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Ancient Greek youth practicing with a ball depicted in low relief on the belly of the vase. Now displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Ancient Greek Football Player.jpg
Ancient Greek youth practicing with a ball depicted in low relief on the belly of the vase. Now displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
A bottle (Lekythos) in gnathia style - Eros, depicting a figure playing with a ball, third quarter of the 4th century BC Apulia Lekythos in Gnathia style.jpg
A bottle (Lekythos) in gnathia style - Eros, depicting a figure playing with a ball, third quarter of the 4th century BC

Episkyros (Greek : ἐπίσκυρος; also called ἐπίκοινοςepikoinos, "commonball") [2] [3] was an ancient Greek ball game. Highly teamwork oriented, [4] the game was played between two teams of usually 12 to 14 players each, with one ball and the rules of the game which allowed using hands. Although it was a ball game, it was violent, at least in Sparta. [5] The teams would try to throw the ball over the heads of the other team. There was a white line called the skuros [4] between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams would change the ball often until one of the team was forced behind the line at their end. In Sparta a form of episkyros was played during an annual city festival that included five teams of 14 players. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] It was played primarily by men but women also practiced it. The Greek game of episkyros (or a similar game called φαινίνδα - phaininda, [11] probably meaning "deceiving game", from the verb φενακίζω - phenakizo, "(I) cheat, lie" [12] ) was later adopted by the Romans, who renamed and transformed it into harpastum , [13] [14] the latinisation of the Greek ἁρπαστόν (harpaston), neuter of ἁρπαστός (harpastos), "carried away", [15] from the verb ἁρπάζω (harpazo), "(I) seize, snatch". [16]

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ancient Greece Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Sparta city-state in ancient Greece

Sparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. In antiquity the city-state was known as Lacedaemon, while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.

A depiction in low relief on the belly of the vase displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. [1] shows a Greek athlete balancing a ball on his thigh. This image is reproduced on the European Cup football trophy. [17] Other ancient Greek sports with a ball besides phaininda, were: ἀπόῤῥαξις (aporrhaxis) (bouncing ball game), [18] οὐρανία (ourania), "throwing a ball high in air game" [19] [20] and maybe the σφαιρομαχία (sphairomachia), literally "ball-battle", [21] from σφαῖρα (sphaira) "ball, sphere" [22] and μάχη (mache), "battle"., [23] although it has been argued that the σφαιρομαχία is in fact a boxing competition (the "spheres" being in fact a kind of gloves). [24]

National Archaeological Museum, Athens National museum in Athens, Greece

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the greatest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. It is situated in the Exarcheia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic university.

Julius Pollux includes phaininda and harpastum in a list of ball games:

Julius Pollux was a Greek scholar and rhetorician from Naucratis, Ancient Egypt. grammarian and sophist, scholar and rhetorician, 2nd century AD, from Naukratis, Egypt. Emperor Commodus appointed him a professor-chair of rhetoric in Athens at the Academy — on account of his melodious voice, according to Philostratus' Lives of the Sophists.

Phaininda takes its name from Phaenides, who first invented it, or from phenakizein (to deceive), because they show the ball to one man and then throw to another, contrary to expectation. It is likely that this is the same as the game with the small ball, which takes its name from harpazein (to snatch) and perhaps one would call the game with the soft ball by the same name. [25]

See also

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  1. 1 2 Item (NAMA) 873 displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
  2. ἐπίσκυρος . Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ἐπίκοινος  in Liddell and Scott.
  4. 1 2 David F. Elmer, Epikoinos: The Ball Game ; Episkuros and Illiad.
  5. Miller, Stephen Gaylord (2004). Ancient Greek Athletics. Yale University Press.
  6. Craig, Steve (2002). Sports and games of the ancients. p. 101. ISBN   0-313-36120-7.
  7. Harris, Harold Arthur. Sport in Greece and Rome. Cornell University Press.
  8. Kennell, Nigel M. (1995). The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta. The University of North Carolina Press.
  9. "Origin of Ball Games". Archived from the original on March 25, 2010.
  10. Crowther, Nigel B. (2007). Sport in Ancient Times. Praeger Series on the Ancient World. Praeger Publishers.
  11. φαινίνδα  in Liddell and Scott.
  12. φενακίζω  in Liddell and Scott.
  13. The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. In ancient Greece a game with elements of football, episkuros, or harpaston, was played, and it had migrated to Rome as harpastum by the 2nd century BC.
  14. harpastum . Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project .
  15. ἁρπαστός  in Liddell and Scott.
  16. ἁρπάζω  in Liddell and Scott.
  17. Wingate, Brian (2007). Soccer: Rules, Tips, Strategy, and Safety. p. 2. ISBN   978-1-4042-0995-4.
  18. ἀπόῤῥραξις  in Liddell and Scott.
  19. οὐρανία, οὐρανιάζω  in Liddell and Scott.
  20. Miller, Stephen Gaylord (2004). Arete: Greek sports from ancient sources. p. 124. ISBN   0-520-07509-9.
  21. σφαιρομαχία  in Liddell and Scott.
  22. σφαῖρα  in Liddell and Scott.
  23. μάχη  in Liddell and Scott.
  24. Riaño Rufilanchas, Daniel (2000) "Zwei Agone in I: Priene 112.91–95" in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 129, pp. 89–96.
  25. Julius Pollux. "9.105". Onomasticon.