Horses, elegant battle steeds, were venerated in Agrigento in a more heartfelt way than in other cities.
There was a real exaltation in Akragas for the spectacle deriving from their superb beauty and sinuous movements, so much so that majestic funeral monuments were raised and they were depicted on vases and coins.
One admirable example, visible at the Museum of Agrigento, is an Attican ceramic amphora with black figures (6th century BC), which, on the main side, depicted a quadriga (chariot) driven by Athena.
Diodorus tells us that Esseneto, a famous Akragantine athlete, won the stadion at two consecutive editions of the Olympics.
The stadion was a discipline similar to today’s running races.
For this reason the athlete, returning from the competitions, entered the city with an escort of 300 chariots pulled by white horses, in a solemn and triumphant entrance, while the crowd cheered him on loudly.
According to Diodorus, the exultant festivities took place in the Akragas stadium, which we have not found.
In ancient Rome, putting oil on the body before a sporting performance was a genuine ritual.
The oils used were obtained by pressing olives between two wooden boards, and were often perfumed with aromatic herbs passed through a mortar.
In this way, the herbs released all their essence into the surroundings, an effect that was amplified by the warmth of the athletes’ bodies.