Friday, September 8, 2023

One Proud Olympic Mama! Aelian, Var. Hist. 10.1

The Olympic Games did not allow women spectators, but there are several stories of women who challenged this law in order to watch their family members compete. You can see another example here.

Pherenice filium suum ad Olympia certaminis causa adduxit: & quum Hellanodicae prohiberent eam a spectaculo ludorum, ad ius cum ipsis descendit, dicens se patrem habere victorem Olympiorum, atque tres fratres, itemque filium adduxxisse pugilatorem. His rationibus & populum & legem superavit, quae feminas a spectaculis arceret, & Olympia spectavit.

Φερενίκη τὸν υἱὸν ἦγεν ἐς Ὀλύμπια ἀθλεῖν. κωλυόντων δὲ αὐτὴν τῶν Ἑλλανοδικῶν τὸν ἀγῶνα θεάσασθαι, παρελθοῦσα ἐδικαιολογήσατο πατέρα μὲν Ὀλυμπιονίκην ἔχειν καὶ τρεῖς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ αὐτὴ παῖδα Ὀλυμπίων ἀγωνιστήν: καὶ ἐξενίκησε τὸν δῆμον [p. 108] καὶ τὸν εἴργοντα νόμον τῆς θέας τὰς γυναῖκας, καὶ ἐθεάσατο Ὀλύμπια.

--Aelian, Var. Hist. 10.1; translated into Latin by Joannis Schefferi  (1662)


Pherenike brought her son to the Olympic games. When the judges forbid her from attending the games, she countered them, saying that not only was her father an Olympic champion, but her three brothers were and now even her son was, too.  She was able to win over both the people and their laws (which forbid women from watching the Olympics).



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