Games and toys in ancient greece translated by maria gkougkoutsi
PRIMARY SCHOOL OF
ILION D1 CLASS
GAMES AND TOYS IN
TRANSLATED BY MARIA
AUTHOR: IOANNA BEKRI
TOYS AND GAMES IN ANCIENT GREECE – 13TH
PRIMARY SCHOOL OF
ILION- TRANSLATED BY MARIA GKOUGKOUTSI
‘Through the pleasure of games they learn’ wrote Plato in his book
Playing had always been vitally important to Greek people, that’s
why they used to bury their dead with their favourite toys and
games believing that playing and gaming relaxes and entertains
people even in Ades.
The first toy of an infant was the seistron (sistrum) or platage,
known to us as rattle. It came in various shapes of people or
animals and was used for keeping evil away.
DOLLS AND PUPPETS
The plaggones (dolls) often had movable limbs and were then
called neurospasto (meaning puppet). In many cases they were
naked, in order for girls to be able to dress them up. Plaggones
from bone and clay have been found but cloth, wax and wood
were also used
Boys used to play with effigies of charriots drawn by horses, called
A popular game was the aiora (swing) and a variation, vrachionios
aiora (the see-saw)
A popular game with boys were the charriots. They
were either drawn by dogs or by the boys
themselves. Also, they rode a cane or a stick
pretending to be riding a horse.
The older boys of the gang played the eis omillan, namely
teams. Having drawn a circle on the ground and standing
on a specific point they tried to throw their knuckles in the
circle. They had agreed beforehand upon having ten
attempts. The winner got to draw the circle, decide on its
diameter and the point of throw.
The gygx. Two holes are opened on a wooden, normally, discus, double thread
is inserted, and after the discus is rotated, the thread is tightened or slackened.
The sound produced reminds us of a bird, the iygga, namely the anteater,
which the game was named after.
The yo-yo. Another movable toy is the yo-yo, as it is called nowadays. It
consists of two terracotta discs decorated with circles and joined together with a
Another toy involving movement is the teetotum. The
Ancient Greeks called it strombo and strovilos or rhombus
(because of its shape) and vomvykia (because of the sound
it produces while spinning).
This game was for limitless participants. Each
child had five pebbles near his feet. The
players threw a pebble up in the air and had to
pick up another pebble from the ground before
Krikilasia or wheel (modern-day hoop)
was a very popular game. The hoop
was often wooden and rolled after
being hit with a stick.
The players nail a pole with a hole in the middle into the ground. They
put a rope through the hole and two players tie its ends round their
waist so that they cannot face each other. Pulling hard they try to make
their opponent come close to the pole. This game can be played with
more players tied to each end of the rope.
They blindfolded a child with a scarf and he said ‘ a chalki fly I will
chase’ . The others replied ‘ you will chase it but you will not catch it’
and hit him with their belts until he caught another child.
Akinetinda. Once the players hear the cue they
have to stay still in whichever position they are.
The first to move is expelled from the game.
Apodidraskinda. A player closes his eyes and the others
run to hide. The player opens his eyes and looks for them.
Every time he finds a player, he must run back to his
original place first or else he loses.
Kollavizein. A player covers his eyes standing up. Another player hits
him and asks him with which hand he did it.
Askolismos. The players jumped on an oiled, stuffed sack
on one leg and tried to keep their balance.
Askolismos.They used to play several variations.
They compete in
Who will jump farther on one leg
Who will achieve more jumps on one leg
A player chases the others jumping on one leg
Sphairiseis, namely games played with a ball. The ball was originally
made of various threads and later on of leather strips stitched together
and stuffed with hairs or feathers. It was soft and flexible.
The episkyros, a game played in ancient Greece since 2000B.C, is
regarded as the forerunner of modern-day football. Other sports, like
basketball, volleyball, polo, handball etc come from ancient Greece.
Aporraxis or anakrousia. The players hit the ball hard
against the ground in order to make it bounce. Afterwards,
they catch it to hit it yet again. The player who hits the ball
the most wins. Sometimes they hit the ball against the wall
and have to catch it before it hits the ground. This game is
played by one or two players.
In another game, the boys threw the ball through the mouth
of a vessel, something like modern-day basketball. The
defeated had to carry the winner on his back. This was
The kerretizein (from the word Keras which means bat)
was played with a bat and is the forerunner of field hockey.
Arpaston. A group of children or adolescents threw the ball up in the air
and tried to catch it by jumping up pushing each other away.
Episkyros. The players formed two teams behind a line
drawn on the ground with a skyron (pointy pebble), after
which the game was named. The aim of each team was to
throw the ball over the opponents hitting it hard. The
opponents had to change its course and send it back. The
winners got one point. The losers had to go through
Ceramic plaque of the Archaic era found in Korinth. The
depiction reminds us of modern-day baseball. The bearded
man is holding a rod ready to hit something (apparently a
ball) and a young man next to him is holding a ball.
ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF ATHENS
PROGRAMME: CHILD ,GAMES AND
TOYS IN ANCIENT ATHENS