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The Olympics

The Olympics

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The Olympics

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  1. The Olympics • of Ancient Greece

  2. Background • Ancient Greeks had long been captivated by risk & sport • 2,000 BCE: Bull-jumping was popular in Crete • Athletes would grab the horns of a charging bull & somersault over its back

  3. Background • 776 BCE: First recorded Olympics took place in Olympia in honor of Zeus • Attributed the founding of the games to Heracles • Was originally a religious event. A race to the statue of Zeus. • A sacrifice of energy

  4. Background • Greeks were fascinated by the duality of the games • 1. They appreciated the beauty & artistry of sport • 2. Also captivated by its savagery & violence • Saw it as a metaphor for life

  5. Background • Would continue every 4 years, uninterrupted for 1,200 years • Rome continued the Olympics until Emperor Theodosius I outlawed them to enforce Christianity in 393 CE.

  6. Background • Why every 4 Years? • Because the “Olympic Games” were only one of four Panhellenic Games held across Greece.

  7. Background • Schedule: • Year 1: Olympic Games • Year 2: Nemean & Isthmian Games (different months) • Year 3: Pythian Games • Year 4: Nemean & Isthmian Games (different months)

  8. Background • Why do we call them “Olympics” then? • 1. The Olympic Games were the oldest, most important, & most attended • 2. They called this 4-year cycle an Olympiad & it became the way to measure the passing of time.

  9. the Games • Any Greek citizen could compete • No slaves • No women • A chance for anyone to display the heroic qualities of Homer’s work

  10. THE GAMES • Athletes competed naked to celebrate achievements of the human body

  11. THE GAMES • Legend 1: Nudity Originally was an accident • One runner’s loin cloth fell off, but he won • Others attributed the win to the nudity & imitated him

  12. THE GAMES • Legend 2: Spartans always exercised nude. • Since Olympia was near Sparta, they introduced the custom

  13. THE GAMES • Married women were not allowed to watch • Punishable by death • Single women/girls came to take a look at the buffet

  14. THE GAMES • Held in August during full moon • Athletes would arrive 30 days early for training & observation by the hellanodikai (officials)

  15. THE GAMES • First a priest would bless the games by sacrificing the testicles of bulls to Zeus • 100 bulls were sacrificed • The rest of the bull was cooked to serve at the opening ceremony feast

  16. THE GAMES • Spectators would come from as far as Egypt, Algeria, France, & Russia • Greek city-states were notoriously quarrelsome, but a 3-week “Truce of Zeus” would be in effect during the games

  17. THE GAMES • Truce was enforced by the Spartans • Needless to say, it was not violated

  18. THE GAMES • Big party atmosphere • Guests would camp & cook in the grassy areas of the grounds • Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle all known to enjoy watching the games

  19. THE GAMES • Statues of Nike would look down on the competitors • Winners were treated like conquering heroes & sometimes like gods • Sweat of athletes was scraped off & sold as magic potion • No other prize than their wreath crowns

  20. THE GAMES • No silver or bronze - just losers • Losers went home in shame

  21. THE GAMES • Greeks did not believe in an afterlife, so it was the chance for immortality • Remembered in memory, story, & song • (Athens offered free meals for life to their winners)

  22. RUNNING • Running was First set of events in the Olympics • The competition wasn’t about times or records - it was about winning • Took place in the stadion • Latin version would become “stadium”

  23. RUNNING • Single stade - 200 meter sprint of up to 20 runners • Double stade - down & back around a post • Dalikos - 20 times around (2.25 miles)

  24. RUNNING • If there was a tie, they had to rerun it • False starters were beaten by the officials • (The Marathon was not an event)

  25. RUNNING • Hoplitodromos - Hoplites in full armor ran out & back twice • last event of the games • symbol of the return of reality

  26. BOXING • Boxing was added in 688 BCE • No weight division, no corner men, no rounds, no water, no gloves, no breaks • Fights could last hours until a fighter admitted defeat by raising one finger

  27. BOXING • The shame of losing was much more powerful than today. • Many fighters took a vow to die in the ring rather than admit defeat. • Spartans did not box • They might end up fighting each other and the shame of loss was too great

  28. BOXING • Started wrapping rawhide leather around their hands to increase the damage to the opponent • When Romans took over in 146 BCE, they started inserting 1” metal spikes into their leather wrappings • Became more of a knife fight

  29. BOXING • In the rare event of a stalemate, the hellanodikai would call for an exchange of unblocked blows

  30. PANKRATION • Most brutal, but most popular • Combination of boxing & wrestling • Held in a pit & fought upright • 3 throws by any means was a win

  31. PANKRATION • Believed to be Zeus’s favorite because of the occasional unintended sacrifice of life or limb • Punching, kicking, strangling, breaking bones, & tripping were all permitted

  32. PANKRATION • Only 2 rules: • No biting. • No gouging of eyes. • Groin strikes were “frowned upon,” but no rules were ever enforced

  33. CHARIOT RACE • Took place in the hippodrome • hippo = horse • dromos = course • Track was 150 yards long

  34. CHARIOT RACE • 24 laps (5.33 miles) - down & back around a turning post • 44 chariots at once, each pulled by 4 horses • The Most dangerous sport at the Olympics

  35. CHARIOT RACE • No barrier dividing the out & back - deadly collisions • During one race, 43 chariots crashed. • The winner was the one survivor

  36. CHARIOT RACE • 67 CE: Roman Emperor Nero competed in a chariot pulled by 10 horses • Thrown from the cart & couldn’t finish • Still declared the winner • When he died the next year, they overruled his victory

  37. PENTATHLON • Balance, grace, all-around skill • all practiced & performed to the music of the flute • Sculptors used pentathletes as models when sculpting the gods • 5 Diverse events: Running, Long jump, discuss, javelin, wrestling

  38. PENTATHLON • Stadion (Running) • 200 yd. sprint • Straight down the stade

  39. PENTATHLON • Long Jump • Held hand weights to add momentum • Pit was 50’ long • Modern World Record: Mike Powell (USA, 1991) - 29’4.25” • Could they jump that much farther?

  40. PENTATHLON • Discus • Heavier - about 15 lbs • Signature Twisting technique still used today

  41. PENTATHLON • Javelin • With a rope loop for extra thrust

  42. PENTATHLON • Wrestling • Held in a mud pit to make them slippery • Continued until someone signaled defeat • A rule had to be added against finger breaking

  43. PENTATHLON • Leoniskos of Messene won the wrestling match at 2 consecutive Olympic games because he broke everyone’s fingers

  44. HERAEA • The Heraea were Separate games for women • Virgin & Unmarried only • Dedicated to Hera

  45. HERAEA • Only running - 3 sprints. 1 each for girls, teens, young women • Spartan girls dominated

  46. HERAEA • Did not compete nude • wore a short tunic that exposed the right breast • Possibly to prove womanhood • Held on a day of rest for the men

  47. MODERN GAMES • 1896: After over 1,500 years, the First modern Olympic Games were reinstated. • First was held in Athens as tribute

  48. MODERN GAMES • Significant Modern Olympics • 1916: Berlin Olympics cancelled because of WWI • 1936: Berlin Olympics Held beneath Nazi flags

  49. MODERN GAMES • 1940: Tokyo Summer & Winter Olympics Cancelled because of WWII • 1944: London Summer Olympics & Italian Winter Olympics cancelled because of WWII