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Listed 5 sub titles with search on: Ancients' feasts, games and rituals  for wider area of: "ISTHMIA Ancient sanctuary LOUTRAKI-PERACHORA" .

Ancients' feasts, games and rituals (5)

Feast in honor of distinguished persons


Festivals celebrated at Megara, at Epidaurus Limera (in Laconia), and on the Corinthian Isthmus in honour of Ino


Isthmia (Isthmian Games)

The third, games instituted by Sisyphus in honour of Melicertes, not discontinued after destruction of Corinth, celebrated by Corinthian exiles, Eleans do not compete at, statues of victors in, victors crowned with pine, Isthmian truce.

Isthmia. The Isthmian games were conducted every two years, in spring, in honor of Poseidon. The games took place at the godΥs sanctuary and lasted for three days. Those who believe that the Panhellenic games had their origin in funerary competitions have associated the Isthmian games with the death of Melikertes, also known by the name "Palaimon", who drowned together with his mother Ino. In the first half of the 6th century BC the Corinthians have added naked and equestrian competitions to the games that took place already from the 7th century in Isthmia. Corinth continued to have control of the games during the Roman era with the exception of the period 146-44 BC when the city lost its political rights and as a result the Games were organized by Sikyon. They began with a sacrifice to Poseidon and a banquet for the worshippers. Athletic competitions took part in the track and music competitions in the theatre. The winners were originally crowned with a wreath of pine, which was replaced by a wreath of wild celery in the 5th century BC. In the Roman years the winners received both.

This text is cited June 2005 from the Foundation of the Hellenic World URL below, which contains images.

Isthmia. One of the four great Hellenic festivals. It was celebrated at the Isthmus of Corinth; and though inferior to the splendour of Olympia, it probably surpassed the Nemea in brilliancy (cf. Themist. Orat. xv. p. 229, xxviii. p. 413, ed. Dind.; and Aristid. Isthm. eis poseid. iii. p. 41, Dind. vol. i.). Indeed, when one considers the natural advantages of Corinth as a centre of commerce, it is rather surprising that the Isthmian games did not attain higher importance than those of Olympia. Pindar describes the scene of the Isthmia by a variety of poetic expressions, e. g. tan haliermea Isthmou deirada (Pind. Isth. i. 9), isthmion napos (Isth. vii. 63), pontou gephur' akamantos (Nem. vi. 40), &c. A [p. 1024] sacred enclosure planted with pines, within which was the temple of the Isthmian Poseidon, surrounded the scene of the games (Strab. viii. 380). Pausanias saw here a theatre and a stadium of white marble (lithou leukou), but does not speak of the hippodrome, whence it may perhaps be inferred that it had disappeared or gone to ruin before the time of his visit (Paus. ii. 1, 7). A late inscription, belonging probably to Hadrian's reign, refers to the restoration of several edifices here which had fallen into decay. In it are mentioned kataluseis, or lodging-places, for the athletes who came to the Isthmian games from all parts of the world (tois apo tes oikoumenes epi ta Isthmia paragenomenois athletais); also enkriterioi oikoi, in which it is likely that the admissibility of intending candidates was discussed and determined; and a portico with vaulted chambers attached (stoa sun kekamaromenois oikois), in which probably those who intended to compete made ready and waited during the interval before their turn to engage came on (Boeckh, C. I. n. 115, p. 573, vol. i.). The kraneion, a gymnasium standing in an enclosure of the same name planted with cypresses, might have been used by the athletes in training for the games (Pans. ii. 2, 4; Plut. Alex. 14; Athen. xiii. 6, 589; Diog. Laert. vi. 77, p. 351).
  For information respecting the origin of the games, there remains to us nothing but obscure traces of primitive cults, which kept their seat in the Isthmus even into historic times. The myth which seems to be of greatest antiquity ascribes the institution of the festival to Poseidon and Helios, when Castor won the prize in the stadium, Kalais in the diaulos, Orpheus in playing on the cithara, Herakles as pammachos (i. e. as pancratiast), Polydeukes in boxing, Peleus in wrestling, Telamon in discus-throwing, and Theseus in the armour-race. In horseracing, Phaethon was victorious with the riding-horse, and Neleus with the four-horse chariot. On this occasion there was also a ship-race, in which the Argo obtained the prize (Dion. Chrysost. Orat. Corinth. xxxvii. t. ii. p. 107). In this myth nearly all the potentates of prehistoric Hellas are observed grouped in one tableau.
  Another legend represents the Isthmian games as founded by Poseidon to honour the memory of Melikertes, son of Athamas king of Orchomenos and Ino, who cast herself with Melikertes into the sea, becoming thereupon a Nereid with the name Leukothea, while her son became the sea-deity Palaemon (Schol. ad Pind. Isthm. p. 514 seq. B; Ovid. Met. iv. 521 seqq.).
  According to another tradition, the Nereids appeared to Sisyphos, and commanded him to found the games in honour of Melikertes. A modification of this myth states that the corpse of the son of Ino lay unburied upon the shore of the Isthmus; that the Corinthians were, in consequence, sorely pressed by famine; and that, consulting the oracle as to the means of relief, they were directed to inter the dead youth and establish the games in memory of him.
  Yet another myth informs that Theseus founded the Isthmia in grateful commemoration of his victory over the wicked giant Sinis Pityokamptes (Schol. ad Pind. Isthm. p. 514 B). Now, since both Sinis and Theseus were children of Poseidon, the institution of the festival by the latter might be looked upon as an act of atonement offered by him to his offended father; and this view would help us to understand the statement that the Melikertes festival took rank rather as a mystic rite than as a popular assembly, the cynosure of sightseers (Plut. Thes. 25, teletes echon mallon e theas kai panegurismou taxin). The other legends as to the origin of the Isthmia need not detain us. In almost all we see that, as the mythic history of the Olympic games takes us back to Zeus, so that of the Isthmian refers us ultimately to Poseidon. Plut. (l. c.) says that Theseus founded the latter in emulation of Herakles, who had established the former. Later accounts represent Theseus as having confirmed, by the institution of the games, a friendly political relationship between Athens and Corinth. According to Hellanikos, and Andron of Halicarnassus, Theseus made a covenant with the Corinthians by which Athenian theoroi should receive at the Isthmia so much standing-ground (proedria) as could be covered by the sail of the theoric vessel (Plut. l. c.). The inscription of the Parian marble numbers 995 years backwards from its own time to the institution of the Isthmian games by Theseus.
  In the time of the Cypselids at Corinth, the celebration of these games was suspended for seventy years (Solin. 12). Solon offered a reward of a hundred drachmae to every Athenian isthmionikes, from which it is evident that in his time the Isthmia had obtained wide celebrity as a periodic festival. It is noteworthy that even the destruction of Corinth by Mummius in 146 B.C. did not break the continuity of the games. They flourished under the Roman empire, and Corinthian coins of the reigns of Hadrian, Verus, M. Aurelius, and Commodus, frequently bear the inscription ISTHMIA. In the reign of Julian these, like the other great Hellenic games, were zealously celebrated, but they ceased to exist probably about Olymp. 293, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman empire.
  Of the four great Pan-Hellenic festivals, two--the Olympia and Pythia--were penteteric, i.e. recurring after intervals of four years: while two--the Nemean and Isthmian--were trieteric, i.e. recurring after intervals of two years. Hence Pliny (H. N. iv. § 5) and Solinus (c. 9) are in error when they represent the Isthmia as quinquennial. Cf. Pindar, Nem. vi. 40, where he uses the words: en amphiktionon taurophonoi t rieteridi Poseidanion an temenos. Eusebius places the first historic Isthmiad in Olymp. 49, 3 (Chron. libr. post. p. 125, interp. Hieron. ed. Seal. ii.). The Isthmia occurred in the first and third years of each Olympiad. As to the season in which they were held, so much alone is certain (cf. Boeckh, Explic. ad Pind. Olymp. ix. p. 183) that the Isthmia which fell in the first year of an Olympiad took place in summer (Thucyd. viii. 10; Curt. iv. 5, 11), and that those which fell in the third took place in spring (Xen. Hell. iv. 5; Liv. xxxiii. 32, 33). Dodwell argued from Pindar, Olymp. ix. 83, with Schol., that the former were celebrated on the 12th of the Attic month Hecatombaeon, which corresponded with the penultimate month of the Corinthian year (Dodw. de Cycl. vi. 3, p. 283 ff.). Corsini held that this summer festival occurred on the 12th of the Corinthian Panemos, which, according to him, coincided with the Attic Hecatombaeon; according to Boeckh, with Metageitnion. But Boeckh (ad Pind. l. c.) shows the inconclusiveness of their reasoning.
  The programme of the Isthmian games included gymnic equestrian and musical contests, the gymnic being probably the oldest. The Isthmian contests no doubt resembled in the main those of the other three great festivals. They were open to boys, men, and youths, well grown but not quite matured to manhood (ageneioi). Mention is on record of isthmionikai who obtained prizes in the stadium (for men and boys), the pancratium (for men and ageneioi), and the pentathlum (Dion Chrysost. Diog. e isthm. Orat. ix. p. 291, vol. i. Reisk., and Krause, Pyth. Nem. Isthm. pp. 209 ff.). In equestrian contests we hear only of victories with the four-horse chariot and the riding-horse, but we cannot, from absence of reference to other equestrian contests, infer that there were none except these.
  Pausanias (i. 2, v. 2) mentions a general truce which prevailed during the Isthmian games (isthmikai spondai), and dated from the mythic age. In historic times this truce was regularly proclaimed throughout Hellas by heralds called spondophoroi, whose persons were sacred, but who were not obeyed, however, if the festival was not at the time under legitimate management (cf. Xen. Hell. iv. 5, 2; Diod. xiv. 86, p. 709; Pans. iii. 10, 1).
  The Eleans alone of the Hellenic states sent no theoroi to these games; nor did any from Elis, except the people of Lepreum, present themselves as candidates for Isthmian honours (Paus. l. c. and vi. 16, 2).
We have little or no information as to the special rules which regulated the celebration of the Isthmia, but we may suppose them to have been similar to the rules observed at the Olympia, Nemea, and Pythia (vid. Aristid. peri homon., Or. xlii. p. 781; Themist. Or. xv. p. 229; Krause, Olympia, § 15, 144-156). We know, however, that the same person might here compete in as many as three contests on one and the same day (Pans. vi. 15, 3). We gather from Plutarch (Sympos. v. 2) that women were admitted to poetical competitions. The beginning of the games was announced by a herald, who, advancing into the middle of the scene, proclaimed silence with a trumpet, and then in a set form of words declared the festival to have begun (Liv. xxxiii. 32; Themist. l. c.).
  The Isthmia were naturally even from prehistoric times under the control of the Corinthians (cf. Pans. v. 2, 1; 22, 3; Plut. Thes. 25). In Pindar they alone are referred to as the presidents (cf. Nem. ii. 20). But in Olymp. 96 the games were held by the Laconizing Corinthian exiles, under the protection of Agesilaus, who interrupted the celebration of the festival by the Argives and those of the Corinthians who had submitted to them. As soon as he withdrew, the Argives celebrated the games over again. But in Olymp. 98. 2, by the peace of Antalkidas, the Corinthians were freed from the Argive yoke, and recovered control of the Isthmia. When Corinth was destroyed by Mummius (B.C. 146), the management of the festival passed to the Sicyonians, who retained it until the restoration of Corinth by Julius Caesar, when the agonothesia returned to its original possessors (Pans. ii. 2, 2). We have no account of the number of presidents of the games (agonothetai), who were chosen apparently for their wealth and nobility. It is supposable that, like the Hellanodikae at Olympia, they wore a distinctive robe of office; and we know from Dion Chrysost. (Orat. ix. Diog. e isthm. p. 291, vol. i. ed. R.) that their heads were adorned with crowns.
  The prize of victors at the Isthmia, like that won at each of the other three great festivals, had during the historic period no intrinsic value, its symbolic worth being thereby immeasurably enhanced. In Homeric times, such prizes always possessed intrinsic worth, and it is a mere anachronism when some myths describe the primitive Isthmia as an agon stephanites. The victor's meed in historic times was a wreath of parsley (selinon: cf. Pind. Nem. iv. 88; Olymp. xiii. 31). It has been thought that the Nemean differed from the Isthmian wreath in that the former was made of green or fresh, while the latter was made of dry parsley (Schol. Pind. Olymp. xiii. 45); but this view lacks proof. Tradition has it that the original parsley-wreath was succeeded in prehistoric times by a wreath of pine; but in the classical period we hear only of the former being awarded, as it continued to be in the time of Timoleon (cf. Diod. xvi. 679 ; Plut. Tim. 26). Nor was it until probably long after the restoration of Corinth by Julius Caesar that the pine-wreath supplanted it. But under the Empire isthmionikae are regularly represented as crowned with the pine, called simply he pitus, like the Olympian garland, ho kotinos (vid. Plut. Symp. v. 3, 1-3; Pans. v. 21, 5, vi. 13; Luc. Anach. 9, 16). While parsley was suited to an agon epitaphios, the pine was characteristic of the worship of Poseidon (cf. Plut. Symp. l. c.). A Corinthian coin of the reign of Verus shows the pine-wreath, and from this onward to the abolition of the festival the wreath of the isthmionikae continued to be woven of pine. Here, as in the other great games, the victor received with the crown a palm branch in token of his victory (Plut. Symp. viii. 4, 1; Pans. viii. 48, 2). At these games Flamininus (and Nero afterwards) declared the autonomy of Hellas (Liv. xxxiii. 32; Suet. Ner. 22, 24). Rhetoricians, poets, and other writers brought their productions under public notice at the Isthmia (Dion Chrysost. Diog. e peri aretes, pp. 277, 278, vol. i. R.). According to Dion Chrysost. (Diog. e isthm. Orat. ix. p. 289, vol. i. R.), visitors came from Italy, Sicily, Libya, Thessaly, the Ionian States, and even the Borysthenes, to be present at the great Isthmian festival.
  As the Olympia, Pythia, and Nemea lent their names to minor festivals, so the name Isthmia was applied to other games than those held at the Isthmus of Corinth. The number of inferior Isthmia, however, was not as large as that of the inferior copies of the other great games. Coins and inscriptions remain, which refer to Isthmia held at Ancyra in Galatia. Isthmia at Nicaea in Bithynia are mentioned on a coin of this town, struck in the time of Valerianus. [p. 1026] The Isthmia at Syracuse are known to us only from the isolated statement of a schol. to Pind. Olymp. xiii. 158, which, however, is credible from the fact that Syracuse was founded by Corinth. Several ancient authors whose writings are lost treated the subject of the Isthmian games. Both Plutarch and Athenaeus refer to a work on this subject written by the epic poet Euphorion (Plut. Sympos. v. 3, 2, 3; Athen. iv. 182). For further information, the reader may be referred to Krause (Pyth., Nem., Isthm.), whose work has been chiefly followed in the present article.

This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Isthmia (ta Isthmia). 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 drachmae. 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, horseraces, and competitions in music. The former two differed in no essential way from the Olympian Games; 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 needles was substituted for it. The games long continued to be held, even under the Roman Empire. (Cf. Plut. Timoleon, 26; Sympos. v. 3, 1-3).

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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