A Brief History of the Olympic Games (Wiley Brief Histories of the Ancient World)

A Brief History of the Olympic Games (Wiley Brief Histories of the Ancient World)

David C. Young

Language: English

Pages: 200

ISBN: 1405111305

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A Brief History of the Olympic Games (Wiley Brief Histories of the Ancient World)

David C. Young

Language: English

Pages: 200

ISBN: 1405111305

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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19). Despite its promising title, Philostratus’ essay is definitely a disappointment. A far more helpful text is the guidebook of Pausanias, who visited Olympia in the second century ad. He wrote a detailed account of what he saw and was told. Often, what he was told is of highly doubtful historical accuracy, and his own words may contain a bit of a disclaimer. Pausanias’ eyewitness reports and his copies of BHOC02 19 16/4/04, 4:46 PM 20 Beginnings and Evidence inscriptions that no longer

look up to him in awe. He is given a prominent seat of honor at public games, and, at public expense, he receives free board and a large gift, which would be a treasure for him. He would get all those things, yet he is not as worthy as I am. For my wisdom is better than the strength of humans or horses It just is not fair to rank strength above my wisdom. What the philosopher belittles first is just what Homer praised first in Odyssey 8.147–8, above: glory won “with his feet or his hands.”

local population. All this makes for paltry evidence of anything comparable to our own women’s Olympic participation, even at a late date, no matter how much many of us wish the case had been otherwise. Women, Girls, and Sport in Greece Since the general topic interests many readers, I review some of the more general evidence for women’s physical training and competition in Greece. In its earliest years Sparta may not have been so “Spartan” as we know it from later historians; that is, there

entertainers or athletes. Athletics themselves at this time are becoming little more than entertainment. It is a period of known decline at Olympia, and the other festivals have disappeared by the fourth century ad. A program for the chariot races in fifth century ad Byzantium demonstrates how far those days were from the golden age of Greek athletics. The program lists not only the races, but also the intermission entertainment offered between races. In between one pair of races, the

Evidence for the few later Olympic victors of whom we know comes not from literature but from excavated inscriptions written in antiquity. Formerly, the last certain and precisely datable victory was (probably) in 241 ad, when Publius Asclepiades of Corinth won the pentathlon. For centuries and even a decade ago, historians thought that the very last known Olympic victor probably was not a Greek, but an Armenian prince named Varazdates. Varazdates’ supposed victory is attested only in a murky

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