f. Diagoras of Rhodes (and family) – 5th c.
|February 27, 2014||Posted by nspencer under V. Greek Heroes|
Pindar Olympian 7
(translation from Perseus.edu)
For Diagoras of Rhodes Boxing-Match 464 B. C.
As when someone takes a goblet, all golden, the most prized of his possessions, foaming with the dew of the vine from a generous hand, and makes a gift of it to his young son-in-law, welcoming him with a toast from one home to another,  honoring the grace of the symposium and the new marriage-bond, and thereby, in the presence of his friends, makes him enviable for his harmonious marriage-bed; I too, sending to victorious men poured nectar, the gift of the Muses, the sweet fruit of my mind, I try to win the gods’ favor  for those men who were victors at Olympia and at Pytho. That man is prosperous, who is encompassed by good reports. Grace, which causes life to flourish, looks with favor now on one man, now on another, with both the sweet-singing lyre and the full-voiced notes of flutes. And now, with the music of flute and lyre alike I have come to land with Diagoras, singing the sea-child of Aphrodite and bride of Helios, Rhodes,  so that I may praise this straight-fighting, tremendous man who had himself crowned beside the Alpheus and near Castalia, as a recompense for his boxing, and also his father Damagetus, a man pleasing to Justice, living on the island of three cities near the foreland of spacious Asia, among Argive spearmen.  I shall want to proclaim my message for them, the widely powerful race of Heracles, and tell correctly from the beginning, from Tlepolemus, the story that concerns all. For, on the father’s side, they boast descent from Zeus, while, on the mother’s, they are descendants of Amyntor, through Astydameia. But around the minds of men  countless errors loom; and this is impossible to discover: what is best to happen to a man, now and in the end. For indeed, striking Licymnius, the bastard brother of Alcmena, with a staff of hard olive-wood as he came out of the chamber of Midea,  the founder of this land once killed that man, in anger. Disturbances of the mind lead astray even a wise man. Tlepolemus went and sought the god’s oracle. To him the golden-haired god spoke, from his fragrant sanctuary, of a voyage by ship from the shore of Lerna straight to the pasture land with sea all around it, where once the great king of the gods showered the city with golden snow,  when, by the skills of Hephaestus with the bronze-forged hatchet, Athena leapt from the top of her father’s head and cried aloud with a mighty shout. The Sky and mother Earth shuddered before her. Then even the god that brings light to mortals, son of Hyperion,  enjoined his dear children to observe the obligation that was soon to be due: that they should be the first to build for the goddess an altar visible to all men, and by founding a sacred burnt-offering warm the spirit of the father and of the daughter who thunders with her spear. She who casts excellence and joys into men is the daughter of Forethought, Reverence.  Truly, a cloud of forgetfulness sometimes descends unexpectedly, and draws the straight path of action away from the mind. For they climbed the hill without bringing the seed of burning flame; and they established the sacred precinct on the acropolis with fireless sacrifices. Zeus brought to them a yellow cloud  and rained on them abundant gold. And the gray-eyed goddess herself bestowed on them every art, so that they surpassed all mortal men as the best workers with their hands; and the roads bore works of art like living, moving creatures, and their fame was profound. For a wise craftsman, even superior skill is free from guile. The ancient stories of men tell  that when Zeus and the immortals were dividing the earth among them, Rhodes was not yet visible in the expanse of the sea, but the island was hidden in the salty depths. Helios was absent, and no one marked out a share for him; in fact they left him without any allotment of land,  although he was a holy god. And when Helios mentioned it, Zeus was about to order a new casting of lots, but Helios did not allow him. For he said that he himself saw in the gray sea, growing from the bottom, a rich, productive land for men, and a kindly one for flocks. And he bid Lachesis of the golden headband  raise her hands right away, and speak, correctly and earnestly, the great oath of the gods, and consent with the son of Cronus that that island, when it had risen into the shining air, should thereafter be his own prize of honor. And the essence of his words was fulfilled and turned out to be true. There grew from the waters of the sea  an island, which is held by the birthgiving father of piercing rays, the ruler of fire-breathing horses. And there he once lay with Rhodes, and begat seven sons who inherited from him the wisest minds in the time of earlier men; and of these one begat Cameirus, and Ialysus the eldest, and Lindus. Each had his own separate share of cities  in their threefold division of their father’s land, and their dwelling-places were named after them. There it is that a sweet recompense for his pitiful misfortune is established for Tlepolemus, the first leader of the Tirynthians, as for a god:  a procession of flocks for burnt sacrifice and the trial of contests. With the flowers from these Diagoras has had himself crowned twice, and at the renowned Isthmus four times, in his good fortune, and again and again at Nemea and in rocky Athens; and the prizes of the bronze shield in Argos and the works of art in Arcadia and Thebes are familiar with him, and the duly ordered contests  of the Boeotians, and Pellana and Aegina, where he was six times victor. And in Megara the list carved in stone gives no other account. But, Father Zeus, you who rule over the ridges of Atabyrium, grant honor to the hymn ordained in praise of an Olympian victor, and to the man who has found excellence as a boxer, and grant to him honored grace  in the eyes of both citizens and strangers. For he walks a straight course on a road that hates arrogance, knowing clearly the sound prophetic wisdom of his good ancestors. Do not bury in obscurity the shared seed of Callianax. When the Eratidae are graced with victories, the city too holds festivities; but in a single space of apportioned time  the winds shift quickly from moment to moment.
Diagoras and his Family
When you have looked at these also you will reach the statues of the Rhodian athletes, Diagoras and his family. These were dedicated one after the other in the following order. Acusilaus, who received a crown for boxing in the men’s class; Dorieus, the youngest, who won the pancratium at Olympia on three successive occasions. Even before Dorieus, Damagetus beat all those who had entered for the pancratium.
[6.7.2] These were brothers, being sons of Diagoras, and by them is set up also a statue of Diagoras himself, who won a victory for boxing in the men’s class. The statue of Diagoras was made by the Megarian Callicles, the son of the Theocosmus who made the image of Zeus at Megara. The sons too of the daughters of Diagoras practised boxing and won Olympic victories: in the men’s class Eucles, son of Callianax and Callipateira, daughter of Diagoras; in the boys’ class Peisirodus, whose mother dressed herself as a man and a trainer, and took her son herself to the Olympic games.
[6.7.3] This Peisirodus is one of the statues in the Altis, and stands by the father of his mother. The story goes that Diagoras came to Olympia in the company of his sons Acusilaus and Damagetus. The youths on defeating their father proceeded to carry him through the crowd, while the Greeks pelted him with flowers and congratulated him on his sons. The family of Diagoras was originally, through the female line, Messenian, as he was descended from the daughter of Aristomenes.
[6.7.4] Dorieus, son of Diagoras, besides his Olympian victories, won eight at the Isthmian and seven at the Nemean games. He is also said to have won a Pythian victory without a contest. He and Peisirodus were proclaimed by the herald as of Thurii, for they had been pursued by their political enemies from Rhodes to Thurii in Italy. Dorieus subsequently returned to Rhodes. Of all men he most obviously showed his friendship with Sparta, for he actually fought against the Athenians with his own ships, until he was taken prisoner by Attic men-of-war and brought alive to Athens.
[6.7.5] Before he was brought to them the Athenians were wroth with Dorieus and used threats against him; but when they met in the assembly and beheld a man so great and famous in the guise of a prisoner, their feeling towards him changed, and they let him go away without doing him any hurt, and that though they might with justice have punished him severely.
[6.7.6] The death of Dorieus is told by Androtion in his Attic history. He says that the great King’s fleet was then at Caunus, with Conon in command, who persuaded the Rhodian people to leave the Lacedaemonian alliance and to join the great King and the Athenians. Dorieus, he goes on to say, was at the time away from home in the interior of the Peloponnesus, and having been caught by some Lacedaemonians he was brought to Sparta, convicted of treachery by the Lacedaemonians and sentenced to death.
[6.7.7] If Androtion tells the truth, he appears to me to wish to put the Lacedaemonians on a level with the Athenians, because they too are open to the charge of precipitous action in their treatment of Thrasyllus and his fellow admirals at the battle of Arginusae. Such was the fame won by Diagoras and his family.
Grandson of Diagoras
By these is set up a statue of Eucles, son of Callianax, a native of Rhodes and of the family of the Diagoridae. For he was the son of the daughter of Diagoras, and won an Olympic victory in the boxing-match for men.
Plutarch Life of Pelopidas 34
(Loeb Translation 1917)
“For the death of men in the hour of their triumph is not, as Aesop used to say, most grievous, but most blessed, since it puts in safe keeping their enjoyment of their blessings and leaves no room for change of fortune. Therefore the Spartan’s advice was better, who, when he greeted Diagoras, the Olympian victor, who had lived to see his sons crowned at Olympia, and the sons of his sons and daughters, said: “Die now, Diagoras; you cannot ascend to Olympus.”
Daughter of Diagoras
As you go from Scillus along the road to Olympia, before you cross the Alpheius,there is a mountain with high, precipitous cliffs. It is called Mount Typaeum. It is a law of Elis to cast down it any women who are caught present at the Olympic games, or even on the other side of the Alpheius, on the days prohibited to women. However, they say that no woman has been caught, except Callipateira only; some, however, give the lady the name of Pherenice and not Callipateira.
[5.6.8] She, being a widow, disguised herself exactly like a gymnastic trainer, and brought her son to compete at Olympia. Peisirodus, for so her son was called, was victorious, and Callipateira, as she was jumping over the enclosure in which they keep the trainers shut up, bared her person. So her sex was discovered, but they let her go unpunished out of respect for her father, her brothers and her son, all of whom had been victorious at Olympia. But a law was passed that for the future trainers should strip before entering the arena.
Philostratus Peri Gymnastics 17
Daughter of Diagoras
(Rough translation by Charles Stocking)
But as the Eleans say, the Rhodian Pherenike was the daughter of Diagoras, and in manner was so robust that at first she seemed to be a man to the Eleans.
And so she covered herself with a robe in Olympia and trained her son Peisirodos. And that boy was a boxer and he was well-skilled in his craft and not at all inferior to his grandfather. But when they learned of her deception, they hesitated from killing her out of respect for Diagoras and the children of Diagoras; For all the Olympic victors were the relations of Pherenike, but a law was written that the coach (gymnastes) had to undress and he was not to remain unexamined by them.