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In Greek mythology, Patroclus was Achilles' best friend and lover, son of Menoetius. In his youth, Patroclus killed a friend of his, Clysonymus, during an argument. His father had to escape into exile with Patroclus to escape punishment, and they took shelter at the palace of King Peleus, Achilles' father. Peleus sent the boys to live in the wilderness and be raised by Chiron, the wise king of the centaurs.

Patroclus fought with the Greeks in the Trojan War and killed Sarpedon and Cebriones. When Achilles refused to fight because of his feud with Agamemnon, Patroclus donned his armor and was killed by Hector. Achilles then organized an athletic competition to honour his dead friend, which included chariot racing (won by Diomedes), boxing (won by Epeius), wrestling (a draw between Ajax and Odysseus), a foot race (won by Odysseus), a duel (a draw between Ajax and Diomedes), a discus throw (won by Polypoetes), an archery contest (won by Meriones), and a javelin throw (won by Agamemnon, unopposed). The games are described in Book 23 of the Iliad, one of the earliest references to Greek sport.

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