Ancient Olympic Games - Essay

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History and Origin of the Ancient Olympic Games

Stephanie Butcher
History 301 History of Ancient Greece
05/26/2012
Introduction

The ancient Olympic games represent a part of Ancient Greek history that the world continues to celebrate today. Every four years world nations gather at a specific site to compete in the Olympic games. This coming together of world nations symbolizes a time of peace and unity among the world. With every victory came honor, glory and pride for the winning athlete and their country. The history and origin of the Olympic games includes religious celebrations, mythical stories as well all embracing Greece’s’ love and respect of pure athleticism. This paper will discuss the history and origin of the ancient Olympic games. It will elaborate upon the fact that the history and origin of the Olympic games include religious celebrations, mythical stories as well as embrace Greece’s love and respect of pure athleticism. Establishment of Games in Olympia

The Olympic games pertain to a key event on the international level, which features winter, and summer sports and invites thousands of athletes for the purpose of participation in various competitions. The Olympic games are acknowledged as the leading competition of sports globally, in which there are over 200 nations as participants[1]. The Ancient Olympic games were established in Olympia in 776 BC, creating an institution that would continue throughout the world for thousands of years.

Initially, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, the ancient Olympic games got their origin in Olympia, Greece. Many studies give an account of the ancient Olympics, which, according to their observation, were held in Greece approximately 3,000 years back. Though they were very ancient in origin, they started being considered and called as “classical games” already by the end of the 6th century BC. By that time, there were three sporting festivals, which had gained remarkable significance as well as popularity. They included: the Nemean Games at Nemea; the Pythian games, held at Delphi; and the Isthmian Games, which were held near Corinth. Later, there were various similar festivals, which took place in around 150 cities, including Odessus, Alexandria, Rome, Antioch, and Naples.

There have been various legends and myths connected with the background and origin of the ancient Olympic games. They are a mirror image of the Greek civilization’s mythic-religious nature. For instance, in the ancient Greece, it was a tradition and religious binding that all the festivals and celebrations were to be performed in honor of a particular divinity. Thus, these Olympic games and related festivals were conducted under the patronage of the Greek leader of the pantheon of gods, Zeus. It is said that the Olympia was marked by Zeus as his revered zone through bolt of thunder, which he flung on Mount Olympus from his throne. It is said that to mark that divine spot, a stunning altar of Zeus was created at Olympia, which is situated in the North from his spectacular temple. Then, there is another very remarkable myth regarding the Olympics with reference to the Hercules, the greatest Greek hero. It is said that in order to get freedom from the slavery to King Eurystheos of Argos, the hero had to complete twelve labors. Once, the Hercules was done with it, he celebrated the success by making a clearing in the orchard, laying out the borders of the Altis, and establishing the Olympic games in honor of Zeus. He determined the distance for the race in a special way: for six hundred times, he placed one foot in front of the other[2]. Establishment of the Olympic Calendar

The Greeks had a different calendar for holding the Olympic games. They observed that 99 lunar months made eight solar years. Therefore, they established a new calendar, which was known as the octaeteris and was around 99 lunar months. They arranged the calendar in such a way that...
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