Greek European Culture

Greek history, Greek Religion

The Jealous Athlete and the Statue of Theagenes
















Near the statue of Milo of Croton stood that of Theagenes, another noted athlete, who lived many years after Milo. He too had defeated every rival. He was the winner of many prizes, and all envied him his strength and renown.

One of the men in particular, whom he had defeated in the games, was jealous of him, and of the honors which he had won. This man, instead of trying to overcome these wicked feelings, used to steal daily into the temple to view his rival’s statue, and mutter threats and curses against it.

In his anger, he also gave the pedestal an angry shake every night, hoping that some harm would befall the statue. One evening, when this jealous man had jostled the image of Theagenes a little more roughly than usual, the heavy marble toppled and fell, crushing him to death beneath its weight.

When the priests came into the temple the next day, and found the man’s dead body under the great statue, they were very much surprised. The judges assembled, as was the custom when a crime of any kind had been committed, to decide what had caused his death.

As it was usual in Greece to hold judgment over lifeless as well as over living things, the statue of Theagenes was brought into court, and accused and found guilty of murder.

The judges then said, that, as the statue had committed a crime, it deserved to be punished, and so they condemned it to be cast into the sea and drowned. This sentence had scarcely been executed, when a plague broke out in Greece; and when the frightened people consulted an oracle to find out how it could be checked, they learned that it would not cease until the statue of Theagenes had been set up on its pedestal again. The Greeks fished the statue up out of the sea, and placed it again in Olympia. As the plague stopped shortly after this, they all felt sure that it was because they had obeyed the oracle, and they ever after looked upon the statue with great awe.

From: H. A. Guerber, The Story of the Greeks; edited for this online publication, by ELLOPOS BLOG

1 Comment

  1. George Trialonis

    Occasionally I cannot help thinking that only the irrational element of ancient Greece has passed down to modern Greece, to become the defining characteristic of the latter. It seems to me that ancient wisdom and grandeur were drowned in the mire of Christianity and its spin-off abomination, Capitalism.