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ISTHMIAN GAMES 100.00%
One of the four great national festivals of the Greeks, held on the Isthmus of Corinth, in a grove of pine trees sacred to Poseidon, near the shrines of the Isthmian Poseidon and of Melicertes. From B.C. 589, they were held in the first month of spring, in the second and fourth years of each Olympiad. According to legend, the Isthmian Games were originally funeral games in memory of Melicertes (q.v.); another tradition relates that they were established by Theseus either in honour of Poseidon, or in commemoration of his victory over Sciron and Sinis. In any case, the Athenians were specially interested in the festival from the earliest times. It was alleged that, from the days of Theseus downwards, they had what was called the proedria, the right of occupying the most prominent seats at the games, and, in accordance with a law attributed to Solon, they presented to those of their citizens who were victors in the contests a reward amounting to 100 drachmoe. [The only occasion when Socrates was absent from Athens, except with the army, was to attend this festival.] The inhabitants of Elis were completely excluded from the games, being debarred from either sending competitors or festal envoys. The Corinthians had the presidency, which was transferred to the Sicyonians after the destruction of Corinth (B.C. 146), but at the rebuilding of Corinth (B.C. 46) it was restored to that city. The contests included gymnastic exercises, horse-races, and competitions in music. The two former differed in no essential way from the Olympian Games (q.v.); in the third, besides musicians, poets of either sex contended for the prize. Besides the customary palm, the prize in Pindar's time consisted of a wreath of dry selinon [often translated "parsley," but more probably identical with the "wild celery," apium graveolens. The selinon was a symbol of funeral games], After the destruction of Corinth, a crown of pine leaves was substituted for it. The games long continued to be held, even under the Roman Empire. [Cp. Plutarch, Timoleon, 26, and Sympos. v 3, 1-3.]
 
GLAUCUS 62.29%
King of Corinth, son of Sisyphus and father of Bellerophontes. At the funeral games of Pelias in Iolcus, he was thrown and torn to pieces by his own horses, which Aphrodite in her wrath had driven mad. His ghost was said to appear to the horses racing at the Isthmian games and terrify them. He was accordingly worshipped on the Isthmus, under the name of Taraxippos, or Terrifier of Horses.
 
MELICERTIS 53.43%
In Greek legend the son of Athamas and Ino, and ch~nged, after his death by drowning, into the marine deity Palaemon, while his mother became Leucothea. (See INO). His name (=Melkart), however, shows him to have been originally a Plicenician god. Like Ino-Leucothea, he was worshipped on all the coast of the Mediterranean, especially on that of Megara and at the Isthmus of Corinth, where he was so closely connected with the cult of Poseidon, that the Isthmian games, originally instituted in honour of this god, came to be looked upon as the funeral games of Melicertes. The Romans regarded him as a beneficent god of the sea, and identified him with Portunus, the god of harbours.
 
POSEIDON 42.41%
The Greek god of the sea and of everything liquid, son of Cronus and Rhea; a younger brother of Zeus, according to Homer; an elder brother, according to Hesiod. At the distribution of the world the rule over the sea and all its gods and creatures fell to him, as the rule over the sky fell to Zeus, and that over the underworld to Pluto. His wife is Amphitrite, his son Triton, his daughter Benthesikyme. As described by Homer [IL. xiii 21], he has his dwelling in the depth of the sea in a golden palace near Aegae, according to the usual acceptation on the north coast of the Peloponnesus, where lay also his other place of worship mentioned by Homer, Helice [IL. viii 203], afterwards overthrown by an earthquake. On leaving his palace, he is clad in a golden robe and wields in his hand a golden whip, while he stands in a chariot drawn by swift-footed steeds with hoofs of bronze and manes of gold, with the monsters of the deep bounding and frisking around him, as he drives over the sea, which joyfully opens before his advance. As Zeus bears the lightning, so Poseidon bears the mighty trident, with which he stirs up the sea, cleaves rocks, and makes fountains and horses spring forth from them. Another symbol of the stormy flood is the bull, for which reason men offered sacrifice to Poseidon with dark-coloured bulls, while oil the other hand, the dolphin is a symbol of the peaceful and calm sea. For, while lie sends storm and shipwreck, he is also a beneficent god, who sends favourable, winds. Every occupation on or by the sea, navigation, trade, fishing, is subject to his power; he also it is who grants victory by sea. Seafaring peoples traced their origin to him. But, as the sea was thought of as supporting the earth and as pressing into its hidden clefts and hollows, so Poseidon was worshipped from one point of view as "the supporter of the earth" (gaieochos), from the other as "the shaker of the earth" (ennosigaios, enosithom), who makes the earth quake beneath the blows of his trident. As such he was worshipped in districts which were a prey to earthquakes, as in Sparta, or in those which could show traces of great convulsions, as in Thessaly, where he was said to have opened up the Vale of Tempe, and formed the outlet of the Peneus into the sea by shattering the wall of rock which inclosed the valley. In the interior Poseidon was often worshipped as tile creator of waters, especially of springs and the blessing brought by them; so particularly in Argolis and Arcadia, where, as being the fertilizing god, he was even regarded as the lover of Demeter and father of Persephone. In the course of time, under the predominance of the conception of Poseidon as god of the sea, his worsbip in such inland places fell into the background, and was displaced by that of other deities. Hence arose the legends of his contests with other gods for particular countries, as with Athene for Athens and Troezen, and with Hera for Argolis, and of exchanges, as that of Delphi for the island of Calauria, which belonged to Apollo. He was also regarded as the creator and tamer of the horse: sometimes he was said to have brought it out of a rock by a blow, sometimes the earth was said to have been impregnated by him, and so given it birth; accordingly he was frequently worshipped as an equestrian god (hippios). Thus in the Attic deme of Colonus he was worshipped together with Athene, who was said to have invented the bridle. He was also specially worshipped at the equestrian games at the Isthmus. Owing to the great diffusion of his worship through all the Greek races of the mother-country, as well as of the colonies, he plays a chief part in Greek legend, appearing as early as the Trojan story, in which he stands on the side of the Greeks in irreconcilable wrath against Troy, on account of the deception practised on him by Laomedon. Similarly Odysseus cannot be protected from his rage on account of the blinding of his son Polyphemus, except by the unanimous will of the other gods. The unruly wildness of the sea, which is reflected in his character, appears also frequently in his sons, such as Orion, Polyphemus, Cycnus, Antaens, Busiris, Amycus, Cercyon, and others. But he was also deemed to be the ancestor of numerous noble families, especially of the Ionian race, which from old times worshipped him as a national god, and from their home on the north coast of the Peloponnesus carried his worship over with them to Asia. Here, in his chief sanctuary, on the promontory of Mycale, the Ionians celebrated their national festival, the Panionia. From the Ionian race and its representative, Theseus, arose also the national festival of Poseidon observed by all Greece at the Corinthian Isthmus, where the Isthmian games were celebrated in alternate years. The Greeks, after their victory over the Persians, set up a bronze colossus more than 10 ½ feet high in honour of the Isthmian god [Herod., ix 81]. The horse, the dolphin, and the pine tree were deemed sacred to Poseidon; it was with wreaths of pine that the victors in the Isthmian games were crowned. He was worshipped with human sacrifices, but more generally with sacrifices of horses and bulls, especially black ones; these were not unfrequently hurled alive into rivers. Besides horse-races, bull-fights were held in his honour. His temples were usually to be found on promontories, isthmuses, and tongues of land. His usual attributes were the trident and the dolphin, and also the tunny-fish. He was represented as a powerful, kingly man, like Zeus, but without his exalted calm, more compact in figure, and with thicker and curlier bair on his head. He is draped sometimes in a long robe, sometimes with a light scarf, which allows his powerful frame to be more fully displayed (see cut). Colossal statues of him often stood by harbours and on promontories. With Poseidon the Romans identified their sea-god Neptunus (q.v.).
 
SISYPHUS 25.97%
(i.e. "the crafty"). The son of Aeolus, brother of Athamas, husband of the Pleiad Merope. His son is Glaucus, the father of Bellerophon. He is regarded as the builder of Ephyra, (afterwards Corinth) and as originator of the Isthmian Games. In legends he appears as extremely cunning and crafty; in Homer he is called the "slyest of all men" [Il. vi 153]. The reason why he is punished in the other world, where he is forced for ever to keep on rolling a block of stone to the top of a steep hill, only to see it roll again to the valley, and to start the toilsome task again [Od. xi 593], is not mentioned by Homer; and later legends vary on this point. According to the account which gives the best idea of his cunning, Sisyphus discloses to the rivergod Asopus, in search of his daughter Aegina (see AeACUS), how she had been carried off by Zeus; but this information was not given until Asopus has satisfied the condition laid down by Sisyphus, by creating the spring Peirene, which ever after supplied the citadel and town of Corinth [Pausanias ii 5 § 1]. Zeus desires to kill Sisyphus as a punishment for revealing the facts, and sends Death to him; but Sisyphus fetters Death in strong chains, and no one dies, till at last Ares sets him free and hands Sisyphus over to him. But be commands his wife not to inter him, and succeeds in persuading Pluto and Persephone to let him return for awhile to the upper world in order to punish her want of love. Having no desire to return to Hades, he forgets his promise, and eventually Hermes has to come and fetch him. In the post-Homeric legends Odysseus, on account of his cunning, is made the son of Sisyphus and Anticleia [Sophocles, Ajax 190, Phil. 417; Eur., Iph. at Aulis, 524].
 
PINDAR 22.19%
The greatest of the Greek lyric poets, born about 622 B.C. at Cynoscephalae, near Thebes; son of the fluteplayer Dalphantus of the ancient and noble family of the Aegidae. His instruction in music, begun by his father, was continued by the musician and dithyrambic poet Lasus of Hermione and the two Boetian poetesses Myrtis and Corinna. He subsequently enjoyed the instructions of the eminent musicians Agathocles and Apollodorus at Athens. He lived chiefly at Thebes, but was renowned and honoured far and wide, among free communities as well as by tyrants and monarchs, not only for his skill in his art, but also for his profound piety. As a special favourite. of Apollo, he was given a seat in the temple at Delphi, and was regularly invited to the divine banquet called the Theoxenia. When he was condemned to a fine by his fellow citizens for glorifying the hostile city of Athens, the Athenians recouped him and accorded him the honour of proxenia, and afterwards erected a bronze statue in his honour. He was on the most intimate terms with Amyntas of Macedon, the Aleuadae in Thessaly and Arcesilaus of Cyrene, but more especially with Theron of Agrigentum and with Hieron of Syracuse at whose court he lived 476-472. He died a peaceful death 422, aged eighty, in the theatre at Argos. It is well known that, in the destruction of Thebes, Alexander the Great spared Pindar's house and descendants alone (Dion Chrysostom, Or. ii, p. 25 M; cp. Milton's third English sonnet]. As a poet, Pindar was remarkably prolific. His works, divided by the Alexandrian scholars into seventeen books, included hymns, paens, prosodia, parthenia, encomia, solia, threni, and epinicia [cp. Horace, Odes iv 2]. Of most of his poetry we have only fragments, but the four books of epinicia are nearly complete. These were songs celebrating the victors in the great national games, and sung by a chorus, sometimes at the scene of the victory, sometimes at the feast on the victor's return home. They contain fourteen Olympian, twelve Pythian, eleven Nemean, and eight Isthmian odes. Pindar's poetry is characterized by magnificence and sublimity of thought, expression, and metrical form. It is permeated by deep and warm religious sentiments resting on the popular creed, still unimpugned by sophistic teaching, and only ennobled by the impress of the poet's personality. He does not celebrate the victors by particular description; he takes his main ideas from the circumstances of the victor's home or personal position, or from the nature of the contest, and works them into a plot always artistic, though often obscured by the interlacing of the strands of thought and by the myths which are interwoven in appropriate detail. Harmony in thought, expression, and metre make the shortest and longest of his poems equally complete in themselves as works of art. Pindar's poetic language is the Ionic Homeric dialect, intermingled with Aeolic and especially with Doric forms. By some mistake his name (Pindarus Thebanus) became attached to an abstract of Homer's Iliad written in Latin hexameters for the use of schools in the 1st century A.D., and much used in the Middle Ages.
 
GAMES 9.72%
(1) Public. Among the Romans public games were intimately connected with religious worship. (For the public games of the Greeks, see ISTHMIAN, NEMEAN, OLYMPIAN, PYTHIAN GAMES.) The Roman ludi, originally races, appear first in the worship of Mars and Consus, the tutelary deities of horses and mules. But it was also a very ancient custom to celebrate ludi votivi, or games vowed on special occasions, particularly in time of war. Such games were usually vowed to Jupiter, the greatest deity of the Romans. These exceptional celebrations were so often repeated that they at length passed into regular annual festivals (ludi stati). The number of these games gradually increased, and so did their duration. At the end of the republican period there were seven sets of games, which occupied 65 days; in the middle of the 2nd century A.D. 135 days were given up to them, and in 354 A.D. as many as 176. In old times the games only lasted part of the day; but they gradually began to take up the whole day from early morning onwards. At a later period they went on in many cases into the night, requiring artificial illumination. The Roman ritual was very strict, and it happened pretty often that in consequence of some accidental interruption or trivial oversight, an instauratio or repetition of the spoiled day, if not of the whole festival, would be ordered, lest the gods should have any cause for anger. The different collegia of the priests were responsible for superintending the games, prescribed in honour of their respective divinities. But in the case of festivities vowed by the State, this duty fell to the high magistrates; at first to the consuls, afterwards (and almost exclusively) to the aediles, and after Augustus to the praetors. The expenses were provided for by a certain sum of money paid over from the public treasury to the giver of italics>the games. For the Ludi Romani, the greatest of all the festivals, this sum amounted, during the period preceding the Punic wars, to about £1,800. After this period it reached some £3,000, and by 51 A.D. had risen to £8,750. At the same time the givers of the games had to make larger supplementary contributious. The demands of the public were so extravagant that in course of time the amount of this private expenditure increased enormously, especially in the last century B.C. Augustus, indeed, tried to check it; but he was obliged to allow his praetors to spend three times as much on the games as was paid for the public treasury. Under the Empire many enactments were issued to restrict the expenditure on the games by law, but no permanent effect was produced. Even after the 4th century A.D. the expense rose to as large a sum as from £50,000 to £150,000. The oldest games were those of the circus, consisting mainly of horse-races and chariot-races, with gymnastic contests, to which others were added in course of time. (See CIRCUS.) After 364 B.C. dramatic representations were introduced from Etruria. These were in 240 B.C., and onwards, exchanged for regular theatrical performances (See LIVIUS ANDRONIOUS). Contests of gladiators, also from Etruria, were fashionable after 264 B.C. But these were only exhibited, during the republican period, at funeral games, private and other entertainments (see GLADIATORES). The following regular festivities were introduced in the republican period, and continued in existence until the latest times: (1) The Ludi Romani. These were the oldest games of all, and were, in strictness, celebrated in honour of Jupiter by victorious generals at their triumphs; hence it was that they included, as a special feature, a procession (pompa) from the Capitol to the Circus; a part of the performance which seems afterwards to have been embodied in the other games of the circus. Originally they lasted only one day; but in course of time they absorbed more and more time, till in the Ciceronian age they went on for fifteen (September 4-19). After the death of Caesar another day was added in his honour. After the introduction of theatrical performances, several days were taken up with them. The curule aediles were, in the republican period, responsible for the management. (2) Ludi plebei. These originally lasted one day, but afterwards fourteen, November 4-17. They were given in the Circus Flaminius under the direction of the plebeian aediles, and early included dramatic entertainments. (3) Ludi Cereales, given under the direction of the plebeian aediles in honour of Ceres, the tutelary goddess of the plebs. The date was originally April 19, afterwards April 12-19. (4) Ludi Apollinares, or in honour of Apollo. These were introduced during the Second Punic War, and celebrated originally on July 13, continuing afterwards from July 6-13. On the last day only were there any performances in the circus; the rest of the festival was given up to the drama. These were the only games for which, in the republican period, the praetor was responsible. (5) Ludi Megalenses, in honour of the Magna Mater, introduced 204 B.C. and held at first on April 4, afterwards from April 4-10. (See RHEA .) They included performances both in the theatre and in the circus. They were under the management of the curule aediles, and the same remark applies to (6) the Ludi Florales, from April 28 to May 3. (See FLORA.) During the imperial period the number of permanent festivals was largely increased. The birthday of Augustus, for instance (September 23), was regularly celebrated with ludi circenses, and the ludi Augustales (October 3-12) were instituted in honour of his memory. Side by side with the public games, private performances were often given by societies, families, and individuals on special occasions, such as those of births, marriages, or funerals. Sometimes the object would be merely to please the public: sometimes to raise money. The giver of the entertainment had, like the superintendent of the public games, the privilege of lictors and the toga proetexta. Charges for admission were made or not according to the occasion. But the admission to the public games was free, it being always understood that special seats were reserved for the magistrates, priests, senators, equites, and particular families and individuals. (See AMPHITHEATRE, CIRCUS, GLADIATORES, SEA-FIGHTS, THEATRE, WILD BEASTS.) Of social games the ancients, and especially the Greeks, had plenty. The cottabus, so popular at Greek banquets, the games of ball, of which both Greeks and Romans were fond, and the games with dice, are described in separate articles. A game of draughts (petteia) appears as early as Homer, and was said to have been the invention of Palamedes. But we have no knowledge of its nature and rules, and have very scanty information about the similar games played in later times. The "game of cities" seems to have resembled our chess or draughts. The board was divided into spaces, and movements made upon it with stones; the object being to get your opponent into check. The Romans had several games of the sort, among which the ludus latrunculorum, or game at soldiers, is to a certain extent known. This was a game of siege. The men (calculi) were divided into privates (mandroe) and officers (latrones), and the object was to take or to get your adversary's stones in check. In the ludus duodecim scriptorum, or game of 12 lines, dice were used. The dice-board was divided into 24 spaces by 12 parallel lines intersected by a line at right angles. Each side had 15 men, one set being black and the other white. Before each move the dice were thrown, and the move determined by the number which turned up. A very favourite game was Odd and Even (Gk. artiasmos, Lat. ludere par impar). You held out so many fingers, and put so many coins, pebbles, or nuts in your hand, and made your adversary guess whether the number was odd or even. The Roman children, and indeed their elders, were very fond of various games with nuts.
 
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