Stadium

 

The stadium was adorned with marble steles with Hermes, the divine protector of the Philippopolis games. Plovdiv Archaeological Museum The stadium was adorned with marble steles with Hermes, the divine protector of the Philippopolis games. Plovdiv Archaeological Museum

There was heat at the arena as well. The imperial administrators who took care of the organization were busy with final preparations. The agonothetes (the games superintendent), chatted with senators and city councilman while composing what exactly to write on the stone inscription that would be placed at the forum after the games' end.

The athletes were nervous. Locals and foreigners from cities like Thessaloniki, Enos, Sardis and Sinope listened to last-minute advice from their seasoned trainers.

Sadly, there were times when tragic events gathered the crowds at the stadium. In 251, for example, the commander Priscus called all men to come to the stadium. When it was full with nervous citizens, he broke the news: feared Cniva and his Goths were approaching Philippopolis. Siege was a matter of time.

 

The fate of the stadium after the Goth invasion is obscure. The building was probably used as intended until the end of the 4th Century when Emperor Theodosius I (379-395) banned the Olympic games as pagan.

When Byzantine princess Anne Komnene visited Philippopolis in 1091, the ruins of the stadium were still spectacular and she mistakenly took them for the remains of a hippodrome. In the following centuries, however, the stadium completely disappeared from city's face, hidden under newer buildings.