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Lycurgus the law-giver then living; from which time they were continued by the Grecians, till the reign of Theodosius the emperor, according to Cedrenus: others think that they were dissolved under Constantine the Great.
From this institution, Varro accounted the Grecian times, and their stories, to be certain, but reckoned all before either doubtful or fabulous; and -yet Pliny gives little credit to all that is written of Greece till the reign of Cyrus, who began in the fifty-fifth Olympiad, as Eusebius put of Diodorus, Castor, Polybius,and others hath gathered,in whose time the seven wise Grecians flourished; for Solon had speech with Crccsus, and Croesus was overthrown and taken by Cyrus.
Many patient and piercing brains have laboured to find out the certain beginning of these Olympiads, namely, to set them in the true year of the world, and the reign of such and such kings; but seeing they all differ in the first account, that is, of the world's year, they can hardly jump in particulars thereon depending.
Cyril against Julian, and Didymus, begin the Olympiads the forty-ninth of Osias or Azariah.
Eusebius 3, who is contrary to himself in this reckoning, accounts with those that find the first Olympiad in the beginning of the four hundred and sixth year after Troy ; yet he telleth us that it was in the fiftieth year of Uzziah, which is, (as I find it,) two years later.
Eratosthenes placeth the first Olympiad four hundred and seven years after Troy 4, reckoning the years that passed between; to whom Dionysius Halicarnasseus, Diodorus Siculus, Solinus, and many others adhere.
, The distance between the destruction^of Troy and
2 Plin. I. xxxvi. c. Iv. 3 Eqseb. de Prep. Erang. 1. z. c. iii. 4 Eritosth. gpud Gem. Alezznd, Strom. 1. i.
the first Olympiad, is thus collected by Eratosthenes 1 From the taking of Troy to the descent of Hercules's posterity into Peloponnesus, were fourscore years; thence to the Ionian expedition, threescore years ; from that expedition to the time of Lycurgus's government in Sparta, one hundred and fifty-nine; - and thence to the first Olympiad, one hundred and eight years. In this account the first year of the first Olympiad is not included.
But vain labour it were to seek the beginning of the Olympiads by numbering the years from the taking of Troy, which is of a date far more uncertain. Let it suffice, that by knowing the installation of these games to have been in the four hundred and eighth year current after Troy, we may reckon back to the taking of that city, setting that and other accidents, which have reference thereto, in their proper times. The certainty of things following the Olympiads, must needs teach us how to find when they began.
To this good use, we have the ensuing years, unto the death of Alexander the Great, thus divided by the same Eratosthenes. From the beginning of the Olympiads, to the passage of Xerxes into Greece, two hundred fourscore and seventeen years; from thence to the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, eight and forty years ; forwards to the victory of Ly. sander, seven and twenty; to the battle of Leuctra, thirty-four; to the death of Philip king of Macedon, five and thirty; and, finally, to the death of Alexander, twelve. The whole sum ariseth to four hundred and fifty-three years; which number he otherwise also collecteth, and it is allowed by the most.
Now, for placing the institution of the Olympiads in the one and fiftieth year of Uzziah, we have arguments, grounded upon that which is certain, concerning the beginning of Cyrus's reign, and the death of Alexander; as also upon the astronomical calculation of sundry eclipses of the sun; as of that which happened when Xerxes set out of Sardis with his army to invade Greece, and of divers others.
Touching Cyrus; it is generally agreed that hi* reign as king-, before he was lord of the great monarchy, began the first year of the five and fiftieth Olympiad, and that he reigned thirty years; they who give him but twenty-nine years of reign, (following Herodotus rather than Tully,* Justin, Eusebius, and others,) begin a year later, which comes all to one reckoning. So is the death of Alexander set bv all good writers, in the first year of the hundred and fourteenth Olympiad. This later note of Alexander's death, serves well to lead us back to the beginning of Cyrus; as many the like observations do. For if we reckon upwards from the time of Alexander, we shall find all to agree with the years of the Olympiads, wherein Cyfus began his reign, either as king, or, (taking the word monarch to signify a lord of many kingdoms,) as a great monarch. From the beginning of Cyrus, in the first year of the fifty-fifth Olympiad, unto the end of the Persian empire, which was in the third of the hundred and twelfth Olympiad, we find two hundred and thirty years complete: from the beginning of Cyrus's monarchy, which lasted but seven years, we find complete two hundred and seven years, which was the continuance of the Persian empire.
Now, therefore, seeing that the first year of Cyrus's monarchy (which was the last of the sixtieth Olympiad, and the two hundred andfortieth year from the institution of those games by Iphitus,) followed the last of the seventy years of the captivity of Ju,dah, and desolation of the land of Israel; manifest it is, that we must reckon back those seventy years» and one hundred and seventy years more, the last which passed under the kings of Judah, to find the
5 Tull. de Diy. L 1. Just. I V Euteb. de Prsp. Evang. L 10. c. 3. tt de Jfem. Evang. 1. 8. c. 2.
first of these Olympiads; which, by this account, is the fifty-first of Uzziah, as we have already noted.
The eclipses, whereof we made mention, serve well to the same purpose. For example's sake; that trhicb. was seen when Xerxes mustered his army at Sardis, in the two hundred and sixty-seventh year of Nabonassar, being the last of the seventy-fourth Olympiad, leads us back unto the beginning of Xerxes, and from him to Cyrus; whence we have a fair way through the seventy years unto the destruction of Jerusalem; and so upwards through the reigns of the last kings of Judah to the fifty-first year of Uzziah. Thus much may suffice concerning the time wherein these Olympiads began.
To tell the great solemnity of them, and with what exceeding great concourse of all Greece they were celebrated, I hold it a superfluous labour. It is enough to say, that all bodily exercises, or the most of them, were therein practised; as running, wrestling, fighting, and the like. Neither did they only contend for the mastery in those feats, whereof there was good use, but in running of chariots, fighting with whorl-bats, and other the like ancient kinds of exercises, that served only for ostentation. Thither also repaired orators, poets, musicians, and all that thought themselves excellent in any laudable quality, to make trial of their skill. Yea, the very criers, who proclaimed the victories, contended which of them should get the honour of having played the best part.
The Eleans were presidents of those games, whose justice, in pronouncing without partiality who did best, is highly commended. As for the rewards given to the victors, they were none other than garlands af palm, or olive, without any other commodity following than the reputation. Indeed, there needed no more: For that wa& held so much, that when Diagoras had seen his three sons crowned for their several victories in those games, one came running to hit* with this gratulation, 'Morere, Diagoras, non enim
• in Coelum ascensurus es:' that is, * Die, Diagoras,
• for thou shalt not climb up to heaven as if there could be no greater happiness on earth than what already had befallen him. In the like sense, Horace 6 speaks of these victors, calling them
'Quos Elaea domum reducit
'Such as like heavenly wights do come
* With an Elsean garland home.'
Neither was it only the voice of the people, or the songs of poets, that so highly extolled them which 'had won these Olympian prizes ; but even grave historians thought it a matter worthy of their noting. Such was, (as Tully7 counts it,) the vanity of the 'Greeks, that they esteemed it almost as great an ho'nour to have won the victory at running or wrestling in these games, as to have triumphed in Rome for some famous victory, or conquest of a province.
That these Olympian games were celebrated at the full of the moon, and upon the fifteenth day of the month Hecatombacon, which doth answer to our June; and what means they used to make the month begin with the new moon, that the fifteenth day might be the full, I have shewed in another place. Wherefore I may now return unto the kings of Judah, and leave thcrnerry Greeks at their games, whom I shall meet in more serious employments, when the Persian quarrels draw the body of this history into the coasts of Ionia and Hellespont.
Of Jotham and his contemporaries.
Jotham the son of Uzziah, when he was twentyfive years old, and in the second of Pekah1 king of
C Horat. Carra. 1 4. Ode 2. 1 Tull in Orat. pro Flacco.
1 1 Kings Xt. S3.