Phidippides: Duisburg, Germany – ELG Haniel

//Phidippides: Duisburg, Germany – ELG Haniel

Phidippides: Duisburg, Germany – ELG Haniel

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The first recorded account showing a courier running from Marathon to Athens to announce victory is from within Lucian’s prose on the first use of the word “joy” as a greeting in A Slip of the Tongue in Greeting (2nd century AD).

Philippides, the one who acted as courier, is said to have used it first in our sense when he brought the news of victory from Marathon and addressed the magistrates in session when they were anxious how the battle had ended ; “Joy to you, we’ve won” he said, and there and then he died, breathing his last breath with the words “Joy to you”. – Lucian translated by K.Kilburn.

The modern use of the word dates back to Philippides the dispatch-runner. Bringing the news of the victory at Marathon, he found the archons seated, in suspense regarding the issue of the battle. ‘Joy, we win!’ he said, and died upon his message, breathing his last in the word Joy … – Lucian Pro lapsu inter salutandum (translated by F.G. and H.W. Fowler, 1905)

The traditional story relates that Pheidippides (530–490 BC), an Athenian herald or hemerodrome (translated as “day-runner”, “courier”, “professional-running courier” or “day-long runner”), was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece. He ran about 240 km (150 mi) in two days and back. He then ran the 40 km (25 mi) to the battlefield near Marathon and back to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word νικῶμεν (“We win!”), as stated by Lucian chairete, nikomen (“hail, we are the winners”) and then collapsed and died.

Most accounts incorrectly attribute this story to the historian Herodotus, who wrote the history of the Persian Wars in his Histories (composed about 440 BC). However, Magill and Moose (2003) suggest that the story is likely a “romantic invention.” They point out that Lucian is the only classical source with all the elements of the story known in modern culture as the “Marathon story of Pheidippides”: a messenger running from the fields of Marathon to announce victory, then dying on completion of his mission.

Robert Browning gave a version of the traditional story in his 1879 poem Pheidippides.

So, when Persia was dust, all cried, “To Acropolis!
Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!” He flung down his shield
Ran like fire once more: and the space ‘twixt the fennel-field
And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,
Till in he broke: “Rejoice, we conquer!” Like wine through clay,
Joy in his blood bursting his heart, – the bliss!

(Phidippides source: Wikipedia)

By |2019-02-23T15:49:25-06:00February 22nd, 2019|Duisburg: Germany|Comments Off on Phidippides: Duisburg, Germany – ELG Haniel