Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games

The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games. The Winter Olympics will begin on February 10th in Torino, Italy. The official site in English is at Torino 2006.

Although the ancient Greeks did not compete in ice hockey, skiing, luge, or any of the other Winter Olympic sports, they did invent the Olympics. As such, this site about the "real" story of the ancient games is an entertaining read.

The site explores the motives of the ancient athletes and concludes that the original games were just as political and commercial as the modern Olympics. Further, the modern games have improved as far as sexism is concerned. Married women no longer have to fear death for watching men compete and they can alo participate in the games as well.

I find this hard to believe but cheating was common in the ancient Olympics and even encouraged! The site notes, "There were statues set up in the altis to commemorate athletes who had been caught cheating or bribing at the Olympic Games." Unless these statues were to shame fallen athletes, I do not think that was a good idea...

From the site:

During this Olympic season, you may hear from announcers, critics, commentators and even athletes that the Olympic games are too commercial, too political, too "professional." Or that the judging is too nationalistic.

It's easy to assume that the ancient Olympic Games were different, that ancient Greek athletes were pure in mind and body, that they trained and competed for no other reason than the love of physical exercise, fair competition and to honor their gods.

But is this really true? Well, no.

In fact, politics, nationalism, commercialism and athletics were intimately related in the ancient Olympic Games. We may not realize it, but in today's games we recreate–with surprising accuracy–the climate and circumstances surrounding the ancient Olympic Games.

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