Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A conflict, especially between the protagonist and antagonist in a work of literature.
  • n. The part of an ancient Greek drama, especially a comedy, in which two characters engage in verbal dispute.
  • n. A test of will; a conflict: "Freud's originality stemmed from his aggression and ambition in his agon with biology” ( Harold Bloom).
  • n. A contest in ancient Greece, as in athletics or music, in which prizes were awarded.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A struggle or contest; conflict; especially between the protagonist and antagonist in a literary work.
  • n. An intellectual conflict or apparent competition of ideas.
  • n. A contest in ancient Greece, as in athletics or music, in which prizes were awarded.
  • n. A two-player boardgame played with a hexagonally-tiled board, popular in Victorian times. Also known as queen's guard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A contest for a prize at the public games.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete form of ago.
  • n. In Greek antiquity, a contest for a prize, whether of athletes in the games or of poets, musicians, painters, and the like.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a festivity in ancient Greece at which competitors contended for prizes

Etymologies

Greek agōn; see agony.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin agōn, from Ancient Greek ἀγών ("contest"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • What you describe correspond to what Caillois called "agon," or directly competitive games.

    SonyBay

  • The [Greek: "agon"] of the Greeks is also manifested in the Symposium in the shape of witty conversation.

    We Philologists Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Volume 8

  • In one potentially worrisome sign, however, bond yields from financially stressed governments rose agon.

    Europe Stocks Rise

  • Like you might read a Greek play and initially identify the basic agon and the key moment of anagnorisis, you might read an SF short story and initially identify the most obvious alethic quirks.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • For me "protagonist" and "antagonist" are very flexible terms, posting simply an agon, a point of view in that agon and a flip-side.

    A Theory of Modes and Modalities

  • If Harold Bloom is correct – and he's been quite sure of himself for almost 40 years – the placid scene of influence is in reality a brawl, with writers engaged in pugilistic agon against their aesthetic progenitors.

    The Anatomy of Influence by Harold Bloom – review

  • Public debate and political competition (agon was the Greek word, which gives us our "agony") were the norm in democratic Athens.

    Socrates ? a man for our times

  • John McCain is a senile, old fool who lost what little mental abilities he had a long time agon. howie

    Levin takes on McCain over Afghanistan strategy

  • Horton also notes that despite all the heartfelt noble promises of both candidate Obama and candidate Clinton during their glorious progressive agon for the presidential nomination in 2008, the mercenaries of Blackwater -- and other firms in the ever-expanding security goon community -- are still swelling their bellies at the government trough:

    Blackwater Fever: High Crimes and Hired Guns

  • It then became symptomatic in the Freudian agon of Bloom's or Hartman's anxieties about Romantic imagination.

    Introduction

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  • "I saw then clearly for the first time that the fear of failure keeps us huddled in the cave of self - a group of behaviour patterns we have mastered and have no intention of risking failure by abandoning. What if secretly before every agon or game the dice were thrown to determine whether the 'winner' or 'loser' 'wins' the prize or the championship, with fifty-fifty being the odds for each?"
    - 'The Dice Man', Luke Rhinehart.

    February 4, 2008