Friday, July 27, 2012

Ancient Greek Olympics:

The exact origins of the Games are shrouded in myth and legend but records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia in Greece. They were celebrated until 394 AD when they were suppressed by Theodosius I as part of the campaign to impose Christianity as a state religion.

The Games were usually held every four years, or olympiad, as the unit of time came to be known.

During a celebration of the Games, an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their countries to the Games in safety.

The prizes for the victors were wreaths of laurel leaves.

The Games became a political tool used by city-states to assert dominance over their rivals. Politicians would announce political alliances at the Games, and in times of war, priests would offer sacrifices to the gods for victory.

The Games were also used to help spread Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean.

The Olympics also featured religious celebrations and artistic competitions. A Statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was erected at Olympia to preside over the Games, though it no longer stands.

Sculptors and poets would congregate each olympiad to display their works of art to would-be patrons.

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