The Greek Olympics Essay Research Paper Early

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The Greek Olympics Essay, Research Paper Early Western Civilization A Gift of Peace from the Past, The Ancient Olympics Since 1896, the year the Olympics were resurrected from ancient history, the Olympics have been a symbol of the camaraderie and harmony possible on a global scale. The gathering of athletic representatives, the pride of the pack, from participating governments, even throughout the recent Cold War period, is proof that world unity is possible; just as it was in Ancient Greece with the polis or city-states. Olympic Games were held throughout Ancient Greece, but the most famous are the games that were held in Olympia in honor of Zeus every four years from August 6th to September 19th. The first record of these games is of one Coroebus of Elis, a cook, winning a

sprint race in 776 BC. Most historians believe the games to have been going on for approximately 500 years before this. In the year Coroebus was made a part of history, there was apparently only one simple event, a race called the stade. The track was said to be one stade long or roughly 210 yards. In subsequent games, additional events were to be added, most likely to increase the challenge to these amazing athletes. In 724 BC, the diaulos, a two stade race, was added, followed by a long distance race, about 2 ? miles and called the dolichos, at the next games four years later. Wrestling and the famous Pentathlon were introduced in 708 BC. The Pentathlon consisted of five events; the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, foot race, and wrestling. The Pentathlons, especially

the successful ones, were often treated and even worshipped like gods. Because of their exquisite physiques, they were used as the models for statues of the Greek Gods. The superior athletic ability of these athletes affects the games even today. The twisting and throwing method of the discus throw, which originated in Ancient Greece, is still used today. The original events were even more challenging than those of today. The modern discus weighs in at just 5 pounds, one-third of the original weight, and the long jumps were done with the contestant carrying a five pound weight in each hand. The pit to be traversed in this jump allowed for a 50 foot jump, compared to just over 29 feet in our modern Olympics. Apparently, the carried weights, used correctly, could create momentum to

carry the athlete further. Legend has it that one Olympian cleared the entire pit by approximately 5 feet, breaking both legs as he landed. One significant difference between the modern and ancient games; the original Olympians competed in the nude. Because of this, the 45,000 spectators consisted of men and unwed virgin women only. The only exception to this would be the priestess of Demeter who was also the only spectator honored with a seat. The young unwed women were allowed to watch to introduce them to men in all their splendor and brutality whereas it was felt that married women should not see what they could not have. In addition, the virgins had their own event which occurred on the men?s religious day of rest. Called the Haria, in honor of Hara the wife of Zeus, the

young women would race dressed in a short tunic which exposed the right breast. Traditionally, Spartan women dominated this event, being trained from birth for just this purpose. The religious undertones of the events became extremely apparent on the third day of the games when a herd of 100 cows were killed as a sacrifice to Zeus. In actuality, only the most useless parts were burned in honor of Zeus; most of the meat would be cooked and eaten that day. The sacrifices were conducted on a huge cone-shaped alter built up from the ashes of previously sacrificed animals. The mound was so large, the Greeks would cut steps into the cone after discovering it could be hardened by adding water and drying. Another ingenious invention was a system to prevent early starts in the foot races.