With the Isthmian Games, the Nemean Games were held both the year before and the year after the Olympic Games and the Pythian Games in the third year of the Olympiad cycle. Like the Olympic Games, they were held in honour of Zeus. They were said to have been founded by Heracles after he defeated the Nemean Lion; another myth said that they originated as the funeral games of a child named Opheltes. However, they are known to have existed only since the 6th century BC.
The winners received a wreath of wild celery leaves from the city of Argos.