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This is a study of Hellenistic athletics from the perspective of the victors. By analyzing agonistic epigrams as poetry on commission, it investigates how successful athletes and horse owners and their sponsors wanted their victories to be understood. Based on the identification of recurring motifs that exceed the conventions of the genre, a multiplicity of agonistic cultures is detected on three different levels – those of the polis, the region and the empire. Kings and queens used athletics in order to legitimate their rule, cities tried to compensate for military defeats by agonistic successes, and victorious aristocrats created virtual halls of fame to emphasize their common regional identity. Without a doubt, athletic victories represented far more than just leisure activities of Hellenistic noblemen. They clearly mattered in terms of politics and social status.