An Introduction to Plato's Theory of Athletics
- For an Understanding of the Concept of Sport in Ancient Greece -

               Kohki KINIWA

  (Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University)

 This paper aims to consider Plato's theory of athletics from the three viewpoints of
techne, soma, and pathos, focusing on his descriptions of athletics. It seems that these
three viewpoints give a broad perspective for us to consider, athletics not only in ancient
Greece, but also sport in modern society. This is because the three Greek words, techne,
soma, and pathos, have such large meanings which are different from modern words like
technique, body and emotion, and the three viewpoints would enable us to relativize the
modern view of sport and to understand the concept of sport in a larger context.
   In Plato, athletics is not what caused by only the human body (soma), but the very in-
tellectual practice in a connection with mathematics and expertise (techne) of measure-
ment Athletics means the contest with an opponent's body, making use of one's excel-
lence of body (strength, speed, size, etc), and it provides pleasure for the people who
watch it. Moreover, it is possible to find the love for victory, mettle, craftiness and wild-
ness which are beyond moral precepts as the peculiar affections (pathos) and dispositions
in athletics.
   However, Plato does not always evaluate athletics positively, since athletics make the hu-
man body and soul unbalanced towards ones which can adapt themselves only to a specific
environment, like the animal body (soma) and soul. According to Plato, athletics should be
regarded as dangerous for the city state and education, since it has the same immoral char-
acters as the other traditional cultures (e.g. poem, play and the other arts).
   Though sport is often discussed from the viewpoints of morality and education in the
present age, it is peculiar that the essence of athletics is drawn from various angles in
Plato. Plato's theory of athletics would enable us to understand the pluralistic values of
sport without being tied to the viewpoints of morality and education, and to reply to the
problems of sport such as sport sciences, doping, fair play, etc from various angles.