Monday, July 19, 2021

Challenging Gender Roles: Belistiche the Olympic Gold Medalist

In the fifth book of his Description of Greece, Pausanias outlines the evolution of the Olympic games: 

Receptae deinde pullorum bigae & pullus ite desultorius. Bigarum palmam Belistiche, femina e maritima Macedoniae ora; desultorii, Tlepolemus Lycius abstulit: hic tricesima prima supra centesimam Olympiade; illa Olympiade ante hanc tertia.

προσέθεσαν δὲ ὕστερον καὶ συνωρίδα πώλων καὶ πῶλον κέλητα: ἐπὶ μὲν δὴ τῇ συνωρίδι Βελιστίχην ἐκ Μακεδονίας τῆς ἐπὶ θαλάσσῃ γυναῖκα, Τληπόλεμον δὲ Λύκιον ἀναγορευθῆναι λέγουσιν ἐπὶ τῷ κέλητι, τοῦτον μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς πρώτης καὶ τριακοστῆς τε καὶ ἑκατοστῆς Ὀλυμπιάδος, τῆς δὲ Βελιστίχης τὴν συνωρίδα Ὀλυμπιάδι πρὸ ταύτης τρίτῃ. πέμπτῃ δὲ ἐπὶ ταῖς τεσσαράκοντα καὶ ἑκατὸν ἆθλα ἐτέθη παγκρατίου παισί, καὶ ἐνίκα Φαίδιμος Αἰολεὺς ἐκ πόλεως Τρῳάδος.

--Pausanias, Description of Greece V.viii.11; Translated into Latin by Romulus Amaseus (1696)

Then they added a race of chariots pulled by a pair of young colts, as well as a colt riding competition. The victory for the first event went to Belistiche, a woman from a shore town in Macedon; the winner of the second event was Tlepolemus the Lycian. Tlepolemus won during the 300th Olympics; Belistiche won three years prior.



Name:  Pausanias

Date:  110 – 180 CE

Works:  Description of Greece



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Pausanias was a Greek writer who lived during the era of the “Five Good Emperors.” His work, the Description of Greece, is an important source for geographical, historical, archaeological, and cultural information about ancient Greece.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)


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