Anthologia Palatina IX 357

An unknown Greek poet succeeded, despite the strict metrics of Greek poetry, to present the four games of the periodos in one short poem, with the four gods and heroes and the four prizes each on one line.

There are four games in Greece, four sacred games,
Two celebrate mortals, two immortal gods :
Zeus, the son of Leto, Palaimon and Archemoros.
The prizes are an olive branch, apples, selery and fir tree.


Zeus and the olive branch represent the Olympic games. For the Pythian games the poet names the son of Leto, Apollo, and apples rather than the better known laurel crown. The mythical founder Palaimon and the crown of pine - here the poet cannot keep the traditional order of the games because of the metre - represent the Isthmian games and Archemoros, another name for the baby Opheltes from the foundation myth, and the crown of selery the Nemean games.

© KU Leuven, 2012