Sunday, 15 April 2012

Let the Games begin!

Ancient Olympic Games 

The first Olympic Games were held in the village of Olympia, Greece, in 776 BC and were religious festivals. The origin is unclear; however, there are several legends and a known fact that it takes its name from Olympia, a sanctuary site for the Greek gods.

Sport and athletics were of great importance in Ancient Greece when the citizens believed that a healthy body was essential and naturally accompanied a fit mind, preparing the soldiers to march and carry the heavy equipment. Another concept, agon (=competition) was in the centre of attention. It was an honour to win a contest. It is important to mention that the Greeks competed for honour, not for material goods, and the only prize they received was an olive wreath. 

For about three centuries, the games served to strengthen the religious beliefs and the sense of national unity. Little by little, fame and the exceptional abilities of the competitors aroused the imagination of artists, sculptors, poets and writers. The games became what they are today: a celebration of athleticism, respect, fair play, art, morality etc.

In 393 AD, the Olympic Games were abolished by the Christian Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I. It was only after about 1,500 years that the so-called Modern Olympic Games began.

More about: Olympia, Greece
                      The modern town of Olympia, Greece
                      Ancient Olympic Games

In the next post: What influenced Pierre de Fredy to found the modern Olympic movement?

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