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 Ancient Olympic Games

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عدد الرسائل : 756
العمر : 33
نقاط : 3770
تاريخ التسجيل : 16/09/2008

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مُساهمةموضوع: Ancient Olympic Games   الخميس فبراير 19, 2009 11:58 pm


The Ancient Olympic Games, originall
referred to as simply the Olympic Games (
Greek: Ολυμπιακοί Αγώνες; Olympiakoi Agones) were a series of athletic competitions held between various city-states of Ancient Greece. They began in 776 BC in Olympia,
Greece, and were celebrated until 393 AD.

Origin

The historical origins Ancient Olympic Games are
unknown, but several legends and myths survive. One of these involved
Pelops, king of Olympia
and eponymous hero of the
Peloponnesus, to whom offerings were made during the games. The Christian
Clement of Alexandria asserted, "[The] Olympian games are nothing
else than the funeral sacrifices of Pelops."
That myth tells of how Pelops' overcame the King and won the hand of his
daughter
Hippodamia with the help of Poseidon,
his old
lover, a myth linked to the later fall of the house of Atreus and the sufferings of Oedipus.
Another myth tells of the hero Heracles,
who won a race at Olympia and then decreed that the race should be re-enacted
every four years, while another claims that
Zeus
had instated the festival after his defeat of the
Titan Cronus. Yet another tells of King Iphitos
of
Elis, who consulted the Pythia
– the
Oracle at Delphi
– to try and save his people from war in the 9th century BC. The prophetess
advised him to organize games in honour of the gods. The
Spartan adversary of Iphitos then decided to stop the war during these
games, which were called Olympic, after the sanctuary of Olympia where they
were held. Had they been named after
Mount Olympus, the mountain on which the Greek gods were said
to live, they would have been called Olympian games rather than Olympic. The
favorite story is that Heracles celebrated cleaning the Augean Stables by
building Olympia with help from Athena. Whatever the origin, the games were
held to be one of the two central rituals in
Ancient Greece, the other being the Eleusinian Mysteries.

History

The Games first started in Olympia, Greece, a
sanctuary site for the
Greek gods near the towns of Elis and Pisa (both in Elis
on the peninsula of
Peloponnesos). The Sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia housed a 12 meter high statue in ivory and gold
of Zeus
, the father of the Greek
gods, sculpted by
Phidias.
This statue was one of the ancient
Seven Wonders of the World.

The Olympic Games were held
in four year intervals, and later the Greek method of counting the years even
referred to these Games, using the term
Olympiad for the period between two Games. The historian Ephorus who lived in the 4th century BC is believed to have
invented the use of Olympiads to count years, much as we today use
AD and BC. Previously every Greek state used its own dating system,
something that continued for local events, which led to confusion when trying
to determine dates. "Diodorus states that there was a solar eclipse in the
third year of the 117th Olympiad, which must be the eclipse of 310 BC. This
gives us a date of (mid-summer) 776 BC for the first year of the first
Olympiad".
Nevertheless, there is disagreement among scholars whether the games
truly began at this time or not.

The "Exedra" reserved for the judges at
Olympia on the south embankment of the stadium


The only competition held then was, according to
the Greek traveller
Pausanias, the stadion race, a race over about 190 meters, measured
after the feet of Hercules. The word stadium is derived from this foot
race.

The early Olympics were also held to be the place
where the Greek tradition of
athletic nudity was first introduced in 720 BC, either by the
Spartans (and
Acanthus in particular) or by the Megarian Orsippus.


Several groups fought over control of the
sanctuary, and hence the Games, for prestige and political advantage. Pausanias
writes that in 668 BC, Pheidon of
Argos
was commissioned by the town of Pisa to capture the sanctuary from the town of
Elis, which he did and then personally controlled the Games for that year. The
next year Elis regained control.

The Athenian writer Xenophon in 364 BC gives a contemporary record of an Elean attack during the
Pentathlon final of the Games themselves, as the Pisans were again in control.
The Eleans pushed the defenders almost to the altar before retreating due to
missiles being thrown at them from the porticos. During that night the
defending Arcadians constructed defensive palisades, and the next morning on
seeing the strength of the defence the Elians retreated.

Related to the Elis/Pisa conflict, is the Heraea Games, the first sanctioned competition for women, held in Olympic Stadium. It originally consisted of foot races only, as did the men's
competition. Some texts, including Pausanias's
Description of Greece, c. AD 175, state that Hippodameia gathered a group known as the "Sixteen Women" and made
them administrators of the Heraea Games, out of gratitude for her marriage to
Pelops. Other texts indicate that the "Sixteen Women" were peace-makers from Pisa and Elis and,
because of their political competence, became administrators of the Heraea
Games.


Finally, the Olympic Games were suppressed by
either
Theodosius I in AD 393 or his grandson Theodosius II in AD 435,[6]
as part of the campaign to impose Christianity as a
state religion. The site of Olympia remained until an earthquake destroyed it in
the 6th century AD.



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