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violence ceased. No act of hostility was permitted in all Greece. The

territory of Elis became sacred, and the marching of any armed force upon

it was an act of sacrilege. Every thing that could add to the interest of

the great celebration was carefully attended to. With the progress of the

contests the enthusiasm of the throng rose to the highest pitch, and a

feeling of unity and good fellowship, most essential to the welfare of

the Hellenic states, was generously cultivated. Especially was this true

after artistic, musical, and poetical contests were added to those of

mere bodily skill and endurance. The humanizing tendency of the festival

was felt as a creative force in all the highest branches of human

achievement, and not a few of the great works of the Greek mind might

without sophistry be traced to the influence of the national games.

After the Cirrhaean war, in B. C. 585, a new festival called the Pythian

was instituted by the Amphictyonic Council. It was celebrated once in

three years in the Cirrhaean plain, and was on the same general plan as

the Olympic games. The Amphictyons presided, and, since the festival Was

in honor of Apollo, music and poetry, as well as bodily contests, were

from the first a part of the exercises. So great was the success of the

institution thus established that the Pythian games became second only to

those at Olympia.

The Nemean festival was, as indicated by its name, celebrated in the

valley of Nemea, in Argolis. It was instituted in the fifty-second

Olympiad, B. C. 572, and was held in each alternate year. Before this

time there had been local games at Nemea, running back in their origin to

the mythical ages. The celebration was in honor of the Nemean Zeus, and

was at the first open only to warriors; but afterwards this restriction

was removed, and all Greeks might participate. In the contests, however,

some military features were preserved, such as that between foot racers

clad in armor. But in general the competition was like that in the

Olympic and Pythian games. At the beginning, the victor in a Nemean

contest was crowned with a chaplet of wild olive, but afterwards the

olive was replaced with parsley.

The Isthmian games were celebrated on the Isthmus of Corinth, in the

month of April, on each second and fourth year of the Olympiad. They are

said to have been first instituted by Athamas, king of Orchomenus.

Afterwards they were revived by Theseus in honor of Poseidon, and

finally, in the sixth century before our era, were made a national,

festival for all Greeks. The celebration was conducted under the auspices

of the Corinthians and the Athenians, but at a later period the

Sicyonians held the exclusive right of presiding and deciding the

contests. After Greece had fallen under the dominion of the Romans,

gladiatorial shows were introduced, as were also contests of wild beasts-

a kind of sport always repulsive to the refined tastes of the Hellenes.

The prize offered for victory in an Isthmian contest was a garland of

pine leaves, and to this a law of Solon added a reward of a hundred


In connection with these great games, considered as institutions

calculated to create and foster a pan-Hellenic spirit, mention should

also be made of the Amphictyonic Council. Its general character was that

of a kind of sacred congress. It had a mythical and religious origin.

Amphictyon, the reputed founder, was one of the heroes. The association

was in the first place a religious body, which met at stated intervals to

perform sacrifices and supervise the rites of the country. Having their

head-quarters in the great temple at Delphi, to which all Greece was wont

to look for the omens of prophecy, the Amphictyons gradually acquired an

ascendancy over other associations of like sort in different parts of the

country. Influence grew into authority, and the Council came to be

recognized as a determining influence in the weightiest affairs of the

Greeks. It was the great court of appeal to which interstate disputes

were referred for settlement; but its power to regulate and determine

questions of national importance never rose to true congressional

proportions, else the destiny of the Hellenic communities, resolved into

a Union, might have withstood both Philip and the Romans.

The Council held two sessions annually, the first in the spring at the

shrine of Apollo,