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In an attempt to set the record straight... (Read 716 times)


You'll ruin your knees!

    We get caught up in the death of Phidippides following his "marathon" run, which is debated whether the distance was 26 or 21 miles. Not sure of the actual distance of the "epic" run, but what I am pretty sure of is the fact that he didn't "taper" properly, and perhaps had a massive amount of chaffing! For what it's worth, he was actually an ULTRA-marathoner! Enjoy... Evil grin There is a race held each year to honor Phidippides' called the Spartathalon, run from Athens to Sparta where the successful runners cannot complete the race until they kiss the feet of the statue of Leonidas, King of Sparta! Awesome race typically dominated by Yannis Kuros, a Greek national. This past year, it was won for the first time by an American, Scott Jurek. Lynn B The Role of Phidippides The Athens, vastly outnumbered, desperately needed the help of Sparta's military base to help fend off the attack. Time was short, so the Athenian generals send Phidippides (or Philippides) a professional runner to Sparta to ask for help. The 140 mile course was very mountainous and rugged. Phidippides ran the course in about 36 hours. Sparta agreed to help but said they would not take the field until the moon was full due to religious laws. This would leave the Athenians alone to fight the Persian Army. Phidippides ran back to Athens (another 140 miles!) with the disappointing news. Immediately, the small Athenian Army (including Phidippedes) marched to the plains of Marathon to prepare for battle. The Battle of Marathon The Athenian Army was outnumbered 4 to 1 but they launched a suprise offensive thrust which at the time appeared suicidal. But by day's end, 6400 Persian bodies lay dead on the field while only 192 Athenians had been killed. The surviving Persians fled to sea and headed south to Athens where they hoped to attack the city before the Greek Army could re-assemble there. Phidippides was again called upon to run to Athens (26 miles away) to carry the news of the victory and the warning about the approaching Persian ships. Despite his fatigue after his recent run to Sparta and back and having fought all morning in heavy armor, Phidippides rose to the challenge. Pushing himself past normal limits of human endurance, the reached Athens in perhaps 3 hours, deliverd his message and then died shortly thereafter from exhaustion. Sparta and the other Greek polies eventually came to the aid of Athens and eventually they were able to turn back the Persian attempt to conquer Greece.

    ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)

    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      Thanks for the history lesson. Seriously, though, it is a good story.


      A Dance with Monkeys

        Some suggest that Phidippides was not the one to run to Athens since he was probably still running from Sparta, and that the battle began before he got back. 21 miles. The 26.2 distance is a modern invention that came from the Olympic games in London. It was the distance from the royals' castle to the stadium; starting at the castle allowed the royalty to watch the start from a comfortable location.


        A Dance with Monkeys

          Also, it should be pointed out that, as I understand it, Phidippides' run to Athens is not documented in any primary source. It came instead in an 1879 poem by Robert Browning:
          So, when Persia was dust, all cried, "To Acropolis! Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due! Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!" He flung down his shield Ran like fire once more: and the space 'twixt the fennel-field And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through, Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay, Joy in his blood bursting his heart, - the bliss!
          Νενικήκαμεν! Wink Herodotus, the primary source for much of this story, gave us this account:
          Before they left the city, the Athenian generals sent off a message to Sparta. The messenger was an Athenian named Pheidippides, a professional long-distance runner. According to the account he gave the Athenians on his return, Pheidippides met the god Pan on Mount Parthenium, above Tegea. Pan, he said, called him by name and told him to ask the Athenians why they paid him no attention, in spite of his friendliness towards them and the fact that he had often been useful to them in the past, and would be so again in the future. The Athenians believed Pheidippides's story, and when their affairs were once more in a prosperous state, they built a shrine to Pan under the Acropolis, and from the time his message was received they held an annual ceremony, with a torch-race and sacrifices, to court his protection. On the occasion of which I speak - when Pheidippides, that is, was sent on his mission by the Athenian commanders and said that he saw Pan - he reached Sparta the day after he left Athens and delivered his message to the Spartan government. "Men of Sparta" (the message ran), "the Athenians ask you to help them, and not to stand by while the most ancient city of Greece is crushed and subdued by a foreign invader; for even now Eretria has been enslaved, and Greece is the weaker by the loss of one fine city." The Spartans, though moved by the appeal, and willing to send help to Athens, were unable to send it promptly because they did not wish to break their law. It was the ninth day of the month, and they said they could not take the field until the moon was full. So they waited for the full moon, and meanwhile Hippias, the son of Pisistratus, guided the Persians to Marathon.
          ...nothing about the subsequent run back to the Plains of Marathon, or a run from there to Athens. Wikipedia adds:
          The first known written account of a run from Marathon to Athens occurs in the works of the Greek writer Plutarch (46-120), in his essay On the Glory of Athens. Plutarch attributes the run to a herald called either Thersippus or Eukles. Lucian, a century later, credits one "Philippides." It seems likely that in the 500 years between Herodotus's time and Plutarch's, the story of Pheidippides had become muddled with that of the Battle of Marathon, and some fanciful writer had invented the story of the run from Marathon to Athens
            It seems likely that in the 500 years between Herodotus's time and Plutarch's, the story of Pheidippides had become muddled with that of the Battle of Marathon, and some fanciful writer had invented the story of the run from Marathon to Athens
            That is the general consensus among historians I believe....Herodotus is the most complete primary source for the Persian Wars, being alive for them, and considering his style of interjecting every bit of legend and interesting tidbits into his history, I find it doubtful he would have neglected to mention this supposedly major part of the most important battle in his history! Plutarch was in the same vein as Herodotus in caring more about legend, character and what makes a good story than the particular minutiae of historical fact. Plutarch essentially gathered all the interesting anecdotes he could (and made a few up) in writing his histories. Thanks for pulling those quotes- what an interesting subject. Those two historians are nothing compared to Thucydides though.....


            A Dance with Monkeys

              Whe will this story be made into a movie? Seems Ancient Greece is popular in Hollywood these days...