Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Olympics, Just the Way They Were..

Was reading this great article from the Associated Press about the ancient Olympics today. Talked about these olive-oiled up athletes who were like rock stars when they won. Here's some excerpts:

"The setting for the earliest Olympic Games some 3,000 years ago was both a sanctuary of soaring marble temples and a foul, drunken shantytown plagued by water shortages, campfire smoke and sewage. The athletes, glistening from olive oil, (yummy!) competed naked. Gymnasiums were restricted to keep the sex trade from overrunning events on the field.  
With the 2004 Summer Games set to begin in Athens on Aug. 13, archaeologists and scholars are demythologizing and viewing the original Olympics as they really happened.   Contrary to the modern stereotype, the games weren't tightly scripted Homeric epics in which warriors dropped their weapons every four years to honor the twin virtues of amateur sport and brotherhood."


"The ancient games were held in a remote valley. Forty-thousand spectators crowded a hillside above a sacred precinct containing some of the greatest temples in the empire. Sport, they believed, was a high tribute to the gods, who favored the athletes who won.   Before the games, athletes pledged their piety as they were paraded past a row of statues of gods and former champions that were paid for from the fines of disgraced cheaters. At the feet of a 40-foot statue of Zeus - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - they sacrificed oxen and boar and roasted hunks of the flesh in a sacred flame."

"A few events have persisted over the millennia, like the discus, javelin, running, wrestling and boxing - although the ancient versions often had different rules. Other events vanished with the empire, like the full-armored sprint and the pankration - which resembled a bar fight that allowed finger-breaking and genital punching." Now that would be interesting.

and finally...

"These champions were the Michael Jordans of their day, showered with fame and prizes, including huge annual stipends and prized commodities like the best olive oil, free meals and theater seats, hometown parades, statues and sex partners.   The shamed losers, according to the poet Pindar, would "slink through the back alleys to their mothers."

Now those would be some interesting events to attend. I am ready for the Summer games to start. I always have enjoyed watching the Olympics and I think it is cool that it is in the birth place again, well, if they actually finish everything and the lights don't go out.




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