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05.02.2012 16:52    Comments: 0    Categories: History      Tags: greece  olympics  olympia  


While the origin of the Olympic Games is not known with precision, according to tradition, the first celebration was in 776 BC. According to mythology, Idaios Herakles was the founder, who had been present to the birth of Zeus in the cave of Idis (Idaion Andron). The hero with the same name, Hercules, son of Alcmene had also performed matches in Olympia, when he successfully ended with the clearance of Augeias stables. However, the main organisers of the Olympic Games in prehistoric and historical times (884 BC) were the King of Elis Ifitos, Lycurgus, the legislature of Sparta, and the king of Pisis Kleisthenes. From those initially established the Holy Truce  which imposed on all Greeks during the games. That order was written on a bronze disk which was hidden in Heroon and special preachers announced it all over Greece.

Thus, the Olympic Games had taken a national celebration character. In another tradition, the Olympic Games were the result of funeral matches on the banks of Alpheos river which took place in honor of king Pelops. As the years passed, participation in the Games had been extended to all Greek states, inside and outside Greece, and visitors of celebration were not only individuals but also official representatives of various states. The Olympic Games were maintained until 393 AD when the the Roman Emperor Theodosius I canceled them, while Greece had lost its independence.

Initially the program was limited to one day and consisted of only one event - a race across the stage. Later added other olympia sports such as discus throw, javelin, long jump, boxing, wrestling, pentathlon, chariot race, etc., and the duration - including religious ceremonies - was extended to seven days. The participation in the Games originally limited only to the Greeks, coming even from 
Greek colonies. Women could not take part in the Games and married could not attend even as spectators, except the priestess of the goddess Demeter.

Before opening the games all competitors and their families, pre-gymnasts and judges, took an official oath that will keep their games clean and fair and they would give a fair judgement. The games took so important position in the life of Greece, that the time measured with the four-year period between the Games and this was an Olympiad. The biggest price for each Greek then was to win the simple branch of wild olive which was given as a prize to the winner of the games. The kings were competing side-by-side with the simple people. Even the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 AD) sought the Olympic values. The winners were national heroes.

Few human ventures have lasted so long as the Ancient Olympic games have.

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