The Gymnasium: Its School For Combative Sports


For the image posted here, the depression center left was filled with water and used for swimming practice and mock naval battles. To the right (partially obscured by a tree trunk) is a line of carbonized tree stumps, the remains of the trees burned in the volcanic eruption of 79 CE. Between them and the colonnade, a line of saplings was recently planted as a replacement.

The gymnasium in Ancient Greece and Rome functioned to train competitors for the public games. The name comes from the Ancient Greek word gymnós meaning nude. Men competed in the nude, a practice to encourage aesthetic appreciation of the male body. Other parts of the gymnasium were for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. Only adult male citizens were allowed to use the gymnasium.

In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam recalls Binyamin’s first pankration competition, a strenuous combination of boxing and wrestling:

At first, they seemed well matched, the fair, husky Titus hammering Binyamin’s face with a few left jabs, a thread of blood squiggling from Binyamin’s eyebrow, Titus driving his fists into Binyamin’s midriff, and Binyamin pounding him with some solid body punches. But then Binyamin caught him with a sudden left hook to the jaw, a straight right to the nose that snapped his head back, and a strangle hold that sent him to the mat. Permanently.

No wonder Miriam’s palms would dampen whenever she’d pass the grove of marble columns that fronts Alexandria’s Great Gymnasium. But yours don't have to. In fact, if you’re willing to accompany Miriam, then click here.



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