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Isthmian games(ĭs`mēən), athletic events organized c.581 B.C. They were held at Corinth in the spring of the first and third years of the OlympiadOlympiad,
unit of a chronological era of ancient Greece, a four-year period, each one beginning with the Olympic games. Timaeus (c.356–c.260 B.C.) of Sicily was the first to use, as a check on chronology, the list of victors kept in the gymnasium at Olympia.
..... Click the link for more information. , and they honored Palaemon as well as Poseidon. The contests were generally like the Olympic gamesOlympic games,
premier athletic meeting of ancient Greece, and, in modern times, series of international sports contests. The Olympics of Ancient Greece
Although records cannot verify games earlier than 776 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , but they were conducted on a smaller scale; the many added amusements and the convenient journey from Athens made the Isthmian games popular. The victor's prize was a crown of wild celery, but after Corinth was destroyed (146 B.C.) by the Romans and restored (44 B.C.) by Julius Caesar, the Isthmian games were reestablished for a time with a crown of fir as the victor's prize.
in antiquity, the panhellenic festivals and competitions in honor of the god Poseidon held every two years on the Isthmus of Corinth. Originally they were significant locally, but in the early sixth century B.C. they assumed panhellenic importance. Gymnastic, equestrian, and, later, poetry and music competitions were conducted at the festivals. A palm branch was presented to the victor, and he was crowned with a wreath of celery or pine. Archaeological excavations, begun in the 1880’s, revealed a theater, hippodrome, and stadium near Corinth as well as the remains of temples to Poseidon and Melicertes.
There are differing stories as to the origin of the games; one legend says they were founded by Theseus after he killed the robber chief Sinis. The games were one of the four great national Greek festivals, the others being the Olympic, Pythian, and Nemean games. The Isthmian games were especially popular because they offered more amusements than the other three festivals.
OxClassDict-1970, p. 556