Tell, Håkan. 2011. Plato's Counterfeit Sophists. Hellenic Studies Series 44. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Tell.Platos_Counterfeit_Sophists.2011.
6. Competition in Wisdom
Χαλκίδα [τ’] εἰσεπέρησα. τὰ δὲ προπεφραδμένα πολλὰ
ἄεθλ’ ἔθεσαν παῖδες μεγαλήτορες. ἔνθα μέ φημι
ὕμνῳ νικήσαντα φέρειν τρίποδ’ ὠτώεντα.
In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (149–150, Allen) we hear of a similar competition:
μνησάμενοι τέρπουσιν ὅταν στήσωνται ἀγῶνα.
Later, the poet asks the maidens who are his audience to remember him in the future (ἐμεῖο δὲ καὶ μετόπισθε μνήσασθ’), and to say that his songs are the best in times to come (τοῦ πᾶσαι μετόπισθεν ἀριστεύουσιν ἀοιδαί), whenever a stranger asks them. 
χρόνον Γανύκτωρ ἐπιτάφιον τοῦ πατρὸς Ἀμφιδάμαντος
βασιλέως Εὐβοίας ἐπιτελῶν πάντας τοὺς ἐπισήμους ἄνδρας
οὐ μόνον ῥώμῃ καὶ τάχει, ἀλλὰ καὶ σοφίᾳ ἐπὶ τὸν ἀγῶνα
μεγάλαις δωρεαῖς τιμῶν συνεκάλεσεν.
We hear of judges (κριταί, 69) presiding over the contests, as the sages question each other. Whoever gives the best answers is victorious. The capacity to answer any question is crucial, and this is highlighted in Homer’s remark to Hesiod (160):
Ask anything else that is dear to your heart.
Hesiod walks away the victor on the grounds that his poetry promotes peace whereas Homer sings of war. His prize is a tripod, which he dedicates to the Muses. In this work, then, we hear of a highly formalized competition in wisdom, alongside other more traditional athletic competitions, where what counts is one’s ability to answer any question. Further, the winner is crowned (ἐστεφάνωσεν, 208) and rewarded with a prize in the same manner as the athletes: the words ἀγωνίζομαι and ἀγών (54, 65, 68, 71, and 215), νικάω and νίκη (71, 207, 209, 210, 214, 216, and 255) are used to describe the competition between Hesiod and Homer. These verbs are typically affiliated with athletic prowess.  It is worth mentioning that the prize, a tripod, is a familiar element in our sources as a reward for wisdom: Diogenes Laertius tells the story of the tripod and the Seven Sages, where the Delphic oracle declares that the tripod should belong to the wisest man alive.  In the Contest of Homer and Hesiod we similarly have a wisdom contest with the prize of a tripod and, as we shall see shortly, an important role played by oracular responses.
ἐκβάλλεσθαι καὶ ῥαπίζεσθαι καὶ Ἀρχίλοχον ὁμοίως.
In fragment 2, Xenophanes outlines his criticism of athletic competition, and compares the benefits of his own wisdom to those of the athletic competitions: 
ἀνδρῶν ἠδ’ ἵππων ἡμετέρη σοφίη
σμικρὸν δ’ ἄν τι πόλει χάρμα γένοιτ’ ἐπὶ τῶι,
εἴ τις ἀεθλεύων νικῶι Πίσαο παρ’ ὄχθας·
οὐ γὰρ πιαίνει ταῦτα μυχοὺς πόλεως.
Traditionally, this fragment has been read as Xenophanes’ condemnation of athletics. If we put it together with the passage quoted from Heraclitus, however, we can read it as an affirmative declaration of his own wisdom, in which his intelligence is carefully framed to contrast with the benefits of athletic victory. Heraclitus, focusing exclusively on competition in sophia, acknowledges that his wisdom participates in an agonistic relationship with earlier and contemporary sophoi. Xenophanes, on the other hand, shifts the focus and articulates the benefits of wisdom contrastively by saying what athletics cannot accomplish. Both Heraclitus and Xenophanes, however, promote the pursuit of wisdom as an agonistic activity. Similar sentiments were later expressed in Euripides’ Autolykos, where the uselessness of athletes is contrasted with the benefit to society of the wise man:
Thucydides addresses other aspects of this agonistic nature later in his work (3.38.4–7). The context is a deliberation in the assembly over what actions should be taken in the face of the revolt of Mytilene in 427 BCE. Cleon addresses the assembly and criticizes the citizens for allowing the act of political deliberation to turn into an oratorical competition:
This passage illustrates how commonplace these competitive performances were, and how, in the eyes of Cleon (and, presumably, Thucydides), they were significant enough to influence negatively the political climate of the time.
We are left without any doubt that there existed formal debates on a variety of topics that we can loosely collect under the heading of sophia, and that these debates bore a close resemblance to other forms of agonistic contests with a developed vocabulary of winning and losing (περιγίνεται, ἐπικρατέει). This is a point stressed by Lloyd:
In the Nature of Man (1, 23–24) the author goes on to assert that it is the lack of understanding that makes the debaters contradict themselves (αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοὺς καταβάλλειν … ὑπὸ ἀσυνεσίης). The verbs used to mean “debate” and “contradict” in the passages quoted above (καταβάλλειν and ἀντιλέγειν) correspond to the names of Protagoras’ works, the Overthrowing Arguments (Καταβάλλοντες) and the Contradictory Arguments (Ἀντιλογικοί), and they seem to be appropriately used in the context of competitive debate, where the goal is to overcome one’s opponent.  Gorgias uses the verb καταβάλλειν in his Defense on behalf of Palamedes when he talks about the danger that awaits the judges if they make the wrong decision and condemn him:
In this passage, καταβάλλειν is employed where reputation is at stake. By winning the argument one’s own reputation is enhanced, while that of the opponent is overthrown; and this is clearly the meaning of the passage from the Hippocratic corpus quoted above, where the disputants attack each other in order to be proclaimed victors in the debate. It is also likely that this was the ability that the Overthrowing Arguments of Protagoras dealt with, and which he sought to instill in his students. Plutarch preserves the name of one of Thrasymachus’ works, Ὑπερβάλλοντες, and though the prefix used here is different, the meaning is likely similar to that of the κατα-prefix. 
Finally, Isocrates mentions the allurements of Athens in the Panegyricus and, when enumerating the attractions the city offers, he says that it provides a variety of contests:
Socrates contrasts his own accomplishments and usefulness to the polis to the achievements of the athletic victors. By claiming for himself the public recognition normally granted to athletic success he locates himself within the agonistic tradition outlined above. It is interesting to note that Socrates’ claim to fame came from the oracle of Apollo at Delphi which, after being asked by Chaerephon whether there was anyone wiser than Socrates, pronounced that there existed no wiser man in the world.  Socrates challenges the rewards given to athletes and claims that he is more worthy of them, but he also attributes his reputation for wisdom to the prophetic utterances of Delphi. He thereby acknowledges, at least indirectly, his indebtedness to a long tradition of practitioners of wisdom dating all the way back to the Seven Sages.  Furthermore, although he emphasizes the rivalry between athletes and sophoi, the question posed to Delphi regarding his wisdom is clearly asked with a view also to the rivalry among sophoi—no one is wiser (σοφώτερος) than Socrates—and thus stresses the twofold competition seen above: both between athletic and intellectual pursuits and among practitioners of wisdom.
It is particularly relevant that this complaint is voiced in the context of the games at the Panhellenic sanctuaries. It emphasizes the traditional theme of the opposition between athletic and intellectual pursuits, on the one hand, but it also focuses attention on the games as potential or desired sites for competition in wisdom, on the other.  What, then, do the frequent comparative appeals to athletic prowess accomplish? The answer, I suggest, is twofold. It situates intellectual activity within the sphere of public goods—goods that deserve public recognition. But, perhaps more importantly, it construes wisdom as a competitive enterprise—one with winners and losers and with high stakes in the taking for the victor.
Bernays, who saw in this passage the first prose mention of Olympia,  was puzzled over the use of αἴνιγμα γνῶναι, and asked if Clement indeed meant to imply that there existed riddling contests at Olympia. He thought not, and suggested instead an emendation of the word that would agree with a line in Homer.  Diels also emended αἴνιγμα, but chose a word that meant “to trip up” (πλίγμα), taking the metaphor from the world of wrestling. Ferguson, on the other hand, defended αἴνιγμα and thought that it was “a plain allusion to a famous legendary feat of σοφία,” that is, Oedipus’ encounter with the Sphinx.  Thomas Buchheim likewise sees no reason for emending the text as long as it has not been clearly established what sort of ἀγώνισμα is meant.