordinary temporal participle; “when they drive out.”
36. Hom. Il. 13.389, and Hom. Il. 16.482.
37. Pind. N. 1
38. Paus. 6.22
39. Paus. 8.37.9