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date: 18 April 2024



  • Stephen Instone
  •  and Antony Spawforth


(1) The term agōn (ἀγών) and its derivatives can denote the informal and extempore competitive struggles and rivalries that permeated Greek life in the general fight for success and survival (cf. Hes. Op. 11–26), especially philosophical, legal, and public debates; action between opposing sides in war; medical disputes. Competitive behaviour in this last area is illustrated by the Hippocratic work (see hippocrates (2)) On Joints, which at one point (Art.70) envisages a medical assistant, in his struggle to realign a dislocated thigh, enjoying an agōn or contest with the patient (cf. also Art. 58: medical rivalry in producing prognoses). A corollary of the agonistic drive was the prominence as a motive for action of *philotimia (love of honour), which could turn into over-ambition and jealous rivalry, and, in its worst form, lead to *stasis (strife) and political upheaval (cf. Pind. fr. 210 Snell–Maehler; Thuc. 3. 82. 8).


  • Greek Literature

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