CLST 11 Paper-3

CLST 11 Paper-3 - Winning The Pentathlon Stephanie Cochran...

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Winning The Pentathlon Stephanie Cochran Ancient Greek scholars have debated the rules and criteria regarding who won the Pentathlon competition for more than a century. Some modern scholars favor point systems, others think elimination tournaments must have been the solution, and some think a combination of these two things decided who won the pentathlon. Because the ancient sources contain no mention of a disputed pentathlon victory, the Greeks must have employed a straightforward and effective system for determining pentathlon victors. This system was in fact so familiar to the Greeks that they did not even record it in any of the sources that have survived to the present day. Modern scholars have sought to establish the method by which ancient Greeks determined victory in the pentathlon, but none of the proposed methods have achieved universal acceptance. However, the most convincing argument for how the ancient Greeks determined the victor of the Pentathlon is a combination of a ranking system and elimination tournament. Each competitor got a chance at the stadion, diskos throw, and the long jump, if one person won each of the first three events, a winner was declared and the final two events were cancelled. However, as this was probably not likely to happen often, all the competitors who placed first and second in the previous three events would advance to the javelin throw. If the person who won this event had placed first in two of the previous events, for a total of three events, he would be declared the winner. If there was no clear winner after the javelin throw, the competitors who were tied would advance to the wrestling event, where the last man standing in this elimination tournament would be declared the victor of the pentathlon. The Pentathlon was a test of an athlete’s versatility. Competitors were highly admired for their physiques and the variety of skills they could perform. “The pentathlete should be heavy rather than light, and light rather than heavy. He should be tall, well built, with good carriage, and with musculature which is neither superfluous nor inadequate. His legs should be long rather than strictly 1
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proportionate, and his hips should be flexible and limber for the backward bending of throwing the javelin and the diskos and for the jump.” i They had to be sufficiently strong in their arms, legs and core muscles for events like jumping, and the javelin and diskos throws, fast enough to win a stadion race, and tough enough to outlast their opponents in the wrestling events. The Pentathlon event was added to the Ancient Greek Olympic Program in 708BC and consisted of the diskos throw, the halma (jump), the akon (javelin throw), the stadion race, and pale (wrestling). According to Miller, “It is clear from the written sources and from visual evidence that the winner of any three of the competitions was the overall winner of the pentathlon event” ii However, as there were clearly more than two men
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CLST 11 Paper-3 - Winning The Pentathlon Stephanie Cochran...

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