Sydney’s Corner: The Ancient Greek Games
Sydney Frazier is the granddaughter of Los Alamos resident Teralene Foxx and is traveling the world with her parents for two years. As part of her home schooling during the trip, she is blogging about her adventures and is sharing some of her posts with the Los Alamos Daily Post
In this article, you will learn about the first Olympics. The Greeks invented the first Olympic Games. Let the games begin.
The first thing you might want to know is where the games began. Take a guess which city the games began in? It’s pretty obvious once you know. The place is called Olympia, Greece. The year the Olympic games started in was 776 BC. The games were held every four years and lasted five days. The games stopped in 396 AD.
The Greeks thought that the gods liked what the Greeks liked. The Greeks liked sports, so that meant the Gods liked sports. Zeus was king of the Gods and he was also the God of the Olympics. Everyone had to make a vow to him that they would train for 10 months.
You do not want to be an ox on the day before the games, because before the games 100 oxen were slaughtered as a gift for the gods. That must have been a little messy.
The games started with only one event, running. The track could go up to 100 to 240 meters, no one knows for sure. Over the years, more games were added like boxing, wrestling, long jumping, horse riding, chariot racing, discus throwing, javelin throwing and running. The running races were called stades.
There was a thing called the pentathlon in the Olympic Games. The pentathlon had five events. They were running, discus throwing, the long jump, javelin and boxing. If you won three of those, you automatically won, but hardly anyone could do that. The pentathlon was introduced in 708 BC to 688 BC.
There was only one rule for wrestling. The rule was you could not the eyes of your opponent. If you did eye gouge, the other person won. It kept on getting more and more brutal. There was no time limit when wrestling. It could go on for fie minutes or five hours. If you lifted your finger next to your thumb it meant you surrendered. If you killed your opponent, the dead opponent won.
Chariot racing lasted for only 32 years. It started in 648 BC and ended in 680 BC. The chariot racing was 11 laps. You did not have to count the laps because at the last lap, a horn will go off. Only the rich could do chariot racing because horses were super expensive.
The chariot racing was done with four horses and were designed for speed and not safety. Chariot racing was hard, because if you went to close to the column of the stadium you would whack your axle on the column and get killed or injured. If you went too far out you would lose the race. You needed stay just in the middle, which was really hard.
Here are the names of different running races. There is a race called the Diaulos. It was 400-meter foot race. Another race is called the Dolichos. Historians don’t know the actual length of the race, but they think it could get up to three miles. That was one of the longest races. My favorite foot race was the one where they ran in armor.
There was cheating in the old Olympic Games. The Greeks thought if you drank bull’s blood you could win the games. People tasted the contestants urine for bull’s blood. If you had bull’s blood in your urine then you could never play the games again and had your name written on a statue of Zeus. There was a line of these statues in front of the stadium and it was called the cheating wall. People spat on your name where it was written on the statue. On the left side of the cheaters wall there is the names of all the winners.
Only young men could compete in the Olympics. They could not be a slave and had to speak Greek. The Greeks even let enemies participate in the games since the Olympics were special. The men went naked in the Olympics. The winner of the games got to take home 500 drachmas, a bottle of olive oil, and a crown of olive leaves. You may be a little bit confused of why they just got some olives and olive oil. Olive oil was very rare and expensive, so only the rich could afford it. The olive crown was a sign of hope and peace. Five hundred drachmas are worth $960. If you won the games, you were really famous.
No one knows for sure, but some say woman were allowed to watch the games and others say woman were not allowed to watch the games. Married women were definitely not allowed to watch. If a married woman tried watching the games she had her hands tied behind her back and was thrown off a cliff. Women were not allowed to participate in the games, but there was an exception. If a woman owned a horse, she could race it in the Olympics. The women also had their own Olympics. No boys were allowed. The Womens’ Olympics was only running.
When the games stopped, it would be another one thousand five hundred years before they would come around again. When the games started again, the first games were held in Athens, Greece at Panathenaic stadium. While I was in Greece, I got to see both Olympia and the Panathenaic Stadium.
Visit the Frazier Travel Blog at http://travel-junkies.com.
The original stadium had no seats, only a dirt embankment. Photo by Jason Frazier