For centuries the Greeks had been in the habit of assembling at Corinth every three years for the celebration of the Isthmian games, in honor of Poseidon, god of the sea. Here, as at Olympia, there were races, wrestling and boxing matches, and contests in verse and song; and as usual the prizes were simple crowns of olive leaves, which were considered far more precious than silver or gold.

In 196 B.C. not only were the Greeks present at this celebration, but there were also many Romans who wished to witness the games. The Greeks were then particularly happy because the War of the Two Leagues seemed to be ended, and the country was at peace.