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Lecture 13

Lecture 13 The Olympic Games.docx

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
Charles Stocking

Lecture 13 The Olympic Games 300 BCE – Reconstruction of a Festival City State of Elis - Controlled Olympia - Controlled the games from 776-660 BCE - Conflict b/w Pisa and Elis for control of the games resulted in Pisa controlling the games from 660-572BCE o Explains the black ash found under the Temple of Hera – ritual destruction of previous temple - Elis regained control in the 470s Travel to the Games: The Olympic Truce - Heralds from Elis spread throughout the Greek world announcing the Olympic games, inviting spectators and athletes and pronouncing the Olympic Truce o 1 month before the games o Spondophori – truce bearers - Olympic Truce – Ekecheiria = “hands off" o Did not put an end to wars but granted safe passage to those undergoing pilgrimage to the Olympic Games  Pilgrimage – religious festival o Forbade armies from entering Elean territory Hellanodikai (Judges of Greece) - Selected by Elean council o Council comprised of 90 members who held office for life o Council was housed in one of the three gymnasia in Elis ( LINK BETWEEN POLITICS AND ATHLETICS ) - Responsible for conducting 30 day training period of athletes before the games - Evaluate athletes for qualification to compete in the Olympic Games - Conduct religious services and sacrifices at Olympia - Officiate the Olympic contests and punish athletes for violating rules - Award victories to Olympic champions Pre-Olympic Training Period in Elis (Ancient Olympic Village) - Hellanodikai oversaw 30 day training period for athletes in Elis before the Olympic games o Demonstrates Elis’ control over the sanctuary AND athletes o Was part of the ancient Olympic games in the last 100 yrs – not sure when it began - Site of training was the old gymnasium o Practice track and a “Sacred Track” for competitions o Wrestling area – Plethrion o “the square” – post-competition training o Agora (Hippodrome) – acted as an area of training for Elean horses - Part of religious experience – submission to a pries/judge - Judges are there to oversee the training to ensure that it follows customs – means of cheating prevention Hellanodikai to athletes: “If you have worked so as to be worthy of going to Olympia, if you have done nothing indolent nor ignoble, then take heart and march on; but those who have not so trained may leave and go wherever they like.” -Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, Miller Arete #84. - Idea was that the importance of pre-Olympic training was to make yourself important - This was a form of an oath that they are trained in a way that is worthy of the gods - Underlying theme is that the games were a religious experience Facility Preparation - In off season, stadion was used for grazing cattle or for growing wheat - Stadion is cleared, surface was dug up with hand picks, water sprinkled over it, made compact with rollers, and white earth was applied to stadion floor (based on inscriptional evidence) - The skammata were dug during the competition for jumping in the Pentathlon Cultural Performances at the Games - Herodotus o Decided he would perform the Histories at Olympia o 9 books of the Histories – one for each muse - Olympia was the venue for all types of cultural performance Philosophers at the Games - Lots of philosophy in Greece was highly skeptical about athletics – distinction between body and mind - Aelian writes about an account of Plato at the Olympic games o Plato shared a tent with a man who didn’t know who Plato was o “he gained their affection with his comradery, eating with them simply and passing the days with all of them that the strangers felt fortunate they had met this man” o They knew nothing about him but that his name was Plato o Later, when the men visited Athens, he hosted them – principle of xenia Participation in the Games – Not just for Athletes - Cicero gives an account of being a spectator – what is the appeal? - Merchants were also interested in profiting from the population of the games - Cicero divides the people into three classes: o 1. Spectators – a social class; aristocrats who can afford to enjoy the games as entertainment o 2. Athletes – those looking for gain in the form of social capital o 3. Merchants – those looking for gain in the form of physical capital - The idea is that the athlete is in the service of the spectator Spectator Labours (athla) “There are unpleasant di
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