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Les hippodromes et les concours hippiques dans la grèce antique

 | 
Jean-Charles Moretti
, 
Panos Valavanis

Les épreuves hippiques et les chevaux

Identification of some winners in the keles race in Posidippus’ epigrams

Filippo Canali De Rossi

Résumé

Through an examination of epigrams concerning the race for single horses in the Hippikà section of the Milan Papyrus Vogliano VIII 309, the author develops the hypothesis that these epinician epigrams did not celebrate contemporary victories (such as those for the Ptolemies), but instead, historical winners of the past. It seems that in doing so Posidippus recycled facts from the history of Greek sport that already belonged to a shared knowledge, like the multiple victories of the Spartan Euagoras, or those of the Corinthian Pheidolas and his sons. Combined victories (equestrian and athletic) of popular figures such as Hippostratus from Croton and Eubatas from Cyrenae were also poetically reshaped. It is possible that these epigrams stood on the bases of horses’ statues, with some in a Thessalian stud.

Texte intégral

  • 1 P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309 is a collection of about one hundred epigrams. It is generally ascribed to t (...)
  • 2 Canali De Rossi 2016b; see Canali De Rossi 2011, p. 79. Criticism about my solution (Euagoras) has (...)

1The Hippikà section in the Milan Papyrus Vogliano VIII 3091 contains 18 epigrams (from 71 to 88), some of them very poorly preserved (particularly 80 and 81), celebrating winners in several equestrian competitions in different festivals. In a former study I examined Posidippus’ epigrams concerning the four-horse chariot race, and I proposed an identification for the winner celebrated in Posidippus, 77:2 this time I am going to consider epigrams concerning the race for single horses, with the intent to suggest identifications of some celebrated winners –these suggestions might be disputable, I am afraid, but worth considering. According to my hypothesis these epinician epigrams did not concern contemporary victories (such as those for the Ptolemies), but celebrate historical winners of the past.

Posidippus’ epigram 83
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XIII 15-18)

Θεσσαλὸς ὀξ[ύτατ]α ἵππος ὀλύµπια µουνοκέλης τρὶς
   νικῶν ἄγ[κειµ]αι µνῆµα ἱερὸν Σκοπάδαις
πρῶτος κ[αὶ µ]όνος οὗτος. ἐλέγχετε, τρὶς γὰρ ἐνίκων
   [   ἐπ’ ἀλ]φειῷ, µάρτυρες ἰαµίδαι.

2L. 2: vel ἄγ[κειτ]αι.

A Thessalian steed, three times winner at Olympia at a great speed in the race for single horses, [I am dedicated here], sacred to the Scopadae, the first and only. Disprove me, O witnesses Iamidae! I won three times [- - -] upon the banks of Alpheus.

  • 3 Most of the family was allegedly destroyed in the home’s ruin, that took place in 510 BC and was wi (...)

3In this epigram the speaking voice is probably that of the winning horse: he says he is the first and only one to have won three times in the race for single horses (keles: poetically µουνοκέλης, l. 1), and the speaking statue is now a votive offering to the Scopadae, the famous Thessalian family, prospering until towards the end of the 5th century BC.3 But if we check the list of Olympic winners, no single horse or owner is able to boast an exploit of having won three times in the race for single horses.

  • 4 On Pherenikos see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 23-25.

4It is worth considering that the agonistic career of a thoroughbred horse today spans in most cases no more than two or three seasons, although it can extend up to seven ou eight years, but such long careers are truly an exception: a triple Olympic gain requires indeed an agonistic excellence extended for at least nine years. In this respect (extended agonistic supremacy) the most celebrated horse in Greek antiquity was probably Pherenikos, property of Hiero, former regent of Gela (since 485 BC) and Syracusan tyrant after the death of his brother Gelon (478-466 BC): Pherenikos allegedly won in two successive editions of the Pythian games (26th and 27th edition, 482 and 478 BC respectively) and finally, and by a long distance (ἀκέντητος, literally “without being whipped”), also in the tricentennial Olympic Games of 476 BC (76th edition).4

5It would be strange if a horse more successful than Pherenikos, gaining no less than three Olympic victories, had subsequently fallen into total oblivion, and received no mention whatever in the extant sources, such as Pausanias. On the other hand, since it is impossible to integrate Pherenikos’ name in the gap at the beginning of the 4th line of this epigram, it is compelling to think of another attribution.

  • 5 Pausanias, 6.13.9-10. Moretti L. 1957, nos. 147, 152.
  • 6 Pausanias, 6.13.9 (transl. W.H.S. Jones): ἡ δὲ ἵππος ἡ τοῦ Κορινθίου Φειδόλα ... τὸν δὲ ἁναβάτην ἔτ (...)
  • 7 Moretti L. 1957, no. 147: “l’epigramma inciso sullo zoccolo della statua votiva, attribuito ad Anac (...)
  • 8 Transl. W.R. Paton.

6The ancient sources credit indeed three Olympic victories, in a restricted span of time, and all of them in the race for the single horses (keles), to the family of the Corinthian Pheidolas. The first of these three was the victory gained by the same Pheidolas, and it would have been followed immediately by two other victories gained by his sons: it all was supposed to happen at the end of 6th century BC, between 512 (the victory of Pheidolas) and 508 and 504 BC (the two victories of his sons recorded in an epigram).5 Against this triplicity of victories in Pheidolas’ home some objections arise: the first objection is that in Pausania’s account of the victory of Pheidolas6 the winner is a female horse named Aura: “at the beginning of the race she chanced to throw her rider. But nevertheless she went on running properly, turned round the post, and, when she heard the trumpet, quickened her pace, reached the umpires first, realised that she had won and stopped running. The Eleans proclaimed Pheidolas the winner and allowed him to dedicate a statue of this mare”. The feminine sex of the winning horse has however been challenged,7 on the basis of Palatine Anthology 6.135, an epigram credited to Anacreon (therefore a contemporary), where Pheidolas’ winning horse is undoubtedly a male horse: οὗτος Φειδόλα ἵππος ἀπ’ εὐρυχόροιο Κορίνθου | ἄγκειται Κρονίδαι µνᾶµα ποδῶν ἀρετᾶς (“ This horse of Pheidolas from spacious Corinth is dedicated to Zeus in memory of the might of his legs”).8

  • 9 Ebert 1972, p. 47: “Die Verlesung ΟΥΤΟΣ aus ΟΥΡΟΣ wäre leicht möglich gewesen”.
  • 10 On Aura see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 17-19.

7To reconcile the male sex of the horse with the name of Aura it was proposed to insert the name Οὖρος, meaning “Fair Wind”, at the beginning of the first line:9 Οὖ<ρ>ος Φειδόλα ἵππος ἀπ’ εὐρυχόροιο Κορίνθου | ἄγκειται Κρονίδαι µνᾶµα ποδῶν ἀρετᾶς (“Fair Wind, horse of Pheidolas from spacious Corinth, is dedicated to Zeus in memory of the might of his legs”).10

  • 11 Pausanias, 6.13.10.
  • 12 Pausanias, 6.13.10: “But the inscription is at variance with the Elean records of Olympia victors. (...)
  • 13 On Lykos see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 19-20.

8The second objection is that, although the double victory of Pheidolas’ sons was mentioned in the following epigram seen and reported by Pausanias11 in the Altis in Olympia –ὠκυδρόµας Λύκος ἴσθµι’ ἅπαξ, δύο δ’ ἐνθάδε νίκαις | Φειδώλα παίδων ἐσρεφάνωσε δόµους (“The swift Lykos by one victory at the Isthmus and two here crowned the house of the sons of Pheidolas”)– the same Pausanias was able to find only one victory of the sons of Pheidolas in the list of Olympic winners, that which occurred in the 68th edition of 508 BC.12 Therefore modern scholars, understanding that there had been two victories in total for Pheidolas’ house (the father’s and the sons’), introduced a correction in the epigram, a copulative tau in the second line, in order to distribute the two victories between Pheidolas and his sons: ὠκυδρόµας Λύκος ἴσθµι’ ἅπαξ, δύο δ’ ἐνθάδε νίκαις | Φειδώλα παίδων <τ’> ἐστεφάνωσε δόµους (“ The swift Lykos by one victory at the Isthmus and two here crowned the house of Pheidolas <and> of the sons”). Be that as it may, the name of the horse, two times winner at Olympia and one time at the Isthmian Games according to the epigram, for a total of three Panhellenic victories, is declared as Lykos.13

  • 14 Mention of the γένος of the Scopadae is to be found in other poets of the Ptolemaic court in Alexan (...)

9A last objection is that Pheidolas, and therefore his sons, are Corinthians, while in Posidippus’ epigram (l. 2) the triple victory seems to glorify the Thessalian γένος of the Scopadae.14 One possible explanation would be that the horse was a Thessalian one, and that his statue was put on display as an offering (ἀνάθεµα) in a Thessalian context, maybe a sort of “hall of fame” in a stud.

10To sum up: already in antiquity, it seems, there was uncertainty about the exact number of victories gained by Pheidolas’ family, as well as about the precise identity of the winning horse(s). Posidippos however may have solved for himself that question in a simplistic way, crediting to one horse all three alleged Olympic victories of the house of Pheidolas. The poet seems to expect that someone will contest this interpretation (three Olympic victories for one horse), therefore in the last two lines he rhetorically challenges the Olympian umpires, the Iamidae, to state, if they can, that this is not true: ἐλέγχετε, τρίς γὰρ ἐνίκων [Οὔρος (vel Λύκος) ἐπ’ ἀλ]φειῷ, µάρτυρες ἰαµίδαι.

11However tempting, there is a metrical difficulty in restoring the name of Lykos, since the first syllable of the name is short; unless a solution for inserting the name of Lykos is found, I would not disregard Ebert’s conjecture Οὔρος, a male equivalent for Aura.

Posidippus’ epigram 71
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XI 21-24)

12In this epigram the victory of a horse named αἴθων is proclaimed, as in the former case, in a Thessalian context, but this time the speaking voice is that of the owner, Hippostratos; he was himself winner, in the running contest for men, during the same edition of the Pythian games.

Οὗτος ὁ µουνοκέλης Αἴθων ἐµὸς ἤ[ρατο νίκην]
κἀγὼ τὴν αὐτὴν Πυθιάδα στ[άδιον].
δὶς δ’ ἀνεκηρύχθην ἱππόστρ[ατος] ἀθλοφ[όρος τ’] ἦν
ἵππος ὁµοῦ κἀγώ, πότνια Θεσσαλία.

13L. 1: ἵ[ππος ἐνίκα], Austin, Bastianini 2002.

This mine racehorse, Aethon, g[ained victory], as did I, at the same Pythiad, [in the sprint]; twice I, Hippostr[atus], was proclaimed the winner – the horse and myself as well, O mistress Thessaly.

  • 15 IG V 1, 213 = Moretti L. 1953, no. 16. Cf. Canali De Rossi 2011, pp. 49-51; Nafissi 2013; Canali De (...)
  • 16 His victories are referred to the years 564 and 560 BC by Moretti L. 1957, nos. 100, 104. On this e (...)
  • 17 See Posidippus’ epigrams 84 and 85, where also the owners, however, are Thessalian. On Thessalian b (...)

14That an athlete would also be the owner of horses is well attested in the Laconian inscription of Damonon.15 This time the name of the owner recalls an otherwise renowned (however non Thessalian) athlete: Hippostratus from Kroton, twice winner in the sprint at Olympia.16 In the present case the epigram is willing to associate an equestrian victory gained by his horse in a minor, however Panhellenic, contest, with the major celebration of him as a renowned athlete. Accepting this hypothesis, we should examine the former case: why are these victories being associated with Thessaly? It is my belief that these statues, along with others, where probably set up in a stud in Thessaly, where local breeding of horses was celebrated:17 renowned foreign owners thus became ‘testimonials’ of the Thessalian breed.

Posidippus’ epigram 86
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XIII 27-30)

  • 18 Including, possibly, Euagoras, Posidippus ep. 77, Pheidolas, ep. 83, Hippostratus, ep. 71.
  • 19 Same name but not same horse as Hippostratus’, since its origin is expressly stated as Messenian: i (...)

15In this series of epideictic epigrams for historical winners of the past18 we can also consider Posidippus’ epigram 86, where the speaking voice of the owner, Εὐβώτας, declares the winning record of another horse Αἴθων.19 The horse happened to crown Eubotas four times as winner in the Nemean Games, and twice in the Pythian Games:

[Ἴσθµια ἀν]τόµεν[ος] θρασὺς ἔδραµε. καὶ γὰρ ἐνίκα
   ἵππος [ὅ]δ’ ἐν Νεµεᾶι τετράκις οἰοκέλης
καὖτε [δ]ὶς ἐν Πυθοῖ στάδιον Μ[ε]σσήνιος Αἴθων,
   καὶ ἐ[ς ἕ]τερ’ Εὐβώταν ἐστεφ[ά]νωσεν ἐµέ.

  • 20 Ferrari 2005, esp. p. 206.
  • 21 Lapini 2007, pp. 288-289.

16L. 1 restored by Ferrari20 and Lapini.21 L. 4 Lapini.

Coming forward he ran bold the Isthmia; and at Nemea indeed in the race for single riders this horse was four times victorious, and twice at Pytho as well he won the sprint, Messenian Aithon, and on other occasions he got the crown for me, Eubotas.

  • 22 Moretti L. 1957, no. 347.
  • 23 In 364 BC according to Moretti L. 1957, no. 421.
  • 24 In other sources Eubatas: see Moretti L. 1957, no. 347. This is the variant attested in local inscr (...)
  • 25 Aelianus, Varia Historia 10.2, tells a story about Eubatas being coveted in Olympia by the courtesa (...)

17The name of Eubotas, as well as that of Hippostratus, is not unknown to the agonistic records: under this name we do know an athlete who, after winning in the sprint race for men at the Olympian Games in 408 BC,22 gained a second Olympic victory several years later as owner of a four-horse chariot;23 the epigram of Posidippus however is centred upon hitherto unknown successes repeatedly gained for Eubotas by a horse named Aithon in the race for single horses (here called οἰοκέλης, l. 2) and in the lesser Panhellenic games. His horse is Messenian, but the historical Eubotas24 came fron Cyrenae:25 like in the former two epideictic epigrams we must suppose that the horse’s provenance was considered to be the most important aspect, probably in relation to the place where the statue stood, possibly also a “hall of fame” in a stud or a court.

Conclusion

  • 26 These were winners with the single horse and in the boxe among the boys: Pausanias, 6.14.12; Morett (...)

18It seems that in some epigrams of the Hippikà section Posidippus quoted, manipulated and completed facts from the history of Greek sport that belonged to a shared heritage. He freely reformulated what was already known and that has, at least in part, also been handed down to our knowledge. I refer to the story of the Spartan Euagoras who was already known by Herodotus, that of Pheidolas and his sons, those of the sprinters Hippostratos of Kroton (known from the list of Iulius Africanus) and Eubotas (or Eubatas) from Cyrene: this last example is especially relevant, since this athlete was already known (from a variety of authors including Pausanias) as an owner of horses. Likewise the Spartan Damonon and his son Enymakratidas, attested only epigraphically –but also the Coan Xenombrotos and his son Xenodikos26 competed both in equestrian and athletic contests.

  • 27 Also a region renowned for horse-breeding; cf. Pausanias, 6.2.1.

19Posidippus reshaped those stories in an epideictic form to be engraved on the basis of horses’ statues, some of which had probably been erected in a Thessalian stud (in order to explain references to Thessaly in those epigrams) or in the Peloponnese,27 as is probably the case concerning the Cyrenaean Eubotas. In both cases we may think of horse-breeding studs, embellished by statues of former champions that had grown up on the same spot, each accompanied by a proper epigram.

Notes

1 P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309 is a collection of about one hundred epigrams. It is generally ascribed to the poet Posidippus from Pella, since nos. 15 and 65 of the papyrus correspond to epigrams of Posidippus already known (Tzetzes, Historiarum variorum Chiliades 7, 660 = Gow, Page 1965, Posidippus no. 20 and Anthologia Palatina [16], 119 = Gow, Page 1965, Posidippus no. 18). Criticism about the ascription of the new papyrus to Posidippus has been expressed by Schröder 2004. The edition of the papyrus has been provided by Bastianini, Gallazzi 2001; an edition of all texts now known from Posidippus has been made by Austin, Bastianini 2002. For a collection of essays and English translations of the texts (on which mine are also based) see Gutzwiller 2005.

2 Canali De Rossi 2016b; see Canali De Rossi 2011, p. 79. Criticism about my solution (Euagoras) has kindly been expressed in a private conversation by Prof. Chr. Mann during the conference in Athens, because after ΕΥ traces of the third letter in the second line do not seem pertinent to an A: an ink spot may however be misleading there.

3 Most of the family was allegedly destroyed in the home’s ruin, that took place in 510 BC and was witnessed by the poet Simonides (Cicero, de Oratore 2.86.352-353; Quintilian, 11.2.11-15; Valerius Maximus, 1.8.7; Ovid, Ibis 513. See now Poltera 2008, 70-73, T 80). The epinician ode that Simonides composed for Scopas is quoted by Plato, Protagoras 339 a-b [frg. 5 Bergk4 = Poltera 2008, F 260]. Some members of the family however survived, since at the end of the 5th-beginning of the 4th century we find again one Scopas who was a contemporary of Socrates and of king Archelaos of Macedonia (Diogenes Laertius, 2.25) and made the present of a Sicilian necklace to the Persian prince Cyrus (Aelianus, Varia Historia 12.1). Other main evidence about the family of the Scopadae concerns Diactorides, one of Agariste’s suitors (Herodotus, 6.127.4) and the drinking attitude of Scopas (Phainias of Eresos, FHG II, 298 frg. 15 b = Wehrli 19571, frg. 14, from Athenaeus, 10.51.438 c).

4 On Pherenikos see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 23-25.

5 Pausanias, 6.13.9-10. Moretti L. 1957, nos. 147, 152.

6 Pausanias, 6.13.9 (transl. W.H.S. Jones): ἡ δὲ ἵππος ἡ τοῦ Κορινθίου Φειδόλα ... τὸν δὲ ἁναβάτην ἔτι ἀρχοµένου τοῦ δρόµου συνέπεσεν ἀποβαλεῖν αὐτήν. καὶ οὐδέν τι ἧσσον θέουσα ἐν κόσµῳ περί τε τὴν νύσσαν ἐπέστρεφε, καὶ ἐπεὶ τῆς σάλπιγγος ἤκουσεν, ἐπετάχυνεν ἐς πλέον τὸν δρόµον, φθάνει τε δὴ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἑλλανοδίκας ἀφικοµένη καὶ νικῶσα ἔγνω καὶ παύεται τοῦ δρόµου. Ἠλεῖοι δὲ ἀνηγόρευσαν ἐπὶ τῇ νίκῃ τὸν Φειδόλαν καὶ ἀναθεῖναί οἱ τὴν ἵππον ταύτην ἐφιᾶσιν.

7 Moretti L. 1957, no. 147: “l’epigramma inciso sullo zoccolo della statua votiva, attribuito ad Anacreonte in Anth. Pal., VI, 135 [...] parlava chiaramente di un cavallo”.

8 Transl. W.R. Paton.

9 Ebert 1972, p. 47: “Die Verlesung ΟΥΤΟΣ aus ΟΥΡΟΣ wäre leicht möglich gewesen”.

10 On Aura see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 17-19.

11 Pausanias, 6.13.10.

12 Pausanias, 6.13.10: “But the inscription is at variance with the Elean records of Olympia victors. These records give a victory to the sons of Pheidolas at the sixty-eighth Festival (508 BC) but at no otherˮ.

13 On Lykos see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 19-20.

14 Mention of the γένος of the Scopadae is to be found in other poets of the Ptolemaic court in Alexandria: Theocritus, Idylls 16.36-39, with scholia: in this passage, too, mention of the Scopadae is somehow puzzling, see Gow 1952, II, p. 313: “Since T(heocritus) is addressing his appeal for patronage to Hiero II of Syracuse, it is legitimate to ask why he points his moral with these Thessalian princesˮ; Callimachus, Aitia frg. 64.9-14 Pfeiffer, on which cf. Suda, s.v. Σιµωνίδεω, Adler Σ 441 (vol. IV, p. 362, 1-7). A completely different solution has been in the meantime provided by Scharff 2016 (p. 214 and note 26), as he found in P. Oxy XVII, 2082 an Olympic winner of the keles from the Thessalian city of Crannon, home of the Scopadae, perhaps in 268 BC (Moretti L. 1957, no. 547; Petermandl 2013, p. 132). In this case we should seriously consider that the horse’s two other victories were gained in the same Olympic edition (which is supposed to be the 128th), in the four-horsed chariot and in the two-horsed chariot respectively, as all we know is that these races were also won by a Thessalian (Moretti L. 1957, nos. 546 and 548).

15 IG V 1, 213 = Moretti L. 1953, no. 16. Cf. Canali De Rossi 2011, pp. 49-51; Nafissi 2013; Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 27-29.

16 His victories are referred to the years 564 and 560 BC by Moretti L. 1957, nos. 100, 104. On this epigram see already Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 42-43.

17 See Posidippus’ epigrams 84 and 85, where also the owners, however, are Thessalian. On Thessalian breeding see, in general, Aston, Kerr 2018. On the name of Aithon Scharff 2016, p. 222.

18 Including, possibly, Euagoras, Posidippus ep. 77, Pheidolas, ep. 83, Hippostratus, ep. 71.

19 Same name but not same horse as Hippostratus’, since its origin is expressly stated as Messenian: in this, like in other professions, a succesful name tends to propagate. On Eubotas (Eubatas), see already Canali De Rossi 2011, p. 67. On the present epigram, Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 50-51.

20 Ferrari 2005, esp. p. 206.

21 Lapini 2007, pp. 288-289.

22 Moretti L. 1957, no. 347.

23 In 364 BC according to Moretti L. 1957, no. 421.

24 In other sources Eubatas: see Moretti L. 1957, no. 347. This is the variant attested in local inscriptions.

25 Aelianus, Varia Historia 10.2, tells a story about Eubatas being coveted in Olympia by the courtesan Lais and remaining faithful to his wife through an escamotage: it would be more logical to place this episode in the time of his youth, corresponding to his victory in the foot race.

26 These were winners with the single horse and in the boxe among the boys: Pausanias, 6.14.12; Moretti L. 1957, nos. 340, 363.

27 Also a region renowned for horse-breeding; cf. Pausanias, 6.2.1.

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