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Olympics - Ancient

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine


Olympics - Ancient

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
The Ancient Olympic Games were started by the Greek, and were a collection of athletic competitions that were done to honor the Greek god Zeus. However, the exact way and reasons for the game to start are not entirely known and consist of legends and myths. Most of these legends directly involve many of the Greek gods that would compete against one another on Mount Olympus, or human interaction with the gods.

It is believed that the Ancient Greece began competing in the Olympic games around 776 BCE, and it is believed that the first games were held in Olympia, in Greece. The exact time of the first competitions is unknown, as there is a large amount of myth and legend around the athletic competitions.

These games, much like the modern Olympics, were held every four years. But unlike today's Olympians, the athletes competing in the Ancient games did not receive gold, silver or bronze medals. Instead, the victor earned himself a wreath of laurel leaves to wear on his head. Starting in 720 BCE, all of the participants also competed in the nude.

Only men were allowed to compete in the Ancient games, and any free man who spoke Greek was allowed to compete. There were also several other restrictions to the event, as all of the athletes needed to swear before Zeus that they had spent 10 months training for the event, and only younger men participated. Also, the event was always held in Olympia, not rotated like the modern Games.

While the initial Olympics featured only male competitors, women did get a competition of their own in the later centuries. The women competed in the Heraea Games, which were held around the sixth century BCE. However, this event was not as varied as the men's and only involved footraces. Allowing women a chance to compete in the games was not a lasting tradition, as by the fifth century, men were the only competitors.

The Ancient Olympic games had an effect on things outside of the athletic world as well, including the Greek calendar. Prior to the fourth century BCE, each different Greek state would use their own personal systems for dates. But, it is believed that Ephorus, a fourth century BCE historian, started using the Olympics to count years. He dubbed the term Olympiads for the years in between Olympics.

The Olympics were also part of four separate competitions that were held every two or four years. The group of games were called the Panhellenic Games and consisted of the Olympics, the Pythian, Nemean and the Isthmian Games. However, the Olympics Games were the most prestigious of the four.

The events were held until 393 AD, when they were disbanded as a way to rid Greece of the ancient religions and make Christianity the state religion.

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