Epictetus on the Ancient Olympic Spectator • Aren’t you devoured by the fierce heat? Aren’t you smashed in the crowd? • Aren’t you upset by the noise, the roar of the crowd and other disturbances? • But it appears to me that you are well able to endure and indeed happily suffer all of this, when you consider the exciting spectacles you will see.
The First Games • Historical date is 776 BCE • Founder: Zeus, Hercules or Pelops • Held at Olympia, in Elis every 4 years
Originally lasted only one day Contests confined to running and wrestling First winners were usually Spartan Held after the harvest was over The Origin of the Games
Olympic Truce • No taking up of weapons or legal disputes • Guarantee safe passage for athletes and spectators to and from Olympia • Lasted up to 3 months
Discus Javelin Long Jump Footrace Wrestling Ancient Events
Ancient Events • Boxing • Equestrian Events • Chariot Racing • Riding • Pankration
Milo of Kroton 540 BCE Warrior/Athlete Theagenes of Thasos 480 BCE Statue of a god Famous Athletes
Zeus, the Olympic God • Games were part of a religious festival to honor Zeus • Geographical convenience of Olympia
Competitors • Anyone who was free-born and spoke Greek • Separate categories for men and boys • No female competitors
The Woman Who Dared . . . • Married females were banned from watching the games (under penalty of death). • Unmarried females were allowed to watch • “A widowed woman dared to watch her son compete . . . Disguised as a trainer, she slipped into the training area, but she revealed herself when leaping over a barrier.” (Pausanias 5.6.8)
Winner Takes All • Crown of olive leaves • Statue at Olympia • Increased glory for his community • Financial Benefits – but, remember the story of the Persian king?
Cheater, Cheater • What happened if an athlete cheated? • How did atheletes cheat? • Did judges ever cheat?
Not Just Athletics • Time for Greeks to discuss political issues • Form military alliances • Celebrate military victories
Training Grounds • Palaistra • Strigil
The tale of Glaukos • “Glaukos was a farmer. One day the ploughshare detached from the plough and his father noticed him hammering it back in with his fist . . . . The old father decided take his son to the next Olympic Games . . . When he came to face his last opponent he was so badly wounded everyone thought he would have to admit defeat, but his father cried out, “Son, remember the ploughshare,” and Glaukos bashed his opponent so hard the contest ended.” Pausanias 6.10.1-3
Pankration • Most violent of sports “folk with the smashed ears” Plato
Wrestling • Bending of fingers allowed • Gouging and biting forbidden • Wrestlers were respected
Pankration • Wrestling, • kung fu • boxing
Important Dates in Olympic History • 1700-1200 BCE sports festivals on Crete and Greece • 776 BCE founding date of Olympic Games • 424 Spartan threat • Spartans fined and not allowed to compete that year
End of the Ancient Games • Athletes begin to credit themselves and not Zeus; religious and national unity breaks down • 80 BCE Sulla transfers the games to Rome • Temples converted to honor humans Augustus & Alexander the Great