Pindar and Anacreon/Pindar/Nemean Odes
THE NEMEAN ODES.
|Of the Nemean Games||172|
OF THE NEMEAN GAMES.
These games were probably so called from Nemea, a town of Argolis, with a wood in which Hercules when a youth is fabled to have killed a lion which infested that region; and in commemoration of this exploit the games were instituted, about the same time with the Olympic. They were among the most celebrated in Greece, and are said to have been originally held by the Argives, in memory of Opheltes, or Archemorus, son of Lycurgus, and king of Nemea, whose death was occasioned by the bite of a serpent, and to have been renewed by Hercules.
According to Pausanias, (in Phocaicis,) Adrastus was the author, and his descendants, the Epigoni, were the restorers of these games, which were held every third year, on the twelfth day of the month called by the Macedonians Πανεμος, by the Athenians Βοηδρομιων, answering to our August. The Argives, Corinthians, and Cleonæans were alternate presidents of these games, in which were exhibited chariot, horse, and foot races, boxing, wrestling, and all the usual exercises, whether gymnastic or equestrian. The reward at first bestowed on the conqueror was a crown of olive, afterward changed for one of parsley, which being a funereal plant, served to commemorate the death of Archemorus, in whose honour an oration was usually pronounced, and the distributors of prizes at these games were clad in mourning garments. A magnificent account of their celebration is contained in the opening of the sixth book of the Thebais of Statius.