THE GREATEST OLYMPIC ATHLETES

The names of over 794 ancient Olympic victors are known to us in the modern day.(see note 1) Partial victor records exist for the ancient Olympic games, held every four years for almost twelve centuries, from 776 B.C. to 393 A.C. and altogether the victor list consists of over 1029 ancient Olympic victories.(2) The first recorded victor was Koroibos of Elis who won the stadion race in 776 B.C. The last victor about whom we have information was Zopyrus, a boxer from Athens in 385 A.C.(3) Between these two dates there were a total of 291 Olympic festivals. In addition there were probably 2 additional ones after 385 A.C. for which we have no information. Some of the victors are more famous than others. I list here the 12 victors who won the most victories.

Athlete Victories Event(s) Game Years
Leonidas
of Rhodes  
12 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 4 festivals
164, 160, 156, 152 B.C.
*Herodoros
of Megara
10 heralds 10 festivals
328, 324, 320, 316, 312, 308, 304, 300, 296, 292 B.C.
Hermogenes
of Xanthos
8? stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 3 festivals
81, 85, 89 A.C.
Astylos
of Kroton/ Syracuse
7 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 3 festivals
488, 484, 480 B.C.
Hipposthenes
of Sparta
6 boys wrestling, wrestling 6 festivals
632, 624, 620, 616, 612, 608 B.C.

Milo
of Kroton

6 boys wrestling, wrestling 6 festivals
536, 532, 528, 524, 520, 516 B.C.
Chionis
of Sparta
6 stadion and diaulos 3 festivals
664, 660, 656 B.C.
**Nero
of Rome
6 heralds, tragedy, lyre, tethrippon, Foals tethrippon, 10 horse chariot

1 festival
67 A.C.

Gorgos
of Elis
6 diaulos, hoplitodromos, pentathlon 4 festivals
(?)
Aelius Granianus
of Sikyon
5 diaulos, hoplitodromos, pentathlon 4 festivals
133, 137, 141, 145 A.C
Demetrios
of Salamis
5 stadion, pentathlon 3 festivals
229, 233, 237 A.C.
*Diogenes
of Ephesos
5 trumpeter 5 festivals
69, 73, 77, 81, 85 A.C.
* periodonikes
** Technically the games of 67 A.C. at which Nero won 6 victories were later declared illegitimate.

TRIASTES

It is difficult to single out the finest one-day athletic Olympic achievements for various reasons.   We often have incomplete or non-existent information about the competition in each of the events, the effects of lottery selection of opponents and of byes in certain field events, the weather, or other factors may have influenced the outcomes.   Below is a list of the 7 Olympic athletes who won three times, as TRIASTES, in a single day. The only athlete who definitely accomplished this feat on more than one occasion was Leonidas of Rhodes who achieved TRIASTES status at four different festivals.   Was Leonidas the greatest Olympic athlete of all time?   Arguably he could be.

Athlete Victories Event(s) Game Years
Phanas Pellene 3 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 512 B.C.
Astylos
of Kroton/Syracuse
3 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 480 B.C.
*Nikokles
of Akrion
3 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 100 B.C.
Leonidas
of Rhodes
12 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 164, 160, 156, 152 B.C.
Hekatomnos
of Miletus
3 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 72 B.C.

*Polites
of Keramos

3 stadion, diaulos, dolichos 69 A.C.

*Hermogenes
of Xanthos

3 stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos 81, 89 A.C.
* Nikokles and Polites ran the dolichos. Hermogenes victories are not absolutely certain in these events.


Notes

1. Moretti lists a total of 794 individual Olympic victors in his two publications , L. Moretti, Olympionikai, i vincitori negli Antichi agoni Olimpici , MemLinc , Roma, 1957; L. Moretti, "Supplemento al catalogo degli Olympionikai," Klio 52, 1970, pp. 295- 303.

2. This number includes Olympic victories of uncertain date and of uncertain authenticity.

3. This information comes from a bronze inscription from the clubhouse of the athlete's guild at Olympia.   The building was built in the 1 st century A.C. by Nero and was in continuous use until the late 4 th century A.C., see U. Sinn, Olympia, Cult, Sport and Ancient Festival , (Markus Wiener) Princeton, 2000, pp. 114-118.



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