Aniken Museum Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Punny athletes. The ancient Greeks loved wordplay—and they loved wrestling. Their most popular sport, wrestling was part of everyday life and everyday art. Wrestlers are mentioned in poetry, depicted on coins and painted on vases. This sixth-century B.C.E. Attic red-figure amphora, attributed to Vulci, the Andokides Painter, shows two pairs of men engaged in wrestling exercises, watched by a young trainer (identified by his stick). Author Jacobson suggests that the Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel would have struck a deep chord in the Greeks and perhaps inspired them to refer to the land of Jacob’s descendants as Palaistinê, based on a translation of the Greek word for wrestler, which also punned with the name of the land of the Philistines.