Nemean Games, one of the four great national festivals of the Greeks, so called from Nemea in Argolis, where they were held every second year. The first one the date of which can be fixed approximately on historical authority occurred in the 52d or 53d Olympiad (572-565 B. C). The period from one celebration to another was called a Nemead. They were instituted by the seven against Thebes in commemoration of the death of the infant Ophel-tes, which had been destroyed by a dragon while Hypsipyle its attendant had gone to show the seven a well. On their return they slew the dragon and instituted funeral games. Other legends ascribe them to Hercules in honor of his destruction of the Nemean lion. It is probable, however, that these refer to a restoration of the ancient festival, and its alteration to a celebration in honor of Jupiter. At first they were of a warlike character, only warriors and their sons participating, but they were afterward thrown open to all the Greeks. The exercises consisted of horse racing, running in armor in the stadium, wrestling, chariot racing, quoit throwing, boxing, throwing the spear, archery, and musical contests. The prize was at first a chaplet of olive branches, but afterward one of parsley.

The management of these games belonged at different times to Cleonae, Corinth, and Argos. Philip of Macedon was once honored by the Argives with the presidency of the Nemean games; and at their celebration in 195 B. C, Quintius Flamininus proclaimed the freedom of Argos.