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Bill Thayer

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 p141  Ascoliasmus

[image ALT: An engraving of three standing men, all bearded and crowned with plant wreaths. The two that are fully naked also have tails, and the one on the left wears a loincloth. The one in the center stands with some difficulty, partly bent over and trying to balance himself, on the inflated hide of an animal; the two others, one on either side, appear to be spectators but are making supporting gestures with their arms. The entire scene is framed in an oval. It is a rendering of a gem from classical Antiquity depicting the game of ascoliasmus, the subject of this webpage.]

Unsigned article on pp141‑142 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

ASCOLIASMUS (ἀσκολιασμός, the leaping upon the leathern bag, ἀσκός), was one of the many kinds of amusements in which the Athenians indulged during the Anthesteria and other festivals in honour of Dionysus. The Athenians sacrificed  p142 a he‑goat to the god, made a bag out of the skin, smeared it with oil, and then tried to dance upon it. The various accidents accompanying this attempt afforded great amusement to the separators. He who succeeded was victor, and received the skin as a reward. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Plut. 1130; Plat. Symp. p190; Virg. Georg. II.384; Pollux, IX.121; Hesych. s. s. Ἀσκολιάζοντες; Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik d. Hellenen, p399, who gives a representation of it from an ancient gem, which is copied in the above cut.)

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Page updated: 14 Mar 14