Discus

DISCUS. Throwing the discus was an athletic exercise practiced by the Greeks and an important event in the Gr. athletic festivals. It is frequently mentioned by Homer and the discus thrower was a subject of Gr. artists, Myron’s Discobolus being world famous, though the original is lost. There is no mention of discus or discus throwing in the canonical books of the Bible and only one reference appears in the Apoc. The discus is referred to as an indication of the degree of Hellenization promoted by the high priest, Jason. Jason set up a place of exercise under the citadel (2 Macc 4:12) and the author of Maccabees describes with disapprobation the results of this innovation: “So that the priests had no more any zeal for the services of the altar: but despising the sanctuary, and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened to enjoy that which was unlawfully provided in the palaestra, after the summons of the discus” (2 Macc 4:13, ASV [1908]).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The discus was a round stone slab or metal plate of considerable weight (a kind of quoit), the contest of throwing which to the greatest distance was one of the exercises in the Greek gymnasia, being included in the pentathlon. It was introduced into Jerusalem by Jason the high priest in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, 175-164 BC, in the Palaestra he had formed there in imitation of the Greek games. His conduct led to his being described in 2 Macc 4:13,14 as that "ungodly man" through whom even the priests forsook their duties to play at the discus. A statue of a discobolos (discus-thrower) is in the British Museum. From discus we have the words "disc," "dish," "desk." See Games.