Thursday, July 29, 2021

Challenging Gender Roles: Cynisca at the Olympics, Pausanias, Desc. Graec. III.viii.1

 Quum* decessisset Archidamus, filiis duobus relictis, Agis, quod Agesilao maior natu erat, regnare coepit. Habuit Archidamus & filiam, Cyniscam nomine, quae ad Olympicas victorias [audacissime] adspiravit. Prima haec feminarum omnium equos aluit, prima Olympicam palmam tulit. Post eam enim et aliae, inpriis vero e Macedonia nonnulae, sunt victrices in Olympicis renuntiatae: quibus tamen illa longe gloria praestitit.

Ἀρχιδάμου δὲ ὡς ἐτελεύτα καταλιπόντος παῖδας Ἆγίς τε πρεσβύτερος ἦν ἡλικίᾳ καὶ παρέλαβεν ἀντὶ Ἀγησιλάου τὴν ἀρχήν. ἐγένετο δὲ Ἀρχιδάμῳ καὶ θυγάτηρ, ὄνομα μὲν Κυνίσκα, φιλοτιμότατα δὲ ἐς τὸν ἀγῶνα ἔσχε τὸν Ὀλυμπικόν καὶ πρώτη τε ἱπποτρόφησε γυναικῶν καὶ νίκην ἀνείλετο Ὀλυμπικὴν πρώτη. Κυνίσκας δὲ ὕστερον γυναιξὶ καὶ ἄλλαις καὶ μάλιστα ταῖς ἐκ Λακεδαίμονος γεγόνασιν Ὀλυμπικαὶ νῖκαι, ὧν ἡ ἐπιφανεστέρα ἐς τὰς νίκας οὐδεμία ἐστὶν αὐτῆς.  

 *quum is an alternate spelling for the conjunction cum

--Pausanias, Descriptio Graeciae III.viii.1; Translated into Latin by Romulus Amaseus (1696)


When Archidamus died, he was survived by two sons: Agis and Agesilaus. Agis, the older of his children, began to rule. Archidamus also had a daughter named Cynisca, who ambitiously entered the Olympic games. She was the first woman to train horses, and the first woman to win at the Olympics. There were other women who were victorious at the Olympics, especially from Sparta, none of them were more distinguished than her.



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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