Archive for the ‘Olympic Games’ 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.

231504307oly2the-Sochi-2014-Winter-Olympic-torch-MAIN-2685819

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

2014 Winter Olympics–Coming Soon to a Crater Near You!!   46 comments

Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics 2014

 

2014 Winter Olympics – Chelyabinsk Meteor Anniversary

2014-winter-olympics-logoThe 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games (22nd Winter Olympic Games), are set to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.                 clip_image001clip_image001[1]

Chelyabinsk meteor Chelyabinsk meteor 2The Chelyabinsk meteor was a Near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 exploding in an air burst about 40 km above Korkino, south of central Chelyabinsk Oblast. The explosion created a bright flash, churning out a sizeable quantity of small meteorite fragments and a formidable shock wave.

Lake Chebarkul The meteorite fragments fell in and near to Lake Chebarkul with the largest extracted from the bed of the lake on 16 October 2013. Despite its 654 kg (1,442 lbs.) mass tipping and breaking the scales it was weighed on, it proved very fragile and shattered into three distinct pieces. In the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteor event an unofficial market swiftly arose for meteorite fragments.

The anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

2014 Winter Olympic Medals with meteorite fragmentsFragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite

 

Callisto (2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics)

callisto2In a very interesting to note lol that by some strange cosmic coincidence the 2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics will be held on Jupiter’s extremely ancient Galilean moon Callisto, the most heavily cratered moon in the Solar System.

Callisto’s impact-battered surface features multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae). Probably due to the icy nature of its surface Callisto lacks any large mountains. The water that has spread over the surface forming bright rays and rings around the crater is a result of the meteorite impacts puncturing holes in Callisto’s crust.

It is now believed that beneath Callisto’s crust may lie a salty, subsurface ocean of liquid water around 50–200 km deep indicated by studies of the magnetic fields around Jupiter and its moons. This leaves open the option that there could be extra-terrestrial microbial life on Callisto, though conditions are thought to be less conducive to life than on neighbouring Jovian moon Europa.

Callisto in Olympian Mythology

Mount-olympusZeus and CallistoZeus-greek-mythology-god-of-the-godsCallisto is named after one of Zeus – god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus’s many lovers, in Greek mythology. It is said that Callisto herself was a nymph who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

Zeus was held in exceptionally high esteem and power by the Ancient Greeks and 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, rather the ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

 

Valhalla Basin (2014 Galactic Winter Olympics)

Valhalla Basin_Credit_WikipediaValhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPLIn another wildly unlikely cosmic coincidence, the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. (Not the same one as Russia’s! Don’t be silly!) Furthermore it is not only the largest multi-ring impact crater on Callisto but also in the Solar System.

Discovered by the Voyager probes in 1979–80 it is located slightly to the north of the equator on Callisto’s Jupiter-facing hemisphere. Part of an extensive system in the

Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ‘ghostlike ripples’ extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

Valhalla in Mythology

ValhallaOdinThis huge impact crater is named after Valhalla, Odin’s great hall in Norse mythology.  

                                                                         

Valhalla_was_in_Asgard_Home_of_the_fallen_VikingsValhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Norse mythology is the most beautiful of Asgard’s many great halls. It was here with Odin that the W Door Valhalla Guarded by a Wolfheroes who had been slain in battle – the Einherjar, feasted nightly on the meat of the boar Schrimnir and from the goat Heldrun, mead, whilst preparing for the up and coming battle of Ragnarok. Eight hundred warriors marching shoulder to shoulder will emerge from each one of Valhalla’s five hundred and forty doors when this time comes.

Vast and daunting Valhalla was said to have spears for rafters and golden shields providing roofing thatch, along with a fine array of breast plates, scattered around the Hall.

The western door of Valhalla is guarded by a wolf and hovering high above the door an eagle. Outside the front of the hall is Glasir, a golden tree and on the roof of Valhalla, the green leaves of another tree known as Læraðr – happily munched through by the goat Heldrun and the stag Eikþyrnir.

Asgard Crater Region– Callisto

To the west of Valhalla is another large multi-ring basin—Asgard Crater; the second largest multi-ring structure (impact crater) on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The crater is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology,

Asgard in Norse Mythology – Olympic Links

Bifrost and ValhallaThe Norse equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, Asgard was the home and stronghold of the Norse gods. Set in the skies the only way to reach it was to cross Bifrost – the rainbow bridge.

Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin was the grandest and most magnificent of the many gold and silver halls to be found in Asgard. Norse mythology stated that Asgard would be destroyed at Ragnarok -"Doom of the powers (gods)," also known as “Gotterdammerung” which in Norse mythology means “the end of the cosmos.” A huge final battle would be fought and the world enveloped in flames; the gods defeated by giants and demons. But a number of the gods will survive, or will be reborn and out of the sea a green and fertile world will emerge.

2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics!

Coming soon to a Crater Near You!!

Valhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPL

Sources:

Viking Mythology : http://www.missgien.net

http://www.wikipedia

Related blogs on this site.

Zeus god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus – https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/zeusgod-of-the-olympics-and-supreme-ruler-of-mt-olympus/

Russian Fireball Explodes over Chelyabinsk–And it’s all the US’s Fault!!!! https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/russian-fireball-explodes-over-chelyabinskand-its-all-the-uss-fault/

Galactic Olympics – Mars 2012 https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/2012-gale-crater-galactic-olympics/

2012 Gale Crater Galactic Olympics   59 comments

Galactic Olympics ~ Gale Crater 2012

original629904185Scoreboard_1488x1080-hpfeat

Mars Rover Curiosity – the Mars Science Laboratory has arrived safely on Mars  August 6th 2012 ~ right in the middle of Earth’s Olympics…

 

Let the Galactic Olympics Begin!!

Valles Marineris Canyon (The Mariner Valleys)

imageNamed after its discoverer the Mariner 9 space probe, Valles Marineris is definitely not for the faint-hearted! For those with nerves of steel it is perfect for **Abseiling. However! Assuming that you haven’t already fallen over one of the massive cliff edges; be warned! The colourful canyon walls are unstable and could collapse suddenly due to the onslaught of temperature changes and Martian dust storms. It will be little consolation in this case scenario to know that Valles Marineris, as the presence of sedimentary rocks shows, was once an underwater area – because it isn’t now! It’s very rocky and you will meet your doom on them! You will also meet it considerably faster than you would on Earth due to Mars’s low air density meaning that it will not slow your worrying speedy descent to a rather unpleasant doom.

Winter Olympics are best held very early in spring as Martian night lasts for thmars-snowree months and whilst Skating on the Martian Polar Icecaps may be a fantastic sport and lots of fun doing so in pitch black conditions on an alien and potentially dangerous planetscape may not be the most well-advised of activities. And unless you have a particular penchant for breaking your neck, ski-ing is probably best saved for Jupiter’s moons Europa (watch out for Ice wolves) and Callisto where frosty-white Valhalla Basin offers excellent skiing options. Alternatively you may prefer to visit Saturn’s moon Titan where high-speed Winter Olympian Ice skating and Ice Hockey events take place on the frozen methane ice sheets.

However spring does not disappoint bringing rewards of its own. With the sunlight reflecting off dazzlingly layers of frosted Carbon Dioxide the crunch through the Martian snow, will show the true depths of the very beautiful sights the Polar Icecaps of Mars have to offer.

There are of course certain other risks attached to holding the Olympics on Mars…

Discus ThrowingThere is of course only one place for this Olympic event to take place; from the very top of the huge extinct volcanic mountain Olympus Mons. The largest known volcano in the solar system it is best viewed either at sunrise or sunset on Mars, when the rippling lava flows, otherwise hidden are brought into sharp relief and are easy to see. This is in sharp contrast to your discus which will travel at rocket speeds in Mars’s low wind resistance. Your distance scores will be phenomenal but unfortunately so will everybody else’s. It is also quite possible that you will never see your discus again unless you are also an Olympic marathon sprinter.

Alternatively The Tharsis Bulge, a chain of Great Volcanoes ; Arsia, Paionis and Ascerus Montes, of which Olympus Mons, although it is set apart from, also belongs to, is a fantastic venue for the Olympian Mountain Biker and also for BMX Racing. It also provides something of a challenge for those athletes unfamiliar with Mars, who are not so heavily weighted down by gravity as on Earth, or elsewhere. It does raise the issue of exactly how high and how far you’re going to bounce when you leap-frog over those lava ridges and the bumps in the track. But if you harbour a secret, all-consuming desire to risk becoming rocket man careering into space at something resembling light-speed, this is the sport for you.

Warning! Riding a mountain bike down the sides of a volcano is not recommended for the non-Olympian mountain biker. Stick to rock climbing at the base of Olympus Mons and fossil hunting in its dried-up ocean basins. Even the smaller volcanoes all stand higher than the Hawaiian volcanoes that rise up from the Pacific Ocean floor on Earth, and far above the Tharsis Bulge itself on Mars.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Galactic Olympic Events are taking place at various different venues around the Solar System…

Sailing The Jovian moon of Callisto is a dangerously thrilling venue offering rowing races in the dark on a liquid ocean of sea salt.

You might wish to take your Olympic Torch with you to this event, (one that will stay alight on Callisto would be useful) assuming you wish to see where you’re going and keep tabs on far behind you your opponent is trailing. And if they’re not and look like they may be in danger of ‘going for gold’ you may wish to torch their boat.

titan_surfacenasaWater Polo and Canoe Sprints are highly popular Olympic events on Saturn’s moon Titan, in the methane oceans, though depending on what species you are and which world you hail from Swimming may not be a great experience for the average Olympic swimmer. It may be an interesting experience but if you’re from Earth, best not to give it a go. You won’t get the gold and you’re unlikely to live to tell the tale. Spectators should take note, unless you thrive in methane rain you would be well advised to bring an umbrella. Earth dwellers will be comfortably familiar with the rain showers routine and will carry an umbrella as a matter of course, but anyone else, take heed!

The razor-blade crags of Saturn’s moon Hyperion play host to Olympic Hurdling events whilst the Caloris Basin on Mercury, a crater with cliffs that reach up to 3km (2miles) high and stretching for hundreds of kilometres in diameter, provides great terrain for the Equestrian Cross-country events. For sight-seeing spectators the polar ice caps, a strange and bizarre sight on this baking little world are home to frozen water-ice lakes that co-exist alongside roasting rocks so hot they could easily melt the Earth metal, lead.

Venus Credit J WhatmoreThe frozen lava runs on Venus’s Maat Mons offer thrill-seeking spectators heart-stoppingly dangerous Bob sleighing races along with stunning views of Venus’s highest mountain at 4.9km (3miles) high – Maxwell Montes. And if you have survived this far you may wish to return to Gale Crater on the host world, Mars for the Olympic Show Jumping and Dressage events. Don’t get too carried away if you are taking part in the Martian Show Jumping. The low gravity on this world is something of a liability in this sport and unless you have changed your mind about not becoming the next rocket man and wish to do so still attached to your mighty Olympic steed, extra care should be taken at jump-take off. Given the excessive speed you will be propelled forward at should you have an ill-timed collision with a fence in such low Martian wind resistance, you would be well advised to avoid such an error of judgement unless you fancy plastic surgery.

Galactic Olympics Closing Ceremony at: Mount Scarp, Gale Crater!

Curiosity - Gale Crater_Mt Scarp

**(Not strictly an Olympic sport that I’m aware of, but if the Olympic Torch can abseil to London Bridge then I think that qualifies it for a mention)

London – 1st City to have hosted 3 Olympic Games   51 comments

 

London -First 3x Olympics Host City!

London 3x Olympic Host City

 

The 1908 Olympic Games

Games of the IV Olympiad

Olympic_games_1908_LondonOriginally intended to be hosted by Rome this idea was abandoned when the Italians were forced to use the Olympic funds to rebuild Naples after the Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted two years before the Games were due to take place.

London stepped up to the occasion and with only two years left to prepare took on the task of hosting the 1908 Olympic Games – the start of the 4th Olympiad (4 year cycle). They built at a cost of £60,000 and with the capacity to hold 68,000 spectators, the White City Stadium officially opened by King Edward VII at 27 April Opening Ceremony of 1908. It contained a central swimming pool designed for both swimming and diving, a wrestling and gymnastics platform, and a running track that was three laps to them mile. It was considered a technological wonder.

They also held a marathon, 26.2 miles long the distance from Windsor Castle to the Royal Box in the Olympian Stadium.

In 1908 electric trolleys, buses and trains were commonly replacing horse drawn buses and trams.

 1908 British Team1908 Nations at White City stadium (1)

 

 

  • 2000 athletes
  • 22 sports and 110 events
  • 23 countries took part
  • 146 medals won by the UK, more than any other country

1908 Nations at White City stadium (2) 1908 William Knightsmith starting 1908 in style1908 Women's Archery

The 1948 Austerity Games

Games of the XIV Olympiad

1948 Austerity OlympicsThanks to WW2 there were no Olympic Games held at all for 12 years. At the end of the war London was awarded the Olympics for the 2nd time and hosted the first Games in 12 years.

1948 Olympic TorchRationing was still in process and the economic situation was far worse than it is today, the country being flat broke after the end of the war. As a result there were no new stadiums built and instead Wembley Stadium was adapted for the purpose. Equipment and materials for the Olympics was also donated by Switzerland, Finland and Canada.

Male athletes were housed in army barracks, female athletes in school classrooms in make-shift dorms, and all athletes were asked to bring their own towels.

British athletes were half-starved and malnourished, with the country rationed to less food to eat in 1948 than it had in 1945. Food parcels from around the world were sent to the Olympics. 1948 Olympic Images (4)

As with transport it was very much a matter of “make do and mend.” Railways and stations had been damaged during the war and much work was involved repairing and replacing making 1948 Games transport very limited…this doesn’t seem to have changed a great deal over the years!!!

1948 Olympic athletes (3)Yet in spite of all this, the 1948 Olympics made a profit of approximately £30,000 of which £9,000 went to the taxman.

  • 4000 athletes
  • 20 sports and 150 events
  • 59 nations represented
  • 23 medals won by the UK
  •  

   1948 Olympic Torch and Opening Ceremony_Lighting of the Cauldron1948 Opening Ceremony (4)1948 Opening Ceremony (2)

 

2012 Olympic Games~Ring of Fire!

 

2012 Olympics Stadium (6)The 2012 Olympic park covers 2 million square metres, making it one of the largest inner-city parks in Europe for 150 years +. Included are 2,000 trees and 300,000 wetland plants. Situated in East London it is intended that it will drive educational and cultural development, alongside new jobs and opportunities for training.

Transport to the Games includes Rail, Tube, Bus, Over-ground, Docklands Light Railway, Barclays Cycle Hire, Walking and the Emirates Air Line Cable Car. Tube services will be available up to 2.30 am throughout the Olympic Games. 2012 Olympics rings and flame abseiling into Tower of London(Get Ahead of the Games.com)

  • 10,250 Olympic athletes and 4,000 Paralympic athletes
  • 26 sports and more than 300 events
  • 205 nations represented
  • 56 – 59 medals predicted to be won by Team GB
  • 9 venues within the Olympic Park costing £948 million

 

 

 

LONDON 2012 – GOING FOR GOLD!

Fire Meets Fire!  Long Live Zeus! All Powerful god of the Olympics!!

  2012 Olympics torch lighting at site of ancient olympics 2012 Olympics torch)2012 Olympic torch and David Beckham

 

 

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

Zeus – Supreme god and ruler – Mount Olympus

Zeus - Supreme god

zeus

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.

        Zeus_god of thunder    zeus-eagles

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

banner_greece_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.

Delphi

 

 

 

Statue_of_Zeus

 

gladiator-games

 

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

ELT200712071306563800253 

 

 

 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

 

athens-opening-ceremony-51166256-ga