# Stadion (unit)

The **stadion** (Greek: στάδιον;[1] Latin: *stadium*), formerly also anglicized as **stade**, was an ancient Greek unit of length, based on the circumference of a typical sports stadium of the time. According to Herodotus, one stadion was equal to 600 Greek feet (*podes*). However, the length of the foot varied in different parts of the Greek world, and the length of the stadion has been the subject of argument and hypothesis for hundreds of years.[2][3] Various hypothetical equivalent lengths have been proposed, and some have been named.[4] Among them are:

Stade name | Length (approximate) | Description | Proposed by | |
---|---|---|---|---|

metres | yards | |||

Itinerary | 157 m | 172 yd | used in measuring the distance of a journey.[5] | Jean Antoine Letronne, 1816[2] |

Olympic | 176 m | 192 yd | 600 × 294 mm | Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6] |

Ptolemaic[7] or Attic | 185 m | 202 yd | 600 × 308 mm | Otto Cuntz, 1923;[4][7] D.R. Dicks, 1960[3][8] |

Babylonian-Persian | 196 m | 214 yd | 600 × 327 mm | Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6] |

Phoenician-Egyptian | 209 m | 229 yd | 600 × 349 mm | Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6] |

An empirical determination of the length of the stadion was made by Lev Vasilevich Firsov, who compared 81 distances given by Eratosthenes and Strabo with the straight-line distances measured by modern methods, and averaged the results. He obtained a result of about 157.7 metres (172.5 yd).[2]

Which measure of the stadion is used can affect the interpretation of ancient texts. For example, the error in the calculation of the Earth's circumference by Eratosthenes[9] or Posidonius is dependent on which stadion is chosen to be appropriate.

During the Middle Ages and the modern period, the word *stadium* has been used as a synonym for the furlong, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin.[10]

## See also

## References

- στάδιον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert;
*A Greek–English Lexicon*at the Perseus Project. - Donald Engels (1985). The Length of Eratosthenes' Stade.
*American Journal of Philology***106**(3): 298–311. doi:10.2307/295030 (subscription required). - J. L. Berggren, Alexander Jones (2000). Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691010427.
- Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC.
*Archive for History of Exact Sciences***37**(4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required). - Hoyle, Fred
*Astronomy*, Rathbone Books Limited, London 1962 LC 62-14108 - C.F. Lehmann-Haupt (1929) "Stadion"; in August Friedrich von Pauly (ed.),
*Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft*. Stuttgart: Metzler; cited in: Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC.*Archive for History of Exact Sciences***37**(4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required). - Otto Cuntz (1923).
*Die Geographie des Ptolemaeus: Galliae, Germania, Raetia, Noricum, Pannoniae, Illyricum, Italia*(in German). Berlin: Weidmann. Cited by: Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC.*Archive for History of Exact Sciences***37**(4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required). - D.R. Dicks (1960).
*The Geographical Fragments of Hipparchus. Edited with an Introduction and Commentary*. London: Athlone Press. Cited in: J. L. Berggren, Alexander Jones (2000). Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691010427. - Walkup, Newlyn (2005). "Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades".
*The MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library*. Retrieved 2008-07-29. - Pausanias (2012-05-17).
*Pausanias's Description of Greece*. ISBN 9781108047241.