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Theagenes of Thasos

Theagenes of Thasos (Θεαγένης) , pancratiast, son of Timosthenes ( a priest of the Heracles temple in Thasos )

  • Boxing Olympic victory 480 BC (75th Olympiad)
  • Pancration Olympic victory 476 BC (76th Olympiad)
  • Other victories ( Three times Pythian games, nine times Nemean, ten times in the Isthmian) boxing and /or pancration
  • Many more in other games

Graphic7

Altar from circular shrine of Theagenes of Thasos with inscription

At the age of nine he ripped a bronze statue out of the ground and carried it to his home. A incredible strong child that obviously became a boxer. A statue of Theagenes was produced by Glaucias of Aegina and set next to Philip II and his son Alexander the Great in Olympia.

Pausanias

But it would not be right for me to pass over the boxer Euthymus, his victories and his other glories. Euthymus was by birth one of the Italian Locrians, who dwell in the region near the headland called the West Point, and he was called son of Astycles. Local legend, however, makes him the son, not of this man, but of the river Caecinus, which divides Locris from the land of Rhegium and produces the marvel of the grasshoppers. For the grasshoppers within Locris as far as the Caecinus sing just like others, but across the Caecinus in the territory of Rhegium they do not utter a sound. This river then, according to tradition, was the father of Euthymus, who, though he won the prize for boxing at the seventy-fourth Olympic Festival, was not to be so successful at the next. For Theagenes of Thasos, wishing to win the prizes for boxing and for the pancratium at the same Festival, overcame Euthymus at boxing, though he had not the strength to gain the wild olive in the pancratium, because he was already exhausted in his fight with Euthymus. Thereupon the umpires fined Theagenes a talent, to be sacred to the god, and a talent for the harm done to Euthymus, holding that it was merely to spite him that he entered for the boxing competition. For this reason they condemned him to pay an extra fine privately to Euthymus. At the seventy-sixth Festival Theagenes paid in full the money owed to the god, . . . and as compensation to Euthymus did not enter for the boxing-match. At this Festival, and also at the next following, Euthymus won the crown for boxing. His statue is the handiwork of Pythagoras, and is very well worth seeing. ...

Next to these are offerings of Eleans, representing Philip the son of Amyntas, Alexander the son of Philip, Seleucus and Antigonus. Antigonus is on foot; the rest are on horseback.
Not far from the kings mentioned stands a Thasian, Theagenes the son of Timosthenes. The Thasians say that Timosthenes was not the father of Theagenes, but a priest of the Thasian Heracles, a phantom of whom in the likeness of Timosthenes had intercourse with the mother of Theagenes. In his ninth year, they say, as he was going home from school, he was attracted by a bronze image of some god or other in the marketplace; so he caught up the image, placed it on one of his shoulders and carried it home.
The citizens were enraged at what he had done, but one of them, a respected man of advanced years, bade them not to kill the lad, and ordered him to carry the image from his home back again to the marketplace.This he did, and at once became famous for his strength, his feat being noised abroad through-out Greece.
The achievements of Theagenes at the Olympian games have already -- the most famous of them -- been described in my story, how he beat Euthymus the boxer, and how he was fined by the Eleans. On this occasion the pancratium, it is said, was for the first time on record won without a contest, the victor being Dromeus of Mantineia. At the Festival following this, Theagenes was the winner in the pancratium.
He also won three victories at Pytho. These were for boxing, while nine prizes at Nemea and ten at the Isthmus were won in some cases for the pancratium and in others for boxing. At Phthia in Thessaly he gave up training for boxing and the pancratium. He devoted himself to winning fame among the Greeks for his running also, and beat those who entered for the long race. His ambition was, I think, to rival Achilles by winning a prize for running in the fatherland of the swiftest of those who are called heroes. The total number of crowns that he won was one thousand four hundred.
When he departed this life, one of those who were his enemies while he lived came every night to the statue of Theagenes and flogged the bronze as though he were ill-treating Theagenes himself. The statue put an end to the outrage by falling on him, but the sons of the dead man prosecuted the statue for murder. So the Thasians dropped the statue to the bottom of the sea, adopting the principle of Draco, who, when he framed for the Athenians laws to deal with homicide, inflicted banishment even on lifeless things, should one of them fall and kill a man.
But in course of time, when the earth yielded no crop to the Thasians, they sent envoys to Delphi, and the god instructed them to receive back the exiles. At this command they received them back, but their restoration brought no remedy of the famine. So for the second time they went to the Pythian priestess, saying that although they had obeyed her instructions the wrath of the gods still abode with them.

Whereupon the Pythian priestess replied to them :

-- But you have forgotten your great Theagenes.

And when they could not think of a contrivance to recover the statue of Theagenes, fishermen, they say, after putting out to sea for a catch of fish caught the statue in their net and brought it back to land. The Thasians set it up in its original position, and are wont to sacrifice to him as to a god.

There are many other places that I know of, both among Greeks and among barbarians, where images of Theagenes have been set up, who cures diseases and receives honors from the natives. The statue of Theagenes is in the Altis, being the work of Glaucias of Aegina.

Apsychon Dike

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