Friday, 5 August 2016

Ancient Olympics

With the Olympics just about under way in Rio, the time is ripe for a look at the original Olympics Games. Some things are broadly similar, others rather different.

The Games were taken very seriously, as they are today, but there was a crucial difference. The competitors, as well as all being male, were also all naked. The sole exception to the hanging loose rule was a specific armoured spring race, for which the chaps would be not merely clothed but wearing the panoply of a hoplite.

Many events had application in war (javelin being the most obvious). Running and jumping were also useful, as was boxing. Speaking of boxing, as well being the only sport that was safer in the 14th century than it is in the 21st, this may have been done with cestus, which are a variety of ancient knuckle-duster. They may (also) have been used in pankration, an extreme form of wrestling.

Another Ancient Greek link is the goddess Nike, who personified victory (as well as having other sporting aspects in the modern world).

Artists would display their creations at the Games and, originally, this was carried through to the modern Olympics which (initially) included such events as poetry.

Whether airy-fairy marketing tosh or genuine desire to ‘bring the world together’, the modern Olympics does have that global harmonious aim. It was similar (on a naturally smaller scale) way back when, as the Games were held amid a truce to enable competitors to turn up without being slain along the way.

There were other Games in Ancient Greece (the Nemean Games, for example) but the Olympics were the most prestigious and were, just as people only remember the Delphic Oracle, the ones that people remembered for centuries down the line before they were revived.

As an aside, Olympic was the sister ship of the Titanic (the Olympians and Titans, of course, going to war in Ancient Greek myth).

Incidentally, Explorations: Through The Wormhole (in which I have a short story entitled Dead Weight), is due to be released in about four weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for that.


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