The feeling is all too familiar, from the front row to the last seats in the bleachers; a
rhythmic pounding surges the ears and the airwaves of the arena. It comes from the athlete’s
heart, pulsating moments before the strike. Wether they are waiting for a gun shot, a buzzer,
a whistle, the okay of an Olympic Official, or just until the thought process becomes nothing
more than a memory, they are just waiting for a chance at the gold. Everything that they have
been pushed, trained and fine tuned for comes down to this moment… These aren’t your
ordinary run of the mill casual mall walkers. They are nothing less than toned up, calorie
burning super humans, programmed to win. Fat is non-existent and “the perfect body” can be
seen here. As these super humans get into position, tunnel vision mode initiates, and at the
end of the tunnel is the finish… and the gold. This is also the same scene back in the Ancient
times of the Gods… Survival is the key and the real prize is the satisfaction that you are
Welcome to the Olympics, by far the most published and drawn event in the world.
Literally millions are drawn to the events that upwards to 2 1/2 weeks to complete. The
modern Olympics were a vision of one man who had strived to see a unity that can only be
seen from the ideals of the past (countries watching their heros cheering them for victory).
These Olympic games of today transcend all obstacles of hatred and bitterness toward others.
Instead, a growth emerges. Not every athlete gets a metal, but every athlete can bask in the
glory of saying I was there, I was at the Olympics.

But, during the Ancient Olympics (which began in 776 b.c.) in Athens Greece, losing,
or even going home was a different story. The ceremonies of today start with the lighting of
the torch and the winner of the marathon. The modern Olympic marathon is approximately 26
miles and usually takes over 2 hours for athletes to finish. The marathon really was never one
of the ancient Olympic events, although its origin dates back to another episode in ancient
Greek history. Microsoft’s Encarta ’95 Encyclopedia states that “in the 5th century B.C., the
Persians invaded Greece, landing at Marathon, a small town about 26 miles from the city of
Athens. The Athenian army was seriously outnumbered by the Persian army, so the Athenians
sent messengers to cities all over Greece asking for help.” The traditional origin of the
marathon comes from the story how a herald named Philippides ran the 26 miles from
Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory and died on the spot. However, ancient
authors do not support this legend. Philippides was sent by the Athenians to Sparta to ask for
help; a man named Eukles announced the victory to the Athenians and then died.” Los Angles
’84 page 17 Nevertheless, the story has persisted and is the basis for the modern-day
marathon. In adition, this story gives example to the heart that the Anciet Greeks put on
athletics. One has to realize that during this time of history, and especially this area, war was
among everyone, and the gods caused it all. The Olympics we’re more of a way to show
honor and loyalty to the gods. That makes perfect sence in why the Olympics were held in
“Olympia, one of the oldest religious centers in the ancient Greek world. Since athletic
contests were one way that the ancient Greeks honored their gods, it was logical to hold a
recurring athletic competition at the site of a major temple….Also, Olympia is convenient
geographically to reach by ship, which was a major concern for the Greeks. Athletes and
spectators traveled from Greek colonies as far away as modern-day Spain, the Black Sea, or
Egypt. An international truce among the Greeks was declared for the month before the
Olympics to allow the athletes to reach Olympia safely. Just because the Gods had no rules
didn’t mean man didn’t either. In fact, in order to compete, there was a strict guide line that
was agreed and followed upon.”-www.olympic.org
“Back in the early days of Athens the Olympics had these rules incorporated…
The judges had the authority to fine whole cities and ban their athletes from competition for
breaking the truce. The Spartans once invaded Elis (the territory which included Olympia)
after the Olympic truce had been declared. The Eleans demanded a large fine based on the
number of soldiers in the advancing army and refused to allow any Spartan competitors during
.”…it is the custom for athletes, their fathers and their brothers, as
well as their trainers, to swear an oath upon slices of boar’s flesh
that in nothing will they sin against the Olympic games. The athletes
take this further oath also, that for ten successive months they have
strictly followed the regulations for training. An oath is also taken by
those who examine the boys, or the foals entering for races, that they
will decide fairly and without taking bribes, and that they will keep
secret what they learn about a candidate, whether accepted or not.”
this exerpt came from the official Olympic souvenir program of the 1984 games in Los Angles
“Anyone who violated the rules was fined by the judges. The money was used to set up
statues of Zeus, the patron god of the Games at Olympia. In addition to using bribes, other
offenses included deliberately avoiding the training period at Olympia. One athlete claimed
that bad winds kept his ship from arriving in time, but was later proved to have
spent the training period traveling around Greece winning prize money in other competitions.

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Another athlete was so intimidated by his opponents that he left the Games the day before he
was to compete, and was fined for cowardice.”
-The Twentieth Century International Encyclopedia sec.Olympics, Ancient p.1821
Unlike the modern Olympics, judges did not come from all over the Greek world, but
were drawn from Elis, the local region which included Olympia. The number of judges
increased to 10 as more events were added to the Olympics. Even though the judges were all
Eleans, local Elean Greeks were still allowed to compete in the Olympics. The Elean people
had such a reputation for fairness that an Elean cheating at the Games was a shock to other
“It is a wonder in any case if a man has so little respect for the god
of Olympia as to take or give a bribe in the contests; it is an even
greater wonder that one of the Eleans themselves has fallen so low. But
it is said that the Elean Damonicus did so fall at the hundred and
ninety second Festival. They say that collusion occurred between
Polyctor the son of Damonicus and Sosander of Smyrna, of the same name
as his father; these were competitors for the wrestling prize of
wild-olive. Damonicus, it is alleged, being exceedingly ambitious that
his son should win, bribed the father of Sosander. When the transaction
became known, the umpires imposed a fine, but instead of imposing it on
the sons they directed their anger against the fathers, for that they
were the real sinners.” (Pausanias 5.21.16ff)
this exerpt came from the official Olympic souvenir program of the 1984 games in Los Angles
Stamina, strength, charisma, and the even will to live were all the qualities the made
the Olympics the most endured and popular tournament of the ancient games.
Along with the Olympic games “There were 3 other major games which were held on 2- or
4-year cycles: the Isthmean Games at Corinth, the Pythian Games at Delphi, and the Nemean
Games at Nemea. Because it started 200 years before the other competitions, the Olympics
remained the most famous athletic contest in the ancient Greek world, “as described in The
Twentieth Century International Encyclopedia. Many athletes competed at several athletic
festivals. Inscriptions on victor’s statues at Olympia often describe victories in 2, 3, or even all
4 major athletic festivals. Pausanias’s description of Olympian architecture includes a list of the
more famous victors’ statues, and summaries of their inscriptions such as this one:
“Polycles…likewise won a victory with a four-horse chariot, and his
statue holds a ribbon in the right hand…as the inscription on him
says, he also won the chariot-race at Pytho, the Isthmus and Nemea.”
this exerpt came from p126 in the official Olympic souvenir program of the 1984 games in Los Angles
So now we have the idea that the Olympics is the longest running event (to date), but
as for the origins we have only what historians can tell us. There are many different stories
about the beginning of the Olympics. Such as… “One myth says that the guardians of the infant
god Zeus held the first footrace, or that Zeus himself started the Games to celebrate his
victory over his father Cronus for control of the world. Another tradition states that after the
Greek hero Pelops won a chariot race against King Oenomaus to marry Oenomaus’s
daughter Hippodamia, he established the Games. Athletic games also were an important part
of many religious festivals from early on in ancient Greek culture. In the Iliad, the famous
warrior Achilles holds games as part of the funeral services for his best friend Patroclus. The
events in them include a chariot race, a footrace, a discus match, boxing and wrestling. …The
footrace was the sole event for the first 13 Olympiads. Over time, the Greeks added longer
footraces, and separate events. The pentathlon and wrestling events were the first new sports
to be added, in the 18th Olympiad.” -The Twentieth Century International Encyclopedia
The Olympics were open to any free-born Greek in the world. There were
separate men’s and boy’s divisions for the events. The Elean judges divided youths into the
boy’s or men’s divisions based as much on physical size and strength as age. Women were
not allowed to compete in the Games themselves. However, they could enter equestrian
events as the owner of a chariot team or an individual horse, and win victories that way. The
winner of the first Olympic chariot and pair race is listed as “Belistiche, a woman from the
seaboard of Macedonia.” (Pausanias 5.8.11) Not only were women not permitted to compete
personally, married women were also barred from attending the games, under penalty of
death (except for maidens who were allowed to attend for the soul reason that an athlete can
Pausanias tells the story of Callipateira, who broke this rule to see her son at the Games:
“She, being a widow, disguised herself exactly like a gymnastic trainer,
and brought her son to compete at Olympia. Peisirodus, for so her son
was called, was victorious, and Callipateira, as she was jumping over
the enclosure in which they keep the trainers shut up, bared her person.
So her sex was discovered, but they let her go unpunished out of respect
for her father, her brothers and her son, all of whom had been
victorious at Olympia. But a law was passed that for the future trainers
should strip before entering the arena.” (Pausanias 5.6.8ff.)
this exerpt came p. 126 from the official Olympic souvenir program of the 1984 games in Los Angles
Also amazingly enough, athletic competitions for women did exist in ancient Greece.

The most famous was a maidens’ footrace in honor of the goddess Hera, which was held at
the Olympic stadium. There were 3 separate races for girls, teenagers, and young women.
The length of their racecourse was shorter than the men’s track; 5/6 of a stade (about 160 m.)
instead of a full stade (about 192 m.). The winners received olive crowns just like Olympic
victors. But, these did not have the same value as one’s that were given to the men.
Woman’s competition as the book Los Angles ’84 put it, “child’s play.” In actuality this is the
equivalent of a child playing during recess as to a professional sports league (i.e. NFL, NBA,
Athletics were a key part of education in ancient Greece. Many Greeks believed that
developing the body was equally important as improving the mind for overall health. Also,
regular exercise was important in a society where men were always needed for military
service. Plato’s Laws specifically mentions how athletics improved military skills. Greek youth
therefore worked out in the wrestling-school (palaestra) whether they were serious Olympic
contenders or not. The palaestra (wrestling-school) was one of the most popular places for
Greek men of all ages to socialize. Many accounts of Greek daily life include scenes in these
wrestling-schools, such as the opening of Plato’s Charmides. Young men worked with athletic
trainers who used long sticks to point out incorrect body positions and other faults. Trainers
paid close attention to balancing the types of physical exercise and the athlete’s diet. The
Greeks also thought that harmonious movement was very important, so athletes often
After exercise, they cleaned themselves by rubbing oil over their bodies and scraping
the mix of oil, sweat, and dirt off with a special instrument called a strigil.
After the athletes were choosen, competitors were required to train at Olympia for a month
before the Games officially started, like modern competitors at the Olympic Village. During
the days of old, we would think that the prize is not as great as what we can offer today. We
(society) make miracles and roll models. Can it be possible that even though the Ancient
Olympics didn’t have the resources that we have today, they have more to strive for? (A
wondrous sight on the internet that provided this information was at www.olympic.org/index.
This official site holds all the information of the life of the Olympic Bound Trainee and goes on
“But, during the end of it all, there is the big reward, a victor received a crown made
from olive leaves, and was entitled to have a statue of himself set up at Olympia. Although he
did not receive money at the Olympics, the victor was treated much like a modern sports
celebrity by his home city. His success increased the fame and reputation of his community in
the Greek world. It was common for victors to receive benefits such as having all their meals
at public expense or front-row seats at the theater and other public festivals. One city even
built a private gym for their Olympic wrestling champion to exercise in. When an Olympic
victor from Crotona re-entered the Games as a native of Syracuse (to impress the ruler of
Syracuse) and won both times, the citizens of Crotona were so angry about being robbed of
their rightful victories that they tore down the athlete’s statue in their city and condemned his
house to be a prison.” Today we encounter those same conflicts, except with a lot more
paper work. Being in society today, has been greatly impacted by the Olympic games alone.
If one needs to use the actual word “icon” then this is it…

An Icon represents a picture, not necessarily an actual photograph or painting, but a
drawn image that has been formed by the active imagination. No one is totally certain on how
the Olympics actually looked, but as far as the feeling, I feel it. I know the rush as a spectator
to see my home team going for the gold, showing the rest of the nations that we are a
powerful force. We are showing this power by competition not war. That’s what the
Olympics represent, peace through showmanship. I have shown that the Ancient Olympics
put a stop to war and destruction for almost two months. If we think about that, the society in
whole belives that war comes second to athletics. If only we could have the Olympics
Hi, welcome to my Works Sighted Page
Internet sighting: www.olympics.org (no author was avail.)
Kahn, Roger “The Human Spirit” The Official Olympic Sovenir Program (1984)Los Angles
Olympic Organizing Committee
“Olympic Games, Ancient” The Twenth Century Encyclopedia (1978)J.G. Ferguson Co page
“Olympics” Encarta ’95 (1994) Microsoft Software Department
Redmond, Jerry Dr. “A History” Los Angles ’84 (1984) Inter-sport Publications Corp. Torrance