Kleomedes of Astypalaia

P076Kleomedes of Astypalaia had a successful boxing career in the early fifth century BC. In 496 or 492 BC, however, he killed his opponent at Olympia by wounding him badly with a foul blow. Because of this offence - and not because of the death of his opponent, which was not a punishable act - the hellanodikai took away his victory.

Kleomedes became depressed. On his return to Astypalaia he destroyed a school in a flash of insanity. He pulled down the pillar which kept up the roof and this killed all sixty children present. The inhabitants of the city tried to stone him to death, but he hid in the temple of Athena, from where he disappeared miraculously. His confused pursuers consulted the oracle of Delphi and were told that Kleomedes had become a hero. From that moment onwards he was honoured with sacrifices as befitted his new status.

© KU Leuven, 2012