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Horse Races and Chariot Races in Ancient Greece: Struggling for Eternal Glory

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Abstract

The essay is about ancient Greek horse and chariot races. The architecture of Greek hippodromes was very rudimentary, but—at least at Olympia—the organizers put much effort in constructing a starting mechanism which was meant to guarantee all starters equal chances for winning. Concerning the prizes, symbolic prizes were common as well as valuable prizes. In ancient Greece, it was the owner of the horses who counted as the participant. The jockeys’ and charioteers’ strength and skill obviously had a strong impact on the outcome of the race, but they are very rarely mentioned in the ancient texts. Equestrian victors had two means of representation at their disposal: the erection of agonistic victor monuments or the commission of epinikia. It is equally true for both forms of representation that the way the victor was showcased was not up to the artistic license of the poets, but was controlled by the victors. Victory poetry was poetry on commission for which the victors reached deeply into their pockets. The poems dealt with important political implications. This is why epinikia and victory monuments constitute amazing pieces of evidence for the ancient historian, since they allow him to reconstruct the protagonist’s view.

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Editörler: Doç. Dr. Ayşe Çatalcalı Ceylan, Ferhat Özbay, Zafer Özomay, Mustafa Batuhan Kurt
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