Athletic victory, athletic defeat and the concept of the athletic arete (i.e. virtue) by pindar

Por: I. Zoi e Maria Kontou.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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This paper explores the Pindaric view of the athletic victory and defeat through the verses of Pythian 8. According to the poet, the athletic virtue, viewed as a group of both physical and mental features, is dependent upon the athletic victory and is regarded as the fruit of it.


The paper applies a historical and a literal analysis of Pythian 8, and makes briefer references to other "epinikian odes" (i.e. songs dedicated to the victorious athletes). Hermeneutical strategies are used, this case being the philosophic research of the concept "athletic arete" (athletic virtue) during the Ancient Olympics.


Analysis of the literature reveals the connection between the athletic victory and the athletic arete on a cultural, political, social and economical basis.

Discussion/ Conclusion

The conclusions of this paper stimulate a further research on the concept of the athletic victory and defeat and the pre-existent or not athletic arete. Behind the verses of the "epinikian odes" lies the interesting question of the inherent (Fyas) or acquired athletic arete. Furthermore, the athletic arete is revealed as a reflection and an end product not only of the personal effort of the person-winner, but also of the community, broadly speaking - as well as the divine grace (Fortune).


  1. Pindar’s Pythians, trans. Th. Stavrou
  2. C. M. Bowra, Pindar
  3. Α. G. Podlecki, " Pindar’s Values"
  4. J. Mouratides, History of Physical Education and Sports Science (with elements of Philosophy)
  5. R. Lattimore, "The odes of Pindar"
  6. W. Jaeger, "The Ideals of Greek Culture" Volume I, trans. by G. Highet



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