Ancient Greek Olympics   24 comments

The mythological origins of the Olympics


The Olympic Games, originally a religious event, was the most important national festival of the ancient Greeks originally created to honour Zeus, king of the Greek gods. It is also said that Zeus founded the Olympic Games to commemorate his victory over his father Kronos whom it is claimed he wrestled with at Olympia.



profimedia-0086671418Apollo competed in a footrace with Hermes and also defeated Ares, the god of war, in a boxing match. And the heroic Hercules, descendant of the Idaean Herakles who guarded Zeus after he was born along with 1758162-herc02_mediumfour other Daktyloi was also was said to have taken part in the Games. 


Records of the Olympics date back to 776 BC when the official "First Olympiad" was held. The games were held every four years (time periods which the Greeks called Olympiads.) Discontinued by Emperor Theodosius I of Rome in the 4th century AD, they were not reinstated in Athens till 1896.



                                    The Olympics – sacred festival

HalicarnassusTheaterThe Olympic stadium was built southwest of Athens in Olympia close by Zeus’s temple. The 42 foot high gold and ivory statue of Zeus residing within the temple’s walls was sculpted by Pheidias, and was viewed as one of seven wonders of the ancient world.

Zeus’s alter was said to have been erected on the site struck by a thunderbolt, the god had hurled from his throne aloft Mount Olympus, the assembly point of the gods. To honour this legend Elis’s coins were engraved on their reverse side with the design of a mighty thunderbolt.









Individual competitors trained rigorously. Winning an Olympic contest was a glory held in higher regard than winning a battle but was also intended through displays of great strength and personal agility to be pleasing and impressive to the gods, to whom athletes often prayed to for victory and made gifts of animals, produce, or small cakes, in thanks giving offerings for their victories. They were presented with garlands of laurel, a tree that was sacred to Apollo following the transfiguration of his cherished Daphne into a laurel tree. They were then given a crown of olive wreaths, and gained the privilege of being viewed as national heroes.

Women and the Olympic Flame




 2426272Male competitors were proud individuals, usually competing nude, in order to strut and display the strength and prowess of their perfectly worked out bodies.

Consequently women, foreigners, slaves, and the unfortunates who had been dishonoured were prohibited from competing; Married women, were barred altogether from even watching any Olympic events, with dire consequences if they disobeyed, the only exception being the chariot races where the olympic-torch-9men were fully clothed.

They did however have their own Games in honour of the beautiful Hera – the Heraia, at Argos, held for women every four years until the time of the Roman rule. This was a sprinting competition in which sixteen women took part in three races, divided by age.

olympictorch-postprocessed-byrjt2004image007And it should not be forgotten that one of the most enduring images of the Greek Olympic Games are the those of the priestesses endowed with beautiful costumes igniting the Olympic flame with a colossal solar reflector.

The Olympic Torch or Flame a symbol of the Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece and symbolizes fire, which was Olympic_Torch-2stolen from Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. The sacred flame burned by way of celebration throughout the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia inside of the temple of Hera, carefully guarded by her priestess and it said to have never gone out since its first lighting.

Today eleven women, representing the “Vestal Virgins”, stage a ceremony in which the Olympic torch is set ablaze by the light of the Sun. The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the central stadium of the Games.

torch2                  untitled                              

The Isthmian Games 

olympic_coinThe Olympic Games were just one of Greece’s four major national festivals – others known as the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games were of a lighter hearted nature than the others and as such were especially well received.

Olive leaf prize

The Olympic Games were held to honour Zeus, whereas the Isthmian Games were a festival of athletic and musical competitions which honoured the sea god Poseidon whose legendary sanctuary was on the Isthmus of Corinth. Poseidon also presided over earthquakes and horses, and in the early Olympic Games, chariot racing with horses was a very important component of the Games.

The Isthmian Games were held in spring every second and fourth years of the Olympic Games. They competed for a prize consisting of a wreath of celery and later, for one of pine leaves and sometimes a statue or an ode.


21st Century Athens Olympics Opening Ceremony



24 responses to “Ancient Greek Olympics

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  1. Really enjoyed this article Wolfie, and lovely pics.

    • Hello Rosemary lovely to see you again! I enjoyed this one too! At least in so far as discovering the Olympic Games were once home to dozens of streamlined well muscled young men, fighting fit and no doubt very well tanned lol…all performing great Olympic feats in the NUDE!!!! I positvely drooled my way through this post after learning that! Typical…women weren’t allowed to watch or compete then and now we can…all the men are fully clothed! Oh for a nude olympics 2012!!!! lol 😉

  2. This is a brilliant posting Icywolfy and sooooo many great pictures to accompany your fine words, hey and I wouldn’t mind getting some cakes too 🙂 But surely I won’t have to fight in the arena just for a few cakes now will I Icywolfy 🙂 Okay I will just have one cake for now thank you… I hope that now you have added this one, that you will be considering some more of these wicked treats? 🙂 I like Mythology you know 🙂 Have a lovely rest of Halloween and be good too or else? 🙂 😉 lol

    Androgoth XXx

    • So pleased it met with your vampirish approval and satisfaction O Gothic One! Ok…so you want to nibble on those naughtily fattening and moreish cakes do you? lol…An extra work-out or two will be necessary you realise? To burn off all those extra calories? You might want to start with a Zombie Run round the Gothic Realm…in the traditional niff of course 😉 or perhaps a spot of nude chariot racing against Gothic Realm Pumpkins? lol 😉 Of course you do do realise that fighting in the arena is pretty much obligatory for a Gothic Realm Vampire Gladiator…but even if you are victorious and become due for many cakes…lol…you will only be eligible if you and your sparring partner gladiators have fought in the NUDE!!!! So better get to work on that six-pack hadn’t you? 😉 lol!!

      • Yes well that seems a bit cheeky to me you know, surely a Toga and
        a pair of Gladiator Goth Sandals (Armoured Plating As Standard 🙂 will
        be allowed? 🙂 lol You can’t have Goth Vampires running around in the
        niff without all those that I have mentioned you know? Oh noooo 🙂 lol

        Of course if it is a female only
        contest then I will allow it 🙂 lol

        Androgoth XXx

    • Doesn’t seem at all cheeky to me! lol sounds perfectly reasonable and completely understandable that you should be running around in the niff at the Gothly Olympics! I mean…armour plated gladiator goth sandals?? 😉 A toga??!!!! what are these Goth Vampires coming to! And if it was a female only contest you wouldn’t be allowed to watch!!! 🙂 I suppose though, that if you were chariot racing I might allow for the Togal and the Gladiator Goth Sandals 😉

      • Yes especially with those tight turns, those Chariots can cause a right draft
        and that is why you are allowing the Toga, hoping for a lifting of the Toga 🙂
        Of course most Goth Gladiators wore Evils under their Toga’s so it wouldn’t
        matter how windy it was out there in the arena…

        It is a Vampy rule that no Goth Gladiators
        are allowed to race without their Evils on 🙂

        Of course if it were a female Chariot
        race then I would want to see everything off,
        as that is another Vampy rule 🙂 lol

        Androgoth XXx

      • Oooooh yeeeeeees! A lifting of the Toga is always one of the greatest hopes and aspirations of the ladies! lol 😉 A true hardy Romanish Goth Gladiator wouldn’t wear any Evils you know!! I understand the less brave ones who did made good use of the most revealing G-strings of the time…and a little snip with the well hidden sissors of a not-in-the-niff-oh-no-not-at-all lol females would have been enough to ensure they blew merrily away in the wind at the earliest possible opportunity in the Chariot race!!! :O

        As to the no racing without their Evils on rule…Rules were made to broken!!!!! 😉

        Which does of course also apply, unfortunately for the Goth Gladiators 🙂 to the female Chariot racing too!!!
        So what ya got to say about that then eh?!!! lol 🙂 lol!!!

  3. Amazing post, Wolfie! Once again you’ve taught me something and my head didn’t explode!

  4. Pleasantly suprised was I to see another post right after I just go here, feels like I am really getting with it now ha,ha, I wish. Nice to catch up with ya a little though I never know what’s coming next here in the Icey realm yet always an interesting timely post just the same as life must be getting pretty exciting there now with the games and all coming to your country.
    Even if I’m not all that thrilled with the wierdness in all the different fables and mythology in the world it seems that many traditions do have a root there. Speaking of wierd tradition, one here in the states tomorrow and me still needs to get some sugarless chewing gum to give out – I do not dare run the risk of buying candy I might eat it all!
    Wow, how times have changed though in regard to the Olympics, to think of no big endorsement deals and prized medals of today… no gold, silver or bronze just a wreath of vegetation or crown and to know a race well run… in all one’s glory! Thanks for another good read(“-“)

    • You are certainly getting with it! lol Congratulations on your with-itness! 😉 Now you mention it…I rarely know what’s coming next either! So not much hope for anyone else is there? I’m not really all that into the Olympic Games, but looking into the mythology and tradition of it all has sparked a flickering flame of Olympic interest I guess 🙂 Did you know there were no 2nd or 3rd places in the original Olympics? There was The Winner and that was it. No-one else got anything. Seems to me that made winning especially glorious!
      Ummm! Candy! I would definately eat it all!! Sugarless chewing gum just wouldn’t cut it! So…what is this wierd tradition you have in the states tomorrow? Do fill Wolfie in on the juicy details!! 🙂

  5. Hej Icewolf..
    Ja hu har jag flugit på kvasten hela natten nu räcker det idag får jag sitta vid en varm brasa med en äggtoddy och bara ta det lugnt..
    Iskalla hälsningar nej jag menar varna hälsningar Nicki / Shalima

  6. Schön geschrieben mit den Wölfen ich und deine Seite ist auch Klasse lieber Gruss von mir in liebe Gislinde.

    • Gislinde…Ihre kommentare waren in meinem Spam-Box! WordPress ist ein wenig verrückt, ich denke! Ich fand sie heute und korrigiert dieses Problem und alle künftigen Kommentare sollten nicht als Spam eingestuft werden! Wie unhöflich von WordPress! Verspäteter Dank für Ihre schönen Kommentare und Umarmung von Ice Wolf:)

  7. i enjoyed this blog icey id like to see the blog about the roman baths id love to bathe in milk and maybe be fed weetabix too lol andro can have the cakes just make sure he has somewhere to put them lol as theres no pockets in his birthday suit lol had a great time in whitby there were some tranny goths one of them nearly seven foot tall in a victorian dress hes on one of my pics on my space wonder where he bought his frock lol have a good week hope those stitches didnt leave a scar xxjen

    • Roman baths?….now that could be an interesting subject! I will see what I can rustle up! I have a re-post that needs fitting in first…one or two to sort out before the year’s out 😉 Bit of luck and I will have your suggestion ready to follow that. Does Androgoth actually need pockets when he is manfully competing in the Olympics do you think? lol I’m sure his birthday suit would be a wonderful way to show off his rippling romanish muscles wouldn’t it?!! Maybe you could rope in some of those characters from your Whitby Goth do! Icy x 😉

  8. Lieber Gruss und einen schönen Tag wünsche ich dir mein Freund Gislinde

  9. I have been educated once again Wolfie as I travel to your Icy Realm of the Sports Arena.. Having visited an amphitheatre in Cyprus it was fascinating to read your well written information you have gathered here, along with your well chosen photos to bring it all to life..
    I was interested to learn that Women were barred as the men competed in their all togetherness, as they showed off their prowess or some such skill 😉 .. In the amphitheatre we visited in Cyrus we were also shown the ruins of a Market Town in which the latrines complete with plumbing being 30 or more in a row with holes cut in stone, and gutters which ran with running water beneath, it showed how they had catered for the huge crowds in the Arena, which made the whole experience come to life as I wouldn’t have given the Loo’s a thought LOL.. We were shown how the water came from a Hill and flowed down through man- made clay pipes.. There were Huge Stones also which made you wonder how on earth they were moved and chiselled with such precision..
    So your Post has added even more background to an amazing time and culture .. Thank you for your most indepth Post.
    Dreamwalker xox

    • I got the impression the Romans believed women would not be able to control their lustful desires if they were subject to the thrills of the best of the Roman males “in their all togetherness!!” lol and it would have naturally brought great shame on said male gladiators of the sports arena should they be beaten a womanly gladatorial sporting skills…so best keep them all out of harms way! lol Mustn’t hurt the manly pride and feeds it’s insecurities must we? ;O
      That was a fascinating read re the amphitheatre you visited, a very absorbing comment thank you 🙂

  10. It was not fair to ban women form competing or at least observing. I would have enjoyed watching the Trained Athletes in competion fully struting their physical strength…of course. Being a lady who can appreciate BEAUTY of those endurance Athletes with their precision movements:D
    A great piece of historical and mythical reading, I do wonder why women weren’t allowed. Great job and I enjoyed all the pics Wolfie:)
    warm feathery,

  11. Cool photos. Very interesting and informative you’ve given here. 🙂

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