┬ronze statuette of a girl runner, from the sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona. 550-540 B.C.
The sturdy, athletic body is appropriate to a female athlete taking part in a race, although the theory has been advanced that the piece depicts a maenad who is being pursued. According to the most widely held view, however, the work depicts a young Spartan girl participating in the races for maidens held at Olympia. The games were held every four years, on a date different from that of the Olympic Games, in honour of the goddess Hera. The maidens ran for a shorter distance than men and wore a short chiton or tunic . The victor received an olive wreath, ate meat from the animal sacrificed to the goddess and dedicated an inscribed image of herself in the temple of Hera. This figurine was affixed to the rim or shoulders of a large bowl used for mixing wine with water or to the shoulders of a cauldron. This is an outstanding piece from a Laconian or Epirote workshop producing work in the Corinthian style.