For over 1,000 years, between 776 BC and AD 395, people from all over the classical world flocked every four years to Olympia in Western Greece to see famous athletes compete for the olive crowns of the ancient Olympic Games. The Games were huge, and so was the build-up: virtually the whole of the preceding year was devoted to the preparations of the site and the athletes. But these games were much more than just a sporting event: religion, power, politics, scandal, and propaganda were all at the center of the five-day festival. Held in honor of Zeus, the supreme god of Greek mythology, a visit to Olympia was also a pilgrimage to his sacred temple. In this updated edition of her indispensable guide to the ancient Games, Judith Swaddling traces their mythological and religious origins. Describing the events, the sacred ceremony, and the celebrations that were an essential part of the Olympic festival, this book paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be at these prestigious games. Concluding with a chapter on the modern Olympics that brings the story right up to the preparations for the London 2012 Games, this fascinating book is essential reading for anyone interested in the Olympics, the greatest games of them all.
For over one thousand years between 776 B.C. and A.D. 395, princes, statesmen, and famous athletes gathered every four years at Olympia in western Greece to compete for the olive crowns of the ancient Olympic Games. Judith Swaddling traces the mythological and religious origins of the games and describes the events, religious ceremony, and celebrations that were an essential part of the Olympic festival. The book also features a large, detailed model of the site of ancient Olympia, where, alongside religious and civic buildings, there grew an elaborate sports complex with a stadium for 40,000 spectators, indoor and outdoor training facilities, hot and cold baths, a swimming pool, and a race course. For this revised edition, three new chapters have been added, covering the diet and medical treatment of athletes; sponsorship, patronage, and propaganda; and revivals of the games. Superbly illustrated with vases, sculpture, and other works of ancient art, and with new views of the site, the new edition of this indispensable account of Ancient Olympia and the games now includes color reproduction for over half the illustrations, as well as many additional pictures.
Travel back in time to Ancient Greece to discover the origins of the Olympic Games. Bright, bold and dynamic artwork bring to life the origins of the Olympic Games. Find out about the legend behind the games, the original events and the excitement that filled Olympia during the Olympic Festival. See how the competitors used to train and learn about each of the original events that took place, including chariot racing, wrestling, the discuss, javelin and boxing. Get the Olympic buzz from all the excitement of the hippodrome, Olympic ceremonies and celebrations, and learn about the importance of the Heraia - the competition for women organised by women. This book provides a brilliant and striking introduction to the Ancient Olympics for children aged 7+.
The word 'athletics' is derived from the Greek verb 'to struggle for a prize'. After reading this book, no one will see the Olympics as a graceful display of Greek beauty again, but as war by other means. Nigel Spivey paints a portrait of the Greek Olympics as they really were - fierce contests between bitter rivals, in which victors won kudos and rewards, and losers faced scorn and even assault. Victory was almost worth dying for, and a number of athletes did just that. Many more resorted to cheating and bribery. Contested always bitterly and often bloodily, the ancient Olympics were not an idealistic celebration of unity, but a clash of military powers in an arena not far removed from the battlefield.
In the northwestern corner of the great peninsula of the Peloponnese, close to the meeting point of the Cladeus and Alpheus rivers, lies a peaceful river valley overlooked by the steep-sided Hill of Cronus. Here, between the eighth century BCE and the fourth century CE, rival athletes competed for glory in the ancient Olympic Games. Every four years, and from every corner of the Mediterranean world – from Samos to Syracuse and from Sparta to Smyrna – they descended on this quiet corner of southern Greece sacred to Zeus, seeking to excel in disciplines as diverse as sprinting, boxing, wrestling, trumpet blowing and chariot and mulecart racing. The victors of these ancient games may have been awarded crowns of olive leaves in recognition of their achievements, but these original Olympics were no idealistic celebration of the classical aesthetic of grace and beauty shared by all of the participating Greek city-states, but often a bitterly contested struggle between political rivals. Robin Waterfield paints a vivid picture of the reality of the ancient Olympic Games; describes the events in which competitors took part; explores their purpose, rituals and politics; and charts the vicissitudes of their remarkable thousand-year history.
The essential handbook for the 21st-century citizen seeking a lively guided tour of the ancient Greek Olympics. Travel back to the heyday of the city-state and classical Greek civilization. Enter this distant, alien, but still familiar culture and discover what the Greeks did and didn’t do during five thrilling days in August, 388 B.C. In the Olympic Stadium there were no stands, no shade—and no women allowed. Visitors sat on a grassy bank in the searing heat of midsummer to watch naked athletes compete in footraces, the pentathlon, horse and chariot races, and three combat sports—wrestling, boxing, and pankration, everyone's favorite competition, with virtually no rules and considerable blood and pain. This colorfully illustrated volume offers a complete tour of the Olympic site exactly as athletes and spectators found it. The book evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the crowded encampment; introduces the various attendees (from champions and charlatans to aristocrats and prostitutes); and explains the numerous exotic religious rituals. Uniquely detailed and precise, this guide offers an unparalleled opportunity to travel in time, back to the excitement of ancient Olympia. “Splendidly captures the excitement, the razzmatazz, the intensity, glamour and squalor of the ancient Olympics. Packed with anecdotes and intriguing facts, the careful scholarship behind this wonderful little book is presented with gusto.”—Philip Matyszak, author of Ancient Athens on Five Drachmas a Day “Ultimately the ancient Olympics were more of an epic frat party full of booze and sex than a prestigious sporting competition, and Faulkner paints that picture well.”—Moira E. McLaughlin, The Washington Post
For more than a millennium, the ancient Olympics captured the imaginations of the Greeks, until a Christianized Rome terminated the competitions in the fourth century AD. But the Olympic ideal did not die and this book is a succinct history of the ancient Olympics and their modern resurgence. Classics professor David Young, who has researched the subject for over 25 years, reveals how the ancient Olympics evolved from modest beginnings into a grand festival, attracting hundreds of highly trained athletes, tens of thousands of spectators, and the finest artists and poets.
What was it like to attend the ancient Olympic Games? With the summer Olympics’ return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition, and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in all its compelling spectacle. Using firsthand reports and little-known sources—including an actual Handbook for a Sports Coach used by the Greeks—The Naked Olympics creates a vivid picture of an extravaganza performed before as many as forty thousand people, featuring contests as timeless as the javelin throw and as exotic as the chariot race. Peeling away the layers of myth, Perrottet lays bare the ancient sporting experience—including the round-the-clock bacchanal inside the tents of the Olympic Village, the all-male nude workouts under the statue of Eros, and history’s first corruption scandals involving athletes. Featuring sometimes scandalous cameos by sports enthusiasts Plato, Socrates, and Herodotus, The Naked Olympics offers essential insight into today’s Games and an unforgettable guide to the world’s first and most influential athletic festival. "Just in time for the modern Olympic games to return to Greece this summer for the first time in more than a century, Tony Perrottet offers up a diverting primer on the Olympics of the ancient kind….Well researched; his sources are as solid as sources come. It's also well writen….Perhaps no book of the season will show us so briefly and entertainingly just how complete is our inheritance from the Greeks, vulgarity and all." --The Washington Post