OLYMPICS:FOR THE HONOR AND GLORY OF ZEUS PERSPECTIVES ON THE BEGINNINGS AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE GAMES IN ELIS
Olympics timeline• Started in 776BC in Elis in rural area southwestern Greece; continued every four years until AD261 when threatened by Herulian barbarian invasion; thenafter it resumed until 393 AD when Roman emperor Theodosius I, a fervent Christian ordered the closing of all pagan centers• Left abandoned, forgotten up until 1766 when British travellers found the site;in 1875 systematic excavation by German archaeologists started.
• In 1896 Baron Pierre de Coubertin, spurred by his passion for promoting the cause of athletics in general and the revival of olympic games in particular, lead the first modern international olympic games in urban Athens.
Reasons for the Olympic games:1.To embellish the traditional sacrifice to the deities of Mt Olympus with outstanding athletic performances. Zeus greater glory2. As war respite3. For the honor and glory of participants and hometown4. Once in a lifetime spectacle of great artists, ceremonies, greek arts, and the giant statue of Zeus
FACILITIES AND AMENITIES: Open space, then gradually a gymnasium was built, then a hippodrome, bath houses for athletes, headquarters for committee; a temple for Zeus; funded by booties from previous invasions.
DISTINCT HIGHLIGHTSPARTICIPANTS: Males only; all fully naked(?); mostly aristocrats who had time and money to train and had advance training in wrestling and running.FIRST EVENT RECORDED: race(200 meter dash) which was won by CoroebusMOST SPECTACULAR EVENTS: Chariot race and horse race spectacle of danger and a status symbol for owners of horses.
CROWD FAVORITES: wrestling, boxing, and Pancratium wrestlingmild;3 falls constitute loss boxing no rounds until one gives up or gets KO’d Pancratium free for all no holds barredFIELD EVENTS: broad jump, discus throw, javelin throw, penthatlon(3 events plus 200 meter dash);400 meters, 4,800 meter run; dash in armor
PRICE FOR VICTORS: olive wreath(death or wreath), honor and popularity in one’s hometown, cash bonus, pension for life after gruelling training and competition.VICTORY- meant everything, losing abhored;no room for modesty, or even sportmanship; not much on breaking or establishing records but establishing “firsts”
• Mythological perspectivesbeing irrationalmore rational--- offering the victory of great athletes to the gods• Politicsanother venue for war?because atheletes from warring states are sent to compete and possibly bring home honor and victory to their citystate.• Man and woman status: superiority of man;inferiority of woman• Human perspective on VICTORY: different considering the complex and difficult course towards victory.