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My explanation of N. 7. 72, 73 differs materially from that of Prof. Gardner and Dr Pinder (Der Fünfkampf der Hellenen, Berlin, 1867), and my view of the nature of the pentathlon is to a great extent new.
I had anticipated Prof. Gardner's view of the ephedros in my note on O. 8. 68. I also agree with Prof. Gardner and Dr Pinder that victory in only three contests was necessary to win the prize (in spite of Aristides, Panathen. p. 341).
But I hold that the competitors all contended at once in leaping, running, and discus-hurling, and also in spearthrowing, save that all competitors who were beaten by one competitor (or more) in the first three contests may have at once retired as beaten, in some cases at any rate. Similarly all wrestled, or at least those who had not been beaten by any one competitor in three out of the first four contests.
The qualification for ultimate victory was TO DEFEAT EACH AND ALL OTHER COMPETITORS IN SOME (NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME) THREE CONTESTS OUT OF the five. Thus I do not, like Dr Pinder, force the meaning of vikav, but only distribute its application.
It follows from my hypothesis that the first in wrestling, if there was any, would generally win. But cases of equality as to the mere order of placing according to the rough and ready method propounded might arise; for instance, if A beat all in two contests and B and C each beat all in one contest out of the first four, then if B or C win the wrestling we have two winners in two contests apiece. In such cases it is reasonable to suppose that the judges would decide which of the competitors had shown himself the best all-round man.
But still a winner could not, as Prof. Gardner urges, in objection to Dr Pinder's scheme, "be very inferior in the first three contests."
It must be assumed that a minimum of proficiency was required in all the contests. If a competitor were absolutely first in the first three contests or in three out of the first four contests he would only have to satisfy the judges as to his proficiency in the last two contests or in wrestling alone, while the other candidates would still compete, at any rate those who had a chance, in case the winner of three contests were after all disqualified.
Dr Pinder narrows the circle of competitors after the second contest, not after the first (Fünfkampf, pp. 77, 79) to four, three, two successively in the last three contests.
This view seems at once untenable, because
A who was successively 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 might win from B who was 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, a case which is at variance with common sense and (as Prof. Gardner shows) with all the slight testimony given by antiques and by writers.
In Flavius Philostratos' Argonautic pentathlon (de Gymn. §3) my hypothesis, according to Prof. Gardner's view of the heroes' merit, gives the subjoined simple scheme.
If the larger of the alternative numbers be chosen or excluded, all five competitors remain in for the wrestling.