History Of The Olympics

| 29/07/2016 | 1 Comment More
Ancient Olympics

Ancient Olympics

Records tell us that the Olympics started in ancient Greece in about 776BC.  They were held in the valley of Olympia in the south west of Greece.  Thousands of spectators would gather in the main stadium to watch the lighting of a flame at the altar of Zeus the supreme God.

They would join in the religious ceremonies and watch the single sporting event that made up the original Games – A running race for the length of the stadium which was about 210yrds.

Over time more events were added and soon athletes came from all over the Greek world, competing in a range of events that were held over 5days.

The events included dangerous chariot races, bareback horse races, a pentathlon made up of five events including discus, javelin, running and wrestling.  Other events included long distance running, sprints, a race in armour, contact sports such as wrestling and boxing and the pankration (pankration was an all in wrestling competition with almost no rules, where only biting and gouging with fingers were forbidden.  Strangling your opponent was perfectly acceptable).

War was a normal part of life in ancient Greece and their sports complimented this.  The holitodromos, where competitors had to run a race in armour and carrying a shield to demonstrate their fitness and strength was also used as a training exercise for the Hoplite soldiers.  Sport helped them achieve and maintain fitness.

On the final day of the Games, the victors would be presented with olive leaf crowns (a sign of hope and peace).  Winners would often marry rich women, enjoy free food, invitations to parties and the best seats in the theatre.

Women at Olympia:

In the beginning of the Olympics in Ancient Greece, only men were allowed to compete.  The wives of the Olympic athletes werent even allowed into the stadium as spectators.

Every 4yrs however, unmarried women had their own festival at Olympia called the Heraia, held in the honour of Hera, the wife of Zeus.

Un-married women could compete in running races – winners would be awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same of men.

After the Games in 67AD when the Roman Emperor Nero competed in the chariot race and declared himself the winner, even though he fell from his chariot, the Games lost its reputation and by 393AD, Roman Emperor Theodosius abolished the Games all together because of its Pagan influences.

It would be another 1500yrs before the Games were to be revived.

 

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Category: Olympics

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