The ancient Olympics Games provided an avenue for Greek states to cultivate their image on the international stage. Countries that possessed victorious athletes would use their successes in the games to derive glory for the state. Greek states would mint coins in honor of their Olympic victors, spreading the news of a triumph down to all levels of society. No king was more renowned for this form of state propaganda then Philp II of Macedon, whose athlete coinage assisted in securing a tighter grip on his conquests in Greece by promoting a common Greek identity through the games at Olympus. Those Greek states that were unable to cultivate successful athletes of their own could always choose to purchase them instead. An athlete, disenfranchised with his own country, could be lured by gifts and treasures to the gates of another. This practice of athletes for hire was fairly common throughout Greek antiquity; the Greek colony of Syracuse was notorious for this practice. One of the earliest stories of an athlete for hire was that of Astylos, a double Olympic victor ...
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...ld continue to be held throughout the Roman conquest of Greece up until the Christianization of the late Roman Empire.
Just like in the ancient Greek games, the modern Olympics have a political undertone. The games of today are of course much different than those held in antiquity. For instance, the modern Olympics are secular and open to athletes from all nations and of every ethnicity, unlike the ancient games which only allowed Greeks to compete. The Olympics today is in many ways more political than those of the past, in the span of a single century the modern games have been afflict with numerous boycotts, as well as three complete cancelations due to the two world wars. Although the modern games are vastly different then the Olympics of ancient Greece, they still encompass the spirt of international cooperation and understanding that defined ancient Olympia.
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