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  • Cited by 22
  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: January 2010

8 - Local heroes: athletics, festivals and elite self-fashioning in the Roman East



A rather unremarkable statue base was set up some time under the reign of Gordian III in the entrance-passage of the agora of the Lycian city of Oinoanda.

  1. (a) (on mouldings:) (statue) of Poplios Sthenios Fronto, son of Likinnianos, by gift.

  2. (b) (on the shaft) When Ioulios Loukios Peilios Euarestos was the agonothete of the fifth panegyris […] Euaresteia which he himself founded with his own money, Poplios Sthenios Fronto, citizen of Oinoanda, son of Poplios Sthenios Likinnianos having been crowned in the men's pankration; open to all Lycians.

  3. (c) (epigram) First my Fatherland crowned me for the boys' wrestling and honoured me with a glorious statue in bronze; later, having carried off for my fatherland the men's pankration

The honorand was a member of a prominent local family, who had excelled as a heavy athlete all his life, and the base must have carried a statue of Fronto as a victorious athlete. It is obvious from this text that athletic victory was a crucial aspect in Fronto's self-image. But texts such as these suggest that there was more at stake than simple personal pride in athletic excellence: Fronto presents both his athletic victory, and the commemoration of this victory as his gifts to his fatherland. Success in an agonistic festival apparently had a social importance that went well beyond the interest of the individuals concerned.