The umpires

P243Just as modern contests, Greek contests were bound by rules. An offence against the rules was considered cheating and for this the athlete was punished. All contests were attended by umpires, called stick- or whipbearers. They assisted the organizers or hellanodikai, who acted as judge and had the final responsibility. In case of doubt, the hellanodikai decided who was the winner.

The umpires are often portraited on Greek vases with scenes of combat sports. They stood near the fighting athletes, ready to act. Athletes who cheated were promptly punished with a beating of a stick or a whip. Athletes who submitted could signal this by pointing up their index finger to the umpire.

© KU Leuven, 2012