Some reflections on the legend of the Marathon runner (hdt. 6.105, Aristoph. nub. 63–67, Plut. de glor. ath. 347c, Lucian. laps. 3 and the Roman Tradition)


  • Valeria Melis University of Cagliari – University Ca’ Foscari Venezia



Philippides, Marathon runner, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Plutarch, Lucian of Samosata, Classical Philology


A well-known tradition has it that after the victory of the Greeks over the Persian army at the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.E.) one of the Athenians ran forty kilometres from Marathon to Athens and died soon after his arrival in the city, after giving the good news. However, the story is more complicated than it seems, and several issues have claimed the attention of scholars, such as what the Marathon runner’s name was, what form of greeting he used and whether the episode really happened or not. The first part of my paper offers a reconsideration of the extant sources in order to express my point of view on the abovementioned issues. The second part aims at showing a selection of parallel passages which could possibly prove useful in trying to illustrate how the legend of the Marathon runner evolved into the shape it assumed in the Lucianean account, which is still considered as the ‘official’ version of the story.


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How to Cite

Melis, V. “Some Reflections on the Legend of the Marathon Runner (hdt. 6.105, Aristoph. Nub. 63–67, Plut. De Glor. Ath. 347c, Lucian. Laps. 3 and the Roman Tradition)”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 23, Aug. 2021, pp. 25–54, doi:10.12797/CC.23.2020.23.02.



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