The Ancient Olympics: The Fate of Cheaters

The oath that ancient Olympians swore does not survive but some of the rules that governed the Olympics does.  Runners could not make false starts, the pankratiast could do almost anything but gouge and no Olympian could cheat. What happened to those who did?

The hellanodikai who administered the games (see yesterday’s post) were assisted by umpires who carried whips or sticks who immediately punished cheaters. This was an especially harsh punishment because only slaves and children were subject to corporal punishment, never freemen.

Those athletes who bribed opponents were guilty of corruption. They were fined but the results of the match did not change. The fines were used to erect Zanes statues describing their offenses. These were statues of Zeus that were erected along the path to the stadion to serve as a reminder to the athletes against cheating.

Tomorrow, The Pentathlon  Rita Bay

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