Magna Graecia:
Athletics and the Olympic spirit in the periphery of the Greek world. Southern Italy and Sicily

ΕΧΗΙΒΙΤΙΟΝ

JUNE1 UNTIL OCTOBER 1, 2004

The exhibition explored the development of athletics in the western regions of the Greek world – namely the cities of southern Italy and Sicily – and the political and cultural significance of the participation of athletes from these cities in the panhellenic games of the “motherland”, mainly Olympia but also Pythia, Isthmia, and Nemeia.

By participating in those athletic events – which were restricted only to athletes of Greek origin – Greeks living in colonies throughout the Mediterranean region reinforced their ideas of common identity and common origin, while at the same time forging strong political affiliations and insoluble bonds of kinship with the citizens of city-states from all over the Hellenic world.

The exhibition consisted of more than 270 selected objects from cemeteries and sanctuaries in Italy. The exhibits -early 6th century BC through the 2nd century AD- were classified by athletic event and according to the order they were held at Olympia.

ΕΙΚΟΝΕΣ

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© Museum of Cycladic Art
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© Museum of Cycladic Art

THE OBJECTS

Clay vessels

Imported, mainly from Attica, or locally produced in southern Italy and Etruria – depicting the training of athletes, the staging of events and the awarding of winners. Several of the vases have been attributed to important vase-painters of the Attic Black- and Red-Figure pottery, such as Lydos, Myson, Nikosthenes, Kleofrades and Onesimos;

Objects used by athletes

Either for training (bronze discs, lead dumb-bells, javelins) or for the preparation and cleaning of the body (aryballoi, alabastra, Etruscan bronze vases, inscribed strigils, basins)

Coins

Minted in the cities of Magna Graecia to commemorate the victories of local tyrants in the Olympic Games (mainly in horse races), such as the silver tetradrachms of Anaxilas, tyrant of Reggio and Messina

Votive offerings by athletes

Such as a bronze inscribed plaque of the Olympic victor Kleombrotos from Sybari (early 6th century BC) or an inscribed stone anchor dedicated to Zeus by Fayllos from Croton (a participant in the naval battle of Salamis), who was crowned victor in the Pythian games at Delphi (early 5th century BC)

Votive and funerary sculptures

Such as a marble youth from Agrigento, and a bronze youth from Castelvetrano

“Charioteer” of Mozia

One of the most beautiful freestanding sculptures of antiquity, found on the islet of Mozia in northwestern Sicily. The statue is dated to the mid-5th century BC

Concept & Coordination

Professor Nicholas Chr. Stampolidis
Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art

Yorgos Tassoulas
Curator of Antiquities, MCA

Lenders to the exhibition

Thirty-two Archaeological Museums and Ephorates of Antiquities in Italy and the Vatican City, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes, Greece, have contributed to this exhibition by lending more than 230 objects

Media Sponsor

ERT