Pausanias Description of Greece 5.7 ff.

[5.7.1] 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.1 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 fifth1 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] 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,1 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.

[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,1 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,1 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.

[5.10.1] 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. Pindar1 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 Eleans1, 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 Lydian1, 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.

... [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 Thrace1; those in the back pediment are by Alcamenes,2 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.3 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's4 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.


[5.11.1] 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.1 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 poetry1 are included among the daughters of Zeus. Homer too in the Iliad2 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] .... 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.

[5.12.4] In Olympia there is a woollen curtain, adorned with Assyrian weaving and Phoenician purple, which was dedicated by Antiochus,1 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.... 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.1

[5.13.1] 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 daily1 by the Eleans. [5.13.11] Every year the soothsayers, keeping carefully to the nineteenth day of the month Elaphius,1 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] 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 drive1 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. ...


[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....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. .... 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] 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....[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 Arcadia1 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] ... 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. ... 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.

[5.16.1] It remains after this for me to describe the temple of Hera and the noteworthy objects contained in it. ... The style of the temple is Doric, and pillars stand all round it. In the rear chamber one of the two pillars is of oak. The length of the temple is one hundred and sixty-nine feet, the breadth sixty-three feet, the height not short of fifty feet. Who the architect was they do not relate. [5.16.2] Every fourth year there is woven for Hera a robe by the Sixteen women, and the same also hold games called Heraea. The games consist of foot-races for maidens. These are not all of the same age. The first to run are the youngest; after them come the next in age, and the last to run are the oldest of the maidens. They run in the following way: [5.16.3] their hair hangs down, a tunic reaches to a little above the knee, and they bare the right shoulder as far as the breast. These too have the Olympic stadium reserved for their games, but the course of the stadium is shortened for them by about one-sixth of its length. To the winning maidens they give crowns of olive and a portion of the cow sacrificed to Hera. They may also dedicate statues with their names inscribed upon them. Those who administer to the Sixteen are, like the presidents of the games, married women. [5.16.4] The games of the maidens too are traced back to ancient times; they say that, out of gratitude to Hera for her marriage with Pelops, Hippodameia assembled the Sixteen Women, and with them inaugurated the Heraea. ... [5.16.5] Besides the account already given they tell another story about the Sixteen Women as follows. Damophon, it is said, when tyrant of Pisa did much grievous harm to the Eleans. But when he died, since the people of Pisa refused to participate as a people in their tyrant's sins, and the Eleans too became quite ready to lay aside their grievances, they chose a woman from each of the sixteen cities of Elis still inhabited at that time to settle their differences, this woman to be the oldest, the most noble, and the most esteemed of all the women. [5.16.6] The cities from which they chose the women were Elis, ... The women from these cities made peace between Pisa and Elis. Later on they were entrusted with the management of the Heraean games, and with the weaving of the robe for Hera. The Sixteen Women also arrange two choral dances, one called that of Physcoa and the other that of Hippodameia. ... The Eleans still adhere to the other ancient customs, even though some of the cities have been destroyed. For they are now divided into eight tribes, and they choose two women from each. [5.16.8] Whatever ritual it is the duty of either the Sixteen Women or the Elean umpires to perform, they do not perform before they have purified themselves with a pig meet for purification and with water. Their purification takes place at the spring Piera. You reach this spring as you go along the flat road from Olympia to Elis.

[5.17.1] These things, then, are as I have already described. In the temple of Hera is an image of Zeus, and the image of Hera is sitting on a throne with Zeus standing by her, bearded and with a helmet on his head. They are crude works of art. The figures of Seasons next to them, seated upon thrones, were made by the Aeginetan Smilis.1 Beside them stands an image of Themis, as being mother of the Seasons. It is the work of Dorycleidas, a Lacedaemonian by birth and a disciple of Dipoenus and Scyllis. [5.17.2] The Hesperides, five in number, were made by Theocles, who like Dorycleidas was a Lacedaemonian, the son of Hegylus; he too, they say, was a student under Scyllis and Dipoenus. The Athena wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and shield is, it is said, a work of Medon, a Lacedaemonian, brother of Dorycleidas and a pupil of the same masters. [5.17.3] Then the Maid and Demeter sit opposite each other, while Apollo and Artemis stand opposite each other. Here too have been dedicated Leto, Fortune, Dionysus and a winged Victory. I cannot say who the artists were, but these figures too are in my opinion very ancient. The figures I have enumerated are of ivory and gold, but at a later date other images were dedicated in the Heraeum, including a marble Hermes carrying the baby Dionysus, a work of Praxiteles, and a bronze Aphrodite made by Cleon of Sicyon.1 [5.17.4] The master of this Cleon, called Antiphanes, was a pupil of Periclytus, who himself was a pupil of Polycleitus of Argos. A nude gilded child is seated before Aphrodite, a work fashioned by Boethus of Calchedon. There were also brought hither from what is called the Philippeum other images of gold and ivory, Eurydice the wife of Aridaeus and Olympias the wife of Philip.

Chest of Kypselos and other items

Votives from athletes; fines imposed on dishonest athletes; statues of Zeus

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