Isthmian Games

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Isthmian Games


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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Isthmian Games

First month of spring
The Isthmian Games were athletic competitions held in ancient times at Corinth in Greece. They were held during alternate years beginning in 581 b.c.e., with contests in various events, including gymnastics, horse racing, and poetry (the last was open to both men and women). The prize was a crown of celery.
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
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Though this cult was started long before the Roman conquest in 146 BCE, the Roman colonists quickly resumed its practice and wasted no time in reclaiming the Isthmian Games for Corinth upon their arrival Most likely, the first Isthmian Games in the new colony would have occurred in 40 BCE (Gebhard 182).
Whereas the story of Melikertes/Palaimon was specifically tied to the Isthmian Games, the myth of Bellerophon and Pegasus explained the origin of Corinth's chief water supply, the Peirene fountain.
Additionally, every four years, the Isthmian Games were called the "greater games" and conducted under the aegis of the imperial cult, combining with the nearby Caesarean Games and Imperial Contests (Winter 271).
New Christians who wished to abstain from taking part in the Games or in emperor worship were allowed to do so in the first century, most likely as a result of Gallio's ruling that granted Christians the same exemptions as Jews (Winter 276-80), but the social pressure to attend would have been formidable for any Christians who were Roman citizens New Corinthian Christians who chose to refrain from celebrations on the emperor's birthday or attendance at the Isthmian Games had to remove themselves from a significant part of the local Corinthian civic community and lose a way to engage in the Roman imperial community.
Chariot races were a part of two agonistic festivals associated with Corinth, the Panhellenic Isthmian Games and the Caesarea.
The facility in Corinth is likely to have been the site of the equestrian contests of the Corinthian Caesarea and, on occasion, of the Panhellenic Isthmian Games. Use of the facility into the 6th century suggests that chariot racing continued to be held in Corinth during the later Empire.
10, for evidence that the Caesarea and the Isthmian Games were held together.
The Isthmian Games took place every even year, in spring (April?).