Sunday, July 08, 2012
Mule Cart Race
The ancient Greek word for a cart drawn by mules is ἀπήνη (apēnē). Because of the form of related Greek words (καπάνη = kapanē and λαμπήνη = lampēnē), O. Szemerényi, "The Origins of the Greek Lexicon: Ex Oriente Lux," Journal of Hellenic Studies 94 (1974) 144-157, speculated (at 149–150) that behind all three Greek words is a root of Semitic origin meaning "wheel." The same root is also evident in Hebrew and Ugaritic words, according to Szemerényi.
Pausanias 5.9.1-2 (tr. W.H.S. Jones) is the fullest surviving source for the history of the mule cart race:
The races for mule-carts, and the trotting-race, were instituted respectively at the seventieth Festival [500 B.C.] and the seventy-first, but were both abolished by proclamation at the eighty-fourth [444 B.C.]. When they were first instituted, Thersius of Thessaly won the race for mule-carts, while Pataecus, an Achaean from Dyme, won the trotting-race....The cart-race was neither of venerable antiquity nor yet a graceful performance. Moreover, each cart was drawn by a pair of mules, not horses, and there is an ancient curse on the Eleans if this animal is even born in Elis.According to Aristotle, Rhetoric 3.2.14 = 1405 b 24-27 (tr. John Henry Freese), Simonides wrote a victory ode for a winner in the mule cart race:
τῆς δὲ ἀπήνης καὶ κάλπης τὸν δρόμον, τὸν μὲν Ὀλυμπιάδι νομισθέντα ἑβδομηκοστῇ, τὸν δὲ τῆς κάλπης τῇ ἐφεξῆς ταύτῃ, κήρυγμα ὑπὲρ ἀμφοτέρων ἐποιήσαντο ἐπὶ τῆς τετάρτης Ὀλυμπιάδος καὶ ὀγδοηκοστῆς μήτε κάλπης τοῦ λοιποῦ μήτε ἀπήνης ἔσεσθαι δρόμον. ὅτε δὲ ἐτέθη πρῶτον, Θερσίου μὲν ἀπήνη Θεσσαλοῦ, Παταίκου δὲ Ἀχαιοῦ τῶν ἐκ Δύμης ἐνίκησεν ἡ κάλπη.... ἀπήνῃ δὲ οὔτε τῷ ἀνευρήματι οὐδὲν ἀρχαῖον οὔτε εὐπρέπεια αὐτῇ προσῆν, ἐπάρατόν τε Ἠλείοις ἐκ παλαιοῦ καὶ ἀρχὴν γενέσθαι σφίσιν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τὸ ζῷον· ἦν γὰρ δὴ ἀπήνη κατὰ τὴν συνωρίδα ἡμιόνους ἀντὶ ἵππων ἔχουσα.
When the winner in a mule-race offered Simonides a small sum, he refused to write an ode, as if he thought it beneath him to write on half-asses; but when he gave him a sufficient amount, he wrote,We know that winner's name from Heraclides, Excerpts on Constitutions 55 (= Constitution of the Rhegians), in Mervin R. Dilts, ed. and tr., Heraclidis Lembi Excerpta Politiarum (Durham, 1971 = Greek, Roman and Byzantine Monographs, 5), pp. 30-33 (at 32-33):
Hail, daughters of storm-footed steeds!καὶ ὁ Σιμωνίδης, ὅτε μὲν ἐδίδου μισθὸν ὀλίγον αὐτῷ ὁ νικήσας τοῖς ὀρεῦσιν, οὐκ ἤθελε ποιεῖν, ὡς δυσχεραίνων εἰς ἡμιόνους ποιεῖν, ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἱκανὸν ἔδωκεν, ἐποίησε
χαίρετ᾽ ἀελλοπόδων θύγατρες ἵππων.
Anaxilas the Messenian was their tyrant. And he entertained the Greeks after winning a race with mules at Olympia. And someone ridiculed him saying, "What would he have done if he had won with horses?" Also Simonides composed the epinicium, "Hail daughters of storm-swift horses."Here is a coin celebrating Anaxilas' victory:
ἐτυράννηϲε δὲ αὐτων Ἀνάξιλαϲ Μεϲϲήνιοϲ. καὶ νικήϲαϲ Ὀλύμπια ἡμιόνοιϲ εἱϲτίαϲε τοὺϲ Ἕλληναϲ. καὶ τιϲ αὐτὸν ἐπέϲκωψεν εἰπών· οὗτοϲ τί ἂν ἐποίει νικήϲαϲ ἵπποιϲ; ἐποίηϲε δὲ καὶ ἐπινίκιον Σιμωνίδηϲ· (fr. 19 Diehl3) χαίρετ' ἀελλοπόδων θύγατρεϲ ἵππων [ἐγένοντο].
From Pindar, Olympian Odes 5 and 6, we also know the names of other winners of the Olympic mule cart race: Psaumis of Camarina and Hagesias of Syracuse.
Some discussions of mule cart racing (most of which I haven't seen):
- E. Reisch, "Ἀπήνη," Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der Classichen Altertumswissenschaft I.2 (1894) 2695-96
- Bettina Kratzmüller, "Synoris – Apene. Zweigespannrennen an den Großen Panathenäen," Nikephoros 6 (1993) 75–91
- Bettina Kratzmüller, "Eine neue Apene-Darstellung," in M. Bentz and N. Eschbach, edd., Panathenaïka. Symposium zu den Panathenäischen Preisamphoren, Rauischholzhausen 25.11.-29.11.1998 (Mayence: von Zabern, 2001), pp. 73-74
- Nigel James Nicholson, Aristocracy and Athletics in Archaic and Classical Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 82-94