The history of the ancient pentathlon

Modern Pentathlon is such a unique, diverse and harmonious type of sport that its origin from the Olympic Games of ancient Greece is not one of doubt. Modern pentathlon is called "real Olympic sport” and the main reason for this is its exclusive line to the ideals of Olympism.

The ancient pentathlon

The one with faster and sturdier legs is the runner.
The one, who has enough strength to squeeze the grip of an opponent, is the wrestler.
And the one, who can hit the opponent's powerful blow, is the fist fighter.
And those, who can master everything, participate in the pentathlon.
That was what Aristotle wrote about the athletes, who were created by pentathle. After pentathle - a true passion for the Greek, the creator of beauty. The Greeks invented the pentathlon competition, to show the best and most versatile athletes to the ancient Hellas. The ancient pentathlon consisted of five challenges to overcome one by one in one day: jogging (192m, 25cm), long jump, javelin throw, discus throwing and wrestling. Pentathlon was first included in the program of the ancient Olympics in 708 BC. The first winner in this sport is Lampis from Sparta.
Types of events in the ancient pentathlon
It was an ordinary run, in which it was necessary to run 1 stage. The length of a stage was 600 feet, and because of the different step size, which ranged from 175 to 192 and 27 cm. It is noteworthy that the largest stage was just the same in Olympia - 192m 27cm. This can be partly explained by the legend, which says that this stage was measured out by Hercules. Young men were often chosen for jogging, who were engaged in hunting or were shepherds, because their way of life developed the qualities necessary for runners. The lord of poets Pindar sang to the progenitor of all athletics:
"Do not look for stars brighter than the shining sun

In the midday desert air,
Do not look for competition, a decent song
Than an Olympic race. "

Long jump
Jumping of the ancient Greeks was not like the one of modern athletes. Usually, they jumped from a hill far away without a run, but only waved their arms before jumping with lead weights (galteras) to give the body acceleration. Weight of the weights was from 1.6 to 4.6 kg, depending on body weight. Several of these weights have survived to our times, and are a doubtless find.

As for the javelin throw, this type of art has been studied mainly for military purposes. Usually throwing included two types: distance and target throwing. The pentathlon program included only distance throwing. The spear was made of wood, as long as a man's height, pointed in front with an iron tip to replace the center of gravity and increase the speed of flight, but lighter than a warrior’s spear.


Discus throwing
The disc throwing technique was not much different from today's. A metal circle was called a disc (at first – a stone), flattened at the edges in the form of lentils, whole or drilled in the middle with a diameter of 17 to 32 cm and weighing from 1.3 to 6.6 kg. The position of the body, taken in the discus throw is introduced to us by the amplitude-preserved ancient statues of discus throwers. Obviously, the most famous in this series is the statue of Myron - "Discus Thrower". This statue has come down to us only in a Roman copy. The most remarkable part of this statue is the harmony of the strained body of the athlete. Myron was the first to depict the body of young men, captured at the time of movement. His "Discus Thrower" swung the heavy disc, his body was bent, strained, as just about ready to straighten like a spring.

The Greek fight was virtually no different from the modern Greek-Roman, although it had its own peculiarities. There was a distinction between the “standing" and "bottom” fight. The winner in the “standing fight” was the one, who overturned the opponent to the ground three times, whereas the in "lower fight" the enemy himself admitted his defeat. To increase the difficulties for the wrestlers their naked bodies were smeared with oil and showered with fine sand.

In order to become a winner in the pentathlon, it was necessary to be skilled at such various types of exercises that the victory in pentathlon was appreciated to a greater extent than in other types of competition. The winner of this contest received the title of «Victor Ludorum». And it is not surprising that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle himself wrote about the athletes created by pentathle: "The most committed athletes, of course, are those involved in pentathlon, as strength and speed are combined in perfect harmony in their bodies."
From the pentathlon was born two types of all-around - athletic and modern pentathlon, which includes shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and jogging. And the second type maintained the character that was inherent in the ancient pentathlon and the impression of ​​a pentathlete as a perfect athlete. If the Greek pentathle included competitions in which they could show all their superiority, the modern pentathlon included disciplines, which, if combined, contribute to the development of a harmonious personality. Firing produces mental stability. Fencing develops a good reaction, and it is important for making the only important and correct decision out of many other options and implement it. Swimming and jogging develop many of the physical qualities and temper the character. Not to mention the equestrian sport, which is the only thin thread that connects the athletes to nature, from which we are moving further and further away.
"Pentathlon is not just a sport”, - said the honored master of sports and Olympic champion Pavel Lednev. “It is great art to be on top in five disciplines. A pentathlete must look elegant in the competition with horses, he must have excellent reaction in fencing, concentration in shooting, high-speed endurance in swimming, and have the ability to suffer and endure in running cross country".