S.M.S. “CARDARELLI” 2003/2004 The Olympics in Ancient Greece Comenius Project “Olympism and Education in the field of sport” EXIT The Olympics in Ancient Greece The Greeks and The Olympic spirit The origins of the Olympic Games The rules of the Games The programme of the Games
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The Greeks and The Olympic spirit
The origins of the Olympic Games
The rules of the Games
The programme of the Games
Even if the Greeks were divided into groups: the Dorians, the Ionians, the Aeolians and splitted in a lot of poleis (city-states) they had a strong sense of unity in religion, customs and language.
And wherever they lived the Greeks claimed the right to take part in the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Games were the greatest national festival for the Athenians. Held every four years athletes came from all regions of Greece to compete in the great Stadium of Olympia and honour their god, Zeus.
In the closed and sacred rectangular complex there was plenty of space for practising sports- the Gymnasium and the Stadium -as well as rooms for religious ceremonies and for keeping the sacred fire of the Olympics.
The Gymnasium, a closed rectangular building with a large yard ,where the athletes practised events such as the javelin, the discus etc.
Dates from the early 5th century B.C. The track has a length of 212,54m and a width of 28,50m. The stadium held 45000 spectators. The spectators, sitting on the stands or steps of the stadium, shouted and cheered the athletes
Ancient athletes competed as individuals and glory achieved in sport was not different from the one achieved in battles.
The athletes were not interested in breaking records but only to win the game and honour their city.
The year 776 B.C. was the year of the first Olympic games and, at the same time, the beginnig year of the Greek calendar. Time was divided into Olympiads, years, months and days. An Olympiad was a period of four hellenic years.
In the epic poem, the Iliad,
Homer describes the funeral Games held by Achilles in Honour of his late friend Patroclus.
In the Odyssey Homer
tells about the games held
by Feaci in honour of Ulisse.
Among the sports: discus throwing,, wrestling, the foot race
Only males of greek origin could participate in the Olympics. According to the Olympic rules, women, slaves, no-greeks, were excluded. In addition, any man who had committed a crime or stolen from a temple was banned from participation. Married women could not enter the olympic stadium or attend the games.
The ancient Games were held every four years (an Olympiad) for almost 1200 years until 393 A.D. when Roman Emperor Theodosius banned all pagan festivals (the Olympics celebrated the Greek God Zeus).
One month before the official opening of the games, the judges checked the character and the sporting capabilities of the athletes who wished to participate, selecting only those who really deserved to compete.
The games lasted five days: the first day was devoted to make sacrifices to gods.
On the second day the boys games were held, while on the third and the fourth day the adults games took place. The fifth day was the day of the proclamation of the winners.
At the conclusion of the Games, the winners were crowned with simple olive wreaths (crown of wild olive).
The athletes performed naked during the competitions. The Greeks were not ashamed to show their bodies, the beauty of the naked body was considered to reflect internal beauty and the harmonius balance between body and mind. Their bodies were used as models by sculptors and painters who drew inspiration for their works directly from the athletes and their
There were different types of races:
-The “Stade” which consisted of one lenght of the stadium
-The “Diaulos”, two lenghts or double stadium
-The “Dolichos”, a long distance race (from 7 to 24 lenghts)
The competitors ran in a straight line and not around the stadium as they do today.
The Athletes used weights made of stone or metal, in order to jump further.
The discus and the javelin throwing events were very similar to today’s ones. The discus was made of stone or bronze. The javelin was a wooden stick with a pointed end, it was one meter and a half long.
It was one of the most violent competitions in which two boxers, wearing wrapped strips of leather on their arms, faced each other until one of them was knocked out.
A kind of fighting sport in which two people fought by holding each other , trying to make each other fall to the ground.
Chariot races were spectacular and very popular with the public. Only the wealthy could practise it as the horse-breeding was very expensive. The drivers , called charioteers, rode the lenght of the hippodrome for seven or eight times.
It was the most important of the competitions where an athlete competed in five different events: Running - Wrestling - Jumping -Discus throwing - Javelin throwing
Thanks to the French educator: Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the games were revived in 1896 in Athens. Now the games are returning to the country of their birth and the city of their revival.
The 2004 Olympic Games will be held
in Athens from 13 to 29 August.