The Pentathlon of the Ancient World


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About the Book

The pentathlon, comprising competition in the discus, javelin, long jump, sprint, and wrestling, was hailed as the ultimate test of athletic versatility and remained a staple of the ancient Greek Olympic Games, Crown Games and Pan-Hellenic festivals for 1,200 years. Still, there is little scholarly consensus over many major aspects of the event. This detailed exploration of the ancient pentathlon discusses the nature of the spectacle, the method of determining a victor, the five sub-events and the order in which they occurred. It also chronicles the history of the event and its champions, the recognition of ancient pentathletes, and the pentathlon’s 18-year modern Olympic history and its influence on its contemporary counterpart, the decathlon. A record book and glossary complete this fresh look at one of the ancient world’s most renowned sporting competitions.

About the Author(s)

Frank Zarnowski is a visiting professor of economics at Dartmouth College and was previously dean of the Graduate Program of Business at Mount St. Mary’s College, Maryland. He has been a television sports commentator since 1983 and was an NBC analyst for both the 1992 and 2004 Olympic Games.

Bibliographic Details

Frank Zarnowski
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, appendices, glossaries, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6783-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0145-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Historical Timeline 5
Introduction 9
Part One—The Pentathlon
1. The Nature and Origin of the Event 13
2. Orchestrating the Pentathlon 24
3. How the Winner Was Determined 33
Part Two—The Events
4. The Discus 43
5. The Jump 52
6. The Javelin 62
7. The Sprint 69
8. Wrestling 80
Part Three—A History of the Event
9. The Story of the Ancient Pentathlon 85
Part Four—Winners, Recognition and Reward
10. The Creation of a Pentathlon Record Book and Register 109
11. Pentathlon Statues of Ancient Greece 122
12. Extant Pentathlon Odes 126
13. Rewards for Pentathlon Victors 139
Part Five—The Ancient Pentathlon and Modern Track and Field
14. Return of the Ancient Pentathlon 147
15. Why the Ancient Pentathlon Matters 158
Appendix A: Order of Events in Ancient Pentathlon by a Sampling of Modern Writers 165
Appendix B: Order of Modern Track and Field Combined Events 167
Appendix C: Summary of Modern Scholars’ Opinions on How the Winner Was Determined 169
Appendix D: Number of Possible Ancient Pentathlons 172
Appendix E: Odysseus the Athlete 174
Appendix F: Pentathlon Victor Statues at Olympia 176
Glossary of Terms 179
Glossary of Greek Writers 182
Notes 183
Bibliography 197
Index 203

Book Reviews & Awards

“informative…highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.