Archive for the ‘Roman’ Tag

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.

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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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Mythology of the Stars   22 comments

Interstellar Mythology…Star Myths

The stars, remote but also familiar, have been a source of fascination us throughout history and are an integral part of many myths and legends. Early references to the Greek constellations mythological significance are found in the works of Homer, dating back to around the 7th century B.C

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“Children of the sun and moon” is the way The Paiute of North America refer to the stars. They consider the sun loves to eat his children, based on the stars disappearing at sunrise. They say the moon, is the mother of the stars, who dances happily across the sky with them. To the Yakut of Siberia, see the stars as crystal windows giving the gods opportunity to look upon earth. The Turko-Tatar, tent-dwellers of Central Asia view the sky as a large tent covering earth, and the stars tiny holes in it.

Myths of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way, the faint band of light visible in the sky on clear dark nights, runs along the line of the galactic equator, marking the centre of the galaxy to which our solar system belongs. It consists of a combination of the light of a vast array of stars, and in areas clouds of obscuring interstellar gas and dust. 

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One Peruvian tradition, believes the Vilcanota River is a reflection of the Milky Way and water constantly circulates back and forth between the river and the heavens. In the minds of The Navajo the Milky Way was created by “Coyote” a con artist who using a blanket threw and scattered in a huge arc, in the sky, an array of sparkling stone chips to form a pathway between heaven and earth.

           Vilcanota_Rivernavajo xibalba

The Maya considered the Milky Way to be the road to Xibalba, the underworld. Native Americans believed the Milky Way was the path the souls of the dead walked. According to the Southern African Zulu and Ndebeles the stars are the ancestor’s eyes, watching over them.

Constellations and Individual Stars in Myths.

 By the 5th century B.C., most of the constellations were connected to myths, “At this stage, the fusion between astronomy and mythology is so complete that no further distinction is made between them” (the Catasterismi of Eratosthenes)

In Chinese mythology gods such as the god of literature and the god of long life, were connected with the stars.

                                                god of literature god of longlife

In Greek mythology Pleiades were the seven daughters of the Titan, Atlas and the ocean nymph Pleione. Zeus placed them in the sky to protect them from Orion the hunter. But Orion became a constellation and continued to chase the Pleiades across the heavens. The Inuit of northern Greenland considered Orion a series of steps in a great bank of snow linking earth and heaven.

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Mythology, influenced the naming of many objects in the night sky, including planets. Their Roman mythological name reflected their characteristics

In Norse mythology Venus was originally the toe of the hero Aurvandil. Thor carried Aurvandil out of Giantland across the river Elivagar. En-route, one of Aurvandil’s toes froze, so breaking it off Thor threw it into the sky. To the Greeks, Venus was Hesperus, grandfather of the goddesses called Hesperides. She who guarded the golden apples of eternal life on western sea

            Surface_of_VenusThor planet-venus

Even the names of the Galilean moons of Jupiter (the four largest). Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto were all desired–and taken by force–by Jupiter. Ironically the mythological women the king of the gods so fervently pursued now revolve around him.

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**(Credit for this blog post topic and also previous one: “Androgoth Prince of Goths”)

Thank you for the subject suggestions Androgoth Smile