What a glorious day to feel alive. The young people were keen to show off the strength and flexibility of their bodies. You could see it in their emphatic gestures, the twitching of muscles and smiles like starting lines. And what better time of life to celebrate physicality? Leave philosophy to middle age, when people are old enough to look back and gain the wisdom of their experiences.


And they were off. Running with the intent of arrows upon their mark, arms and legs pumping so hard that had they had wings, they would have lifted into the air. Prince Klytoneus took the lead early on with the others trailing further and further behind. This was no ruse to placate a royal ego. Originally, all rulers gained their power through cunning and physical strength. With ease Klytoneus crossed over the finish line first.

  1. Prince Klytoneus 2:28
  2. Shearwater 3:04
  3. Tipmast 3:06



Though it was strictly forbidden the teenage girls found a way to peek in at the wrestlers as they were anointed with olive oil and dusted with powder like baking dishes being prepared for making a cake, beefcake in this case. They giggled at the sight of these well muscled bodies and were excited about the thought of them rolling around in the muddy arena.

Shipwright knew how to use the "tripping allowed" rule to take an early advantage. He would use his long legs to quickly hook behind his opponent's left knee and knock him down. Nevertheless, he lacked the stability and strength of the stouter Boardalee and Seareach. In the end Seareach's greater experience as a wrestler gave him the edge to win the day.

  1. Seareach
  2. Boardalee
  3. Shipwright



The long-jump played itself out like a series of short dances. To the tune of a piper jumpers would run to the jumping pit, weights in hand. The piper would punctuate each move of the jump with a shrill note. When the jumpers were more than mid-way through the jump, they would thrust the weights behind them and increase the length of their jump.

Prince Halios might have fared better had he not also been in the wrestling and was therefore still slippery when he took the weights. Just as he was about to use the weights midflight, one flew from his grip, off balancing him enough to shorten his leap.

  1. Seabelt 6.01
  2. Beacher 5.89
  3. Prince Halios 5.58



The boxers wrapped their knuckles with leather and cloth. The purpose of the game was to practice at fighting for battle, not to damage one another. These were the Phaiakian rules. Five direct blows to the body was all that was needed to win the game. This encouraged the learning of defensive tactics: a useful skill, since live fighters are always more useful than dead ones. Should the fight go on for a long time, then the opponents could choose to finish the game with klimax, whereby each would stand still and let the other throw a punch at them without avoiding it.

All of the young men played well and honourably, enjoying the sparring as a way to demonstrate their strength and endurance, as well as use up excess energy. Prince Laodamas demonstrated his right to the throne through a victory that spoke well of his sense of fair play. At one point he knocked out Runningwake which would have indicated a win in many countries, but since this was Phaiakia, Laodamas forfeited the bout and fought again with Runningwake later in the day.

  1. Prince Laodamas
  2. Grandfleet
  3. Runningwake



By the time the discus competition was proceeding Prince Laodamas wondered if Odysseus might wish to join them. "After all, he looks strong enough, if the sea hasn't worn him out," he commented to his friends. So he stepped up to Odysseus and asked that he join in the fun.

"Well now lads," Odysseus replied, "I have more on my mind than track and field. I am certainly enjoying watching you young bucks, but I am only here as one who seeks passage home from the king."

Seareach, being a contentious sort and wanting to further demonstrate his virility, taunted Odysseus, "Of course it could be that you don't know any sports, that really you are the captain of an old river barge and that at best, maybe you could throw a discus like an old woman. Isn't that why you won't join us?"

Odysseus eyed Seareach coldly. "That was uncalled for, friend. I might point out that often the best looking jars are left empty. You seem to be in good physical form, but I would say that your head is probably where you keep your extra lung capacity."

Odysseus knew that he did not know her gender, but his comment still stung. She picked up a stone discus heavier than the others. Under her breath she commented, "I'll show you how an old woman throws." With a whirlwind arc she let the discus fly. It shot forward like a fleeing UFO. A little grey-eyed girl staked its landing, crying out that even a blind person could tell that Odysseus' discus far outdistanced all others.

"Give me a bow and arrow and I will show you what other sports I excel in," said Odysseus.

"I think there is no question now as to what kind of athlete you are, sir. But, even the young men are now craving a Fosters beer or three," replied Laodamas.

  1. Odysseus 67.83
  2. Sparwood 44.58
  3. Bluewater 44.12


Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps