Ancient Olympics

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History of the Ancient Olympic Games

The Ancient Greek Olympics were not only sporting events, it was a celebration to honor the great and powerful Zeus. The Ancient Olympics were held every four years at the famous Olympia, a district of Elis, here all free Greek men were allowed to compete. The first record of the Olympic Games was held in 776 B.C. The main sports were the Pentathlon, the Equestrian Events, Pankration, and Boxing.

The Pentathlon was the name for the five events in Greek gymnastics: running, jumping, wrestling, discus throwing, and javelin throwing which began with the 18th Olympiad. In the wrestling event, wrestlers were anointed with oil, dusted with powder, and forbidden to bite or gouge one another. Wrestling was looked upon as a weapon-free military exercise. Since there was no weapons wrestlers that competed used their weight and strength as an advantage especially since there were no weight categories. The Javelin was thrown in the same form back in ancient times as it is thrown today. The first recorded Olympic Games had one event, a race, called the stade which is a measure of the distance of the length of the track. By 724 B.C. a two-length race was added and by 700 B.C. there were longer distance races. By 720 B.C., men participated naked, except in the foot race in armor that weighed between fifty to sixty pounds. The outfit included a helmet, greaves, and a shield that helped young men build speed and stamina in preparation for war. The Pentathlon included three running events such as the Stade, the Diaulos, and the Dolichos. The Stade was a 200 yard foot race, was the first and only Olympic event for 13 Games. The dolichos was a variable length foot race averaging twenty stades or four thousand yards for the fifteenth Olympiad. The Diaulos was a four hundred yard foot race that was instituted for the next Olympic Games. The discus was considered by ancient Greeks, an event of rhythm, precision, and finesse of a competitor to throw the discus was as important as his strength. The discus was made of stone, iron, bronze, or lead, and was shaped like a flying saucer. The Sizes were different for the boys' division, since the boys were not expected to throw the same weighted discus as the men. The athletes who competed in the jump event used lead or stone jump weights called halteres shaped like telephone receivers to increase ...

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...rces, but in the historic years their founder is said to be Oxylos whose descendant Ifitos later rejuvenated the games. According to tradition, the Olympic Games began in 776 B.C. when Ifitos made a treaty with Lycourgos the king and famous legislator of Sparta and Cleisthenes the king of Pissa (Coote p. 13). The text of the treaty was written on a disc and kept in the Heraion. In this treaty that was the decisive event for the development of the sanctuary as a Panhellenic centre, the "sacred truce" was agreed, that is to say the ceasing of fighting in the entire Greek world for as long as the Olympic Games were on. As a reward for the victors, the cotinus, which was a wreath made from a branch of wild olive tree that was growing next to the opisthodomus of the temple of Zeus in the sacred Altis, was established after an order of the Delphic oracle.

Works Cited

Coote, James. A Picture History of the Olympics. London, England: Tom Stacey Limited, 1972.

Kristy, Davida. Olympics How the Games Began. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lerner Publications Company, 1995.

Grolier, the Associated Press. The Olympic Story. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Enterprises INC., 1979.

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