The rules of the games
The Elians managed to maintain the interest of all Greeks in the Olympic Games, thanks to a set of rules that regulated the organization, participation and training during the games.
Among the rules the most important ones were the following:
- Imposing the truce.
- Only Greek citizens had the right to participate in the Games.
- Special rules for the procedures of training and organization of the games.
"There, the method of preliminary training and the kind of exercises are decided by others, and it is not the trainer, but the hellanodikes who, entirely on his own initiative and without being bound in any way, organizes everything, in accord with the particular circumstances pertaining from time to time. And the hellanodikes has the whip at his disposal, not only for the athlete, but also for the trainer, and he uses it in case of any contravention of his orders; and all have to conform with the orders of the hellanodikai, since those who violate them may be immediately excluded from the games"
Philostratus, ca. 3rd century AD
These were the Hellanodikai, that is the Greek judges. Initially, their post was hereditary. After 584 BC, all the citizens of Elis were eligible for this post. Their number fluctuated from two (584 BC) to nine (480 BC), twelve (368 BC) and then was reduced to ten (348 BC). During the games they resided at the Hellanodikeion, a large building in the agora of the city and wore purple robes to stand out.
They were responsible for awarding prizes and imposing punishments and fines to those who violated the rules. In order to promote the games and ensure a perfect spectacle, they supervised the athletes during the training month, they selected those that had trained sufficiently and rejected those that did not perform well enough. They passed judgment not only on the athletes' physical performance but also on their character and moral status.