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AGLA - Ch.6.docx

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Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
Classical Studies 2300
Professor
David Lamari

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Chapter 6 - The Olympic Games (300 BCE) 120th Olympiad took place in 300 BCE; reconstructing this one because hardly any evidence left from physical setting of  Olympia in 500 or 400 BCE o Olympic Games always took place at second full moon after summer solstice  In this case, that was August 9  Preparation o Elis, 36 km northwest of Olympia, is the rural town that controlled Olympia and supervised games o "Old gymnasion" which "athletes go through all the customary training before they repair to Olympia" - Pausanias  Gymnasion held racetrack, separate practice track, plethorion (Hellanodikai [judges] match wrestlers by age and ability)  Second square gymnasion for wrestling  One road from here led to baths and another led to the agora and Hellanodikaion (judges building) Third gymnasion for young men of the city for the entire Olympic festival; also has a council house  (Bouleuterion) of the Eleans o Even public spaces had an athletic bias - marketplace (agora) was called hippodrome, o Elis was therefore the ancient predecessor of the Olympic Village o 3/4 years of each Olympiad, nothing much connected to the festival occurred at Elis o Year before the Games, Olympic prep began  10 months before Games, 10 Hellanodikai, elected by Eleans to supervise Olympics, move into Hellanodikaion by October  'Guardians of law" instructed Hellanodikai on their duties  Olympic council was a 50 member panel with supervision over the games; athletes would appeal to them for disputes Hellanodikai were split into subcommittees - one group in charge of horse races, another footraces, and third for  heavy events  Last two worked together in pentathlon o Prep had to be made to announce the sacred truce (ekecheira) which covered the month before the games, from July 10- August 9  Allowed participants (athletes and spectators) to travel in safety to games  Broadcast by groups of heralds  Theorodokoi, envoy-receivers, facilitated task of heralds when they arrived in their cities  Served as local reps of the games o After Olympic truce, athletes gathered at Elis and would undergo a month of training under watch of Hellanodikai  Athlete who got there late and couldn't prove he had been delayed by illness, pirates, or shipwreck, was assessed a fine; if he couldn't pay, was flogged  Start of the competition, athletes took an oath stating they had strictly adhered to training for past 10 months  Sometimes spectators would come to Elis to watch athletes practice  Final pairings of athletes, done by drawing lots from a vessel, may have occurred at this time, but more likely occurred at Olympia o Festival site at Elis never abandoned during 4-year Olympiad - permanent staff needed to take care of tourists  Number of on-call officials who helped visitors make sacrifices to Zeus  Sacrificing priest who was aided by flutist, libation-pourer, 3-man libation-dancers, woodman who provided fuel for sacrifices, butcher cook  5 bailiffs to keep order  Official guide to satisfy visitors' curiosity  Officials paid with a portions of the sacrificial animal o Games drew near, craftsmen came in to Olympia perform specialized tasks  Stadium had to be cleared and prepared  Other buildings needed repairs and fresh paint  Fixed problems with water channel surrounding racetrack and stadium  Dug up surface of track with handpicks and sprinkled with water, then compacted with rollers to create smooth running surface  Pits (skammata) for jumpers had to be dug up (but this took place DURING the competition)  White earth was applied to stadium floor  Starting mechanisms, hysplex II in 300 BCE, had to be installed  Hippodrome also had to be cleaned and have a starting mechanisms installed o August 6, Olympia is prepared for the Games  Crowd at Elis ready to take off  Hellanodikai gather athletes before departure to say, "If you have worked to be worthy of going to Olympia, if you have done nothing indolent or ignoble, then take heart and march on; but those who have not so trained may leave and go wherever they like"  Procession to Olympia now begins  Day and night of Aug.6 spent on the road  Morning of Aug.7, arrive at Olympia  First, crowd taken to a spring, Pieria, and Hellanodikai undergo ritual purification (sprinkled with blood of pig then washed in spring water), and now cleansed, can enter the Sanctuary of Zeus Festival  o August 7  Huge crowd awaits procession from Elis, many sacrifices going on, thousands of spectators, other sources say poets, painters, and sculptors attended games to display their works  Excavations show that in later times, commercial activitie
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