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Greek ceramic plate depicting Marathon Runners

Handmade greek ceramic plate depicting Marathon Runners

Handmade greek ceramic plate depicting Marathon Runners. A lovely souvenir from Greece!

The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles 385 yards), usually run as a road race. However, there was never any marathon race at the Ancient Olympic Games. What we call a marathon today derives its name from an event that involved the runner Pheidippides (or Philippides), the Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon, which took place in August or September, 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming νενικήκαμεν (nenikēkamen, we have won!), before collapsing and dying.

In 1896, at the first modern Olympics, the very first modern-day marathon was run. To honor the history of Greek running, Greece chose a course that would mimic the route run by Pheidippides.

Because of their posture, we can assume that the characters in this scene are sprinters, whose arms dart furiously to and fro - so that on Greek pottery a sprinter's silhouette is like a windmill or swastika. At the Olympic Games, the sprint was always the most important race. It was run over a distance of a little more than 192 metres, the distance that Hercules (or Herakles), the mythical founder of the Games, supposedly was said to have been able to run in one breath.

Such scenes were commonly depicted on the so called Panathenaic Amphoras, the prizes at the Panathenaic Games at Athens. Sometimes up to 100 of them, depending on the contest, were presented to the victors, and would have been full of olive oil, useful for cooking, lighting lamps, or for cleansing the body. One side of the amphora would illustrate the contest, and the other the goddess Athena, and sometimes the name of the archon, or chief official, presiding at the event. was included.



24 x 24 x 2 centimeters
9.45 x 9.45 x 0.79 inches





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