Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Histories The Boxer Dread
‘With the Finger Tips’
Crackpot Mailbox: Carlos Has A Question about Pausanius Description of Olympic Combat
Damoxenos kills a man with his finger
Sun, Feb 9, 3:48 PM (7 days ago)
Hey James, I came across this story from Pausanias involving two boxers, Krugas of Epidamnos and Damoxenos of Syracuse, where the latter stabs the former with his fingernail, and then disemboweling him. Pausanias writes:
" [8.40.4] On the occasion to which I refer Creugas aimed his blow at the head of Damoxenus, and the latter bade Creugas lift up his arm. On his doing so, Damoxenus with straight fingers struck his opponent under the ribs; and what with the sharpness of his nails and the force of the blow he drove his hand into the other's inside, caught his bowels, and tore them as he pulled them out.
[8.40.5] Creugas expired on the spot, and the Argives expelled Damoxenus for breaking his agreement by dealing his opponent many blows instead of one. They gave the victory to the dead Creugas, and had a statue of him made in Argos. It still stood in my time in the sanctuary of Lycian Apollo. "
I've never heard of a man piercing another's flesh with his fingernails and then disemboweling him, though I did notice how sharp you can get nails when a jamaican girl was poking me with them. Does this seem possible to you? If so, have you seen or heard anything like this in your own life?
I've included two more examples of brutality in the Ancient World for the enjoyment of the reader, and this leads me to wonder if this type of brutality existed within other cultures' rituals/sports. How did Greek/Roman sport/ritual compare to others, or more broadly Indo-European to others in terms of martial display? Would this come to influence European militaries or people in anyway? Also any interesting things that pop to mind. Thanks in advance.
Aelian, Varia Historia:
Chap. XIX. Of Eurydamus.
Eurydamus the Cyrenæan gained the Victory at the Cæstus : His teeth being beaten out by his Antagonist, he swallowed them down, that his adversary might not perceive it.
Also from Pausanias:
....Arrhachion dislocated his opponent's toe, but expired owing to suffocation; but he who suffocated Arrhachion was forced to give in at the same time because of the pain in his toe. The Eleans crowned and proclaimed victor the corpse of Arrhachion.[2]
( [8.40.1-2])
(P.S. When searching "Pausanias" on your website, in case you had written about this before, I came across this which I found fascinating)

The spear-hand killing was committed at the Nemean games and could be done, under these circumstances with a properly conditioned hand. Do note that it was okay to spear the eyes with the fingers in these contests. What was never okay was intentionally killing the person. Even accidentally killing was a sin.
I have a friend whose mother saw his uncle, another friend, pop a dude's eye out with his thumb. This is taught in various martial arts as throat and eye attacks. But, when considering that these men were high level athletes and also warriors, it is easy to imagine. Look, chimps are smaller than us and can rip our feet and hands off. There were also fighters known for breaking fingers in wrestling and pankration.
The important aspect in terms of Aryan cultural legacy was that this killing was unacceptable and punished, and that very few contestants were killed I these brutal encounters. Even then, death usually came in the form of heat stroke.
Strictly speaking, we aren’t talking about Olympic combat, but sacred agonistic rites, of which the precinct of the Olympic Agons dedicated to Thunder-chief every 4 years was the chief event. The three lesser agons of the Period, or sacred cycle, were the Pythian rites at Delphi, every 4 years, the Nemean rites in the northeastern portion of Red-face-island every 2 years and the Isthmian [or land-bridge] games held at Corinth every 2 years.
The brutal killing in question appears to have been a spear-hand to the abdomen, which is doable under the circumstances, in which the fighters agreed to expose themselves to full-power strikes and take it like a man. This is illustrated in The Gods of Boxing by Joseph Bellafatto and particulars and translations of the fighters’ names are included.
The more interesting of the two cases of death in sacred athletic [prize-seeking] contests as the death of Arrikhion, whose name I translated as Earnest-snow. He was an older fighter from the mountainous region of Arkadia where the Spartans got their light hoplites. He was said to have been afflicted with lycanthropy! Additionally, Philostratus, in his Painting in the Gallery writing at a later date than Pausanius, describes the painting of Arrikhion’s death in victory as a thing of beautific perfection, with his corpse flushed with joy and the living loser pallid as if in death. Arrikhion’s death is also illustrated by Joseph in the third volume of The Broken Dance, All-Power-Fighting.
prev:  A Boxer Dread     ‹  histories  ›     next:  Stones
the greatest lie ever sold
the gods of boxing
winter of a fighting life
supplicant song
book of nightmares
the world is our widow
Add Comment