Michel Bréal (1832-1915) – The Man Behind the Idea of the Marathon

Submitted by Norbert Müller, Professor Emeritus

Born 175 years ago in Landau, Palatinate, Michel Bréal is typically known as an outstanding linguist among experts – this is also indicated on the memorial plate at his birth place. This contribution, however, shows another Bréal: the man who provided the inspiration for the Olympic marathon in Athens 1896. Based on letters between Bréal and Pierre de Coubertin, who set up the Olympic Games by founding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, the article traces the steps from the conceptualisation of the marathon to the first race in Athens in 1896.

KEYWORDS:Olympics, IOC, Marathon, Pierre de Coubertin

Bréal at the Olympic Founding Congress in Paris in 1894
When the Founding Congress of the International Olympic Committee met on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris they decided to reinstate the Olympic Games in modern form. The adoption of this idea, across the world, came to a triumphant climax at this time and has lasted until the present day. Among the 78 participants from 37 sports organisations representing nine countries were 58 French, who represented 24 national organisations and sports clubs.

In order to make a good impression of the Founding Congress on the public, the 31year old Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who at this time was the General Secretary of the French Association of the School Sports Clubs (USFSA), had invited well-known native and foreign honorary members to head the programme. He also managed to vigorously persuade important Frenchmen to take part. He wanted to arouse great public interest in French Society in the Congress and his great idea for the modern Olympic Games. Therefore, the meeting place, actually the great hall and adjoining halls of the equally new officially opened main building of the Paris University – The Sorbonne – proved eminently suitable.

However, we look in vain at the list of honorary members for the famous classical philologist, Michel Bréal, who from 1889 was Professor at the French Institute, which is the elite sports training centre for French intellectuals.

Unfortunately, we do not see him in the participant lists or protocols of the separate congress committees. One was for the international organisation of amateur regulations, the other the advisory committee for Coubertin’s idea of the revival of the Olympic Games, including different types of sport. Here there was no mention of the marathon as a possible Olympic discipline. Therefore it is surprising that Coubertin wrote in 1909: “Michel Bréal, who very carefully followed the work of the Congress, was very positive.”

As a long serving General Inspector of the State Educational System in universities from 1879 until 1888 Bréal was, without doubt, a close acquaintance of Jules Simon, who had played an important role in the Third Republic. He had, at the instigation of Coubertin, declared himself willing to take over the chairmanship for French School Sports Clubs in 1888, and therefore became Coubertin’s crucial supporter for the reform plans to increase physical education in schools. Through him Coubertin must have come in contact with Bréal, even if the author does not possess any clear evidence.

It is all the more surprising that Bréal was not only present at the closing banquet of the Congress. There is an exact description of the banquet and the seating plan. According to that Mr. Bréal sat on Coubertin’s right and on his left was the American Napoleon biographer, Professor William Sloane, one of the founding members of the IOC.

As you can read in the first bulletin of the newly founded International Committee for Olympic Games, Bréal spoke directly after Coubertin and described in detail the achievements, especially the revival of the Olympic Games. Bréal ended his after-dinner speech, by eloquently drawing attention to the famous sport motto “citius, fortius, altius”(faster, stronger, higher) formulated by Father Didon and accepted as their motto by the Congress.

The reference to the Dominican Father Henri Didon, well-known as a preacher all over France, may have been both for Bréal, and even more for so Coubertin, a well thought-out strategy. Bréal`s interpretation of the new Olympic motto “citius, fortius, altius” has unfortunately not been recorded, simply the effusive mention of his after-dinner speech. He was predestined to be Professor of Comparable Philology at the Collège de France. The fact that in his speech he connected the outstanding event of the revival of the Olympic Games with the development of the “United States of Europe” showed a visionary world view, which he linked with Coubertin’s fundamentally asserted idea of peace. Did this innovative work prove him to be an original thinker or more likely refer to the male athletes of ancient times?

The Origin of the Idea of an Olympic Marathon
What made Michel Bréal unforgettable in the history of the Olympics? You can read it in his letter dated 15 September 1894 from Glion (Kanton Waadtland) in Switzerland, in which he suggested that Coubertin introduce into the official programme for the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 as an official competition, a long distance run from Marathon to Pnyx, the famous meeting place of the Athenians, near the Acropolis. At the same time he offered to sponsor the necessary trophy for the winner.

The most important sentence regarding the origin of the marathon is found at the end of the letter and reads as follows:

If you go to Athens, you could try and see if a long distance run from Marathon to Pnyx could be organised. That would emphasize the character of Antiquity. If we had known the time that the Greek soldier had needed for the distance, we could have set up a record. I, personally, claim the honour of sponsoring the marathon trophy.

The words of the complete letter in the French transcription are as follows:
Glion (Vaud) 15 septembre 94
Cher Monsieur
Votre aimable lettre, après avoir quelques temps couru après moi, vient enfin de me rejoindre ici, et j’ai hâte d’y répondre.
Il va sans sire que je vous donne mon adhésion pleine et entière pour le Comité.
Quant à la conférence, permettez que je m’excuse pour plusieurs raisons, dont je vous donnerai une seule, que vous apprécierez certainement.
« Les jeux de la Paix » forment un très beau sujet, sur lequel il y a des choses vraies et utiles à dire. Mais il me semble qu’elles seront mieux dites par un étranger (Italien, Suisse ou Belge) que par un français. Inutile de vous développer cela. Il me semble que vous devriez vous adresser à un homme comme M. Bonghi ou comme M.R Rod. Si vous teniez cependant à ce que fût un Français, l’homme indiqué serait Jules Simon.
Ne croyez pas que je me défile. J’agis au point de vue et dans l’intérêt de votre œuvre, dont je désire la réussite.
J’ai reçu en Bretagne, où j’étais il y a trois semaines, le 1er numéro du Bulletin et je l’ai fait circuler.
Vous faites bien de mettre en mouvement vos amis américains. Ils ont la pratique des grandes réunions et ils seront des auxiliaires précieux.
Puisque vous allez à Athènes, voyez donc, si l’on peut organiser une course de Marathon au Pnyx. Cela aura une saveur antique. Si nous savions le temps qu’a mis le guerrier grec, nous pourrions établir le record. Je réclamerais pour ma part l’honneur d’offrir « la Coupe de Marathon ».
Pardon pour ces lignes écrites au galop dans un chambre d’auberge. Je vous envie de pouvoir dater votre lettre du lieu où vous êtes, Avec plaisir je signerais
Michel Bréal
A la Bréaut !
Cela satisferait mes instincts de philologue.
Je ne sais si l’on vous a dit que j’ai eu la maladresse d’aller vous voir le lendemain de votre départ de paris. Ce sera pour cet hiver. Votre dévoué


In this letter Bréal, refers to two essential points in the history of the Olympics. His willingness to become a member of a newly founded committee for the French team which would later become the NOK of France, (now called Comité National Olympique et Sportif François) abbreviated CNOSF. It seems that Coubertin had suggested the membership in an undated letter. The second point refers to a suggestion from Coubertin to form a relationship between the modern Olympic Games and an International Peace Movement, then currently supported by Jules Simon. Therefore, Bréal recommends to Coubertin that from then on all foreign initiatives should be directed to the newly established IOC, instead of to himself as a Frenchman, to create more interest.

In the same letter Coubertin must have informed Bréal of his intention to travel to Athens in order to push ahead with the decision of the Congress to hold the first Olympic Games in 1896. The suggestion of the Marathon relates to Coubertin’s planned journey to Greece in late 1894.

We have to ask ourselves, quite rightly, with what justification Coubertin’s knowledge of Greek Antiquity was based at this time and how important it was to him.

Here are a few important dates in his life:
Pierre de Coubertin was born on l January 1863 in Paris as the son of a highly respected noble family and died on 2 September 1937 in Geneva (Genf). His published literary works consist of about 15,000 printed pages, among them 34 books, 50 brochures, about 1,100 journals and newspaper articles. Nearly 60% of his printed works contain historical contents, among them a four volume World History. In spite of that Coubertin was not a historian in the scholarly sense. He did not do any historical research. His theories were held much more strongly than those of the social reformer Frédéric le Play and Albert Sorrel, his university lecturer at the École des Sciences Politiques. He admired the educational ideas of Jules Simon and the English Physical Education teachings of Thomas Arnold, Headmaster of the Rugby School.

As an eclectic in the best possible sense he not only recognised the historical connection of a revival of the Olympic Games but, also, knowingly guided it towards being accepted by the public. He later wrote: “Olympism belongs naturally to history. Celebrating the Olympic Games means reference to history. That’s how peace can best be safeguarded.” Coubertin did not just make simple reference to the ancient Olympic Games, but considered the whole historical process and the conformity of natural law, which restores the balance of mind and body. For Coubertin the past, present and the future are inseparably joined together.
In this “pragmatic historicism” we have to recognise Coubertin`s understanding of antiquity. His main thought is not so much the conveying of the facts but his model for the future of mankind.

The existing catalogue (dated 1944), from his private library, documents some 450 works and includes some journals, an altogether modest stock of personal literature. An analysis of the book titles turns out to be rather sparse regarding Greek history, especially the Persian wars. Only 29 books deal with Greek or Roman history, and from those only seven appeared before 1894. Only five authors of the ancient world are found in Coubertin’s personal possessions. In the complete index of titles in his library there is not one work from Bréal. Obviously this linguistic research was not of any interest to him. On the other hand, there is no mention of a dedication from Bréal confirming a closer relationship with the young Coubertin, which was the case with other personalities or authors.

According to his own statements Coubertin’s grammar school time at the Jesuit College at the Rue de Madrid in Paris was a very deciding factor in his picture of antiquity. He mentioned many times, a teacher, the Jesuit father Jules Carron, who instilled in him a love of Greek antiquity. With him Coubertin studied rhetoric, which was on the timetable daily in further classical studies for the age group 15 -17. It can be assumed from the amount of books by Greek and Latin authors, in his collection, that Coubertin was acquainted with the story of the battle at Marathon, and also knew of the legend which tells of the success of the Athenian soldier’s run. After being declared the winner this soldier apparently collapsed and died at Pnyx.

Michel Bréal`s Marathon Idea

Background Reasons for Bréal`s Idea

What could have persuaded Bréal, two and a half thousand years later, to give this legendary event of a long distance run, from Marathon to Athens, such importance? It is hardly conceivable that a classical philologist of Bréal`s quality should be influenced by legends, written by the author Plutarch 600 years after the battle.

H. Gillmeister is of the opinion that Bréal mixed up two of Herodot`s legends.
Firstly, the sending of an Athenian messenger to Sparta, before the battle of Marathon in 492 B.C., with a request for weapons. This legendary fast runner is supposed to have run the 240km distance in one and a half days.

The second legend concerns the remarkably fast retreat by the heavily armoured successful Athenians over a distance of 40km from Marathon to Athens. This considerable distance was covered in only one day in order to protect their city from a possible sea attack.
A distance of 240km was unimaginable for Bréal even though today’s record for the annual Spartathlon from Marathon to Sparta is 20 hours and 25 minutes. One must not forget the Roman author Plutarch`s description, (600 years after the battle) of the legend of the victorious messenger and his death at Aeropag.

Bréal`s idea was certainly encouraged after the discovery of the battlefield in Marathon in the year 1890 when archeologists identified a small hill in the plains of Marathon as the burial mound of the Athenian soldier killed in action in the year 492 B.C. This confirmed for Bréal the existence of ancient ideas with the teaching of languages, as found in his book, “About the Teaching of Ancient Languages.”

Realization of the Idea of the Marathon in Athens

The athletics programme planned for Athens based itself mainly on the regulations of the English Amateur Athletic Association (AAA), which had been developed from the middle of the 19th century and did not contain any long distance running races. In the programme for the Games it was also stated that the races, (up to 1500m), should be carried out in the metric system, according to the regulations of USFSA, Coubertin’s school sports association. It is because of the metric system that the USFSA in England took over the running distances.

Bréal`s idea must have aroused Coubertin’s enthusiasm because in the published programme of 1895 for the Olympic Games, in bulletin No. 3, the athletics competition was divided into the following:
• Running events: 100 m, 400 m, 800 m, and 1500 m. Hurdles 110 m, according to USFS rules and regulations.
• Other events: Long Jump and High Jump, Pole-vaulting, Putting the shot, and Discus, to AAA rules.
• Running event called ‘Marathon’ over a distance of 48 km from Marathon to Athens for a trophy, sponsored by Mr. M. Bréal, member of the “Institut de France.”

If we put our trust in Coubertin’s handwritten comments, on the cover page of the programme in November 1894, during his visit to Athens, then Bréal’s idea not only won his support but, perhaps, aroused his enthusiasm. It certainly aroused the enthusiasm in his reticent Greek guests. The young Greek Republic was looking for its own identity and so the revival of the Olympic Games and the idea of the Marathon in their capital city Athens came just at the right time.

In the National Archives in Athens among the Vikelas estate one finds an important letter dated 9 January 1896 from Bréal to Vikelas. In this letter Bréal requests the translation into Modern Greek for the planned inscription on the marathon trophy. He gives the reason that the young successful athletes would not be able to understand it. He must have definitely believed in the winner being a Greek athlete.

From Bréal’s correspondence to Coubertin there is no mention of confirmation from Coubertin accepting the idea of the marathon, at that time. There was simply an undated visiting-card from Bréal congratulating Coubertin on the birth of his first child, a son Jacques, in February, 1896 on which was written: “Don’t travel to Athens before I have given you something to take for me.” Bréal was referring to the trophy he had sponsored which had been made by a jeweler in Paris.

It will surprise the reader to note, in the correspondence and in the first two printed programmes, that a 48 km marathon was mentioned. Karl Lennartz, the Cologne Sports Historian followed this up and came to the following conclusion:

There, between the plains of Marathon and the city of Athens, is the Pentelikon mountain range where the highest peak is 1109 m above sea level. The ancient route probably led upwards through the mountains to a sacred shrine to Dioysos (350 m above sea level), was then quite flat and then fell steeply to the present day suburbs of Ekali, Kefisia, and Amorusi.

In the 1930s the Greek Sports Historian Ion Ioannidis examined the possible paths up into the mountains from the battlefield in Marathon. He also found a good walkable route which led to the stadium in Athens. Ioannidis presumes that at the end of the 19th century no way existed in the mountains between Marathon and the Dioysos shrine, and that is why the organisers had to choose the longer way south to Athens, around the mountain range and down between the Pentelikon and Hymeton mountains.

This route is approximately 40 km long and includes a climb of 250m.

The German Olympic participant of 1896, who later became the well-known sports journalist Kurt Doerry wrote as an eye-witness in the sport magazine Sport in Bild: “The marathon went over mountains and valleys, over stony boulders and dusty roads, sometimes it went kilometers up the mountain, in one word, it is an extraordinary achievement that awaits the marathon runners.” In the first printed programme there was also talk about 48 km approximately, but in the last printed programmes sent with the invitations only 42 km was mentioned. In the detailed programme in the bulletin of the organisations committee, dated 15 February 1896, a marathon course of 40km was listed for the fourth day.
For this special competition several rules were agreed and published:

1. The marathon course runs over a main stretch from Athens over Kifiassias – and Herodes Atticus-Allee to the Penethenikon Stadium. The distance is 40 km.
The draw decides the start position of a runner. The start is at one o’clock in the afternoon and each runner will be supervised by a steward. The winner is the one who arrives at the Sphentonen in the stadium first.

Anyone who disturbs a fellow competitor takes a short cut or who uses transport will be disqualified.
2. On the day before and on the actual day of the marathon all competitors must be at the meeting place at 12 o’clock.

The success of the first marathon in Athens in 1896.

The next episode of this legendary first marathon run in world history is known. Surprisingly the Greek substitute runner Spiridon Louis won and there are numerous myths entwined around this. Louis’s win over another Greek, a Hungarian, and seven more Greeks is all the more legendary because he beat the highly favoured Frenchman Albin Lermusiaux, the American Arthur Blake and the Australian Edwin Flack. All three gave up in the last third of the running distance. This was obviously due to the lack of glycogen to balance their lipometabolism. Only the Hungarian Gyola Keller could keep up reasonably well and was third, seven minutes behind Louis. The Greek Charilaos Vassilakos in second place passed the finishing line just before this. Louis’ superiority was clear. The Greek people bubbled over with enthusiasm with this first Greek Olympic winner after so many American winners the previous days.

Louis became a hero and on the closing day of the Olympic Games received, the silver trophy, sponsored by Michel Bréal, from the King. The trophy is still in the possession of his grandson today.

On 10 April 1906, Vikelas honoured Bréal as the man behind the idea of the marathon, by sending a telegram to Paris about the successful running of the event and the winner Spiridon Louis. Bréal thanked him in a very friendly letter the day after (April 11, 1896) and congratulated Vikelas on the success of the Games and the Greek issue, even though the fame was different to what Coubertin had expected.

Later references to the marathon from Bréal and Coubertin

In Bréal`s altogether sparse correspondence to Coubertin we find, in later years, two further points about his initiation of the marathon: Early in the year 1905 when Coubertin informed him of the idea of the Olympic Games being held in Rome and then as the Classical Philologist requested his opinion, Bréal not only welcomed the choice of Rome as the sports venue, but wrote at the end of the letter: “If there should be space for a new marathon I would gladly renew my support, as I did ten years ago.”

The last sentence of this letter is a very nice addition because Bréal wrote to Coubertin: “Perhaps this will persuade me to hurry up and meet you there to applaud you.”
By this Bréal must have meant that in spite of his advancing age, he could still imagine making a journey to Rome, in order to attend the marathon in the eternal city. Another time Bréal refers to his idea in a short note on an undated visiting-card which he could have sent Coubertin, in the summer of 1909, at the earliest. Then he thanked him for sending Coubertin’s early memoirs; which were published in Paris under the title “A Twenty-One Year Campaign.” He wrote that he still had not found the time to read if Coubertin had dedicated a place to the marathon. He modestly added that in the meantime the name of the marathon would have firmly established itself in sporting vocabulary. Bréal need not have worried because Coubertin had respectfully recognised Bréal`s role in the introduction of the marathon and had preserved it in his memoirs in the chapter “The Founding of the IOC in1894.”

If we systematically examine Coubertin’s other texts looking for Michel Bréal as the initiator of the marathon, we find a total of nine points in French articles and a further one in English. We find 23 references in the English texts which place the marathon, as a special discipline, in a class of its own in the modern Olympic Games. And five times when it corresponds with Bréal’s name and idea. In only one text does Coubertin go into more detail about the ancient origin of the legend of the Athenian warriors.

In his four volume work published in 1926, Coubertin describes, among other things, the battle of Marathon within the framework of the Wars of Liberatin against the Persians, without mention of the legendary Athenian warrior as the first marathon runner. Coubertin mentions the Frenchman, Adolphe Hatzfeld, publisher of numerous classical journals from Coubertin’s grammar school years with the Jesuits, but with no precise references.

Appendix to Michel Bréal`s correspondence to Coubertin

In this last part a few remarks should be made about the remaining contents of Michel Bréal’s letters and cards to Pierre de Coubertin, especially other topics mentioned which referred to the Olympic Games. In a letter dated 15 February 1897, which Coubertin also mentioned in his memoirs “A Twenty-One Year Campaign,” Michel Bréal confirmed his invitation to Coubertin to give a lecture to the Union of Greek Students in Paris in March 1897. Here Coubertin wanted to confirm his support for them in respect of the Turkish/Greek conflicts, brought about by the war in Crete that had obviously flowed over to the students in Paris. Coubertin’s lecture has not been recorded anywhere, but in Bréal’s promise to attend the lecture he praised Coubertin for taking charge of the Greek problem.

In the same year on 5 July 1897 Bréal thanks Coubertin for the invitation to the Olympic Congress in Le Havre from 23 – 30 July, but apologises that he really could not contribute anything to a congress on physical education. He praises Coubertin for his commitment and writes this significant sentence: “You are achieving more for the new generation than all the lectures on Pedagogy. I’d love to accept the honour, Palmes académiques for achievements in the educational system in order to be amongst the runners and wrestlers who you are going to honour.”

It seems that only eight years later on 21 April 1905 did Bréal take up written contact with Coubertin again. In the above mentioned letter Bréal is very positive about Coubertin’s idea to stage the 1908 Olympic Games in Rome. However, what seemed more significant for Olympic history, he fully supported Coubertin’s intention to hold art competition alongside sports competitions. Coubertin had first written in “Figaro” on 16 June 1904 that the time weans ripe to lead the Olympic Games into a new era and, as in ancient times, combine the sporting competitions with literary and artistic harmony.

Bréal confirmed this and gave him advance notice of an article in one of the next issues of “Revue de Paris” in which the interrelationship between Ancient Greece and the Olympic Games would be presented.

In a further letter dated 16 May 1907, Bréal apologizes for having to refuse Coubertin’s request to join his newly founded organisation, especially as morally he would like to have supported it. The only organisation to which he could have been referring was the organisation for Popular Sport (Société des Sports populaires) which Coubertin had founded the previous year. The first book of the trilogy, “The Education of Adolescents in the Twentieth Century” which Coubertin had obviously sent to Bréal should draw attention to this especially as he wanted to build up a new popular sports movement in France for the working class.

The last recorded letter dated 23 May 1908 is difficult to interpret. Bréal seems to give Coubertin an answer to his invitation to a popular sports event. He himself was not good on his feet any more, and would only stand out negatively among the sportsmen. Interesting, for that time, is Bréal`s reference that physical education especially is the best remedy to fight pornography, which was being spoken about publicly and in specialist circles. That is why he believed that a government that really took things seriously, had to support such an initiative as the popular sport for the young generation.

For us today, this letter completes the circle of contacts that can be proved, between Michel Brèal and Pierre de Coubertin, or rather from Coubertin to Bréal.

Concluding Assessment of the relationship between Bréal and Coubertin

At the beginning of the 1890s the young Coubertin had already recognised how important it could be to have the support of such a highly respected academic as Michel Bréal, even if Brèal’s activities were only in an advisory form. It can be assumed from the letters and cards that Brèal highly regarded the young baron and wanted to morally support his activities.

The very polite form of greeting changed in the last letters to stronger friendlier greetings with the words “bien affectueusement” or in the last letter dated 23 May 1908, even “votre bien sympathiquement Michel Bréal.”

However, all the letters are, in as much as they have a form of address, written with “Dear Sir.” This shows that throughout their lives there was a certain distance between them. This was not the same as the relationship of Coubertin with Jules Simon which became a more fatherly relationship. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Michel Bréal’s relationship with Coubertin was of a special quality because Coubertin, in questions about antiquity, obviously sought his advice and regularly kept him in the picture for at least fifteen years between 1894 and 1909. If you compare this exchange of correspondence with that from Coubertin to the American President Theodore Roosevelt it fails to contain a continuing theme. Coubertin’s formula in gaining close contact with political and influential intellectuals through sending books and letters only had limited success.

The fact is that Coubertin in his many writings never denied Bréal’s role as the initiator of the Marathon, but he never especially emphasised it. This shows a style typical for Coubertin. He wanted his life’s work, as far as possible, to bear his own personal stamp. In the case of Michel Bréal, while his role was never denied he could not reap any benefits from it.


1. See Norbert Müller, Hundred Years of Olympic Congresses 1894-1994 (Lausanne : IOC, 1994), 34-47. [Les débuts: Paris 1894]
2. See Program of the IOC Founding Congress, Honorary members, in Pierre de Coubertin. Olympism. Selected Writings, eds. Norbert Müller and IOC (Lausanne: IOC, 1894), 306.
3. Pierre de Coubertin, Une Campagne de vingt-et-un ans (Paris: Libr. d’Education Physique, 1909), 96.
4. French name: Comité pour la propagation des exercices physiques dan l’éducation.
5. See Le Congrès de Paris. Le Banquet, Bulletin du Comité international des Jeux olympiques, no.1 (July 1894), 2.
6. Pierre de Coubertin, Une Campagne de vingt-et-un ans (Paris: Libr. d’Education Physique, 1909), 96 : « …Tout autre était le sentiment de M. Michel Bréal qui suivit attentivement les travaux du Congrès, prononça au baquet de clôture un très éloquent discours et à quelques temps de là m’écrivit pour m’informer qu’il donnerait aux prochains Jeux Olympiques une ‘Coupe de Marathon’ « .
7. Letter Bréal to Coubertin, Glion/Swizzerland September 15, 1894. (IOC Archives)
8. See Norbert Müller and Otto Schantz, Bibliography. Pierre de Coubertin (Lausanne : CIPC, 1991).
9. See B. Wirkus, Der pragmatische Historismus Pierre de Coubertins, in Der Mensch im Sport (Schorndorf : Hofmann, 1976), 32-45.
10. Guilde du Livre Lausanne, ed., Catalogue de la Bibliothèque du Baron Pierre de Coubertin (Lausanne: Guilde du Livre, 1944).
11. See Norbert Müller, Coubertin und die Antike. Nikephoros, Vol. 10 (1997), 289-302.
12. See H. Gillmeister, Olympische Brückenschläge. Merkwürdiges aus Athen 2004: Marathon. SID, Düsseldorf August 22, 2004.
13. M. Bréal, De l`enseignement des langues anciences (Paris: Hachette, 1891).
14. French original texte: Programme des Jeux Olympiques de 1896, Bulletin du Comité International des Jeux Olympiques 2, no. 3 (1896), 1 : Sports Athlétiques Courses à pied : 100 mètres, 400 mètres, 800 mètres et 1,500 mètres plat, 110 mètres haies.- Les règlements seront ceux de l’Union des Sociétés françaises de Sports Athlétiques. Concours : Sauts en longueur et hauteur (running long and high jump) ; Saut à la perche (Pole vault) : Lancement du poids (Putting the weight) et du disque.- Les règlements seront ceux de l’Amateur Athletic Association d’Angleterre. Courses à pied, dite de Marathon, sur la distance de 48 kilomètres, de Marathon à Athènes, pour la coupe offerte par M. Michel Bréal, membre de l’Institut de France.
15. Letter M. Bréal to D. Vikelas, p. l, January 9, 1896. EBE (National Archives Athenes), Box 918. Reprinted in: Kostas Georgiadis, Die ideengeschichtliche Grundlage der Erneuerung der Olympischen Spiele im 19. Jahrhundert in Griechenland und ihre Umsetzung 1896 in Athen. (PhD diss. University of Mainz/GER 1999, Kassel: Agon, 2000), 638.
16. French original texte : « Surtout ne partez pas pour Athènes sans que je vous ai donné quelque chose à emporter. » (IOC Archives)
17. See Bulletin du Comité International des Jeux Olympiques, no. 4, April 1896, 1.
18. See Karl Lennartz, Der Marathonlauf – 1896 die Königsdisziplin, in Die Olympischen Spiele 1896 in Athen. Erläuterungen zum Neudruck des Offiziellen Berichts (Kassel: Agon, 1996), 126-132.
19. Citation by Karl Lennartz, ibid., 127.
20. Citation by Karl Lennartz, ibid.
21. Programme détaillé pour les Sports athlétiques et la gymnastique. In : Les jeux Olympiques. Supplément au no 4 du Messager d’Athènes. Athenes 3/15 February 1896, no. 2., 7
22. Citation by Karl Lennartz, ibid.
23. Letter from M. Bréal to D. Vikelas, Paris April 11, 1896. EBE (National Archives Athenes, Box 865. Reprinted in: Georgiadis, Die ideengeschichtliche Grundlage der Erneuerung der Olympischen Spiele…, 693-694.
24. French original texte: « S’il y a place pour une nouvelle course de Marathon, je renouvellerai bien volontiers mon hommage d’il y a 10 ans ». Letter Bréal to Coubertin, Paris April 21, 1905, (IOC Archives).
25. French original texte: « Peut-être cela me donnera-t-il des jambes pour aller vous trouver et vous applaudir.» Letter Bréal to Coubertin, Paris April 21, 1905, (IOC Archives).
26. See Pierre de Coubertin, Une Campagne de vingt-et-un ans (1887-1908), (Paris: Librairie de l’Éducation physique, 1909).
27. French original texte: „Merci, cher Monsieur, pour votre intéressant livre que me rappelle bien des noms et des visages amis. Je n’ai pas encore le temps de voir si vous avez accordé un souvenir à la Course de Marathon , dont le nom avait pris place un moment dans le vocabulaire des sports. Votre campagne de 21 ans se termine en pleine victoire.» Visiting Card without date. (IOC Archives).
28. See Pierre de Coubertin, Une Campagne de vingt-et-un ans (1887-1908), (Paris : Librairie de l’Éducation physique, 1909), 96.
29. See Norbert Müller and IOC, eds., Pierre de Coubertin. Textes Choisis. Vol.1 « Révélation », Vol. 2 “Olympisme”, Vol. 3 “Sports pratiques”, (Hildesheim, Zuriche, New York : Weidmann, 1986).
30. See Norbert Müller, ed., Pierre de Coubertin. Selected Writings (Lausanne: IOC, 2000).
31. See. A. Hatzfeld, ed., Platon. Nouveaux extraits (Paris, 1870).
See A. Hatzfeld, ed., Virgile. Opéra (Paris, 1873).
See A. Hatzfeld, ed., Aristote. La poétique (Lille, 1899).
32. Letter Michel Bréal to Coubertin, Paris February 15, 1897 (IOC Archives).
33. French original texte : « Vous faites plus pour les générations nouvelles que tous les traités de Pédagogie. Je donnerais les palmes académiques de mon habit pour être parmi les coureurs ou les lutteurs que vous allez couronner. » Letter Bréal to Coubertin, July 5, 1905 (IOC Archives).
34. See Norbert Müller, Hundred Years of Olympic Congresses 1894-1994 (Lausanne : IOC, 1994), 82. [Paris 1906. Invitation to the artists].
35. Pierre de Coubertin, L’Education des Adolescents au XXe siècle. Vol. I : L’Education physique : La Gymnastique utilitaire (Paris: Alcan, 1905 ; 2nd edition, 1906).

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