Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 12

2012 is significant in that it is a presidential election year, a leap year, and a summer Olympic year! The modern Olympics, of course, were inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics, a subject I’ve been researching for my work in progress. So in these months leading up to the 2012 London Games, I’ll be posting weekly tidbits about the original athletic festival that started it all.

Here’s this week’s fun fact:

A horse could win even without a jockey.

In Book 6 of the Description of Greece, Pausanias writes:

The mare of the Corinthian Pheidolas was called … Aura (breeze), and at the beginning of the race she chanced to throw her rider. But nevertheless she went on running properly, turned round the post, and, when she heard the trumpet, quickened her pace, reached the umpires first, realized that she had won and stopped running. The Eleans (the Olympic organizers) proclaimed Pheidolas the winner and allowed him to dedicate a statue of this mare.

Apparently weight handicaps weren’t factored in Greek horse racing. Still, it’s impressive she kept going in the race without anyone guiding her.

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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