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“An athletic game, in which all the powers of the fighter were called into action. The pancratium was one of the games or gymnastic contests which were exhibited at all the great festivals of Greece; it consisted of boxing and wrestling, and was reckoned to be one of the heavy or hard exercises, on account of the violent exertions it required, and for this reason it was not much practised in the gymnasia. In Homer we find neither the game nor the name of the pancratium mentioned, and as it was not introduced at the Olympic games until Ol. 33, we may presume that the game, though it may have existed long before in a rude state, was not brought to any degree of perfection until a short time before that event. The name of the combatants was Pancratiastae, or Pammachi. They fought naked, and had their bodies anointed and covered with sand, by which they were enabled to take hold of one another. When the contest began, each of the fighters might commence by boxing or by wrestling, accordingly as he thought he should be more successful in the one than in the other. The victory was not decided until one of the parties was killed, or lifted up a finger, thereby declaring that he was unable to continue the contest either from pain or fatigue.” — Smith, 1873


William Smith, A School Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1873) 239


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