Taraxippus

Taraxippus (gr. Ταράξιππος, Ταράξιππος) (plural: taraxippoi) means "horse disturber" in Greek (Latin: equorum con­turbator). It was the name of a horse-frighthening spot or a ghost present during horse races at major sites of ancient Games.

At Olympia its identity (Taraxippos Olympios) was described differently. Some said to be that of Oenomaus' spirit harming chariot racers as he harmed suitors of Hippodamia. Others say it was a tomb of Myrtilus, who caused the death of Oenomaus[1] Still other say it was the tomb of an Earth-born giant Ischenus (Lycophron, [1]). Pausanias lists several other persons whose ghosts might be responsible.

The race-course [of Olympia] has one side longer than the other, and on the longer side, which is a bank, there stands, at the passage through the bank, Taraxippos, the terror of the horses. It is in the shape of a round altar and there the horses are seized by a strong and sudden fear for no apparent reason, and from the fear comes a disturbance. The chariots generally crash and the charioteers are injured. Therefore the drivers offer sacrifices and pray to Taraxippos to be propitious to them.

(Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.20.15)

At Isthmian Games, a Taraxippus (Taraxippos Isthmios) was the ghost of Glaucus of Pontiae, who was torn apart by his own horses. ( Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.20.19)

Taraxippos Nemeios haunted horses during Nemean Games.

At Nemea of the Argives there was no hero who harmed the horses, but above the turning-point of the chariots rose a rock, red in color, and the flash from it terrified the horses, just as though it had been fire. But the Taraxippos at Olympia is much worse for terrifying the horses. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.20.19

References

  1. ^ William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology


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