Archive for the ‘Athens’ Tag

The (Sochi)Firebird Olympic Torch   34 comments

The (Sochi)Firebird Olympic Torch

Olympic 2014 Flame lighting for XXII Olympic Winter Games in Russia.

 

firebird-russian-fairy-tales-character-20302774Firebird (1)The Sochi 2014 torch is designed to resemble a feather from the magical golden Firebird – the Russian version of the legendary Phoenix, a creature as mysterious as the mythology it is steeped in. Holding a sacred place throughout Russian myth and folklore, it symbolises many things and in Russian fairy tales the firebird’s feather is used to “light the way.”

The Firebird has also inspired many artists, including Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, who consequently wrote a ballet entitled “The Firebird” in 1910, effectively immortalising the legend of the Firebird.

Olympic-Torch_Sochi-201413_01_17_Szocsi-paralimpiai-fáklyaThe Olympic Torch – the “feather,” will be coloured a dramatic fiery red in respect to the traditional sporting colour of Russia. The Paralympic Torch, as with the Olympic Torch will be created out of cast aluminium alloy, and with a view to symbolising the power and the spirit invoked in the Olympic movement will be sky blue in colour.

Flame Lighting Ceremony – Greece lights the world

On its travels throughout the games host country the Sacred Flame burns for the duration of the Olympic Games, acting as a bright and powerful symbol, reminding the people of their birth land.

greece-olympics-sochi-flamearticle-2437233-185EF94600000578-894_634x426The ritual of “The Lighting” is simple yet mysterious in nature. Following the procession of robed priestesses who proceed from the Temple of Hera, which fronts the goddess’s temple, they then surround the altar. Arrayed in white robes the High Priestess, calls firstly upon the god Apollo, then lights the torch by the rays of the sun, and the assistance of a mirror that is concave in shape. Once lit and carefully protected, and contained throughout in a small ceramic pot, the flame is then transported via another procession to the location of the Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, where the very 1st Greek Olympic Games in 1896 were held. During the course of the procession a branch is cut from the Olive tree. This is seen as a symbol of peace and is an evocative echo of the prize given to the winner in the early times of the Olympic Games. On its arrival at the Stadium, escorted by the priestesses, the first Olympic relay runner’s torch is lit by the High Priestess marking the beginning of the torch relay. The Olympic flame travels to many places and becomes the connecting bond among people sending the message of hope; a trait also associated with the Firebird that the design of the torch is linked to.

firebirdAccording to the Myth of Promytheus the fire is the symbol of life, rationalism and freedom as well as inventiveness and so had been the ageless flame that used to burn on the Altar of Prytaneion in Ancient Olympia.

c9effd98e00d99ac6be076fde41891792612c526The Russian city of Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics opening on Feb 7 2014. They will draw to a close on Feb 23 2014. For the first time the Russian Federation will be hosting the Olympics. In 1980 the Soviet Union hosted the Summer games in Moscow.

Torch Relay

cq5dam.web.1280.1280The torch was carried through Greece until 6 October then flown to Moscow from where it will spend 123 day travelling to the host city of Sochi, covering 40,000 miles+ / 65,000 km+. It involves 14,000 torchbearers and is the longest relay in the history of the Games, spanning 83 different regions throughout Russia, capital cities, 9 time zones and 2,900 communities included. It will travel by foot, car, train and plane. Its journey will also include trips on a toika, reindeer and dog sleighs, snow mobiles and even a balloon.

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Highlights : Since departing Russia in October the Torch has voyaged to N Pole on nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 years of Victory” and in November visited (unlit) the ISS under escort of two Russian cosmonauts. It will have visited the highest mountain in Russia, Mount Elbrus in the Caucaus, UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Sand Dunes of the Curonian Spit, and Kizhi, an old island settlement, voyaging finally, to the bottom of Lake Baikal before being used for the opening ceremony on 7 February 2014. firebird_by_svet_svet-d3bm04m

Zeus–god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus   48 comments

Zeus – Supreme god and ruler – Mount Olympus

Zeus - Supreme god

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Zeus was all-powerful, magnificent, awe-inspiring and knowledgeable – the sovereign god and ruler of the gods on Mt Olympus in Thessaly. His image was a common sight on Greek coins and he was known by many titles: Lord of the Sky, the Cloud- gatherer, the Rain-god and Zeus the Thunderer, These titles expressed very clearly how high in esteem and power Zeus was held the Ancient Greeks;

Rain, a rarity in a climate as hot and dry as that of Greece was considered to be the most important force of nature in the Ancient World. A life-giving force. This in sharp contrast to the more usual all-powerful sun-gods of other mythologies.

 

Zeus and wife Hera and Eagle Zeus did however, as regarded his love life, i.e. his affairs, display a surprising lack of common sense and ability to stay out of trouble and proved this whilst indulging in his unfaithfulness to his wife.

 

Zeus was also the ‘guardian of political order and peace.’ His breastplate, bearing the head of a Gorgon – so glorious and at the same time awful to behold that no human could see Zeus in all his magnificence and survive. His weapon, the thunderbolt which had been designed by three Cyclopes, he could hurl with deadly intent and accuracy. The Eagle was his bird and his oracle, Dodona. The Oak was his tree and his priests were made aware of his will by the rustling of its leaves.

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Once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus. The ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

Olympics – Ancient Greece to London 2012

The Olympics, held every four years during the midsummer full moon- an intentional choice of timing allowing the games to continue through the night, began as a festival to honour Zeus in Ancient Greece. They were designed to encourage "the development of body, mind, and spirit."

Olympic Rings Now, more than 2,700 years after the original Ancient Olympics, London, which did not even exist at that time, and now the capital city of around 8 million people, is in the ultimate point of preparing to host the 2012 Olympic Games. On 27 July, in the traditional opening ceremony athletes from around the world will march into the newly built London Olympic Stadium and the lighting of the Olympic flame will occur, to burn for the duration of the Games.

The Olympic Flame was first introduced at the 1928 Olympic Games, the torch relay at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

2012 torch lighting at site of anc olym Today the most iconic of the Olympic symbols – the Olympic Flame, which is lit from a flame from the sun during a ceremony in Athens, is then carried in a torch relay to the host city in time for the main opening ceremony. On arriving at the main stadium arena the Olympic torch is then used to light the flame. Athletes parade behind their national flags, the releasing of doves symbolise peace.

The Olympic Oath

The first official ceremony of the Ancient Olympic Games was the taking of the oaths at the opening of the Games. It was conducted in front of a statue of Zeus of the Oaths (Zeus Horkios) and accompanied by a sacrifice. The athletes and trainers had to swear that they had studiously trained for 10 months and that they were willing to obey the Games rules.

At today’s Olympic opening ceremony one Olympic athlete from the host country, holds one corner of the Olympic flag, taking, on behalf of every athlete competing, the Olympic oath:

Olympics-2012-Stadium-Design"In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams."

The original oath was taken for the first time in Belgium at the Antwerp Games in 1920. The reference to drugs was an additional inclusion in 2000.

The Olympic Creed

Judges and officials in Ancient Greek Olympics – The Hellanodikes, also took an oath to judge fairly and in a fashion that was not biased. Today a host country judge formally repeats the Olympic creed, from the scoreboard display during the Opening Ceremony. First used for the Olympic Athletes at a 1908 London Games service, this creed was introduced at Munich’s Olympic Games in 1972:

"The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

The Olympics have survived terrorism, embargoes and an increase in drug use yet nations continue despite all the problems that have occurred, to bid for the honour of acting as ‘host to the world.’

Ancient Greek Olympics   24 comments

The mythological origins of the Olympics

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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.

Delphi

 

 

 

Statue_of_Zeus

 

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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

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 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.

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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

 

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