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APOLLODROS_2010

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MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM 30TH EPHORATE OF PREHISTORIC AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF AIANI

(tel/fax: 0030 24610 – 98800/1, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , website: www.mouseioaianis.gr) 

   The runner Apollodoros is known by an epigram by Antipater of Thessaloniki. Death found him in Kyllene in Arcadia, far away from Aiani and Beroea.

 You have heard of Kyllene, the mountain of ArcadiaBut now it is Apollododoros’ grave as well.One night as he was coming back from PissaZeus lightning fell and stroke him.Away from his home, Aianea and BeroiaDefeated by Zeus the runner now sleeps.   

The epigram of Antipater of Thesaloniki, preserved by the Palatino Anthology, informs us about the dramatic death of the runner Apollodoros from Aiani, winner of the foot race. In his honor, for nine continuous years the Archaeological Museum of Aiani organizes events which are culminated with the foot race event. The starting line is in the archaeological sites while the finish line is in the central square of the Municipality, near the church of Panaghia (Holly Mary). The grand and enthusiastic participation of athletes of all ages does not necessarily state the need for excellence and distinction but the need to coexist in a special evenτ in honor of an ancient habitant of their own town, whom they are proud to call “their own”. Since 2008 in the finish line there is a marble statue of the Runner, a work by the sculptor Thanos Karonis, curved during the Scupture Workshop – Symposium, held the same year with nine sculptors in the courtyard of the Archaeological Museum of Aiani (The Symposium was once again repeated in 2009 and 2010). 

    Athletics in ancient Greece were an aspect of everyday life and were closely connected with religion. Sports themselves were modeled on mythical combats waged by gods and heroes and were performed in their honor, mainly in sanctuaries and at important festivals. Due to their religious nature, athletics became closely associated with art, an association which was reinforced by the Hellenic ideal of achievement and excellence. Gymnastics was as important a part of  young man’s education as music and intellectual exercise. Through athlon, which meant “exercise”, “emulation” and “prize”, young men developed considerable intellectual and physical strength and virtues, striving to become “kaloi k’ agathoi”, complete and free.

   The systematic practice of  athletics dates to the Mycenaean period (1600  - 1100 BC), as confirmed both by representations on archaeological finds and by accounts of contests in Homer relating to this period. There is no doubt that numerous athletic contests were held all over the Greek world. Four of these became Panhellenic games and festivals and were held every four years, at the great sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and every two years at the sanctuary of Poseidon on the Isthmus of Corinth and the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea.

 FESTIVAL                YEAR ESTABLISHED                      PRIZE  

Olympia                                  776                                  wild olive wreath

Pythia                                     582                                   laurel wreath

Isthmia                                   582                                   pine wreath

Nemea                                   573                                   wild celery wreath  

  The major festivals of Panhellenic importance included the Panathenaea, which were held every four years in Athens in honour of Athena, the patron goddess of the city, and were reorganised by Peisistratus in 566 BC; and the Olympian Games, which were held in honour of Zeus at Dion at the foot of Mount Olympus.     The athletes practised and competed at venues which (in Greece at least) still have the same or similar names and functions: the gymnasium, the palaestrae, the stadiums and the hippodromes.    One of the most important events was the stadium race, a foot race of over a distance of 190 m. (one stadium). Other foot races were the diaulos, a 2 stadia race, the hippios, a semi endurance four stadia race, the dolichos, an endurance race of 7 to 24 stadia, the armed race or hoplitodromia, 2 or 54 stadia fully armed, and the lampadedromia (torch race), which was similar to moden relay race, which was ran outside the stadium, and was of ceremonial nature.    There is evidence that married women were forbidden to attend the games at Olympia. In Sparta and other Dorian cities, however, the girls trained in the gymnasia alongside the boys; and we know that women’s games were held every four years at the festival of Hera at Olympia. Myths like the one of Atalanta of Arcadia, who took part in the Calydonian boar-hunt, reflect women’s connection with athletic events; and we know that women took part in contests and games at Panhellenic and local sanctuaries in the Roman period.

    ATHLETES FROM AIANI AND UPPER MACEDONIA   

  The Upper Macedonians’ interest in athletics is reflected in numerous archaeological finds. A strigil of the early 5th century BC found at Aiani is engraved with it’s owner’s name, Apaqos; and another, of the mid 4th century BC, is stamped with the name Adamas. A grave in the ancient necropolis at Kozani contained a black – figure oenochoe of the early 5th century BC from the Aiani workshop, decorated with a wrestling scene. The presence of Panarthenaic amphoras of the 6th and 5th century BC in the necropolis of Aiani probably indicates that Aianeans took part in Panathenaean gymnastic or equestrian contests, in which the prize was not a wreath, but a quantity of oil in a large amphora bearing a representation of Athena Promachos and an illustration of the sport concerned. Besides the numerous archaeological finds that testify the practice of athletics, in large sanctuaries at which Panhellenic games were held, there have been preserved lists of theorodokoi engraved on stone. These were archons and distinguished citizens who offered accommodation to the theoroi, who were envoys sent from each sanctuary to announce in various cities the games were to be held.  A Delphic list of 230 – 220 BC preserves the first part of the name of a theorodokos from Aiani: Agora[- - -] (probably Agorakritos), while Aristonous, son of Peisaeus, who captained  one of Alexander’s the Great triremes, and  Menelaus, son of Nicanor, are known theorodokoi from Eordaea. All the above together with the evidence of the theorodokoi from Upper Macedonia, confirms that people from Upper Macedonia took part in Panhellenic games and proves that the Greek people were united by common ideals, most notably that of aien aristeuein (“always excel”).

   This tradition and our history has inspired us to establish (among other events) the “Apollodoros race” as an institution, aiming to the participation of people of all ages, children, teenagers, young women and men, adults. During past years tens of runners, from the age of 5, took part in the Apollodoros race, while we aspire to a wider participation. The goal is not the creation of champions, but physical exercise as an expression of daily life.

 

    

     

    

    

    

    

    

    

 

 

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