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you dont mess with ZeusOlympia Birthplace of the Olympic Games Page 3

The Original Olympian Events

Included were wrestling and boxing, which often resulting in serious injury to the combatants, swimming, bareback horse riding (with the rider dodging spears thrown at him), ball games, and the five grouped sports known as the pentathleon (obligatory for all), the victor obliged to win three of the five. (Olympian Zeus left)

The latter included the broad jump, with weights in the hands; the discus throw, with a stone or metal disc weighting about 12 pounds;the javelin, thrown with the aid of a leather thong; the sprint, of about 200 yards; and wrestling.

The chariot races (for tyrants and nobles who hired professional charioteers) which ended the Games, were contests with two and four horse chariots, with many horrible accidents (fairly predictable with forty chariots careening down a narrow course simultaneously.

a contestantHorse races were also the province of the nobility, who hired professional jockeys. One of the most brutal contests was the prestigious pancratium, in which two combatants fought naked and unarmed, the only prohibitions those against biting and eye-gouging. One victor died just as his opponent surrendered and had to be awarded his olive wreath posthumously.

In addition to the athletic competitions, the spectators heard the works of historians, orators and sophists, who read their works aloud, including Herodotus, who read from his history to those assembled there.

The festival served as an opportunity for poets and sculptors as well as for nobles and ambassadors gathered so fortuitously in one place where treaties could be negotiated, and merchants found opportunities there for pursuing foreign markets.

Themistocles attended the 76th Olympiad in celebration of the Persian defeat. The Games of 69AD, in which Nero competed (in the chariot race and in musical contests) had waited two years so that he could participate, with the records later expunged.

more ruinsAthens took the prize for the first time in 696, and in 688 a man from Smyrna (on the coast of Asia Minor) won the inaugural boxing contest, being the first victor from an 'overseas' city, and Southern Italy (replete with Greek colonies) had its first victory in 672. The Spartans were frequent winners. In 632BC , events for boys began.

The victor's name was announced by a herald after each event and he was handed a palm, and on the last day of the Games, all victors given a garland of wild olive and entertained in the Prytaneion. A victor could erect a statue in the Altis, and if he had won three events, the statue could have his own features.

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