Apoxyomenos and the Role of Athletics in Ancient Greek Culture

Apoxyomenos and the Role of Athletics in Ancient Greek Culture

Length: 1062 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Apoxyomenos and the Role of Athletics in Ancient Greek Culture

According to Marilyn Stokstad, "the visual arts are among the most sophisticated forms of human communication, at once shaping and being shaped by their social context (xxxviii)." As this quote implies, artistic pieces invariably are a reflection of the culture in which they were created. Thus, art is a potent means of deciphering the values and belief systems of ancient societies. Apoxyomenos (330 BCE), or The Scraper, created by the sculptor Lysippos, is an enduring testament to the importance ascribed to athletics by the citizens of ancient Greece.

Artistically, Apoxyomenos deviates from the standard Classical representation of male athletes. The majority of Classical sculptors portrayed athletes actively engaged in competition. However, this figure is gazing into the distance while removing oil and dirt from his body using a strigil (Stokstad, 165). This practice was commonly associated with athletes in ancient Greece and, thereby, communicated to the viewer that this was a piece pertaining to athletics.

Athletics were an expression of the philosophical, religious and civic values that were at the very heart of Greek culture. In the world of the ancient Greeks, well-educated individuals were expected to be balanced mentally, spiritually, and physically (http://www.mediaconcero.com/olympic/olympia/ideal_o.php, September 27, 2004). It was felt that athletics aided in the creation of such an individual. Athletic events during this period were not simply displays of physical prowess, but an integration of the facets of Greek culture.

Education and intellectual discourse were accessories to athletic events. During competitions, spectators would engage in lectures and philosophic conversations concerning current events and other scholarly subjects. In fact, the Greek word for "gymnasium" was the same as the Greek word for "school (http://www.mediaconcerto.com/olympic/olympia/ideal_o.php, September 27, 2004)." Athletic events became a center of learning and exchange of ideas in Greek civilization.

Athletic events at this time were also closely related to the religious beliefs and practices of the Greek citizens. Each competition was devoted to a specific pagan god. For example, the patron of the Olympics was Zeus. The Greeks believed that the physical strength and ability of athletes was a direct gift from the gods (http://www.meiaconcerto.com/olympic/olympia/ideal_o.php, September 27, 2004). Therefore, each athlete competed not only in honor of his city-state, but also in honor of the gods.

Civic implications were also apparent in ancient Greek athletics. The ancient world was one of constant conflict and political turmoil, and it was necessary for each city-state to possess a strong military in order to preserve their autonomy.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Apoxyomenos and the Role of Athletics in Ancient Greek Culture." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Greek Culture as Exhibited in "The Odyssey" Essay

- Many diverse cultures are found in every corner of the world. Every culture is defined by its traditions and values. The film “The Odyssey,” depicts the culture of the ancient Greeks where it illustrates the life of a man, Odysseus, who has gone on a journey just to get back to his kingdom. Many values and traditions could be identified through the path of the journey. Some elements that are found important to the Greeks are the music, the religion, and the duty to the kingdom. One important feature found in ancient Greek culture is the music....   [tags: Greek Culture]

Research Papers
580 words (1.7 pages)

Description of Humanism Greek Culture Essays

- During the Hellenic Age which is sometimes known as the classical period for the Greeks and is dated c.500-300 B.C. In this time period the Greek culture flourish philosophy developed, sculpturing became more sophisticated, and the greatest of them all was the birth of humanism. Humanism is described as being “any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate” (“Humanism n.pag.). Humanism meant making men superior over all things and that men were supreme even over the Gods....   [tags: greek culture, hellenic age, humanism]

Research Papers
671 words (1.9 pages)

The Role Of Women During The Greek Society Essay

- The role of women in society is often debated. In many ancient cultures, women were not granted the same rights that men had. When it comes to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, women had very similar roles yet vastly different influences on society. The myths of these cultures helps us to see exactly what those differences are. This paper will examine the role and perceptions of women in Greek society and Roman society as exemplified by the mythology that guided these societies. In Greek society, if a woman was raped she was blamed and socially punished....   [tags: Greek mythology, Trojan War, Ancient Rome]

Research Papers
724 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about The Role of Women in Greek Mythology

- Women have given birth to new generations for centuries and have the common stereotype of being caring and gentle. But in the creation myth, women were given to man as a punishment. In the book of collected Greek tales, " Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes", by Edith Hamilton, women take up important roles that shape each story. Although women are usually characterized as being helpful and motherly, Greek mythology, on the other hand, portrays them to cause distress, fear, and anxiety to numerous men....   [tags: mythology, greek myth, Trojan War]

Research Papers
600 words (1.7 pages)

The Role Of Greek Gods And Heroes Essay

- There is deep rooted connection on the grounds of Schwetzingen Castle- its connection is in myth. In the gardens there are depictions of Greek gods and heroes, even though scattered examples from all over the world are present. Their faces and poses tell the story of how they were perceived- at least by their creators- in terms of their value to the society of the time of their making. The original castle, built in 1350, gave away nothing of its future splendor; it was merely “a small moated castle”, one of many such edifices throughout Europe at the time....   [tags: Greek mythology, Apollo, Zeus, Athena]

Research Papers
1078 words (3.1 pages)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Essay

- My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a film made in 2004 directed by Joel Zwick that evidently portrays several sociological concepts throughout the film. This film highly demonstrates the sociological topics of gender and culture all through the movie. The roles of gender, gender stratification as well as gender stereotyping are exemplified during the film. As for culture, the film displays subculture, counterculture, ethnocentrism, cultural relativism and cultural diffusion. My Big Fat Greek Wedding focuses on a single 30-year-old Greek woman, Toula Portokalos, who works at her family’s restaurant....   [tags: Culture, Sociology, Gender role]

Research Papers
1453 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about The Role Of Popular Culture Pop Culture

- Academic literature often neglects to mention the role which popular culture such as music, movies, and television play in the development of the public conscious. This is due to either its perceived lack of intellectual value, or its imagined irrelevance. Regardless of their opinion regarding its artistic merit, popular culture pop culture affects every facet of one’s daily life, and an educator who fails to remain conscious of the zeitgeist is one who refuses to give weight to the material importance of artistic expression and in doing so places the relationship between themselves and their students in jeopardy....   [tags: Culture, Popular culture, High culture]

Research Papers
941 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Greek Song Culture with Reference to Odyssey

- The Greek Song Culture with Reference to Odyssey The Homeric epic, Odyssey, begins with the invocation of the muse. The muses are the goddesses of total recall. Their name is “a reminder” since in earlier times, poets had to recall then recite events since the tales were not written down. The importance of memory and recognition is a central feature in Greek song culture. The film Chunhyang gives an insight to ancient Greek song culture. Although each of these stories is from a different culture, the themes and symbolism are the same and central in both cultures....   [tags: Homeric Epic Greek Literature Odyssey Essays]

Free Essays
918 words (2.6 pages)

The Role of Government and Culture on Innovation in Greek City-States Essay

- The Role of Government and Culture on Innovation in Greek City-States A simple analysis of the culture, structure and technologies of Greek city-states reveals the fact that culture plays a vital role in the development of technologies. More specifically, an analysis of the government of Greek city-states demonstrates the very influential role of culture upon technological development. The democratic form of government first seen in Greece is reflected in the structure of the city-states. The basis for this form of government, which is more sensitive to the needs of the people, can also be seen in some of the more traditional types of technological development....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Free Essays
1174 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on The Role of Greek Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Times

- The Role of Greek Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Times With all of the interesting aspects of the Odyssey, I am only going to touch on one of them. The gods and goddesses in the Odyssey of all of the deities mentioned I am only going to focus on a few. The first and most powerful of these is Zeus. Then we have Hermes, the messenger god. Last but not least of these would be Athena, the goddess of warriors. Zeus, Ruler of the gods. "Zeus, father of gods and of men. His power was vast as the sky, mighty as the roll of thunder ....   [tags: Greek Mythology]

Research Papers
1254 words (3.6 pages)

Related Searches

Many sporting events, such as the footraces conducted in full battle dress, mimicked military exercises that were performed by young Greek men in preparation for battle (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/shefton-museum/greeks/games.html, September 27, 2004).

Further, athletics served to unify individual city-states by promoting national pride. The only award given to a victorious athlete in competition was a crown of olive leaves and honor and respect for their respective city-state. The events created an atmosphere in which all of the city-states of this culture were unified. At these competitions, city-states would put aside all differences and support their communities peacefully and emphatically, even if they were at war with another region (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/shefton-museum/greeks/games.html, September 27, 2004). The solidarity of Greek culture and tradition under the idea of athletics permeated all national boundaries and governmental disputes.

The ancient Olympic games were perhaps the greatest expression of the importance of athletics in Greek society. In the article "Sports, Nationalism and Peace in Ancient Greece," Nigel Crowther makes the point that "the ancient games were the biggest single gathering of any kind in the Greek world, and thus their importance to the Greeks can hardly be overemphasized (1999)."

Every four years approximately forty thousand Greek athletes and spectators arrived in Olympia to celebrate sports. These events, in a sense, were an exercise in "internal nationalism" and served to unite the disparate Greek city-states under the auspices of sport (Crowther, 1999). As discussed above, a general cessation of hostilities occurred and athletes and spectators were ensured safe passage to and from the games. It is important to note that until the Roman occupation of Greece, only those of Greek origin were able to compete in and attend the games (Young, 2004). The games, above all, were intrinsically Grecian.

Much like the modern Olympics, athletic events at the ancient Olympic games focused on intense competition, or agon, and the obtainment of excellence, or arete. The events primarily highlighted competition amongst individuals. The most common events were foot races, the Pentathlon (composed of running, jumping, discus and javelin throwing, and wrestling), and equestrian competition (Crowther, 1999). These events were derived from the military training practices of the time.

The intense training regimes and preparations Greek athletes followed further underscores the importance of sport in their culture. Training for athletic competition was a way of life and athletes devoted their entire lives to training for their event. Some athletes, such as Melancomas, believed that training for competition was actually far more rigorous than training for war (Crowther, 1999).

In addition to physical training, the Greeks recognized the importance of hygiene in fitness. They felt strongly that a fit body was a clean body. Athletes coated their bodies in olive oil before competing, in order to prevent dirt from clogging the pores of their skin. The oil was kept in a container known as an aryballos. Dirt that had stuck to the body during the course of competition could then be scraped away using a strigil (http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass, September 27, 2004). It is from this practice, that the subject matter of Apoxyomenos is derived.

The energy and effort devoted to the creation of Apoxyomenos is an implication of the significance of sports in ancient Greek culture. The subject matter of this piece is an indication of the philosophical, religious, and civic beliefs that were the fabric of Greek life and provides invaluable insight to a civilization that modern man can now only imagine.

Works Cited

Crowther, Nigel. 1999. "Sports, Nationalism and Peace in Ancient Greece." In Peace Review, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 585-590.

Lahanas, Michael. "Sport in Ancient Greece." 2004. September 27, 2004.

Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2005.

"Olympic Legacy." 2003. September 27, 2004. .

"The World of the Greeks."2004. September 27, 2004.

Young, David. C. 2004. "With Hands or Swift Feet." In Natural History, vol. 113, no. 6, pp. 24-32.
Return to 123HelpMe.com