|Pankration||a brutal combat sport with few rules|
Origins and HistoryThe Isthmian Games were officially founded during the 49th Olympiad in 582 BC, though legends regarding the origins of the festival go further back. These tales put forth that Sisyphus, the mythological founder of Corinth, instituted these games in honor of his nephew Melicertes’ death. Theseus, a legendary king of Athens (who likely did live in the 13th century BC), was said to have further established the games as a full athletic festival in honor of Poseidon. It is likely the Isthmian Games existed in some form for at least several centuries before 582 BC, but were not officially included as part of the Olympiad cycle (and thus attributed with the other Panhellenic festivals) until that date. After the destruction of Corinth in 146 BC, the Isthmian Games were moved to Sicyon, a city-state west of Corinth. It is debated as to whether the festival returned to Corinth sometime after the city was rebuilt in 44 BC. Like the other Panhellenic games, the Isthmian Games faded out under Roman emperor Theodosius’ suppression of religious festivals in 393 AD.
CompetitorsOriginally, only Greek-born men could participate in the athletic events at the Isthmian Games. From 228 BC onward, Roman men were allowed to compete as well. Women couldn’t compete in the athletic events, but were included in the poetic and musical contests. (Only women competed in the Heraean Games, though.)
BibliographyPolybius, Waterfield, R., & McGing, B. (2010). The histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Potter, J. (1837). Archæologia græca; or, the antiquities of Greece (J. Boyd, Ed.). T. Tegg, London. Plutarch. (1874). Plutarch’s lives, volume 3 (W. W. Goodwin, Ed.). Boston: Little, Brown and Company.