The Role of the Games in Society
Cicero, in his presentation of Greek philosophy to a Roman audience, recounts a story about Pythagoras that Cicero had found recounted by a pupil of Plato, Herakleides of Pontos. Pythagoras visited Leon, the ruler of Phlious, at a date not far from 480 B. C. and displayed great learning during their discussions. We see the various types of people who went to the Games. The passage also shows that the Games were so well known that they could be used for allegorical purposes.
Leon admired Pythagoras' genius and eloquence and asked him on which art he relied the most. Pythagoras said that he knew no arts, but was a philosopher. Leon marvelled at the novelty of the term and asked what was a philosopher and what was the difference between them and the rest of mankind. Pythagoras is said to have responded that the life of man seemed to him like that festival which was held with the most magnificent games with all of Greece assembled. There some, with their bodies trained, competed for the glory and the fame of a crown, others were motivated by the profit potential of buying or selling, but there was yet another type, the best of all, who sought neither applause nor profit, but came to observe and to study what was done and how. So we, as if we have come to some festival
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Publication information: Book title: Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources. Contributors: Stephen G. Miller - Author. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 89.
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