poem26 Dec 2016 07:18 am

foul_pankration_at_kylix_by_the_foundry_painter_bm_vasee78

On the first day, after the appropriate sacrifices
(hare and tortoise, several calamari, and a brace of snails)
we watched our hero Hippias in the discus race.
The rolling discus squashed the toes of half a dozen men,
and he was one. Maybe next time.

At noon, the Spartan women hosted
a magnificent display of competitive callisthenics.
Eye-gouging was not permitted;
all else was fair. Almost all survived the fray.
It will go down in legend.

After lunch, the chariot hurling! Incorruptible judges
down from Thrace ensured that every chariot was standard weight.
More than half the field was disqualified. Our hero Philippos
passed that hurdle, but any of the Spartan girls
could have thrown the chariot twice as far as him.

At sunset, in the Olympian Lake, our hero Gorgias
will compete in the octopus wrestling.
He’s several arms and legs behind his giant foe,
but we’re hoping the philosophy he’s studied will give him the edge
against a mere beast, though it counts past eight with ease.

The javelin hunt will top off a perfect day.
We’ll hunt the elusive javelin across the wooded hills
by the thin light of the crescent moon.
The shy creatures never prowl until full dark.
A jolly night for all (except perhaps the javelins).

Image of kylix in British Museum, photo by © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5
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