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Ancient Olympics

The Olympic Games were one of the sets of Panhellenic games held in ancient Greece. Open to all Greeks, the games conferred honor on the winners and their hometowns. The games were also religious festivals, and their origins were intimately connected with death and funerals, myths and legends. Learn about the event line-up, the complicated question of whether there were any women present, myths and urban legends about the games, and some of the important names and terms connected with them.
  1. Olympia, Greece
  2. Pindar
  3. Roman Sports

The Mythological Origins of the Olympics Part I
The origins of the Olympics are unknown, although there are some colorful myths about the heroes who inaugurated the games as death memorials.

The Mythological Origins of the Olympics Part II
The family of Tantalus is described as cursed. Here is the explanation for one of the curses that was uttered as the result of treacherous, but understandable behavior on the part of Tantalus' son.

Ancient Olympics - Starting Point for the Olympics
Here you'll find introductory information on the Panhellenic Games held every four years in ancient Greece, the origin of the games, the events, officials, the sacred truce, and more. Also see Olympic Origins . Review: 'A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics,' by Neil Faulkner A review of the 2012 introduction to the...

Victory Wreaths
The winners of the ancient Panhellenic games, including the Olympics, received victory wreaths or crowns. Did you know that the successful competitors at the Olympics did not receive laurel wreaths? That's not to say laurel wreaths should not be associated with victory. There was one set of Panhellenic games where the victory wreath was made...

What Are Some Special Terms Connected With the Ancient Olympics?
Familiarize these terms about the ancient Olympic games to highlight some of the differences between then and now.

Cheating During the Ancient Olympics
There are a limited number of instances of cheating at the ancient Olympics. It is assumed there were other cheaters who lucked out, but the 10 judges, Hellanodikai, were considered honest and it is not thought there was a lot of cheating. This list is based indirectly on Pausanias.

Individual Events at the Olympics - Categories of Competition
The list of events even at the modern Olympics changes over time. The same was true in the ancient Olympic games. Learn about the original events and those added to the line-up over time.

The Olympics as Sublimated Warfare
It may seem strange to us to note that the Olympic games were originally connected with death, but perhaps this won't seem so bizarre when you look at the games themselves as a safe, stylized encounter between two opponents in which death is an unlikely outcome.

What's Love Got to Do With It? The Victory Laurel
Apollo slew the python, competed with Pan, and insulted the love god; as a result the victory laurel was used to crown victors at the Pythian games.

Profile of the Greek God Apollo
Apollo is credited with the start of one of the panhellenic games, the Pythian ones, which featured musical competitions.

Oenomaus King of Pisa in Elis
Oenomaus was the king of Pisa in Elis after whose death the Olympic Games were instituted.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Glossary entry on the statue of Zeus at Olympia.

Epictetus on the Olympics
What Epictetus had to say about training for the Olympic Games, from the Golden Sayings of Epictetus.

Hellanodikai
Hellanodikai were Greek judges at the Olympics.

Battle of Marathon
This is the battle renowned for the legendary run to bring the news to the Greeks.

Ancient Greek Olympics
Pick a team: Corinth, Megara, Athens, Sparta, or Argos; then become a Greek athlete competing in "Olympic" sports geared to the classroom.

Olympic Truce - Myth and Reality
Debunking the myth of the Olympic truce, Harvey Abrams explains that ekecheiria didn't stop wars.

Review: 'A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics,' by Neil Faulkner
A review of the 2012 introduction to the world of the ancient Greek Olympics of the Classical period, 'A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympic,' by Neil Faulkner.

Olympiad
Basic definition of an Olympiad.

Olympics Sports Illustrated
Over the years, the number of events at the ancient Olympics increased. While many, but not all of the contests may sound familiar, the rules were different. Some of the differences are visible on the artifacts shown here.

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