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Olympic Games 776 B.C.E. - 394 C.E
THE OLYMPIC GAMES
364 B.C.E.--Olympia embroiled in Greek in-fighting; Elians and Arcadians fight a pitched battle in the sanctuary in the middle of the Olympic Games.
c. 100 C.E.--Second Golden Age of Olympic Games. Emperor Hadrian lavished Olympia with gifts and buildings. C 150 C.E. water system
394 C.E.--The Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals. The Olympics were officially disbanded--archaelogists suggest that they were kept going in some form, perhaps in Christian guise. Phidias’ great statue of Zeus was packed up and transported to Constantinople for display in the Emperor’s palace.
475 C.E.--A palace fire in Constantinople destroyed the statue of Zeus.
522 C.E.--The first of several devastating earthquakes hit Olympia. In future centuries, the nearby rivers regularly flooded, burying Olympia under fifteen to twenty feet of yellow silt.
OFF TO THE GAMES
A.M. Opening Ceremonies: Swearing in of athletes, trainers, and Olympic judges before a statue of Zeus wielding a thunderbolt. Contests for heralds and trumpeters in Echo Colonnade. Athletes make their private sacrifices to the gods at one of the site’s altars and consult oracles.
P.M. Free time for art lovers to explore Sacred Grove of Zeus, one of Greece’s most spectacular collections of statuary and paintings. Literary events: poets recite their works, philosophers expound, historians present new work. Less edifying pursuits available at carnival-style festival fringe.
A.M. Equestrian Events: Chariot and horse races. The popular four horse chariot race opens the celebration followed by bareback races.
P.M. pentathlon in the Stadium--a grueling event for all-rounders that combined discus, javelin, long-jump, running, and wrestling.
LATE Celebrations: victory parades, choral hymns, banquets for champions.
A.M. The Games’ central religious ritual, coinciding with the full moon: an official procession to the Great Altar of Zeus, followed by the sacrifice of one hundred oxen.
P.M. Boys’ events (wrestling, running, boxing)
LATE Public banquet of sacrificed meat
A.M. Running races: 200, 400 and 3600 meters
P.M. Contact sports: wrestling, boxing and pankration (mixture of wrestling & kickboxing to force opponent to concede--anything went)
LATE Race in armor
Closing ceremonies: Wreaths are presented; victory processions; champions showed with leaves. Prestigious dinner for champions and officials, followed by general celebrations.