Exaentus of Agrigentum

Every so often something shows up in a scan which you never, ever expect to see … in this case, the New York Times has a review of a book called Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports which includes:

The ancient Greeks even pioneered a form of the ticker-tape parade when, in 412 B.C., the Olympic running champion Exaentus of Agrigentum was driven through the streets in a chariot followed by 300 prominent citizens. Clearly, the Greeks were able practitioners of the phenomenon we now know as hype.

Actually, it was even more impressive than that. From the Perseus translation of Diodorus Siculus (13.82):

And in the Olympiad previous to the one we are discussing, namely, the Ninety-second, when Exaenetus of Acragas won the “stadion,” he was conducted into the city in a chariot and in the procession there were, not to speak of the other things, three hundred chariots each drawn by two white horses, all the chariots belonging to citizens of Acragas.

The passage comes from a long section commenting on the wealth of Acragas (modern-day Agrigento) at the time (412 B.C.). The stadion, incidentally, was (give or take) the ancient equivalent of the 200 metres. Clearly, they’re still talking about the parade …

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