Famous Athletes of the Antiquity

Theagenes of Thasos (pankratiast)
Theagenes was the son of a priest in the temple of the god Herakles on Thasos. Some believed he was actually the son of a god who had disguised himself and lain with Theagenes' mother.

Theagenes first became famous when he was nine years old. At that time he supposedly ripped a bronze statue of a god from its base and carried it home. Some of the people of Thasos were so furious with this act that they wanted him to be punished with death, but in the end his punishment was to carry the statue back to it's place. which he did. The story of this unusual boy spread all over Greece.

Theagenes grew up to be an Olympic victor in both boxing and the pankration. He was also victorious in countless other competitions all over Greece, gaining great fame for himself and his home, Thasos, making the Thasians very proud of him.

After his death, a statue of him was erected in Thasos. There is a story that a man who had competed with Theagenes in life, but had never been able to win, went and beat the statue every night. Apparently, on e night while this man was beating the statue it came loose and fell on him, killing him. The children of this dead man were very upset and charged the statue with murder. By the law the Thasians followed, murder was punished with exile, so the statue was taken and thrown into the sea. After this Thasos was struck with a severe drought, and the was great suffering. Following the advice of the oracle at Delphi, the Thasians brought back all the exiles in an attempt to appease Demeter. Even so, the drought continued, and the Thasians again had to seek advice. This time they were told that they had forgotten Theagenes. There was concern over how they would find the statue that had thrown into the sea, but some fishermen caught the statue in their net and brought it ashore, where the Thasians offered sacrifices to it. The drought ended and the people of Thasos came to think of Theagenes as a god of healing.

Leonidas of Rhodes (runner)
Leonidas became famous and was eventually deified for his victories in the stadion, the diaulos, and the race in armor. Leonidas was victorious in all 3 events in 4 successive Olympiads. This is particularly amazing because the 3 events were all running events. It is more difficult to maintain endurance and speed over that space of time than it is to maintain the strength required for heavy events. For this reason, the accomplishments of Leonidas were more reknowned than those of others who were victorious in successive Olympiads in heavy events.

Milon of Kroton (wrestler)
Milon won his first Olympic victory in boy's wrestling. He later had 5 victories in men's wrestling.

There are many stories about his acts of great strength, such as carrying a cow on his shoulders, or supporting the central pillar of a hall as it was collapsing so that everyone could escape. He was also reknowned for the enormous amounts he could eat and drink.

When a neighboring town declared war on Kroton, Milon supposedly went out in front and met them with a club in his hand, followed by the people of Kroton. They killed many and sent the rest fleaing for their lives.

Milon lived a glorious life, but his death was tragic. One day while in the woods he saw a tree trunk that had just been cut, with wedges driven into it to open it. He decided to use his hands to open it, but when he tried, the wedges flew out and his hands became trapped in the tree trunk. He was unable to get free, and when night came he was killed by wild animals.

Diagoras of Rhodes (boxer)
Diagoras was famous for his many victories in as a boxer. But more than this he was famous for his style of boxing. Diagoras never ducked away from a blow, and always carefully observed the rules. Spectators adored this direct, courageous manner he had when fighting. He was reknowned for being a man with grace and dignity. His sons and grandson also became Olympic victors.

At the 83rd Olympiad, Diagoras was there to watch one son become the boxing victor, and another the victor in the pankration competition. In there joy his sons placed their crowns on his head and carried him on their shoulders while the crowd cheered. This was the most glorious moment of his life, and realizing this, a voice from the crowd shouted and advised him to die now, that after glory like this there was nothing left but to ascend to Olympos and become a god. Hearing this, Diagoras, still held by his sons, let his head drop and quietly died.

Melankomas of Karia (boxer)
Melankomas became famous for his very unique style of boxing. He won many victories, but was never injured, and had never injured any of his opponents. Melankomas believed that to injure someone else, or to be injured yourself, was to show a lack of bravery. Spectators enjoyed watching as he defended himself against the blows from his opponents without striking them. He eventually left his opponents so exhausted, and so frustrated that they could not hit him, that they would give up and admit defeat.

Herodoros of Megara (trumpeter)
Herodoros was a man reknowned for his immense size. He was the victor in the trumpeters' competition for 10 successive Olympiads, spanning almost 40 years, and bringing him great fame. He also helped King Demetrios Poliorketes to defeat the town of Argos by blowing so loudly on 2 trumpets at the same time that he inspired bravery in the fighting soldiers.

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