The duration of the games was directly related to the number of events. Originally the event lasted only one day until 684 BC, and when chariot racing was added in 680 BC the event was extended to two days. In 632 BC boys games were added and the games extended to three days, and in 472 BC the games were extended to five days.
The “Sacred Truce” was one of the most sacred institutions of the games, requiring all hostilities be suspended between warring tribes before, during and following the games for a period of time. Belief in this truce was so important, that even though there was constant warring, the games were never canceled.
Interesting that since the modern games have been reintroduced they have been canceled in times of war.
Athletes traveled to Olympia one month prior to the games. This regulation was strictly enforced in order to assess the athletes’ talents and abilities as well as their ethics and character.
There were only two requirements of the participants. That they be free-born Greeks of parents who were free citizens.
Olympia was a sanctuary to Zeus, the Father of the gods, and his was the most important temple. It was built in the middle of the 5th century BC.
Olympia was well known for the gigantic statue of Zeus which was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It made of chryselephantine which used ivory and gold leaf for parts, such as the face and hands of the figure. It was sculpted by Pheidias, whose nearby studio was excavated in the 1950s. At one point his workshop had been converted to a Christian basilica. The statue of Zeus holds the goddess Nike in one hand. Legend says the statue was taken to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and lost in a fire.
The Olympic Games were abolished by the Roman Emperor Theodosius In 393 AD.
The modern games were revived in Athens in 1896.
Is anything more Greek than the Olympics? This downpour happened just as we arrived and it looked like we weren’t going to be able to visit. As you can see in my photos, the rain stopped, it cleared up and we had a great visit to Olympia.
So much more could be said and more photos shared, but you really ought to go see it for yourself!
After our visit we decided to stay the night in the cute village of Ancient Olympia where there are plenty of cafes and hotels. Another interesting museum in town is the Archimedes Museum (with free admission, but we didn’t visit unfortunately.)
“Do laundry or go naked” was seen at a Athens laundry. Did it grab your attention?
Until next time!