Contests at the Ancient Olympics

The first formal Olympic Games were held at Olympia in Greece in 776 BC. The games were held in the wooded valley of Olympia in Elis. The festival and games occurred every four years in a cycle called the Olympiad. A truce was called across Greece and its colonies to allow travel to and from Olympus. Athletes arrived a month ahead to prepare. All free male citizens of Greece were eligible to participate. Married women could not attend or participate, but single women were allowed to attend.

In earliest times, the event lasted only one day and offered only one event – the stadia (a 200-yard dash). Later a 400 yard two-stadia race was added, followed by a 24-stadia race. The pentathlon and the wrestling competitions were held later still and was extended to five days. The pentathlon was a five-event competition that included running, discus throwing, javelin toss, wrestling, and leaping. The winners of the events were crowned with olive wreaths from a sacred tree located behind Zeus’ temple. They paraded around the area to the music of a flute and to the songs of the observers. NOTE: the victor on the base is being crowned with a wreath by the goddess Nike who was the Greek goddess of Victory. 

 Next Post, Conduct of the Games    Rita Bay

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