Harpastum

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Harpastum, ancient Roman fresco Harpastum romain.jpg
Harpastum, ancient Roman fresco

Harpastum, also known as harpustum, was a form of ball game played in the Roman Empire. The Romans also referred to it as the small ball game. The ball used was small (not as large as a follis , paganica, or football-sized ball) and hard, probably about the size and solidity of a softball. The word harpastum is the latinisation of the Greek ἁρπαστόν (harpaston), [1] the neuter of ἁρπαστός (harpastos), "carried away", [2] from the verb ἁρπάζω (harpazo), "to seize, to snatch". [3]

Football Group of related team sports

Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called football in certain places include association football ; gridiron football ; Australian rules football; rugby football ; and Gaelic football. These different variations of football are known as football codes.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–395 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.

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.

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This game was apparently a romanized version of a Greek game called phaininda (Greek: φαινίνδα [4] ), or of another Greek game called ἐπίσκυρος (episkyros). [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] It involved considerable speed, agility and physical exertion.

Romanization or Latinization, in the historical and cultural meanings of both terms, indicate different historical processes, such as acculturation, integration and assimilation of newly incorporated and peripheral populations by the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire. Ancient Roman historiography and Italian historiography until the fascist period used to call the various processes the "civilizing of barbarians".

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.

<i>Episkyros</i>

Episkyros was an ancient Greek ball game. Highly teamwork oriented, 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. The teams would try to throw the ball over the heads of the other team. There was a white line called the skuros 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. It was played primarily by men but women also practiced it. The Greek game of episkyros was later adopted by the Romans, who renamed and transformed it into harpastum, the latinisation of the Greek ἁρπαστόν (harpaston), neuter of ἁρπαστός (harpastos), "carried away", from the verb ἁρπάζω (harpazo), "(I) seize, snatch".

Little is known about the exact rules of the game, but sources indicate the game was a violent one with players often ending up on the ground. In Greece, a spectator (of the Greek form of the game) once had his leg broken when he got caught in the middle of play.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and historically known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

"Harpastum, which used to be called phaininda, is the game I like most of all. Great are the exertion and fatigue attendant upon contests of ball-playing, and violent twisting and turning of the neck. Hence Antiphanes, 'Damn it, what a pain in the neck I've got.' He describes the game thus: 'He seized the ball and passed it to a team-mate while dodging another and laughing. He pushed it out of the way of another. Another fellow player he raised to his feet. All the while the crowd resounded with shouts of Out of bounds, Too far, Right beside him, Over his head, On the ground, Up in the air, Too short, Pass it back in the scrum.'"
Galen Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher

Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus, often Anglicized as Galen and better known as Galen of Pergamon, was a Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire. Arguably the most accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, Galen influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic.

"better than wrestling or running because it exercises every part of the body, takes up little time, and costs nothing."; it was "profitable training in strategy", and could be "played with varying degrees of strenuousness." Galen adds, "When, for example, people face each other, vigorously attempting to prevent each other from taking the space between, this exercise is a very heavy, vigorous one, involving much use of the hold by the neck, and many wrestling holds."
"No less is your nimbleness, if it is your pleasure to return the flying ball, or recover it when falling to the ground, and by a surprising movement get it within bounds again in its flight. To watch such play the populace remains stockstill, and the whole crowd suddenly abandons its own 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), [15] 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); [16] and perhaps one would call the game with the soft ball by the same name."
"And now the illustrious Filimatius sturdily flung himself into the squadrons of the players, like Virgil's hero, 'daring to set his hand to the task of youth'; he had been a splendid player himself in his youth. But over and over again, he was forced from his position among the stationary players by the shock of some runner from the middle, and driven into the midfield, where the ball flew past him, or was thrown over his head; and he failed to intercept or parry it. More than once he fell prone, and had to pick himself up from such collapses as best he could; naturally he was the first to withdraw from the stress of the game."

The general impression from these descriptions is of a game quite similar to rugby. Additional descriptions suggest a line was drawn in the dirt, and that the teams would endeavor to keep the ball behind their side of the line and prevent the opponents from reaching it. This seems rather like an "inverted" form of football. If the opponents had the ball on their side of the line, the objective would seem to be to get in and "pass" it to another player, or somehow get it back over the line. The ancient accounts of the game are not precise enough to enable the reconstruction the rules in any detail.

In an epigram, Martial makes reference to the dusty game of harpasta in reference to Atticus' preference for running as exercise: [18] "No hand-ball (pila), no bladder-ball (follis), no feather-stuffed ball (paganica) makes you ready for the warm bath, nor the blunted sword-stroke upon the unarmed stump; nor do you stretch forth squared arms besmeared with oil, nor, darting to and fro, snatch the dusty scrimmage-ball (harpasta), but you run only by the clear Virgin water (the Aqua Virgo aqueduct)."

Monuments

Tombstone of a boy with Harpastum ball (Sinj, Dalmatia, Croatia) Tombstone of Gaius Laberius.xcf
Tombstone of a boy with Harpastum ball (Sinj, Dalmatia, Croatia)

In the Croatian town of Sinj, a Roman tombstone found in the ruins of the military camp Tilurium, near the modern day Trilj, shows a boy holding a harpastum ball in his hands. The ball that is shown on this monument has hexagonal and pentagonal patterns, similar to a modern-day football (soccer).

See also

Notes

  1. harpastum, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus Digital Library
  2. ἁρπαστός, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ἁρπάζω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  4. φαινίνδα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  5. The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007 Edition: "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".
  6. ἐπίσκυρος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  7. H. A. Harris, Sport in Greece and Rome, Cornell University Press, on Google books
  8. Nigel M. Kennell, The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta, The University of North Carolina Press, 1995, on Google books
  9. Origin of Ball Games Archived 2010-03-25 at the Wayback Machine .
  10. Nigel B. Crowther, Sport in Ancient Times (Praeger Series on the Ancient World), Praeger Publishers, January 2007
  11. Athenaeus, "Deipnosophists", 1.14-15
  12. P.N.Singer, "Galen: Selected Works" (1997), pages 299-304
  13. Laus Pisonis, verses 185-187 (translated by J.W. & A.M.Duff).
  14. Julius Pollux, "Onomasticon", 9.105
  15. φενακίζω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  16. ἁρπάζω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  17. Sidonius Apollinaris, "Letters", 5.17.7 (translated by O. M. Dalton)
  18. Martial, "Epigrams", 7.32

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