organized greek games

In the article, Organized Greek Games, William J. Baker describes the difference between Ancient Olympic Games and Modern Olympic Games, relationship between religion and Olympics, and Greek philosopher’s thought on the role of athletics. Athletic festivals were an essential part of Greek civilization for thousands of years. Moreover, the history of organized athletics can tell us the history of Greek. There were hundreds of athletic festivals which are the mixtures of athletic competition and religion ceremony held around the country including its colonies such as Egypt, Bosporus and Sicily.

Out of all these festivals, The Olympic Games was the most influential and oldest and it was for honor of Zeus. Olympic Games were held every four year in same place which is in the north western tip of Peloponnesus. The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, contests alternating with sacrifices and ceremonies honoring both Zeus and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia famous for his legendary chariot race, in whose honor the games were held. There were fewer events, and only free men who spoke Greek could compete, instead of athletes from any country.

Ancient Greek people were extremely religious and they believed in particular for assistance that’s why they used to invent many kinds of ceremony and festivals with music and dancing in order to sacrifice their gods. Around 1000 b. c Olympia was a place of worship to Zeus. The first date of Olympic Games is unknown but year of 77b b. c is recorded as the first victory for footrace. At that time, footrace was the only event regarding to religious festival at Olympia and after that many of the event were added. In the beginning, they didn’t have stadium to hold the event but around 550 b. the stadium which can provide space for 40,000 spectators. The competitors were judged strictly in order to participate at the Olympics – they had to prove that they have been training for last one month and all their eligibilities plus freeborn and criminal record. Until the late Olympic Games, the preparation of the Olympic Games was not that great. For example: they didn’t consider about sanitation of food and drink. Also there was a huge housing problem. After 776 b. c there was a significant change in the organization of the event.

The Olympic game became set at 5 days and only two and half of them were dedicated to competition and rest of it was for religious ceremony and prize giving ceremony. On the first day, they made religious events such as: prayers, sacrifices, oaths. But on the second day the real competition began with the chariot race. This was most colorful and costly of all the events. After that there was single horse’s competition. The afternoon was for different contest, pentathlon. In the morning of third day, religious ceremony were held in honor of the hero god Pelops. But on the afternoon, the footraces began.

There was 200 meters contest, 400 meters and finally longest distance which is 4,800 meters. The fourth day of the Olympic came up with all the heavy and brutal events such as: boxing, the pancration, wrestling and armored footraces. The first three contests were expression of strength and will which means they were brutal and violent. There were only few rules and no ring and no time limit. In addition to their rules, there were no weight limit that means the toughest and best muscled guys would participate. Wrestling was mild event compared to boxing because it had some rules such as no biting and no gouging.

In boxing, there was no timing break until one of the competitors was knocked out or exhausted. Competitors would focus on the opponents face rather than body. The Pancration was even tougher than others. There would do anything they could in order to win the game that means they were allowed to do everything. And after all these brutal contests, there were 400 meters armored footrace. On the last day of Olympic, it was dedicated to give all the prizes. In ancient Olympic Games, there were no swimming, diving, rowing, sailing and ball games.

The reason why there was no ball game is that women, children, and old men used to play, not by serious athletes. By the time it became real component of Olympic, the Olympic series was already placed on its traditional way. In addition to limitation of Olympic, there was a prohibition for women to either watch or participate. Women played no significant part in the Ancient Games as they were not allowed to watch the games, let alone take part. The reason behind this is due to the fact that Olympia was dedicated to Zeus and was therefore a sacred area for men.

The chariot races (introduced in later games) were held outside the sacred precinct, were open to women spectators. However, women held their own festival in honor of Hera. The winner of the Olympic Games did not receive any cash or other prize which means they only participated for the honor of victory. Also about first 300 hundred years of Olympics history, majority of competitors were wealthy who can afford coaches and trainers, a proper diet. Greek philosophers did not pay that much attention to the professionalism of he athletes and athletics were barely away from criticism. So far of all the gibes aimed at against Greek athletics, the most general had to do with the glorification of physical strength to the disadvantage of spiritual and mental values. Moreover, Greek philosopher Aristotle was very concerned about brutality of some games in Olympic and he also means that man should not be neither weak nor bodily condition of athlete; man should be one who lies between those. Many great philosophers still didn’t refuse athletics because the relationship of body and mind was factually close.

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