Ancient Greece: The Olympics

Essay by onelove72University, Bachelor'sC, March 2009

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Often when we think of Greece and their people we tend to immediately make a connection to the Olympics and rightly so because athletic games and events have long been part of the Ancient Greece culture. As a matter of fact they played a crucial role in religious festivals, playing parts in personal family affairs such as weddings and even taking part in more grim events such as funerals. Such as the case of famous warrior Achilles, in honor of the death of his best friend, Patroclus, athletic events were incorporated into the funeral service (American Journal of Philology, 328). Ancient Greeks made it tradition to include athletics in many aspects of their life’s, so much so that athletic training was considered to be part of a mans education. Greeks finally took their passion for athleticism to the next level in 776 B.C. when they founded the ever so glorified Olympics.

Scholars have argued the many theories behind the founding of the Olympics. The exact reasons are still unclear because every story regarding its birth is just about as viable as the next (MacCarthy, 25). One story suggests that the guardian of the infant God Zeus was the first to hold a footrace. Another myth states that Zeus himself started the games to celebrate and commemorate his victory over his father Cronus, which in return earned him control of the world (Dillon, 107) Another tradition says that after Greek hero Pelops defeated King Oenomaus’ in a chariot race and in return earned the hand of the kings’ daughter Hippodamia, and with it the succession to the kingdom and so it is said he established the games in celebration.(216, Harrison) Gods were once believed to be the only allowed to compete. Although its beginning was not documented in concrete its impact...