What are the recorded cases of disqualification in the ancient olympics and what was the reason for each case?

PS: Don't get into the details about the Hellanodikai, I am very well aware of their function.

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    There is the case, where all Spartans were banned for braking the truce until paying the 200.000drch fine. Does this meet your requirements? If so, I will go through Thucydides. – Ludi Aug 8 '16 at 16:17
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    My fellow Greeks have pointed my attention to yet another disqualification recounted in Pausanias. Give me some time to find and translate it. I must translate it myself. If even we recurse to copy pasting translations from the internet, how can we stay in touch with the spirit of our ancestors? – Ludi Aug 9 '16 at 19:03


Indeed one such incident is well recorded. I quote from Thucydides, Book Five, Chapter 49 and append my own translation. Both my English and Ancient Greek are rusty now...

Ὀλύμπια δ᾽ ἐγένετο τοῦ θέρους τούτου, οἷς Ἀνδροσθένης Ἀρκὰς παγκράτιον τὸ 
πρῶτον ἐνίκα: καὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοῦ ἱεροῦ ὑπὸ Ἠλείων εἴρχθησαν ὥστε μὴ 
θύειν μηδ᾽ ἀγωνίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐκτίνοντες τὴν δίκην αὐτοῖς ἣν ἐν τῷ Ὀλυμπιακῷ
 νόμῳ Ἠλεῖοι κατεδικάσαντο αὐτῶν φάσκοντες <ἐς > σφᾶς ἐπὶ Φύρκον τε τεῖχος 
ὅπλα ἐπενεγκεῖν καὶ ἐς Λέπρεον αὐτῶν ὁπλίτας ἐν ταῖς Ὀλυμπιακαῖς σπονδαῖς 
ἐσπέμψαι. ἡ δὲ καταδίκη δισχίλιαι μναῖ ἦσαν, κατὰ τὸν ὁπλίτην ἕκαστον δύο 
μναῖ, ὥσπερ ὁ νόμος ἔχει. [2] Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ πρέσβεις πέμψαντες 
ἀντέλεγον μὴ δικαίως σφῶν καταδεδικάσθαι, λέγοντες μὴ ἐπηγγέλθαι πω ἐς 
Λακεδαίμονα τὰς σπονδάς, ὅτ᾽ ἐσέπεμψαν τοὺς ὁπλίτας.

My attempt at a translation:

Olympics took place that summer, in which Androsthenes the Arkadian
won the first pankration.1 and the Spartans where banned from the sanctum by the Elians, so as to neither sacrifice, nor compete (in the Games). For they had not fulfilled their punishment, to which they had been condemned by the Elians under Olympic Law, as the Elians charged that they had brought arms to the fortification of Phyrkon and hoplites2 of their own into Lepreon, all at the time of the (Olympic) Truce. The fine amounted to 2000 mnas3 , two per hoplite, as the law provides. But the Spartans, sending ambassadors, maintained they had unjustly been condemned, saying the Truce had not been announced in Sparta, hence they had dispatched the hoplites.

See also point 4 about fining below. Late comers were disqualified! At the two hundred and eighteenth Festival that led to Heracleides winning without a contest!


1 Could be the first place at the pankratio, or his first victory. Pankratio itself was a highly regarded, full contact fight with elements of boxing and wrestling.

2 Main type of Greek heavy fighter, characterised by large shield, spear and short sword.

3 1mna = 100 drachmai

Fining at the Olympics

Pausanias Book 5 (Elis 1), Chapter 21, basically exclusively deals with fining athletes at the Olympics in detail. Since I never get around to finishing my own translation of this really long dedicated passage, I finally give in and provide the one by Jones et al. from Perseus.

Below I summarise:

  1. Eupolus of Thessaly bribed his competitors in boxing.
  2. Likewise Callipus of Athens in Pentathlon. Athenians refuse to pay the fine and boycott the Games.
  3. A fine paid by the Rhodians and one on an unspecified wrestler. The passage is a bit confusing here. This might be the case of Philostratus or another. The information given TO Pausanias is contradictory as well.
  4. Apollonius „Rhantes“ from Alexandria in Egypt fined for misdemeanour, i.e. lying about the reason of his delay, then attacking the victor upon his disqualification. This passage is particularly important, as it clearly states that the rules disqualified late comers! Along with him other late comers were disqualified, Heracleides won without contest!
  5. Fining, after two boxers from Egypt had agreed on a bribe.The one bribed was called Didas and the briber was Sarapammon. It seems both were fined, but the text is not absolutely clear.
  6. Fining of two fathers, Damonicus the Elean and Sosander of Smyrna, in connection with the fight between their sons, who were resp. named Polyctor and Sosander (again). It appears the real deal was between the fathers.
  7. Sarapion of Alexandria fined for cowardice (!) because „on the day before the pancratium was to be called on he ran away“.
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    Pankration appears to essentially be Ancient Greek MMA. That is, like the original MMA, before they took the silly step of adding gloves (trading more punching and concussion injuries for less superficial cuts and submissions). – T.E.D. Aug 9 '16 at 14:06
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    But later on Thucydides wrote that lakedemonian chariot actually raced in the Olympics, won, and was disqualified again. Then chariot's owner refused to comply with the disqualification and took laurel wreath himself, which resulted in a fight with olympics officials (ραβδοΰχος). – Matt Aug 9 '16 at 17:58
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    @Matt Ok, I will check and translate it as soon as possible. Though, I would say I have shown there were disqualifications. It remains to discuss the effectiveness of their policing. – Ludi Aug 9 '16 at 18:23

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